048. How Suicide Unlocked The Potential in Living with Frank King

By on March 26, 2019

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Frank King, Suicide Prevention and Postvention Public Speaker and Trainer, was a writer for The Tonight Show for 20 years, is a Corporate Comedian, syndicated humor columnist, and podcast personality, who was featured on CNN’s Business Unusual.

Depression and suicide run his family. He’s thought about killing himself more times than he can count. He’s fought a lifetime battle with depression, and thoughts of ending his life, turning that long dark journey of the soul into a TED Talk, “A Matter of Laugh or Death,” which you can watch at FrankTEDTalk.com, and sharing his lifesaving insights on Mental and Emotional Health Awareness, with corporation, association, youth (middle school and high school), and college audiences.

As an Inspirational and Motivational Public Speaker and Trainer he uses the life lessons from the above, as well as lessons learned as a rather active consumer of healthcare, both mental and physical, to start the conversation giving people who battle Mental and Emotional Illness permission to give voice to their feelings and experiences surrounding depression and suicide, and to create a common pool of knowledge in which those who suffer, and those who care about them, can swim.

And doing it by coming out, as it were, and standing in his truth, and doing it with humor.

He believes that where there is humor there is hope, where there is laughter there is life, nobody dies laughing.

He is currently working on a book on men’s mental fitness, Guts, Grit, and the Grind, with two coauthors.

He lives in Eugene, OR and speaks around the US, and all over the world.

Key Points from the Episode with Frank King:

  • Frank has a backstory of suicide being a very real part of his family. So some may find it odd that he became a comedian, but he sees the two intertwined. As he reminds us, where there’s laughter, there’s life – no one dies laughing.
  • He spent the first part of his adult life as many do – working in a fine job that paid the bills, but didn’t pay his soul. It got to the point where he realized he would kill himself if he stayed there. The alternative, pursuing his dreams in comedy could leave him penniless. That’s when he had a revelation that unlocked potential.
  • We chose the devil we know rather than the devil we don’t. “Normal” people would look at a bad situation with uncertain outcomes in the alternatives, and they stay where they are.
  • For Frank and his diagnosis of Chronic Suicidality, it’s more of looking at a raging brushfire coming for him while he’s standing at the edge of a ravine. While “Normal” people might face the fire despite the certain death, Frank would jump because he sees no risk to it since he’d die either way so he might as well try something else.
  • He shared a simple example that clarifies what this Chronic Suicidality means in his daily life – his car broke down a while ago. “Normal” people would look at it as a binary situation where you either fix it or replace it. For Frank, he had a third option – he could just kill himself. Put another way, he always sees a way out, so he uses that to help him pursue possibilities. The key is to find a way to see that vision of potential without having to turn to suicide.
  • If he stayed in the job, he would kill himself. If he left and failed, he could still just kill himself. That thought removed the cost of taking the leap, so that’s exactly what he did.
  • Frank focused on suicide prevention and support a lot. What he realized is how valuable it is for the person supporting you to really get it, to really understand what you are feeling. Since he has been there, he realized he had to be in that support role.
  • What he found is that people need one of two things, and you need to see which they really want. Do they want someone to help them through it and talk them out of it, or to just listen.
  • Interestingly, Frank is not reckless in his behavior despite the suicide thoughts.
  • He has now been through divorce, bankruptcy and more, and is still standing, which is a testament to the power of support and self-reflection.
  • Frank likened someone committing suicide to how a plane crash works. It’s not usually one single thing, but rather a cascade of events. If you can nudge those events even slightly, you may be able to change the outcome, which is his goal.
  • We talked about his self-care plan, which helps him relate differently to his Chronic Suicidality. He meditates for 30 minutes a day; after 60 years, he decided to look into medication, which he now uses and realized he actually likes his life; and he lives an active, healthy life and eats a healthy diet. He actually ended up competing in a body building contest shortly after we recorded this episode.
  • Speaking out loud about his mental illness is also one of the most beneficial things he’s done. It’s been freeing and empowering in a way he did not expect or understand until he did it.
  • We talked about the power of control a lot, and he shared the story of his mother as she was at the end of her life. There was debate about letting her self-administer pain medication when getting too much would kill her. Frank shared the study results on the subject that showed that, when patients are allowed to push a button to give themselves pain medication, they actually use less than when someone else administers it at regular intervals. The reason is control.
  • As he’s reflected on his struggles with suicide, he sees how inserting situations where he has control has helped. This is part of why he enjoys his exercise regime because there’s control in it. A 20 pound weight always weighs 20 pounds. In his comedy and speaking work, he may have audio issues, the audience may not be engaged, etc. All things he can’t control or have so much variability in them that it can be unsettling.



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047. Finding Your Mojo Through Authenticity with Gary Bertwistle

By on March 19, 2019

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Gary has always had a passion for innovation and creativity. His career has spanned the retail, music and radio industries. Gary’s drive comes from having people and organisations think differently to generate new ways of doing things.

As a thought leader in innovation and creativity, Gary has helped companies of all sizes, in all industries and categories, to look at how they currently do things and address what needs to change in order for them to think differently and maximise the ideas that currently exist within the business, with the view to making the company more successful. He is often called when companies or individuals lose their mojo.

Through easy to understand, fun, interactive speeches and sessions, he presents to a wide variety of clients in the areas of creative thinking, mojo, marketing, strategic facilitation, and innovation to improve performance and help us be at our best.

Gary has written 6 books, a number of which have become best sellers, and won the Speaker of The Year Award for TEC (The Executive Connection) in both 2007, 2008 and again in 2012.

In addition to his speaking commitments he also established Australia’s first ever creative thinking venue The Ideas Vault at The Entertainment Quarter in Sydney, co-founded Australia’s leading cycling foundation the Tour de Cure in 2007, writes a blog called The Espresso, in which he scours the world to find interesting tips, tools and news to give you a new or different perspective on the world in which we live, and hosts a popular new podcast series on iTunes called The Mojo Radio Show.

Key Points from the Episode with Gary Bertwistle:

  • Gary bought a farm in his home of Australia, and in driving back and forth to the city from his farm, he went through all of his music library, and decided to listen to podcasts, which sparked a desire in him to start his own (after a previous career in radio)
  • Getting to hear the real authentic person behind the outward person is what Gary really craves in all of his interviews, and key to finding why someone has their mojo working
  • When Gary and two friends were putting together their charity efforts and had to select what to focus on, childhood cancer became so clear because kids get cancer despite not having lived a life of smoking or other behaviors people normally ascribe to cancer.
  • Gary has also focused on the impact on all of those around the person with the diagnosis, and Gary has worked to support them, as well.
  • While money helps, we can also really help people by being of service to them, sharing a message or being a support
  • While he was deep into raising money for cancer research and treatment, his father was diagnosed with cancer
  • A doctor friend of his told him that cancer is a formidable foe, and we have to be as aggressive with it as it is with us. He took this advice to his father to ask him, yes or no, are you going to fight this? If yes, then we are really going to fight, so let’s do it.
  • Not only did Gary work to raise money to fight cancer, but he has become a fire fighter to help save farms like his own from wildfires in Australia
  • He heard about people going out to fight these fires, and felt a strong sense that you cannot hear about this and not do something yourself.
  • He also had a very clear desire to do it because it was hard. The draw of a real test was a big part of what drives Gary to go after new goals.
  • Gary talked about the life of a volunteer. He and his peers work all day as farmers, getting up early and working hard all day. Then they get the call to fight a blaze, and go fight it until the work is done only to get up early again to work on their farm. They do it for no pay, and no time off afterward. It’s out of the pure desire to help. He saw this first hand fighting a blaze that nearly took his own home if he and his peers didn’t stop it just feet from his kitchen window.
  • Doing truly fulfilling work like this is such a part of his world, and so rewarding in a way that he can’t imagine not having it in his life.
  • It’s important to model the right kind of values and behaviors. When kids see us doing right, they will follow.
  • When you focus on the process of giving back, it changes the trajectory of your life, the scale of what you do next, and your whole approach to your world and what’s important. Our children then get to change their trajectory through the example we set, which makes it even more important.
  • Gary likes disruption and being different. He reminded me of the idea from Mark Twain that, whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s probably time to pause and reflect.



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046. Becoming a Person of Purpose with Tanur Badgley

By on March 12, 2019

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Tanur Badgley is a school teacher, blogger, and host of the People of Purpose podcast. He is fascinated with understanding the unique gifts he has been given and how he is shaped into a higher purpose when he chooses to live with full appreciation of those gifts. He believes we all have these gifts and can use them to unlock our infinite potential through pursuing our purpose. Tanur started his own path to purpose after a near-death experience falling at Yosemite National Park at the age of 19. Three years later he finished out college without a plan or a purpose to pursue. He found himself working a soulless corporate sales job, battling with depression from a devastating breakup, and eventually lying a dark room in the cold Minnesota winter after suffering his second major concussion. After three weeks of healing in the dark and two months of rehabilitation, Tanur was able to learn how to truly listen to from  his heart. During his work disability, he put in motion everything he needed to move to Thailand. and become a teacher.  In September of 2015 Tanur moved Phrae, Thailand where he taught and tutored English to 400 local 5th and 6th grade students from surrounding villages. He wrote nearly everyday in Thailand regularly publishing themes of his learning in his widely read Student Of the World Blog. He infused his blog with what he learned about himself and the world through teaching in Thailand, volunteering on an organic farm in Cambodia, trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp, sitting for a 5-day silent meditation course, and his month-long yoga teacher training certification course in Rishikesh, India.

Just over one year after moving Tanur found himself much happier and whole. He decided not to renew his teaching contract opting instead to choose an indefinite period of vagabonding and couch-surfing Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Canada through family, friends, and followers from the U.S. and Canada. This period lasted for 15 months. It was in this period that Tanur created, launched, and began hosting his People of Purpose podcast in October of 2017.  He felt compelled to go beyond himself to begin a project that shares the stories and wisdom of all the wonderful purposeful people he had met throughout his personal journey into purpose. People of Purpose features guests who live with a high degree of intentionality, are leading communities for positive change, and are treading a path that is very authentic to their passions and purpose. The podcast constantly inspires him and those listening to better align intentions with actions to live a more fulfilling and inspired life. In its first year the podcast has featured 30+ guests and 40+ total episodes. People of Purpose (PoP) has expanded to now include a regular newsletter where Tanur shares what takeaways on what he’s been experiencing and thinking about to grow in his purpose and how they can be applied to your life too. The podcast has now added a private coaching practice called Path to Purpose. Tanur expects a fully-interactive, comprehensive online course will be made available in 2019 that draws from the practices he’s learned from his guests and his personal path of purpose.

In July of 2018 after 15 months of traveling, teaching online, and finding odd jobs Tanur moved to San Francisco, California. He is completing an accelerated one-year Master’s of Education program and teaching credential as a full-time student and 7th grade social studies co-teacher at an urban, public- charter school in San Francisco. He is driven by the purpose he can express through through each of his endeavors and projects and the consistency of learning and challenge that helps him grow in his purpose which is “to be a conduit of God’s love by accepting everything he is, opening himself to learning challenges through difference, and using his gifts to live purposefully in order to help others find their purpose and fulfill their potential.”

Key Points from the Episode with Tanur Badgley:

  • Intentionality and purpose are the key themes to both this interview and Tanur’s life journey.
  • Tanur talks about decisions to experience via immersion so you get full-in rather than dipping your toes into things is how you can really grow. We talked about the intersection of immersion and introspection.
  • When Tanur was 19, he, his younger brother and father spent part of their summer hiking and climbing in Yosemite National Park.
  • His brother took a route off the path, which landed him stuck unable to get down from where he had gotten as many of the rocks he used to climb up had loosened and fallen out. Tanur went to try to help him, and ended up stranded on a small ledge with his brother. He tried to go for a ledge above them, grabbed hold and started to make it up until rocks let go under his hand as he was one grab from the top, sending him spinning head over heals over and over again as he tumbled down over 100 feet. He landed on his butt, but had hit his head multiple times, and finally stopped in the waterfall they were climbing by.
  • While the wiser choice would have been to stay on the ledge and wait for search and rescue, he chose a bolder path which ended up being the foolish path.
  • Tanur soon passed out from his injuries and head trauma while his brother was still stuck on the ledge. Their father finally made it to the top via a safer route and then saw what happened and quickly went to get help, which took seven hours and took them into night time.
  • He remembers moments of consciousness where he was frustrated that the help was focused on him while he brother was still in danger. Tanur saw himself as being as hurt as he could possibly be while his brother could fall off the ledge.
  • He had whiplash, a concussion and fractures in his cervical spine as well as deep tissue injuries to his butt – all of which he still deals with today. Somehow, in the moments after the fall, he felt a lot of peace. He made it, he was still there, and he was overall ok, which gave him a sense of not squandering his opportunity in life.
  • To get to a point of not squandering opportunity, he needed to know his purpose in life, and sought to learn more. Of course, that needed to wait slightly while he recovered from the damage to his body and brain, and was totally reliant on his father to care for him for several weeks and even more as he worked on the injury to his brain.
  • Three years later, Tanur found himself in a similar situation – he got another concussion while playing basketball. He was angry and it was impacting his decisions and behavior, so it wasn’t surprising to him that he ended up in a situation where he would get hurt. He had lost his grandmother, broken up with his girlfriend, and was in a sales job he did not like, which just meant things were boiling up inside of him, and because his life wasn’t aligned with what he cares about, he wasn’t making progress in dealing with everything.
  • With the space from all of it that his doctor’s note excusing him from work for a month due to his concussion, he dug into the self-work to face the pain and anger. Through his work, he focused on how to live a life that wasn’t for someone else but was for his own interests.
  • He dropped everything and decided to move to Thailand to become an English teacher, meditate and live in a more peaceful way.
  • He also used the time to finally move forward from his last relationship. We hit on the irony of how bad relationships can be harder to get over than the good ones.
  • He is clear that he wouldn’t be where he is today if not for the travel but even for the concussions. He finds himself thankful for both of those experiences.
  • His work as a teacher showed him how it is the most proactive force for good. It’s about saving lives before they go down a bad path, if you see it that way. He sees it as requiring you to be a role model and a constant life-long learner who builds up themself to keep growing. It’s about connecting with people as more than just a transaction but a true relationship.
  • Tanur talked about a very interesting struggle to fit in the box of society enough to actually fit into the world while also being removed from the game of it enough to be able to be fine if it all goes away or trouble befalls you.



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045. Breaking Free of Depression, Medication & Suffocation with Brooke Siem

By on March 5, 2019

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Brooke Siem is a true renaissance woman. She’s a professional chef (and Food Network Chopped Champion), world traveler (30+ countries), breathwork coach (more nasal breathing, please!), and grief/mental health advocate. Her broad range of life experience helps her to connect to clients while providing actionable tools that help them navigate the mental and emotional challenges of modern living. She believes in the power of using life’s triggers as a roadmap to healing, with self-awareness and self-compassion as the driving force for positive change.

Brooke had been prescribed antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs at 15 years old after her father’s sudden death. An unexpected  opportunity for a life abroad sparked the realization that she had been heavily medicated for half of her life. She decided to make a massive change.

First, she booked a one way ticket to Malaysia. Then, she got off all the prescription drugs.

Two years and 19 countries later, Brooke’s primary focus is on advocating for mental health and wellness without the use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Though she believes that these sorts of drugs can have their place on the road to healing, her own experience has taught her that these medications are often poorly monitored by doctors, prescribed without thought of the long term consequences, and prioritize the notion of “existing” versus thriving. Brooke’s goal is to show that it is possible to live a joyful, centered life without the use of antidepressants, no matter how far down the rabbit hole we once were.

We get into the backstory that lead to being on medication for a decade and a half, the catalyst to come off them, the process of doing that (and what she discovered about herself through that very difficult journey), and how she’s lived her life since.

Key Points from the Episode with Brooke Siem:

  • Brooke had built a life in New York City around a bakery she found success at, but was also struggling with the demands of New York (and the costs of living there). Despite the bakery’s success, the cost of doing business in New York were so high that it made it hard to feel like you had real success.
  • She found herself struggling to fit in and find her path or her opportunities, and was judging herself for not being able to find them in New York – a place with so many opportunities abounding. Seeing people in successful paths only compounded that as she felt inferior to these other people who seemed to know where they’re going, and the competitive nature within her made her feel like she wasn’t winning in the path she had created.
  • When her bakery’s lease was coming up for renewal in 2017, her world changed. She got an opportunity through a program called “Remote Year” to travel around the world and work remotely with 70 other people in the program, and she went for it. The only trick was that her work – owning a bakery – wasn’t something she could do remotely. She figured she wouldn’t get accepted into the program anyway, so she didn’t let that stop her. She figured if she made it, she’d figure out how to make it work. And that’s what happened.
  • She felt she was at such a low point that she new she needed to get out of her situation and would regret not doing it if she could.
  • This all brought about another major change. When Brooke was 15, her father suddenly passed away, and she was subsequently put on a cocktail of drugs to manage the emotional impact. She went through all of life’s major, pivotal growth periods – adolescence, high school, college, entering the work world and becoming independent, without the drugs effecting her mind.
  • As she was turning 30 and looking at this nomadic existence, she realized she wouldn’t be able to get her prescriptions refilled reliably, so she suddenly realized she needed to find a path off of them, which also helped her realize she had been on them half of her life already and that got her wondering who she would be without them.
  • This sparked a very fast path to coming off the drugs so she would be clear by the time the trip came just six months later. As many of the drugs have long half-lives and withdrawals, this would be both tricky and intense.
  • When this all started, she described her feelings as misery, suicidal and essentially just waiting to die. It went so far that she found an online life expectancy calculator, got a date when it said she would die, and put it in her calendar. She actually quoted the time remaining when we were talking.
  • In the midst of this withdrawal, Brooke actually was chosen to compete on the cooking show, Chopped, which was incredibly hard in and of itself, but so much harder because of the emotional impact of the drug withdrawal. She actually went on to winning her competition despite what she was going through. She described seeing herself on the show as watching a twin who wasn’t her.
  • Brooke touched on her competitive side, which manifested in a competitive dancing background when she was younger, which obviously served her well on Chopped (and other things in her life).
  • She described coming off one of the drugs specifically, where her hearing became painfully heightened, making her hyper sensitive to everything around her (and NYC not being a particularly easy place to be that way). She described it as having all of these emotions and sensations bottled up for years, and then coming out all at once, which can feel unbearable.
  • She described the feelings she had through her therapy approach while coming off the drugs, and this feeling like her real feelings had been stifled and she had a dream where a rope was being pulled from deep in her throat, and that symbolized a freeing. It lead her to need to go outside one night and scream at the top of her lungs to physically release all that was inside, which was a pivotal, transformative moment for her in facing all that was inside.
  • Ultimately, the travel was a very clarifying thing for her because it helped her realize that the only constant in her life was her. She was able to completely isolate all of the variables in her life, which changed each time she moved to a new place, and found the way she could be the grounding center and could learn and grow in each place she went to. For example, with her heightened sensitivity to noise, traveling to Malaysia was incredibly difficult as the noise and bustle was even greater than in NYC. Had she not done that, she wouldn’t have gotten as good at dealing with the sensory-overload of life as she became after a month in Kuala Lumpur.


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