If I Died Tomorrow, I Could Honestly Say I Lived
If I died tomorrow, I could honestly say I lived.
But that wasn’t always the case…
Just 5 years ago, I was thriving professionally but suffering spiritually.
With an 8-figure marketing budget and a 6-figure paycheck, I spent the 1st 12 years of my professional career climbing the corporate ladder at Showtime Networks with the perk of going to glitzy hollywood premiers, super bowl parties and getting to talk about shows like Dexter, Homeland, and Weeds for a living.
It looked like a dream career on paper, and I treated it as such, prioritizing my work to-do’s (over my personal goals & action items), and excelled playing the politically correct corporate game, getting promoted every few years and ultimately running the day to day operations of the top account in the company that brought in hundreds of millions of dollars per year for CBS corp (Showtime’s parent company) and helped an already rich mega-millionaire, Leslie Moonves, make $60M per year.
I was living a life that was definitely good enough but short of the extraordinary life I always envisioned for myself. I was playing someone else’s game, living on someone else’s timeline (WAITING for opportunities to be presented to me), clinging to the safety and comfort zone of my steady gig, and my hopes, dreams and aspirations were getting pushed, forgotten and abandoned as a result. I was literally choosing to let life pass me by (willingly!) and funny enough, not even realizing it.
As I allowed myself to get further intertwined and blinded by my societal conditioning and internal fear, I began telling myself 2 bullshit stories.
1) “All I’m capable of doing professionally is putting together a baddass Showtime marketing campaign, so even though I’d love to be an entrepreneur, I have zero clue what products or services I would offer, and I don’t have an obvious skill people would pay me for, unlike a web designer, lawyer, or musician.”
2) “Showtime is a good company and since I’m good at what I do, I could stay here forever…might as well continue to do my best, work my way up the corporate ladder and see what happens.”
As a result, my confidence sank, creativity evaporated, and I was drifting out to sea, floating further and further away from the life I wanted and the man I strived to be (in other words the person I’m proud to call myself today). I had become a taker and was so trapped in my own reality that all I could think about was how to serve myself. In other words, the idea of helping others and thinking about ways to change the world never crossed my mind.
While I never did much to change my predicament, I always wondered when my time would come, and if there was a way (or system) that would make me feel more supported & less alone, help bring my hopes and dreams to life, allow me to shine, and ensure I live the epic life I had always wanted and seen for myself.
On November 19th 2012, EVERYTHING changed and I got the greatest blessing in the most unexpected, interruptive and heart-shattering disguise.
My wife left me.
We were celebrating our 11th anniversary and prepping to move into our renovated dream home in Venice CA when she turned to me in tears saying “I can’t move into the house with you, I need to go off on my own journey.”
In that moment, my marriage ended, the certainty and excitement about our lifelong plans crashed & burned into a million pieces, my faith in the world crumbled.
I couldn’t believe it, talked about it to anyone who would listen, cried for months, started dating immediately (though women could sniff out my heartache & desperation from a mile away), pretended like everything was normal at work, and drowned my sorrows by partying a lot (which actually got me called into HR at Showtime – one of the low points of my career and something entirely out of my integrity zone).
Surprisingly, albeit reluctantly, I got a new lease on life and I slowly and steadily became more comfortable and ok with my new freedom and independence.
Willing to try nearly anything that would accelerate my healing process, my friend Jason Fisher told me to do this intensive 5 day emotional training course at MITT, where I finally learned to take responsibility for my life and got a new understanding of something my dad said to me at my bar mitzvah in 1994, “If you want something bad enough, just go out there and do it, even if the odds are stacked against you.”
And that’s exactly what I did…I took responsibility for my life and the future I wanted to create.
First, I faced my greatest fear, finding out I don’t possess my family’s young onset Alzheimer’s gene, which is not only dominant, but has been cursing my family for decades and I was fully convinced that I had it and would beat myself up every time I forgot something or lost my keys. Note – I never got to meet my grandpa Sydney and I lost my dad and my uncle in their 60’s, after years and years of watching them painfully decline.
After that courageous feat, I felt I was capable of anything…I declared to my mom I wanted to stand by her side as a vocal Alzheimer’s advocate (which later fueled a series of videos and a keynote with my mom), I started taking care of my health – working out for the 1st time in 10 years, did something super fun and wacky…making 50 custom pairs of underwear for my friends that said “No Pants Dance,”, chose to be a more caring and communicative boss to my 6 employees at Showtime (versus simply toeing the company line), became a pro DJ (booked a couple gigs so I can technically say that!) and because of such stellar results, I signed up for additional emotional intelligence workshops.
As part of a 6 month leadership program, and with the help of master trainers Michael Strasner, Chris Lee, and now New York Times Bestselling Author, Lewis Howes, I learned the importance of authenticity, and how it could be my greatest gift to both myself and others – given how openly I was willing to share and because I wear my heart on my sleeve (and am probably one of the worst people on the planet at lying or covering up how I feel). Still figuring out if that’s a blessing, curse, or both!
In conjunction with that lesson, and the idea that we should teach what we need to learn most, I chose to do my MITT PhD thesis project on authenticity – which based on the guidelines of the program needed to be a 2-3 hour workshop that I would create and facilitate for 25+ people (in order to graduate from the program). Needless to say I was petrified.
I had no desire at the time to be a transformational trainer (I just did the course because I knew I’d grow a lot and because ballers like Lewis and Preston Smiles were doing it) and while I’m incredibly fortunate to have a lot of ridiculous amount of amazing friends (attracting incredible people into my life has always been one of my greatest gifts), I doubted I’d get 25 people to show up. I mean, it’s tough to get anyone to do anything these days let alone show up for a super long existential workshop hosted by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing.
To my surprise, 50 people showed up at my 1st ever “Be You” Authenticity workshop in September 2014, and even more surprisingly, had major a-ha moments as a result of the exercises I made up and was putting them through, while connecting so openly & honestly with one another (which I learned was another one of my superpowers).
In fact, one attendee decided to move to Africa to live a life of service, something she had always wanted to do, but finally committed to that night at the workshop! I couldn’t believe the results. One after another, friends continued to tell me that this was what I was born to do, thanked me for all of their profound & important takeaways and in the following weeks, people who weren’t at the event asked me when I’d be doing it again (since they had heard such great things). I responded, “It was a 1 time thing, I’ve got a full-time day job” until so many people approached me about it that I decided to facilitate it again. And what happened? The exact same results.
Alas! Finally, I had created something that I was both proud of and was valuable for people (outside of a Showtime telemarketing campaign for Penn & Teller, a direct mail buy for Queer As Folk, or a call center sales incentive promoting Kirstie Alley’s short-lived series, Fat Actress).
So I wondered, how I could share this authenticity stuff with more people. Since I had little confidence as a writer, and was terrified of showing up inauthentically on video, I decided to follow Lewis Howes’ incredible example in the podcast space (he is the host of top podcast, The School of Greatness), and I decided to launch a podcast of my own. Choosing a 1-on-1 interview series format, I could ping pong back and forth with my guests, and work the collaborative approach to exposure and growth.
After telling everyone I came across that I was launching a podcast, I couldn’t back out, and within 4 months, I launched the The One & Only Podcast on Itunes in April 2015 and set a goal to inspire 100k+ people to live more authentically.
With a goal that I felt was ambitious but achievable, I knew it would take my ALL (and probably be something the suits at Showtime wouldn’t be keen that I was focusing on – since they were paying me to get people to sit on a couch and sign-up for Showtime, not go out and pursue their dreams), so I decided to take a massive leap of faith, leaving my 12 year career behind to support others full time.
While I’ve made some smart real estate deals, and had just gotten my bonus from Showtime, I figured I’d be able to replace that 6-figure income quickly by growing my podcast and getting sponsors, securing coaching clients, doing speaking engagements, and eventually writing books or producing a docu-series, but that was more of a convenient fantasy that helped me liberate myself from corporate America rather than an effective or realistic path to get rich quick in a totally new field.
Believe it or not, it’s not as easy as most think to become a successful life coach, blogger, podcaster, or to get through the clutter with a personal brand, and it’s not as easy (or likely as lucrative) as people make it look on social media (surprise, surprise).
In reality, I had no credibility, didn’t really know how to grow a podcast, didn’t know how to secure coaching clients, didn’t know how to launch a speaking business and while was I working my ass off and doing my best, I still had major accountability gaps that were slowing my growth, and keeping me where I was at.
As a solo-prenuer there was just so much to do to the point where I struggled to know what to prioritize, wasted a lot of time trying to multitask, let my health & exercise slip, and once again found myself not living up to my potential. While I wasn’t doing any blatant harm to myself or anyone else, I was operating outside/below my code of excellence, and therefore was out of integrity.
Once again, I wondered when my time would come, and if there was a way (or system) that would make me feel more supported, and help me grow, thrive and prosper.
But this time, I didn’t only think about myself, but also wondered what the world would look like if more people did what they said they were going to do (both small and large), took responsibility for matters that are important to them, and consistently lived by their code of excellence, embodying their most healthy and effective characteristics – that would naturally allow them to shine and provide maximum value for others.
In that moment, I realized how much my perspective had shifted, and the gifts I had once deemed to be valueless (1. Being super open, honest, and vulnerable. 2. My love for diving into deep conversation with others. 3. My natural ability to bring passionate heart-centered people together), were the foundation for not only the solution I yearned for, but an effective results-oriented system that would help others address the struggles and blind spots that were slowing their growth.
And that’s when I honed back on my dad’s advice from my Bar Mitzvah, stopped waiting, and created Winning Weeks on July 1st, 2016 – an 8 week gamified accountability program designed to help (heart-centered) people achieve their goals on their journey to success.
By participating in Winning Weeks personally, I grew my revenue by 300% in 2017 (by setting clear, aggressive goals), supported 125 people in achieving extraordinary results in the their own lives through the program, my podcast reached #7 on Itunes for spirituality (I implemented strategies that I had previously resisted), I helped organize a trip to Colombia where we built 10 homes for families in need, I did a social experiment where I sent every one of my 2,800+ Facebook friends a personalized video on their birthday, and it culminated in me giving my 1st TEDx talk this summer (another goal I hoped to get to at some point).
Through Winning Weeks, everything began to click, take off, and start flowing with joy & ease (i.e. feedback from the universe that I was living on purpose).
So here I stand today, 5 years and 150 episodes of my podcast later, with the very cool fortune of working closely with people who inspire me, and for my message being seen/heard by over 250k people globally. I’ve got the best job in the world because I get to stand for what I believe in, do what I love, AND support others who also want to make the most of their time here in this life.
The greatest and most simple lesson here is that none of this would have transpired if I continued to wait for life to happen to me…if I would have stayed at Showtime, remained in my comfort zone, let my my wife leaving me be the bane of my existence, or continued to subscribe to limiting beliefs that I wasn’t good enough or capable.
What’s worked is being open to change, trying a different approach, taking courageous action consistently, believing in myself and that anything is possible, being held accountable to make the most of my life/time, being in service to others, and trust that everything will work out for the best if I enjoy what is in the moment and put my best foot forward.
Do I want to die tomorrow? Hell NO! There is still so much I want to contribute and experience. But if I did, I’d die knowing I lived.
Wishing you nothing but joy and success in 2018. Much love!