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May 2, 2023

The Importance of Courageous Leadership and Trust in Business | Ryan Berman

In this episode, Ryan Berman shares his inspirational journey of self-discovery through writing a book and pursuing courageous ideas in business.

“Like when you first tiptoe into that world, you have your own idea of what, like a powerful entrepreneur is gonna be like until you know, something about the word COURAGE resonates with them, and he comes up and has lunch with me. And so, like you, you realize that you're not that different. And I think that was big, you know, in my own mind, I was putting space between who I was and this pedestal of who other people are. And then when you actually peel back the onion, the only difference is that they've done at the level that you kind of want to do it at.”

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In this episode, Ryan Berman shares his inspirational journey of self-discovery through writing a book and pursuing courageous ideas in business.


“Like when you first tiptoe into that world, you have your own idea of what, like a powerful entrepreneur is gonna be like until you know, something about the word COURAGE resonates with them, and he comes up and has lunch with me. And so, like you, you realize that you're not that different. And I think that was big, you know, in my own mind, I was putting space between who I was and this pedestal of who other people are. And then when you actually peel back the onion, the only difference is that they've done at the level that you kind of want to do it at.”


As the founder and chief creative officer of Courageous, a creative consultancy, Berman has helped countless companies and leaders discover their true potential. But his journey to success wasn't always easy. As a creative in San Diego, he found himself struggling to balance his passion for creativity with the demands of leadership in management. Through his experiences, Berman emphasizes the importance of being courageous in the pursuit of your dreams and finding personal and professional alignment to achieve success.


During the episode, Berman also touches on the challenges of shedding old versions of oneself and embracing authenticity, even if it means going against popular opinion. He highlights the impact of being willing to outwork others for success and building a talented army through networking and finding the right people for the job. Overall, the episode serves as an inspiration for listeners who may be on the fence about pursuing their dreams or finding their true purpose, encouraging them to take action and embrace imperfection to achieve their goals.


Follow Ryan's journey on his website at www.ryanberman.com.


Keywords: Courageous leadership, personal and professional alignment, overcoming self-doubt, finding success, building a talented team


Other Episode:Matt Gilhooly on The Courageous Podcast - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/matt-gilhooly-host-of-the-life-shift-podcast/id1520106524?i=1000601179477


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Hello, my friends, welcome to the Life shift podcast. I am here with my friend Ryan Berman. Hey, Brian. Brian. Ryan. Uh I just had a life shift. 

I changed my name from Ryan to Brian right here on the spot. I was actually looking at your name on the screen and the B and the R just became friends. And uh there you go. 

You're now named Brian. I'm OK with that. Uh I'm not sure why I shifted my name. I like my name Ryan, frankly, But all right. So we'll, we'll, we'll stick with with Ryan here. Uh we were talking before we recorded. I was just on your podcast in February of 2023. And you allowed me, I'm gonna say the word, allow you allowed me to get fairly uncomfortable and vulnerable in that episode. And I, I actually really appreciate it. It was um I appreciate that it funny enough. So we talked about kind of where I'm stuck. 

I feel very, very courageous in my emotional side of me and that I can lean into really hard, emotional pieces, but where I'm not courageous and your podcast is called the Courageous Podcast and your company is courageous. Where I'm not courageous is in my career endeavors. And funny enough today I was getting ready to apply to a job that was kind of what we talked about a little bit and I froze and I, I closed the window and I walked away. So it was not very courageous. So it's very ironic that we're recording today. Why do you, why do you feel like, what was, what was it about it that you went? Hm, bye bye. Uh, it's, it's actually been something that has been happening pretty frequently for the last couple of years, uh, in getting, uh, my second master's degree and feeling wholly unqualified to do what I was educated in doing and it just, it becomes this kind of fear factor of, I guess, you know, part of it is that impostor syndrome that many, many people talk about, but just feeling like, well, am I qualified to do that? Can I do that? Are they gonna find out that I can't, am I gonna get there and not be able to do it? 

So, those are all the thoughts that happen today and it's just, I love that. I'm talking to you about it today as it's happening. Yeah. No, I, uh, again, I'm glad we've got time to talk about this stuff because there's a lot in there and, uh, why don't we hold that? Why don't we, why don't we put a little pin in that combo, we'll come back to it. Yeah. I, I just thought that there was a little bit of irony that came along with the fact that it all happened and came out today and then I was like, oh, we're recording today with Ryan. 

So, uh thank you for being a part of the life shift podcast. As you know, I like to really kind of try to dive down deep into specific moments in people's lives that like change the trajectory completely. And I feel like I have an idea of where you're gonna go. But what I like about about how I kind of get guests and whatnot is I don't ask too much so that I can really uncover the conversation as we talk as regular humans across uh face to face virtually. So thank you for just being a part of this. Um Before we jump into that, maybe you can just tell us just a, just a smidge about who you are and what you do now and then kind of paint the picture of what your life was like before that moment. Sure. Hi, everybody. I'm Brian A K. Ryan Berman. Uh I am the founder, edit that out. No one's gonna hear it. 

No, of course they will, you can't edit it out. We gotta keep it real. Uh My name, my name is Ryan Berman. 

I am the founder of a company called Courageous and today my business. Imagine there's like 3, 3 different pillars of our business. There's courageous leadership and it's, look, it's, it's lonely for everyone out there. It's really lonely for leaders. And uh the who can you trust? Uh how much can you trust? And so in some ways, we're, we're an ally to the leader. 

There's keynotes, there's workshops, there's coaching, there's offs sites, there's courage, boot camps and um I'll kind of give you the, the life shift probably happened on the way to all of this. So we'll, we'll we'll eventually take a step back. So there's a leadership component. 

There's a consultancy arm, which is, I describe it as like special forces team that helps you figure out your special. And then once we know that special, we can help you bring to life that special. And you know, I am a recovering advertising uh executive I've learned in New York City For was there for almost a decade to not get my first choice out of the gate was probably the best thing that ever happened to me was at a top three global network. 700 people. Amazing, learning ground, terrifying as well. Uh and literally started on the business development team as a writer before I then jumped into running client services for a couple of businesses and then finally leaped onto the other side of the brain as a creative, I got to turn my button down and khakis in for t-shirts and uh basically spent 2.5 3 years concept writing commercials, ideas for clients that, that, you know, of like Universal Studios, MC I um Subway Volvo. Fun Little Ride. Um So today, the consultancy side, it's like, oh, this client is, isn't as clear as they should be. And so we're coming up with that succinct story for them to take out both inside their culture and then sometimes out into the real world. And then the third pillar is, I'll call it entertainment for lack of a better term. And just like you have the life shift podcast, I have the courageous podcast. I've got my uh weekly dose of courage. 

It's like a little nudge in your inbox every Thursday. Sometimes it's just to pick me up, you know, there's a lot of gravity in the world gets pretty heavy out there. And so we wanna be helium, you know, we wanna light lighten it up a little bit and, and so, you know, if that sounds interesting, shameless promotion, number one, check out Ryan Berman dot com and you can sign up for the, for the uh the newsletter there. Um All of this came from A three Year journey beforehand where I was running uh as a co-founder, an agency called D I DEA and I live in San Diego, California. 

If I asked your audience to write down the top 10 most creative cities, I am not. San Diego is not on that list. Let's just call it, what it is if I said greatest place to visit in the country, uh, best fish taco. We're probably on the list, but I've heard San Diego is a good place to visit. Whether the zoo, I mean, what did you get the fish taco? That's it. That's really fish tacos in the zoo. We're good. Right. And so, but creativity, I don't think we're not New York, we're not San Francisco, we're not L A. And at the time, uh let's see here from 2012 to 2017, we grew the agency to about 85 people. And for the first time in my life, I was smacked fully in management land as a creator. 

That's tough, you know, poor me, poor me. I wasn't in the day to day, you know, but like it was, you know, after being a creator for pretty much, Gosh, OK, 98, a long time. Yeah, 20 years would you say leading up to that? You led a fairly like, was that journey fairly standard for people in your industry before getting to this kind of feeling like you were stuck in management? Like, do you feel like your journey was traditional or? No? I think a lot of it was traditional but like a lot of people that are creative, stay creatives, like they, they might, they might be like chief creative officers or executive creative directors. And I had gotten to a point where I had hired an executive creative director and I had hired a head of design and like, let's let them do their jobs. Right. So, here I was now with my two founders, just sort of trying to protect the creative process. And frankly remember being a little sad, a little bored, you know, so far away from the thing I love the most. 

It's like, really, this is my, this is what I get after spending six days a week caring about the product, the magic part. And, um, I had an a of it, it might, it dawned on me that well, every single time my team is working on a courageous idea, they stay later, they're happier. And when our clients buy those ideas, usually the return is through the roof. And every time we sort of surrender to the safe idea, my team is miserable. I got a closed door meeting with somebody and, you know, the returns meager at best. And so I remember going to my partners and saying, I think this is our positioning, courageous ideas are the only ones that matter. I wanna go write a book about this. Let me go interview all these courageous leaders and all these companies we wanna work with anyway, build these relationships, devious attempt to like position us and they're like, we love that go. And so I start my, my little, my little sojourn and, um, and as I, as I start meeting with some pretty amazing people. 

You know, there's this famous line, like about every, every movie ever told that the hero thinks the treasure is one thing. And it turns out to be something entirely different. Joseph Campbell 101. And um and this is like exactly what started happening to me. 

Like, yeah, I, I wrote the book, I thought I wrote the book to position my company and realized I wrote the book first because I needed the book. Yeah, you were kind of helping yourself out, kind of making yourself like, is this, do you think that the book was, was kind of validation for you for what you were feeling? Is that kind of what, what you think you wrote it for to like make you feel like, yes, this is what we should be doing or I should be doing or this is the space I should be in. Um I feel like uh you know what I, I always said the book was like a documentary which meant it wasn't like I'm so smart here on my soapbox ideas. It was, it was more like I'm gonna stay in the role of observation list. And as I met with certain people, certain truths became clear that we needed to bubble to the surface, I'll give you. And by the way, not just this is not about the business, this is like, even like me, the human. And so uh one of the stories that, that comes to mind was an in person interview with a founding Astro astronaut at Virgin Galactic. Her name is Loretta Hidalgo and I remember meeting her and she's like, yeah, come up, come up the street and have, have lunch with me. She was in Orange County and it's very early in the process. And at this point I have my own fears. Right? Like one, I'm not qualified to write a book. How do you do that? Um I wouldn't know what you're talking about here. Yeah. Another biggie was uh don't ask the astronaut a stupid question, right? And you know, I drive up there and before our tray is even at the table, she says to me, so what makes you qualified to write a book about courage to astronaut? 

You know, it's like, well, I've been writing pithy one liners on Twitter for a living. That's pretty courageous. And she's like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. 

She's like your brain is putting the emphasis where I'm not. I I didn't tell you to write this book. Part of your journey is to figure out why you're really writing this book. And as the conversation continued, she said, her definition of success is when there's no daylight between the personal you and the professional you. And that was the one, you know, it was a guy that had been in the service business for 20 some years, tap dancing, metaphorically. 

Speaking, of course, on a unicycle juggling fire trying to present subjective ideas to clients, Taking a call. I probably shouldn't take at 11 PM at night. Uh, folding like a lawn chair. 

I remember one time, gosh, with the CEO where we presented an idea because we thought we had to, we should never have presented the idea and the client bought that idea. So I just like all those little moments like flash before my mind as I'm driving back in silence, thinking of OK, this book is about to take entirely different twist than what I thought. Now, along that journey, I learned that we do want to be a lot of us at least want to be courageous. We just don't know how to do it. And so we confuse it with an impulsive move, uh a careless move or I'd say even now a resilient move and, and none of those, our acts of courage, they all they're all different things. And uh so as I kept going down the the rabbit hole, it became clear that this was bigger than courageous ideas. 

This was like every company was at some sort of not every company, but most companies had a deficiency of courage that was holding them back, which meant the leaders for some reason, felt stuck or scared. Um The work wasn't what it could be. There's just fear, there's just fear in the organization. And um like I said, I realized that this was a lot bigger than just ideas. It was, it was about uh courageous leadership, courageous ideas and courageous reinvention. And so when I, when I finished the journey, I remember going to my partners and saying, you know, good news is, the book is done and bad news is I'm firing myself. And that was near, near the end of 17, Had a two year non compete, held up the book. Um and then 2019 launched courageous, launched the book returned on courage and um it has been a wild four or five years now going around the country, sharing what I learned. Uh I've been very fortunate to, you know, share at Kellogg's and craftiness and Google and Snapchat and changing lives. Well, it changed my life first, you know, and I had to address that, that I was like, OK, like, imagine like this thing that you've done your whole career, right? 

Waking up and going, I am less passionate about this part. I still love ideas. But like if the idea isn't authentic to the culture on the inside, you're kind of just lying to the general public, right? And so I didn't want to do that anymore. Um So it's been a fun ride. 

You know, I went from service me to now telling the truth to me and everything that I do, which is awesome. Yeah, I'm interested because, you know, in just that explanation, it's almost like you had a couple like, like quick turns like there was this aha moment when you're sitting in your office just being a strategic manager of some sort, not getting to do the fun things that you kind of missed and then your decision to write the book and kind of go on that journey and talk to these people. But then that one statement and maybe there were more but that one statement from uh the astronaut that you were speaking with that, which one would you feel? Which one do you feel like? Was the most impactful that that kind of shifted your life? Because the way you tell it, you know, from the outside, it feels like that one sentence that she said to you was kind of like the biggest shift of the direction you were gonna go. Am I reading that? Right? Or was there one more impactful than the other? Um I mean, that's up there. 

Yeah, because the way you were telling it was like, like everything changed in the way you were telling your story too. Yeah, I would say, you know, and, and again, I think this is as much about you as it is about me now. So I'll acknowledge that I think every step towards tomorrow, right? As long as you're taking the steps is, is the reality, right? So I have to muster up the courage to write the book. Therefore, once we declare that we're doing it, who am I interviewing and who am I interviewing that we have to interview them. 

I might ask a stupid question. Right. Like every step is a step towards the next big insight. And I think, do you think if one of them didn't happen, you would be in the same space? Like, do you think if you didn't, you weren't able to meet up with her on that day? And those words were not said, do you think that it would have triggered you in a way? Or maybe you would have met the next person? They said something? I mean, I met some pretty amazing people along the way. Tony, she rest in peace who ran Zappos. 

I remember interviewing him. This was after the book, but he was like, are you sure it's not return on curiosity? So I had multiple people bring up the is it courage or curiosity? You know, and you know, all I really wanted to do was put something out in the universe that was gonna be useful, you know, I wasn't looking to puff my chest out and be like, oh look how smart I am, right? So like there were lots of little stories along the way and to be honest, even like sitting with the Eric Ryan who is like a serial entrepreneur, founder of method. So founder of ali, founder of Welly, he's an awesome dude first, like he's just a cool guy. But like when you first tiptoe into that world, you have your own idea of what like all powerful entrepreneur is gonna be like until you know, something about the word courage resonates with them and he come up and have lunch with me. And so like you, you realize that you're not that different. And I think that was a big, you know, in my own mind, I was putting space between who I was and this pedestal of who other people are. And then when you actually peel back the onion, the only difference is that they've done at the level that you kind of want to do it at. 

And, and you had, I had Yeah. Well, I haven't either. I, I, I asked that because I've talked to other people about how a sentence in a book, a sentence that someone has said to you, not you in particular, but someone that has said to someone how it can change it if it hits at the right moment, you know, like, uh for me, I, it took me a long time to get to the right therapist and, and whatnot to find my way out of grieving my mother. And it was just so weird that it was like literally a sentence that my therapist said to me where everything like it was like in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy walks out of her house into Oz and it's like sepia tones to color. 

That was kind of like what it was. It was like one sentence that anyone else could have said to me. But because she said it at that moment in time and so I think that's why I kind of trigger on, on that one thing that she said, putting that space or can you say it again? What did she say about the success? Yeah. Her definition of success is when there's no daylight between the personal you and the professional, you. 

Yeah, I mean, it feels like, I don't know, maybe that's why I stuck to that because it's like, so you remember it, you remember exactly it was years ago and the impact on that. And so that's why I was curious of how, you know, that one maybe opened your eyes more. But it sounds like you've been on this journey with all these other people that continually feed into this service mentality that you have and, and maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it feels like you do things more to help others and more to further a cause than maybe a traditional role of someone just trying to be more successful, quote unquote with money and, and prestige and those kind of things it seems like you lead with, with value or, or how you can add value to whatever situation you're in. 

I sure hope that, I mean, I'm, I'm trying, I'm hoping that's coming off. But like, but I think, you know, first of all, I'm not sure if I was always that way. I I will tell you that, like I really felt I was, I mean, I mean, I am a fiercely competitive person, you know, like I like a good challenge. By the way, I, one of my other life shifts is I just never thought it was that smart. 

My brother was always sort of branded as a smart one in our family. My older brother and I was branded as the good with people, son, you know. So it's like, oh, Ryan is so good with people. So like as a kid, I'm like, oh, he's a smart one. 

I'm the stupid one. All right, I guess I'm gonna have to outwork you and as a competitor. So like this was another fundamental truth that I believe is like, all right, I'm just gonna have to out work people. So however long that takes, I am willing to commit myself to, to get where I wanna go. And I had seen success at a young age. 

You grew up in a three car garage house family saw the, the value of hard work, saw what it could bring you. And I think, you know, see it be, it is real like if you've, if you've seen a ceiling broken and you live in that, I mean, there's other, you know, issues that come with that because they're like, well, wait a minute, how am I supposed to get here if I'm the dumb one? Right? So my first life shift I kind of feel like still happened in the book writing process where like whatever I had buried, I, I allowed to come to the surface. 

I'm like, oh shit, this is a story I'm telling myself that I'm not that smart. And as I do remember what maybe triggered that, I think it was an amalgamation of all of the journey. It was, it, it didn't matter by the way that I had, you know, survived New York City for a decade. It didn't matter that I had founded my own company at 29. It didn't matter that, you know, I found a way to buy out a partner. It didn't matter that I found a way to merge my company with another. Like all these things in my mind didn't matter. It was like until I got to this moment, this, this pause, which is what the book was and really did the work. 

Now, it's like there's two stories being told at the same time. You're, you're writing the story of the book, but you're looking at your own story and that was sort of like, wow, oh my goodness. One, I have been making courageous choices whether I realize it or not since the age of 82. 

This is a story I'm telling myself that I'm not smart, but if I'm not smart, How, you know, how did I survive all these accomplishments or build up all these, these businesses. And so it was to me, that's why I like it isn't just that one line. The, the therapy came in another one that I love. I don't, I don't even remember who said it, which is sort of a travesty. 

It's like someone said to me, it takes you 40 years to figure out who you are in the next 40 to be that person. I mean, I'm writing the book At 39, you know, like, like looking at my 40th birthday and going that completely resonates with me uh for me, you know, and and so it sounds like writing that book was like, like a journaling activity and like this dual layer thing, like you're creating something of value for other people, but it allowed you to uncover a whole bunch of things that you just mentioned, you know, as far as kind of uh not realizing you were doing amazing things that anyone else from the outside probably saw as amazing, but you maybe saw as just like a checklist to get to the next thing. All of my little, if there was like, we'll call them confidence metrics. 

I'm making this up as we go along, my confidence metrics, my checklist of, of moments of confidence uh being a good strategic thinker almost never came from something I did for directly for a client. It was like, it was much harsher stuff that happened and like, like buying out a partner who, you know, wasn't exactly being as ethical, in my opinion, as she should have been in me stumbling into that and finding a way to keep the company and get rid of a partner. Like almost every step of the way my confidence, writing a book, you know, like my confidence came from overcoming some massive strategic challenge that I never thought I could do. It was almost like the, oh, yeah, I can kinda like you need help figuring out your pithy little storyline for your business. You're over here. We need to move you over here. Uh That, that to me is the easy stuff. It was, it was, it was all the other stuff along the way. 

You know, there's a, there's a, it reminds me of uh Malcolm Gladwell, I think he wrote in the book Tipping Point. I'm or maybe it's, I think it was tipping point. He talks about the Beatles getting their 10,000 hours in Germany. 

They played so much more than everybody else by the time they got became the Beatles, it was like, you know, of course we do. You know how much we practiced over here before. So I felt like, oh my gosh, when I really step back, I call it body jumping, I jump out of my body. I look at myself and look at all those little moments. 

I was like, wow, I'm really proud of myself. Like, I it's pretty cool. Just a kid from Maryland who went on the adventure and now now I get to share these stories with others in, in hopes of unlocking them. 

Yeah, I'm in Yeah, I mean, it sounds so interesting because when you, when you made up your term of confidence metrics, uh the little areas that you were describing were all the areas in which you were doing a service of some kind of value for other people. And like you said, it wasn't the, the actual job you were hired to do over here by this, you know, brand, but rather saving the company from something that was unethical, you know, and, and doing that so that other people because you were probably doing that not necessarily self serving, but there are other people that work in this company, I'm guessing and you were trying to keep the value there and the, the feeling and, and all the things that, that matter if we want to call it that no doubt. And even even on the mer my merge, it was, I always felt like my people were, it was a family. Yeah, so like making sure that my family had a place to work was more important than, you know, what does that mean for me? 

I I really believe that and it seems to align with when you talked about having that aha moment and realizing that people's happiness and people's attachment to what they were doing and feeling good about it happened in these courageous moments and you didn't want to necessarily continue on with what that company was doing because I, I'm guessing a lot of the projects were very standard safe if you will, things that you didn't want to do anymore, you wanted to do the things that lit people up that were bringing the joy to the people around you. And so that one kind of feels like you made that decision, you know, maybe it helped you, you personally grow in the long run, but also you kind of made that for others in a sense. So I think, I think at the end of my last business, first of all, I will be the first to acknowledge that there were days that I was a shitty partner to my partners. I had two partners, they were a little bit older, it was a merged. So my, my folks came in, they had their culture, we had our culture and it was never a perfect match and I, I should have done more homework and they should have done more homework on us. 

Now we still, yeah, uh we still did some amazing things in five years together. That's how long we were together. But like in my heart, like, like once I realized that our, the way we went about making decisions were not aligned, I mean, there was Maslow, this is before the book, like I would have secret meetings with certain people on the leadership team to try to figure out? Like, how do we convince my partners that we can't go in this direction? We need to go in that direction. It was like an internal ad campaign. It was, well, it was clearly a, you know, a AAA lesson and what not to do. So if, if I'm my partners, you know, from a trust standpoint, I, I don't, I wouldn't trust my behavior. 

Now on the flip, I didn't trust their behavior. And so we had this breach of trust and we had a culture that mirrored both sides. So I think if I'm really, really honest, as I went on the book writing journey, and I'm an observation is before of anything as I'm learning how Apple is becoming Apple or Google is becoming Google or Logitech is becoming log tech or whatever brand we're studying when I looked at the way they were going about staying agile, staying clear, staying aligned, staying united and then I put my own experience through that. Yeah, I just stopped lying to myself and realize like, OK, the problem is as much me and my lack of alignment with my partner. So we don't trust each other. Does that make them bad people? Does that make me a bad person? 

I don't think so. It just means that we're probably not a good parent as partners. And so it, it made it easy for me to go. How can I write a book about courage and stay, you know, like. Right. Right. And so that was easy. It was sort of that, that moment where it's like everything I've learned I, I cannot do here the way I'd wanted to do it, it would just be a constant fight. 

So, back into the darkness, we go. Right. And what I left with really was with a framework to teaching leaders how to be courageous in the belief that there was a need for it. And like I said, I'm five years in on it certainly don't have it all figured out. Um But am madly passionate that I get to do this every day. And yeah, again, this is a branding one on one thing. But like when your company is called courageous, you're making it very clear who you're not for as much as who you are for. And that was sort of like, oh one thing I wanted to get right is like, our phone is not ringing for someone looking for same old everyday status quo. 

Our our phone rings when somebody is stuck, when somebody is scared, when someone is stale, when someone is spinning and they can get their ego out of the way and know like, hey, let's, we can't, we probably need some outside help. Let's give these guys a call and see where it takes us. Would you see that? 

Do you think that that book journey was like a quote unquote awakening kind of period for you in which you kind of more leaned into, like your heart centered things. I know you, like, you probably did that in some of your projects and whatnot. I just see it as, like I talk to other people about this kind of checklist life. Like we all kind of just kind of like the next thing and then you do the next thing and you just kind of get in that, that routine and then, like you said, it was like, kind of like a pause and that book, period. How long was that period? By the way, I'd say it was Start to finish three years. Ok. So you had a, like a long period of, of kind of finding yourself or like, I guess unpacking what you really want to do to that, that quote of like, takes 40 years to figure out who, you are. right? A lot of unwinding, a lot of unwinding. Yeah. But yeah, you know, I would say it was like a year of research, a year of writing and then a year to figure out the publishing business because I didn't know that space. Was there something about that period? Was there anything? And I'm thinking maybe selfishly here from my own experiences. Was there anything about you that you knew that you wanted to get rid of but had a hard time letting go of? Oh, absolutely. Like what? Yeah, I mean, uh, well, I mean, it sounds silly but like, all right, I'll do this in a very me way. Do it. OK? You're gonna ask me a question. 

No, I'll do a story. I'll go storytelling. So I have this keynote bit that I do and, and it looks at the point of the bit is that we, we all don't know ourselves as well as we think, we know ourselves. 

So, like, like I know, I know who I am. I sort of know who I am. Like, ok, really? Can you like, can you rattle off your values? Are they, if you do actually have personal core values, are they personalized? Are they prioritized? And generally what I've learned is like, less than 1% of the population can rattle off their values and have clarity of, of those values. And before the book writing journey, I didn't have my own values on lockdown either. I, I think I know who I am. So the bit is I share this, I share Jerry Maguire. I share like an image from Jerry Maguire And I'm like, who's seen this movie? And usually 95% of the audience has seen it. 

Maybe if you're the 22, year olds have not seen it yet. No comment. All good. See it. It's a great movie and then I'll say there's three great lines, three great movie lines that come from Jerry Maguire. Have you seen this movie? 

I have OK, I can only think of two. Give me, give me the two I can think of. Show me the money and the money. You see me? Ok. So show me the money. Great line. And you would have an issue and show me the money. No. Who doesn't want to make more money? Great. I get it. The second one was you had me at? Hello? Oh, you had me at. Hello? You had me at? Hello? That's a Sweet one. Right. Good old tear jerker. And then the 3rd 1 is you complete me and I believe you completely, completely messed up my generation. Yes. I, I don't believe in you complete me. 

I believe in me. Complete me. I, and now look, I'm married, happily married. 

I got married late, had a whole New York City life. I was very lucky in my opinion that my wife sort of, she had her own shit that she was dealing with. But when we met, we compliment each other. 

It's you compliment me. Not, you complete me right now. My sense is when you compromise, the more you compromise, the more compromised you are. And what I realized when I looked at my own situation with my partners, I felt really compromised. My values were compromised. 

I couldn't lead the way I wanted to lead. We were just disagreeing on everything and there was a lot of fear in the building and in my heart, I'm like, if I'm ever gonna fully be myself, I, I can't be me in this environment. And by the way, they probably couldn't be them with me critiquing or questioning their point of view on certain things either. So, you know what I, what I shed was a false version of myself. 

What I got rid of was someone that was, was not totally me. It was a compromised version of myself. Again, they didn't mean it, I didn't mean it, it just was the reality of the situation and even the way I let other people, I couldn't fully, I had to bite my lip in certain scenarios. I couldn't be me because I had to toe the company line when I wanted to take a more courageous dance. So now what's nice is I'm, you know, I've rid myself of that. 

The people that I'm aligned with are fully two ft in on the values of courageous. They are sacrifices. Number one, magic is number two, clarity is number three, change is number four, every decision we make as a company. Are we helping our clients sacrifice and make hard choices? Where's the magic in the business? Right? Do you feel it? How clear are we? Are we helping them be clear? 

Ultimately, it's all or not if we're not shifting, if there's no change. And so what's great is by getting myself out of that last life, taking all the learnings from it, I can now fully be myself. You know, like this is me on Sunday on Tuesday, on Thursday on Saturday. 

Like, this is me. It's just good news or bad news. Like, this is me every day of the week and I love that. And I think that's the point. I think that's what Loretta meant by. 

There's no daylight between the professional of you and the personal of you. Well, in that last life I had to bite my lip professionally. I couldn't fully be myself. I couldn't give tough love, by the way, like, I think tough love is still love, right? It's like our podcast was, was a perfect example of tough love, right? Was it not? Yeah. No, I think it's, it just shows that you care, right? 

You're not, you're not sugarcoating things. You're like, look, let's get to the root of this and let's figure this out because I wanna see it. I wanna see it and we go, go ahead, let's get back to the shutting down the computer now. Oh God. Well, I didn't actually turn it off but hold on before we get there. 

I, I asked that uh question about those later, like a part that you were existing shedding uh or, you know, kind of where you went with that story. Were you aware, like in the moment when you were kind of like working as a partner in there? Did, were you aware that you were a compromised version of yourself or was this, you know, like through your book writing journey and the research and, like, looking down was that when you kind of realized like, oh, oh, crap. 

Like, I didn't realize I was letting it get to this point. Uh, I, I'm like, I would say, I knew within the first year that I had made an error but I was like, just bury it, just bury it, just suppress it. Go back to what you always do, which is just at work everybody. Right. And by the way, even that mentality probably turned other people off at that company because I'm like, no, we're gonna be here on Saturday. 

You know, it's like, so and it wasn't until the book writing journey that I was like, OK. All right, let's do we do. I like me. Do I like what is this really about? 

Oh, this is about identity. OK. That's what this is about. This is about identity, right? And I've like creative identity. And what happens if I shed myself of this brand? 

Like, aren't I supposed to be Mr I DEA I idea that was our company and I'm gonna eject myself out of that. And I've got, I'm just naked in like two years of who am I without that? Oh This is identity. And so I think once I had that realization that I was like, all right, well, you know, the spirit of the life shift like I can design the life I wanna live, I truly believe in this. So if I have to go backwards to go forwards. 

That's way better than sitting in this purgatory sort of moment that may be on the outside. It's like, well, identity wise in my heart, I knew it wasn't serving me anymore. You know, I, I mean, I feel like building the life that you want to live is something like, feels like an ideal that a lot of people probably have. And I was like, I, you know, I wish I could do this and I wish I could do that. But you did it. 

You like were, I mean, we're gonna use the word courageous here. I think it's courageous to a lot of people because I think there's just a lot of people that are like, they're not living the life that they want to live because of fear because they're afraid of the unknown, they're afraid of not having or, or having opinions of other people that some, for some reason matter to them. And so I think just by you doing that and leaning into that is probably why you're so successful with what you're doing now is because it's all authentic, you're not faking things, you're not. And I think a lot of people fake things in, in the quote unquote, real corporate world, you do the things you don't want to do. 

You pretend you like doing it because that's your job. So I will say that I really believe this. Like, there's no part of me that's like I am so successful, like I'm just in it and I do think it's that you're right that it's, you know, it's funny I have a shirt that I wear. It's like I despise fake until you make it. 

I am a fan of mistake until you make it. It's all about mistake until you make it. And so give yourself permission to say this is messy, but it's gonna get me closer to what I think I love to do the most. And if you could get paid to do the thing, you love the most, even if you had to take a few steps back like a catapult and then almost like a slingshot, right? So you gotta go down and then bam up, you go, why wouldn't you do that? And I mean, you've, you've touched on the scene a few times already, but I, I truly care and now truly don't care all at the same time. You know what I mean by that? 

I know I knew that was coming. Um I genuinely care about helping. I genuinely care about being an ally and I surrender the part where it's like why in some ways I don't care because like, I don't care that I this may ruffle feathers a little bit, but you need to hear it. If it's gonna be for the greater good of you, now you're gonna have tact and grace. You don't have to be a jerk about it. Right. So when I say things like Matt, you want impostor syndrome? Oh Yeah. The minute you lose it, you are landing in the, the, the, the land of comfort and you're not growing. Right. Right. You want Messi, I forgot what I was gonna say. OK, you want messy? You, you want. So I care and I don't care. 

I care, I care deeply for the right thing. If it's gonna help unlock you or free you or liberate you and, and then I don't care that it might, it might not be the popular choice because people don't like conflict to kind of say what needs to be said. Let's just discuss it. Now again. I, I do think, you know, I try to have ta I really do but like sometimes it's like this, ok, I'll say things like unpopular moment, alert D D D D D D, right? Like, hey, really? What's, why do you feel like you're not going for it? Like, what is it, what are you afraid of? Right. I feel like that. 

I don't care comes from care like you, it's just like, you know, it's, it's just another version of the way that you care. You don't, you don't want to beat around the bush. You just want to be like, let's brass tacks, let's, let's talk about, you know, what matters, I guess in a, in a way that we don't need to sugar coat it or make everyone feel better or, you know, but you don't care if everyone's like, oh, I can't believe you said that. So, in that sense I, I get it now. That makes sense more than like, you don't care because I don't believe that you don't care. It's more like care is in Like a 90 font and don't care as in like a nine font. Ok. I thought you were going with 19 nineties and then I was like, ok, so it's like neon or what's, what's happening here. Uh No, I, I get it though. 

I, I think that's, I think it all just makes sense. I don't know you very well, but I know you from this our second conversation and everything that you've said and everything that I've read about you and everything that I've heard on your podcast, it's all care, it's all caring about the good for others and you know, you have your, you have your sock company that is intending to do good, right? You, your podcast, your book is designed to help other people feel value and move forward and help other people feel good. So it feels like your whole thing is just about caring about everyone else and, and maybe now this journey has brought you to care about you too and what you wanna do and you know, kind of live that full, full life of just value. It feels, it feels very, very positive and good being on this side. 

And, and hearing you say all this stuff and do this for other people. I appreciate that. I, you know, I'm not good at receiving compliments, but I think there's one in there. I don't care if you're not good at that because I think, I think we can see it and I think that's probably why you get the clients that you do. 

Why you're able to help them. Why? Because I think someone coming to a company like yours, they're coming probably in fear, right? 

That they're either stuck or they can't do something. But something about you, something about the values that you instill in your team allows someone to receive what's going to be scary and take action on that. And that, that says a lot and it's really cool to kind of see how you took this book writing process and that aha moment watching people light up and watching people dim when they're doing the things and you were able to like uncover this version of you that was always there but like shed the things that, that didn't matter to you and just see what you've done with it. 

I think it's super inspiring and, and just thank you for what you're doing in the world. You know, I think it's, it's much needed because so many people are living what I see as a checklist life and they just do the next thing that society has told them that they're supposed to do myself included. Like, I feel like we all get just caught up in this rat race and you're going against the grain. And I think it's, it's really refreshing. Wow. Thanks, man. Yeah. Ok. Now, tell me what should I do when I close my computer? 

No, I'm just kidding. I think, you know, I think it's just a, it's just a matter of uncovering those moments for me and, and, you know, fully transparent. I know what I need to do. It's my emotions and my past and all those other pieces of, you know, maybe in the sense of like you always felt like you had to prove that you were smart, right? Or you, that you weren't the not smart one. Uh I think it's the same thing I think when my mom died, I felt like I had to prove to everyone that I was going to be successful because I, I felt a natural fear in everyone that I was not going to be because oh God, you know what's gonna happen to a kid without a mom, like drugs and on the street, you know, like naturally, right? And so I've, I still have that piece of me that if I can't, I do fear the mistakes, mistake it till you make it still A little bit. So my advice that you never asked for because I care and don't care at the same time. And this is not just for Matt, you know. Look, everyone. Yeah. Congrats. You've made it to the 52 minute mark and you're still here. Which means I am talking to you. So, with all of my free time that I don't have, if I was gonna make a T shirt, it would say less. Think more. Do turn, get your computer out. 

Let's think more to fill it out. Go, you need the at bats. Let's think more. Do you can get in there and the boss could be terrible? OK. Leave. Let's think more. Do, don't get caught up in analysis paralysis, right? 

You just need to like, start taking cuts. You know, everybody learns what they wanna do from probably feeling like jumping into what they didn't want to do. You know, and the more you do this, the more you realize usually people remember the best boss they ever had and the worst boss they ever had, that means you have to have a worst boss and a best boss. That's just a rite of passage. So I wouldn't allow myself to freeze up so much. 

I'd just be like, ok, this, hey, is this gonna be the best boss I ever had or the worst boss I ever had, da da da and just get in there and start playing and learning and see where it takes you because there might be, imagine if there's just one other person in that organization, they're not even on your team. There are like seven silos away that you saw in the lunch room when we had offices and you're like, that person knows what the hell they're doing. I'm gonna stay in touch with that person. Year goes by two years, go by three years, go by suddenly out of nowhere. The universe decides to drop some wild pithy point of view on linkedin. 

That that person sat on your feet like, oh my God. I remember this guy or girl. I love this person. You reach out to me. 

That's all you're like doing right now is like building Matt's army. Like who's your people who are the people you shouldn't work with? You might find one or two people for every job. But like the more you do it, the more you're like, wow, that person's talented. 

I wanna work with that person again. Not the boss, not the worst boss to someone along the way you need those at bats. So let's think more. 

Do I think that's a, that's a good piece of advice. I like to kind of wrap up the conversation with a question and I feel like I know what your answer is going to be. But uh if you could go back to you getting ready for that merger with those guys and this version of you could, could talk to previous version of Ryan, not Ryan because this is totally different people. Now, uh if you could go back to that version of you before the merger. Would you say anything to him or are you a believer of things need to happen in, in the way that they do? Why or why not? 

I um I'm pretty happy with how this has all turned out. So even the Oh shit, give him a high five. Yeah, like, good for you for experimenting. I mean, the amount of confidence I took from still building what we built knowing deep down in my heart that like, I mean, look there, I mean, I'm just like going back to it like there were still some very Critical benefits that my partners brought. Like they were adults. 

I was not an adult. They looked like adults. They like our price point went up because I, I had adults with me. They were 12 to 15 years older than me that like that they're like, I am grateful for that. So to me it's like throw yourself in these situations. 

There's you're not gonna find round peg, round hole, it's never gonna be perfect. You just kind of have to like make the most of the situation, but like you can't do that from the sideline. You gotta do it from like jumping in the water and seeing where it takes you. And so I would, I would, I would maybe five myself and say dude, wow, that was good for you. That was not a perfect deal hand and whatever it is. And like you still managed to like, make some pretty cool things and hire some pretty amazing people and do some pretty cool things from a city known for fish tacos. Way to go. Maybe you could slip him a note and remind him that he's smart. Oh, whoa, whoa. Don't, don't start to believe that hype to believe that I have to stay the course. Keep chopping wood. See what happens. I, I like it. 

I think you've, you've, you've given inspiration to people that are kind of on the fence about, you know, kind of leaning into what they really want to do or finding a way to live the life that they want to live and you know, your circuitous route, if you will in the way of your pause and, and kind of what really led you to kind of realize what you want to do, I think is going to serve as inspiration for people listening to this podcast. I often talk to listeners about how whether or not they, they identify with these external moments or these internal kind of fire moments that, that you talked about today. And there are so many that just, just need this little nudge and this, you know, think less do more kind of attitude I think is gonna really help these people. So thank you for just taking the time to be a part of the life shift podcast. It, it truly means a lot. Oh, man. Thanks for having me on Matt. And I'm, you know, this already and I won't go too deep on this, but I'm looking forward to seeing your next year, two years, three years seeing where your journey takes you. I appreciate it. This podcasting journey is the most fulfilling thing that I've done and too bad. 

I found a space that's really hard to make money in. But we're, we're gonna, we're gonna keep working on it and, uh in the show notes, if people are interested in, uh connecting with you, I'm gonna give them to your website. I will connect them to your podcast. Uh You can listen to my episode on the Courageous podcast as well. And, uh, anything else that you want to tell people to connect with you in any way? It's a good podcast. Take a listen. Yeah, I, I, I'm talking about, I'm talking about our, our conversation. Uh No, find me on at Ryan burma dot com. 

Connect with me on linkedin. And, um, you know, even when it's hard to stay courageous for sure and definitely check out the courageous podcast, all the other episodes, you talked to some amazing people that are really leaning into purpose and, uh, being courageous in the way that they do it. And so I definitely recommend that maybe I'll share a couple of my favorite episodes in the show notes as well. Uh If you are listening to the live shift podcast or the Courageous podcast, I highly recommend giving a five star review. Uh a nice little write up about how much you enjoy listening to the episode. If it does nothing else, it makes us feel good for a couple moments as we read it. So uh please take the, take the time to do that and we will be back next week with a brand new episode. Thanks Ryan. Thanks Matt. Be good buddy.