This is an episode that covers it all from a man that’s seen it all! Mike Brcic shares his thoughts on scaling your life so you can scale your business. He talks about how we are all hard wired for connection and how isolation, depression, and lack of vulnerability can prevent us getting what we need. We explore how personal growth isn’t just individual work and where community is necessary.
TranscriptStephen Christopher 0:00
Alright, hey, what's going on? I hope you're having a great day today, Steven here with the exciting unknown podcast with my awesome co host, Laura Sanchez today, Laura, how's it going? Not too bad. All right, rock and roll? Well, as always, and now it's definitely just part of the show. At this point, we have another absolutely amazing, badass, unbelievable guest today that's going to drop tons and tons of knowledge based on a lot of experience that he has.
And unlike a lot of entrepreneurs, I'm going to call him out that he doesn't give himself enough credit for what he's been through and how many people that he does help with all of the stuff that he's done. Because I've known this person for a little while. And he certainly adds tons and tons of value to the entrepreneurial community, and a lot of things that he has been through.
So just a little bit of background about this amazing person. Like a lot of us as entrepreneurs and leaders that are a little bit different in the community, when he graduated from the University of Toronto, went kind of into the corporate world, and then quickly figured out, wait a minute, this just is not for me. So at the age of 24, basically left the shackles of the corporate world, headed out into the mountains of British Columbia. And within about six months had followed his passion to create something called sacred rides, which is now ranked the number one mountain bike tour operator on earth by National Geographic,
Unknown Speaker 1:27
I just got goosebumps would you say? Like, wow, that's pretty crazy. Yep,
Stephen Christopher 1:31
so an absolutely unbelievable company that he had founded at a very young age based on following his passions, and then ran that for quite some time until 2019, when he exited that business, which we're going to talk a lot about that like when you're doing something that you're truly passionate about deciding when to exit and deciding how to do all of that. In conjunction with that, Mike's done a lot of work on the philanthropy side 2009 him and his wife founded bikes without borders, they have worked in multiple countries. With that we can talk maybe a little bit about that. He started a two year stint as the Dean of social enterprise at the world renowned Center for Social Innovation in Toronto, that's quite a mouthful, had to say a couple times before he got him on here. And now has moved into a new project called wayfinders, which this is really, really cool. I'm excited to talk a little bit more about it.
I've watched him grow this over the last couple years, basically takes entrepreneurs community blends all of this stuff together with adventure and with travel and is creating these unbelievable experiences, where people are having massive, massive transformation in their life. And in conjunction with all of this. This person sounds amazing on paper, but he's also gone through some really dark times and has battled like a lot of us have with depression, and has talked openly about it to help a lot of people that might be experiencing something like that, that just don't quite know where to turn or when they they feel alone. So this guy has done a lot more than most of us ever have in our entrepreneurial life. And without further ado, I would like to welcome Mike bursik to the show. Mike, how's it going, man?
Unknown Speaker 3:10
I'm great. Great to be here.
Stephen Christopher 3:12
Awesome, man. Cool. So let's dive right in. So at a young age, you founded a company called sacred rides, which was something that you're very passionate about you take you took riders all around the world on mountain bikes to have these amazing experiences. When you started that, was it. What was your your thought process was this like, dude, I've hit the jackpot. This is like the most awesome life I'm ever gonna have. I got the job I want I'm doing what I want. I'm making money. Like, is that how that felt when you started that?
Unknown Speaker 3:45
Well, I'll answer the question about the thought process. The thought process was, wow, I just got fired from my third job in a row. After university, I moved to this little ski town in the in the Canadian Rockies. And, and is a bit of soul searching and realizing that I was a terrible employee, I didn't work well. For others, I thought, you know, work well with others, but not for others. And I was just walking along the river with a buddy one day, kind of pondering what my next move was. And he said, What do you love mountain biking?
And there's this awesome trail network around here and more and more tourists every year? Why don't you take tourists out and show them the trails? And sort of let that simmer for a couple days and then decided and have it and and yeah, I mean, I tell the story often about my our first customer and in that that first year so I had a partner I convinced somebody else to join me on this on this crazy ride. But that first year we had exactly one customer and and which was a bit bit of a modest start to say the least.
But I think we drew straws and I ended up getting dibs on taking this. Taking this guy out and I had this crazy grin on my face the entire day. He must have thought I was drunk or high. Because I just couldn't believe somebody was paying me I, you know, I think he paid me like $100 or something like that. But I could not believe somebody was paying me to ride my mountain bike in the Canadian Rockies and was like, wow, this is incredible.
And, and, you know, one thing led to another, we grew the company, my partner ended up leaving year five, I kept growing the company, we kept doing more and more trips throughout British Columbia, and then expanded it internationally, first to Peru. And then pretty much all over the world, we ended up, you know, almost every pretty much every continent except Antarctica, and got a lot of, you know, got a lot of awards and accolades in the process. And it was, you know, pardon the pun a great ride, huh, that's awesome. And so,
Stephen Christopher 5:45
I mean, the what I pull out of that is that you followed your passion, you knew you knew something that you're passionate about very early on, you followed that passion, and then you made it a career. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs are looking for what is my passion so that I can follow it? You seem to have done that early, but you still sold the company in 2019. So what started the change along the way, to where you made that decision? Because I guess really what I'm getting at is, I've always thought I mean, I'm still looking for things I'm passionate about. And when I find that I'm like, holy shit, I'm gonna do that forever, because I'm so passionate about it. But how do you start that process of like, exiting something that you were so passionate about?
Unknown Speaker 6:30
Yeah, really. Two things. I would say to that. One is, I don't, I don't necessarily believe passions has to be you don't need to turn your passion into, you know, a financial pursuit. I was also, you know, I love music. And I ended up because that because, you know, the first 10 years from we were running trips, and VC company was super seasonal. Our season was ended June, September. And so had a lot of time filled in the offseason, I decided, I love music, and I've decided I wanted to, you know, make a career out of that as well. So I ended up going to music school, and and ended up getting hooked up with this band, one thing led to another, we started getting gigs all over the place, we toured North America, we toured Europe, we released a few CDs, and it kind of just, you know, took off. And that was for two years, that was an amazing, and I was still running my company at the time is kind of, you know, we'd This was back in one of this early 2000s.
And you know, we'd be we'd be on the road and I'd be stopping at phone booths, this was pre cell phones are pretty useful cell phone, then I'd be calling, I'd be calling leads, you know, somebody to fill out a form on our website and be at a payphone. While the rest of the band is peeing in the, you know, in the gas station, hey, do you want to book a trip? Anyway, it was it was two amazing years, and we played you know, 150 shows a year and we played played, you know, crowds of 10,000 crowds of 10. But after a while, it was just, you know, I really burnt out on that.
And I realized that taking this thing that I love, which was playing music, and then making that, you know, one of the primary focuses of my life, which meant touring all the time, which meant recording, which meant publicity, you know, all this kind of stuff, it turns something I love into into a job, right and, and ended up getting out of there after about two and a half years. And, and that's not necessarily, you know, not necessarily the case, what happened was sacred rides.
It was, it was an amazing journey for about 15 years. And then back in, in 2013, I decided I was impatient with our growth and I wanted to ramp things up and raise money from investors. I did it again in 2014 did it again in 2016. And hired people like mad and expanded and, and, and ended up you know, where I was, I spent most of my day looking at spreadsheets, dealing with HR issues, dealing with shareholder reports, stuff like that, and virtually no time on my mountain bike or traveling the world, which I love to do.
And, and that was the point where I realized that, you know, this wasn't what I signed up for. And, and, and I wanted to get out and I also felt, I've done everything I could in that industry and had an amazing experience doing it. But it was time to move on. And I guess you know, the one lesson I would share about that is that in hindsight, really a lot of it had to do with my ego and wanting to just, you know, scale this thing all over the world and be on the cover of entrepreneur, Entrepreneur Magazine and stuff like that.
And when I stopped actually positive why I was doing this, there wasn't a good answer other than my ego and my need for validation. And that's a you know, and that's something I caution a lot of entrepreneurs against what because we just sort of take it for granted that our purpose as entrepreneurs is to scale and keep growing and keep growing. But, you know, we don't need to do that. And what I've done with white wayfinders has been the exact opposite. I found I found the right size for the company. And I've maintained it there.
Stephen Christopher 10:04
When you when you were going through that, like when you figured out like identity and ego and things that were tied up in it. How did that come about? Like, had you already been doing? work? And like studying and reading about ego? And that? Or did it come in a different way of just like uncomfort, and frustration or fear or anything like that? And then you kind of learned it was ego? or which one of those came first?
Unknown Speaker 10:28
Yeah, good question.
Unknown Speaker 10:30
Well, it was a lot of discomfort at first, because as I was working like crazy, I was stressed out, you know, the thing with growing a company which is, which is really common, your revenues are going you know, are going like this, but your expenses are going going up even more steeply. And, and it's like this hamster wheel, where you're losing money, and you get a raise more money from investors, and then you hire more people, and it's just this crazy hamster wheel. And so I found myself working harder, constantly stressed out about cash flow issues, you know, didn't know half my staff, always, always thing that I realized I was, we're just this company was kind of getting away from me.
And I was, and also it was affecting my relationship with my wife, with my kids, my friends. And and, you know, two people came into my life that I think you probably know, both of them. One was Ryan Holiday, by by way of his book, ego is the enemy, and I was a big wake up call or punch to the face, because I could, you know, I saw myself in those pages very clearly. And the other one was our mutual friend, your local buddy, Philip Mckernon. And essentially, that he did that nmt. And one of the questions he asked was, were you seeking validation. And I realized that so much of what I was doing with my business was an attempt for validation, you know, this little, this little child in me that needs validation from the world.
And, and as I, as I started to become more aware of that, the more I realized that that was just a fool's game, and I needed to get off. And, you know, in terms of validation, that I was better off thinking that for myself, or the people around me, rather than this crazy world, where I would be adored for what I'd done as an entrepreneur, which ultimately just seems so silly in hindsight.
Stephen Christopher 12:18
Yeah. Well, I, let's just say that I can empathize and understand. And I'm aligned with a lot of those things, that it's still a journey that I'm on how, from the time that you from those two times right egos the enemy Ryan Holiday, and Philip mckernon? How long did it actually take you to be able to, I guess, have that awareness of what your next step was going to be? I guess, actually, here's what I'm trying to get at. So from the time that you understood, or had the first idea that, hey, this, there's this thing called ego. And that's kind of what I'm searching for, to when you actually started to feel confident enough to take action on it, despite all the fear.
Because I'm kind of asking, you know, these are things that I've been through, like, I'll realize, man, I'm not passionate about that. And I see that it's ego, or some sort of identity game tied up in a business. But I mean, sometimes it's taken me, Well, sometimes I'm still on the path right now. But I mean, it's taken like years sometimes to be okay with it, because it fights so much like, No, you've got to do this, because you've got to provide and you've got to make money, and you're being silly, just that whole game.
Unknown Speaker 13:26
Yeah. Well, you know, it was it wasn't, wasn't a terribly linear process, it was all kind of, you know, at different times. But well, before I read that book, and before attended Philip session, I knew something was was amiss, and something wasn't working in my life. And, you know, I would say, prior to those two occurrences, I was probably thinking, well, geez, I need I just need to grind a little harder, and push a little farther, and then we'll get to this, you know, we'll get to this point where we reach whatever, some some point, you know, maybe some revenue pointer, where I'll be happy with it, something like that.
And then and ultimately, or maybe I would be able to reach a point where I could just, you know, hire somebody to oversee the whole thing and step back, whatever. And I realized that that was probably unlikely and not a very feasible scenario. And I realized the you know, the answer was to get off that hamster wheel. And for me that that took a few different forms.
The first was just being okay with this idea that I didn't need to run a massive company operating all over the world that I could run a small, profitable company and have a great lifestyle business that gave me lots of free time. And and the other was just was figuring out how do I get out of the business because I was working too much. I was doing way too many things that I was either a not good at or be hated doing or see both.
And so I went through this six months process where I just ruthlessly a started, you know, dealing with a cash flow issue. So cutting expenses, increasing our raising our prices, increasing our margins, that kind of stuff. But also getting out of the business, and really putting in lots of systems and processes. And by the end of that process, which, you know, I think was around six or seven months, the company, the fundamentals, the financials were way better, I was only working about two and a half, three hours a week on on Tuesdays just some meetings with the team. And the company was doing great without me.
And, and, you know, I did that for about maybe six, eight months, where I was just able to step back. And, and then after that, I just decided I was, you know, it was time for the next chapter in my life, and it was time to get, just get out of this company completely and sell it. And so that's it, that's a whole other story, we could spend a whole podcast talking about everything that it takes to sell a company, it was a lot more than expected. But, you know, it took about a year and a half from start to finish before,
Unknown Speaker 16:08
before I was out of the company.
Stephen Christopher 16:09
So that wasn't your intention, Mike, when you first said, Hey, wait a minute, I got to do something different. Your intent wasn't, oh, I'm going to sell my company, it was just, I'm gonna like I need to have more time, I need to step out of the day to day redefine what my role is, is that what I'm hearing and then that led you to baby selling,
Unknown Speaker 16:29
it was kind of in the it was kind of in the back of my mind. I mean, it was it was really there all along from the first time I raised money, because, you know, my pitch to investors wasn't, I'm going to create tons and tons of profit and start spitting out dividend checks, it was, you know, we're going to get this thing acquired one day, in my mind, we were going to get to a much higher revenue figure and a higher net profit figure and, you know, be like Scrooge McDuck and just sitting on my pile of money. But so, you know, the first thing I did was we weren't there, we weren't at the point where I could get anywhere near the type of money I wanted for the company, I realized I needed to make it more profitable. But I also knew I needed to get out.
And so to me, initially getting out was like delegating everything and creating good systems creating a great foundation. But I also knew that doing those things would make the company a more valuable and be a lot easier to step out of once I had sold it. And you know, you know, on that note, after I sold the company, I was pretty much free and clear, within four to five weeks, I stopped doing anything within the company, and it was just handed off.
And, you know, some people have like three earnouts, where they have to keep working for their acquire. And I don't know, anybody who's, you know, has ever enjoyed that you go from calling all the shots, being completely free to do whatever you want to somebody else's, basically, it's like you, you nurture a child, and then you know, maybe they become a teenager, and then you hand off that teenager to somebody else, and then they tell you how to raise the teenager. So it's, it was. So my goal was to just, if, if and when I did sell it to be able to get out as quickly as possible.
Stephen Christopher 18:14
So, you know, you work with a lot of really successful entrepreneurs, both all the way from the very small business up to the very large business. And you mentioned something a minute ago about this realization that you just weren't going to you weren't, I don't remember the exact words you use, you aren't basically passionate about or running a big company wasn't for you, you had that recognition.
So I think a lot of entrepreneurs, you know, we always think, at least in the beginning, most of us do, or we're gonna grow this thing, just that's the natural progression. So how does somebody start to figure out it? Am I am I supposed to run a small company? Am I supposed to run a big company? Like, how do you figure that out before you actually hit this breaking point? wall? Mm hmm.
Unknown Speaker 19:09
Unknown Speaker 19:13
you know, I do a little bit of consulting, and I'm very selective about the people that I work with. But, you know, one of the first things we do is just is really establish, really try and get at the core of what it is that they want from their company, and how does that company fit into their overall life? And if they, you know, if they had and usually it's, it starts off, they will say, Well, I want you know, this company doing x and revenue, and it's usually got a lot of zeros after it.
And we want to be operating in some variation of my story is like, we want to be operating in 100 countries and all this. And, and when I asked them why they gave me an answer, I want to ask them why again, we start to drill a little bit further down. And the further down they go, the less the less clarity they have around that period. original goal, and they start to realize like, hmm, I'm not really sure why, why I want all that stuff.
And, you know, I know you and I both know lots and lots of entrepreneurs, and we know, lots of very successful ones. And I know from a lot of candid conversations with them, people who've grown these, you know, incredible companies that we, you know, we all know that they're not, you know, some of them really enjoy it, but a lot of them are really can be downright miserable. Because they've kind of lost a lot of the freedom in their lives, and they're beholden to shareholders or hitting, you know, hitting targets or whatever.
And so, you know, if at the heart of it, people get very clear, you know, I want I want a company where I'm passionate about the work that I do, and, and doing, you know, stuff that Jazz's me, and that's fun, and I want to have time to spend with my kids. And, you know, once we get more and more clear, like, How much time do you want with your, your, your kids and your family? And what do you want to be traveling and all this kind of stuff? We can take all that and we can also start to get some clarity around?
How much money does it really take to, to finance this lifestyle, right. And people think that, you know, to finance the lifestyle I want, I've got to be making $2 million a year, these crazy numbers. And really, when you get down to it, like people don't, you know, to live a good life, people really don't need that much money. You know, it's not, it's probably not $50,000, but it's probably not 5 million either. And, and then when we have a number, which is basically their take home, then we look at the fundamentals of the business, and you know, what does it take?
What are the right sides for getting to that, to that to that place, in different, you know, different companies that have different, you know, if you're in the software business, you probably got really great margins. And if you're in the restaurant business, you probably have terrible margins, you need more revenue to get that same take home. So, I mean, I'm being very precise about that.
But yeah, you know, it's, it's really about getting clarity on what it is you want from life. And the problem is, you know, we entrepreneurs are so used to this buying into this message of grow, grow, grow and scale scale scale, that we just, we once once you get on that hamster wheel, it's just you're running and you don't have enough time to stop and really think about it. And, and once once people actually stop and think about it, they realize that maybe this hamster wheel isn't leading me anywhere that I really want to get to. And, and, and sometimes that can look like getting out of that company entirely. Because they they just actually don't even like it. Or sometimes it can look like, you know, this is this is where I need to be. And these are the margins that I need. And this is the take home that I need to live the life that I want.
And I can work 20 hours a week instead of 80, you know, to get the life that I want. So it's a different answer for each person. And there's also people who just are so fanatically passionate about their product or the service, and they want to see it reach as many people as possible. And they're prepared for the sacrifices that but it always involves a sacrifice, right? If you want, you know, if you're if you're if you're solving global hunger, and you know, the The problem is almost infinite. But you are really passionate about it, you've got to be prepared that you know, maybe that doesn't leave room, a lot of room for other things. So but if you're okay with that, then by all means go for it. Yeah, I
Stephen Christopher 23:14
love the the the why question, right? Going deeper, we use five why's like yeah,
Unknown Speaker 23:20
as five why's usually by the time we get to the fifth way, you you you have questioned the entire meaning of the universal.
Stephen Christopher 23:29
Yeah, I mean, I've done that exercise quite a few times that I end up like, I just want to be happy. I just want to be able to wake up and be happy and kind of choose parts of my schedule that I want them like that's really all that I need. And do it from somewhere with a roof over my head.
Unknown Speaker 23:44
Stephen Christopher 23:48
Man, there's so many do you have a specific question? Because I have about five different ways that I can think of that I can go talk a little bit about wayfinders. And, yeah, I don't know if I have any specific questions there. Unless you do. Yeah, I mean, my go into, to why you started that a little bit and kind of what the benefit is, right? Because you're taking these super high level entrepreneurs and really amazing people out and doing these kind of crazy experiences. What's the, I guess? What are they getting out of it? Or like, based on your method and kind of what you've created? What's that end result that they're getting where maybe they couldn't get from just you know, coaching or, or something else like that?
Unknown Speaker 24:30
Well, I will say it's been a very emergent and iterative process. So what it is now is pretty different than what it was when I did my first event back in September of 2017. And when I started out, it was really just I was kind of scratching my own niche and, and I've been attending, you know, all these various entrepreneur events here in Toronto around the world. And they all kind of follow the same same sort of format. You know, two or three days it was in a conference center or hotel or something like that. And there were speakers and there was workshops.
And for me what the biggest value I got out of those events was meeting other awesome entrepreneurs like yourself, and they weren't really set up for that, you know, it's like, Okay, I've got 10 minutes in between sessions in the hallway to try and develop a connection with somebody, or maybe if I'm lucky, over dinner at the bar, and, and I thought, jeez, I think there's a better way to do this. And having been in the adventure travel industry for, you know, 20 years at that point, I knew that and back when I was running sacred rides, in the early days, I was cook, I was driver, I was guide, I was, you know, everything.
And so I was, you know, hands on, I was running, you know, 15 trips, a summer week long trips, and out there with customers. And I saw that when you take people, total strangers, and you put them outside, and you do fun, challenging things together, it just brought people together really quickly, they bonded super quickly.
And often the more challenge, the more shared adversity they go through, the more the deeper the bond, right? an extreme example of this is when you send people off to war, you know, that's, that's about as adverse as you can get. But that tends to create lifelong bonds that are just, you know, almost unshakable. And so this is obviously came down version of that, but I thought, well, what about combining this, you know, entrepreneur conference thing with adventure. And so that first event, we were out in Fernie British Columbia, we stayed at this gorgeous cat skiing lodge up in the mountains, we did a bit of hiking, we did some mountain biking. And then, you know, I had the learning sessions scattered throughout.
And, and the feedback was awesome. But over time, it's, it's it's real, it's it's morphed a little bit, I've gotten more and more away from the learning, and more more, because I just realized people have, they have plenty of information, they don't need to hear another entrepreneur, tell them how to run a, you know, Facebook campaign or something like that, what they really what they're really craving is deep, meaningful connections. And that, you know, that often requires creating a container for real vulnerability to emerge.
Because as you said, you know, we entrepreneurs, we all struggle, there, it's a, it's a, it can be a very challenging life that we, that we choose, and it comes with all these wonderful things like freedom, but it also all these, you know, and there's all kinds of data that shows, you know, whether it's correlation or causation, but entrepreneurs have way higher rates of anxiety of depression, mental illness, stuff like that.
And a lot of people don't have anybody that they can talk to about that stuff. And so over time, I've tried to create this container for deep connection. And some of that happens just naturally, when you're out doing, you know, awesome things, but also through facilitated exercise and stuff like that. And then, you know, one of the final pieces that's emerged in the last year, year and a half, has been incorporating this cultural element to it. So, you know, I take people to crazy places like that, you know, the deepest reaches of the Amazon, or into Bhutan, or Greenland.
And, and I realized that each of these places have have a unique take on, you know, their unique culture and a unique take on what it means to be human and live a good life, and there's so much to learn from them. And by virtue of spending time with with these people and learning from these cultures, people were taking away, you know, these incredibly meaningful experiences that impacted how they viewed the world and how they would behave in the world and behave with each other.
And I didn't set out to do that it just sort of happened. And then I would hear these stories about, like, people having deeply transformative experiences on these events, and coming home feeling like just a deeper sense of clarity, about, you know, how they can live their life about how they can run their businesses. And so, you know, I don't I don't hit people over the head with it. It's not like, you know, you know, I'm not like, this is a transformation retreat. It's just simply by virtue of great people hanging out in these incredible locations, and being able to connect with each other and learn from these cultures, that they experience these these transformations. And in the process, they have like, crazy, awesome adventures. So it's also just, you know, a way for me to knock off my own personal bucket list.
Stephen Christopher 29:20
I love it, man. I mean, that's Isn't that how a lot of businesses start is we have something we're trying to solve. And that's it, you know, we start creating a product, and then it iterates five times and it becomes something really cool and really different than what it actually started as, but typically, we're trying to scratch our own itch, even if that's just initially, like a lot of young entrepreneurs a way to make money. Yeah. So, and I couldn't agree more with you like I see.
What I see happening is I Lauren, I talked about this all the time I say it I'm like the last thing we need is more five step programs to you know, growing this type of business and running Facebook ads, and getting more optins and downloads, like we just don't need any more information, what we need is, we need to help people figure out who they are and what they want, and then use those skills to become that in life. And when we have more people showing up as their true self, we're gonna have a much better world.
Unknown Speaker 30:22
And, you know, like, I tell people, my sort of pithy way of explaining, it's like, I'm not going to tell you how to scale your business, but I will give you show you ways to scale your life. And, and, you know, the conversations that we have at these events are, how do we live more fulfilled lives? How do we have better relationships? How do I, you know, how do I run a business while looking after kids and being with a partner? And how do I manage my mental health when I you know, when I want to, when I want to kill myself, some you know, sometimes they can be that difficult those conversations, but
Unknown Speaker 30:57
you know, I was,
Unknown Speaker 31:00
I always lament the fact that personal growth in North America has been kind of become synonymous with this very personal journey. But I actually think like growth, and healing is very much a communal journey, is that something that that we can and we should embrace together, and it's so much more effective that way, and going, but you know, you touched on my experiences with depression. This is all the way going back to 2004. And, you know, I was as deep as it goes, and I was, you know, borderline suicidal, a lot of the time, I ended up moving back to Toronto, sub ended up getting hooked up with this great therapist. And that was powerful. But what was the most powerful was he invited me into this into this group program.
And it wasn't like a support, he called it an encounter group, it wasn't a support group at all, it was about being in a room with seven other people three hours a week on, you know, I think it was Wednesday nights or something like that, and just being face to face with how you are in the world and how you operate and how you behave, and then creating a safe container for us to be able to get feedback and healing and support along the way. But, you know, I just, I just think we don't have to look at personal growth and healing as an individual journey, because so much healing happens in the context of community and connection with other humans. Yeah,
Stephen Christopher 32:21
yeah, I agree completely. So how do you know at the time that we're recording this? It's September of 2020? In COVID, right, so we're talking about building community, we're talking about, I mean, your stuff, which is traveling around the world, and having these really heightened experiences locking things in? How do we how do we do? How do we do that now? Like, how are we how are we? How are we healing? Now? How are we building community? Whether it's something you're doing or just your thoughts on it, like if somebody is listening to us and says, Okay, well, I need some of that in my life. How do you do that when we're not really supposed to be hanging out much or traveling?
Unknown Speaker 33:05
Right? Well, you know, I guess, um, there's obviously a wide spectrum of how people are operating in the world, these days, whether on an individual level or whether on a, you know, a jurisdictional level, so to speak, right. And so, some parts of the world are very tight restrictions, and some much looser, and some people are, you know, I would say here in Toronto, you know, we've been kind of living our life fairly normally, these days, simply because the case numbers have been really low, and most people are super comfortable with hanging up doors. So it hasn't been that big an issue. But now we're heading into winter, and that'll probably be a different story.
But you know, I could maybe I'll speak more generally, rather than specifically about whether it's in person or online. Again, I'll bring up Philip Philip mckernon. Again, I think you're probably familiar with his saying relationships move at the speed of vulnerability. And I don't know whether he coined that or whether he took it from someone else, it's a great thing, and it very much jives with my own personal experience, both my own and as a as a facilitator.
If you really want to truly Connect deeply with somebody else, or a group of people, you have to be willing to drop the armor, you know, a little bit or a lot. The more you drop that armor and be authentic about who you are as a human and your struggles, the more you're going to connect with somebody else. And I've seen this time and time again through hundreds of examples. Dropping that armor just immediately invites other people in and people will generally take that in.
And so that's just a general rule for people as humans is like, get comfortable with the idea of being a little bit uncomfortable about being more authentic with being vulnerable. with others because if you are and if you are walking around armored up because you simply can't conceive of taking off that armor than maybe, you know, maybe you can embrace therapy or something that's going to help you take make those first initial steps. But, you know, for me, I went from being at my absolute low point, when I moved back to Toronto and is very depressed, I felt super isolated. Part of it was that it was isolated.
And part of it was that, you know, the people that I didn't know, I was just felt so low that I didn't feel like connecting with them to this point in my life, where I have this incredible social network of people that I can count on and trust and have deep meaningful conversations with. And a lot of that, you know, didn't happen by accident happen, just by my own choices that that I wanted, again, scratch my own itch, I wanted to create connection. And so you know, whether that's I host this ongoing dinner series for entrepreneurs, its membership base, we have 35 people and we meet, we're gonna have our first outdoor dinner, which our first dinner since March, next week.
So I'm excited about that, too, just online meetings that I host to what I do with wayfinders, it's actually, you know, if you're willing to put in a little bit effort, it's actually far easier than you think, to just create, you know, create a meaningful community. And it's just, it's really just about aligning people around some common interests. And that could be anything, it could be dog walking, it could be basket weaving, could be entrepreneurs, it could be, you know,
Unknown Speaker 36:27
trying to get Joe Biden elected, whatever.
Unknown Speaker 36:31
The first step is, is aligning around a common interest. And then the second is about just trying to take things a little bit deeper than that surface thing deeper than just the thing that you're meeting around. And that's really just about asking the right questions. And obviously, you can't go from, you know, surface level, right down to the depths of your very soul right away, you get to work up to that, but asking the right questions, and it can be very simple questions, you know, what was the high point for you, during this pandemic, and then you can move to, you know, what's been your biggest struggle during, during this pandemic.
And then, you know, taking it anywhere you want from those things. But I found when you create that container for people to connect and connect on a meaningful level, and connect on a deeper level, people will almost always embrace it. And the exception is people who are just too too afraid to drop that armor a little bit. And sometimes that they just need a little bit more hand holding in that process.
But people are so starved for starting, you know, people these days are starved for any kind of connection, but especially starting for meaningful connection. And surprisingly, you know, if you'd asked me six months ago, could you could you create the type of connections that you do at your events? online? I would have said, I don't think so. But I've, you know, I've gotten more into facilitation work these days, particularly working with companies, and just I've seen incredible connections happened between people and people crying and, and people telling me afterwards, like, oh, I've never, you know, I don't have anywhere where I'm able to share these things. And it was so incredible. And it's like, it's like, the biggest weight is off people's shoulders when they have somewhere where they can connect about these things. So
Stephen Christopher 38:18
yeah, I think a majority of us in life are trained to kind of go the suck it up route, don't share, you know, work a little harder. That we are that we're failing in some way if we don't feel great every single morning when we wake up. And we're not excited about the problems that we encounter in work and things like that, like, we're trained to kind of think that we're broken. And it's, you know, one of the great things that's come out of COVID, so far as people are starting to be more vulnerable, and their desire for that connection is greater. And they I'm seeing more people start to drop their guards faster. And you know, you mentioned just a minute ago about people that maybe are still really shut off.
And I know like, if I look back on my personal journey, my personal growth journey out of those 1015 years ago, if you would have told me Hey, be more vulnerable, I'd have been like, Hey, I'm be I'm being sued. I'm the most vulnerable person in the entire room. And really, that was just lack of even knowing what it meant to be, and just not even knowing how to go the next layer deeper. And so it does take time. And it does take experience to go one layer deeper. And then kind of realize, Oh, wait, there is another layer. And I guess since we're on the Philip mckernon train, he's gonna love this episode since we talked about him so much. And positive, fun. Nice way. Yeah. I remember I had a meeting with him once and I use the words. I consider myself a pretty self aware person.
And he said, in my experience, anybody that says that actually, basically what he says is that You have no idea what you're talking about. If you say you're a pretty self aware person, that's fine. And I was like, I left that meeting. And I, you know, Philip is somebody obviously we both respect a lot. I sat with it for a while. And I was like, Huh, I was like, You know what? He's actually really, right. There's like these next 10 or 15 layers that I had never really quite looked at. And once I started looking at of it, it just, it opened up a lot more opportunity and personal growth.
Unknown Speaker 40:27
Yeah. I mean, at the heart of it, we're, we're just computers with these opaque algorithms running in the background, we have no idea what's going on. And these algorithms were mostly programmed back then our childhood. And understanding them is really difficult.
Stephen Christopher 40:42
Yeah, true. Yeah, it's crazy man. Cheese, can let's just real quick, I want to, I want to dive down this just a little bit more. Because it's something that you've dealt with, like that route of depression. And especially right now, because there are a lot of people I think that are, that are, that are alone, that aren't quite sure what to do next, or they think nobody in my friends group is going to understand, you know, if somebody's feeling depressed to whatever extent right now, what's, I guess, what's some some words of advice that you can give based on your experience and the coaching that you've done? for, like, what do you do next, and not be worried that you're going to be judged and things like that?
Unknown Speaker 41:28
Mm hmm. So
Unknown Speaker 41:32
I've been doing a lot of research into human connection and belonging, and community. And this, you know, this is backed up by my own experience, when, when we humans who have evolved over millions of years to become extremely hardwired for connection, you know, back a million years ago, if you weren't part of a tribe, if you weren't connected to other humans, you generally would die and get taken out pretty quickly. So we've evolved to really deeply crave connection in our whole neuro chemistry, everything is wired for it.
And when we don't have that connection, it's, you know, it creates habit, it wreaks havoc with our brains, with our, with our systems, even even with our genes. And especially if we become chronically lonely, and when we become chronically lonely, we generally become quite depressed. And then we go into basically self protection mode, you know, it's, our brain and our body are trying to protect themselves. And, and it becomes, it becomes a lot harder to connect with other people, we become very focused on ourselves, it becomes harder to empathize with and understand and connect with other people. And so it's kind of it can become a really vicious spiral.
And, you know, interesting in doing the research for this, and again, it was backed up by my own experience, one of the best things you can do, when you're in that state is to just volunteer. And, you know, it doesn't really matter, the volunteering, what matters is that it's meaningful to you. But volunteering is, is a relatively, if you're kind of at that point where you're afraid of connecting with other people, that's kind of a, it can feel like a safe activity to do. You know, and I recommend trying to choose some sort of volunteering that's going to connect with other people, either in person or online or something like that. But when we, but it also helps us take the focus off ourselves and put, because that's what our brain is doing.
It's turning inward, when we're when we're lonely and depressed, it shifts the attention back outward, and that releases these positive neurotransmitters, and starts to break that, that cycle of despair that leads us inward and more and more isolated. And that was exactly my, my own experiences. When I when I started becoming depressed, I started self isolating, and the more I self isolated, the more depressed I got. And I got to the point where I thought, geez, nobody, nobody wants to hang out with me. And really, it was just me that was creating that fiction in my brain.
But, you know, that's, that's one of the first steps you can do. And it's an easy one. And, you know, therapy is always a viable option. Which brings up the issue of affordability, whether you can, whether you can do it or not. Sometimes there's free therapy available, there's all kinds of resources, but again, you know, bringing it back to connection, healing always works best in the context of community. And now, you know, there are more and more communities that you can turn to where people are able to, you know, online communities, different things where you can openly share your struggles.
You can create your own, again, your own communities of intention around whatever topic and you can start you know, really modest like, hey, let's let's meet online for an hour a month. And then as you start to build up some of these muscles, you can add more and more connection into your life and, and I you know, this there's, again, there's too much attention placed on on mental illness in this context of personal healing, when sometimes all people need is to have a supportive community if they did have that support.
If community that would take care of much of the problem, right? Because because we're so wired for that connection, we become very depressed when we're when we're lonely. And we think it's an issue, you know, with, with our thought processes or with our chemistry, whatever, it's really just a lack of connection with others.
Stephen Christopher 45:18
That's great. I really appreciate you sharing that. Awesome. Well, let's see. So, Laura, do you have any other questions that you can think of that you want to chat with? And while you're thinking of that, why don't I go ahead and have Mike share more information about where people can find you? If they want to connect with you in some capacity? What's the best way for them to do that?
Unknown Speaker 45:41
Yeah, so I have a personal website, but most of my, my most current stuff goes on the wayfinders site. So it's way hyphen finders comm w a y hyphen, finders calm. I took a little break over the summer, but I'm going to start writing pretty regularly again on the blog. And that's just at the top of the page there.
You know, my facilitation work is up there as well. Most of that focuses on creating helping companies create deeper connections among their staff. And there's a big, the big Google study that showed that, that psychological safety was the number one predictor of team success. And the best way to create psychological safety is is deeper connection. Most so that's, that's work that I'm really passionate about these days. So, you know, the websites got stuff about my events, my facilitation of the blog. So I'm going to be writing a lot more regularly over the over the fall in the winter. They're awesome, man.
Stephen Christopher 46:39
Yeah, the content that you have out there. And the stuff that I've seen you write is extremely, extremely good. I mean, some of the especially some of the bigger stuff that you've written, that's I don't know, I don't remember off the top of my head, but 510 pages. And it was extremely captivating the whole way through and very useful information. So your writing is definitely really, really good.
Unknown Speaker 46:59
Yeah, I enjoy it. I enjoy it a lot. Awesome.
Stephen Christopher 47:03
I gonna forego my questions. I want to be respectful of Mike time and getting him out the door. So I might send you a personal email instead my question or two. Okay. Cool. So that that also means we might have Mike as a return guest, because we're gonna have Laura, Laura has something that she's working on. So that'll be that'll be good. Awesome. Well, Mike, thank you so much for your time, I greatly appreciate it. You I truly meant what I said in the very beginning, you you help, I believe you help a lot more people than you probably even realize, maybe you give yourself credit for it, maybe you don't. But I see a lot of people that have been impacted by you, that I don't think actually makes it back to you that you know about it. And so I just want to take a moment to make sure that you recognize that. I appreciate
Unknown Speaker 47:53
that, you know, same to you.
Stephen Christopher 47:56
Thanks, man. Appreciate it. Awesome. Cool. I'll let you wrap up. All right, give us your takeaways, full
Unknown Speaker 48:03
of takeaways. Um,
Stephen Christopher 48:07
I think the first thing that we've probably all heard this before, but I think it's really good for entrepreneurs to hear it time and time, again, is that sometimes turning your passion into your profession is not a good thing. You know, there's so many cliches out there that tell us the opposite. And I think entrepreneurs, we just keep struggling to find that and struggling to find it. So really recognizing that. It doesn't necessarily have to be that. And the other part of that, too, is recognizing that you don't always have to just get bigger, and grow and grow and grow.
And if you find yourself in that situation where you're looking at your company going, you know what? I'm not fulfilled anymore, or I don't know what to do with it anymore. I think I need to get bigger, I think I need to grow. That might be really the time to take a step back and to say, Okay, wait a minute, how do I really feel? What is it that I really want out of my company? And have I somehow gotten disjointed with what I thought I was going to do and where I'm at now? Yeah, based on whether it's your ego, or it's that were you seeking validation from I think both of those are really good questions to ask.
Unknown Speaker 49:21
Let's see what else um,
Stephen Christopher 49:24
I guess really the whole importance of connection and why most of us know that. And there's a lot of talk about it. How do you actually do it? I think Mike had some really good takeaways, whether it's voluntary, that he talked about at the end, or that having an experience with someone, the more intense the experience, perhaps the quicker that connection is made. But even little experiences can create that whether it's dinner with friends at a table or bonding over some type of shared interest. I think many of us forget that. It can be just that easy. So thank you for reminding us of that. Awesome. Great Laura.
Cool. Well, thank you so much for hanging out with us today. Mike persik is absolutely amazing. Make sure to go check out his stuff. Like I mentioned, he is a very good writer as well. So as he writes more stuff, definitely go check it out. And other than that, stay tuned for the connect the dots episode where Laura and I are going to pull out some of the tidbits and some of the things that we put into practice based on this episode and past episodes and then share what those results are. That episode will air over here in a couple days. And then after that, just make sure to stay in tune for future episodes of the exciting unknown podcasts and until next time, embrace the exciting unknown.