LIVE Production: Unmistakable Creative
Would you help me welcome Danielle out here? (congregation cheers and applauds) Cheers.
Hi. Hello, my friend.
How's it going?
Good. Welcome back to the Unmistakable Creative for the fifth time.
Number five. Am I like a record-holder?
You are the record-holder.
Oh, I love it. I never win stuff.
You're not only the only guest to have appeared five times, but you are probably the single-handed largest referrer of new listeners to Unmistakable Creative.
That's 'cause you give great interviews, yeah.
Thank you. Well, you are a fantastic guest, so that makes it easy. I wanted to start with something that I haven't asked you before. What did your parents do for a living, and what impact did that end up having on the choices that you've made with your life and your career?
My parents for a living, various things. My mother, I mean, one of my first memories of being out in the world is my mother taking me with her to college. So, my parents got knocked up in...
high school, and I'm the result of that. So to get her BA, she toilet trained me in the college ladies' room and became a counselor and a therapist, and eventually, she was a vocational rehabilitation counselor. So how that impacted me was that going to work with my mom meant that my first art teacher was a gentleman who would be referred to as a little person who did not have use of his arms who, I don't think he had legs, and he taught me how to draw by having a paint brush in his mouth, and working with morbidly obese people and people with severe cerebral palsy and watching my mother place them in jobs. So, that just generated a lot of I think tenderness in my, you know, I think I came in with a really tender heart, and that was even more tenderizing, in the best kind of way. And my dad, my parents, this is the reason they're not together anymore. Polar opposites. My dad is a hockey player, ran hockey arenas. I mean, it was like, just like Canadiana to the max. You know, so how did that inform me? Tolerance for pain. My dad coming home from the hospital again with a cast, and you know what you do with your cast? You just cut the fucking thing off. Like, that's how my life was, just extremes. And I don't know, I should talk to my therapist about how those extremes affected me.
With a mom who's a therapist, do you felt like you were given a significant amount of spiritual teaching growing up? 'Cause I mean, you've spent your whole life not only being a spiritual teacher, but a seeker. Do you think that started early? Do you think that part of the job is already done because your mom was a therapist? 'Cause I wonder about this, because my parents were the furthest thing from encouraging me to explore this kind of information.
Yeah, I mean, I think about, not comparing myself at all to Serena and Venus Williams, but they, you know, they talk about this sense of destiny, of, you know, at three years old I think it was their parent, their dad put a tennis racket in their hands. When I was like 11, we were reading Wayne Dyer. (Danielle laughs) I remember Wayne Dyer's erogenous zones, one of his first books, and Tibetan Book of the Dead in the house, and then came Louise Hay and affirmations and going to bioenergetic workshops, and, yeah, absolutely, primed me to be relentlessly neurotic (Danielle laughs) about finding out what the higher truth is, yeah.
How did your understanding of this evolve with age? Because I think about this as a surfer. When I see little kids in the water, I see them and I think, you're not having a spiritual experience, at least not that you know of. But as an adult, I see it as a spiritual practice. So I wonder if I'd read some of these books when I was that age what my experience would have been like at that age and how reading those same books changes with age, like, how you view them differently.
I think you feel less lonely, and that's the best reason. It's not, you know, like how cool is it that you could surf and just live and be in that experience, and like, you're so in it at that age, you're not even reflective. And for me, where I'm at on my path now is, this is gonna sound ironic, I actually wanna be less of a seeker and more of a liver. Like, just, I just want to refer to myself for the answers. But yeah, all of the teachings that are out there, yes technique, yes how-to's. I think the universe runs on the rails of a science. You know, there's something to how we're all kept together, but just to feel like you're not alone. That's the gift of external knowledge.
You said you wanted to be less of a seeker, and I wonder, why do we look so much outside of ourselves for answers to all of these things?
I think it comes from birth. I mean, this is a really deep question, actually. I think, you know, the seed of mortal coil is there when we are hatched, and I think birth is a gorgeous, traumatic thing. We're declaring ourselves separate from source, in a way, and I think we spend so much of our time trying to get back to source, and the route back is love. I mean, it's really, for me, it's the only way home, and I'm very aware at this point in my life that I really just want to go home, yeah, be home.
So, there are two things, I think I told you that I hadn't read Desire Map in its entirety until before this interview, and I had a bunch of notes from it. But I remember one line in particular struck me, and I didn't know this about you, that you're an only child.
Yes. You can't tell? I mean, I'm so, look at me! (Danielle laughs)
The reason I asked is, you know, I wanted to ask about your parents, but I wonder how the experience of being an only child and the parents that you had and kind of the way they raised you, what impact has that had on the way that you're raising your own son?
Like, what have you decided that is worth keeping, because this is the question that I'm stuck with here, and I think every one of us, basically, we look at our parents and we're like, well, I'm definitely not gonna do that, 'cause you guys fucked me up.
Yeah, yeah, you owe me a lot of money in therapy bills right about now, yeah. (Srini laughs) Well, my son is an only child, and I always said I would have more than one kid, but marriage did not dictate that, divorced now. And I don't, I'm not that reflective on how I was parented affecting how I parent now. I mean, my tenets of parenting now are I really believe you cannot ever, ever give a human too much love, too much attention, too much affection. Life is hard enough; just pour it on. So, you know, now my son is 14, and so that natural separation and recoiling has started to happen. (Danielle laughs) So painful. Nobody tells you about that, when your kid doesn't want the hug anymore in front of the school. I have, my other tenet is there is no shaming. There's no shaming, and there's no mind tricks. You know, like I remember seeing, I think we've all witnessed something like this, you know, a little girl in a department store. The mother is understandably stressed, overwhelmed, whatever's going on, and then comes in that little mind trick that so many parents do where they say, well, I'm leaving. You wouldn't leave your kid in the department store. Why would you lie and create that kind of little traumatic incident with that child? There's so many other ways to like, cajole and guide and invite and compel children without threatening them. So there's no shame, there's no lying, and I've been very, in terms of parenting, I get asked a lot about being a mother and being an entrepreneur. And I've been really open with my kid about what brings me joy, and there's lots of compromises. Like, you know, when he was little, he watched way more movies than I thought I was ever gonna allow him, you know? And I'm just like, I got a radio interview, and I'm so excited to do it. You get to watch The Incredibles again. And it's, I think it's just so important for your kids to see what lights you up, and that helps them do the math sometimes when you're not always there, and it helps them move towards what is gonna light them up, yeah.
You mentioned earlier that you thought you would have more kids, marriage, divorce, and it made me think of something that a friend that you introduced me to, Terry Cole, had said to me on The Unmistakable Creative when we were talking about love and boundaries. And she said, you have to be able to let go of the way you thought it would be in order to be open to the way that it could be, and that really struck me particularly 'cause my sister just got engaged. I just turned 40 and I'm still single. I wondered, was there a point in your life where you were able to say, okay, you know what, I'm able to let go of what I thought it was gonna look like, and how did that unfold? And how do other people do that? (Danielle sighs)
I have to do it all the time, and I do it reluctantly. And sometimes it's excruciating.
I mean, there's no other way to, because I think we want what we want. We have these cravings. We want the love. We wanna go back home. We want the connection. And we work so hard. I mean, part of the reason it's so hard to let go of the dream and to grieve how things have turned out in a way you didn't want them to turn out is because we're so addicted to the strive, and we're so hooked on goals. And you know I wrote a book about soulful goals, you know, and I'm so, and at this point, I'm just like, I'm so... I said this 10 years ago; I said it five years ago. I said it in the last book. I said it in every book I've written: I'm so done with the striving. But Srini, I'm really done with the striving now. (Danielle laughs) I'm like a whole new level of done with the strive, because I want that sense of home in my life, and that striving and that goal addiction and the accomplishment and the fucking life hacking, I'm so, I don't wanna hack my life. I want to be in my life, and I want to be life-giving and life-encouraging for other people. And I'm done with the shortcuts. I don't even wanna optimize my day. I really don't. (Danielle laughs) I just want to be present. I want the calmness that comes with presence. I want the absence of, it's not the absence of pain. I want the, I want the capacity to be with grief, and I want the capacity to be with ecstasy, and the more externally-referencing I am, I mean, those things are all thieves of my joy. Every time I go on Instagram, which is neurotically. It's part of my business. I wouldn't be sitting here right now. Every time I go on to see if somebody loves me and hearted me, and, you know, I just checked my most recent post, which is amazing, by the way. But every time I go on there, I'm just, you know, I'm getting, I'm snacking elsewhere, where if I just refer to myself, then I'm more radiant. I'm more calm. I'm more creative. I'm a better parent. I'm a better girlfriend, you know?
Well, you mentioned Instagram, so.
Yeah, let's go there.
I wanna talk about this, because it's been on my mind a lot lately. I just deactivated my personal Instagram account, but that's a whole other story.
Yeah, that was foolish, but we can talk about it. (Srini laughs)
Two things that come from that. I remember you posed a picture of Jaron Lanier's book, 10 Arguments for Deleting Social Media, and I remember thinking to myself, probably 'cause I didn't stick around to read the comments, I was like, how is nobody mentioning the irony of this?
Of using social media to post.
About not using social media?
Yeah, yeah, exactly. But you mentioned that you're tired of striving, and I can't help but wonder if social media amplifies this sense of striving. And I remember, I was writing about this the other day. I thought, you know, you look at Instagram, right? And at moments, I think that we've confused attention with affection, and the fact that they use a heart as their symbol for digital forms of validation is incredibly telling.
Can I stop you there? That's a truth bomb. We're confusing attention with affection.
That's beautiful, yeah.
I hope it's becoming just much more widespread in terms of awareness. All of these tools are very intelligently designed to create addiction. A number of the developers of some of these tools, Facebook included, have said they don't even go near their own creations anymore. This is designed to give us the hit. They want that little brain flare that happens so you stay on that device so that they make more money in the various ways, membership, subscription, and advertising dollars. Facebook is not a democracy. I strongly believe, and, you know, inspired by Jaron Lanier's work around this, that Facebook should be a tool that is free. You really wanna change the world? Make this free. Make this really, truly accessible, and by free, I mean advertising free, because we are paying with our attention, with our emotions, with our time to be on there, and it's, and we are being severely brainwashed and interrupted. Now, Facebook has its own kind of, it's its own kind of personality, its own kind of beast. My experience over the last year has been that it is a playground for vitriol. It's a circus. I want nothing to do with it. I made a huge strategic decision in my business. I haven't been on it in three months. That may sound like no big deal to some people listening. It's actually a huge deal when social media's a driver of your revenue. I have nine people to support that I, you know, it's a joy to support them. They support me. So, yeah, I just, it is a place for cowardly action, and yeah, it's saving lives. And let me back up and say, I am not complaining at all about the power and the beauty and the efficacy and the globalism of technology. Never. It's saving lives; it's bringing us closer together. The bottom line for me is always love. Technology in a huge way is generating a lotta love on this planet. But here's my truth bomb: all communication begins with intention. All communication begins with intention. And the poison and the skewing that social media addiction creates, you know, it pulls us out of our hearts, and it's really messing with our intentionality. We can no longer hear our own inner voice. And so, before we engage, you know, if I don't like something, I don't social media about it. There's enough negativity. Why do I, even if it's a shitty movie, I don't want the karma of affecting someone's ticket sales. I just want to be love. I want to be love in every space. And it doesn't mean I'm, I mean, you know this about me. It doesn't mean I'm not without an opinion. I mean, really, everything I stand for is discernment and love, love with discernment. But all that to say, screw Facebook. (Danielle laughs) And I've gotten to a point, and I see this happening with a lot of friends, that, you know, I remember talking to a friend who wanted to quit smoking, and her way of quitting smoking was she just, she gave herself one weekend, and she just smoked her ass off. And she was just gonna smoke until she got sick. She just couldn't stand it anymore, and it was effective for her. I mean, she has the shakes and everything on Monday morning, but that's been my relationship now to social media. Social media has been a track for a workaholism. Workaholism, we can talk about that if you want. I haven't talked about it publicly yet. But I've gotten, I had to get to a point where my workaholism collided with social media disdain, where I was just like, I do not want to engage in this way anymore. I wanna live. I wanna cook something. I'm lying. I don't wanna cook anything. (both laughing) But I just wanna be in my life. I wanna live, yeah.
So you're talking about workaholism.
The other thing that really has become deeply concerning to me is that we have created an artificial sense of celebrity with these tools.
And there are moments when I sometimes look at people who follow you, and I think that they wanna be you. And I wonder, one, what do you have to say about this whole artificial sense of celebrity? Do you think it's done great harm to our culture? Because I think what makes me really, like, aware is when you go to your Starbucks, and the barista has no idea who the fuck you are. It's like, yeah, you're Srini, who gives a shit? You're just another schmuck ordering coffee. And that is something I think I've become.
Speak highly of yourself.
Much, much more aware of, is that we've created this very artificial sense of celebrity, and other people aspire to be something that isn't even real.
I don't think that dynamic is anything new.
I think, you know, you could look, you could go back to the white picket fence neighborhood in the 50s. Everybody wanted to be somebody else. Everybody else was faking it. So, we've been faking it for centuries. We've been wanting to be someone other than ourself for centuries. I think what's happened is, you know, obviously it's amplified, and Instagram's a lie. Instagram is a lie, everybody. Hashtag that, because, first of all, you know, I'll say as somebody who does a lot of stuff, you know, on social media and is public, look, I am not Instagramming my darkest days. And that's my prerogative. I do not have to share my life. I do not have to be transparent. I mean, I'm very vulnerable in conversations. There's no Instagram story happening when I'm doing the ugly crying therapy. But, what's the Latin phrase for buyer beware? Caveat, yes. That's how you need to engage with social media. Just know, like, listen, don't be stupid. Be intelligent about the engagement. This is all filtered. I look 10 years younger, probably, I think, because there's this little smiley face thing you can press before you go on your Instagram story, and it just takes off, it just gives this nice little glow. I hope the camera has it right now here. (Srini laughs) Yeah, come on, come on. And I think we have a responsibility, those of us who have gained, you know, have the numbers on social, to really keep it as real as comfortably possible, as wisely possible. You know, it's like you and I were talking earlier today about book tours and things like that, and I was talking about the stresses of campaigns that I've done and how I've changed as a result of them. And I never talk about a painful situation when I'm in the painful situation, for a couple reasons. One is because I'm taking, you know, because I wanna be useful, then I get all the lessons, and I get myself cleaned up, and I extract the learnables, and then I'll turn it into a piece of writing or something, you know? I owe that. That's called being professional. But also, I don't want the energetic attention from people when I'm in pain. I don't need you to pray for me. I don't need you to project on me. I don't need you to be happy that I'm suffering, 'cause that happens. I'm just gonna go through my thing and teach about it later. There's a vulnerability, an energetic vulnerability, that we need to be aware of when it comes to posting stuff on social media, and I feel really passionately about this when it comes to children. And at the same, and lemme just say. While I'm passionate about how I conduct myself in my own life with this, I also, and with great sincerity, I have very little judgment about people who do it differently. It's their life; it's their child. But I'll tell you how I run my life. My child is 14. You'd be hard pressed to find a photo of him on social. Whenever I do post about him, you don't see his face. Whenever, I always ask his permission. It pains me to see photos of children sleeping. I would never do anything with anybody else in terms of posting something on social that I would not want done of myself. Don't take a picture of me while I'm asleep and put it on social media. It's my most vulnerable moment. Don't tell anybody about my tantrum. I'm having a tantrum, you know? So, and everything is energy. That is a morsel of energy that you are putting out of somebody else's being. Be intentional about it. Yeah.
Wow. So there's a number of lines that I underlined when I went through Desire Map, but this one in particular struck me, I think probably because I've been feeling this way for the last couple of weeks. Sometimes when I reached a goal way later than I planned, and even though I'd attained it, I felt like a loser for taking so long to make it happen. I generally feel five to 10 years behind on my major life aspirations.
Oh, those are my words, yeah.
Those are your words. (Danielle laughs)
Oh, yeah, loser, totally. I'm late all the time.
Do you still feel like that?
Do I still feel like that? Well, I think I've been around enough that I really can see the divinity of everything that hasn't gone my way. So, for anybody listening who's just like, you're feeling behind the eight ball and you're thinking you should have the bestseller or the marriage, or why did that happen, or why'd you get fired, if you're in a dark place, just take one grain of what I'm saying now. Just believe me for a nanosecond, that really, there is a divine order to things. Every single disappointment, and I've had some significant ones. Every failure, every heartbreak, everything that I went after so, you know, vigorously that didn't turn out, thank God. I was spared some kinds of destiny. I just have a deeper level of trust now. Doesn't mean it's easy all the time. Doesn't mean I don't want what I want.
Cool. I think that, you know, that makes sort of a perfect segue to ask you about this other thing that you just said. You said, is when we stop struggling to make something good the way we want it to, our energy shifts. We surrender to what is, and hard as it may be, we become willing to face the facts and become more present.
I think that part of my obsession with attention is that it pulls me into the present, and I realize, it's like, but depression is worrying about things from the past that I can't change. Anxiety is worrying about things in the future that I can't control. How do you stop basically struggling to make something go the way you want it to, or how do you surrender, I guess, is really where I'm going with this.
I think you need to clear the trauma from the past. You need to reconcile childhood stuff. You need to reconcile failures you've had as an adult. And you need to clean that out so that you can just create space to be present. So, that's the hard work, and that's the work that a lot of us don't wanna do, 'cause it can be so difficult. And that's, you just find a good therapist, and you just scrape that stuff out, and you don't stop, and you push, and you cry, and you breathe, and you love yourself so deeply that you know you're gonna get to the other side. And I think everybody has that. Everybody has that to some degree. And then, what was the question? I got off on therapy there.
How do you surrender?
How do you surrender. Once you can clean things out, you can clean out disappointment and trauma, then you realize, you're still here. Oh my God, you're still here, and you're intelligent, and you're making a contribution, and you're beautiful, and you wanna make a difference in the world, and then you realize you're in choice. All those things that have have happened to you in the past, maybe you didn't feel like you were in choice 'cause you didn't know any better. You were too young; you were just learning. You're in choice now. Like, I can choose who I text. I can choose who I'm gonna give my time to. I can choose to be offended. I can choose to be loved. I can choose to let love in. I can choose to look everywhere in my life for all the things I have that I prayed for years ago. And I think, you know, and I do write about this in the Desire Map, is I think, (Danielle sighs) we get so attached to wanting things to be a certain way that we forget, we don't see. You know, a lot of people who want to be in a, you know, a relationship with a significant other will get this, you know, where they'll say, I wanna meet my person. I want my man, I want my woman, I want my human. And we forget to see that all the qualities that we're craving from that other person exist in our life already. Like, there's laughter, and there's passion, and there's support. It doesn't mean you don't hold the prayer for getting all of that in one package, but my belief is that gratitude is a vibration. And the universe is hearing everything you're saying, and it will respond, because we're in a co-creative relationship with life. I'm in this with God. I'm not asking God to take the ball and run for it every day for me. Sometimes, yeah, Jesus take the wheel. But I'm gonna show up, because I'm in choice. And that means I've got to say, I'm so grateful for the love I have. And I think that cues the cosmos to give me more of that. And that does not mean I don't struggle with deep longings for particular things. But that's the difference between the agent of your life, you know, and being a victim of your life, is I don't wanna rest in the craving. I'm gonna do something about it. I'm gonna be grateful, and I'm gonna show up.
So, we talked a little bit about this last time. We were talking about White Hot Truth. You wrote about depression and mental health issues, and you know, this last year, we've seen some very high-profile suicides with people like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, and we've been talking a lot about trauma.
Mac Miller this past week.
And healing. And I just, you know, wonder, what do we do about this?
Because I don't think it should take a celebrity suicide or a startup founder suicide for us to say, okay, we have a problem; we should talk about this. And that's usually the only time we do talk about it. When I talked to Frank Warren at PostSecret, he said, for every one of those, there are thousands we never hear about.
Mmhmm, mmhmm. I think we need to share our stories. This is the beauty of media and what you're doing, just asking this question. I mean, I just put a post. You know, it's very timely. I'm not sure when this airs, but right now, we're having this conversation during the US National Suicide Prevention Week. I just put a post out about, you know, last year, when I was still on Facebook, I reached out to the community and said, I've got a spouse of a dear friend who has suicidal ideation, and, you know, we were kinda working around the clock to make sure he was gonna be safe. And so, we curated all the responses we got. And it's the first time I've ever put a post out and said, with all love and modesty, like, I hope just some lines of this save somebody's life, you know? So I think we need to tell our stories and have the courage to do that, and you realize you're not alone. You know, like I tell you, I'm just coming off of four days of like, this intense therapy intensive where I really had to like string myself together with chicken wire to suit up and show up today. And like, I'm here, and I'm good; I'm good, everybody. But that's important to know. Like, I'm gonna look all foxy on Instagram today, but three days ago, I was working on childhood stuff and love stuff, 'cause that's what it takes for me to really show up. So, there's that. I think we need to tell our stories. I think we need to really look at our addiction to social media and what it's doing to our brains. This is a big, big problem that I think is, you know, is gonna, it's in pandemic proportions to what it's doing to brain chemistry. And I think we need to, I mean, this is so lofty and esoteric, but we need to make love the bottom line. I mean, it's, greed is usurping love in every segment of society. And no matter where we're at, whether we're running for political position or we're a teacher or we just wanna be the best significant other, we need to be asking ourselves, like, really, what would love do right now? And love is not that interested in profit. It's not that interested in looking good, and it's certainly not interested in the little likes that you're getting on your Instagram feed. It's present, and it's forgiving, and it's, it's tender and it's courageous. And love has you talk to other people, you know? We're living, part of the situation with social media is we're just becoming more and more partitioned, and we're being fed things according to our interests. And we're on our phones more so we're talking to people less. You know, just in the cab on the way over here, I had a, the taxi driver was an Ethiopian gentleman who told me, Canadian, and he said he loves Canadians. Of course, I said, yes, we're all lovable and kind and perfect. (Srini laughs) And we apologize way too much. And he was telling me a story about not being able to speak English when he got here, and this woman took him in and gave him a job on the line cooking. And I thought to myself, you know what's happening right now? I'm not on my phone checking my Instagram while he's driving me. I'd put my phone away. And that's why that conversation happened. And because I'm Canadian. (both laughing)
Well, I think, you know, you've talked about this idea of addiction to achievement. I mean, we've spent a lot of time talking about addiction, and you said as hardwired achievement bots, many of us subscribe to systems of success that actually become blockages to our instincts. Structures, programs, regimens; all disciples in theory should be to support our freedom and independent thinking but may serve to stifle our life force instead.
And, you know, you said that profit and greed are driving so much of society, and they coexist with this. And this is a really weird and esoteric question, but do you think that long-term, capitalism is the way that we're gonna organize society? Is it a sustainable way to organize society going forward?
No, it's not sustainable. I mean, look at the mess we're in because of capitalism. Yeah, greed is eclipsing things. So I think a holistic, you know, if capitalism is gonna get us where we wanna go, first of all, we need to be clear on where we want to go, and we need to have the self-agency to have a vision of what our, our ideal future is. We're so fucking numbed out. We don't even know what ideal is anymore. I mean, this is why I'm so interested in the conversation around knowing how it is that you want to feel, what I call your core desired feelings. So if capitalism does not become, in my definition, truly holistic and have a triple bottom line. Can we at least have a triple bottom line? Can we start there, at the basics? It's just gonna, it's raping the earth. It's, food secured. I mean, I could go on, Sri. Where do you want me to go with this? Like, it's big. Really, really, this is the ideal, is that capitalism, or let's just say commerce, is used as a tool to create positive social change. And if it's not creating positive social change, it's not enabled to exist. That's it. It's gotta check all the boxes. Is this good for humanity? Check. Is this sensitive to the environment? Check. Is this moving us forward? Check. And the reason it's so difficult to get there, you know, other than the fact that we're numbed out and detached is because it would have, we'd have to slow down, and we're on this runaway train of innovation. Innovation breeds innovation. And, you know, innovation most certainly can come from the heart, but it's also a very intellectual, semicolon, ego-driven pursuit. I'm personally not that interested in innovation in my own life. I used to identify with, I wanna innovate in business. You know, I'm interested in depth and sincerity, and, yeah, sorry that was a very esoteric. I don't think that my answer would go over very well in Silicon Valley, but I don't care. (Srini laughs)
Yeah. But when it comes to the issue, what do you think the role of the individual is, and what do you think the role of institutions should be to get us from where we are to ideal?
Well, individuals make up the institution. So, the role of individual is everything, and what happens is when you do your work as an individual, when you really devote to, you know, what I would call a path of light and of consciousness and of making a contribution and of kindness, when you do the work to respect yourself, you cannot help but feel connected to other people. You will be kinder. You know, I just had the most beautiful conversation with a friend a few weeks, and he said to me, you know, Danielle, you can't save every fish in the sea, and you can't clean up every plastic bottle on the beach. And I'm really in this passage of realizing that and really just, how am I gonna stay in my lane and stay sane and not cry in my kitchen every morning because of the headlines, and really show up to contribute? And he said, you know, don't you think if we just were better to each other in our neighborhoods, somehow that would affect the pollution that's happening in the oceans? And it's a long way to get there, but the answer is yes, because love makes you more conscious and intelligent and inclusive, and love has you always looking for a solution for your neighbor.
So, you and I are both media creators. We both tell stories. Media in particular I think is in an age of major change, given the political climate in the United States.
I think that the media that you consume largely determines your version of reality.
And I wonder what you feel your responsibilities are as somebody who creates media, knowing that this is happening? And what do you feel my responsibilities are?
Be you. I'm gonna be me. I'm gonna talk about what I'm passionate about. Lemme back up and say, I'm gonna have the courage to talk about what I'm passionate about, because you cannot be a media creator and have thin skin. You will get pushback. You will lose friends. You will be, at some point, I hope it doesn't happen, but at some point it's very possible you will be very misunderstood and ganged up on, and those are painful crucifixions that sometimes happen when you're in the public eye. But yeah, just have the courage and the conviction to be yourself in that space. Yeah, and I think it's so out of control. I mean, everything I take in now, I'm just like, big grain of salt. Like, you gonna believe that? You gonna choose to believe that? You know, my kid came home the other day and said, yeah, this scientist and coconut oil. And I was like, you just fell for it. That was a, you know, the production value of this lecture was high. Someone was slamming coconut oil. What's your body say about coconut oil? Are we gonna cook with it? Are we gonna, you know, it has to be that everything. What does your intelligence say? What's your intuition say? That's all you got. You know, the tool of the future is your intuition. It's gonna be all we have to separate lies from truth. It's such a mess. You gotta hone your psychic telephone if you're gonna navigate from here on forward.
I think it's interesting you brought up being misunderstood, because my first exposure to somebody who was an incredibly high-profile media figure was Glenn Beck, and I remember the response from my audience to the fact that I was going to go and meet this guy. There are a lot of things that really struck me about the perception that media creates and the reality of the person, and I was shocked at how nice he was and how different he was than I thought. I know he said some awful things.
Yes, but we're responsible for what we're, so let's talk about Glenn, just as a persona. I mean, we're responsible for how we're showing up. So, why is he not? Lemme even take Glenn out of the scenario. Why does one, why does a person not come off as nice, I hate the word nice, but as kind, as open-minded? Because a lot of us in this space want shock value. We want, we get seduced by this persona we create, and why do we create the persona? Because we want the job. Why do we want the job? I mean, it all goes back to, are we gonna make the money? And you have to be willing to change. I don't wanna be fixed into a version of DL. I wanna show up as who I am now. And yeah, that takes some doing; it takes some therapy. (Danielle laughs)
Speaking of money, this is another thing that really struck me from Desire Map. You said, I don't run my business according to measurable objectives. We don't have targets that we work toward. There are lots of things I could be quantifying and point my effort toward, like the number of subscribers to my website, books sold, Facebook fans, quarterly revenue. All these numbers directly impact my bottom line, and for that matter, my happiness. But they don't guide the ship. What guides my ship is a singular foundation of intention, making stuff that feels good to make. And that really struck me, particularly because I feel lately, I've literally been measuring my self esteem in profit and losses and book sales.
Oh, sweetheart, I feel for you, yeah.
It's a disaster.
So, how do you get to this, and yet manage to run a business where nine people work for you and things work?
Yeah. Well, things don't always work, and that's part of it. That's part of being an entrepreneur. That's part of life, you know? We still fail lots, and we don't hit things. I would say, that statement that you just read is now only half true. I've hired people who care about the numbers. (both laughing) And that gives me deep peace, so that I can just be eccentric and just go create stuff and just do what I do best, and the numbers game really turns them on. And I have sacred responsibilities now. Like, you know, and I look at my business as, really, I look at my life like degrees of concentric circles. So, you know, the reason I have a business is I want to be self-expressed, a career, let's say. And then out of that, then I take care of my family and my friends, and then out of that, I take care of my people. That's the number two, three goal, is to make sure that the people who are on the D bus are like, healthy and they can afford to buy homes and go on honeymoons and be well, because if they're not well, I'm an asshole. It's like, it's so hypocritical. And then the fourth layer of that pie is to serve people. But yeah, I'm really clear. Like, yeah. So that's it for me. And I can't do anything for the money. I can't. I've done it before. It's painful. I lost sleep at night. It's easy to say when your business is ticking along, and we still gotta hustle. It's not like, you know, I got a mortgage. Yeah, but it's never, you've interviewed how many people? 700 now?
Out of 700, how many people have said, don't do it for the money?
Most of them.
Actually, pretty much all of 'em.
Even the ones who have a lot of it.
Even the ones who have a lot of it, and I'll tell you what one of my shrinks says about the money. It's never enough. And out of the high net worth people that I've talked to, there is that, you know, 'cause I'll go right in into interviewing anybody, right? And it's never, the money is never enough. So you've gotta find your enough in other places.
Yeah. So you brought up this idea of enough, and I had a conversation with a woman named Sasha Hines who talked to me about this very idea and hedonic adaptation and why we're so dissatisfied, even when we do get to the so-called goal post and how it just keeps moving and moving and moving.
Do you think it's possible to get off the hedonic treadmill?
Oh, I hope so. God, I hope so for our sake.
I mean, it seems that the entire economy depends on our ability, us staying on this hedonic treadmill.
Yes, all capitalism, media, and advertising depends on you thinking you're a loser, and you're too fat, and you're behind, you're too brown or you're too white, or you're too curvy and too thin in the wrong places. Like, it's all based on a scarcity model. We are eating a diet of scarcity all the time, even literally. I mean, so much empty calories and no real nutrition in what we're eating. We need to do a podcast just on food security. So, is it possible to get off? Yes, it's possible, and then people who are getting off of it need to tell their stories that, you know, we are voting with our hearts. We are eating, we're a stand for nutrition. We're gonna do, this is what love looks like in commerce. This is what courage looks like on social media. The future depends on us getting off that treadmill. Your sanity depends on us getting off that treadmill. Everything you want, this is it. Everything you want, the love and the sexiness and the being of service and the connection and that sense of home wherever you go depends on you getting off that treadmill of scarcity.
Wow. This is another thing that really struck me in the book particularly, because I'm thinking a lot about how social programming impacts our lives. You said we can inherit ambitions like we inherit eye color and vocal tone. Sometimes inherited dreams are a perfect part of our souls unfolding. In divine convenience, we're born into families or cultures that have just the right business or lifestyle for us because it's the exact same amount we're called to live. It feels like a perfect fit. I thought about that a lot because of the fact that I grew up in Indian culture where we're encouraged to do certain things, mainly just become doctors and lawyers and engineers, and then I look at this and I think about the fact that people look at you, and they inherit ambitions from somebody that they look up to, even though they're not their own. I know because I've done it.
How do you let go of inherited ambitions when they've been so deeply woven into your life? Almost to the point of you being unaware of them?
Well, I think looking up to someone and having aspirational ambitions is a super cool thing. I mean, I get asked a lot about, how do I find a mentor? I'm like, eh, you don't need to find a mentor. There is no magic mentor. Just look at the people you admire and see what they're doing, and there's so much to learn there, so. It takes a lot of courage. I mean, inherited ambitions is its own kind of treadmill, and I think we need to consider that thought forms and ideologies get baked into our DNA, and it needs to be questioned. You know, it's like, I'm gonna have to pull out some Walt Whitman out. It's like, you know, examine all that insults your soul and your very flesh. It'll be a great poem. Like, you've got to just, wide-awake living. No lives half-lived. Question everything. Question, question, question. Yeah, no assumptions about, is this the right way? Is this the wrong way? And while you're questioning everything, you're gonna realize that you're in this grind of just wanting to love and be loved. It will all, you know, I used to, in my early days, I did one-on-one, I would call them strategy sessions. I never called myself a coach, right? And there was this exercise I used to give to people where they would say, you know, always towards the end of a conversation about their new business and their entrepreneurial path, their fear would come up. It's always the last 10 minutes of the conversation, you get the diamond. And they're, I can't do it. I don't, I don't, and they would give me a list, 10 reasons why they couldn't pull it off. And I'd say, okay, in the next nine minutes, let's do this. Why are you afraid to launch? I'm gonna keep asking you this question. And they would say, I might not be able to pay rent. Why are you afraid to launch? I might default on a bank loan. Why are you afraid to launch? And you get down and they go, because I want my father to be proud of me. Every time, it was something about what someone else thought of them. Not what the bank thought of them. Not what their audience or their potential customers thought of them. But someone whose opinion really mattered to them was driving their fear of launching, literally or metaphorically. That's not necessarily a bad thing, if that person is worthy of your love, you know, to win. There are some people worth working for, worth trying to please, because they will walk into a burning building for you. That's a very small amount of people, for most of us in our lives. So everybody else can suck it. Just launch, yeah. (Danielle laughs)
Yeah, I had a conversation with a guy named Bill Dershowitz who wrote a book called The Miseducation of the American Elite, and he was talking about how often achievement, acceptance to prestigious colleges, accolades, all of these things basically are just a stand-in for parental approval, because we're conditioned from a very early age, particularly at my house, where nobody put our report cards on the fridge. It was like, you got straight A's. It was like, well, this kid at school gets five dollars for every A. My dad's like, you get a meal every week, so. (Danielle laughs) We're done here.
You should be grateful.
This negotiation is over. Is there a point at which you think that we do let go of that need for approval?
Yeah, when you're exhausted, you let go.
Like, I realize, I realize that my parents aren't gonna live with the consequences of my choices, but I know that somewhere deep down, there is this still, small part of me that's like, okay, I want you guys to approve in some way or another.
Sure, and some of that is, it's so like, natural and healthy. And some of, you know, you still wanting your parental approval is like, we wanna be seen and heard and loved. It's like, human nature. And we get talked out of wanting to be seen and heard and loved. We put up with so much shit in the name of being tougher, and, you know, we suffer without respect, like it's okay to treat me like that. No, it's not okay. So there's that, some of it is like, healthy, natural, and some of that is just, that's love. You wanna please your parents. You wanna give them joy and comfort and happiness. It's like, so healthy. But let's just be clear on what pieces are, you fill in the hole in your soul and it's really love, and it's just some beautiful mess, you know? What was the question? (both laughing)
I think you answered it.
Okay. (both laughing)
Wow. Well, I think that as always, you've kind of rocked the mic and given us a lot to think about, so I wanna finish with my final question, which I've, at this point, asked you probably three or four times.
What do you think it is that makes somebody or something unmistakable?
Oh. What do I think it is that makes somebody unmistakable? I don't know if I've said this before, but today I'll say the courage to do the work to be fully self-expressed and to know that you being yourself is a great act of service to other people. So I would say it's a boldness to get in there, yeah. Do the work.
Well, I think that makes a really fitting and poetic end to a really thought-provoking, beautiful, and insightful conversation.
Always, always, always. Anytime. So great having conversations with you, yeah.
For everybody listening, we'll wrap the show with that.