Addiction, Reinvention, and Finding Ultra with Endurance Athlete Rich Roll
everybody. What's up? It's Chase. Welcome to another episode of this show Chase Jarvis, Live show here on Creative Live and you know the show. This is where I sit down with amazing humans and I do everything I can't on fact their brains with the goal of helping you in your hobby career and your life. My guest today is many things on ultra marathoner on Endurance Athlete, a number one New York Times bestseller and the host of one of the top podcasts out there in the world called the Rich Role podcast. My guest is no longer a secret. It's rich role in the house. Welcome to the show. But I love you so good to be here, man. You are like the O G in the space. Yes. I mean, I don't know when you started your stuff, but it was a long time ago and I've been a subscriber to your newsletter and a watcher of your everything you put out for. Like I don't even remember when it didn't exist. So yes, you know, as somebody who now kind of travels, you know, in a similar space that you dio I just want t...
o thank you for being an inspiration and setting an example for, like, high quality content. Yeah, stop. So, no, I'm really happy to be here, and it's super cool to finally meet you. Thanks. And we were just talking before the camera starts rolling about. We're planning for the the exchange of ideas and, well, I will be on the rich role podcast food we're scheming. Um, it's a super treat to have you on the show, and I also have noticed your hard work from afar. Starting one of the first things I realizes when you ran five. Five Iron Man's or you did because it's more than running, biking, swimming five in Was it five or seven days or something like that in Hawaii, on all the different islands? I did this thing. This is freakish. Yeah, this is no like this. It was a while ago, while I was in 2010. So the story is my buddy Jason Lester, who's an incredible endurance athlete, an inspirational figure, a training partner of mine from many annul tra man competition. I would do these double ironman competitions. He came up with this hair brained scheme. This idea to try Thio Complete five Iron Man's on five wine islands in five days. Literally an Iron man a day traveling island island. I'll tell people who don't know what an iron man. Yeah, for those that don't know, an Ironman is a very long triathlon, widely considered the ultimate test of human endurance. Where in over the course of one day you swim 2.4 miles, you ride your bike 112 miles and then you celebrate that by running a marathon all it wants, Um, super difficult and hard. And you wanted to stay five. Jason decided we should do five of those in a row and in between get on airplanes and try to show up our gear from Island Island Island. So we, uh, took a stab at it in 2010. Um, on may 5th, I might add, So it was 55 On the day that we started it, we ran into all kinds of crazy logistical problems. It was quite, uh, you know, in certain respects, a debacle, but also an amazing challenge and adventure. So it took us a little bit longer than five days, but we got it done. It was crazy. Is making it sound like it was two years, But it was actually, like seven days or it was like 6.5 days. Yeah. I mean, we were like losing bike parts like we had some people, some beautiful people who volunteered to help us. But we didn't have a whole, like Cruz situation Dollar we didn't know we were doing were like crazy thing. Was that the logistics? Were Justus challenging? It was almost a relief to just be out on your bike doing it because we knew we have to finish by this time because the last plane leaves the island and we have to get on that and we have to bring all our gear and then we would get to the next island. I have to get to our hotel, and by the time we like eight and like, took a shower, it was like the middle of the night and we had two or three hours of sleep, so the sleep deprivation started to catch up to us, and we I mean, it was bananas, the whole thing. But I remember that being why the reported and like Oh, my God. Who is this guy gonna meet this character? Eso. And here we are. Whatever. Years later, um, well, a thanks for starting off kind words, uh, around content. You have been putting out a ton of high quality content as well. The areas of focus that I want to talk about today that you know, it's my goal toe Assemble world class performers from a whole bunch of disciplines. Um and you have both achieved amazing, amazing physical feats. You've also built a really interesting business, but mostly your ideas around. Uh, what's possible? See this story? We just talked about plant based diet, Something I'm fascinated by, Um, the the storytelling of your book on. I think you have two books, right? You have a cookbook that you did with your wife? Is that right or a sort of a plan? We've got e. I wrote a memoir called Finding Ultra and then we have three cookbooks, actually, three cookbooks. Cool. Um, not being on Onley plant based eater. I have not. My confession here for you is that I have not consumed the cookbooks. But finding ultra is an amazing narrative of your life and it's not. It's not just about plant based diets about your life. And then, um so I'd like to start. Let's go back in time. We can, um you're endurance athlete. What made you want to be that? What part of you this is a strange part of the human brain that clicks into saying, I want to run, you know, a marathon plus 120 plus a marathon bike 100 20 miles and run swim 2.5 that z And you've done crazy stuff, too, by the way, but I've done a bunch of stuff. I mean, I I look at it all not to put too woo of a point on it, but for me, it's like all the spiritual journey of personal growth. And these crazy endurance races are like a vehicle of for self discovery, in the same way that an artist might find that, you know, in a photograph or in pursuing a photograph or a painting or making a film. Yeah, the medium for me is, is the outer limits of what my body is capable of. And I think it was originally, um, inspired by a couple things First of all, I was a swimmer in college, so I had a background as an athlete. I swam in Stanford in the late 19 eighties. We want to in situ a championships. When I was there, I was a bench warmer. I was by no means, you know, a big point score or a star on that team. But I competed as an athlete, a very high level. Um, drugs and alcohol destroyed that career, and it really cut the head off me, achieving my potential as an athlete. So I feel like later in life, I still had unfinished business that I wanted toe pursue, to see what I would be capable of and also athletics aside. When I hit around 40 41 I was having a little bit of an existential crisis about what I was doing with my life. There's a longer story baked into that, but basically I've been pursuing this career in law. I was on the partnership track and a big prestigious law firm. Cornell. I went to law Cornell, you know, in the wake of problems with drugs and alcohol, I got sober then spent the next nine years trying to repair all the records that I had created as a result of my drinking and using was successful in that regard and was very much blindly just looking at that traditional equation of success. Partnership car, house, like brass ring, the whole, like, traditional notion of what it means to be a successful male in America. And play that out to the point where I realized that there was Cem emptiness in that and had this confused state about what I was doing with myself, because I wasn't doing it out of a passion for the law or any of that. I was doing it to prove to myself and the others that I could be a responsible, respectful person after being such a train wreck for so many years. And I think trying to process what that meant for myself, um, created this thing, this sense of confusion, and I found myself, um, back into fitness as a way of spending time alone to process all of this, to try to find a way forward. There was never some conscious decision that I was gonna become this competitive athlete in my forties and go back and revisit unfinished business. It was really an organic outgrowth out of trying to out of wrestling with and trying to answer these questions for myself about what I was gonna do with my life. Now I would have. Is there a relationship between your addiction to drugs and alcohol on your passion? Would you call it an addiction to exercise? Was where you trading one thing for, ah, destructive thing for a healthy thing? Or was there a reconciliation process? Because, you know, I think trauma and we all have trauma in life, and we all express it in different ways. And, um, I'm just curious how you you thought? Yeah, I think it's a little bit of both. Um, what you find in the ultra endurance community is a lot of people who are in recovery from some form of, you know, abuse or or substance addiction. Andi, I think it would be intellectually dishonest to say no. You know, I was addicted drugs and uncle, but my relationship with these doing these crazy things is completely healthy, you know? Of course, there's some compulsive aspect to that. Um, but I found my healthier self through those pursuits. Like for me taking the drink was always the easy way out and getting up in the morning to put your running shoes on or staring down the barrel of some crazy difficult work out. That's a harder choice, you know, that requires a little bit of back, bone and character. Um, S O for me, it's been a learning experience, and it's been a positive thing, but I do have to keep those tendencies in check. I'm married. I've got four kids, like left left unchecked, like I'll move into a hut and just train all day And just think about myself like I'm naturally a selfish, self seeking person. And recovery for me is about, you know, balancing that out against, uh, you know, everything else in my life that's truly important. So the pendulum is always swinging, and I always have to kind of be doing an inventory about, um, how I'm relating to the world, and is that in a healthy, healthy way? Or isn't that in a very unhealthy or compulsive way? I loved that you said unfinished business. I think that was It's a beautiful descriptor. And do you feel that you've, you know, been able to redeem some of that business that was that was undone. Certainly. I mean, now I look back on it, and the idea that I needed toe redeem anything is sort of silly, you know? But certainly I have done that. I mean, I've been more successful and more, uh, you know, lauded for things I've done athletically than I than I ever was when when I was truly at my athletic peak, eso that's been fascinating and unexpected and completely bizarre. Like I got into these events like I said, as a sort of spiritual odyssey to learn more about what made me tick. Um, the fact that anybody else would care about that other than maybe my wife, you know, has been a strange journey on a story I'm happy to now tell, but one that was not intended in very much unexpected. Let's keep telling it. So you there's this desire to pursue some spiritual awakening forties. You could call it a midlife crisis. Why I wanna pull on. This is not a surprise here that a lot of people who have pursued a path often the path, whether it was law or medicine or doing what your what your father or mother did because it was easy. There's a lot of people were listening and watching right now who are playing this out and saying, Oh my gosh, this is me. I'm in the middle of my life and thinking, What have I done? I've been living the dream that somebody else, you know, had for me. I'm pursuing somebody else's script. It's time I got to write my own. So sheriff's share with us, your your version. How do you How do you reconcile those things and get started with the next chapter? I wish I could give you the three bullet points. You know, Here's how you doing. You know, kids, Uh, for me, it was a long, drawn out, painful experience. Onda. Like I said, You know, getting out on my bike or getting out on the trail to run or jumping in the pool or the ocean were almost ways of of connecting with myself in the best way that I could like that that time alone, like I wasn't at the time an active meditator, and I wouldn't say that those training sessions were meditation proper, but they were an active meditation that allowed me to connect with myself in a deeper way in a way that I wasn't used. Thio. That allowed me the space and the time and the bandwidth to really sit with my discontent and really ponder what a future might look like. And what I get to do now was not the result of some grand scheme that I concocted while out on the bike. It's really been an organic outgrowth of me making it a fundamental decision to just start doing what felt right to me to follow my instincts and my intuition, irrespective of whatever the peanut gallery had to say about it or what whether society was gonna, you know, launder me with social approval or not to just say, Look, you know, I don't I don't care like I like, I like what it feels like to jump in the pool. I like what it feels like to have the son of my shoulder on a trail running dawn, and I'm gonna just keep doing that in a very childlike way, like it's like play, you know, And as we grow up, we're taught well, this is things we don't do any more mature, respectful adults or not exactly. I just decided that I was going to do it and I was gonna listen to that muse and I was gonna entertain it. Not because I thought that I would find some career path baked into this, but just because, you know, and I think by continuing to double down on that ultimately, you know, the path has sort of been laid forward in front of me brick by brick to figure out what to do next. But it's been very difficult, like, financially, incredibly insecure. We almost lost our house. I've had cars repossessed like it was not this, you know, upward trajectory. Thio. You know, having this podcast and getting to sit and talk to you today like there were a lot of dark moments of the soul and a lot of questioning whether I was an insane person, because everyone around me was saying, What are you doing? Like you? You could be practicing like you could be doing all these things you could be making all this money. Like what? You're chasing this crazy fool's errand. You have kids, you're being responsible. So it took a lot of faith and really conviction in order to kind of stay true to the path. Was that a muscle that you've always had? Or was that a muscle that you had to develop? And if you had to develop it, what was your process? Definitely not a muscle that I always had. I wouldn't consider myself an entrepreneur type personality. I was reared very much. Is the safety seeker like just get into the best school and, like, you know, take that path that well trodden path, You know, that that is laid out for men, respectable men of your pedigree. Like I grew up upper middle class, I went to a really nice schools. I have parents that took care of all of my needs that are still together. I wanted for nothing, and this was kind of the trajectory that all of my peers were on. It never occurred to me to veer off of that until I was really, like, almost soul sick and felt like I had no other choice but to do that. Um, so for me, it was very unfamiliar. It was almost like I had to shed a scan and grow a new one and my process was hardly methodical. But I would say that my wife really was my greatest teacher through this process. Like she just had my back, even when things just look crazy. She was like and I was like, I gotta go make some money, like the way that I know How does she'd say no, like you need to keep doing what you're doing. We will figure this out. But the path forward and the way through all of these difficulties is not to retreat and trace your steps backwards, but to continue to blaze forward. And I think without that support in the home, I don't know that I would have been able to keep going. So do you think credit? Is she important for you? No, as the person that she is? Or is it important that when people are trying to go on the same journey that you've been through, that there are people that are in their corner like Is that mentors? Is it a partner? Is the body? Is that of course? Ideally, it's your spouse because it sounds like she is. She is very powerful force for you, but I'm thinking to everyone that doesn't. What's your wife's name? Julie. Okay. To everybody who doesn't have a Julie. Yeah. Can you give it? I think I think it's super critical and important to find like minded souls who who support your vision for yourself and hold that space for your best self and believe in you. Um, I think you need to balance that with other people who can give you the hard feedback about when you're going off track or being a crazy person who can give you the hard truth because cheerleaders alone are not going to get you there. You need you need both. You know you need the tension between the aspiration and the grounded reality in order to find yourself. And I think if you I think we all need, I think the word mentor I find to be problematic because there's a formality to it. And everyone you know chases the fancy name people. I want you to be my mentor. I think everybody has people in their community who can be a source of of truth and education. If you don't find those people right, you should find you seek them out there all around you, you know. And if you can't find them in your neighborhood, you can find them online and you can have a virtual relationship with somebody. But I think it's super important to have a board of directors. I have people in my life, as I'm sure you do, too, That I call and rely upon for every facet of e was on. Whether you know, marriage or parenting or profession. You know all of these things. I think it's important to surround yourself with people who, um, who are living the life that you aspire toe have in certain categories and have in our further down the path in you. You found both the tough love and the cheerleader in Julie. Sounds like, um, tell me, what are some of the things that you heard from her that were surprising? You just shared one which is like, It's now is not the time to retreat. Now is the time to go through. What were some other? Was there some themes or some commonalities that you were like? Okay, she's got my back. This is what she said this to me four or five times now and I know fill in the black. We were just getting crushed financially. I mean, it was looking back on it. Now it's almost comical, like it's only comical because you can't back exactly because we're on the other side of it. But like I said, like, cars repossessed and and, you know, we had our trash bins taken away. I mean, really, like embarrassing, demoralizing stuff. Um, and what? Julie, Julie. What Julie taught me through this whole process was how to maintain your equanimity. Like she would say, Your job is to be completely neutral, like, can you? Because that is like the Jedi path, right? That is like true power to be a warrior in the eye of a storm like that when everything's coming at you and you feel like life is out of control, if you could be neutral and maintain your integrity, your peace of mind and your equanimity, that's like a superpower. So that was something that I observed in her that I tried to hone within myself. I mean, I remember when the Repo guy came to take my drug away and she came out and greeted him in the driveway and she said, Oh, hey, I'm Julie. Like, would you like some tea? Do you wanna come in? Like she was super nice, It And he was so confused. He's like, Wait a minute. Yeah, I know. So they're gonna murder me if I go in there right with these people. Who are these crazies? The other thing is to understand that if you're being visited with these kinds of difficulties in your life, um, to detach from the notion that this is failure or a referendum on who you are as a person but rather toe look upon it as an opportunity, this is your divine moment. We're here on Earth to grow to expand and these air lessons for us. So our job is to pay attention and to find the nugget of wisdom within that and to grab onto that and figure out the path forward. Wow. Yeah. So I can't overstate the the thread throughout, You know, the hundreds of interviews that I've personally done with you and folks like you and others that I've listened to your show and others that that having community if you're the average of the five people who spend the most time with, you know have you looked around and looked at who you're spending time with? That is, it's such a common thread. I also will jump on the same bandwagon like the whole mentor thing, e people asking me to be their mentor all the time. And it's just like, Sorry, I don't even know you. But here's a community and creating a community in a community atmosphere where you can learn, you know, the fact that we're in a world where this information is available for free. Um, to me, I think that's just I wanna restate that because I think you said it much more eloquently than I did. But it's it's really, really powerful tohave. They're not necessarily ah person, but just a set of people that you are inspired by that you respond to that you want to emulate. And the question I have out of all this is if you're around these people, they're all have, They all have their own identities and you're learning from this person online or this person in your life. How did you find the part of you in all of that? How did you How did you not just become a reflection of Julie. If she was your rock in this time, how did you find you? Wow, that's a That's a great question. That's a hard question. It's my job. I mean, I think im e good one. I think I'm still trying to find that I don't know that I have arrived in that place. I don't know if anybody truly arrives in that place. Like if I had to say Chase, who are Who are you? Define yourself. You're such a great you could grab the show. Flip it on you. Um, no. Let me try and answer it. Actually, no, I want you to go first. I will. I will follow. But you should try and answer. Don't deflect. You go. Do you smell that? Is like, Yeah, there were bakery or something. Gets there's someone just kicked on the pancakes or the cinnamon buns. Oh, my goodness. If you're at home listening and watching, I'm so bummed. You can't smell how good it smells in this, uh, this beautiful spot that we're going here s hotel. Yeah, there was a defining moment for me in this whole journey, and it was after I had done, um, the five Iron Man thing, and I was noticing that the media was taking an interest in what I was doing, which, as I mentioned earlier, was kind of a bizarre thing because I was just doing this for myself. Um, CNN's Sanjay Gupta came to my house, did like a piece on me, and and they asked, the people of CNN asked me to write a guest block post for CNN com, which I did. And it's a little like Here's my story. Aan Dat got published and it was tracking so well that they put it on the CNN home page and it became, like, the most emailed story for 48 hours or 72 hours, something like that, like it just hit a nerve and it, like, tracked really well. And I just got shellacked with emails all of a sudden. I mean, this was really like I had never been like a public person in any regard, and some of these emails that came in we're just so touching and unbelievable, like I told my story in a vulnerable way, and it gave people permission to then tell me their story, and I got these long multi paragraph emails like This is what happened to me and this is what I went through. And here's my struggles and my pain. And I was just so touched at the feeling of trust that these people had. And I think it was very emotional for me to, like, read all these emails. And it made me realize that the path forward for me and where I can really serve is to be a cipher for these people on the path to transformation. If I could be like a home base or a safe place for them to come to, to confide in or toe look Thio for inspiration and guidance for what the next step for them might be that perhaps I had something to say in that regard. And so building upon that has really been, you know, what I've done ever since that moment. It's interesting that there is. There is a true north inside of you. You, you you access that through vulnerability, right? You wrote your story out, people responded to it, and that gave you a feeling. And it was the feeling that you looked at like Wait a minute. This is a sign that I'm doing the thing you talked earlier about intuition. Um, is that the same feeling your this awareness that you had once you put your you had to take the first step. Obviously, CNN says you want to write this. You say now, then you might not have captured it, But you did. And then there was that response and the response was just like, Oh, my God, Hey, I'm not alone be I like this feeling. Probably Maybe it sounds like that's one of the things that clued you off to, like I could be a home, but maybe I could be a home base. Well, I was very aware that the vulnerability was the thing that people were connecting with. And when I got the opportunity to write a book, I understood that that had to be like the key sort of through line throughout the entire narrative. Because, let's face it, like I'm not, I'm not like it's not like I won some world championship like I've never won a race like I've done some crazy things and ultra endurance, But there's plenty of athletes out there. There are a lot better than me that are more talented than me, that arm or that are more accomplished than me. So why am I giving why? Why am I being given an opportunity to write a book like It's weird, right? It doesn't on paper, it didn't really seem to make sense. And so I was very aware that the only reason that people would would connect with my story was going to be directly related to the extent to which I was willing to be vulnerable and talk about things that you aren't so comfortable and that I'm not that proud of the process of writing. It really was one of just getting into the mindset of private journaling like I had. I had to make it like a diary that no one was going to read, and then I would have these moments where I'm like, Oh my God, wait, there's gonna be a book like and I would freak out, be paralyzed for, you know, several days. Um, but in retrospect, looking back, like, I know that that's why the book has been successful because it's the humanity, because everybody confined some aspect of their own journey in my pain points or my struggles. My story isn't that remarkable. The things that I've gone through, many people have gone through far worse than what I've had to endure to get to this place. But I think there's there's an integrity in that honesty, and I think people respond to that. They know when it's really Do you think that that true north of that beacon, that thing that's inside of in this case, we're talking about you that was inside of you? Is that inside of everybody? Or is that something you have to find? Is it natively there? Do you have to create it? How do people understand their true North? I don't know that there's only one true North. Maybe there's many for people, but I think the process of trying to unlock that or discover that within oneself, um, is a journey of self discovery that requires rigorous self honesty and rigorous, um, adherence to one's personal truth. I think a lot of people are walking around not understanding what that is for themselves, like, What do you mean? My personal truth, like I'm just going toe work, man, I'm trying to like, you know, make a buck. Yeah, exactly. uh, so in order to really connect with that, I think it's an inside job like you could go out and ride your bike all day or or, you know, do jiu jitsu or lose a bunch of weight. But ultimately, it's about your relationship with you, and that will be revealed to you Onley in the in the moments in which you are allowing yourself to get quiet enough where you can shut off the thinking brain, where you can become an observer of your own thoughts and connect with your own consciousness in that relationship, as it develops through meditation or mindfulness practice or whatever strategy you employ, I think that your higher conscious will tell you who it is and what it wants to be, and then your job then becomes piecing that together slowly over a very long period of time for you. Is that that sound too obtuse, that not only is that not too poetic, it was beautiful, kind of just like letting it land there. So for you was that the trail was that that moment of quiet time, the reflection was that the trail and the ocean and the the path it was all of those things and it was meditation, and it was connecting with my body for the first time in a really long time. Again, it was about learning how to connect with my instincts and then trust them on. But these are all things that that I originally started to learn about as a result of getting sober and being in 12 step and understanding that, you know, we're spiritually beings. Having a human experience like these were all crazy foreign concepts to me. I had a decade, you know, spent in church basements and, you know, with fellow alcoholics and drug addicts toe acquaint me with some of these concepts that I then started to dealt Dell deeper into. The physical aspect of these things that I've done are just one avenue of exploration for that. But I think there's many, and it's different for everybody. Talked about meditation, mindfulness exercise, a church basement, any others come to mind. It could be your faith based community. It could be your relationship with your kids. It could be sitting in a cave. It could be of a possible retreat. It could be, you know, like I just said, learning jiu jitsu. It could be it could be going out in nature and taking taking photographs. It could be what you dio. I think, um, it's about finding what lights your own spark and then trusting your instincts enough to pull on that thread and continue to follow it with the understanding that more will be revealed to you in time. So it was a roomy quote. I don't remember. I'm gonna watch this, but fair to say I'm gonna try and summarize what someone else is. Quote. But you don't have to see the whole staircase. You just have to find the first stare. I think it's super profound, I think, um, so many people, especially in this kind of self help rubric or universe, that that were kind of part of, um everybody wants to know all the steps before they begin. Then they're going to decide the same. Yeah, it has to get hard, and I have toe sweat and cry and bleed for this. I'm not sure I want it. So can you show me what looks like around the corner? And most people that write already good, they're like, sorry there, right? That's just you gotta take the first. You got to take the first step. I mean, use use running as an example like, Well, like, what watch do I need? What shoes do I need? I need my training plan. Is that the right training plan or should I do this training plan? Which race should I sign up for? Its analysis? Paralysis that keeps people stuck forever because they wanna understand the entire journey from beginning to end. And what they're failing to realize or understand or embrace is that is that the beauty of the whole experience is in the unknowing. That's where the faith comes in. You take that first step and it's just fog in front of you. You don't know and you have to trust. And you have to be willing to take that leap of faith into the unknown and believe that you will be caught, that you will be cradled somehow. And that's scary, frightening. You know, it was frightening for May, um, but that's the magic man, you know, and I don't wanna deprive somebody of that experience because that's where all the beauty and the self understanding and the faith and the sense of self comes from. You have four kids. Hmm. How are you? How or what are you doing to imprint some of this just gold into their lives there? Thistles, parenting advice. Or it's just a comment or sort of trying to understand humanity. But aren't you? Well, the chance of them listening to this or low don't trust me, they're not gonna listen exactly. They couldn't be less interested in anything that I'm doing. Um, but what are the ages? So eso? I've got two boys that are my step sons that I've lived with since they were three and four. But they're now 22 23 they've moved out of the house. They're musicians in a band with my nephew, their cousin on their working on their first album. So they're pursuing their dream, and they're incredibly talented. I have no doubt that they'll be successful. They're kind of embedded into the music scene of East Los Angeles, and it's super cool toe to see them fully engaged in what they wanna be doing with their lives. Uh, then I've got two daughters that are 15 and 11, uh, 15 year old daughter. It's a tricky that za tricky universe. Andi. She's a visual artist and she goes Thio Arts High School in downtown Los Angeles. That's required our family toe kind of reconfigure how we live because it's very far from our other house. So my wife and I are now splitting time, staying in an apartment that we rented. That's approximate to the school so that we could be in full support of her dreams. So putting our money where our mouth is, Aziz, we were saying before the podcast started, E was telling was telling Chase how how I've spent half the week in downtown L. A. Which is where we're recording this right now, um, to be in support of our daughter and I can't be somebody who who is a public facing individual, telling people to pursue what's in their heart if I'm not actively engaged in supporting my own daughter and doing that. So that's made our lives a little bit complicated right now, but it's been cool, and then our other daughters 11, and she goes to school back near our other house. So life is not simple, but it's also beautiful, and I can't say that I have all the parenting answers. I think if there's one piece of parenting advice that I would give that has been helpful and has worked for us, it's that we have chosen to, um, treat our kids like conscious, sentient individuals from a very young age rather than talk down to them like little kids. Thio give them a sense of sovereignty and respect at an early age in an effort. Thio, um uh, urge them or prompt them to develop their own personal sense of self and and and self esteem at an early age. And I think that that has worked out quite well so far. Agency agency crack That's the word I was looking for. Yeah, its's weird that that's not a It's not a product that is widely taught, right? You know, the school system if you look at the traditional and I was quite the opposite. I was raising in middle lower middle class family. I didn't also want for much, but I also had, like Nikes that upside down Nike swooshes, and I didn't really understand the difference until I did one day and I was like, Wait a minute, how come my Nikes air upside. How come my adidas have four stripes, But as far as the basics, I had them. But the concept of age and then my parents my parents were amazing loving. They're still together. I was an only child, so I basically had the attention of my parents. But it wasn't like I was Oh, hey, man, this is a thing. You have agency, you could do whatever. They're very practical. They're very supportive until the one who wanted to dio. But it's weird to me that we don't have culturally embedded the idea of agency and choice and autonomy and sovereignty of some of the words that you used right there. What? What are we doing wrong? So what? We're doing so many things wrong. I mean, our whole education system needs to be upended, you know, it was founded on these, you know, in era of industrialization ideas about how to create ah, healthy worker for the system. And now we're all carrying supercomputers around in our pockets That can tell us the answer to any question that we have. And yet we have an educational system that's founded upon memorization and, like wrote, um, skills that I think the relevancy have now been called into question on. What we need to do is teach Children agency, teach them how to think for themselves, teach them how to be, um, creative and their problem solving skills, how to be team members and team leaders. Like all of these things that I think are essential to being successful in our modern life are just not even part of the conversation when it comes to education. And I find that disheartening. It puts more pressure on the parents to instill those things, and the kids and kids that have solid parents are gonna get that. But I think it should be the responsibility of our educational system to be teaching the life skills that I never learned when I was growing up. That's part of the reason that created life exists because I didn't see that in the world. Right, Um, can you imagine being like 12 or 13 years old and being able to open up a laptop and, like, learn about the world with all this free content of amazing wise people teaching you whatever it is that you wanna learn like that was not available to me on. What is the impact of that on culture and society and a young person's mind? Is college relevant anymore? For certain people? It is. But I think for a lot of people, it isn't. There are so many new and innovative ways toe learn. And I think we're becoming more and Maura, skill based and a freelance based economy. And that's very different from the traditional programming of the typical university or collegiate structure. And yet those institutions have yet thio, you know, kind of, um, mature. So what's actually happening right now for sure? They're they're actually disincentivize. They have billions of dollars with a real estate. They need you to physically come and stand there and there's sure this benefits for in person community. Of course, I r l a low about it, but not everything. And not all the time. Yeah, you're speaking my language for sure. What you're saying these things that you know that systems based on the factory which was a Prussian system that was invented in the 18 hundreds for moving people effectively through a line and training whether they're soldiers or the industrial revolution. You want a factory that z aim was produced. Widgets that all look the same, act the same and go do a wrote job. 99% of those which don't exist anymore. All that all that is so true. You said something interesting. It's like a job of, you know, you know, a job of parents is tau. Teach their kids these things. I think there's a lot of people just clicked for me while you were talking that it's not just the parents and the kids, because the people who are listening to this, most of them are the adults. And there's the same mentality is present in, Well, you it was 41 right? And so if if you're listening in, any of this is resonating with you, Um, it's not just about your 13 year old daughter. This is could be about you a swell, you know, And I know way happily skirted my personal story, but I'm gonna bring it back. Here is as I did all of the same stuff you're talking about the you know, the the same track that culturally approved go to college. I also was an athlete soccer scholarship, all the right things. Check the boxes one, you know, got up high fives from the right people and yet at early twenties, felt so lost, so confused. And it was actually the deep, um, shame that I felt by letting down all of the people in my life that I've basically been telling a lie to for years. And I know I did not have a rough or a sad I mean, you know, it was fine, but I was definitely not doing my thing. I was doing somebody else's thing. And it was to shame and the guilt and the ultimate or coming of those things that as soon as I had said, Hey, you know what this whole like Dr thing, I could give two shits about being a doctor. In fact, it sounds terrible. Remember all those volunteer hours that I had to do to get into medical school? They do those for a reason, because you need to really love it, and I hated it every second, every second I was at the hospital, I hated it. And the moment that you decide to trust yourself and follow your gut and your instinct, you're overwhelmed with guilt that you're letting other people down for sure that you're not entitled to be able to do that for yourself. And I e did a lot of extra school outside of it. I went to graduate school and did a lot of things that were dancing around. The thing that I knew was my truth. And I was basically juggling and hopping on one leg and being a monkey for the other people in my life who are lovely people. Beautiful, supportive. I mean, it's not like there no one was holding a gun to my head, no nous saying. But it was just like culture. And I'll also say It's I'm born, white born male born in America is just straight up, acknowledged the privilege. Radical privilege. And so if I'm sitting here like boo hooing, poor me how hard this was to just finally realized I was living someone else's lie and tell the people that member that money you spent for me in graduate school or whatever, like that's all wasted because I never wanted to do it from Day one. I had to do it to figure it out, probably. But like that for every one of those aspects of me there's more guilt and shame around. And you know what could imagine if I didn't have both my parents or if I was, you know, actually poor like, and came from a You know, I wasn't, uh, white and male and all these advantages. So I had all kinds of guilt and stuff piled onto that, and I will. What I'll confess here is that it was in playing through that just actually. Okay, I just told my parents I'm not gonna do that. And I'm looking at my my student loan debt, and it's a $67, and you sit in that for a little bit, Like, you know, I could actually be okay with this. It wasn't like that on it. I don't wanna go play this because it was a lot of pain, but I want to know a little bit about yours. That was mine. How did you have to sit? You mentioned 10 years in church, church basements? Was that sitting with the fact that you disappointed all those things that helped you find your true north? You talked about it being on the trail. You talked about not knowing everything, but knowing one thing Can you tell me what was like Thio? Yeah, it's been kind of up and down like this. I mean, I grew up, um, in a very education focused household, was definitely a top priority on Guy, struggled academically for a long time and then finally figured it out when I was in high school. And what was it? The figured out? I figured out that although I wasn't academically gifted, I realized that I had a capacity toe be a workhorse on. That's something that I used as well in the pool and in sports that, you know, I'm not the smartest. I'm not the most gifted athletically, but I know how to fucking work. And I know how to suffer and I'll get it done. You know, I cannot work the guy next to me and that served me in the classroom, served me in swimming pool and all these other areas of life, and I was able to kind of stake my claim on that character trait. So by the time I was graduating high schools top student, my class I got into, like every college I applied to all the fancy schools on was also a top swimming recruit. So I had my pick and I went to Stanford, which was number one school number one swimming program, like the world was my oyster. Like it was just this clear skies ahead upward upwardly mobile trajectory for May and then enter drugs and alcohol and that just, you know, completely screwed me up. Sent me down a dark path for many, many years until I met my maker with that and was forced to get sober. But along the way had really destroyed a lot of relationships and trust with a lot of people had decimated my career. Basically, there was a lot of wreckage in my path. So I went from this guy who's like this guy is gonna be a senator Thio toe Dirtbag status and then had to inch my way back to regain that trust. So even so when I got sober and I'm being introduced to these spiritual concepts and I'm being forced to confront the truth of my actions, and I'm trying to connect with myself for the very first time when you Medicaid throughout your entire adolescence and twenties, you're creating a barrier between you and your consciousness the entire time. When you finally remove that, you're this bundle of nerves. You don't know who you are. It's very confusing and disorienting. And it took many years of me trying to figure out, like, who am I? What makes me tick on during that process? I still was very attached to this idea of the American dream, not because I had some passion for it, but it was really an external pressure of like, I need to prove that I that I'm not this dirtbag, that I can be this respectful person, that that person that I was in high school that, you know, I can show my parents and everybody else that that that's truly who I am. But that was all bullshit. Yeah, that was the law school, right? And it took me a decade. I understand that for myself and toe let go of that which is terrifying, you know, like let go of this idea that you promised your entire life on for a far back, as you can remember, is a sense of free fall. I'm sure it's what you experienced, and and when you're a safety seeker like I waas, there's always. You always know what the next thing is gonna be like. You're kind of going from here, and then this is what you do. And then this is what happens. So let go of that and have no true north or no sense of what that next step is gonna be. Is was scarier than going to rehab. It was scarier than you know, Any of the interference races that I've done. It's a sense of disorientation that is really hard to describe. Thanks for being so vulnerable for sharing that. That's I don't know if I answered your question. You nailed it, man. Like in spades. Um, that I love the journey of moving from there into, you know, your physical fitness and the, um, finding ultra your memoir. Let's talk about the plant based diet E Think that's a huge part of what I understand externally, as something you identify with, Um can you give me Is it a personal philosophy? Is it a, um Is it a health based philosophies that all those things, some none like? Give me the give me the late land cause I'm like, rich role plant based everything, and you've got you know, great merchandise. And right, well, you know, I would sit like, rather than slap a label on it and say, This is how I identify. It's probably better to just tell a story. Great. And, you know, that story is very wedded toe. The story that I've been telling you, which is, you know, throughout my thirties, sober trying to repair my life and establish myself is this respectful person. I had taken a lot of those addictive alcoholic tendencies and place them not on fitness, but on work. I was very much a workaholic, and, um, so much so that by the time I was 39 I was £50 overweight. It was never like a big, morbidly obese guy. But I was like a hefty heavy guy who was essentially a couch potato like I hadn't despite the fact that I had been this athlete in college. I was not taking care of myself physically. I was just working and, you know, subsisting on fast food and, you know, shitty lifestyle habits. And like so by the time I was 39 you know, I was kind of like a wreck physically, and that's when I was having this existential crisis. So I'm confused about what I'm doing with my life and that this this kind of perfect storm percolated that in which this existential crisis that I was having collided with a health scare Where I was walking up a simple flight of stairs to go to bed after a long day at work one evening and had to pause. I mean, I don't wanna be overly dramatic about it, but, like I had tightness in my chest. And and you know, somebody who thought of himself as an athlete toe have toe, like, take a break. Walking up a flight of stairs because you're out of breath was like, This isn't like I'm, like, 30. I'm not that old, you know, 39 you know, sweat on my brow and kind of buckled over. And it was a symbolic moment in which I realized that the way I was living my life was just untenable, like I needed. It was another bottom for me. It was similar to the day that I decided to get sober. I had this palpable, strong sense that once again, I was having one of those moments that, um if I had the awareness in the presence of mind, to really feel in that moment could be a catalyst for another major lifestyle change. Like, I was very aware of that in that moment, and I didn't know what that meant. All I knew is that I needed to jump on it and take advantage of it right away. Or it would pass like that day that I went to rehab. If I decided Well, maybe tomorrow, you know, who knows? You know what would have happened? Like I I knew that there was an urgency to it, and that urgency required some specific actions that needed to be undertaken. And for me, that translated into, like, I went immediately into, like, this seven day juice fast cleanse thing. Not because, like, I felt like I needed toe had toxins that whatever, like, I just need to do something hard. You know, I was like this. I've never gone a day without eating food. I was like, This thing is like going to rehab for food and lifestyle on git was hard. It was very difficult. But at the end of that seven day period of basically just subsisting on juice, fruit juice and vegetable juice. Um, I had this resurgence and vitality that was kind of amazing. Like, I couldn't believe that after a week of not eating, I suddenly felt better than I felt. And as long as I could remember and that triggered me into this journey to try to find a way of eating that would allow me to feel that way all the time. And that was a messy experience of many months of trying lots of different things, but ultimately settling into eating a plant Onley diet. That was the one thing that I tried that actually allowed me to feel vital throughout the day in a very balanced manner in a way that surprised me. I wasn't expecting that. So my adoption e wasn't like, No, I'm gonna be this vegan now. Like I was just trying to find a way to feel good. It was very much a selfish, health oriented goal. Um, eating plants worked, and so I've just been doing that ever since. When you find something that works for Yeah, eso It's important to me that that people understand that I'm not coming from this super dogmatic place. I've been doing it now for 12 years, and it still works great for me. And I promised myself that if at any point, um, I came to a crossroads where I wasn't feeling good or it felt like something was awry or a miss that I would be intellectually honest about that and address it. And if that meant that I needed to go and eat other types of foods that I had toe entertain that possibility that day hasn't come yet. I still feel great. 52. I'm still able to go out and kill it. And what this journey has taught me has, um this journey has taught me so much like now my interest in this lifestyle and way of eating has expanded beyond the parameters of just, you know, my waistline and my personal sense of vitality Thio our collective responsibility to care for the well being of our planet and all of these sentient animals that I think we can all agree we don't treat so great, particularly in a factory farming context. Onda help people kind of better understand that and create a connection between the foods that we're eating and where they come from because the whole system is erected to prevent us from really being emotionally and intellectually connected to that process. I think that's a that that arc is really cool and natural. It's not like everyone comes into a problem for their own, uh, reasons and on their own path yours that moment, walking up the stairs. Eso It's such a focussed moment. What about those of us? I'll put myself in this category? Knock on wood health scares Feel good. How do you tap into a thing that you don't even know you're missing? Yeah, I mean, that's like, That's the secret sauce right there and again. I wish I had a pithy answer for that because for me, pains really been like when I'm in enough pain like then I can move the needle and I could make the changes right. And the big changes that I've made in my life have been a result of being in a tremendous amount of pain. But let's square that with the understanding and the realization that those changes and those choices are always available to us, we need not suffer in orderto avail ourselves of what they have to offer. So how can we make the choice without suffering right? You know, proactive. It's like I don't know. That's hard. Yeah, like who does that? You know what I mean. Tim Ferriss, right? Yeah, I guess certain certain alien humans are able to do that, but I think it's about, um, it's about it goes back to that mind body soul connection. It's about being present with who you are. And I think meditation is really the superpower skill that can create a sense of awareness to be in a situation to make that choice because I think we're all visited with, like, whether it's the moment I decided to go to rehab or that line in the sand moment of like, I'm changing my like, who would have thought that a staircase episode and a decision to like change my diet would deliver me toe sitting next to you to do this? It's like it's insane, right? You can't imagine or predict these things, but I think that we're all visited with these moments. And if you're paying attention if you're present with yourself, you're more likely to be aware when they are when they descend upon you as opposed to blindly reacting to your environment and just bumping up against what was happening, you know, and then missing the gift, allowing it to pass that awareness, self awareness, mindfulness meditation, that whole space has been transformational for me. Personally, I think it's you said earlier. I think you describe that as a vehicle or a path or a, um, a grounding element to be able to be attuned until that stuff. Well, I think a better. Yeah, agreed. And I think maybe a more concrete way of putting it is if you're on the wrong path for yourself, the universe is gonna let you know it's gonna knock softly at first. And if you're not listening and it's gonna start to knock louder and louder and louder. And if you continue to not pay attention to not have the wherewithal or the mindfulness toe course correct, then you're gonna end up in a car crash. You know, a metaphorical one, like there's gonna be some, you know, situation that arises or cataclysm that is gonna force you to finally confront this thing that you're refusing to look at. So the question becomes like, Can you course, correct. When the knock is gentle and again it goes back to being aware. More aware you are. The more present, the more mindful you are of your surroundings in yourself, the more likely you're you're going to be to be able to take notice. Can I ask a couple more questions about the plant based? I sure, what about blood type stuff? You know, is that shaky science or I'll just I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nutritionist and I'm not a scientist, and I don't play one on the Internet. But I will tell you that I'm type O, which, yeah, from what I understand is the is the type that is supposed to eat meat. I had never heard this. I find myself craving protein on when I have protein, animal based protein. I feel better and again this BS psychology. I have not. I've done some plant based only for some time, or haven't done like the master cleanse or anything. I've done some small, small versions of it. Um, I'm intrigued by the footprint on the planet. I'm intrigued by just balance and doing what's right, but also I can't get out of the cycle of like craving, hardcore dose of protein. So cravings are unreliable narrators, though at times I mean there is undoubtedly a connection between the quality of your microbiome and the signals that are being sent to your brain that get translated into cravings. So sometimes that craving Israel. It's because your body really does need something. And sometimes it's because your microbiome is saying this is what we like or it is just some, you know, habit that gets triggered where you're uncomfortable, not saving it in that way. And I think to really understand the difference, you have to, um, whether those cravings for a period of time, whether it's 30 days or something like that, to see how legitimate they really are. And, you know, on Lee, you know, and everybody is different on the first person to say, like, Look, I can only speak from my own experience, you know, I'm sharing from a place of personal experience. Homer me, right? So tell me a little bit about the cookbooks. I want people to be able to find, find them on the Internet s O in the wake of writing, finding ultra and telling my story. It seemed natural that the next book ought to be about food, because food place such a big role in my own personal evolution and what I've been able to do athletically. And people were interested in how that works. So we wrote a cookbook called The Plant Power Way, which is very family friendly introductory primer thio Eating a plant based diet with recipes that are super traditional, like potato salad and lasagna. Like it's there's this sense that if you're eating a plant based diet, you're gonna be crawling around in your yard like chewing grass out of, you know, like are just eating salad and celery. And that's certainly not the way that I eat. Like I'm you know, I push my body like I'm very physically active, and I have a huge appetite. I need a lot of food, and I want to feel like those what I'm putting in my in my mouth is gonna stick to my ribs. Eso This book is sort of intended to serve that, and and my wife is incredible cook. They're all her recipes. And then we wrote another cookbook called The Plant Power Away Italian. We do these retreats in the Italian countryside. Every year we take groups of 30 to 40 people through a seven day experience that involves meditation and trail running and mindfulness and a lot of intense workshops. But of course, also food, and collaborating with the chefs of that region produced this amazing cookbook that is a plant based spin on your favorite Italian business peas. Best place for people to find and track you down on the Internet. Um, easy to find. Just you can Google. My name is rich. Role dot com is my website where everything goes on the podcast. Uh, it's just the rich role podcast wherever you listen to find podcasts and they're available on YouTube as well. So yeah. Thank you so much. Thank you again on my podcast. Thank. Speaking of podcast on, I'm looking forward to being in your early have already agreed. It's happening. Thank you so much for sharing your story insights. The vision it's been incredibly inspiring on, uh, I got work to do E o. But I could tell you it is an honor toe. Meet you and be on your show. A zoo, longtime town of everything that you do and put out into the world with the highest degree of integrity. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much. And favorite out there listening. Check out Richard stuff everywhere on the Internet and thank you for tuning and hopefully see you hear from you. You'll see me or whatever on the Internet tomorrow, Yeah.