I’ve met tens of thousands of entrepreneurs through my businesses, blog and live events…
And one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s easy for entrepreneurs to feel lonely and unfulfilled.
It’s easy to get so worried about your own success that you forget to give attention to anyone else.
But you can be the catalyst for change in your life; you can be the person who brings that honest connection to your friends and relationships; you can cultivate strong, intimate bonds that last a lifetime…
And you can start by understanding who you are and expressing it to the world every single day.
This is where my conversation with Dan Doty begins, and I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in entrepreneur lifestyle give the full episode a listen.
You can also learn more about Dan, his awesome podcast and his private coaching on his website: http://www.dan-doty.com
7:50 Focus on deep, meaningful relationships with people
9:40 The state of fulfillment can only come through connection and intimacy
11:59 People are searching for approval and acknowledgement
13:51 Attention is the greatest commodity in our society
19:07 If you are not willing feel your emotional experience, you can not describe your emotional experience
25:00 Mastery is the willingness to put your attention to one area consistently over time
32:58 It comes down to taking responsibility for how your life is going
40:33 Put your attention in the direction of something better
52:17 Serve the world unselfishly and profit
61:05 If you give beyond your surplus you are doing everyone a disservice
70:05 For growth, people need framework
Click Here For Video Transcript
Dan: Hello. Welcome to The Evryman Podcast. This is episode 14. I’m here with my new producer Duke. I just hired him. Duke, would you like to say hello?
Duke: Hey, Duke.
Dan: Duke is a little over a year old. His favorite song is “Despacito.” His favorite book is “Go, Dog. Go!” He’s eating dinosaurs right now. Wanna say anything else?
Duke: Hey, Duke.
Dan: Deep thoughts from Duke. So on the way to daycare this morning, Duke barfed all over himself and so he’s hanging out today. And I don’t know if anybody can relate but getting a full day of work done with a little one around is difficult. So Duke is with me as I get this podcast ready to release. Evryman continues to march forward in a relaxed and pretty progressive direction away. We sold out our expedition experience which is coming up in a month. I’m pumped about that. What else do I have to say? Well, here’s what I have to say. Our guest today is Ezra Firestone. He is the founder and head cheese at smartmarketer.com and he has a handful of online businesses that do incredibly well.
I met Ezra a handful of years ago in New York City and actually helped him get his first feet on the ground, off the ground with some web videos. That’s a long time ago. I’m really excited to have him here today. He’s a good friend of my close friend John O’Connor who is on a different episode of this and I’m speaking today with Ezra. He is in Hawaii. There’s a lot of really cool, fast-paced, brilliant stuff happening in this interview. Stick around afterward and do… What should they do? What else should I do?
Duke: [Inaudible 00:02:10].
Dan: They should eat cheesy dinosaurs? You should also go to our Facebook page, The Evryman Facebook page. Like us, follow us, share us. We’re gonna be ramping up our social media presence in the next couple of months and we would love for you to be a part of it. And I’m gonna be more active on there and I can answer your questions directly and we can be more involved. So go to our Facebook page and go to our website evryman.co. We’re still ramping up to launch more and more groups. There’s a lot of resources on there that will be expanding as we move forward. So I need to take care of this little turkey and I hope you enjoy the show.
All right, I’m here with… I’m gonna start that again. I was laughing. I was laughing in the middle of my intro. I’m here with Ezra Firestone. And, Ezra, before I hear anything else, I wanna know, describe to me your surroundings because I hear something in the background and it’s making me feel happy.
Ezra: So I am sitting in a house on Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii across the street from the elementary school where I went to elementary school. And I’m actually meeting with my third grade teacher a little later this week which is gonna be kinda wild.
Dan: That’s amazing. Well, two things sound amazing. A, you grew up on the North Shore, that’s amazing. And two, your third grade teacher, did you reach out? Did you set this up?
Ezra: No. Actually, she reached out to me because, you know, some of my family still lives here and she has this blog called “Rex the Surf Dog” and she’s like educator for education, helping people create curriculum for third grade education across America. And she’s got this like stuffed dog that she travels with and writes a blog about it or whatever. But my auntie still works at the farmer’s market and Mr. Bill [SP] goes down at the farmers market so she kinda knows some of my family. And she said, “Hey, how’s Ezra doing?” and got a sense of what I was up to in the world and reached out and said, “Hey, I wanna connect, like I really think what you’re doing is cool. And I always thought that you needed to work on your listening skills. But other than that, I really thought you were a cool kid.”
Dan: Amazing. Well, man, I gotta ask. How are your listening skills now?
Ezra: You know, I’ve been working on it. You know, we actually pulled my report cards. I have all my grade school report cards and like all of the content is quite similar. It’s like, “Ezra is such a bright child. He really needs to work on his listening skills. Ezra is a really bright child. Can someone teach him not to use foul language?” like all this crazy stuff. You know, like we were kind of a rabid bunch of animal…like pack of animals. Actually, I grew up on a hippie commune, for lack of a better way to describe it, sort of like an alternative lifestyle experiment which is a fascinating backstory that I would love to tell and take like three minutes to give you the history of it.
But one interesting thing that I’ve been thinking about since I’ve been in Hawaii is growing up in Hawaii like 20 years ago, the…being a white kid, being a haole boy, you were a minority. And I don’t think that…like I think it was an interesting experience to be in the group that like… I don’t know how to articulate it without sounding offensive. But to be in what was considered a minority group and we’re treated differently because of the way that you looked and that being like it wasn’t cool to be a haole boy. You got picked on. You got beat up. You know what I mean? And it was just a really fascinating and valuable experience. I also, obviously, love Hawaii and like totally, you know, once you fit in, you fit in but…
Dan: So I do want you to go… So one of the ways I love to start this is I’d love to hear like a minute bio. And I want it to be as, you know, dropped in and punchy and direct as you possibly… Like who are you, Ezra? And we’re gonna keep fleshing that out but tie that into its…since we have this reference point, this third grade teacher you’re about to… Tell me who Ezra was, as part of this, tell me who Ezra was as a third grade-year old boy or a third grade boy and if that takes us into the unique circumstances of how you grew up, please take us there, man.
Ezra: You know, what I’ve been searching for my whole life is connection and intimacy. And that’s like…you know, I’ve been sold this bill of goods that…and I think every man in society has been sold the same bill of goods, that production is what’s going to bring you satisfaction because the way that like guys get value in the eyes of society is based on what they produce. The more money you make, the more you produce, the more highly regarded you are in society. For women, it’s youth and beauty. Women are told that their life is pretty good till about 35 and then it’s like, tighten it up, tuck it in, chop it off, inject it, you know, dye your hair, like anti-aging, anti-wrinkle.
And so like their value proposition in the eyes of society is youth and beauty and our value proposition in the eyes of society is production. And what’s interesting is I’ve gone really deep in the world of production. I have a business. I’m not answering your question and I will answer it. But I understand I’m off on a tangent. But I got 50 employees. I have this crazy production cycle that is being really fulfilling but, ultimately, what I’m up to in my life is not this production cycle. It’s not what I talk to people about. It’s not my path in life. It’s just something that I do because I enjoy it but what I’m really up to and cultivating in the world is intimacy and connection and relatedness with my wife and our close group of friends.
And I think that’s the bigger game that I’m playing. And I think, ultimately, that serves everything that I am. Everything that I’m doing in my life and everything I’m able to do is because I have this focus and this priority on having real, deep, meaningful, open, clear, communicative relationships with people and I think that serves every other… And to bring you back to third grade, growing up…
Dan: No, wait. Hold on. I gotta insert myself there. I wanna ask you one simple question, yes or no answer. Are you a fulfilled human being?
Ezra: Yes, I am so happy. I’m really enjoying my life and I feel extremely fulfilled. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals. It doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in playing the game of, “Let’s go from A to B,” but I feel like if you can’t get to the point where you are just fully enjoying your daily life, there’s nowhere that you’re gonna get that’s gonna…like there never comes. You’re never gonna get there. There is here. You have to be happy and fulfilled and figure out a way to enjoy your daily existence or it doesn’t make any sense to get more, right? It’s like [crosstalk 00:08:37] Jewish rabbi.
It’s a far greater skill to have the ability to enjoy what you have than to have the ability to get what you want because what you want becomes what you have and if you can’t enjoy what you have, you’re hoaxed [SP].
Dan: I couldn’t agree more. And you’re right on it. And I’m gonna… So…but here’s the reason I asked you that question, are you fulfilled, is because every man with these men’s groups and with…everything that we’re…that I’m about, that what we’re doing, it seems to be pointing me in the direction of changing our narrative to heading toward fulfillment rather than this idea of happiness, rather than this accomplished feeling, right, but this fulfillment idea. And I have this pet theory and I’m just developing it and feeling it but it’s that fulfillment, that like deep, sunk-in feeling I don’t believe comes without… And I think it’s amazing that you started with saying that you’re looking for intimacy and connection. And, again, that’s exactly what we’re all about here.
But just to make a simple equation, make the dots connect there, I feel that fulfillment, the state of fulfillment is something that comes and maybe can only come through connection and through intimacy. And I feel like I see that happening everywhere.
Ezra: Let’s go a step deeper, Dan Doty, because what I feel like…and I meet a lot of lonely people, Dan. I meet a lot of entrepreneurs because part of one of my businesses is engaging with entrepreneurs. And so I get to meet tens of thousands of entrepreneurs every year through my blog and my events and stuff and I see a lot of lonely people. And I’ve sort of identified that what I think loneliness is is a prison that’s built with bricks of secrecy. I think that what loneliness comes from is an unwillingness or a not…sort of not even knowing how perhaps to actually express what you are feeling in the moment about XYZ and maybe it’s because you’re afraid of someone’s response or maybe it’s because you’re afraid you’re gonna be judged for your expression.
But it turns out that if you make the decision to really just be, to have what you feel as right enough to express, all of a sudden, you feel less lonely because you’re sharing how you feel with someone and getting feedback on that. And I think that like [crosstalk 00:10:45]…
Dan: Just wait… I gotta tell everybody here I did not pay you to come and say these things, right?
Ezra: Is this in thing that what’s already been going on [crosstalk 00:10:51]?
Dan: No, listen. You are stating eloquently and in your own words… No, it’s the fundamental mission and point of every man. This whole thing, what you’re saying, you’re fucking nailing it so keep going on. Keep rocking that.
Ezra: Thanks, man. I feel like, look, dude, what I’ve…and I got lucky in that I was born into a pact. I have these relationships with other men, probably like six or seven of them who I’ve known from the time I was born, who we’ve gone through school together. We’ve gone through extracurricular activities together. We’ve gone through relationships together. We’ve had this really strong bond just by virtue of having growing up in an alternative lifestyle experiment and like going through the world together and now being in our 30s and being friends. Like, so I have had this and now through the relationship with my wife that I’ve been cultivating over the last 10 years like the…because by the way, I was the antithesis of this in high school. And this is what I was getting at when you asked me when I was a third grader.
Actually, what I flashed to you was like standing in front of the mirror in high school, blow-drying my little Elvis puff on the top of my head because…for 30 minutes before school every morning thinking that if I dressed a certain way or if I looked a certain way that I would then somehow be approved of. And I think what people are searching for is approval and acknowledgement and that’s definitely what I was searching for, was approval and acknowledgement. But it turns out that like no amount of outward approval or acknowledgement actually is gonna bring you fulfillment. What’s gonna bring you fulfillment is approving of yourself, is finding yourself right, is understanding who you are and being good with that and expressing that to the world. And so that’s kind of what…
Dan: So let me ask you. That’s amazing but I wanna break that down a little bit. So you said that you grew up in a pack and you have these close male friends and you’ve had this whole life experience with them. But I wanna say that so do a lot of guys and that doesn’t necessarily mean intimacy or connection. And I think that’s something that guys…I get reached out to all the time, a guy saying, “I have my friends but you know what? We sit around and maybe, you know, maybe we kick a tire on the lawnmower and we drink beer and maybe sometimes one of us will open up a little bit.” But what you’re talking about here, this owning your experience, owning everything you feel, right, and being able to share it, it’s the sharing it step that I think validates that.
So what about you [crosstalk 00:13:01]… Sure, but what about your…was it the alternative lifestyle thing? What made it okay to be intimate and connected with your friends?
Ezra: Well, I mean, first of all, the…I don’t know that we was always this way. And I think it takes one person making a decision. It’s like, look, if you do a diet for a week, it doesn’t work. If you do a workout regimen for a week, it doesn’t work. And this is the interesting thing about relationships is they take what I call eternal vigilance. They take a daily commitment to showing up with a positive attitude and being open to doing that work and so does sharing how you feel. It’s not like you just do it one day. No. It’s like you show up every day and you do that work and you can be the bartender at the party. And what I mean by that is you can be the catalyst for creating that culture within your friend circle. It only takes one because everybody wants this.
Everybody wants connection. Everybody wants to be heard. In fact, I think attention is the greatest commodity in our society. I mean, I think therapists at one level are being paid to put attention on people because people, everyone is so worried about their own performance that they’re wrapped up in how they’re performing and they’re paying zero attention to anyone but themselves. So if you’re a person who’s actually willing to put attention on other people, you end up being a very popular person because they’re not getting that anywhere else. And so my point is that I think you can show up and you can be that example and you can make that choice and it will shift. And it may take time but it will shift the relational dynamics of the people around you because you know what happens when you’re around someone who is sort of owning their experience and sharing that with integrity and truth as much as they can in that moment? You’re inspired to do the same. And it takes one to…
Dan: Well, it opens the door. It opens the door and it makes it safe for you to do it yourself. Again, that’s a fundamental point of what we do in our groups, too, is that one guy takes a risk and shares some vulnerability and all of a sudden everybody else, first of all, can feel that guy. So, I mean, you and me sitting here, one of us says something that opens a door of vulnerability. All of a sudden, we’re connected. I think that’s how connection works. We offer something. We put ourselves out there. We’re vulnerable. All of a sudden, we’re connected. And with that connection comes exactly what you’re saying, this attention but this quality of attention that really means something and, you know, that heads toward that big effort, again, the fulfillment word. Like, that is…
I mean, like I’ve been coaching people one on one for the first time for the past four months and I gotta tell you, I was scared to do it for a long time. And as I stepped into the world I get off a call with somebody one on one where we’re really deeply connected. Dude, I have so much energy. I feel like it feeds me and I think it’s different for everybody but I think you are onto it. I think that this sort of connection is very simple. It’s actually not that far from where we are. And it’s just we want it and need it.
Ezra: It’s always there. And what’s interesting about human beings, and I think this is really cool what you’re doing with every man, is what we do, we’re packed animals. We’re hurting animals and we copy winning behavior. It’s why I wore baggy jeans in high school because I grew up and…I went to high school in the East Bay, right, and in the East Bay the culture is very much a hip-hop culture and the winning behavior, what looks like is a winning thing to do is to be like a hip-hop person, right. So like you copy what you think is winning behavior because you want to win. Monkey see, monkey do. And so with every man you’re showing that you can be a winning, successful, you know, guy in the world and also be emotional and also have emotional experience and also share that emotional experience with other people.
And what that’s doing is it’s cultivating a culture of like that’s a winning thing that people can copy because, traditionally, I think in alpha male society, emotions are shut down as this thing that are, you know…that you should ignore, that you should shut down, that you shouldn’t feel it. You should be strong and you should be somber or whatever the fuck, you know. I don’t know. But the point is…
Dan: Would you consider yourself an alpha male?
Ezra: For sure, 100%. I mean, I like to be the leader of the pack. I like…I go to Jiu-jitsu. Like, I’m definitely interested in this like sort of domination theme that exists in society which is another thing that I do have a point with, I wanna take. Why does everyone wanna crush Monday? Like maybe you should seduce Monday. Maybe Monday would like you to make it a sandwich, right? Like why is everyone trying to like make Monday their, you know, expletive, you know, “Crush Monday.” [Crosstalk 00:17:08] all the week. It’s like, no. Why don’t we like give the week a back scrub because the week it’s gonna…
Dan: It’s Monday today. How did you approach your Monday this week? What did you do to Monday?
Ezra: I approached Monday by waking up and appreciating it and being like sweet. I’m super stoked that it’s Monday and going out and sitting on… You know what I mean? Like showing some appreciation for Monday, getting myself ready for Monday because if I want Monday to show up for me, I’m gonna show up for Monday. So I have my coffee, you know what I mean? I do a little stretching. I hung out with my wife a little bit in the morning and chilled out and just talked story and relax. So I got myself in a state of being which I think is an interesting thing to talk about, Dan, is these emotional states of being and how effective…how you can be responsible for your emotional state because one of the things that we get a lot of reality on from society and a lot of conditioning on is that you can…you should be ruled by your emotions. “Oh, I did this thing because I was angry. Oh, I did this thing because…they did this and it made me jealous and so I reacted in this way.” And it’s like this idea that you are governed by your emotional state, I call bullshit on. I declared shenanigans on that.
If you look at a dog, it doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night and then be all grumpy because it’s tired. It wakes up and it’s ready to go. And you as a human being have that same capacity. And this is one of my sort of core values in my life is that I am not ruled by my emotional state. I can feel emotion and then decide, make a choice on how respond in that emotional state. And I think that’s a very freeing there. It’s a lot of responsibility, you know, but [crosstalk 00:18:32]…
Dan: I totally agree with you but I’m curious as to how you got to that point because there’s a lot…I think here’s the standard narrative of how to do that especially for males is that, “Okay, I’m just not gonna feel them, right? I’m gonna disassociate from my emotions. I’m gonna push them down and I’m gonna step around them.” So what…be as specific as you can, were you all always that way?
Dan: If not, what did you do? Like, specific…what did you do and how did that shift? Because that’s a big deal.
Ezra: I’m gonna give you the actual formula for it. So I used to struggle with jealousy and so what I did was I looked at…first of all, if you’re unwilling to feel your emotional experience, you cannot describe or share your emotional experience. So, actually, feeling what’s happening is step one. So, first of all, suppressing the feeling, now you’re screwed because now you can’t…you don’t actually know where it’s coming from. You can’t investigate it. You can’t do anything with it. You’re just victimized by it. So step one is actually feel whatever you’re feeling. So I would be victimized by jealousy, you know, and I’d be all like a crazy mess.
So what I’ve decided to do was number one, step one, let me just feel this. Let me actually try to identify where it’s coming from. And now I have a background in interpersonal relationships and communication. And this place that I grew up, which I’ll tell you about, what they teach is group living. What they teach is relating across the gender line. What they teach is communication. What they teach is man-woman relationships. What they teach is your human nervous system potential. Like, they teach all this cool stuff. So when I…
Dan: So you got on a fast track. You got on a fast track. I’m getting this sense. I’m getting this sense.
Ezra: I was lucky. I got access to a lot of information a lot of people didn’t have. But here’s what’s interesting. When you are…the only reason that you don’t want something…someone to do something, is because… I have a lingo term for this. It’s called the fear of loss. You’re afraid that if they do that thing you are going to lose something by them doing it. So you’ve got some fear of loss and that’s the only reason anyone doesn’t want you to do anything is they’re afraid that in some way they’re gonna lose if you do that thing. So what I had to figure out in relationship to jealousy was what is my fear of loss relationship to Kerry, who’s my wife, having this behavior? Like, what am I so afraid of that has me feel so crazy if she’s exhibiting this behavior? Like, what is it about like…
And what it came down to at the end of the day was my own viewpoint of my value, right. Like, the only reason I’m jealous in relationship to her having some connection with some other person, not like a sensual connection but just like a, you know, a friendship or whatever, kind of crazy stuff you decided to be jealous about, is I don’t feel valuable or valued. And that’s what I ended up coming down to and then I was like, “Well, wait a minute. This is like…” So basically what I realized, Dan, was that I was using jealousy as an excuse to get an emotional ride when I was bored. If I was bored, here was something I could latch onto that would give me a lot of emotional experience.
And once I realized that it was like mental masturbation, that I was just fucking around because I was bored and I didn’t have any other cycle that I was involved in… So this is what happened is like I wouldn’t have a cycle that I was involved in. So, you know, as soon as I wasn’t working or doing jiu-jitsu or whatever, some cycle, this was an emotional place I could go where I could get a lot of experience, a lot of emotional experience which by the way it turns out people actually want the full spectrum of emotions. They actually want sadness and happiness and grief and all of it, right, because otherwise you don’t have context for the emotional spectrum. But this was a way that I could get myself off essentially. As weird as that sounds, that is what was happening.
Dan: So what did you… No, I don’t think it sounds weird at all. So what…how did you put a stint in there? How did you [crosstalk 00:21:58]? And here’s my question and I’m gonna be a little challenging here. I am sitting here in awe of your energy and of your…the…like you talk fucking fast, friend. You’re fast talker.
Ezra: Sorry, man. I’m into this shit.
Dan: No, no, no. It’s good but here’s what I’m feeling too which is I feel very impressed because even at the speed in which you’re talking, I can feel you’re very connected and I feel you feeling all of these things. And I think that’s, you know… One of the things that we work on at every man is just slowing down. That’s kind of our first step in general.
Ezra: Well, I think lingo helps. I think that, for example, I think that like a lingo to describe…and this is one of the things my wife and I share, is we have created a sort of a lingo to describe the emotional experience that we’re in a conversation with together, that… We’re in a 10-year conversation now around emotional experience as it relates to our marriage, as it relates to the relationships in our life, and we have very specific lingo terms that we use to describe experiences that are going on. And I think vocabulary and framing for this is as important as the willingness to dive into it. You’ve gotta have some kind of a frame that you’re building this on. And so I have a, you know, 25 years of lingo related to emotional experience that I’m drawing upon from where I grew up which allows me to sort of run through this stuff quicker.
But if you don’t have that… And, by the way, this stuff isn’t taught in school. You’re not given this feedback that actually what’s gonna bring you fulfillment and happiness in life and sort of a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging is connection to other people, right? You don’t learn that anywhere.
Dan: No, totally. So pull back the curtain for us and I wanna hear more about it because I have a handful of friends that grew up in alternative community settings. I did not. I grew up in the opposite, I would say. But these, my friends that have grown up in this situation have, I would say, some superpowers when it comes to the relating part of life and the emotional part of life. And I think it’s amazing. So the question is, tell me about it specifically but then also, do you think that we can take this sort of…this more esoteric is one way to call it but this way of relating, do you see it coming into the mainstream? Can it come into the mainstream? What will that take? What does that look like?
Ezra: For sure. And I actually do a lot of content. My wife and I do blog videos on our blog sort of related to this subject matter of how do you function in society as a normal person but do so and have a winning and fulfilled sort of relationship and emotional life? And, again, I actually think it’s a lot simpler. There’s all this lingo and all this sort of stuff that you can explore in any one of these directions whether it be an emotion like jealousy or whether it be how do you have more fun in your sort of friend relationships with the folks that you socialize with. But at the end of the day it actually only takes one thing which is a willingness to show…consistency is the key to anything, right? Consistent…like I tell people the skill set that you wanna acquire in life is that of mastery.
And mastery is simply the willingness to put your attention in one area consistently over time. Pick up the instrument 30 minutes a day, you get better at it. Decide every day that for an hour you’re gonna try on really being honest with whoever you’re relating with about how you’re feeling, about whatever the subject matter is in that moment and that you’re not gonna shy away for fear of hurting their feelings and you’re not gonna shy away for fear of being judged about what you’re actually thinking like. Try that on and what happens is over time, you get better at it. You get more skills with it. You get more people excited about it.
So, actually, all it takes is the willingness to do it and a couple of different frameworks that you can leverage in that in…just like anything else, right? It’s like you wanna…like jiu-jitsu or business. It’s just like doing it, you know? So I don’t actually think it’s as complicated as it might sound. But back to where I grew up, it’s kind of a fascinating story. Can I go into that now?
Dan: Please, yeah. [Crosstalk 00:25:54].
Ezra: Okay. So check this out. So I’m gonna take you back pre-World War II, okay? If you look at America, it was developed east to west and the houses on the East Coast in Pennsylvania and New York and stuff like that are these big, sort of Victorian houses where like groups used to live, used to live with your mother, your father, your grandparents, you know. Families would live together, right? So then the war happens and the depression sets in and I think it’s Eisenhower is the President at the time. I have to check that fact, but they’re looking for a way to stimulate the economy. So what they do is they take the factories that were being used to make war machines, tanks, planes, etc., and they turn them into factories that make consumer durables: washing machines, dryers, toasters. And they give the…
They write the G.I. Bill which gives the soldiers returning from the war a way to get houses really cheaply and they introduced this concept of military tract housing, what we know today is the suburbs, and they introduced this marketing campaign with the first sort of mass marketing medium that exists besides radio and newspaper, which was television, of this lifestyle of what I call two-in-a-box which is white picket fence, husband, wife, kid. Because if you have all these single family units, each single family unit is gonna need a washer, gonna need a dryer, gonna need these consumer durables. And it was the greatest economic stimulus plan in the history of a nation in my opinion. It worked extremely well and the suburbs became the norm. And what happened was the baby boom, right? My parents’ generation were born into what’s called the nuclear family.
So this is the back story of how this happened, right, how the baby boom happened. Well, then on the coasts of America, as these children, these flower children, came of age in the late 60s, early 70s… Now we’re talking about a time that’s pre-AIDS and post penicillin. So there is no STD that can kill you. hence, the free love movement, right? So like it was like a sweet time for them back then if you’re in all that, you know what I mean? So on the coast of America, you have all these…
Don: I would have been into that.
Ezra: You have these people who were gonna buck the status quo, who were gonna stand up against the man, who were gonna go back to the way things were which was communal living, right? You had all these communes pop up, thousands of them, particularly on the coasts. And you fast forward 49 years later to today, there’s 4, maybe 5 from that time, that are left standing. The place that I grew up that is still in existence is one of those. Now the question becomes, why? Why did all those groups fail? Well, when you begin relating with another human being in a group which starts at two, two people is a group, things come up: jealousy, money, possessions, communication, sensuality. And if you fail at any one of those, and there are more, then the relationship is ultimately gonna fail.
And so what this group has done is they’ve dedicated their life to researching what it takes to have pleasurable relationships across the gender line, in groups. And they have come up with a bunch of really fascinating concepts. And sort of the way that they do it is like…and tell me if you want me to stop. I got like two more minutes on this ramble.
Dan: No, no. Go for it [inaudible 00:28:54].
Ezra: Okay, cool. So you have like these groups that have information on lifestyle. There’s groups out there that have, you know, content around like how you could live a better life and I’m not gonna name any names because I don’t wanna offend anyone but most of them are coming from this viewpoint of what I call “get well.” There’s one of my lingo terms, “get well.” And what I mean by that is they are prescriptive in their contents. They’re basically like, you’re wrong now and if only you knew all this stuff then you would be right. Come over here and we will prescribe you this dogma that you can subscribe to and then you can get right. So it’s all about how you’re broken and how they can fix you, which by the way is how people sell. “Hey, you stink. Buy deodorant.” You know what I mean? “You’re super gross, Buy floss.” Like, “You’re broken record and I can fix you,” is how shit is sold in this society, okay, just as a general rule of thumb.
And it’s the same way that lifestyle content is sold. It’s like here’s all the reasons you’re broken. And, by the way, people’s big problem in life, Dan, is that they actually believe they’re broken. They believe they’re too fat. They believe they don’t smell right. They believe they’re not the right color. They believe they’re too short. They believe that…they buy into all these viewpoints about how they’re wrong and then they buy the solutions for them. So that’s a lot of people’s issue is they’re convinced that they’re wrong because they’re getting all this content from society about all the ways that they’re inadequate and then they believe that, you know. But anyway, so this group that I grew up, where I grew up, they take a different approach.
They are descriptive rather than prescriptive. So their viewpoint is, look, you are right just the way you are. You are not inherently flawed. You are not born with original sin, if you wanna get all the way religious with it. But like meaning you’re not a broken human being. You’re totally good and what you’re doing is you’re acting with the best information that you have at the time. And when you get new information then you make new decisions. So people are just a product of their conditioning. They’re a product of where they were raised. They’re a product of the group of people’s viewpoints that they were raised around and they’re behaving in the world with, you know, that information. And then…so that is like just a description of how people behave, is they behave and they react and they act based on the information they have at the time which comes a lot from society and from where they were raised, right?
So what this group of people does and where I grew up, it’s called Lafayette Morehouse, they’re like, “Hey, look, we’ve been researching this for 45 years. Here’s what we have found to work. We’re gonna describe it for you. If any of it sounds good, try it out. You know, test it. But you do not need this. This is not gonna fix your life. It’s not about going from good to better or bad to good. This is just like here’s our description of what’s working for us.” And what makes them I think special is they’re a desire-based organization so they’re not like out tryna proselytize and evangelize and sell courses. They’re just like, “Hey, look, we’ll put these courses on when people want them. So if someone comes and wants a course, they’ll do it.” And they do a lot of them because there’s a lot of interest but it’s not like…I think there’s purity in it in that they’re not out trying to make a dollar, therefore, they can afford to relax and sort of just describe what they’re finding to work within emotional relationships and relationships across the gender line and relationships with groups of people.
And there’s a lot of really interesting sort of strategies that they’ve come up with in relationship to how to win at relating that I could go into that I use in my own life that are awesome, but that is sort of the backstory on who that group of people is.
Dan: That’s amazing and it lines up. Again, it’s cool to hear these things coming out your mouth. I had no idea. I had no idea that that was your background and I had no idea that that was the foundation of that group. And, again, so that descriptive rather than prescriptive is something that I have found through my life. And my life experience, a lot of it maybe started when I spent a bunch of time in the wilderness but that’s, I’d say, one of my core beliefs and tenets is that we look at thing from that perspective and so…
Ezra: And one of the things that they always say is like, look, the truth is the truth. You might find access to your truth in the wilderness and you might sort of, you know…that might be where you’re inspired to really look at what’s going on in your life and how you’re perceiving the world and how you’re reacting to the things that are coming at you and sort of your own personal responsibility for how your life goes because at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to, right? It comes down to taking responsibility for how your life is going and not being willing to be victimized by society or your spouse or your friends or whatever, not like being willing to be a sort of hero in your own story and say, “I’m gonna take…” Because, obviously, look, I’m not arguing against outside influence.
Obviously, some people are born into really tough situations. Some people are born into…like there is…like I’m not saying everyone starts with a level playing, you know, set of cards because, obviously, they don’t. That is like, no, you can’t even argue that. But what I am saying is that if you’re listening to this podcast it’s likely that you live in a developed country, let’s say, and that you do have some agency in your life and that agency is where you decide to direct your attention. And because you get to decide where you direct your attention, therefore, you then get to, on some level, decide what you’re experiencing in as much as you’re having some level of agency with regard to where you put your attention. And so, therefore…because, fundamentally, what we get to do is we get to experience things and then judge them as good or bad. And we kind of get to do the judging of what was good and what was bad in most cases.
I mean, sure there’s like your moral line and stuff, but my point is that like if you’re willing to take responsibility for what you perceive in relationship to where you put your attention and then you’re willing to take responsibility for you being the one who ultimately gets to decide whether it was good or bad, you have a lot of freedom in your life because now you’re deciding where your attention goes. And maybe that is…and I would suggest it being on the emotional side of your life in relationship to how you feel about things and what you feel connected to and exploring that because that, ultimately, is where I see that people find fulfillment. But like you are responsible for your worldview and your existence and that’s actually a really freeing and cool place to be because it’s a lot of power.
Dan: No, I get it. I think that’s worth repeating, what you’re talking about, in my words are just reflected is that you’re talking about a sense of agency or a sense of like deep responsibility everyone has for their own…everything, really, when it comes down to it. But I wanna go back here. Like I’m picturing someone who…so we brought up the concepts of the suburbs and we’ve brought up the concept of this agency thing. So picture somebody who lives in the suburbs, maybe has a nine to five job that they feel stuck, they feel like they don’t have as an agency. I’m curious on a personal level, like very personal, like can you connect and feel what it would be like because…
Ezra: Feels like to be defeated? Feels like to be out of energy?
Dan: Well, maybe but even more so just in a very…like you lived in the antithesis of that. You grew up in an arena where…and I’m not…I don’t wanna project unto what your experience was but for somebody who maybe grows up in a suburb of Ohio and goes to goes to church and school and just maybe gets married and then this thing. You’re talking these amazing things.
Ezra: So let me give some practical examples of how you can sort of relate with this in your own life. So I did grow up on a commune but I went to normal school. You know what I mean? I had to get…we didn’t have any money, you know. We weren’t like rich by any means so I had to like always be working at the flea market or work and getting normal jobs. And when I moved to New York I literally had like basically zero dollars. And so I took a job at a yoga studio. I was working like 90 hours a week, you know, between commuting and actually working there and I felt this like, “Gosh, I don’t know how I’m gonna…” Like I felt this non-enjoyment of my work-life. Like it wasn’t fulfilling. It wasn’t fulfilling to me. It wasn’t what I wanted to be doing with my time but I had to do it to pay the bills and I never got to see my girlfriend, at the time, who’s now my wife.
Like she was in school and I was working all the time. Maybe we would eat lunch…eat dinner together for like 30 minutes at night. And so I had…I can’t say I can relate to all those experiences but I definitely had my own level of like, man, how am I gonna change this so that I’m…I can’t do this for the next 20 years. I gotta figure something out so that I have more [crosstalk 00:37:02].
Dan: Are you the penultimate entrepreneur? Like, listen, we don’t know each other that well but I look at you. My like simple, quick judgment of you is you are like a penultimate entrepreneur. Like you have fucking made it happen. You have created these things. You are very successful in what you do. You’ve put yourself out there in a very clear way. What was…do you feel like that is…does that come out of your childhood and how you grew up or is that just a part of you innately? Or what is the drive? Because, you know, I look at you and I [crosstalk 00:37:32].
Ezra: [Crosstalk 00:37:32] I mean, our businesses do really well. We’re in the tens of millions of dollars per year range and this all started with zero money off a couch in Brooklyn and…this ragtag bunch of friends that I have, you know, as employees. But so we have…it’s amazing what we’ve been able to create in a very short period of time but here’s what it comes down to, is I was willing to, even in the face of that tiredness…because what I felt, Dan, was tired, man. I felt really…I felt tired and I don’t know how to describe it. It wasn’t that I felt defeated. It wasn’t that I felt…I just felt tired like, gosh, this is not…this is draining, you know. And so I made a decision to move in a direction that could elicit some change in my life. Now I had the connection part because I was always super committed to keeping that as my priority in life because, ultimately, what I’m doing in my life is my relationship with my wife and my business is second to that.
The whole business could go away, all the money, all that stuff and what I care about really is this relationship that we’re cultivating together. That’s really what my priority is and one of the things that I’m really clear about is not building a machine that takes over my world. So I set really hard boundaries on work because a lot of times with entrepreneurs…I am gonna answer your question you just asked, but a lot of time with entrepreneurs, their work ends up bleeding over into the rest of their life and there’s no way for them to draw a clear boundary. And it just is pervasive and it ends up eating into all their time and like I think it’s Murphy’s Law perhaps that says that work [crosstalk 00:39:01]…
Dan: Anything that can happen, will happen.
Ezra: That’s Murphy. [Inaudible 00:39:04] there’s some other law that says…and, you know, work will fill the time that you give it and it’s so true especially if you’re doing your own work. So like luckily for me, when I was building my first e-commerce business, I only had 90 minutes after work…after I’d eaten dinner with Kerry that I could even decide to do anything because I was so tired, you know. So my point is that give yourself 18 months and commit to an hour a day towards whatever you want and actually that’s really about what it takes. If…you know, this whole like get it done in two weeks? No, it’s not gonna work. You gotta give something 12 to 18 months of real, solid, daily or at least five days a week commitment if you wanna actually effect that change in your life. And I can tell you from a number of areas that I’ve now dedicated this level of attention to, and we’re going back to this willingness to dedicate your attention to an area consistently over time, being ultimately what it’s about, right?
Like we launched this, and you wanna just go in the business realm, we launched a software as a service business. We haven’t done that before. What it took was consistent, dedicated attention in the direction of that particular venture to make that work. For your podcast, for your experience with hunting or whatever you’re into, like that’s what it takes. And everyone has an hour, you know. You know the average American watches four hours of television per day? The average American is on one hour of social media per day? It’s like take one of those hours and put it in the direction of something that you want in your life that’s gonna ultimately lead to better… Again, Dan, it’s this responsibility. It’s this willingness to take responsibility for your circumstance and affect change by putting your attention in the direction of something better.
It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy. I almost went bankrupt several times. I’ve had to fire people. It’s not like it’s gonna be easy but you can do it and it does get easier. And the other thing about money that I wanna sort of dispel as someone who was…grew up identifying as poor and is now one of the richer people that I know, so I’ve been this…I’ve gone this path of like I ate the school lunch. I had hand-me-down clothes. We didn’t have money. We don’t have fancy cars, the whole nine, to now like being in the very, very top of income earners, you know, is money does not buy you happiness like you’re sold it will. It buys you comfort, sure. You can buy comfort, you know, for sure. You can buy things that make you more comfortable. However, ultimately… I think they did this study and it was like in western society after about $100,000 a year in income, you don’t get actually any more satisfaction and fulfillment.
So if you’re oriented towards trying to make money, that is like not the best place to be oriented. And every one of my businesses has a mission, a story, a purpose, an ethos, something we’re up to in the world beyond selling people shit. And this is my business model. Every one of my businesses, here’s what it does. What we do is we pick a conversation that we wanna participate in that’s related to a collective experience. So, for example, we sell cosmetics to women over 40 and…that’s one of our business. It’s one of our bigger brands. And every woman over 40 is having the collective experience of their hair graying, their skin wrinkling, their bodies aging and society treating them differently as a result and everyone telling them that’s bad and wrong and anti-aging, anti-wrinkle.
So our product is pro-age. It’s about celebrating you as you are now. The cosmetics are sheer and we believe that every stage of life is a different kind of beautiful. But so we create content that relates to that collective experience that a group of people is having and we amplify that content with smart marketer which is my information publishing business. It’s related to people who wanna grow online businesses. So I create content that’s related to that collective experience. I syndicate it across all social networks. I amplify it with advertising. People then subscribe to me by becoming a podcast subscriber, or Facebook fan, an e-mail subscriber, whatever. And then I make offers that I think they’d be interested in. But every business I have does the same thing. I pick a group of people who’s having an experience. I add my viewpoint on that experience through long form and short form, written, audio and video content. I put it out there.
People then who are interested subscribe to that conversation because it’s relating to the experience that they’re having and then I make them some kind of an offer I think they’re interested in. But everything that I’m doing is still involved in a conversation around an experience that a person is having.
Ezra: I don’t know if that got way off topic. I don’t remember what we’re talking about.
Dan: It did but that’s good. It’s all good. We still haven’t answered my question though and I’m gonna hold you to it. Who were you when you were in third grade? You haven’t given us any window into… You’ve told us what you know. I wanna know who you are. I wanna know what’s your experience.
Ezra: I think I was a little wild beast who was just out getting it. You know, all my pictures of me when I was a kid I’m all hunched forward, ready to go. So I think I’ve always just been like ready to go. Something interesting though is I was never told…like, for example, I grew up in this environment where I was given a lot of positive reinforcement about who I was in the world, about my experience. I didn’t get a lot of this sort of baseline doubt about what I was experiencing and feeling and not being right or not. A lot of people I meet are really…they have a lot of doubt about whether or not the experience that they’re having is, number one, right, number two, valid, number three, okay, normal. Like all this sort of thoughts and experience that’s going on inside, they are judging as wrong because they’ve been conditioned to think that that’s dirty, bad, and wrong, like these thoughts they’re having. Like, I didn’t receive that conditioning. So I was always very much willing to…
Dan: You were unlocked. Somebody unlocked you.
Ezra: Willing to put myself out there, willing to take risks, you know.
Dan: That’s pretty impressive, man. It’s lucky.
Ezra: And I think it served me really well because I’ve taken a lot of risks and I’ve been willing to go for it and I’ve failed many times but I’ve also succeeded more than I failed, you know, in taking those risks. So I think I was willing, let’s put it that way. I was willing.
Dan: I got two questions for you. One, do you ever find yourself feeling like you’re a victim? And two, and I’m just gonna let you run with this, two, what are you most proud of?
Ezra: Sure, yeah. So I think definitely. I think one of the ways that I get victimized is in relationship to my physical body or I guess physical body is redundant, my body, right? Like I grew up doing judo for like 20 years and I’m now…I then stopped using my body for like 10 years and now I’m back to like actively using my body. And I experience a lot of pain physically from time to time in relationship to like nagging old injuries. And I find myself sometimes sort of playing victim to that or emotionally, being… How do I articulate the experience of victimhood? I suppose it’s a unwillingness to take responsibility for the experience that I’m having. So I’m having this pain and then I’m, you know, I’m not willing to take in the moment, that I did what it took to create this in my life.
Dan: Right. I get it.
Ezra: And now I’m gonna do what it takes to alleviate this. It’s more just like, “Oh, this thing’s happening to me,” you know, like I can get down in that way. But I think victimhood really is, actually, I think what it comes down to is the unwillingness to take responsibility for what’s going on in your life. You feel like someone else did this to you, some outside circumstance did this to you, something did this to you and it wasn’t your fault or you weren’t at, you know, you weren’t at cause for it. But like then I remember that one of my sort of underlying philosophies that I live my life for, by, is that I am at cause for my experience and that I did everything it took to get to where I’m at. I had every conversation. I made every choice. I went to every place. Like I did what it took to get here and, therefore, I created this. There’s outside influence but like I’m making the choices here.
And so like when I find myself victimized I try to…I remind myself, hey, you know what? You did what it took to get here. Now how can you figure out a way to win? And what I find is sometimes what I’m looking for is not to win. I’m not looking to win because if I was looking to win in that moment, if I was looking to sort of find a way to feel better or find a way to get out of that, it’s just a choice to share that with someone, go have a conversation about it. Here’s what it comes down to: in life, you have two ways to win, one way to lose, in any situation.
First way to win: change your mind. It’s really as simple as that. You can change your mind about what’s going on. That’s one way you can win. Number two, change something. Make a change in the direction of things being better and see what happens. You could win that way, too. The only way to lose is to not do anything and judge what’s happening as wrong. That is the one way you’re guaranteed to lose, if you don’t do anything and you judge what is happening as bad. And I do that for sure sometimes, but when I decide, okay, I actually want to have a winning…I’m done being miserable, I’d like to have a winning experience now, I either change something or I change my mind. And then I don’t remember your last question. Oh, what am I most proud of?
Dan: Well, it was what are you most proud of? But hold on. I’m gonna hold that though because I was on your website before we started here and I heard you say clearly not long ago that you set up clear boundaries between your work-life and your other life. And you’ve held that steady. And one of the things I saw that you wrote said that…I think it was…maybe I’m fucking this up maybe or somebody else, but is there a different work Ezra and a home Ezra? Like, do you shift? Do you shift as you go into different places? Or what is that boundary you put up? Is it just I’m gonna do something else for myself or my relationships and not focus on the work? What does that mean?
Ezra: So I have a very clear personality that I am curating in the eyes of my public facing influencer, to use the lingo word of our time, brand that is parts of me amplified. It’s not all of me, right, because I’m trying to achieve a specific result and not everyone wants to hear all this stuff we’re talking about, you know, and all the business [inaudible 00:48:35].
Dan: Well, let me ask you. Are you amplifying that curated personality right now in this conversation?
Ezra: I don’t think so. No.
Ezra: I think this is more my view on the world, my actual view on the world. And I think when I’m doing the smart marketer thing and I’m on camera or I’m creating content, I’m very much filtering it through, hey, if I was…you know, I’m trying to speak to a certain person and what I try to do is meet people where they are rather than trying to force my bullshit on them because that doesn’t seem to work, you know. So…but I will say with regard to the boundaries thing, what it’s about for me is it’s about a shift of attention from progress to like present. It’s what I think is the way I describe it as like when I’m in my business world, my attention is on like what are we doing? What’s going on? How are we moving it forward? You know, what can we do to make it better? It’s very much progress.
And when I switch out of work mode I try to go very much into this like state of like present. How do I feel now? What are we interested in talking about? What’s going on? Sure, we can have conversation around what do we wanna achieve or what are we doing but it’s more of the switch to having more attention on how I’m feeling in my body and what I’m…what… I don’t know how…
Dan: More receptive? Would receptive be [crosstalk 00:49:47]?
Ezra: Yeah, more receptive and more present rather than go-mode. And the way I do it is I have a couple of hours before…I am…like, you know, network from home and I now have a giant team and project managers and basically my job at this point is to hold the vision for what we’re doing, hold the container for what we’re doing and give feedback on whatever’s happening, and like, you know, create it when…create in the area that no one else can create and sort of here’s how I put it. I put it…I use…I grew up driving. I built this business by myself. My wife and I together, I did most of the Everything’s and she held the sort of creative direction side and the moral line, not that we’re doing anything immoral but like just help the direction. And I was driving and I was driving and I was driving and now I’m navigating. And it’s hard to navigate when you’re driving. So I’ve stopped driving completely and now my job is navigation because if I’m on the road, I can’t see up and around that mountain in front of us. I can only see the road in front of me.
So that’s really what I try to do now and the way that I do this is I have a couple of hours in the morning where I don’t actually start work until I wake up and I have my whole thing that I do and I drink my coffee. I’m super into coffee. You know what I mean? My wife and I have breakfast together and we hang out. You know, we talk about what we’re gonna do that day. And then I have like a work cycle that’s a couple of hours long. I break for lunch and I use the break for lunch as a way to break the state, to slow down and cook some food and get into a shift of sort of changing my state. Then I do another couple of hours of work and then we eat dinner together and then that’s it. I’m not working. I’m not on my screen. I’m not…you know what I mean? I’m…we’re chilling out and we’re doing whatever we’re doing the evening, hanging out with friends or whatever. And I try to do that four days a week, five days a week, you know. It just depends. I grew…
You know, look, when you’re an entrepreneur and you know this now probably, you’re doing your podcast, it’s very tempting to do everything all the time, to go super hard. But if you look at it over the long run, like a lot of people burn out. And so my sort of analogy for this is like what I wanna do is plant mango seeds. I wanna water them every day. I wanna grow an orchard that’s gonna feed my family for generations and I wanna do…I want slow growth. I don’t want to spear a fish and eat today. I want like to create…I wanna run a marathon. And to run a marathon you gotta do it slow and steady, man. You gotta do it gentle. You gotta like be…like, you know, a lot of people want it now but actually what I’m interested in is the experience of running this business. I don’t care so much about how much money we make. I’m not out to create a giant company with, you know, hundreds of people. I don’t care.
What I’m interested in is like serving my community. So my tagline in business is serve the world unselfishly and profit. And I think that’s a description. I think if I am in a role of service and I’m doing so unselfishly, I will profit and if I’m not profiting, then guess what? There’s something that’s fucked on the front side of that, you know what I mean?
Dan: Dude, that’s so refreshing and so amazing to hear. And I can…as you say that, I still…I can feel the old programming in myself that wants to call bullshit. It’s like, “Yeah, right.” If you didn’t make the money, bullshit. But I’m not doubting you. I’m recognizing…
Ezra: Well, let me tell you the difference here which is there’s something that happens when you’re hungry. By the way, I started in hunger, remember? I started with a 90-hour per week job with zero money, with worrying about paying the rent, with like having to live off my girlfriend’s yoga earnings. So I’ve been there, you know what I’m saying? I mean, losing all of our money, our cushion as we call it, on some bullshit e-book hustle that I was trying to make work, like I’ve been there, right? So when you’re in this spot of being hungry, you would pretty much do anything, you know, as long… Obviously, I have a moral line that I subscribe to but like you’re willing to just do what it takes to make it. Then what happens is once you’ve sort of gotten some level of comfort financially, at least for me, a shift takes place and you’re like start looking at, well, like what am I doing in the world and why? And what do I wanna create and cultivate and what do I wanna curate?
And like, okay, I’m making $75,000 a year. I can pay my rent. We can eat out. We can have nice stuff. We’re pretty well, fine. You start…like you get to that point where you’re like making a decent amount of money and you’re cool and then it becomes about what do you wanna create? And so what I find is like once you have everything that you want, at least for me, then it becomes now I want everyone in my close circle to have everything they want. Then now I want my community to be benefiting from this. Now I want the greater world to be benefiting from this. I apologize, there’s a bus in the background. But like I feel like that shift or that viewpoint or that place that I’m at with relationship to serve the world unselfishly and profit is hard to grog [SP] when you’re still hungry.
But once you’re not hungry anymore it’s a very easy jump to make. So I totally understand the calling bullshit on it. I really do. And I’ve been in that spot of like, “Fuck it. I’ll do whatever it takes,” but it switches. It really does.
Dan: That’s really cool, man. No, I really appreciate that. And there’s…none of that bullshit is stemming from what I’m feeling from you at all. Actually, quite the opposite. I think it’s incredibly refreshing to hear that. I love…can you say it one more time? So to serve the world unselfishly and profit from it.
Ezra: Yeah, serve the world unselfishly and profit. I think that…I’m just gonna let this bus go by. It’s actually a garbage thing. So serve the world unselfishly and profit. So, you know, if you go to smartmarketer.com, it’s my blog, you’ll see it right at the top and I really do think that is a description. I think that is descriptive. I think if you are in a role of service to a community of people, you will profit in a number of ways and it won’t just be financially. It won’t just be monetarily. Another thing that I think about business is that you should have a tagline that describes what you’re up to in the world in one sentence so that people can really sort of get a sense of who you are. So for “Boom!” by Cindy Joseph, the cosmetic line I told you about, the tagline is, “It’s about women. It’s about beauty. It’s about time.” So I really am a big fan of that tagline thing but anyways…
Dan: I’m gonna throw you a curve ball.
Ezra: Hit me with it.
Dan: What in life brings you to your knees? What…just like brings you a sense of awe, of like, “Holy shit?”
Ezra: You know, lately it’s been confronting nature, like standing at the foot of the ocean and realizing how vast, just how vast this experience is, how expansive this world is, how little control I actually have over what’s going on, you know, because I like to think that I’m in control. But when you confront the sort of expanse of nature and you realize how small you are in relationship to what’s sort of the cosmos and what’s going on in the ocean. And like I was out in the ocean in some pretty rough waves yesterday and just…and I grew up in Hawaii so obviously I can swim and I know how to surf and like I’m comfortable in that environment. But like, gosh, it just is…man, it’s really intense to confront the sort of greater forces of this world beyond civilized, you know, sort of industrialized society.
That’s a whole other conversation but just like I have been confronting in a new way in my life nature and it’s freaking me out. It’s also beautiful and, you know, it makes you wanna cry and it’s also awesome but it is really sort of terrifying. I’ve also been, you know, went through the last like I’d say 18 months that I’m sort of coming out of now, a fear of death experience that I hadn’t had before in my life.
Dan: Wow, really? Tell me more.
Ezra: You know, just like a confronting of my own mortality. I had someone really close to me get extremely sick and I watched their physical body sort of deteriorate in a way that I’d never seen before, really right in front of my eyes. And I’ve seen dead bodies. I’ve seen people die. I found my grandmother on her floor in her Queens apartment when she’d been there for a couple of days. So I’ve sort of experienced death. But as a younger person, and I recently…and people who are older than me are gonna think I’m a goofball, but I will say that, you know, I’m 30 now, right? I turn 30 in October so I’ve been…I’m in my 30s and it is a different experience than being in your 20s. And you can call me young and you can judge my life experience as short and I don’t know what I’m talking about and, fine, obviously, if you’ve lived longer than me you have more context.
However, I will say that from my own personal experience I feel like something has shifted in my world and maybe it’s just in my head but like this whole…like my 20s was about gettin’ there, you know? It’s about getting’ there. And in my 30s what I’m feeling really is a lot of like…of desire to fine tune, desire to be deliberate, desire to slow down and really have a look at what’s going on. And part of that was, you know… Anyways, I started this on fear of death. I had some sort of anxiety attacks in relationship to that I am gonna die someday and that was pretty heavy, you know. But I feel like I’ve…you know, how do you go through it? You go through it by going in it, you know.
So I’ve gone into that pretty intensely in some meditation and stuff. And so it’s been an intense emotional ride which I think actually is what people are looking for whether they’re willing to admit it or not. People are looking for intense emotionality in one way or another and they’re gonna have it and they’re gonna have it by default or they’re gonna have it deliberately. So you might as well have it deliberately, you know what I mean?
Dan: Maybe this will play into that question, maybe it won’t. But this is sort of a stock question I’d like to ask every guy on here and that is if…do you…what was the moment, if there has been one, that you felt like you really stepped into manhood? That you crossed the threshold of maturity? When did you become a man, if you feel like you have, and what does that mean?
Ezra: I think for me, one of the things that I struggled with in my life was setting boundaries. I would do what I call playing both sides against the middle where I would want to please everyone. And so I wouldn’t be actually sort of 100% straight about how I really felt about what was going on or I wouldn’t be 100…I would make things sound better than they were. I would try to have people not feel bad or hurt or I’d like…I’d be…I’m always the guy who has all the gossip. I know everything that’s going on with everyone in my social circle so like I’ve got my…they call me ear to the street, you know what I’m saying? Like I got my ear to the ground. I know what’s going down.
And so that is a great power to have people be willing to be open to you and share what’s going on but it’s also a responsibility on my side to hold a firm line of integrity and truth in relationship to how I feel about in relationship to conveying what’s actually going on because if I’m not willing to do that, Dan, how can I expect anyone else to do it? If I’m not willing to hold that myself, how can I actually expect anyone…and I claim to want this, by the way, to do that, right? So I feel like in the last three years I’ve really become a lot stronger in my willingness to show up in that way and my willingness to actually be honest about what’s really going on with me and with… I’m no longer playing both sides against the middle and that’s something I had to work on because it was tough for me, man.
And that was really a big one for me, was being able to set real boundary.
Dan: And once you hit that…
Ezra: And also having boundary is right because I always thought like, you know, I had this idea that a right guy didn’t have any boundaries. I mean, like a right man would be willing to give beyond his surplus but actually it turns out like if you give beyond your surplus, you’re doing everyone a disservice because you then resent the person you gave the shit to because you didn’t really have it to give. So I stopped giving beyond my surplus and that changed my life.
Dan: And what…so what were the direct effects do you think? Like what’s measurable there?
Ezra: I mean, sort of more intimate, closer friendships with the people I was already close with, more intimacy and closeness with my wife, sort of her trusting of me to hold certain things. I’m having a hard time pulling a specific example but like she knew…like this is not a mystery about how I behave in the world. Like between us, she knows I struggled with that. You know what I mean? So like she’ll be like, “Hey, in this case, don’t be fucking playing both sides against the middle here.” You know what I mean? Like don’t like… So she…like she’s really good at that and she’s really taught me a lot about that part of life. Like she’s got really firm boundaries and she holds those things and she doesn’t compromise them and it’s like really a beautiful thing. And I think through example I was able to learn how to do that, you know.
Maybe I didn’t have any examples of that in my life. I don’t know but that was…I struggled with that. I struggled with that and that was a good one for me.
Dan: Amazing. I have one more question geared up and it’s very general. You can take it anywhere you wanna take it, but what do you want? Deep, deep, deep, like what do you want?
Ezra: Well, I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is to sort of take care of the folks who raised me. This group of people, this community of people who raised me, I’m really interested in doing what it takes to like take care of them in any way that I can which is really…and I also want more connection and intimacy and depth of my relationship with my wife. Like I’m super…like I’m interested in continuing to explore that. I want physical well-being. I wanna do the work. I wanna be willing to do the work. And that’s a daily willingness in all the areas of my life. I’d like to get a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I’ve got all the…I have a bunch of goals, you know. But at the end of the day I think it comes down to a willing…I want to be willing to step up because there’s days where I’m like, you know what? I’m not gonna do my film rolling today or whatever the thing is that I’m doing for my rehab. Or I’m not…you know what? I’m not gonna train today? Or, you know what? I’m gonna check out for the day.
And it’s not that…it’s okay to check out. Like you gotta be able to check out and take breaks and take rests. But like, in general, I want to be able to live up to the commitments that I’ve set for myself and sort of like, oh, gosh. I wanna be willing to do the work, you know, and I think that’s a daily thing. I think that’s a daily willingness and I think that’s a choice that I have to make every day to do the…to move in the direction of the things that I’m claiming to want to create in this world. And I keep saying claiming because you gotta show it, man. You can’t just say all this bullshit. You gotta actually be willing to go in and do it, you know. Like, I wanna be washing the dishes, right? And I mean that in an analogy, man. I do wash dishes in our house but like I want…like I don’t wanna be above the work. I don’t wanna get to a point where it’s like, “Oh, I’m so fancy that I don’t do work anymore. Like, I don’t actually know what the fuck is going on in my business anymore because all I do is sit around and talk shit.” Like, no. [Crosstalk 01:04:16].
Dan: Well, is that a fear? Is that like a present fear, like as you become more and more successful that you don’t wanna just sit back?
Ezra: It is because as things get bigger, dude, there’s so much going on. There’s so much going on. I can’t keep track of it all anymore. You know what I mean? It’s like I got literally 50 people working on different stuff. So now it’s about like the people who are in-charge of the teams keeping me apprised to like what’s…you know, like I just wanna be in it enough to know what’s going on so I can get valuable feedback. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna be answering customer support tickets because, obviously, I can’t do that but like I wanna be in it, man. That’s what I want.
Dan: It feels like you are, brother. The…I’m gonna be really selfish for a minute here, but I want to just pick your genius for two minutes here about this endeavor that what is every man. And then the basis is…exactly. We’ve already flushed it out very clearly, is that we’re giving men permission to have their own experience, be that their physical experience, their emotional experience and their get after it, kick ass, you know…like alpha male, directional experience and every fucking thing in between. Like the entire spectrum is that is what we’re doing and we’re creating places for guys to experience that and practice and sit in it and live that way. And so like the way we end these podcasts is with a direct challenge for our listeners. That’s one thing, you know. So a direct challenge or stress that guys can take on. Like this week, just this week, one thing that they can do themselves that they can measure and accomplish, one thing. But then I’m gonna ask you to give me an organizational challenge too in the same way. I think they’d be really valuable.
Ezra: I think today…like what I would challenge you to do as a man is investigate. Pick one area of your life that you are interested in, maybe it’s a intimate relationship, maybe it’s your business, maybe it’s your, whatever, I don’t know, your hobby. And take a look at the viewpoints that you hold in relationship to that thing. I know it’s general. I mean, where I want you to go from there is then take a look at why you hold those viewpoints. Like why do you believe the things you believe? Like, really, investigate. Where is this belief coming from? Is it serving you? Like, for example, do you believe that, you know, women should cook and clean? Because that’s… I don’t know. I’m just giving some traditional, chauvinistic viewpoints. I don’t think your listeners believe but like whatever these…like just trace back the things that you think in relationship to these because at the end of the day I think a lot of people’s problems are mental in relationship to mental roadblocks when it comes to growing in their personal lives or their business lives or otherwise.
And so I’m always encouraging people to really investigate their thought structure and especially where the viewpoints come from. Why do you hold this viewpoint? Is it an experience you have had in the past? Is it from your parents? Is it from society? Where are these thought structures coming from? Because when you can identify where they’re coming from, and it may take some time which is why I would do it every day for 30 minutes and really just look at like how you think about things and why you think about things the way you do and where that’s coming from, it’s sort of nebulous and it’s hard. But once you start down the rabbit hole it gets to be quite a…it’s really interesting actually. So I wonder if you can help me frame that, Dan, into something that…in a structure that someone could actually achieve because I’m having a hard time there.
Dan: Totally. I think that maybe think about one clear goal or… Like you said, one clear want that you have in your life and slow down, you know. Stop what you’re doing. Maybe sit down or maybe drive, whatever, maybe you’re on a run. But just set up some boundaries for 20 minutes, half an hour, that you’re gonna explore this and then sink into…
Ezra: I have a good one.
Ezra: No, no, no, no. [Inaudible 01:08:05].
Dan: Well, sink into something that is stressing or bugging or getting in the way or hurting or something’s uncomfortable in there. And then my first step is to actually sit in that discomfort, just actually get into it and don’t race around. Don’t try to get it off you. Don’t try to go around it yet. Just sit and fucking feel it all the way. And then I think that is a way to do what you’re saying, just to…you’re really gonna sink into the reality of that thing and then you can find out where did that come from? What does that…how does that actually feel in relationship to everything? Because then if you have that full experience, you can change. Like you said, you can change your mind or you can change your actions, right?
Ezra: Totally. And I think one also great way to do that is with preference. So if you’re a single guy, for example, think about what you consider to be go age range. What’s the young… [inaudible 01:09:00] youngest but what’s the oldest woman you would date? What’s the… Maybe you’re not straight so let’s just go person, right. Let’s not like put a gender bias on this. But the point is if you look at your preferences in any area, that’s a good way to trace back whether or not those are conditioned or whether or not you have some reason for that. Like is there a reason that you prefer only women in this age range or only women in this weight range, or only women of this skin tone or only men of this skin tone? Where did those preferences come from? Are they conditioned preferences? And likely you will find, specifically in relationship to choosing a partner, that those preferences are straight up conditioned and that you could probably expand your preference range. I swear to you.
Dan: I like that one. I like that one. I met my wife on match.com in New York City and I…like I did this thing where I put in every search parameter I could in the entire feminine population of New York City into six, six women. And had it been one month later, she would have aged out of my age preference.
Ezra: Wow. How about that? So I think that’s an interesting one. Now with regard to you as an organization with Evryman, what I would challenge you…what I find is that for growth, people need framework. So if you could get the men who are engaging in this experience with you to create frameworks for how they’re approaching this… Hey, here’s what I’m doing this week. Here’s what I did that helped me and break…other guys can then copy that. And that is so helpful. Framework is so helpful and I would try to get every man, you know…every man, you know. I’d try to get guys share in their frameworks with each other because I feel like that would engage the community. It would connect the community, give feedback on the framework. You could have a Facebook group or something, I don’t know.
But I think that would be a way to really bring people together. I certainly would love to see what people are doing personally. I think it’d be awesome, you know.
Dan: Cool, brother. Is there anything else that you wanna share? Anywhere we didn’t get that you really were hoping to?
Ezra: No, I just…you know, I don’t know if you remember this but you had a really positive impact on my life. You cut the promo video for what was the first ever sort of face to camera foray I had into this industry which was my buddy John O’Connor and we’re doing a marketing meet up in Manhattan. And you came down and you cut this promo video for Manhattan Marketing Meet Up and we had like a whole promo [crosstalk 01:11:20].
Dan: I fucking forgot about that.
Ezra: Do you remember that? And so…
Dan: I remember like…I remember going to your apartment. I remember we were like working with a set. I don’t remember doing the editing.
Ezra: Dude, we went down to…we went down to like the waterfront or whatever. And so that like really…that was like I think 2012 or 2013 and that sort of really was the thing that…and I got my first blog post out of that that I did on my blog, was a video from that shoot. And that sort of kicked off this sort of public figure persona thing that I’m doing now which is like now I have like, you know, a huge following of several hundred thousand people. And I’ve got like a whole lot going on in that area and like you really kicked that off. So I’m like super grateful to you for having been willing to do that. We didn’t know anything about video production back then. We didn’t know anything so it’s cool.
Dan: I’m grateful to have had a part, man. For sure that’s exciting. And, well, I’m really grateful to you for being here to give me your time and your experience and your… You know, we’re not brand new but we’re still lifting off the ground. We have some big fucking beautiful ambitions, right, and all the things that you share about, you know, the purpose and having more behind what we do, I feel really gratified and validated by talking to you because I feel like we are…like this Evryman thing, we are on fucking point and I’m excited. And…
Ezra: For sure. Well, I would love to share this with my community when it’s out so let me know. I think they will…I think I got a lot of guys…there’s a lot of…I have a lot of young guys in my group…or even not even…just any guys. I’ve guys, you know, who are 20 to 60 so I think this is… And this is really…I like the…I like creating…I like the mission of creating a safe space, a framework, a positive environment for people and I like that it’s focused on men because you need a niche group but people in general to share their emotional experience and have that be positively reinforced and explore that and have that ultimately serve everything that’s going on in their life. I think it’s a really fucking cool thing, man.
Dan: Cool, brother. Hey, thank you so much. And we’ll do this again. We’ll talk [crosstalk 01:13:29].
Ezra: Awesome. I look forward to it. Thanks Dan.
Dan: Okay. Take care. I hope you enjoyed that. You can find more about Ezra and his work at www.smartmarketer… Duke, come on, man. I still have my producer with me here. You can find more about Ezra at www.smartmarketer.com and follow up. He’s got a lot of great stuff on the web about marketing but about all kinds of things. He’s a great guy to pay attention to. If you haven’t yet, go to iTunes or however you listen to our podcast and subscribe. If you have a minute to give us a review, do so. Every time that you share this it helps us build what we’re doing and it gives you an immediate way to be part of it. All right guys, have a good one. Bye.