The Next Version of Yourself 💪

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If you’ve ever felt like life has thrown you a curveball, this one’s for you.

I sat down with my good friend Raj to talk about the challenge and magic of transitions, embracing change, and betting on yourself.

I love this conversation. It’s deep. And I laughed a lot. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate: the best combo.

Here are a few things we cover:

  • Embracing Identity Shifts: How evolving your identity is a natural part of growth.
  • Betting on Yourself: The importance of investing in your dreams. PLUS practical steps to make your dreams a reality.
  • Strategy for Change: Actionable strategies for turning life’s unexpected moments into opportunities.
  • The Power of Resilience: How to build resilience and find strength in the face of challenges.
  • Community as a Catalyst: The value of sharing your journey and connecting with others for inspiration and support.

We also are trialing a new format. I’d love to hear how it feels to you!

Plus: listen to the end, and you’ll hear us talk about how we’d like you’re involvement in the next phase of the Meaning Movement.

Are you ready to turn those curveballs into home runs? Let’s go!


[00:00:00] Dan: Raj. Hello. Hello. Hello. Welcome. How you doing?

[00:00:09] Raj: Hi, am I supposed to pretend that we weren’t just talking a lot?

[00:00:14] Dan: Yeah, exactly. That’s, that’s, that’s my intent. Uh,

[00:00:21] Raj: I mean, I

[00:00:21] Dan: yeah, no, this is the first time, this is the first time we’ve talked since, since the listeners heard us talk last.

[00:00:29] Raj: um, I mean, I think this is a good way though, to sort of introduce that we’re going to try something different.

[00:00:37] Dan: Yeah, yeah, we’re trying What are we trying? We’re, we’re trying maybe a little less, uh, maybe a little looser format and, um, maybe taking, taking some of the unscripted banter that we have and, um, seeing, seeing where that takes us as, as a format for the show. So

[00:00:57] Raj: Yeah. You know, one [00:00:58] thing that
[00:00:58] we’ve
[00:00:58] Dan: here we

[00:00:59] Raj: a lot. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. One thing that we’ve talked about a lot is that. You know, all of our conversations that we have before we start recording tend to be the ones that we’re, where we go, we should have been recording this. And so we are trying that and so it’s gonna be a little less polished, but it’s, uh, hopefully gonna be more real content.

[00:01:21] Dan: Yeah, yeah. Well, so we were talking about, you know, before we decided to, like, actually hit the record button and talk, um, on the record, um, about this idea of, like, um, identity and how, When, well, how, the things that we do, the pursuits that we have, whether those be work or otherwise require us to, like, to grow and become different versions of ourselves and, um, I don’t know, it’s a, it’s a topic that I’ve, I’m always interested in, um, it’s like the, the intersection of the two.

[00:01:57] Work and Identity. Um, but I think maybe a good entry point into this is, is how you’ve been wrestling with this with the book and maybe launching your author career. Um, coming out of the closet as an author. Tell me, where does that take you?

[00:02:19] Raj: Yeah, you know, Donald Miller in his book, A Hero on a Mission, um, he writes about how if you want to change your life, you have to just do something that starts a new story in your life. So, uh, you know, don’t try to lose 10 pounds, uh, sign up for a marathon and that’s six months away that you have to train for with hopefully with a partner or a friend that or for a good cause that, you know, there’s, there’s going to be somebody who’s let down by you not doing this.

[00:02:47] And, um, I, uh, I don’t know about you, but I sort of hate it when other people are right. Um, like, I, I, I

[00:02:58] Dan: depending who they, depending who they are, actually, there’s some people that have more permission to be right in my life than others.

[00:03:06] Raj: And that’s fair, but I also, I don’t know, there’s just something weird inside of me that when it’s like, um, even, even just really simple advice, like, uh, you know, if you eat right and exercise, you’ll feel better. And it’s like, excuse me, I, I will see about that. And then it works perfectly. And I was like, oh, fine.

[00:03:27] Uh, I might just be a contrarian by, by nature, but, um, but yeah, so with that. You know, uh, I, I started the book about seven years ago and, uh, and then wrote it for about two years, put it down because I didn’t know what to do next with it. And so I think there’s probably about a year gap in there. I hired a developmental editor.

[00:03:53] Uh, and her input was invaluable, and basically the edit process lasted another about 18 months, another two years. And then, um, and then the last two years I’ve spent trying to get it traditionally published. And, uh, I didn’t realize it at the time, but, uh, you know, what I would have said at the time was, one of the reasons I want to traditionally publish is that then I will know the book is done.

[00:04:21] Because Uh, there’s this validation process to, uh, if somebody else says it’s good enough to put in front of other people, then I don’t have to make that decision for myself. And uh, because like, you know, this week, for

example, you’ve been reading the book and you’re more of an audio book person than you are a physical book person.

[00:04:42] So you’re going through it at a pace that’s agonizingly slow. Uh, And so I have been, um, I’ve been looking into like using an AI voice generator to do just a, a, uh, you know, rough copy of an audio book. And then I’d love to hire a voice actor to legitimately do it later, but I don’t want to hire a voice actor now, if there’s going to be any edits between now and the time we publish.

[00:05:09] And so, um, just the act of listening to the book. I’ve been like, ugh, I should change that. Um, you know, and, and so for me, it’s like every single step of this process. There are little edits, little tweaks, all of that, that I would do. And that’s true of all of my writing. Websites, emails, everything that I, that I write.

[00:05:32] You know, if I look at it again, I go, Oh, who put that there? You know, it’s almost like it was a different person, you know, who, who did that. Because you have fresh eyes, and that’s a good thing, actually. And so, the legitimacy of the publishing process is going like, Hey. As many people as could feasibly possible to be looking at this have looked at it and, and so now it’s done.

[00:05:55] We’re going to put it on paper. It is fixed in the world. And unless there’s some glaring error that’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to reprint all of these copies, this book is done. We need to move on. And So, as you’ve been kind of pushing me towards self publishing, and many other people have too, because there’s so many good reasons to do that.

[00:06:19] You can get to market faster, you get more of your own royalties, you have more control over the rights of your book and your own marketing, your own cover even, all of those things. There’s so many reasons to do it, but one of the biggest downsides is That, uh, then I have to do the incredibly emotionally difficult work of saying I’m happy with this and I’m ready for other people to see it. There’s no external force saying, Yeah, man, you’re good. You’ve done as much work as you possibly could have done on this and this is ready for the world and this lives up to the standard that everybody else has for a book. And I didn’t realize how much emotionally I had invested in. That piece of outsourcing, outsourcing my insecurity, essentially, uh, of just saying like, hey, this, uh, they get to make that decision if it’s good enough.

[00:07:19] I’m, I am, uh, off, offloading, offboarding that problem from myself. Uh, I, I, I don’t have to hire myself to do that, uh, again. And that has been incredibly difficult emotionally.

[00:07:33] Dan: Yeah. Well, I think that there’s like, um, ah, okay. Let me just find the words here. I think that there’s another, another layer to that, which is not only are they in this scenario, the ones who say that it’s good enough. But the next layer is that if it’s not, they’re responsible. Um, and so I feel like there’s kind of like this, this, these two, two layers of self protection, um, that you’re having to wrestle with of like, you know, one, one is, one is the validation, but then two is like the fear of criticism, um, that both of them would be like, well.

[00:08:22] You know, yeah, my editor, my editor said I should do it that way. So, you know, so that’s how, you know, or the public, the publisher, you know, wanted it this way or that way. And so that’s why it’s this way or that way. And so it’s just, all of it is just pointing to the fact that like, you’re more on the hook than you want to be.

[00:08:43] And that’s uncomfortable.

[00:08:45] Raj: Yeah, because it’s experts, right? It’s like, well, these are the people who put out, you know, John Green’s books, or these are the people who put out, you know, the book that got picked by Reese Witherspoon for a book club. And so if they screwed up, I mean, that’s on them, you know? Like if we suck, we suck together.

[00:09:01] And, um, you know, the alternative being when you self publish. I have hired professionals, um, nobody who has a bestseller so far, but you know, hired professionals who have worked on books who have gone, that have gone to market. However, a lot of the qualitative judgments about, uh, for one, is this a story that needs to be put out in the world?

[00:09:23] And then for another, is this good enough to the standard of a book, uh, that people should pay for? Um, a lot of those qualitative judgments either fall on me or my friends and family. And if you think about the, um, if you think about the implication there of, uh, you know, Hey, I want to put this out in the world.

[00:09:43] Do you think this is good enough? And I really need you to be honest with me. then, uh, you know, now all of a sudden you’re asking, is my wife, are my friends, uh, my coworkers honest enough with me? Do they, do

they think they can be honest enough with me? Uh, what does it say about me if they don’t feel like they can?

[00:10:01] Or also, um, you know, do I just have a bunch of people in my life who have poor taste? Um, and if they have poor taste, what do they see in me? You know, like there’s, it goes so deep that, you know, like you said, is that pretty? I’m putting this on the, the publisher and saying, Hey, you’re professionals in this.

[00:10:20] And, uh, if you screw this up, well, bad day at work for you. Uh, but as opposed to, uh, everybody in my life might be lying to me because I’m too fragile of a person, uh, to hear the truth or everybody in my life is, uh, somehow a simpleton who can’t tell a good book from a bad book. And there’s like not a lot of good options there.

[00:10:42] It doesn’t feel good at all.

[00:10:45] Dan: yeah, yes, yes, yeah, and I think that there’s this, um, I don’t know, I guess I want to talk about, like, what, what it means to have to, Level up the way you are entering the world in order to do the things that you want to do, to do this big thing that you’re, that you’ve been working towards for a long time.

[00:11:12] Raj: Yeah, um, you know, writing the book was leveling up in its own way because you, you know, I’m somebody who can get away with a first draft on a lot of things. Um, you know, I, I have, I have written things for powerful people that was more or less my first draft. And, uh, like,

[00:11:41] Dan: Are you bragging right now?
[00:11:48] Raj: some, some of my work has appeared in front of like.

[00:11:51] Congressional Sessions. And I don’t remember if that was first draft or second draft, but I know it wasn’t third, you know, and,

[00:11:56] Dan: Early draft. Early draft,

[00:11:58] Raj: yeah. And, and part of it’s just, you know, mastery of something that I’ve been working on for, you know, 20 years since high school sort of thing. And, um, you know, and so that just writing alone, writing a book alone has, has been a leveling up.

[00:12:16] exercise of, okay, the first draft is out. Now I have to make it clear. Now I have to answer people’s questions that they might’ve had. And so hiring an editor was really big in that. And, uh, and then also how emotionally honest am I willing to be in this book? The, uh, one of my Friends, uh, who, who read the book, they’re, you know, the, uh, as we’ve talked about the, the book centers on this couple who met in grief counseling when they were children and they, uh, they grow up, they fall in love and they get married.

[00:12:50] And then there’s this sort of this wonder and the suspicion of can, can their marriage survive their tragic upbringing, uh, can, you know, as hard as marriage is, can two people look at each other every day and not wonder in the back of their mind if they’re going to lose. each other the same way that they lost their parent.

[00:13:08] And, uh, and, and so there’s, there’s some heavy themes in there. You, you’ve read the book, uh, or at least part of it slowly. Uh, but, uh, you’ve, you know, I’m just going to give you garbage the whole time.

[00:13:22] Dan: You’re just going to keep, just to make sure that I get it. [00:13:24] Raj: Just needling
[00:13:25] Dan: it.
[00:13:25] I love it. Just, just keep poking at it. Hmm.

[00:13:29] Hmm.

[00:13:31] Raj: you know, so there’s heavy themes in the book, but it’s not, it’s not a heavy read it. There’s a lot of humor in it. And, uh, but one, you know, one of my friends who read it. said, um, how did you get depression so right in the book?

[00:13:46] And it was like, well, because I let my mind go there. I let myself be in the shoes of someone that, that, you know, felt such intense psychological pain that it felt like not existing at all would be less painful than, uh, than continuing to, to exist.

[00:14:17] And, uh, and I think that if we’re all, if we’re honest, we all have had moments like that in our lives where we, um, you know, maybe don’t, you know, certainly don’t seriously consider, uh, you know, anything like that. But,

but do Wonder when is it going to stop hurting? How I, you know, where we, the pain is so intense that, that we just wonder like, am I going to survive this?

[00:14:44] And, uh, and so, you know, just writing the book alone was a huge kind of leveling up in emotional honesty. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was kind of processing the previous 10 years of my life. where, um, you know, our marriage started with, uh, losing a close family member, uh, in the first year of our marriage.

[00:15:04] I, I had seven jobs in 10 years, um, you know, from the time that I, I left college to, uh, to the time that I started working at Fruitful. And, uh, and then we lost, uh, two babies to miscarriage before we ended up having our three who were healthy and, um, you know, just thing after thing after thing, even having kids, we had three kids in 37 months, which is so fast and your life changes so much and, uh, especially in the middle of job changes.

[00:15:34] You know, our, uh, our, our middle daughter, uh, was 10 days old when I got appendicitis. And that was in the same year that I had, um, had gallstones. And so I had my gallbladder and my appendix out, uh, I think it was exactly five months apart. And so I was, I was physically in pain as well. And so writing this book required just this level of emotional honesty.

[00:16:01] Then I get to done or close to done, whatever that point is and go, okay, I’m going to start putting it out there in the world. Um, or have received, you know, uh, 25 plus rejections from traditional publishers. Oh, well agents, not even from the publishers themselves. Uh, and most of those, by the way, Are not nos, they are no answers.

[00:16:23] It’s ghosting, . And so it’s, you know, um, and so it’s like, Hey, I, I wrote about my, my, uh, life and, uh, or not, not about my life, but I, you know, I’ve processed, you know, some of the big questions that I’ve been asking about life for the last 10 years. I’ve been writing it for five, six years now. And, and I wanna share this with people, and it’s literally no response from the people who.

[00:16:49] KeepTheGatesBetweenYou, and the, uh, and, and the rest of the world, and that feels very, uh, demoralizing. It’s, it’s, it, it feels personal and insulting, even though I know it’s just so, the volume of things that are being pushed to these people that they can’t respond to everything, but I think it’s also a goofy system that, that, uh, kind of dehumanizes people in that way.

[00:17:13] Dan: Yeah, yeah, totally. And now, once again, you know, you’re, in order to take the next step, you’ve got to put on your big boy pants and do some

scary stuff and, um, Yeah, stand up, I don’t know, advocate for yourself in ways that, like, are uncomfortable. Um, ask people to do things for you that is uncomfortable.

[00:17:43] Um, you know, to, to, to talk about, to promote, to, you know, share, share your work and their networks, all of these things. Um, I just feel like there’s this, there’s something here about, like, what you’re doing. is what we’re all doing when we’re doing life, in my opinion, doing life right. Like, that this is, this is what progress looks like as a person.

[00:18:11] Raj: Yeah, you know, in, in business, uh, in my professional life, I, uh, kind of pride myself on being really generous with other people. Um, you know, part of how, how you and I started talking a lot was, uh, I knew, how to fix a problem that you were experiencing, uh, or at least I knew what it was like and, and could walk through it with you.

[00:18:36] And, um, and, and I do this all the time. I mean, probably close to once a week, if not more. You know, it’s somebody who’s trying to start a creative business, who’s reaching out to me or, um, you know, an intern or, or a young person who’s, who’s trying to get into the creative industry, uh, or somebody who is a peer who’s like, Hey, have you ever experienced this problem?

[00:19:00] And so I’m, I’m so happy to, to give and give and give in part because of how many people have given to me to help me get to the point that I am. And, uh, and, and yet, and I don’t know if it’s because it’s Zoom or, uh, or just what it is. But I remember a couple of years ago, I was having a conversation with my wife where, uh, you know, when I think about the number of people that I have like close conversations with on any given week, I, uh, I, I told her, I was like, you know, I think that if I died, I don’t think that many people would come to the funeral, uh, which I know is a little dark.

[00:19:40] Uh, I hope you’re enjoying your drive or whatever you’re doing on your way. Yeah. Um, but the, but the, the thought was like, we had left our church because, um, I, I’ve experienced a major kind of change in faith. And, uh, and so, you know, sort of the extended community that you have when You know, hundreds of people see you, you know, playing guitar in the worship band or, uh, you know, 20 people hear you teach a lesson or whatever.

[00:20:10] You just have this bigger sense of community and most of my life now, even though I deal with a lot of people, they’re spread all over the country and I don’t think that my clients, most of them necessarily, would be like, Oh

my gosh, he died. Let’s fly in for the funeral. I think maybe a couple would but, but, Instead, it’d be flowers and gifts and whatever.

[00:20:31] And then there’d be like, you know, my, my immediate family, uh, and, and then a handful of friends. That’s what it felt like, um, at that time, a couple of years ago. And, and so there is this weird sense by which, um, you kind of just. When, when, when putting something out in the world where now I need to mobilize a bunch of people to help me spread the word about it, it just, it feels like starting from zero.

[00:21:03] And I, I’m starting to realize that it’s not that, but I think it honestly kind of says more about my internals than it, than it does about my relationships with people. Um, just that, that it’s really easy for me to default to, I mean, I’m literally in a room by myself right now. I’m talking to you, but I’m in a room

[00:21:22] by myself. And that’s where I’ve been for most of the day today. And so it’s, it’s hard for my brain to like wrap around, like, who’s really here for me. Um, cause I’ve never, I’ve never asked really. Uh, you know, this is the first time I, I’ve been, you know, I’ve been giving and giving and giving to people for the last, you know, 10, 20 years and And not often asking anything in return, in part because I don’t want to, like, I would rather be the giver, uh, in a scenario than someone who’s receiving, and that is really, really difficult for me to just like, you know, open myself up to saying that I need help from other people.

[00:22:05] Dan: yeah, well I, there’s a couple things in there that, that feel important to point out is one is like how you have to, it’s forcing you to, to Hold a hypothesis and maybe a counter narrative to the narrative that like, I don’t have anyone that cares enough to like, say, okay, maybe, maybe I do, or at least I’m going to move forward as, as if I, I do and see, see what happens.

[00:22:36] And so it’s almost like, um, I, I, what’s, what’s cool about this. This is what I just love about, about doing things like what you’re doing. That’s why I get also so jazzed up about creative projects in general. And about like the way that the things that we do, when we have something, a dream we’re trying to realize in the world, um, that like on the other side of this.

[00:23:00] So we fast forward a year from now and It’s done, and it’s out there, and it’s successful. Now you have a new story about what it looks like to make a book, to ask people to be, you know, involved in what you’re doing. And you also have a template for the next one, and the next one, and the next thing that comes after that.

[00:23:26] And so it just like, you know, raises up again, like, raises up a level of like, Oh! I can do that. I’ve done this before, but right now we’re at this lower level where it’s like, oof, this is a lift. I don’t know if it’s going to work. I have to fight against a lot of voices in my head that are telling me that it might not.

[00:23:45] And that’s scary and hard work that I think everyone listening, um, if we’re honest with ourselves, And I think that’s also why a lot of people wouldn’t do the crazy kind of thing that you’re trying to do right now because it’s too scary. And so I applaud your courage, um, because it’s hard work.

[00:24:09] Raj: Yeah.

[00:24:09] Thank you. Um, you know, I, I’ve been talking to a couple of personal branding experts because of this problem of, uh, you know, cause one of my problems is that I, like, I love being on podcasts. I love having conversations like this. I hate making Instagram videos. Uh, like, I, literally, putting a phone in front of myself and asking the world to pay attention is so painful for me, um, and, and I was trying to sort of understand this, and it’s like, is it just that I don’t know what to talk about, or, you know, cause, uh, you and I kind of joke often about sort of the, Indifference of the universe or the internet, um, you know, you put this stuff out there that you work so hard on and then you get like two likes or zero likes or whatever.

[00:24:57] And it’s like, why, why should I keep going? And so I’ve been talking to these folks about, um, the, uh, yeah, I’ve been talking to them about personal branding and it’s like, okay, well, What am I trying to put out there? How am I going to get responses? And both of them, uh, is Julie Stroud and Tammy Enfield.

[00:25:15] They’re both great story brand guides who focus on personal branding. And, um, they, uh, both of them. Have, uh, I’ve said like, Hey, you need to think about what you were just talking about of fast forward, a year in the future, you’re getting emails and DM and people who are, uh, who’ve read your book and have a, a grief story of their own and need somebody to share it with, or just want to say how encouraged and motivated they are by, uh, you know, the, the story that unfolds and how seen they feel.

[00:25:47] And, you know, one thing that was. Challenging for me in both those conversations was to believe that that will happen even. Um, and uh, because again, just it can feel so like the world can feel so cold and so indifferent when you put stuff out there and nobody pays attention. And, uh, and so it’s just like, well, I don’t know if that happens is sort of the thing.

[00:26:12] But the challenge there is, is in thinking, well, why, why are you doing this if you don’t believe that this is going to happen? You know, like, um, do you believe that the book is good enough to elicit that reaction? It’s like, I’ve been working on it for seven years. Of course, I believe it’s good enough to elicit that reaction.

[00:26:30] Um, but it’s more the algorithm and all those things, you know, that I, that I kind of hide behind. And, and say like, well, but the, you know, if, if, you know, people will buy it and if it will get seen and, uh, if, if people pay attention and actually read it and all those things, um, you know, just these like kind of self defeating narratives that I have, um, and one of the things that, that I’ve been uncovering is that, you know, I was talking with Tammy Unfield about this and, and, uh, I said that part of it is because I’m the son of an immigrant.

[00:27:06] And, And, uh, and so, like, most of my life has not been surrounded by, like, huge family. I don’t have this, like, huge, built in support network, uh, where it’s like, uh, you know, Oh, parents are going out of town, let’s, you stay at the aunt’s and uncle’s this week, or, um, you know, we’re having a wedding, oh, it’s gonna be a huge affair, because we gotta invite all the aunts and uncles, and it’s like, literally, half of my family.

[00:27:33] Lives on a different continent, and I’ve met them a couple of times, um, in person, and, uh, and this is way before Zoom, and, and even Skype, and all those things. Back when you had to pay, I think it was like 50 cents a minute. to talk on the phone to these people. And so it better be a good conversation, even talk for 10 minutes.

[00:27:53] And, uh, and there was a delay and, and, uh, you know, it’s like older relatives were hard of hearing and just like all, you know, just, it was hard to build a relationship with them except for when we were in person. And then on my mom’s side of the family, um, you know, unfortunately there was a lot of dysfunction and stuff.

[00:28:11] And so we didn’t have a great relationship with that side of the family either, even though several of them lived closer. And, and so there was just this sort of sense of living on an island. Even though we’re in a city surrounded by almost a million people, um, you know, there was, there didn’t feel like there were that many people that we could

[00:28:33] And so, I think that has a lot to do with the way that I’ve been seeing this launch is that, like, is, is this just confirming the hypothesis that I’ve had

that, that really there is no one there? And, uh, thankfully, what I’m finding is that quite the opposite is true. That, um, not only, Have I invested a lot in the lives of other people, but even people that I haven’t, um, are, are rallying around the idea of it.

[00:29:05] Um, we, just this week, uh, you know, so I, I think we talked about it in the last episode. The, when, with launching this book, I’m going to be donating all of the, uh, royalties from the pre sales to, uh, the Sharing Place, which is the actual non profit that, uh, my book, The Caring House, is based on. And, uh, and just this week, we had a donor commit to, uh, matching those donations.

[00:29:32] Uh, to the sharing place for, for all of the books that are sold before, uh, before it launches. And, uh, and you know, the crazy thing is I literally didn’t even ask. I just told her about what I was doing. And before I was even done talking, she goes, we’ll be your match. And I think a lot of it has to do with the quality of the sharing place, but, um, you know, I, I looked at her, I said, really?

[00:29:57] And she said, yeah, such a great cause. Um, and it, it, it just, I felt like the Grinch, it made my heart just like one size bigger. It was like, okay, maybe the, maybe the world is not as cold and indifferent as I have, um, maybe judged it to be. Unfairly.

[00:30:15] Dan: Yeah, I love that, like, that idea of like, you know, you’re, you hold this, you’re holding, you hold two hypotheses, right? And like, one is that people care and people don’t care. And like, we’re, we’re gonna put, we’re gonna put a bet here that people do care. And, and like, that’s some of the big question it feels like for you right now in this. And I just love, you know, framing it, framing it that way, that like, um, You’re, you’re ma, you’re making a bet. And the only way to find which, uh, you know what, what is real here is to follow through and, and try to try to tell yourself a new story about the world.

[00:31:04] Raj: You know
[00:31:05] what’s
[00:31:05] Dan: Does that resonate? Does that feel right?

[00:31:06] Raj: Yeah, where it takes me, which is ironic, uh, it makes me feel gross, is, um, that, that, you know, so in, in the book, um, Gabe is the main character, it’s told from his point of view, uh, and, and he, I, I, you know, It’s not

autobiographical, but he definitely struggles with this, um, sense that sort of the universe is against him where, you know, he lost his dad when he was seven and, uh, he married someone who lost her dad when she was seven.

[00:31:40] And there’s sort of this, this just like, we’re going to cling to each other and try to skate through this thing, like try to get through it unscathed. And, um, and then when life throws them another curve, curve ball, they lose another family member. Uh, he’s, he’s kind of thrown into this spiral, like, it’s almost like a, see, I knew it.

[00:31:59] Like, I knew that life really was this hard, this bad, and, uh, and so he, he kind of spirals. And, um, and then, you know, there’s a lot of help that he finds in the most unusual places or unexpected places. And, um, I think in a lot of ways, some of that was me writing what I hope happens in the world. And I think what also that I’ve experienced happens in the world.

[00:32:28] And, um, and what I want for more people to experience and share their experience with. Uh, because We love those stories, you know, um, we, uh, somebody was just telling me a story of their dog the other day, even that, uh, had a medical condition that ended up being the exact same medical condition that their daughter had seven years later, and that they wouldn’t have thought, uh, to, you know, they wouldn’t, yeah, they wouldn’t have thought to, to consider that diagnosis.

[00:32:57] were it not for the fact that, you know, seven years before that the dog had the same thing. And it’s like, we just, we need these stories that help us just believe that like, no, we can make it. The, um, you know, the, the, the universe is not as cold and indifferent to us being here as it, as it feels like sometimes.

[00:33:19] Um, so, I mean, it’s, it’s exactly what you’re

[00:33:21] saying. It’s like, there’s, there’s these two different ways to see the world. It’s like, people don’t care, people do care. And. And a lot of how you experience the world is based on just which one you choose to see.

[00:33:34] Dan: Yes. Well, what that makes, that makes you just think of is like, like we take these leaps in our lives when it’s like we, you know, I guess I talked about it as a bet. Now I’m talking about it as a leap. So I’m changing metaphors here, but like, um, it’s another way to talk about the same thing. Like, cause it is like this, like you’re just having to jump.

[00:33:56] And you think that, you think that there’s the people there that are going to catch you, right? And that’s, that’s the kind of thing, like, and you’re hoping, you’re hoping that they’re there. Um, and you’re having to fight against the other story that they’re not there. Um, I don’t know, I feel like I, I, um, I’m doing something similar, um, that we haven’t talked about, um, on the podcast, but I think that it’s, it, I think could be interesting of like, I’m in this shift.

[00:34:22] professionally, where I’m having to set down a lot of where I’ve been. And I mean, the big question for me is like, okay, is Deanne employable? that’s that’s like, that’s like one of them is like, can I actually, uh, find a new, a new income stream? Um, and, um, Like, uh, I don’t know. I feel like there’s this, this, this piece of, of growth that we’re both going through that I think everybody goes through where you have to like set down some part of a narrative in order to create the space for, like you said, like, um, a story to help you believe in something new about yourself and about the world.

[00:35:07] And, um, yeah, I just love, I just love that.

[00:35:13] Raj: Yeah. And, and with you, you know, addressing that question of are you employable? Uh, yes, very much so. And, uh, you know, I’ve worked with you in professional capacities before too. And, um, and part of it with you is, is it’s not, are you employable? It’s for which skillset are you employable? Cause you have so

[00:35:33] Dan: yeah, yes, yes, when I think that’s, yeah, I think that that’s it is it’s like, um, so what I’m trying to do just to put it on the table is like, I’m trying to get a job in product. I’m trying to find a role in, um, product at a, at a, at a software company. That’s something that I have done for my own ventures.

[00:35:52] I’ve built a lot of software. Um, but to, to, to, but it’s so often it has felt like I’m a square peg in a round hole trying to make myself fit and, and the question I guess is, like, can I actually do this? And there’s a whole lot of reasons of why this is the right choice for me right now. Um, one of which is for, for family and for kids and, and finances.

[00:36:17] Um, that, um, But, but I, I hold the, keep coming back to this question as I’ve been in this search and, you know, when you’re talking about putting out your, your applying to or reaching out to publishers and, and not hearing back, it felt so similar to the process that I’ve been in of putting myself out there and not hearing back, um, or, you know, instantly hearing back negatively, like, oh, well, I guess that didn’t make it through their automated, uh, rejection machine.

[00:36:45] Um, But the question, yeah, it’s like, is this, is this, is, is this process at the other, you know, fast forward a year from now, will this be a successful, um, endeavor or am I going to hit a, you know, eventually just be like, okay, I’ve, I’ve sent out enough applications and it’s, now it’s time for me to do it, you know, a different way.

[00:37:07] Um, talk to enough people, try to network my way into this enough, and it’s time to find a different path. Um, but I’m not. Willing to say that until I test this hypothesis, until I take this bet that like, I think, I think it’s possible, but I just don’t know, um, until we get

[00:37:27] Raj: Yeah. Well, and, and so it’s funny cause it’s so much easier to solve when you’re looking at another person’s version of it,

[00:37:35] because [00:37:36] Dan: yeah,

[00:37:37] Raj: like with you, you just totally glossed over, you know, I’ve built a lot of software and I’d heard you say that a bunch of times and, you know, being your friend, I know, you know, some of the drama that happens behind the scenes at software companies and how deals are structured and kind of all these things that, that, um, are.

[00:37:54] You know, the kinds of things that end up being, they’re making, they make stories like, you know, the WeWork you know, all that kind of stuff about it was like, just, uh, but on a much smaller scale where, you know, people stab each other in the back or they, uh, they don’t recognize the contribution that one person has made and, you know, this is like the social network was similar, you know, it was like, we, we see all of these movies where this stuff happens and it happens on so much smaller scales too.

[00:38:20] And so I think when you talk about like, SquarePeg and AroundHole. Even just that language, if there’s anybody listening who has a software product job available, they’re like, oh, well, I don’t know if he’s going to fit in around here. And it’s like, well, where Dan doesn’t fit is abusive environments or environments that don’t, you know, recognize his contribution.

[00:38:38] Or, um, I will say too that, I mean, I think that, uh, you would be incredible in an established team that actually is ready to value your contribution rather than, um, necessarily a startup. That isn’t willing to, um, you

know, either isn’t willing to listen or, or is totally willing to listen, but for no pay, it was like, oh, we’ll, we’ll see on the upside.

[00:39:04] And it’s like, but with no paperwork, I was like, okay, let’s not do that. Um, and

[00:39:10] cause [00:39:10] I

[00:39:10] Dan: just for the listeners sake. Raj is talking about some very specific, specific, uh, moments in my, in my last few months here.

[00:39:21] Raj: But even, I mean, but this is true, this is true of everybody though. I mean, you know, working in marketing, there’s always, there’s so many people who would love for you to work for exposure and photography is the same way. And, um, and so feeling like you don’t fit in the industry, it’s because, you There, there are always, no matter which industry it is, there’s always so many people who would love for you to work for free.

[00:39:41] Um, you know, even, even folks that I need favors from right now, you know, it’s like, I know how much it sucks for me to have to ask for favors cause I’m not. Your typical client, but I need your level of skill. And part of it is thankfully I’ve spent the last 10 years doing a lot of favors for people and I have a few to call in, but I, but I don’t, they’re not unlimited.

[00:40:04] You know, I still have to pay for some things and I still, uh, and, and I know why I should. Uh, but I also have that tension of, of like, I am a, my publishing career is a startup as well. And so, uh, I, I have that tension. It’s either bootstrap it myself or have, you know, have somebody, have somebody do me a solid,

[00:40:25] you

[00:40:26] Dan: Yeah, yeah. Well, I, I, what I keep circling around in my, in my mind is this idea that like, um, in, in, you know, in the circles I run in, you know, the, the books I read, the, the people I follow on Twitter or X, um, it’s, it’s so popular to say, you know, bet on, bet on yourself. And that’s, you know, in some, some ways that’s what you and I are both doing in some regard.

[00:40:49] Um, but I feel like there’s like this other layer of like, Like, what, what does that mean to bet on yourself? Because in some, because you could,

you could argue that I’m not betting on myself right now, right? Like, I’m kind of going from doing my own, running my own entrepreneurial ventures to potentially joining someone else’s.

[00:41:08] Um, I’m, I’m going the wrong direction here. Uh, but I think like the, the, the reframe that I’ve, I feel is coming up in this conversation is like betting on the story that you want to be true.

[00:41:22] Raj: Yeah.
[00:41:23] Dan: And it feels like, um, you know, it’s a version of betting,

betting on yourself. But I’m just curious for, you know, people listening.

[00:41:33] I kind of want to know, like, what are, what are the stories that they’re betting on? What are, what are people, um, what are the things that you want to be true in your life, in your work, in the world, um, that you want to take a bet on? I’d, I’d be curious to hear. Yeah

[00:42:17] Raj: I’ll take that.

[00:42:18] You know, I remember one growing up, one of the like coolest things like Bill Gates driveway is heated so he doesn’t have to scoop snow. You know? I was like, that’s, that’s the goal is like so enough software for the heated driveway. You can tell I grew up in the Midwest and uh, um. And so, uh, you know, it’s like that, that seems obvious, but at the same time, you know, uh, it took a lot of sacrifice of, of like sleeping in the office and not having much of a personal life and, uh, you know, and, and even, you know, now later in life, you know, uh, their marriage falling apart and, and those things like, Um, all, uh, all very, very big sacrifices for that kind of meteoric success, and it’s only success in that one particular area.

[00:43:08] And Don talks about, uh, you know, when you have a family, you, you learn to dream with other people. And so it’s not my dream or my wife’s dream, or even my kids

[00:43:18] dream, but it’s our dream together. And it’s going to be, there’s going to be some compromise involved in that. And so I, I think instead of kind of like this straight up, uh, one of the things I probably don’t like about the software world or the, you know, entrepreneurship world is this bet on yourself.

[00:43:36] And it’s like, yeah, sort of, you know, but it’s like, I, it’s almost more like betting on us, betting on our family. And. Uh, and so that might mean not

making that bet on myself and, and like, you know, betting the house literally sometimes on, uh, on this dream because it’s not the right thing to do, especially now.

[00:43:57] And maybe, maybe it’s not the right thing to do in this season.

[00:44:00] Dan: Yeah. I mean, that’s exactly. The season I’m in, right? Like I have three, three kids, um, that have growing needs and, um, needing more support from professionals that, um, I have, you know, the appointments we’re paying for, to, for, for the learning needs of my family are, um, equate to a whole nother mortgage and, um, we live in a small house and we need a bigger house.

[00:44:24] And it’s like, yeah, if it was just me, yeah. I don’t know that I would be taking, you know, taking this bet in this way. I don’t know that I would be moving in this direction. But, um, but because it’s more than, it’s more than just my dreams that are at stake here, um, it’s the right thing. It’s the right thing for me.

[00:44:42] It’s the right thing for my family. Um,

[00:44:46] Raj: to have someone who’s talented enough to run their own thing, uh, but is motivated by the needs of other people who count on him to come work for them. Because that person’s not gonna be flighty. That person’s not gonna go, I’m better than this place, I need to get up and go.

[00:45:05] Uh, that per that person is gonna go, I’m gonna give everything I’ve got because there are people counting on me. And that brings meaning to your work, uh, that maybe even if you’re not, you know, passionate about, uh, you know, cafeteria management software or something, uh, you become passionate about it because it’s, uh, it, of what it does in your story,

[00:45:27] in
[00:45:27] your
[00:45:27] Dan: 100 percent right. That’s
[00:45:28] Raj: and, and any company would be lucky to have that.

[00:45:33] Dan: Yeah, yeah, well, thank you. And, um, and for any companies listening, you can, you can reach me at, uh, but, but I think, like, where that ties you back to.

[00:45:45] Raj: space.

[00:45:46] Dan: Yeah, cafeteria management software. I will build your cafeteria management software platform. Uh, well, it’s just like, it’s just, you know, just the, the connection between, uh, how we find meaning in our work and that that’s an ever, in my opinion, ever evolving thing that different phases of our lives where there’s going to be different aspects of work that are meaningful to us for, for different reasons.

[00:46:09] Raj: is really,

[00:46:10] just part of the bigger conversation of how we find meaning in our life. You know, like, uh, you know, to your point about like learning needs and my kids have learning needs as well. Um, you know. When you, when you marry your wife, you think that you’re in a love story, you know, and then when you have kids, you, uh, you might think that you’re in a, um, you know, in a, a sitcom almost, you know, um,

[00:46:41] but then when [00:46:42] Dan: Yeah.

[00:46:44] Raj: when, but when they have, when they have needs, then that’s your chance to become a hero in, their lives, uh, where they, you know, um, because the opposite is, you know, Oh, dad wasn’t, uh, it wasn’t aware of my needs.

[00:47:00] And so I had to fake it my whole life until I could take care of myself. But instead you get, you know, dad worked really hard for, uh, to make sure that my needs were being taken care of. And, um, and that’s huge. It, and, but it’s not the story that you thought you were in when you started.

[00:47:18] Dan: That’s so true. That is so true. Yeah. The story has to, the story has to change because again, this kind of maybe even brings us full circle, like, because we change, right? And because we’re always, uh, ever, ever evolving in our work and who we are in the world and what we’re, what we’re trying to do next. Um, and sometimes that’s by choice and sometimes it’s not by choice.

[00:47:40] Sometimes, um, we, uh, we have kids because we want the sitcom and then we end up, uh, in a drama, you know? Um, and, and that’s just how, that’s just how it goes. Um,

[00:47:50] Raj: yeah. Yeah, that’s the hard thing is that, you know, I mean, like, in my book, you know, so Gabe and Jenny, they get married, and then, like, for them, I’m sure it felt like, hey, just surviving this, like, just surviving this life would be good enough. And then to lose another family member, it was just like, oh, come on.

[00:48:11] Like, you know, it feels like it throws this huge wrench in it. But literally, this story would not exist. were it not for that. Um, in fact, I, I knew when I wrote the book, I knew the first scene and I knew how the book was going to end. And I didn’t know what caused that first scene to happen. Like why they were thrown into the middle of a story worth telling.

[00:48:34] Uh, because honestly, had they had something bad happen to them early in their life, they grow up, fall in love and get married and it works out perfectly. It’s not a, it’s not a story worth Telling, um, in that way. You, I would have had to start when they were children, happy life, oh my gosh, this bad, horrible thing happens, and then you get the love story after that.

[00:48:55] But that’s not the story, I knew that wasn’t the story I was telling, because the story I was telling was, is it possible to have the bad thing happen, grow up, think that you’re safe, and then have the other bad thing happen, and go, oh my gosh, which world are we living in? Are we living in a world where we can only expect pain?

[00:49:14] Or are we living in a world where we can expect hope and joy? And, um, and, and I, and because that’s the story that I needed, you know, myself, I was like, I needed to know if. It was going to be another 10 years of 7 more jobs and, you know, uh, not, not 3 more kids because we weren’t going to do that, but, um, but, you know, 10 more jobs and like literally having organs taken out of my body and, um, just pain and sadness and leaving communities and, um, you know, all of those things, or, or were the next 10 years going to give me hope.

[00:49:52] And, uh, and I knew what kind of book I wasn’t writing. Uh, I’m not going to give away too much, but I, I knew that I was writing the book that I needed. And, uh, because I didn’t want it to just be like, nope, it’s all pretty bleak. Bye. Um, you know, like it just, it’s, it was too much. Um, but I also, but there, there is this process of like, Learning to believe that and, uh, and, and like

you said, kind of like choosing to see the world through that lens and it’s really, really hard to do that when you’re in the middle of it.

[00:50:28] Dan: Yeah, no, totally. And I think that that’s, um, It just brings me back to like the the story that you’re writing now of like, you know, that’s launching this this book and um, like that that story is a um, Yeah, I’m trying to find the the parallel of like What, what’s the, what’s the book that’s about this story?

[00:50:56] The book is going to get meta. The book that’s about, uh, about, about the, the, the story about the guy who’s trying to launch the book that he wrote, that was the book that he needed at that time. Right. Um,

[00:51:08] Raj: Yeah. Well, yeah.

[00:51:09] Dan: go

[00:51:10] Raj: Yeah. I was just to speak to that. The reason why this season is hard, uh, the, the launching of the book season is hard is that the, you know, the five years of, uh, of, of. Analyzing and considering the ten years before that of seven jobs and three kids and loss and all those things. That was, um, it was work that I could do by myself.

[00:51:38] And it was work that, that I could polish and obsess over and sit in coffee shops and listen to music and like I, that I could, could do. And, um, and, and now I’m entering this completely other. realm where I have to talk about it and I have to convince people that this story would be good for them to read.

[00:52:02] And I, and so it’s like, it’s a literally completely different skillset. And so nothing that, that I did to get good at what I was doing is transferable to this. And that’s part of what’s so hard about this is that like, I, um, and now, now it’s like, okay, But if you want to get to Mordor, if you want to, whatever, everything that you learned in the first half of this movie, or the first movie of this trilogy, or however you want to look at it.

[00:52:32] is not applicable here. You have to learn how to fight, or you have to learn how to, you know, raise up an army, or whatever. And, uh, and it’s like, oh my gosh, I was literally never prepared for this. In fact, literally my entire life has been training in the opposite direction. It’s been, be humble and quiet, be, I mean, if you look at Asian communities, you know, Indian communities, it’s not the people who are loud who are revered.

[00:52:57] You know, it’s, it’s the people who are quiet. They call them gurus, they call them teachers. Um, and they grow long beards and they, they speak quietly and people listen. And that’s, that’s my example of like somebody who’s to be revered. So having to like do this thing that feels really embarrassing and exposing to be like, Hey, I did this thing for you.

[00:53:17] Please read it. Feels so, I mean, literally feels anathema to me of, of what I should be as a person. But I also know that I don’t have the possibility of anybody getting what I made for them if I don’t do this. And that is really hard.

[00:53:36] Dan: Yes, yes, and it’s exactly like, uh, So much similar to, again, to the shift that I’m in, right? Like all the skills that I have developed have nothing to do with the skills that it takes to do an interview and like convince a hiring manager to hire you. Like, um. You’re trying to get someone to, you’re trying to, trying to get the exposure you need to get someone to read your book.

[00:54:01] I’m trying to get the exposure I need to get someone to, to, uh, to, to bring me onto their team. And those are completely, you know, the, the work itself of doing the work, whether it’s building software or writing a book is completely different than the work it takes to get people to engage with, with those, you know, what that skill set produces.

[00:54:20] Raj: Yeah, and what sucks is that, like, as a company owner, one of the things I’m most wary of is that there are people who interview really well. and are bad at the

[00:54:33] Dan: Yes.
[00:54:34] Raj: Um, and then there are people who interview, interview poorly

and are, would be the right fit for the job.

[00:54:40] And so we have all of our little tests and assessments and all those things to try to sniff that out.

[00:54:47] But it’s so, so hard, especially when the mechanism that happens in those interviews is somebody buttering you up. Oh, I really want to work here. I’d be amazing. You have such a great company and all that. And you, it does not matter how selfless, how like low ego you think you are. Everybody wants to hear this.

[00:55:05] Everybody wants that affirmation. They want that validation, even from the people they’re trying to hire. And, uh, and somebody, and, and so it’s

like just whole other skillset where people who are. Really winsome. I’m not saying you’re not, but like people who have that, who have the gift of woo, you know, according to StrengthsFinder or whatever, they’re going to be better at interviewing, but, but that may have zero to do with whether or not they’d be good at the job.

[00:55:29] Dan: Yes, yes, and also, it takes a different skill set to write a good book than to grow a social media platform, right? And like, just before we hit record, we’re talking about, you know, some, some social media, you know, TikTok stars that have, you know, hundreds of thousands of, of followers and then other authors that are, you know, creating life changing work who don’t have anything, you know, pale, pales in comparison

[00:55:54] Raj: Yeah. 20 percent of the size. Yeah. [00:55:59] Dan: same thing.

[00:55:59] And yet, if the TikTok star writes a book, it’s gonna sell a bunch, even though the work itself might not, you know, um,

[00:56:07] Raj: Yeah.

[00:56:08] Dan: might not have much substance. Um.

[00:56:10] Raj: Yeah. Or the, Or the,

[00:56:12] Dan: do you do

[00:56:12] Raj: a much smaller following is ghostwriting it for them. So it’s actually good.

[00:56:16] Dan: Yes, yeah, maybe that’s the right way to do it. Oh man. Well, I need to, I need to, we need to wrap up here. Um, and, but I want to kind of circle back to this question. For our listeners, because like, we’re, we’re talking about the, the transitions that we’re in, the space of, you know, making, finding, um, the, again, I’ve used so many metaphors, and the bets we want to take, the stories we want to create, the next level versions of ourselves, um, And I would, I would just love to hear from anyone listening, uh, what are the, what are the, uh, yeah, the transition that you’re in, the bet that you’re taking, the, the, what’s the hypothesis that you’re testing in your life?

[00:56:59] Um, whether it be, you know, a career change, whether it be a creative project, whether it be something else, um, a relationship, I don’t know. Um, but I’d love to hear from you. So shoot, shoot us an email, podcast at The Meaning Movement and tell us about it.

[00:57:17] Raj: yeah. And, and what help do you need? We, I would love to know. We might, we’re somewhat well connected. Like we might know the person that you need to meet.

[00:57:25] Dan: I love that.
[00:57:26] Raj: so tell us what your dream is and what you need.

[00:57:31] Dan: Perfect. I look forward to reading those emails. And Raj, as always, this was great.

[00:57:37] Raj: Thanks, Dan.

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