Episode: 54

In this episode, Michael gets real about why he hasn’t uploaded a podcast in 6 months and expands a conversation he started with his latest YouTube video.

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Transcript Episode 54

[00:00:00] All right guys, it’s that time again… Welcome back to the podcast! I’ve been out of this game for the last six months. I have not uploaded an episode in the last six months, and I really want to tell you where I’ve been, why I have not uploaded, and then dive into something a little different towards the end.

[00:00:50] This is a little bit different than I usually do it. First of all, I’m not walking through the streets of Shanghai like I do most often when I record, I’m actually at home in my home office, but I’m also filming it for YouTube at the same time. So just a little experiment, doing something different.

[00:01:06] Since I am recording at home, you might see my dog on screen, she might jump in my lap because she’s sitting right off camera over here, and there’s also been some construction off and on for some reason above me. So all apologies if some of that comes through the audio. So let’s dive right into it.

[00:01:23] Where have I been? So… I take on too much. Quite often I, I have way too many interests. Plus, I work full time and I’m a full time dad, a full time husband, all those things, social engagement, stuff like that. So when I looked at what I take on, I had to make some choices. For me, my crazy time of year at work starts around June and June to October.

[00:01:59] The end of October is super busy for me at work, kind of in general. So I had to make some tough choices in June, and there’s really three reasons.

[00:02:19] In June, I realized I had to set some priorities for my creative life, my personal life, and my work life in order to get everything done that I wanted to get done. As some of you know, if you listen to my podcast or if you know me personally, and I’ve even maybe alluded to it, I think a little bit in some of my Instagram posts, I have been working on a book, a fiction book—a novel—for four years, probably longer, actually, probably closer to five years at this point.

[00:02:49] I don’t work on it every day. I’ve gone through peaks and valleys where I spent a ton of time on it. And then there are some days where I hardly spend any time on it at all. But I had made a commitment to turn in my final edit to my editor, and I had to get that done by the end of the summer.

[00:03:06] So that’s basically what I poured my creative energy into: finishing that draft. Something had to go on the back burner. I’m not going to stop taking pictures because that’s a deeper passion than podcasting is, but I just had to make a choice. I had to make a tough choice. So, I stopped uploading a podcast.

[00:03:26] I stopped recording them, stopped uploading, and I turned that time attention back into my writing so I could get that final draft polished and sent to her. Now, she has since sent back her comments after reading it, and unfortunately, there’s more work to do. So I am now busy and those. The edits aren’t as big, so it’s not as heavy lifting, I don’t think.

At least not yet. So I don’t anticipate being crazy with that going forward. So I should be able to get back on track with podcasting, YouTube, and of course, Instagram. 

[00:04:15] So the other thing that I had to really think about was self-awareness. I try to be a very self aware person, know my strengths and opportunities. And I came to a deep realization that I had just taken on too much. I alluded to that when I first started his episode, but I was just really way too inundated with stuff. There was some personal stuff going on too, nothing major, but it took up some time, took up some energy, and I just had too many competing priorities, all at the same time.

[00:04:38] So, I had to make some choices. The other thing is, like I said, work gets busy in June. The company that I work for, we start our annual review process in June and July. And then we go into our busy sales season beginning in September, which lasts through through the holidays.

[00:05:00] So that was another reason. I think the last reason that I want to really touch on is: Laziness. I think of myself as a very motivated person, a very goal oriented person. I do actually get a lot done in my work life. And my creative life, but I’m not overly organized. People think I am and I do help mentor people with time management at work, but this is a new skill of mine. In fact, five or six years ago, I really struggled with time management. To the point where, my previous boss was extremely frustrated with me because I just couldn’t get stuff done in a organized manner.

[00:05:44] I realized in June, that I was really getting disorganized again. So a couple things that I’ve done here just this week and have helped me be able to then prioritize my life and really ratchet up my ability to overcome that laziness, and that is to do a value study.

[00:06:10] I’m going to make a whole a YouTube video on this later. But pretty much every year, I’ve been doing a values survey.

[00:06:29] And what it is is just a list of words that are values, and then you just kind of circle your top 10 that feel really important to you, and then you make sure that your goals for the year (or longer term) align with your values. And then you take a deep look at your daily routines and make sure that they map to the goals and that the goals are aligned with your values.

[00:06:50] I had to redo mine this year, so I just did it today. For me, it’s really the only way to feel completely fulfilled in my life. Getting that laziness conquered by making sure that I’m focusing on the right things, the things that are bringing me value, that are making me feel fulfilled as a creative person and also as a father and as an employee.

[00:07:16] I just deeply believe in reassessing yourself at the end of every year and then making a plan for that new year. I don’t always do it in deep detail, but I’m going to go a little bit more detailed this year, because I think that was the missing ingredient from 2019. It was why I wasn’t as productive as I could’ve been, and a couple of important things snuck up on me.

[00:07:44] It’s funny, because self-awareness, is such a superpower, if you can really harness it. Because, in my job, I have 150 direct reports, about 150 people that report directly to me. My role primarily is not only to deliver a profitable business unit, but it’s also to be a part of each employee’s personal development.

[00:08:11] And that means I spend a lot of time with my team. I spent a lot of time breaking down their struggles or their hurdles; mostly in their career, but sometimes in their personal life, to be quite honest. 

[00:08:31] Those of you who know me, know what I do for a living, but I don’t really talk about my job on my social platforms by design—I want to keep them separate. However, I can speak in general about it… I wouldn’t think of myself as like a life coach; that sounds kind of corny in my opinion. But, that’s basically what I do, honestly. I have to deliver a profitable business for my company. That’s my primary role, on paper. But really, day-to-day, it’s more about helping people figure out how to achieve their dreams and grow as people

[00:08:55]. The reason I share all that is, eight plus hours a day throughout the year, I’m deeply involved with personal development, and because of that, I really need to step back this year and start listening to some of the advice that I give.

[00:09:21] Of course, a lot of the advice that I give, I’ve already mastered, or I’ve already integrated into my life, but some of the stuff I’ve learned recently, I haven’t deployed effectively yet, and that’s something that I really want to master this year. Mastering my time. Deeper time management. I’ll get into this again in the next video that I want to share.

[00:09:47] What I see most often is, people’s daily habits and routines don’t map directly to their goals. And then they certainly don’t reinforce the things that they value in their life. And if I reflect on my 2019, even though in a lot of ways I accomplished a lot, there were big gaps in time where I spent too much energy on things that didn’t map directly to my goals that then did not reinforce the things that I truly value in my heart.

[00:10:27] So this year I want to take a step back. I spent some time, today, going into hiding. I go into my cave here, into the office, and I spend a ton of time self-reflecting, thinking about the past year; what I did great, what I didn’t do so great. And then building a plan for the coming year.

[00:10:49] Now, I don’t stick to it all. I don’t do it all. That’s, that’s part of the evaluation process at the end of the year, to see where did I fall short? What were the things that I screwed up? What were the things that I thought were planned amazingly, that ended up just not working for me for whatever reason.

[00:11:09] And there’s always going to be life. Life gets in the way, but something that I’ve seen with my employees and even with myself, is that if there is a recipe for depression, anxiety, financial, spiritual, career, relationships, suicide, trust me, it’s not putting in the work every day with routines that builds toward your goals, that then reinforce the things that you value. When those things are not aligned, if your daily habits and the things you spend your time on literally don’t help you achieve your goals, and then your goals aren’t aligned with the things that you really feel in your heart, then you’re completely misaligned and it builds misery.

[00:12:01] So that’s where I been… A long explanation of where I’ve been for the last six months and why I have not uploaded a podcast. But the last thing I want to touch on in the episode today, is expanding the conversation on the last YouTube video I posted about 10 days ago. It’s all about conquering your fears in 2020. Now, the reason I want to spend some time on this episode, to expand the message in the video, is because I’ve actually had a pretty good reaction from some friends and family who have seen it.

[00:12:50] So, if you look on YouTube, there’s still not a ton of people have seen it because,  nobody watches my YouTube channel, statistically speaking, because I don’t upload on it that much. But that will change in 2020: I promise, promise, promise, I’m going to get better at it. It is a major goal of mine and I just need to figure it out because I actually enjoy making videos. I enjoy the process of getting better every time with each video. At least I think they’re getting better. I don’t know if you agree, but. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I’m doing it for myself mostly. But, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that video and not just the video itself, but the message behind the video.

[00:13:36] I realized, over the last few years, that while I’ve conquered a lot of my fears (the video goes into some more personal stories, a little bit of my backstory, a little bit of how I got to where I am today) still, to this day, some of my fears dictate way too much of my life. Holds me back in ways that I’m not proud of, in ways that are still frustrating to me. And I don’t want that to be, I don’t want that to continue going on year after year after year. 

[00:14:32] So, if you haven’t seen the video, please check it out for a couple of reasons. Hopefully you like it and you get something out of it. One thing, I guess my thesis right now, or my guiding principles for my YouTube channel, my podcast, even my Instagram account, is that I want to inspire people to get out there and see the world. And the reason for that is I truly feel that travel, can help save the world. And there’s a lot of people, especially like environmentalist or maybe some more hardcore—I hate to say liberal cause that’s not right. That’s a terrible term, because I consider myself mostly liberal, but there is a faction of people right now, who are really throwing shade on people who travel often. And most of that is because of climate change and how much impact a flight across oceans across the world causes in terms of accumulate carbon.

[00:15:32] And they’re not incorrect. It’s incredibly dirty to fly across the world. And of course, there are ways to offset your carbon. You can buy carbon credits, you can plant a bunch of trees, you can do various things to cut down that impact. And I recommend that we all look into those things. You make your own choices.

[00:15:54] I’m not gonna share too much of what I do or don’t do, for fear of backlash—this just isn’t that video. Maybe I’ll make one in the future. But I encourage you to look into those things if that’s something that bothers you. 

[00:16:13] What I’ve learned from living in two foreign countries, for multiple years each time, is that, there is no better way to build empathy. And empathy is a super power that the world needs right now.

[00:16:34] For me, the more I share, the more I share my pictures of travels, the more travel vlogs I make, the more podcasts I upload about what it’s like to live day-to-day in Shanghai, China, hopefully that will inspire more people to want to get out there and see the world. And by seeing the world, there is a greater chance to build more empathy.

[00:16:58] And I think that’s exactly what we need in our world today, especially in our political system. We have to be able to look across the world. To look at somebody who has a different religion, lives in a different country, loves different things, has a different job… Looks different, sounds different, and see ourselves in their eyes.

[00:17:17] That is what I’ve learned through travel and that’s really my goal with thinking about that fear video is that there’s still things that, even though I’ve got all those realizations and it’s something that I really believe in—is get out there, see the world—over the last couple of years, I haven’t traveled that much. Again, for some very specific reasons, but I haven’t made it as big as a of a priority.

[00:17:42] And I think part of that is because I live in Shanghai. I live in an exotic place, at least by my upbringing. It’s exotic. For the 26 million people that live here who are local, it’s not exotic. This is home. So, sometimes I don’t feel compelled to push myself to even go see more, because day-to-day, I still feel like a foreigner. Yes, Shanghai feels like home now. But I’ll never be Shanghainese. I’ll never be Chinese. That’s okay. I’m not trying to be, but there’s still this learning process and this assimilation process and this integration process that I find fascinating. So, because that’s my everyday, I don’t feel as compelled to jump on a plane every weekend or a train every weekend to see more, to push those boundaries. Anyways, that’s an excuse basically. And this year I want to change that. So I want to take at least three big trips this year, and possibly some smaller weekend trips to see more of China because to be honest, every time I have a vacation, I try to leave. And it’s not because I don’t love China, but it’s because I’m surrounded by so many other amazing places as well. So I want to jump on a plane, because I see China every day, right? So when I have a vacation, I want to go to Singapore, Bali, Portugal, Spain, Dubai, some of the places I’ve been to over the last few years.

[00:19:19] So this year I’m going to dedicate myself to that. And I think the other reason that I really wanted to dive into the fear of video that I posted is, I mentioned this before and some of my podcast episodes, and especially some of you who watch my Instagram stories, when I’m working out, and I say when, because it’s not a daily habit, unfortunately, still yet, if you’ve been following me for a few years, yes, I’m still battling through it.

[00:19:48] But I’ve got a plan. I have a plan. Of course, I always have a plan to work out more. But it seems to always fail. But one day we’ll get there. One day we will get there. I never quit. That’s the one thing, I never quit trying. Anyways, maybe that’s a subject for another video; maybe the secret of success with the certain things that are really hard to master is just keep freaking trying.

[00:20:12] Even if you never win, until the day you die, because at least you’re making some sort of progress, I would assume. Anyways, that’s a side subject. So the reason I wanted to get more into this video about fear is because, I think most people are still living, even adults are still living, a form of someone else’s expectation of their life.

[00:20:42] I did this for way too many years, way too many years… too many years really, that I would like to admit. But you know, for a really long time I was living a version of what I thought my dad wanted me to do, especially in my early twenties. Definitely in my teens, early twenties to mid-twenties, and some of that even crept into even my thirties and forties, unfortunately.

[00:21:07] I’ve seen too much now and I’ve met too many people and I’ve helped develop too many people in my career. And I’ve been able to recognize some patterns and one of the most harmful patterns that I’ve seen is living a version of your life that’s not your life. That’s not your vision, that’s not your hopes and dreams.

[00:21:34] There are various reasons for this. There are probably a reason for every human on earth. Why don’t we confidently rise towards our own vision of our own life? But a lot of it has to do with family, friends expectations. We don’t want to disappoint our family. We don’t want to disappoint our friends. But what I’ve noticed is people are literally dying— slowly, miserably—because most of their energy and their time and their heart and their toil is going into a life that they don’t want.

[00:22:09] That’s being built by their sweat, by their money, by their investment. It’s being built and yet, it’s not something they want. So I’ve largely broken out of this, but there’s still some stuff that’s lingering. And that’s what the video that I’m referring to, the fear video that’s on YouTube now, is about, check it out.

[00:22:34] That’s what, at its core, that video addresses. Now, I don’t have it all mapped out. I don’t have a full plan yet. I do have some ideas about certain things that need to confront, to make sure that then I have the tools and the strength to just be a better person for myself first.

[00:22:54] And then of course, my family and the people that I love. 

[00:23:00] That’s really what I wanted to get across in that video. And it’s not very long. It’s only 10 minutes. I don’t go into a ton of detail. That’s why I wanted to maybe expand it here a little bit, because that video is more designed to just be an inspirational diving board to jump into something else for yourself.

[00:23:18] I don’t know your dreams, I don’t know your pain. I don’t know your back story. I don’t know your frustrations, so I’m never going to be able to help with that. But, If I can share my struggles, a little bit of my story, a little bit of the realizations and the learns that I’ve had, then hopefully that can help somebody else and inspire people to live a better life for themselves and trust me, I know this from experience.

[00:23:46] I know this from many, many, many years of living a version of my life that was just fake. Even when I thought I was being authentic it, it really wasn’t coming from me. It was coming from multiple voices in my head that were all reminding me of what life should be, of what a responsible life looks like, of what a person “like you” should be doing.

[00:24:20] And some of it was good advice. Of course, you know, we are parents never have bad intentions. Well, I guess probably some parents do, but hopefully they get sent to prison. But most parents give this advice. Because they love you. I know my dad meant well, and he and he did pass on a lot of amazing things.

[00:24:43] I am a voracious reader because of my father. I am intellectually curious because of my father. I am an autodidact because of my father. So there’s a lot that he shared, and there’s a lot that I don’t regret. In fact, I don’t really regret any of it because it’s all made me, andI’m pretty happy with this current version of myself.

[00:25:09] But we could get better. And we’re going to always. But my father didn’t set out to slow me down or cause me pain or make me frustrated or ruin my life. That wasn’t his intention. But I think we all need to step back and ask ourselves how much of our parents wishes and legacies are we trying to live out for them?

[00:25:37] It’s not healthy. I mean, I guess unless you 100% aligned with the dreams and goals of your parents, which is probably incredibly rare, but I’m sure it happens then, cool! No worries. If you’re happy, awesome! But if you feel this like aching emptiness in your body, in your heart and your mind and your soul, whatever you believe in, if you feel this, this void, then you gotta look inward. You have to put yourself on trial and examine. Are you living your life, your version that you want to live? Or are you living some sort of a puppet show for people who, more than likely are going to be dead and gone before you are. So then what happens? 

[00:26:27] My dad is dead. My dad died about 12 years ago. I miss him deeply. I loved him. But 12 years ago, I was 34. And then I started trying to figure my life out—at 34–because he was no longer there and the expectations that he had of me, however much they’d soften over time—and they did soften. My dad grew a lot in his deeper adulthood, before he passed away. But those, I don’t wanna say trauma cause that sounds too inflammatory because I lived a pretty great life by most measures across the globe, I lived an amazing life, but there were some tough times for me because of the relationship I had with my father. I had to get over that, I had to figure that out. And it began after he died. So for the last 12 years, I’ve been on a journey of rediscovering myself, and I went through some really stupid stuff. I did some things that I’m not proud of. I acted in ways that I am not proud of. I’ve been lazy and I pissed away a lot of those years, those 12 years, searching for my path. 

[00:28:00] Now I say this now, December 2019, I’m 46 years old. I’m not telling you that this is the fully formed version of Michael Mast forever and ever Amen. That’s not going to happen. I will continue to evolve. I will continue to change. Hopefully. That’s my goal. What I’m really trying to say is, for the first time, I feel that I am closer to understanding who I truly am at this point. The point of sharing the fear video is to push me this next year into figuring out that last 5% or 10% that’s eluding me.

[00:28:34] Now my hope is, once I figure those five or 10% out, that is still kind of like this mystery off to the side. I can kind of hear the footsteps kind of like the nightmare in the video. So if you haven’t seen the video at the beginning, it starts off with an examination of a reoccurring nightmare that I’ve had since I was a kid.

[00:28:56] And it’s basically, I’m walking in a forest and I hear footsteps and then I wake up as the footsteps are like basically right on top of me. I can’t see anything. I don’t know what’s chasing me, but then I wake up. So that’s kind of the way I think about this 5% and 10% that’s still left to be discovered about myself.

[00:29:14] And a lot of that 5% or 10% I feel is still wrapped up in these things that I just deeply fear, that I have to push through to find out those mysterious bits of me that lie on the other side of my terror, fear, whatever you want to call it, insecurity. So, yeah, that’s it. I really wanted to just expand on that, explain where I’ve been for the last six months as far as the podcast goes. If you follow me on Instagram, you see me post, you know, multiple times per week, sometimes every day. It depends on what’s going on, but if you follow on instagram, you know I’m not dead or missing. But if you’re only a podcast listener, you probably think I was hit by a bus or something.

[00:29:54] But no, I have not been hit by a bus, which could actually happen at any moment in China… if you’ve ever been here, you know of what I speak. But, all is good. I’m going to get back on track in 2020. Thank you. As always, I appreciate anybody who spends the time to listen or to read or to watch my content.

[00:30:14] I know you guys have busy lives. I know some of you are extremely goal oriented, driven people, and we’re going to have our best year ever in 2020! That’s the plan, but I still appreciate it. If you do slow down for a moment and take a look at some of the stuff that I create. If you do find yourself on my Instagram account or my YouTube page or on this podcast, please guys, take a moment and subscribe.

[00:30:38] Maybe leave me a comment. I’m super open to feedback as long as it’s professional and kind and it’s not, you know… speaking of which, I had a terrible comment today on my YouTube channel, just, repugnant. Honestly. So, I immediately blocked the guy, but just, just terrible. I know there’s those people out there, but the way I try to look at it is, I feel bad for him. It says way more about him, than it does about anything about me. But \it just reminded me to really appreciate anyone who engages in a positive way. As you know, as I said earlier, one of my goals in life is to continue to push this positivity, this growth of empathy across the globe by travel, by sharing travel stories, by sharing our growth through seeing other places, meeting new people.

[00:31:32] And one way we can do that, if we can’t meet physically, is to share thoughts, share good wishes across the internet. So please subscribe. Please leave me a comment and like always, I’ll talk to you guys next time. [00:32:00]

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