005: Tanner Gers, Conversation 1: Reusing bags, full transcript

December 14, 2017 by Joshua
in Podcast

Tanner Gers

Tanner Gers:

Tanner is a big speaker who shares his big accident, which a few years ago left him blind from which he rose above to become the person that he is. He among other things he’s a Paralympic athlete. He has a TEDx talk in the works, which has actually happened since this recording. I indulged in having him share more about his history part because he’s a great guy and he’s just fun about all the things that have happened. And when you ask him he prefers that this accident has happened to him because it led to a better life for him. He speaks about blind spots and how for him they created the opportunity, which is the case for any of us. How many of us are waiting for something to get us started? He points out that we can find our blind spots without the world creating a crucible that forces us to it. And for those listening to this acting for the environment, if you care about it, enables you to act on these things that you’ve been waiting for without having to have an accident. Tanner’s accident didn’t create abilities in him. They revealed abilities that we all have. So I hope you enjoy listening to Tanner. I had a great time talking to him in all these conversations. I think you’ll get a lot from it.

Joshua: Tanner, great to talk to you.

Tanner: I love you so much, man. We’ve had a great time here before you hitting record. So appreciative you want me included on this awesome adventure. I look up to you tremendously and thanks so much for having me here.

Joshua: I’m really glad to be here and I’ve had such a great time meeting you and talking with you, we don’t get to talk that much. We haven’t met in person just yet but you’re one of the people that in the podcast I’ve tried to make myself more open and you made it very easy talking knowing that lots of people are going to listen to it. So I thank you. And the reason I laughed and the reason you referred to it’s we talk for an hour now and…

Tanner: Are we really? Oh, ****.

Joshua: Yeah, it’s been an hour and we’re talking about baseball and you we’re having issues with your team. Your team is like a worldclass team but there have been frictions and we were talking with them going back and forth and my book and things like that, and also me talk about the growth of his podcast. So a little secret out there for people who haven’t been on podcast themselves. When you hear podcast like usually there’s this conversation beforehand and then after you say stop, there’s another conversation afterword. And this is a cool thing that goes on with podcasters that we all get to know each other. And you were saying… How many people have you met this way? How many relationships have been like really awesome as a result of this?

Tanner: Oh, like at least 50 plus and I am holding you to the vegetable legendary vegetable stew, as soon as I’m the arch. But I mean it’s uncanny and it’s been international, Asia, Canada, the United States, Europe. The network, benefits of podcasting and just connecting with awesome people, it’s tough to quantify.

Joshua: And this is cool behind-the-scenes piece of it to me that like we all know we just .. Like did I ask if you know Joel Runyon?

Tanner: You did not ask me that but I don’t know him.

Joshua: Okay so people who know me know that I take cold showers every fourth day and at the beginning it was every day for a month. And he’s the one who influenced that. His sort of blog of cold shower therapy got me doing that. So he was over at dinner the other day. It was kind of cool talking about that and he also [4:36], so we were also talking about him and it was kind of like these connections.

Tanner: When I first started doing the cold showers I was living in Park City and it was over the winter and there is nothing colder than the water on cold in Park City, Utah, in February. Like literally shaking like aaahhhh.

Joshua: I bought a digital cooking thermometer so that at end of my cold shower as I could have the water go into a cup and I put the thermometer and so my record is 39.9 degrees. Purple fingertips. It was really…

Tanner: The New York might be just as cold as Park City.

Joshua: That was when we had this polar vortex that came through. It’s like a very cold weather. I can make the water hotter but I can’t make it colder. I just get what nature gives me in the way that a runner is like how many, I’m going go from a personal best or a weight lifter, that’s my chance to do personal best. It’s like to go in the coldest water. Weird thinking but in the mindset of this is your chance, so I went for it.

Tanner: And naturally you went for it and you did it. So I mean purple fingertips, the mental fortitude that it takes to maintain staying underneath a shower of running water until your fingertips turn purple is uncanny.

Joshua: The way that I look at it is if you can do that, and look the risk of injury is basically zero because you can just turn the water or you just step out of the water. So actually that water was painful. Normally it’s not really painful. But the risk of injury is very low the cost is zero. If you can do that, what else can you do? I look at this as training. It’s you know it’s a challenge.

So I’m not sure if everybody knows about you. So I will give it an introduction and say a bit about you. Okay, so we talked about you playing baseball but it’s not just baseball. Can you tell us about yourself? Like what makes you special?

Tanner: Yes, so I was basically just sort of regular all-American kid growing up in a sports school and really bored in school. And then when I was 21 I was in a terrible auto accident. I really thought I was just getting my life together and then it got pulled out from under me in this auto accident. And I wake up in the hospital, back broken, jaw wired shut and totally blind in both eyes. And then on top of that, I had this brain infection that was killing me and infection in my sinus cavity. Even though my left eye, the tree hit me in my face and blew out my left eye, they brought the eye with me to the hospital. An infection took that eye eventually.

And you know from that moment I caught some words of wisdom from my father and he said, “You know, Tanner, it is always going to be tough. But it could always be tougher. And it’s always going to be hard but it could always be harder.” And you know from that moment I realized I do still have my hands and feet. I still have skills, I still have thank God you know the cognitive capacity to even hold a conversation, let alone move my body through space. And so it’s going to be up to me in order to achieve the excellence that I deserve to have that I’m capable of having and that I certainly have the potential of achieving.

So I went back to school, started working and one day you know the universe just brought me home earlier than I’d ever been home before. I turned on the television and saw beep baseball, which is baseball for the blind, became and still competing in that. But it was sort of successful there that some other local coaches in the know told me about the Paralympic Games. So I made that my mission: quit school and work and thought, “I have this one moment, I can always go back to school, I can always go back to work but I can’t always go back to the opportunity at the Paralympics.”

So I did that in 2012. I was very fortunate to represent Team USA in London. Along the way before then I was you know I’ve always had that entrepreneur fire inside of me so I’ve done various things from having a mobile food kitchen business to selling used cars through a sales business and then a consulting business with food and nutrition and health. That was inspired by my time living at the Olympic Training Center and basically just living in sports med and being inspired by how the human body functions and recognizing and seeing all these elite level athletes with all the hormone dysfunction and you know digging into the research and figuring that out, went online in 2013 for the first time, published a couple of books along the way. And now that’s what’s going on.

And then by the time this airs, I’ll have done my first TEDx talk, which I am so grateful to have that opportunity. So now that’s what I primarily focus on is my personal, professional hat is professional speaking and then my professional professional hat now is as executive director of My Blind Spot, which is a non-profit, an NGO nonprofit based in New York that focuses on web accessibility, mobile accessibility and employment opportunities for people like me who just happen to have a disability.

Joshua: So that’s a lot of stuff. When I first came across you, by the time I met you, I’ve only known you as an upbeat person who takes on challenges and the only thing I’ve seen is a very bright outlook on life especially toward other people. And if I search Tanner Gers, [10:13] go online, you’re going to find a lot of hits. So I don’t know if this is stupid a question but is your life better now or was it better before? Is that a question you can answer?

Tanner: Well, you know, you’re talking about before the accident?

Joshua: Yeah.

Tanner: It’s completely better now and it took me a while to get to that. It was actually you know well after the Paralympics. You know I already achieved so much. And it wasn’t until I did the work on myself…But I was kind of motivated. Like before I lost my sight, after I lost my sight I got motivated but I didn’t really value myself as an individual because of my disability, because of the visual impairment until I did like the work on myself. So you know I used to value my life as a sighted and [11:08] all. Even though I really…. The only thing I’d ever accomplished truly was graduating high school. But now I’m so blessed because you know while losing my sight completely changed my life and has put you know very difficult number to come up with in terms of like the roadblocks and the [11:27] and the hardships along the way. But I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that. And the person I am today is far superior than the person I was before losing my sight.

Joshua: So most people would think, “I don’t want to lose my sight” and probably you didn’t want to lose it either. But you referred to a period of change that was difficult. And it sounds like there’s some kind of struggle that you went through to learn about yourself, to learn your values, to learn. Can you describe this struggle?

Tanner: Yeah, I mean it was literally about self-worth and deserving. When I was sighted when I was younger I would volunteer at Easter Seals and so I was familiar with you know the… And this was right around the time that the ADA was stablished. So you know the ramps that we all see today, the handicapped parking spots that wasn’t really law. And so when we went out in public you know we would bring ramps with us so that these individuals in wheelchairs, using wheelchairs could get in the door.

And you know after I lost my sight and I began to learn how limiting things can be with regards to access or with regards to you know antiquated perceptions that the society holds and that individuals hold about individuals with disability, that how close the mindsets were, that permeated and penetrated my own consciousness, my own thoughts and beliefs about myself. And so when I got that motivation from the words of wisdom that my father gave me, I yet to really step out into the public light and see, experience the [13:10] as it were of other people’s fears being you know about what would be possible for them if they weren’t the same… That’s the only thing I can quantify is that people were judging me based on the fears that they have about what their life would be like in my own situation at a deep conscious level but I don’t think they thought that. I think that was just a reaction.

And then so over time me experiencing that and just having to break through a wall after a wall after a wall and barrier and barrier and barrier, I ended up developing this low level of self-worth and deservingness and basically rising up to the expectations that society had for me which was zero. And then I had you know just looked…It was so funny. I was dealing with an injury while I was living at the Olympic Training Center. And so I had a lot of chance to read and I was you know looking at Eastern philosophies and Kundalini Yoga and you know really starting to work on myself. And I’ll never forget it. I was delivering a speech at a school in San Diego and the message that I was delivering was like “You’re more than what’s on the outside.” Like it doesn’t matter if you’re short, fat, you know blind or not, or even if you wear an eyepatch, which you know I often wear an eyepatch. I’m wearing one right now.

And the big thing at the beginning of the speech was that I had my white cane that a blind person uses. And I threw it on the ground. And I said, “I use this. But it does not define me but what I’m able to do.” And so I threw it on the ground and I didn’t use it for the rest of the talk and yet I’m walking around the stage and it’s like an elevated stage. At the end of the talk the first question I get was you know, “What’s under the eyepatch?” And I was so pissed. I was like nothing I said resonated, nothing of what I said is hitting you, nothing of what I said it’s touching you. And so I’m explaining this to the massage therapist a couple of days later and he goes, “You know what, man? And why didn’t you take it off? Like why didn’t you just show? Well, you are more than that.”

And so for days I thought about what I would say when I take it off. What I would say when I’m starting to feel the questions? I mean I had a tan line, a big tan line across my forehead from where the eyepatch goes. People know that it’s not there, it’s not something that is just going to not be noticed. And for the first day that I did it I finally built up the courage I had. Like I literally practiced running through the language myself you know what would I say, you know what about this question, that question and for the first day no one said anything. Not one question. Not one comment. And that was life changing for me.

Joshua: These things don’t define you. What does define you?

Tanner: It’s how you lead your life. You know it’s a basic fundamental principle of leadership. Like lead by example. So for me it’s just like and I’m going to be doing it in my TED talk. I got some advice from a professional speaker that some mentorship and, he said you know it, and I’m meeting him without my eyepatch because I normally don’t wear it in my day-to-day life. And he goes, “You know now that I’ve gotten to know you better like I don’t look at your eye hole as it were. You know I look at you in the eye. But as a professional speaker it is very, very important for you to grab your audience right from the beginning. And if people are so focused on your aesthetics because we’re human, if they’re focused on that rather than the words that are coming from your face, you’re going to lose them.” And I was like, “Oh.” So you know now the eyepatch isn’t so much me hiding behind it and being ashamed at the way that I look, it is a tool that I use to make sure that my message connects better than it would without it. It’s like if I’m going to speak at auditorium or better use a microphone because I want to make sure everybody can hear me. And the eyepatch functions are the same kind of mechanism.

Joshua: Tell me if I’m over interpreting here but what you say defines you is not different than anybody else. It’s what you do and we all have what we do. And the things that don’t define you… Everybody’s got something. The reason why we know what shame is because we feel it. The reason why we know what anxiety is because we know it. It’s like it’s been a long time since I heard an emotion that I didn’t know what it was because I felt them. And you know in my book I talk a lot about, I was inspired by like Mark Zupan. Do you know Mark Zupan from the Paralympics and the movie Murderball?

Tanner: Yes.

Joshua: And the first time I saw it was like, “Oh, these guys look. They went through such a hardship.” And then the next time I saw it, I was like, “Oh, it’s a great movie because they’re great athletes” and it wasn’t… They’re playing a particular sport that they played but that’s not like. That’s just their sport. It’s not like that. You know it’s also like Victor Frankl and Jean-Dominique Bauby who wrote The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I felt like there… It’s the people doing what anyone can do. Like Bauby wrote a book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, like it’s a great book. I felt like what was great about them is the book and the movie and the other guy wrote a book too. And these other things are distractions that if… They are something unique about that particular person. But I have unique stuff about me that I’m saying holds me back but they’re not saying it holds them back. It’s just saying it’s just part of who they are. And that struggle I feel like it didn’t reveal something special about them. It revealed something that was already there. What am I holding myself back from? Do I need to have a car accident for it to be revealed?

Tanner: Well, I mean that’s I mean speaking to the kind of you know the theme of the my TEDx talk, which is talking about blind spots and how we have them at a societal and individual level like my ability of achievement now… You know I guess my blindness has springboarded me into doing it because it provided the opportunity, it provided the opportunity. I still had the same skill before I lost my sight. I still had the same opportunity to create something for myself and I just did it. And you know me not recognizing that potential that was a blind spot. Me judging myself aesthetically and quantifying my worth or deservedness or ability to change the world because I look different or because I have to do things a little bit differently or I might do them a little bit slower. That’s a blind spot.

And I relate that back to the audience and I’m saying you as an individual you uncovering your blind spots, that’s how you will become your own superhero. And at a societal level when we can stop judging people by based on their aesthetic or their skin-deep differences, that’s when we can create superheroes out of the world. When we allow people to and possibly even guide them to seeing their potential and what they’re capable of doing and then not preventing them from… You know it’s like could blind people read before Braille? Could deaf people talk before sign language? They could. That greatness was always inside of us. It’s inside of you, it’s inside of me. We just needed the opportunity to express that and making a judgment on an individual because of a difference, that’s a blind spot and it’s preventing… It’s how we as a society and individuals write off the greatest assets on this earth. And that’s human capital.


Joshua: So it revealed something that was already there. It gave you an opportunity. And I think that’s why in Murderball when they’re asking, “If you could go back and change it, would you?” and they say, “No, I would not change it.” And so you’re nodding no right now. Would you also answer the question the same way?

Tanner: I would totally answer the question the same way. I’ve asked this next question though to so many people and they have a surprisingly different answer. But my blindness has made me who I am and I wouldn’t change going blind just for the purpose that I don’t think that I would have recognized my potential and I would’ve stepped into the greatness that I’m each day trying to express to the greatest capacity. But at the same time now that I’ve attained that equity that I’ve grasped a hold of that conceptually and I’m taking action on it. I know how important vision is. I’m reminded of it every day. So as soon as I’m able to regain my sight, oh my God, you know I’m going to get it back. You know I’m going to take advantage of that opportunity. I would be foolish not to. Because I can do what I’m doing now but at a greater level.

And it’s surprising to me at least and I’m just one man but how many people who have maybe were born with a disability or got thrown into this world one way or the other and would just keep things the way that they are. So yeah, I’m going to get my sight back one day. I’m looking forward to that day. But at the same time I’m not letting the loss prevent me from creating something that I’m proud of.

Joshua: Now from the perspective of someone like me or people listening if they want to go through the transition that you did, if they want to learn and grow, learn about themselves as much as you did, do they have to go through what you did? Do they have to go through something like that?

Tanner: No. I mean you don’t have to burn your hand on the stove to know that it’s hot. You know that’s experiential learning. But we all have observational learning by seeing someone else do it. I don’t think it’s as powerful but the message is still the same. You know instinctually animals are going to turn on that killer instinct when they’re backed into a corner. That’s all that I really did. And then some deer in the headlights as it were some people just get hit by a car and they die or they stay in a corner and don’t come out. I chose to come out of that corner with the killer instinct. But yeah I mean it is possible to learn observationally and recognize like how… I think it gets down to you know recognizing the greatness that’s inside you, the opportunity the gifts that you were born with and then realize being grateful for it through the expression of taking action.

Joshua: I think that’s an example that might be like an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Steve Martin people who didn’t suffer through things but nonetheless reached the greatest potential in their fields and other fields and other fields. Those guys are amazing.

Tanner: Absolute legends Steve Martin and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean you couldn’t have taken two better people who just dominated not competed dominated in the fields that they chose to go into.

Joshua: Yeah, multiple fields each. It’s like they dominant one and they move on to the next, dominate that, move on to the next, dominate that, move onto the next. It’s like… And as far as I know they didn’t go to crucibles.

Tanner: No.

Joshua: And to me they’re big inspirations because it tells me… It’s not inspirations It takes away excuses. Because one of the things in my Leadership and the Environment talk I often begin it with asking people you know, “Are you perfect or do you have room for improvement?” My little joke is if you’re perfect then, you know, see me afterwards so I can learn from you. And if you’re not. then you probably have role models and you have role models, that means you want to emulate them. And so far 100 percent of the people have given the same answer on this one. Are your role models people that got that way because they just sat on the couch eating ice cream and they were born with it? Or did they go through some sort of struggle and have to work at it? And you know it’s always some kind of struggle. And I say, all right so you by your values you want to improve, you want to change in some way and the way that the people that you want to be like have gotten through some struggle. So you want to struggle. And they’re like, “Oh, that’s interesting.”

And I think a lot of people have this feeling of like tapping in the realm of leadership I think. Say you want to be like Nelson Mandela? That’s a leader a lot of people want to emulate. A lot of people will have this idea of, “Well he was born under apartheid.” You know the United States is not the best country. It’s not at its full potential but at least is not apartheid. And if I lived under apartheid, yeah I would fight against it too and then I would rise up, maybe even if I didn’t reach Mandela levels I’d still be more. And you can’t really fault me for not fighting apartheid. If there’s no apartheid, you can’t fault me for living a more comfortable life than him.

And I point out if you want to reach a level that you’re not at. And you told me you audience member that you wanted to reach another level and you told me that the way to get there is struggle. Well, it happens to be that we live in a time with the environment that things are getting really critical and this is it. This is your chance to reach your potential. This is a struggle that if you want to reach Mandella levels, you can. If you just want to be somebody who does a little bit and you can do that too.

Tanner: Yeah. I mean 100 percent. And I think that that that action or that behavior change will start with a recognition of this hardship, this tragedy that’s going on, like actually recognizing it. And then, recognizing the opportunity that’s behind it.

Joshua: Yeah, exactly. You’re describing something as an opportunity that most people I talk to are like “the plane was going to fly anyway,” if you talk about like not flying. Like that hardship is too much for me. But it’s not a hardship. If it’s living…From my perspective and I have to be open here that when I first decided to go for a year without flying I was like that’s a hardship. But after having done it I’m like what an opportunity that was. And like what I’m trying to do and tell me how this sounds to your ears is that to see behaving consistently with your values with respect to the environment is an opportunity to learn and grow and develop yourself. In a leadership context, in my language, it’s like to be more like a Mandela or a King or Gandhi or Vaclav Havel. And you’re saying. This is experimental and observational. And is it crazy to think of taking on challenges with respect to the environment as something experiential on a smaller scale than losing your sight?

Tanner: Totally.

Joshua: I think people can see it as the same opportunity. People who value clean air, clean water things like that. If you don’t value it I don’t want to say. But if you value not pollution, having clean air and water and so forth and you’re doing stuff that is contributing to it, this is your opportunity to challenge yourself and see what’s important to you and define yourself by your values and living by them as opposed to giving in.

Tanner: Yeah, I mean and expanding on the experiential learning is like if you live in any kind of modern-day community or urban setting, then you’ve seen trash on the ground. And you might not know how to put the pieces together, how that is an epidemic across all communities and urban environments. But then you add them up and realize the opportunity of taking it up and recycling that trash, that litter that’s on the ground and then seeing and then imagining how that would add up just that one action, it will translate into a big difference. And then disciplining yourself to do things like not get on an airplane. You know the argument that the plane is going to take off anyway is an excuse for not disciplining yourself to do what it takes to commit to the bigger vision. That’s it.

I mean you’ve written you know upwards you know you’re going on 3000 blogs in a row you know over twenty-five hundred, that’s discipline, that’s you just deciding I’m doing this, it’s going to add up and it has. I mean and now for you it’s like not a big deal. We it’s not [30:31]. Something I do every day. And you know picking up that trash, not recycling, not getting on the plane, minimizing your carbon footprint. Those are… You know the awareness grows in terms of how you can behave and lead in ways that will continue to reduce and continue to minimize and continue leadership, continue to make an impact or influence other people to do the same thing. Great. It makes me think of that you video, like the crazy man dancing on the side of the hill.

Joshua: Yeah the Seth Cohen one. It’s not Seth Cohen but he used it in his TED talk.

Tanner: Yeah, yeah. And there’s that guy right kind of like whoa you know, laughing and talking about it and he just is rocking on, just doing this thing. And then before you know it, everybody’s doing it. And you know leading by example.

Joshua: Yeah. And. Is it possible that someone could take on a challenge, someone who believes someone who [31:29] polluting or contribute to greenhouse emissions because those are separate things, that if they take on this challenge [31:36] than they like and they would like to decrease that but they don’t want to change their life. But they say, “Look, that’s the way I’m living now and this way I would like to live and I’m going to have to change some of the ways that I’m living to be consistent with the way I’d like to live.” That’s a challenge. Taking on that challenge and resolving that conflict internally, can they learn and grow as much as you have?

Tanner: I mean I think that’s subjective to the person. Like they might just feel like they’re doing a good deed that is… I think it’s analogous on multiple planes. So they might feel like I’m contributing to the larger, the greater good. And so you know maybe that resonates deeply in their core and they begin to expand on them like how else can I contribute to the greater good. Like what other behaviors can I do? And continue to contribute to the larger greater good. You know for me I’m an emotional person and I can have setbacks or [32:36] but what drives me is the opportunity, the chance that I might impact somebody else and have this domino effect that contributes to the greater good. So can they connect those dots and see how every little step matters and continue to expand outside their comfort zone all in the spirit of the greater good? And the greater good is a metaphor for not just the world but for the greater good of themselves. I think that’s subjective it’s tough to say is it possible of hundred million zillion percent. But it’s subjective to that individual.

It’s the same thing as recognizing your potential and taking action on it. Everybody’s got that potential. But can they recognize how the steps that they take each day contribute towards their journey of achieving it? So self-awareness I think is what it gets down to. If someone is self-aware enough to recognize that doing something like the challenge that you’re proposing is bigger than them and so they can become bigger themselves, if they can recognize that, then yeah, absolutely, they can grow.

Again it gets back to the same question you asked me earlier is like do you have to have that kind of hardship in order to create that kind of life, of that fulfillment, that development. No, you don’t. And the same thing is true and in this instance, I feel like.

Joshua: So I have to comment something here that we’re recording this before I’ve posted any other episodes so you don’t know this but everyone I talked to has this common theme that I can’t help but draw every time I hear which is that effective leaders have an incredible vision about the other people that they are leading that it’s all about them that you get caught up in whom you’re helping. And you’re like yeah if you’re just about yourself, you can get so far but what it’s about the others that’s what it really clicks. And that that common theme of people who are effective in leadership and leading others I can’t help but see that I comment on it every time. So I can’t help but comment on that.

So if I heard you right taking on a challenge like this like what I’m proposing for you and I hope that listeners decide to take on in their way for themselves is that if they have asset or do it without self-awareness, without intent I guess they could get through and not really go through that much change. But if they commit themselves and say, “What is this about? How connected with other people if they…” I mean it’s a tool that will give them the ability if they do it wholeheartedly that they could reach whatever levels they want it to. I mean would that lead to other things that would lead to other things I guess?

Tanner: Totally. That’s exactly right. If they can connect the dots between the relationship for how they were able to you know commit to this year and commit to the challenge, you know expand beyond their comfort zone and lead by example, in this aspect that is replicable in every other aspect. And for you to put blocks in front of yourself you know why it’s not replicable in other areas of your life is just an excuse. And to me that just sounds like they need to do more of the work on themselves and probably it would indicate that they may not be able to satisfy the original challenge.

Joshua: So it’s all there for people. To me this is a very, what’s the word, life-affirming, empowering perspective. That you don’t need…. It’s not out there. I mean it helps to have something out there, something material to get you started but it’s really internal. It’s a choice.

Tanner: 100 percent. We always have a choice in the world that you and I live in. We all have a choice. You have a choice to get up and go to work. You have a choice to get out of bed. You have a choice to eat. You may feel like you don’t have a choice but at the end of the day you do. When it comes down to it at the end of the day our life is made up of little choices and those add up in a big way.

Joshua: Thank you very much. Because I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go in this conversation before it got started. And let’s get to the challenge for you. Let’s see what you are able to do with the challenge for yourself. You’ve been through a lot and now here’s another challenge. Maybe where you’ve gone is less than what you have left to grow up.

Tanner: I doubt that.

Joshua: Could be. So now it’s the time when I invite you if you’re interested to take on a personal challenge to change something, it has to be something new, something… But it doesn’t have to be something that is going to revolutionize the world or you know solve all the problems overnight. It does have to be measurable and has to be something you choose to reduce your global warming impact, to reduce your pollution, to reduce how much you’re depleting resources but something of your choices. Are you up for it?

Tanner: Yeah.

Joshua: Have you thought about it beforehand?

Tanner: I have not. No, I have not. And so I wasn’t sure if you were going to propose something or if I needed to propose something for myself. Either way, I’m good.

Joshua: OK. I want it to be something that I find that a lot of people when I talk to them, when I talk to them about it they come up with something like, “Oh, you know I’ve been meaning to do X or Y or Z for a while and I didn’t really think about it and now this is my chance to do it.”

Tanner: The thing that I have been thinking about for a while is like, “Oh, I just don’t like what plastics are doing to our world and minimizing plastics.” And so you know my wife and I use our water bottles. You know we have water bottles that we wash and that we use. And so like that was a big thing. But you know we haven’t made that we bought some of the bags. But we haven’t been using them as we should. And I want to and I would love if you had something else in mind but I would love to stop using the grocery bags at the grocery store. You know in California they charge you for every plastic bag they use in a grocery store or just in general. And I learned that earlier this year. And so that would be one challenge I want to hold myself to.

And this is getting back to the awareness thing. It’s like the self-awareness like I’m not because I’ve been so accustomed to the way things go and I’m just like going with the flow. This is what it is. And this is what’s around me and everybody’s doing it so it must be ok. Right? No. Becoming aware of the impact that you have on others, the impact that you have on the environment, the impact that you have on pollution on your carbon footprint, etc. You know awareness is a huge key. So I want to stop using the plastic grocery bags but I would also love to know because you’re much more of an expert on this than I is what other challenge could I do and challenge not just myself but also my wife.

Joshua: Well, you wouldn’t be the first person to go with no bags. Someone already has also done that one. So if it’s challenging to you, then yeah. And it’s obviously a measurable difference because using less is using less. That’s using less. And my experience tells me that if you start doing it, you will discover other things whether anyone tells you or not. And there are things that right now you’re not realizing because you’re thinking about the bottles and the bags. So as long as those are at the top of your mind you’re not getting to the lower stuff and after you’re comfortable…

Like yesterday I had to meet a friend and I knew that we were going to go to a store and I needed to buy some cashews, I wanted to buy some cashews. So I brought my container that I put the cashews in and I thought, ”Oh, that’s awesome store. I might buy something else.” so I stuffed a couple of bags in my pocket to bring with me. And I didn’t end up getting anything but I knew… For me it’s just I don’t think about it. It’s just, “Oh, I am going to store, bring extra bags just in case.” And the bags, how do I get all these bags? Because other people bring their bags to my place and I get stuck with their garbage. But once it’s there I’m going to use it. I do my best to decrease people… Like I try to get people not to bring in the first place.

Tanner: It reminds me of like brushing your teeth or bringing your keys or taking your wallet, or putting on a watch, like you know having your cell phone. These are just things that people do and you know so I know that it is possible, that’s why I think the challenge is such a beautiful thing because if we can create this behavior change and turn that into habits, again over time it’s not going to make that big of a difference in a week but in a year, in a decade, in a lifetime you know as you suggested as the awareness grows it can be profound.

Joshua: Yeah, and you’re talking about at your level and the point of the podcast is to get it to like not just affecting yourself but others and others hopefully listening to this thinking, “Wow, he’s been through big change and I can just you know not get bags and I might be able to have the kind of change in my life that he had in his life.” And maybe that will spread. I mean that’s the goal. And to have you know big celebrities on and so forth. And even bigger than you.

Tanner: Oh, yeah, I am nobody.

Joshua: And says the guy preparing for his TEDx talk. So I can give you ideas for other things, I mean, but I think you’ll get to them anyway. I mean you’re in Texas right now, you were in Texas, or the baseball is in Texas?

Tanner: No, I am not. I am in Phoenix.

Joshua: Oh so I was going to suggest using air conditioning less. I don’t know if it’s like over 100 degrees or no. But that’s one thing driving less, air conditioning less, eating less meat. These are some of the ones that people picked. And but I can also tell you… Oh and others like people picking up garbage off the street and putting it in the trash can. And the effect is really, it’s the mindset change that happens. We are going to have a second conversation and I predict that you’re going to tell me things of what happened when you… Like the first couple of times you had to force yourself to think about it but it went automatic. It led you to think of what else I could do or and that’s the sort of stuff. I mentioned a few things, pick and choose among them. I think I recommend just pick one thing now as much as I’d like to suggest lots of things. Pick one and then others… So make sure you don’t drop that ball. If other things come up, do those things too.

Tanner: I would like to too also challenge other people is that you know if you’re thinking about moving, why not move as close as possibly can to where you work? I know that it’s really big trend right now, I thought it was so ridiculous that this one individual flies every day you know a couple of hours to work. And I think it’s like you know they live in L.A. and they fly to San Francisco to work and I thought how ludicrous that is. But you know there is literally zero light… I work you know I’m in Phoenix right but as I said at the end I guess I worked for a nonprofit based in New York. I work at home remotely. My wife works literally two tenths of a mile from where she works. You know why not figure out how to get to minimize the distance between you and the things that you do the most often and probably not too many above or happen more often than you going to work.

Joshua: Yeah, actually this is actually a challenge that one and the guy that I interviewed yesterday he and his new wife they got engaged and married in the past month or two and they’re moving to a new city and they’ve decided that they’re not going to get… They’re going to get rid of both of their cars and the city is Antwerp I think in Belgium and they’re just going to go no cars. He has had cars since he was 16 years old and they’re on the fence and he’s using this challenge as their opportunity to decide whether they’re going to go down to one car zero or they’re going to go to zero.

Tanner: I love it.

Joshua: So he’s taking your advice even before you said it.

Tanner: Oh. Man.

Joshua: All right. So now I want to schedule how long do you think you have to go before… It sounds like you want to do this forever?

Tanner: Yes.

Joshua: How long do you think it’ll be before you have, the next conversation will be substantive and you have stuff to share?

Tanner: The bags are going to happen this week. We’re going to… I’m making that priority at the time this recording I believe it’s Friday, so this weekend we’re going to go to the store and get the bags and that’s it. I think I’m pretty sure…

Joshua: Like canvas bags you mean?

Tanner: Yep. Canvas bags. And so we’re going to buy enough so that we have enough for groceries and then we’re going to buy extra so that we just have them because it’s better to have it than need it and not have it especially when we’re talking about plastics and minimizing that. So we’re going to do that. I am going to figure out how to make the other small changes like we’re really conscious about recycling anyway. You know we have our stuff like that but there’s more and it’s yet to be determined. But I’m super excited about our next conversation and updating with the other things that I’m more self-aware about.

Joshua: Cool. Do you think it will be about two weeks, three weeks, a month, one week? How long? Like when should we schedule the next call?

Tanner: Oh yeah. Why don’t we do one month and we can see like how much I can become more aware about myself and the imprint that I’m creating and how I can minimize that and then take action on it. I think a month is a really good point of reference. Yeah, let’s do that.

Joshua: Awesome. I will send you a calendar invitation for this time, four weeks from now, so Friday September 1st. So you will a calendar invitation after we hang up.

Tanner: Cool.

Joshua: I can’t wait to hear it because I think you have a lot of experience like using these challenges to grow. And you got your wife in on it. So she’s not in this conversation right now. So one of the things I’ve learned that I didn’t expect is that one of the big challenges is the interface between the person changing him or herself and their community. If the community norm is we don’t care about pollution and suddenly someone starts carrying, that friction is big.

Tanner: It’s huge.

Joshua: Yeah and it’s bigger often… Well, it depends on the situation. So it sounds like you’ve got a comrade-in-arms.

Tanner: I do. Yeah.

Joshua: You still are certainly going to have your general community. I’m very interested to hear it goes.

Tanner: I live in an apartment complex and so I’m going to try to go a step above and our property manager is phenomenal, Mary, she’s just fantastic. And so I’m going to let her know what I’m doing and see if we can get a [46:44] up and invite the entire community to do the same thing.

Joshua: This is going to be big. You don’t go small on this stuff.

Tanner: No, no. Go big or go home, baby.

Joshua: Before wrapping up, is there anything I didn’t think to ask it’s worth bringing up?

Tanner: Great question. No, I mean I’m so grateful for being here. Again you know I look up to you, I admire you. I am so grateful that podcasting has brought us together and even more grateful that you’re using this medium to change the world.

Joshua: This medium being you? You’re the one who is doing the work here.

Tanner: Yes. But other people are tuning in, right? And I think the essence behind what you’re doing is getting the world to make that one change and you know take action. And as we’ve talked about on these chords it’s one person might not seem like a lot but this is going to hear a lot more than one people and it’s the domino effect. I don’t think it’s quantifiable but I would love to like hypothesize like how much based on the numbers and the growing audience how many people are taking more action and becoming more self-aware about their carbon footprint and doing something about it. That’s what’s so exciting to me.

Joshua: Yeah, really. I can’t wait to see. I hope it gets really big and I hope it has a big effect. I mean there’s billions of people that are all over their missions and things and pollute less and there’s a lot of plastic in the world. Hopefully a little bit less as a result of this.

Tanner: [48:12]

Joshua: On that I’ll close and look forward to talking to you again soon.

Tanner: Thanks, Josh. I appreciate you so much.

Joshua: Me too. Me you.


Is it obvious that Tanner is going to have fun with this challenge? I love how Tanner has integrated his life that is every part of it fits together. What he learns in one area he applies everywhere. So what he’s been able to make in sports, what he’s been able to make as a speaker and all these different things, he applies to solving problems in all sorts of areas. Having found joy in the challenging places, he does it everywhere. Not just find joy in things but he creates joy in things. That’s what I hear from him. I mean can you hear how he finds and create such joy? So I can’t wait to hear how his challenge goes. And I look forward to see you, guys, next time.

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