009: Tanner Gers, Conversation 2: Fearlessness, full transcript

January 1, 2018 by Joshua
in Podcast

Tanner Gers

Tanner Gers:

Tanner clearly has just as much fun in the second conversation as he did the first one. And that’s the fun of the conversation but talking about what he did, he went beyond just modest size changes. If you hear he’s already getting into leading people right away. It’s about responsibility. It’s about people changing or not. I mean he does but not everyone does. You get to hear about his fearlessness living how he wants as a leader independent of the social norm, yeah the independent of the social norms because you’ll hear some of his anecdotes. And then you’ll get to hear him talk about his mental process of how he takes responsibility and prefers taking responsibility, he prefers the accountability, that’s the sign of a leader. One of the signs. He clearly likes the change. He likes taking up these things making them his projects. He was waiting for the chances to do them. So it’s really great to listen to someone who’s got something on his mind that now this is just his chance to act on it. So here’s Tanner.


Joshua: What I’ve been doing lately is what I’m now calling the Spodek technique, which is to start the recording immediately with no chatting beforehand so that the listeners get everything.


Tanner: Awesome, awesome. Let’s get everything.


Joshua: I’m curious so I want to jump into the personal challenge.


Tanner: Yes, the personal challenge for me was to sort of leadership reduce my carbon footprint on the world. And we haven’t talked about this before so I am totally going off memory like a month. But is that to be a leader in chunks of is reducing my carbon footprint and the behavior that I am trying to change is to stop using plastic grocery your bags and get reusable bags instead. On top of that, I committed to as I live in an apartment complex here in Phoenix that to reach out to my property manager and hopefully get the community involved to change to create a cascade of people reducing their carbon footprint so that was the challenge.


Joshua: Yeah, I’ll clarify that using less bags would be reducing pollution and litter not necessarily carbon thing so because I want to distinguish global warming from pollution and resource depletion. So these are all environment but slightly different.


Tanner: No, thank you for the clarification. You’re the leader in this space so I appreciate that.


Joshua: So that was the challenge. And so I’m curious. I want to go in a couple of steps of like how did it go, what happened?


Tanner: Well, what happened was is that you know like any behavior change sometimes it takes a little bit longer to get started than usual. But I eventually got the bags it took me about two weeks and I was anticipating to get them like within days. So to it took me two to get the bags and then reaching out to my property manager was kind of interesting. We had a conversation, we had like a 20-minute conversation about it. I was sharing with her what I’m doing. And she immediately says, “Oh I already do that.” And I was like, “Oh that’s great. So if you’re doing it and I’m committing to doing it then you know what do you think about getting the community involved and can we do that by maybe putting up a flyer? How can we communicate this message?” And she says, “Well, you know we did it in…” She was just sidestepping around the issue and maybe I didn’t sell or close the deal well enough but it didn’t turn out successful in terms of getting a flyer up.


But what we did negotiate was that we at the bank of mailboxes for the entire complex is in one area and right by there is a trash can for junk mail or that at least that’s what people typically use it for what I’ve seen what we use it for and what my wife and other people use it for. So we came up with the idea. Two things. One because the large recycling then fills up so quickly to apply to get a second recycling bin. It actually fills up quicker than the trash bin. And then two is to get a smaller recycling bin to put it next to the mail garbage can so people can then instead recycle that paper rather than throwing it away.


Joshua: I have to tip my hat because I tried to… Well I have a co-op board and I made no headway with them. I was like a little while ago we hired or there’s an extra person workday for a quarter because we have more deliveries than ever and someone has to handle all the boxes that get delivered and then as a result is more garbage and recycling. So we had to hire people to do that. I’m like I don’t want to pay. I don’t get more packaging. I have less packaging than ever. So was like I don’t want to pay for that. I didn’t say it like that. I was like all exasperated. I tried to be a little more effective. No that’s just the 21st century the way it is now people have more garbage. I’m like I don’t want to pay for other people’s stuff. And we should motivate. I think we should set up the incentives not so that people get reimbursed for wasting more than me. We should have it setup so they pay for it. But it didn’t go anywhere. I mean I tried to be polite and they were just like no that’s just the way it is. We have to accept that that’s the way.


I made a video a little while ago. The last time I threw up my garbage, which was six months with the garbage was like one bag. And I got to send that to the head of the co-op board. I don’t think it’s going to change anything. I think he’s probably going look at it and get mad at me. So yeah this is all to say I’m impressed that you did this that you made headway at all compared to what worth of me, which is now I feel terrible. I don’t feel terrible. I mean I wish I maybe I should put effort back into it.


Tanner: Well maybe you could you know just offer the idea of “Hey, why don’t we just put a recycling bin right here?” Is that going to hurt anything?


Joshua: Oh it’s I mean we have recycle bin in the basement and that gets filled up. You know hiring people like I have to pay for that. I’m paying for… I don’t like it. It’s like go to a restaurant and I get almost nothing to eat and everyone else is like filling up and then they go around like, “All right, everyone pay your share.” I’m like “Oh, man.” Like I don’t want to be the guy who’s like I eat less, I only want to pay less amount but I also don’t want to pay for … You know I had like one appetizer and then they had a four course plus drinks. And now I’m paying like 20 bucks for a four-dollar appetizer. And if I say something it’s like Oh, Josh, like I don’t want to be the guy who is like small minded.


Tanner: Well right. It makes me think of you know by you sending the video to the co-op director or the manager, the head and the same thing going on with people at the restaurant is that you know that behavior like you taking responsibility for yourself and suggesting that you cover what you do makes them kind of self-conscious about what they’ve done or their behavior or their lack of ability to change.


Joshua: I don’t think they even get that far. I think that they they’re not aware that they have a choice in what they’re doing and they don’t want to be aware of that. And if they do become aware of it then they will start feeling responsible or something like that. And I think that they’re not getting that far. I think that they don’t want to be awake.


Tanner: Just go through the motions just Ambien, just double down on the Ambien and go through the motions.


Joshua: I mean that describes a lot of people. So you also mentioned the bags. So what you wanted to do with the bags? You wanted to not use disposable bags and so you wanted to get I guess canvas bags?


Tanner: Yes. So the thing about the bags for me is and you helped me realize this. Like it’s like I know that plastics don’t like decompose right, so they just build up. But it’s the awareness of that like those people know that they’re eating appetizers the full course meal. They ordered two drinks each. Like they know that but they’re just not like they’re conscious of it. They’re just not aware, consciously aware of it. And so it was like oh like this is a simple change that I can do that may not make a difference in a week, probably not in a month either. You know even a year but it’s more about the long term the accumulative impact and even I think more importantly than that is having the conversations that are going to happen over that week, that month, that year having the impact, the ripple effect upon possibly creating behavioral change in other people around me you know lead by example, and monkey see monkey do.


And why are you doing that? Well I’m doing that because you know plastics don’t degrade. And if this is all I got to do is just bring bags with me and it has a profound impact on the world. You know maybe my impact isn’t but if you do it and someone else does it and we all start to do it that’s huge. And it’s just one thing. I think we talked about this the plastic water bottles but we don’t buy plastic water bottles. We always have a bottle. We always have bottles that we would bring with us. And that’s a small step. Sometimes it could be inconvenient but it’s a step that adds up to a big thing over time.


Joshua: I’m really glad that you said that because so many people they say “Yeah I do these little things and the little things add up.” And I agree that little things do add up. But that’s small compared to if you take responsibility for the little things, then you start taking responsibility for the medium things and the next thing you know the big things aren’t so hard for you to handle. And the effect, the ripple effect that you described is really that’s a bigger thing is that you start by changing your behavior and then other people start following. And I haven’t had that many second interviews yet. But one of the big challenges that people are facing with the second interviews that I’ve had so far is other people. When they think of themselves they think, “Oh, I can handle this.” OK some of them are not able to handle it but the ones who are able to handle it sometimes like one guy was going to not do air conditioning and then when his wife was, “No, that’s not going to happen. We are going to use air conditioning.” And it’s a cultural shift. That’s what it means to change a cultural value or to change. It’s like the mental models, the beliefs that we have as a society. They were fine. As long as we lived in a world where if we trash some place, we can just move to another place or the atmosphere is so big that we were never really affect it on a global level. The smog will just eventually the wind will blow away and it’s gone, gone forever. And now that we have the population we do and we’re in recovery the planet as we do, it blows from one place to another place, where also people are.


Tanner: I think people don’t realize like the exponential returns that these small things have. It makes me think about this kind of like a multilayered thing that I’m trying to dissect in the most concise and clear way possible is that makes me think about obesity. Just by me and my wife bringing water bottles everywhere, reusable water bottles everywhere you know you might get the question that always so you’re healthy, like you like to say healthy. It’s like all that, yes, but that’s not what these water bottles are about. Like drinking water it’s great you know much health and longevity but this represents minimizing garbage and waste. This minimizes the damaging effects of plastic has on our environment.


And then speaking to your thing about the small things and then you’re able to take on bigger things in the world you know like people who are obese when my wife says we’re like we’re having a conversation I’ll say, “Why are they overweight? Are they really heavy? And she’ll say yes or no. And she was, “Why does that matter?” And I was because it’s such a small thing, but it reflects how out of control or unable to have discipline in every other area of their life. You make the conscious choice to eat how you eat, and then you have these downstream effects because of it. These health benefits, these longevity benefits, you feel good, better sustained injury. You know you’re able to function at a higher level cognitively and that all stems from a choice that you’re making about the environment.


Humans are so self-destructive but when it comes about a nonprofit work or whatever people would go so far to help someone else. And so if someone is oh maybe I could start using these water bottles. I could start carrying a water bottle and reduce my impact and by doing so maybe they drink less soda, maybe they drink less whatever sugar they drink and they drink more water and then they have you know better health benefits because of it. So I think that what I said was really confusing but what I’m trying to say is in line with what you’re saying is that taking care of these things really has a bigger impact overall.


Joshua: If you choose to act on it, you can see it and also say whatever or it’s too much work. And then if it feels too much work, you won’t do it. I think to me the biggest connection between how we treat the earth and obesity is the decision matrix in our mind is like this is easy and in the short term pleasurable. The other thing is not as easy right now but it’s in the long term more rewarding, and they choose the comfortable and convenient thing. And I think the result is in one regard it’s a planet full of waste and the other side it’s a body full of waste. And I think that like a lot of people don’t realize… Well, I want to ask you we are talking about what you’ve done. But I’m also curious about how it felt but I want to come on a couple of things first, is the conversations you had, can you share? You talked about like some of the things that you said. What was it like when you talk to people about the bottles or about choices that you make? Are you seeing the influence that you are talking about?


Tanner: [16:10] immediately. Right, the first time you use the bags it starts a conversation with the person that’s checking you out.


Joshua: At the market you mean?


Tanner: Or at any store is that any and every store. So especially if you’re doing it at a non-, if it’s not at a grocery store. If you’re doing that and you’re buying retail goods, and you bust out the canvas bags, mind-blowing. At least that’s what it seems like, “Wow, wow. That’s so cool. Why are you doing that?” Well I’m doing that to you know blah blah blah and they’re like, “Wow, that’s really cool. Where’d you get them? How much were they?” And then you can start to reinforce you know the benefits of it. It’s an easy thing to do. It’s just something that you just start to do. It’s like tying your shoes. We all got put on our shoes. But just take that extra step of tying the shoes, bringing the bags makes a big difference.


Joshua: Was it hard at first or did it get easier with time or had you made that shift already?


Tanner: Honestly there was the initial like, “Oh, I’m breaking a social norm here.” And so there was that kind of uncomfortable at first. But like any fear or you know stepping outside your comfort zone you get there with reps.


Joshua: I’m trying to make this as accessible as possible for listeners because I think my target audience on this is people who want to change but haven’t. And I think hearing what you just said is important because a lot of people they think “I don’t want to be weird.” I mean we’re also weird already. So everything else is normal and they’re weird and they don’t want to be anymore weird. So you’re saying you’re breaking social norms but you’ve broken a lot of social norms. For someone who hasn’t trained and hasn’t done the reps that you have, do you remember the first couple of times you’d break social norms?


Tanner: Well, yeah I mean probably the most distinctive one that was like really uncomfortable even for my wife is I’ll never forget. We were at a marketing conference in Vegas in 2011. I’ll never forget it because it was the weekend that the SEALs were sent in to get Osama bin Laden and we’re flying home. And this is ahead of my first track meet. For people who don’t know the U.S. Paralympian in track and field and I lost my sight back in 2004 found out about sports for the blind and Paralympic sports. Later years later and some training for, I’m dead set I’m dead committed to becoming a U.S. Paralympian, do whatever it takes and to the point where I don’t care what other people think.


And we’re at the airport and it hits me this nonstop at this conference just nonstop I’m exhausted at the end of the day. Get up early you know, go to bed, just exhausted and I’m like I’m so tired. I’m in the airport and I’m like Holy crap. And then three days and I haven’t done anything for fitness. I don’t know I said and I brought them with me with the intention to use them I told my wife I said, “Get out the bands.” She’s like “What?” I was like, “Get out the resistance bands. I’m going to work out.” And she goes, “Nah don’t work out here”. I’m like “Why?” And she says, ”Because people are going to stare at you and they’re going blah-blah.” And I was like, Those people, those people aren’t going to be Paralympians.”


Joshua: Just think they’re going to stare at a Paralympic athlete. Who wouldn’t want to see that?


Tanner: Exactly. And so I do I bust out the band’s 20-minute workout. And for everybody that doesn’t know I’m totally blind so it’s just black, there’s no vision, no nothing, no light, no shadows, nothing, just blackness. And I do my work out and I get done and tell Rose, “I’m done” and she comes and gets me and she says, “Oh my God, Tanner, so many people are looking at you.” It was really uncomfortable. I was like, “Really?” And she goes, “Yeah. One person even came up to me and said What’s his deal? What’s he doing? And I told him I said he’s going to be a Paralympian.


I said “See that is the difference.” When you move beyond the idea of caring about what other people think, where your mission, where purpose, your why the reason why you’re doing something is more important than what somebody else thinks or cares or says. I mean those people if they were really making a difference in their own life, if they were being leaders in their own life, they would have probably been maximizing the time that they were waiting for their flight to take off by reading a book, by working on their computer, by writing a book by doing something that was requiring their attention that they wouldn’t have the time to stare while someone’s improving their fitness.

So I mean there’s been other times, too. I mean I first lost my sight I had to go around town with an IV pole, I had four hours of mandatory IV medications every day. And then when you have doctors appointments you know back to back to back all the time. You know you’re in town walking around with an IV pole. And I remember I remember when mom and I went to this movie and I have my IV pole and I go to the person behind me, a bag of bones, I go to the person behind and I said, “Hey, is this OK? Is this going to block your vision? Is this OK if it stands here?” What do you say to somebody who brought an IV pole? It’s like I’m just glad you’re here.


So breaking social norms is something that a change agent does, is something that a leader is not afraid to do. And again it gets down to that why, that reason, the purpose being greater than what someone thinks says or believes, because my friend says, I quote her all the time, like people who aren’t doing things or something like tit goes something like people who aren’t doing things or aren’t trying to accomplish things shouldn’t get in the way of people who are.


Joshua: When you do like working out in the airport was that the first or had you developed the skill… Did you start with something huge and big or did you build up to that from other things or…


Tanner: I mean well like I described the IV pole, I’m wearing an eyepatch right now so I used that you know a good chunk of my left foreheads and implant my left cheek is an implant, [22:14] skin grafts over my left eye. I used to literally have bones sticking out of my face and I would walk around town with no eyepatch on. I would just walk around like that. And it took a while to get comfortable. I know that many places I go people stare. You know I know that because my wife tells me all the time. I know that because of the situation in which I’m living in, the circumstance that you know people are going to say things, people are going to think things. Sometimes it’s behind the back, sometimes they just come up and say it right straight to my face. And so I have kind of built up a thicker skin with that regard.


But it’s human instinct like you know like I just said even though like all these things that I’ve done like I was still kind of uncomfortable using the bags the first time because we don’t want to be weird. But I know that you committed to not flying. So I’m walking through the airport not too long ago thinking about people who are being too weird. I’m walking into the airport, I’ve got the representative from the airport helping me on the ticket counter to the gate that we’ve just walked through security and some girl young girl, maybe late teens early 20s bumps into the hard core. And she was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.” And I was like “It’s ok.” Yeah, I’ve got my white cane out front me you know like anyways paying attention and they saw me and the skycap says people on their cell phones like I go just head down but you know chin to chest in the cell phone. And if we were doing that 10 years ago, 20 years ago, we’d be so weird but that’s OK. It’s OK now. Imagine someone in nineteen eighty-five walking through an airport and they’re just not looking at anybody, instead they are reading the newspaper or a book. That would be weird. But today it’s ok because everybody’s doing it.


Joshua: I have an agenda here. I want to take away the option for people to say, “Oh it’s easy for him he’s blind. He was forced into a situation that he had to go through something. And if I had something like that then I would also have gone through such a situation I had, he’s lucky in leadership.” It’s like I think a lot of people and this is me in the past would say, “Yeah, if I were born under apartheid, I would have done something like Mandela. But you can’t blame me that I was not born in a place without apartheid. And so you know I didn’t have a big crucible to go through. So you can’t blame me that I didn’t rise to the level of him.” For me I discovered that that’s an excuse.


Tanner: Totally, it’s a copout.


Joshua: So what’s the alternative? I mean someone could say, “Well, yeah for you, you don’t have a choice.”


Tanner: The alternative is just to decide. You know some people I think it was a very viral video years ago. I don’t even know how many years ago, where it’s like the crazy man dancing on the side of the hill.


Joshua: Yeah, [25:03] TED talk I think.


Tanner: So it is one do dancing and he dances you know he’s not in healthy shape.


Joshua: He’s not coordinated.


Tanner: He’s not coordinated, [25:15] shaking everywhere and people are just kind of like staring and laughing and pointing and then one person joins in and then another person another person another person and then soon he’s part of the crowd. So you know you still have to decide what you just decide and you say, “Hey I’m going make this non-negotiable. This is more important.” I think when people you know you have to become aware of the things that you want to change. Like if you’re 800 pounds but you’re not experiencing the side effects of what 800 pounds feels like, then what’s your incentive to change. For me I can visualize like years and years and years of plastic built up and you know just going through the stats I’m sure you know some of them off the top of your head like how much marine life dies because of plastics and garbage. You know how much pollution and waste buildup do we have every year because of plastic water bottles and because of plastic bags. Like just those things alone. Not to mention you know the greenhouse gas emissions because to produce them or to ship them…


Joshua: Right. So now I got a challenging question for you. If you care about so much and you just have to decide how come you didn’t do it before?


Tanner: Because I wasn’t aware.


Joshua: OK. So tell me more about that.


Tanner: So that’s what I’m saying consciously aware. Like until we started having that conversation it was just like it just makes sense. It’s just a simple behavior change. It’s a simple thing that I have to do and that’s what I meant like when as humans we’re so much more likely to help someone else, another group, a thing in need. Like what other better thing in need is the planet? Like that affects right now and growing 7 billion people. So playing to the emotion of what humans are likely to do, community oriented species that wants to support each other inherently. I mean yeah there’s sociopaths. But that need or that desire, that internal feel good, those endorphins and serotonin dopamine that we get from you know doing something for somebody else on top of the conscious awareness of how our behavior is contributing to a problem that’s destructive for 7 billion plus people and growing, to me that’s what clicked for me.


And you know I’m not going to be perfect. I think being ok with that is huge. But just becoming consciously aware that this is important and it’s just something so simple. Like even if I don’t do that, will it have an impact? I think that’s… If I continue use or if I started using again plastic water bottles or using plastic bags at the grocery store or not recycling my stuff, like is it going to be a problem that I suffer from? Well, yeah, it is. I won’t be consciously aware of it though because somebody takes that garbage somewhere else. I don’t see what had happened before I got the water bottles and the plastic bags. I don’t see what happened before. I don’t see what happens after, out of sight, out of mind. But when you think about, when you make yourself consciously aware of everything that happens before, everything that happens after and all of that nastiness how it affects our environment over time and not just our environment but the people that live within it. That was the switch from me.

Joshua: So that switch like if you didn’t do it, you wouldn’t lose. You just wouldn’t be aware.


Tanner: Correct.


Joshua: I think some people may be worried. I keep saying some people like I can think of myself before I learned how much pollution a flight caused. I could have gone on the internet. I could have researched it. It’s there. No problem. It kind of fell into my lap because I was watching a documentary and it was on there while I was on a flight. But I could have looked it up. I didn’t want to look it up because I kind of knew the answer was probably not what I wanted to hear knowing that I wanted to keep traveling. And so I think a lot of people would rather not know. If they listen to us right now they do want to know but they haven’t acted on it or they’re looking at us for motivation or something like that, is what you’re getting. You definitely lose something. You’ve got to carry bags around, you did have to go through, there’s costs undeniably.


You talk about the benefit but the benefit could be worse than blissful ignorance. You’ve gone through it and so I’m reading from you that you’re glad you did it and there’s no going back. What would you say to someone who’s not sure if they want to find out, if they know the blissful ignorance?


Tanner: Yeah, I mean stop living your life like an [29:50]. This is something I call the ostrich effect. Just because you stick your hand, your head in the sand and force yourself to not be aware or consciously aware of the destruction, the impact that’s going on around you, it doesn’t mean that it’s not happening. Right, like pull your head out of the sand and make a difference. I’m making faces, it’s funny because this audio might make it. What’s the problem with, the same thing like we describe are what we talking about double down on the Ambien, like going through the motions being asleep, you’re alive, you’re going through the motions but you’re sleepwalking, it’s the ostrich effect like just because people are saying I’m sure you’ve heard of this, the world is flat like that really…

Joshua: People are kind of… it’s like a trendy thing now.

Tanner: It’s like, I guess you could stick your head in the sand and hear that the world is flat and have no not educated yourself on physics, not educated yourself on documented science and live your life with a head in the sand. I mean you could do that, you could totally do that, but why would you want to do that? I don’t know, I don’t get that.


Joshua: How do you describe, what is the feeling that you have having made the shift. Is it accomplishment, is it pride, is it…?

Tanner: That’s a great question. You know like I think at first it feels better and then it just becomes something that you do and you stand for. So like it feels really good when you do it and you realize like “Hey I made this shift, like that’s awesome.” And then reflecting back is also really good because you know five years back think about how many water bottles like we prevent it from going into the ocean or go to waste or you know how many plastic bags, what kind of impact is that and just to postulate that, that kind of feels good. But I think more importantly the good feelings that happen on a day to day is that this becomes a principle that you live by, it becomes something that you stand for and I think that’s probably the greatest feeling of all.

You know I think leadership, and I love to get your opinion on this, like leadership is about just doing something, not so much about boasting about it. Like conversations are going to happen. You know people ask me about being a Paralympian and what’s that like, what does it take, this, that and other things, but I became Paralympian because I decided to. I became a Paralympian not for the acknowledgement. I did it for myself. It’s the same thing with the bags. Now that I’m consciously aware like it’s something I stand for and it’s easy to stand for that. It’s easy to stand for something so pure because it’s just the right thing.

Joshua: It becomes easy. It’s also as big as it is, it’s not that big of a deal. I mean yeah for me like burpees, the more that I do the more it’s like brushing my teeth. I’m not proud that I brush my teeth, I just do it, although I should say another big piece of it is that. I know that the world is filled with people who don’t brush their teeth as lots of people who don’t pressure teeth but they’re not a part of my life. I’m not saying they’re bad people, I’m not saying they’re good people, I’m just saying that we don’t match. I mean I get together with people who brush their teeth, I’m like hey tooth brush, how are you doing? I was like yeah we match on this area that our teeth are clean and same like burpees, like am I Schwarzenegger in his prime? No, no I’m not even close but I’m with people who take care of their bodies in the same way and it’s a part of my identity and then therefore it becomes part of my community. And do I know a lot of people don’t do burpees, because burpees are harder than brushing teeth, but increasingly it’s more like something I can connect with people on and I like connecting with people on it. The thing in the airport, if you do burpees every day, which you can always do in your hotel room and stuff but then you wouldn’t have gone three days without.

Tanner: Oh, totally. You know and I don’t even think at that time I knew what a burpee was. You know even resistance bands like, the resistance bands were new to me. But no, you’re right. You’re right though, like if it was an ingrained habit then I would have probably just done it. Yeah that’s the interesting thing right. So that was like, I think this is a crucial point, because I decided to become a Paralympian after the track season was over in 2010. So I had these months of cognitive buildup, mental buildup and preparation for the track to start. And in January of 2011 I would get up at 4:30 on Saturdays and I would take the 5:00 a.m. bus 100 miles to the nearest Paralympic track team practice. I get on the bus at noon. I’d come home and I would step inside my house just before 3pm. Ten hours of work, ten hours of investment for two hours of practice.

And here we are: February, March, April – four solid months later and I slipped, you know I slipped. That was just Saturday, like every other day, I was 100 percent focus like, training, nutrition, recovery, meditation, visualization. Everything was focused on becoming a Paralympian. And then we get life happens. We get excited about something with shiny objects and drown out for me it was a marketing conference and for three days I let the big goals, the big missions slipped. And thankfully I wasn’t too cost averse of social breaking a social norm or being embarrassed or caring about what other people thought that I got it then. But you know four months of work slipped, I slipped and that’s going to happen until it becomes just so ingrained. Like just when you’re like…How long you think it was for you before it was just like it became like brushing your teeth?

Joshua: Oh yeah. Still I say it’s like that, but it’s becoming like that. And oh you know what? One time I was in Shanghai and I remember something happened. I was in bed and maybe I woke up, maybe like I overslept or something but I got up and I knew I was supposed to call someone and I was late to call the person, it was very important. I had a rule then until it stuck, I had this rule which is no computer. no nothing until I do my burpees, they had to be the first thing I do in the morning. So I like I’m lying in bed and suddenly go Oh my God, and I jumped out of bed and grabbed the phone then put it down and did the burpees and then called and then I realized that it was like, put the phone down without thinking about it. I was like “Oops, burpees first” and that was pretty cool.

Tanner: That is cool.

Joshua: I mean it’s like, the SIDSHA it’s a nonstop. Everything you learn about yourself, there’s more. Lately it’s been paying attention impulses. Now my goal is, I do not about you but before I do a set of burpees I stand in a way like right now and I could go. It used to be sometimes I could stand there 10 minutes before I could start my burpees just because I was like “Go, go.” But it’s hard. And now I’m doing it faster and faster like I want to make it so that like, no way, I just go and do it. And I guess maybe at some point I’ll probably just do it but…

Tanner: Sometimes when we wake up in the morning we just don’t feel that good right. And so one of the strategies that I’ve been incorporating because I used to be so good about the morning I would get up and you know just like Oh I hit the ground running, I go, I drink 124 ounces of water thereabouts and then I get about you know I make coffee and workout and I’m just like move, move, move. Yeah. Well, but you know some days I don’t feel like that and it was like you know maybe I lost a little motivation or something. And so I think well what can I do? So I’ve got my phone on airplane mode right by my bed and I don’t know when I’m going to wake up feel like that, I don’t intend to do that. But sometimes it happens. And so what’s been helping me lately, this year I started doing this, is when I feel like that I put my ear buds in, I turn up the volume, put on the music and I listen to like this morning the first song was ,,Eye of the Tiger’’ You know and then like, so what happens, like inside of four minutes that song is just over four minutes, like I had my water and I’m already starting to move, so what is it for you that and I’m asking the audience like, what is it for you that really gets you moving? You know for me I resonate really strongly with music. You might really resonate strongly with whatever, with dance or yoga or whatever that really motivates you and gets you going, make sure that you’ve got that at your disposal so that when you feel like crap you can have something to get you go. Are you a good meditator?

Joshua: Yes, in my way because I have several SIDSHAS, I have the cold showers or the burpees or the writing on the blog and picking up a piece of trash every day. So the meditation I’ve done the Vipassana a couple times, so I’ve done to ten days of no reading, no writing, no talking, no nothing, just strict meditation and then I’ve done another five day and another three day and a couple one days of that. And so I kind of binge on my meditation. And I know a lot of people say you should do it daily, you better do it 20 minutes every day, than an hour or like, but I find that the daily habits the SIDSHAS stuff gets me some of the daily stuff because I’ve done meditation of daily that I think I know what I’m trading up and what I’m trading for. So yes I’ve meditated hundreds and hundreds of hours but in blocks. And I think that the value of doing something every day, you also get doing other things every day. So there’s a long answer.

Tanner: Yeah I mean so I call myself a meditator and I go through, the reason I’m saying this is, it’s kind of a tangential to this whole behavior change thing where you know like I used to meditate before going to bed and I would meditate when I wake up and I would just do that every day. And it was amazing, it was profound. Like what would happen to me in life doing that for like 60-90 days, like 90 days, it’s crazy. Like excuse me everything in the universe is just coming to me, it’s like everything I want to have is happening, I feel really great about myself. I have like very few days left feel like crap when I wake up, just like awesome. And then because of that everything’s worked out for me like I get busy and I forget to do it. You know it works more it’s not more that I forget to do it it’s like I think like “Oh, I should meditate” but it’s like “I have so much stuff to do” and like we forget the basic things like bringing the bags with us, just using the bags, getting that reusable water bottle, like those little things are what make the big things happen. People will say like, “Oh, like what are your advanced tips? What are your techniques for success faster, achieving success faster or more success quickly?” It’s like no one really likes to hear that, it’s about the basics.

And I think that when you make those like, for you the SIDSHAS when you make those things non-negotiable it’s crazy how much stuff you get done like I’m mind- blown by what you’ve been able to achieve in such a short time. Like it’s mind-blowing. And I admire that greatly and so I try to incorporate that those basic principles like what are the SIDSHAS for me and when I stay on top of those, great things happen.

Joshua: It really is like something very similar happened to me in physics or math, where was it, it was some class. No, no, I was in business school and the professor was talking about, one of the more mathematical subjects and the student says, “OK what’s the intuition behind this?’’, I’m  like the intuition’s what you get, we do the problem so many times from so many different perspectives that you figured out that there’s no shortcut to the intuition. If you could just get intuition no one would teach you. You just do the intuition. Like I wrote for Inc. and there’s so many articles that are like Navy SEALs, teaches this, Navy SEALs, Navy SEALs, Navy SEALs, like Navy SEAL training. I haven’t done it. I hear it’s kind of hard. Why don’t they just leave Navy SEALs a bunch of Inc. articles? If the value that these articles are purporting to give could come from reading an article the SEALs wouldn’t do so much training.

There’s a reason why they do all that training. And if you want to get it, no OK, if you want to go capture Osama bin Laden, you’ve got to do some serious training. Most people, if you just want success in business that’s not necessarily, the more you put in, the more you’re going to get out but you don’t have to put in. You can have a really great life without being at the business level. That’s the equivalent of being able to capture Osama bin Laden. So you don’t need full on SEAL training but at least something. Not really reading a bunch of articles about it. I read these articles I’m like oh my god this is like, it’s like candy. It feels good in the moment and it hasn’t got anything.

Tanner: So unless you’re a retired Navy SEAL no Navy SEAL is writing those articles because they’re busy doing the work.

Joshua: And the people who are reading it are just like oh now I get it. Like no, you don’t get it, I’m not saying I got it, I got something I might not have that but I know enough that reading that article didn’t give it to you. And doing it is awesome. I mean whatever you put in you’re going to get back out. There are certain things… There are a lot of things that you put in you’re not necessarily going to get out but developing yourself and that sort of thing, living by your values. It’s going to work out that way.

Tanner: Totally. You know when.. I forget how far they are. It’s less than 90 feet honestly. It’s like 80 feet or something, like a pitcher in Major League like throws a five ounce ball that fits it’s many large [43:58] grab their whole hand around this little thing they called baseball. And guy staying like 80 feet away or it would hit this little ball with a stick that’s no wider than the ball. And when the ball is traveling at 100 miles an hour and they literally have no time to react to it, you have no time, 100 miles/hour, the thing is there and so it’s like how does someone hit the ball, let alone hit a homerun. And it’s through intuition. Like they’ve seen that ball come out of that a pitcher’s hand millions of times and through putting in the reps they know that that ball, instinctively, they don’t even think about it, they just swing where they intuitively know where the ball’s going to come. So how did they know what’s the million fucking pitches that they swung at before that one pitch. Excuse my language.

Joshua: So I want to ask you, getting back to the bags. I mean we talked about awareness and practice. So for people who have not gotten into this mindset of the struggle is what gets you the glory or I don’t know what we’re talking about? Is this a way to get it, I mean there are different ways to get into it. You can decide to become an athlete. You can meditate or I don’t know, but is doing something for the environment… Is this an access point, is it like a universal access point for everyone? Because I feel like it’s got activity in it, it’s got a challenge in it, it’s got a mindset shift in it, it’s got empathy in it. Is it something that, like if you’re sitting and listening to this, someone’s listening to this and thinking but I’m not there yet. I’ve got to do something to get there. Is this an access point for anyone, is it like a universal access point?

Tanner: I think it can be a universal access point because I think that everybody listening to this doesn’t have the financial roadblocks to buying such expensive canvas bags. Further, you know as I’m learning from you based on our last conversation pre and post call you know we’re talking about leadership, we’re talking about motivations of people and you know so maybe when the conversation comes up and you’re helping someone be consciously aware, well first off, I hope that everybody listening to this right now is just like put it on the grocery list because you can buy them at the grocery store, to buy the damn canvas bags, right, buy the bags. And then when the conversation comes up with the person that you, that I ask you about them, you probably have good, maybe you don’t know anything about them, then you just start talking about the bags and the environment. But what if you do know something about them? Like you know what moves them, you know their motivations, then you can be, you can display leadership and influence and guide them to the decision, to them making the choice that falls in line with what you’re trying to do.

So how can you lead them to take action, like maybe they like, maybe if you’re talking to someone who is like on Instagram live or YouTube live and they like they are every second they are posting on social media, maybe you can speak to the fact that, like hey this is like a really good social cause, like this is really inspiring, people want to hear about this, they want to know about this and maybe you’re the person to share with them. I think this is a great opportunity for you to build your social brand.

You know if it’s someone who is really concerned with the environment, they probably already have the bags, so that’s a meet point. But maybe it’s a business person and you can identify the convenience of having bags with you all the time. Like business people, business oriented mindsets are all that same time. And so how can you place the bags, how can you position the bags as like a timesaver. How can you position the bags as something that maybe year buys them time or makes what they’re already doing better. Well it’s like you know have you ever had a heavy bag, a heavy plastic bag. I know I have had a heavy plastic bag maybe it’s you’re carrying you know something in the bag something heavy like a gallon of milk or whatever. And it’s digging into your hand,

Joshua: The bag?

Tanner: The bag. I never feel that with the canvas bag.

Joshua: Oh, it’s not sturdy.

Tanner: It’s got the wider handle. And you know like the plastic bag it kind of like rolls together then the like has it’s like wire thing and all that weight it’s like pulling through your fingers and it kind of hurts like you’re holding for a while, you walking down the street, whenever you hold this bag, that’s why I use canvas bags. You know how can you position the bag to be something that where it’s like oh it’s like not only is it helping the environment but it’s convenient, it’s nicer, it’s more comfortable, it saves me time. You know an opportunity to increase your brand, your identity. Oh and by the way, it’s also helping out the environment.

Joshua: The environment is like the side effect.

Tanner: Right.

Joshua: I mean it’s what starts it. It’s what gets, in my case it’s what got me thinking but ultimately you know food was one of the biggest things of, cooking my own food, not getting packaged food. And it started with the environment but ultimately it becomes about values and integrity and things like that. To me that it’s an access point. Look what one of these that got me going into doing podcasts was that this access point I think is virtually universal. I know that there are people out there who are, they think, “Well the environment’s get all messed up and there’s nothing we can do about it. So the best thing we can do is just enjoy life as much as we can.” Now you’re nodding your head no because I feel like you do. That’s not how I feel. I know there are people out there who feel that way. I’m not trying. This podcast is not for them. I mean maybe I hope some of them listen and change their perspective not because I want to change them but just because I hope, because that’s not the way I feel.

But this is for people who feel like I do want to do something and I haven’t been able to come up with anything or I haven’t been able to do it I haven’t been able to act on it and I hope that when they act on it they realize that what they hold themselves back from is far greater than ever expected and that benefit of all the stuff that we’re talking about of that feeling. And eventually, yes it will become just not that big of a deal. You’re not that proud. Brushing is not like wow, those teeth, I really brushed them tonight. Normally you’d be like wow I really clean something up just be like, yeah, of course that’s what I do like now that I pick up a piece of trash every day, I notice more trash. You could say that makes my life worse because it means that I’m perceiving more garbage around the world but I’m just perceiving it, like you said, I’m becoming more aware of it but that doesn’t make it, not being aware of it just makes me not see it. It doesn’t make it cleaner.

Tanner: Well, I mean there’s a lot of science behind that like you start looking for a car or you want to buy a car and then you’re in searching for more of those cars. It’s more that like there’s so much information that’s coming through our eyes, our brain can only process so much. So when we have an awareness on something or we become aware of something then we’re going to see it more because our brain is more attuned or focused to that frequency. You know there’s, it’s filtering out other information instead. But the analogy that came to my mind when you were saying that it’s like oh like the Earth can’t like repair itself. It is just like the human body like there’s, right now the world has got a broken leg. You know and we’re limping along and we’re limping along and we are limping along and unless we get the cast on that leg and we take time to fix the issue at hand, the other leg’s going to go out and then the hips are going to go out and then we’re going to be crawling and then we’re going to blow out our shoulders and arms, the planet’s going to blow out its shoulders and its arms from dragging itself across, dragging itself from day to day and then we’re going to be crippled, we are going to be in a fetal position. Planet is going to be in a fetal position crying for help, broken legs and hips and shoulders and arms. And then what are we going to do? We could still turn it around if we just decide to do it. You know the body is so amazing in healing itself and I know that the planet did this too. But we’ve got to give it what it needs to do that and giving it what it needs is by stop burdening it with all the crap that we’re thrown at it.

Joshua: All right so now what’s next? Now you’re in this mindset and you’re aware, you’ve done some action and me asking you what’s next, is that the first you think about what’s next or have you already started thinking about what’s next?

Tanner: No, I haven’t started thinking about what’s next. So we’re not that far away from buying a new vehicle. I was kind of hoping that the next time we would buy a new vehicle that it would be an autonomous vehicle. You know I also like I love …

Joshua: Oh then you can drive? You can be in the driver’s seat

Tanner: That’s right. And I was thinking that that would probably be like a Tesla or some other type of electric vehicle. So all that to say is that whether or not the next car is going to be autonomous, is that I want to buy my next car  when I save my car, my wife’s car is to be an electric vehicle or something that is reducing carbon emissions. Because as you educated me earlier on this phone call is like I was thinking I was confusing the two, between pollution and waste and carbon emissions.

Joshua: Yeah.

Tanner: Yeah. So what else can I do? So that’s one thing, using a vehicle that uses renewable energy, two is I haven’t gotten to the point where you are yet with food which I think is awesome but I don’t know if you were aware of that billion dollar investment or excuse me I think it was a 100 billion dollar investment in the indoor vertical gardens.

Joshua: I’ve seen some of those in the news, they’re doing some of that stuff in Brooklyn and there’s, yeah I know some of these things, I think there’s multiple companies doing this.

Tanner: Yeah. And so, which I think is fantastic because it’s how we can stop, I think that we can disperse, we can start growing. One is the emissions that eating so many animal based foods. I’m not so on board yet where I’m like cutting out my steak or my chicken or my fish but you know I loved the idea of having more vegetables in my diet and going to a more balanced, I’m like almost carnivorish. And after we had the conversation, our original, like when you came on my podcast, I was inspired. I was like, “Oh man, I want to start eating more vegetables. I want to start eating less meat. What else can I do?” So I think for me the one of the steps to is to keep continuing having the conversation, to keep talking about it with my wife, to keep talking about it with my community, my property manager, the lady who here at my property got the recycling bin program started. Like when we moved here, there were no recycling bins and now the recycling bins are filling up faster than the garbage. That’s huge.

You know so is to keep having the conversation. I think you know that I’ll become more inspired and then so here we are again. We’re at the crux of the problem that we started out with at the beginning, which is that I’m not aware. I have like this idea that I want to be a better person by helping the environment with my behaviors and my habits. But I’m not aware of what behaviors that I’m doing that are negatively impacting the environment or more poignantly what behavior changes can I do, what products can I stand for, what lifestyle changes can I stand for that are going to support me and my longevity and my ability to function at a high level while also supporting the earth at functioning at a high level? I don’t know. I’m on the fringe I guess but I think having that conversation is something that I need to have because I want to do this. It doesn’t seem difficult to do anything when you want to do it.

Joshua: Yeah, I was just to say when it doesn’t feel like homework when the teacher signs your book to read that you wanted to read anyway.

Tanner: That’s right.

Joshua: I love how you’re using the community. What’s a challenge for a lot of people is people are going to think I’m weird or people can be a problem. But you’re saying now the community is something that you would use, it’s your communication with others of establishing yourself in this new identity if identity is the right way to put it and using them to help you further your transition. Exactly what people see is the problem or is a problem for a lot of people. You’re using as an aid.

Tanner: Totally. And you know the more that you talk about it, the more it becomes normal. And you and I both know, I mean I can only imagine from you. But you and I both know the trolls along the way, the people that said oh that’s so stupid, like doesn’t matter anyway, this thing, that thing. I can’t tell you how many people didn’t believe I was going to be a Paralympian. They were like, “Why do you do that? I don’t get it.” And there are going to be those people and that can make you feel really stupid or shameful or embarrassed or whatever. But more important is what you stand for. I wish that as humans that we weren’t so sensitive to what other people thought. You know why are we so afraid of that? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question but yes, using the community around you to help support you, many shelters make light work. And so the more that you have the conversation and more you get your neighbors involved, the more that you show them what you’re doing, the more people that are going to get on board. And then you have a community of support rather than you feeling isolated in a community that you’re not making progress with.

Joshua: I want to wrap it up there. I mean it’s been a long conversation although it doesn’t feel like a long conversation at least for me. I don’t know how it is for the listeners. Maybe they are like, “This guy is rambling on and on.” Two questions, two things to wrap up. One: is there anything that I didn’t bring up that’s worth bringing up into and two, should we have a third conversation?

Tanner: Well I always love having conversations with you Josh, so yes for number two. One, I don’t know. I mean like we’ve literally talked about becoming aware, why we’re doing it, that it’s the principles by which we stand for, how to get the community behind you, just deciding to not be ashamed or fearful or embarrassed about breaking social norms. You’re going to feel embarrassed the first few times. But then with repetitions you get over that. I mean we talked about the difference between waste and greenhouse emissions, talking about positioning the behaviors that you’re making and why that it’s good. You know I think at least for right now I think we covered a lot.

Joshua: Yeah I mean I enjoyed it. And so I’m going to clarify for the next conversation, yeah you and I are going to talk, to record and capture the next stage of what comes next.

Tanner: Well, I’m a dreamer and a big thinker and sort of like when you were saying that right now like I was immediately thinking like what about where people go, what if I can reach out to the grocery store, that is right by me, it’s a Sprouts and begin to initiate. And if anybody else likes this idea, please, please take it upon yourself like a challenge from me to you. That to reach out to your local grocer or your local market and ask him about starting up a program where each time someone checks out that the register, the cash register person, the checker asks the person if they would like to use canvas bags, reusable bags and sell them or at least make them aware. Like, “Hey like just so you know we’ve got these canvas bags, we’re really trying to make an impact on minimize the impact that plastics have on the environment. Would you like to join us in this mission?” And they’re like, “Yeah, I want.” You know it’s so great. Like you get 10 canvas bags right now for the [59:38] just added to your thing and you can pick it up. You know I can add it to the ticket right now just like they do like donate a dollar or donate this or you use your bill right now and you can pick them up at customer service. So that was just inspired through something that you said right now so I’m going to commit that before our third talk, that I’m going to go to Sprouts. And also there’s a Trader Joe’s nearby. So I’m going to go there too. Double down and ask them if they’d be interested in participating.

Joshua: So I’ve got to add to that that if they have canvas bags at home, not to get new canvas bags but to use the ones that they already have because.. .And I happen to live in a big apartment building and in the recycling area downstairs there’s basically an infinite supply of plastic bags because people are always throwing theirs down there. And you can tell if something has not been used you know so I have these plastic bags because they are I’m getting them from the recycling. And so it’s before reusing – reduce, reuse, recycle, so reducing consumption I think is a priority over reusing something, because I know that there’s a lot of people, I know people who get reusable coffee mugs over and over and over again. I don’t know what happened to their old mugs but they are constantly getting new ones. I’m like, “What happened to the old one” and they are like, “I don’t know. I lost them.”

I’m like you’re actually using more than you would… If you’re treating a big metal container as disposable, you’re actually, I think you’re wasting more than if you just wait, if you’re disposing of it, you might as well dispose of the plastic. So stop treating it as disposable. You’ve got to keep track of these things so that is like the caveat that I feel like it’s important to put in front like if you have canvas bags don’t get new ones, use the old ones. If you have access to, and in my case it’s plastic bags because I don’t know how fast my building fills up the stuff downstairs is insanity. OK so that’s your thing. So should we schedule another one? When are you going to be in New York city?

Tanner: Dude, I need to get to New York City. I was planning on being out there for getting a guide dog as you know and in Yorktown Heights at Guiding Eyes but the Fidelco another guide dog school came through and so I’m getting my guide dog actually on October 15 they are going to be here. So I’m going to have to just make a trip out there for a random reason to see you.

Joshua: OK. I thought it was right now and that could have been a time we could do recording in person. So when’s a good time? How long does it take for you to make the interaction with the stores.

Tanner: Let’s see. Let’s do, can we do three weeks?

Joshua: Three weeks. OK. So that’s September 22.

Tanner: Yeah.

Joshua: So same time?

Tanner: Same time, same place.

Joshua: OK cool. So that’s going to be right after my second conversation with the science curator for TED, David Biello.

Tanner: Nice.

Joshua: Yeah. Well, we’ll see how that turns out to TED talk. But he’s also got his personal challenge too.

Tanner: That’s so cool. I got my first TEDx talk on the 10th so that’s awesome.

Joshua: Oh cool, so I’m going to hear about that. We are all going to hear about that.

Tanner: I’m so grateful that you had me on one for the first time, two for the follow up. And like we’re creating more awesomeness on the third time because this is what happens when you have the conversation and you challenge each other to do things.

Joshua: This is why I made this is, I think that there’s going to be a lot of conversations like this. There are also conversations for people like one guy is like woke up the next day he was like I’m not doing this. And so there’s different people doing it. Everything means different things for different people. And as if I’m going to learn, I’m coming into this thinking, I wrote a book on leadership, I teach courses on leadership that the students really love and I got a lot going for me but you know I’m not like Dwight Eisenhower here. I do a lot of stuff I don’t know and s I’m learning a lot of things.

Tanner: Jeez, I would love to hear the back story on that.

Joshua: I’ll keep it as a teaser , it’s [63:36]. So now is your motivation to listen to another episode and get another download after this is launched and help me boost up the ratings.

Tanner: You know, brother.

Joshua: All right. So you’re going to get the [63:48] invitation right after we hang up and part of what I’m doing I figured if I told you are one of the people I’ve gotten to yet but I’m like starting the conversation as soon as we connect and then ending it so everyone gets to hear everything. So it’s my Spodek technique of no before and after secret talks that the audience doesn’t get to hear.

Tanner: Oh man because I was so going to talk to you about some leadership stuff that I wanted to share with you what I decided on doing so.

Joshua: Well, I’m also really curious about the baseball stuff that we talked about before previous conversation. Let’s make that another call because I want to be true to the listeners. And then, but let’s talk like in a week on that.

Tanner: Ok.

Joshua: Cool. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being open about what’s worked and what hasn’t and how things have changed and not just superficial talk about really what’s going on.

Tanner: Oh man, honesty this is the best policy and opening up and being vulnerable, regardless of whether it’s good or bad or indifferent that’s something I stand for.

Joshua: And that’s a whole other conversation that I have to get into another time. All right. Great talking to you as always, looking forward to next time.

Tanner: Love you, man. Bye.


Tanner’s attitude, his perspective on the conversation and the challenges that he did are my favorite part more than the details and the facts of specifically what he did. A few points that he brought up. Those little things are what make big things happen, that attention to detail. If you want big changes to happen you’ve got to start with the little ones. But when you do put the attention to detail in those little things, also using your community I’ve talked about that with several guests that usually other people are one of the big challenges. But if you look at other people’s resources to help you that you can help each other, they become allies, they become helping you make things happen. Another thing he talked about is that when you make things non-negotiable with yourself, it’s amazing what you can get done. He values doing the work but it’s also not work when you’re enjoying it the whole time. So if you’re out there thinking I want to do something like him, I want to take on a challenge but I’m not sure, acting on your values if you care about the environment can give you what he has. You don’t have to go blind first. And also when you do something it becomes automatic and you keep finding more. Every time you did something or every time he’s doing something because he’s still going, he finds the next thing and the next thing and the next thing making them all his along the way. So I’m really looking forward to hearing his next challenge’s results. So tune in again next time with Tanner.

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