A top goal of this podcast is cultural change, in particular away from what I consider one of the most representative phrases of our time which is, “I want to change but if I do and nobody else does, then what’s the point?” which to me is helpless and hopeless, the opposite of leadership. I would not have expected a professional football player, you know these guys have this reputation as being bad boys, I would not have expected one of them to be particularly environmentally aware. I was wrong, and I present to you Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagle Bryan Braman. He could not have been more humble. We actually met in 50 Cents’s midtown studio. He had no reason to be humble and yet he was.
We start by talking about sports and leadership. He is obviously a champion himself surrounded by other champions, took on champions and beat them in a phenomenal game. One of the big things we talked about is how to motivate yourself when a goal is far, when it’s out of sight and many considered impossible. Does that sound familiar in the area of the environment? And yet he stayed motivated. I think we’ve a lot to learn from him. But most of all you’ll hear his environmental awareness and action. He composts. Would you expect a football player to compost? Mea culpa, I was very pleasantly surprised. And beyond what he already does, when I ask him to take on a personal challenge to live by his environmental values he doesn’t just kind of do it. He really gets into it and you’ll hear like I say, “OK, this would be enough,” he goes, “No, I want to do more.”
So, if anyone out there is thinking, “I don’t have to do stuff because all these other influential people they’re not doing it either” this guy is and I bet he’s not alone. Anyway, let’s hear his story. As a Philadelphia native where I’ve lived for about 18 years Dr. J and Moses Malone took home the trophy for basketball. The Phillies won several times. When I was a really little kid, The Flyers won several times but the Vince Lombardi Trophy eluded us. So thank you very much to the whole team, to Brian Braman in particular for bringing home the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Let’s listen to Bryan.
Joshua: Welcome to the Leadership and the Environment podcast. This is Josh, I’m here with Bryan Braman. Do I say it right?
Bryan: Long, yeah.
Joshua: And a Philadelphia Eagle, world champion possessor of the Vince Lombardi trophy, possessor I guess of the ring.
Bryan: The ring, yeah.
Joshua: You’ve got to hold and kiss the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Bryan: Pretty special thing.
Joshua: And I’m going to start off by saying I’m born in Philadelphia. I was raised in Philadelphia, the first 18 years of my life were in Philadelphia. We made it to the Super Bowl. We won some… The Phillies won but not the Eagles and that’s how much I like watching football more. Thank you very much for bringing this trophy home.
Bryan: Yeah, it was awesome. I think the city deserved it just as much as the organization.
Joshua: And it was an amazing game. I have to say I’ve watched less football lately not because I don’t like the game but the coverage is like, I feel like they don’t cover enough of the sport. There’s a lot of like stats and there’s a lot of replays. And I feel like I don’t get to watch the game and this game was incredible. It was, I mean one of the best games I’ve seen whether it was a Super Bowl or not. Can you say a few things about it? First, are you tired of talking about it? If you’re tired of talking about it, we can talk about other things.
Bryan: I mean it’s been a lot of fun. Obviously, you spend so much time investing your mind and body into something for you to reach the pinnacle of what you want to do and to be there it’s kind of like a dream come true. So, I feel like the more I talk about it, the more it becomes real to me because when it first happened it really wasn’t very real to me. It wasn’t something that I had… I felt like I was still dreaming and you know I was going to wake up one day from the dream. But being able to achieve it it’s been fun to talk about it and really make it real.
Joshua: So, if it’s not real for you… I mean a lot of us go into high pressure situations and we get nervous. I don’t think high pressure on the scale of you were there. But OK, if it didn’t feel real at the moment, how did you perform?
Bryan: I felt like I performed out of this world and I think that was just the environment, the level of play that you were able to kind of take it to build the build up knowing what it means to you and how you want to be able to explain it after not being able to you know say that I gave it my all or I left it all out on the field because I was truly exhausted after the game. And I felt that on every level mentally, physically, you know emotionally, just completely drained. And I think it was because the effort and everything I wanted to make sure that I put everything into it you know during those 60 minutes.
Joshua: Alright. You said, “put everything into it” and you said, “60 minutes.” I thought you were going to say, “the year leading up to…” When did you start preparing for the Super Bowl?
Bryan: I mean as a team and organization you really have like the two weeks before the Super Bowl get a couple of days off to have some rest and then really slowly work your way into it to make sure that you’re physically capable of performing. But you know I feel like so many players in the NFL have played in the Super Bowl mentally before they ever did physically. And you know I feel like as a player in the NFL you spent a lot of time dreaming some kind of perception of what that would be like. So, you know you can play in a game a thousand times before you actually play in it and you know that mental preparation and you know trying to understand what it would be like is definitely something that I use in my regiment to prepare myself for a big game like that. And just making sure that you know because I mean you play in so many games, you’re a professional athlete and that game other than you know media obligations and the pregame and the halftime show like the production of the game it’s still a football game. It’s something that you’ve done over and over again. Since I’ve been in the NFL I’ve been in you know over a hundred some games. So, the only thing to me that made it different was you know the fact that it was the Super Bowl and how much of a production that becomes.
Joshua: So how much of that comes from inside and how much of that comes from a support staff and coaches and things like that because they are not here now and you’re talking before about on the off season, your diet, your training, like you can’t let any moment pass. How much of that is inside and how much is outside?
Bryan: You know I feel like because you spend so much time on it, especially if it’s something that you care about and it just becomes a part of you. It’s hard for me to think about you know how much time I spend on it because to me it’s almost become like a lifestyle to me. So, it’s just like you know anybody else that chooses to be maybe an artist or you know to be a creative writer or you know what you do with your podcast you know it’s something that you have to choose to do and it almost becomes a part of your lifestyle. You don’t really think twice about it. You know it’s just an idea that you want to kind of put down and make a reality. So just as being an athlete the inside part of you is just like that’s what you want to do, that you choose to live this life and that’s just kind of like what comes along with what you choose to do.
And then the outside of it as far as like the support system and staff I think is just really important. The people that you know say, “Oh, I do it to prove the haters wrong.” I’m a little bit different and I feel like I do it for the people that believed in me and the people that saw me when I was at my lowest point when I was down and out but still told me that I could be something, that I could go somewhere and do something. To me it feels much better to have that the support of people telling me I can do it, helping me kind of predict my own destiny and you know really develop these thoughts, positive thoughts, positive self-talk. You know making sure that I’m feeding a positive energy inside of me from the outside, the vibes that I get from you know the positive energy and the people that I have on the outside to really just you know allow that passion to grow inside.
Joshua: So, I’m picking up three big things in what you’re saying. One of them is people can’t see you but I can see you and like you’re not like blah blah blah. You’re engaged. Like your eyes look like, you’re like, “This is really important.” And I take it that this is something you really care about. Another thing is that you’re talking about… This is a theme that I see in that leaders that I talked to just like CEOs and bestselling authors and all these like pundits and people, the really successful leaders it’s almost always… They’re putting the other person’s interest first. It’s for someone else. It’s in service of others. And I wasn’t expecting that but then it popped out and you’re like yeah. These people who care about you I think that you want to make them make them proud. You want to return what they gave to you. And that’s really… It’s this theme that I see in successful leaders, people who succeed.
The other is that you’re like, “Yeah, it’s just a way of life,” like an artist except you’re getting pummeled, like you’re getting destroyed and people really want to, I guess not hurt you, but they really want to knock you down. They want to take you out of the game and you’re saying that something that’s incredibly difficult for most people and beyond most people’s experience is like once you have visualized it, you just do it.
Bryan: I guess the old analogy that I got was like you have two wolves and one is fear and the other one is you know that drive to succeed. Which one are you going to feed? if you feed your fear of failure, you know obviously that wolf continues to grow and become stronger and then ultimately overcomes your desire to succeed. It becomes a problem. Whereas if you feed your desire to succeed, that wolf grows, becomes stronger and is ultimately able to overcome your fears. So, you know spending more time thinking about being successful is important to me and I do find myself just like anybody else going into something there’s always some kind of like conflict like, “OK, is this right for me?” You know obviously, “Are we going to win? Did we do enough to prepare?” You know when problems arise are we going to be able to actually overcome them, respond to them accordingly?” And just really being able to stop those like being able to put an end to those and focusing on what I want my reality to be you know kind of manifesting that energy to put it out in to you know what I want to see is a reality.
Joshua: I am listening to what you’re saying about, and I’m listening to it from the context of a lot of people’s perspective on doing something with environment because the sea levels are rising… The science as I see it is that sea levels are rising and the coral reefs are dying and you know there’s like extinctions and so forth. And I’m listening to what you’re saying of what you’re going to feed. Are you going to feed the…What were the two wolves?
Bryan: You’ve got fear and the desire to succeed.
Joshua: Fear and desire to succeed. And which you’re going to feed? Are you going to feed, “Oh, it’s all going to fall apart. I might as well give up. I might as well just go for like enjoy what I have in the moment not care about the future” or is it, “Plan for the future, maybe do something about it”? Because I think most people don’t… They’re feeding the fear, the helpless…
Bryan: Humans are very like right now. Like what can be done right now. They don’t really you know… Instant gratification has become just a cancer of this country. It’s unbelievable. You know like everybody wants to get skinny pill, everybody wants you know lose-100-pounds-in-a-week pill, everybody wants to get rich tomorrow scam or scheme where some you know a whale of an investment like what can I invest all my life savings into and have it turned into a lottery ticket like some…
Joshua: Passive income so I can make money while I sleep.
Bryan: Yeah. It’s like nobody thinks of take a progressive approach to it, if I set a plan and I check off each little box that I will ultimately reach my goal. You know being able to turn an idea into a reality and you know a lot of people they don’t realize that that there’s a lot of clout to that, that there’s a lot of weight to that. They feel, “Oh, I failed one time or I wasn’t able to check off this box and now I have to go do something completely different” Or if they don’t see somebody else what they’re interested in, if they don’t see somebody else doing it, then they’re like, “Oh, well if they’re not going to do it, I’m not going to do it.” And that’s unfortunate.
Joshua: And I think a lot of people see…I mean professional athletes… The ones that get the media, like the bad boy, the ones with the bad boy attitude. Not all of them… We see them like once a week on TV maybe and I can see why people would say it looks like you guys live for the moment. But you were saying that like from the moment the Super Bowl ends you are like preparing for the next one. And I guess some of what you said I could have thought preparing, checking boxes, all the stuff sounds like becoming an accountant or dentist. It’s like a stable sort of thing. But it’s actually what you do too. You’re preparing all the time.
Bryan: And it’s definitely not like you know to say that I don’t live in the moment is not the case. I mean I love being able to experience everything and I really try to make sure that I am where my feet are. Like I don’t want to spend too much time in the future, too much time thinking about the past because you know we are in the present and to have that is a gift in itself. You know I don’t want to take any of that for granted. But it is important to me to make sure that I do have a plan because just life in general is so unexpected and anything can be thrown at you at once you know that you know if you don’t have a plan, if you don’t kind of have a toolbox on how you’re going to overcome certain things or an idea of what you’re supposed to be doing and what your purpose is and how you’re supposed to be you know going through life as it comes to you, I feel like you can definitely get lost and I feel like in my family I’ve seen that happen to multiple people.
Joshua: People living too much in the moment and not getting purpose…
Bryan: Too much living elsewhere, not being where their feet are. When you actually achieve something, you sit down and you look at it. It’s actually really the process that you have the most memories about. I mean it’s what you do with your friends. You know you’re dying at the squat rack and you look over and you got four or five of your buddies over there dying at the squat rack too. So, it’s like you’re not the only person that’s going through this you know and you’re going to fight for them just like they’re fighting for you. You know they look over at me and they see me dying but you know they’re going through the same thing. So, it’s kind of like you know just being able to share that with somebody and experience that. And you know being able to talk about it after we achieve that ultimate goal because right then right there we’re looking at each other like, “Man, we want to quit. I don’t want to do this. My legs are tired. I’m sweating. I just want to go home and lay down.” Both of us are thinking the same thing but our ultimate goal is you know in this case the Super Bowl for us to be able to get there and play and win. And you know it may have been thought about but it’s never talked about. You know you never talk about, “Oh, I want to quit. Oh, dude, you know this is terrible nuts.” It’s just shoved out of the way and you continue to work. And then when you’re at that pinnacle you’re like, “Man, you remember that time that we were working out that day and I was dying, brother, it was 95 degrees out. We were sweating like stuck pigs like it was bad but…”
Joshua: The peer pressure and it’s great.
Bryan: Yeah. I mean peer is [unintelligible]. That’s real.
Joshua: It’s awesome.
Bryan: It is. It is.
Joshua: It’s funny because I’m talking to some guy who just won the Super Bowl. But you’re making me think of when I used to run sprints and I’m like standing over the trash can look like, “Am I going to [unintelligible] or not?”
Bryan: Yeah. Why do I do this?
Joshua: And then when I’m meeting on this team later I was just running sprints in the rain by myself. And I think about that and like doing practices in the snow and stuff and when in college, we were in a club sport, we’re not [unintelligible] our sport. So we don’t get field space when we want it so we still had practice in the gym from 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM. That’s when we could get it.
Bryan: And that’s like the nostalgia is like really important. Like how are you going to be taken back to it? Like what are you going to do ten years down the line that’s going to all of a sudden send you back into a flashback of like what you were doing like you sitting there? You know the stuff that you’re going back to for me talking like that’s big time. Like being able to draw on those emotions and remember kind of the process and the emotions that you had you know throughout the process. And kind of seeing it all come together and you know through the fruition of everything become a reality.
Joshua: One of the reasons I love what you’re saying is that I’m hoping that people listening to this… If they listen to the Leadership and the Environment podcast, they care something about the environment, they want to make some change and they’re seeing the world not really changing that much on the scale of the change we need. I’m hoping that people are thinking, “This is where I can create meaning and purpose in my life. This is where I build those memories”. And you know if you’re listening to this and you can win the Super Bowl like win the Super Bowl. But if you’re not bound for the Super Bowl, like the environment is really… I put out there…I consider the environment is a place where you can put any amount in because we need leadership and we need people doing stuff that everyone’s not doing. And so, if you’re not going with the Super Bowl or the NFL or the NBA championship or something like that, then it is a place you can devote yourself because people care about the environment, you’ll be helping other people. All right. Do you mind if I switch to the environment now?
Bryan: Yeah. Let’s go.
Joshua: So, when you think about the environment what do you think about? Is it something you care about?
Bryan: Yeah, of course. Obviously, being from Spokane, Washington, right there on the Washington Idaho border, Canada’s just north, you know so you spend a lot of time outdoors, trees, mountains, lakes, rivers, everything. Like when I think of the environment it’s a huge part of my childhood. The amount of time that I spent camping, fishing, hunting, snowboarding, just hiking, being able to do that was something really special. And now like as I’ve traveled the United States and I’ve lived in different cities and stuff like that to see these like concrete jungles is really kind of… It gives me anxiety almost you know because I think about just this one world that we have like there’s only one. And you know as much as we spend all the time trying to find other habitable planets like this is the one that we got. And you know for us to just destroy it, like the huge companies and everything that are just dumping chemicals into the environment and you know the consumers that are just you know have no regard to it because they feel like, “Oh, well if this person is not going to do it, then there’s no reason for me to do it.” It’s like it really does give me anxiety, like the overpopulation of the world in the way that we have to produce and process food. I mean it’s just… I’ll say it again, it gives me anxiety, if you can’t tell.
Joshua: I was just also thinking like Bill Belichick doesn’t make you anxious. What we’re doing to the environment does. Like a guy who stares down, they want five… No, they want four. You stop them from winning five. They won five.
Bryan: They won 5. They were on to 6.
Joshua: They would have been.
Bryan: We stopped them at 6.
Joshua: So, one of the things that I ask… Here’s where I ask, at your option, I invite you to act on a value of yours, an environmental value. And it doesn’t have to be like saving the planet overnight. It doesn’t have to be you doing everything but it can’t be telling other people what to do because there’s a lot of that going on and it has to be something you are not already doing. But if you are up for it, would you be willing to take on something to live by that value to make the world from your perspective a better place in some way?
Bryan: Yeah, of course. As a challenge?
Joshua: Yeah, like some people do stuff like they won’t use disposable stuff for some period of time or they’ll decrease their in-meat for a little while or they’ll take public transportation or I don’t know, different things for different people. And most people, it turns out most people haven’t thought about it before I ask them so they have to think about it a little but then it usually tapped into something that they were like, “Oh, I could have been doing that already.” Is there anything that you’ve thought about doing that this could be an occasion to do it?
Bryan: You know I can’t remember you know kind of stepped out and done quite a bit of different stuff. You know I’ve done highway cleanups and I try to really focus on making sure the plastics and papers and stuff like that that are actually recyclable make it to the proper receptacles and you know just whatever can help you know compost piles, you know trying to keep all that stuff you know just in the right area.
Joshua: I am sorry to interrupt. So, you compost?
Bryan: Yeah, yeah.
Joshua: Because people act like it’s such a big deal. I think it was a big deal. But you just naturally compost. I wouldn’t have thought like NFL composter.
Bryan: Yeah, I know. I mean just because like you know spending so much time in the country you know being able to use your compost pile for fertilizer and stuff to grow. I mean I’ve grew up with my grandparents and parents having natural gardens and stuff like that in their yards and flowers and stuff like that. So, me coming from humble beginnings you know recycling was a big thing that was in my family. I mean all the way down to reusing coffee filters and you know like my granddad used to walk around with handkerchiefs so that way he didn’t have to use disposable tissue paper. Probably the weirdest thing would be like the baths and the stuff like not actually using the shower but kind of like using a bowl of water in the sink and a washcloth to kind of give yourself a bird bath you know reusing stuff like… Yeah, it was interesting to see how my family you know coffee cans and stuff like that would always get repurposed in the garage and baby food jars would always get repurposed in the garage. Whatever my grandfather could use as far as like wood and extra pieces of wood laying around that he could build into a dresser or something like that for one of the grandkids and stuff. So, it was a big part of my upbringing.
Joshua: And these are all the things that people are saying it’s too hard to do. You can’t get Americans to do these things.
Bryan: Yeah, I feel like it is because it’s like I was saying earlier we’re all like I-want-it-now society. Like if it doesn’t happen now, then I’m not okay with it. We’re looked at as like special kind of people if you know how to repair things or if you’re good with your hands or you know because everything is like a delayed… What does that…
Bryan: Gratification. Yeah, that’s what I said earlier.
Joshua: What I’m reading off of you is if you like it, like for you this is a better life to do these things when other people are like, “Why would I want to wash my clothes when I can just have someone do it for me?” And also, there’s a lot of people out there that when I talk to professionals, people with degrees they are like MBAs and stuff like that, they are like, “Look, I know that this is important but I got to get ahead. And this is going to get in the way of that. I want to do leadership, I want to lead. And I can’t be bothered with this. If I’m washing my clothes, if I’m cooking my food, I’m not getting ahead.” Yeah, well, you’re ahead. And you did these things. I mean my big thing, my touch point is Gandhi is like one of the big heroes. Gandhi cleaned the toilet too and it didn’t stop him from liberating India, to speak glibly. So now I’m kind of on the fence of like whether I want to push a little bit to see if I can get you to take another step. If you like those things, maybe you like another thing, one more thing. But maybe not pushing too hard because there’ve been a couple of people who are already doing, they’re kind of maxed out and they like the next step up is like a really big deal like not flying or something like that. Like most people can’t just casually choose to do that.
Bryan: Yeah, unfortunately I can’t casually choose to do that.
Joshua: It is beyond most people. I’ll just ask once again. Can you think of something that would fit?
Bryan: Hm. Yeah. I mean I guess some of the things that I’ve thought about is like fossil fuels you know since you’re on the whole airline thing, two of the vehicles that I own probably aren’t the most economical when it comes to the usage of fuel. So that probably be something that I could definitely get into to do better.
Joshua: So, one guy, yeah, did that. He had two cars, he got Jaguar that he was aspiring to his whole life. And he was like all right, for one month, he said, “I’m going for no more than 100 kilometers.” He’s Canadian, 100 kilometers. And that’s what he said. I don’t know how much he drove the other one in the meantime. But do you want to do something like that?
Bryan: Yeah, I mean, yeah, I’m down with that. I mean I guess I mean even if we could because I usually rent a car, like wherever I go I usually rent a car.
I mean possibly kind of playing off of that you know me going somewhere, if I’m in L.A. not renting a car so that way there isn’t an extra car on the streets or you know being able to carpool while I’m out there in L.A. to kind of save that whole deal. So, that way it doesn’t just hinge on the fact of me being in Austin.
Joshua: All right. That would be great. I’m really glad to hear how this is like… Yeah, this is… You’re genuine.
Bryan: Yeah. I mean like you said, since you’ve got me to think about it it’s definitely something that I could be better at. I mean I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m not trying to be better in every type of way.
Joshua: And I think it, correct me if I’m wrong but it’s not going to distract you from the other stuff you know.
Bryan: No, no. I mean none of the other stuff does. You know you had mentioned earlier the CEO is like, “Well, I need to get ahead.” You know and to me that just sounded like it wasn’t a part of his lifestyle. Like I was mentioning earlier you know if you’re able to implement something in your life enough it becomes a part of your lifestyle, habitual and you don’t see it as a waste of time, it’s not something that’s taking up any more of your extra time. It is something that you hold important to invest time in. So, it’s hard for me to say that I don’t already look at it as like something that I already do in my everyday life.
Joshua: Yeah, one of the things that I’m really hoping to come out of this podcast is that people somewhere down the road not polluting is going to be I hope it ends up for them like putting on a seatbelt. Like I don’t think about it.
Bryan: It’s been something that’s kind of been ingrained in my life you know coming up from being a kid you know reusing and obviously using everything that you have not being wasteful.
Joshua: Very refreshing to hear. Anything that I didn’t think to ask to bring up?
Bryan: No, I mean I really appreciate you having me on the show and everything. This was a great topic to talk about. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Joshua: I appreciate you being on. I look forward to hearing how the challenge goes. Talk to you soon.
Bryan: Yeah. Sounds great.
I love how far beyond the minimum that he went, the enthusiasm that he went and felt for the environment. I think a lot of people out there would not have expected a football player to have that kind of attitude and that kind of perspective and that kind of action to take that commitment for something that I think most people think they wouldn’t really think about that. So, I hope you listening at home if you’re thinking other people aren’t doing these things, this guy is and he doesn’t have to at all. I think he really likes it and I really look forward to the next one to find out because I think we’re going to find out that he really enjoys this process that he could not care about the environment but he’s choosing to live by his values.
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