085: Daniel Bauer, part 2, Going car-free is liberating (transcript)
Danny got rid of a car and he chose to do that while he was in Texas. Yes, he moved to Europe to Antwerp which is a bike friendly city but you know it’s a big deal. It was a car that he loved and it was while starting a marriage. That’s not exactly the time people start experimenting with new things in life and yet he described it as joy, as happiness, as discovery. And also, I think not that big of a deal. I think a lot of people would imagine getting rid of a car would be a life changing event. And I think it improved his life but not a huge difference. I could go on but I don’t think I can match Danny talking about his experience getting rid of the car himself. Youâ€™ll also hear about the problems like the rain story for example so it wasn’t trivial. It was a challenge. Well, let’s listen to Danny talk about it. I think it went pretty well.
Joshua: Welcome to the Leadership and the Environment podcast. This is Josh. I’m here with Daniel Bauer. Daniel, how are you doing?
Daniel: Josh, I’m doing wonderful. And thank you so much again for inviting me on the show. I find it to be a great honor and I love this discussion that we’re about to have.
Josh: Well, I’m flattered and honored myself. And now it’s interesting that you thanked me for something that requires you taking on a challenge. Some people would say they don’t want that. And so if you don’t mind myâ€¦Actually, you’ve taken on a challenge that is in some ways bigger than most people because you’re getting rid of a car. Now on the other hand, it’s in the middle ofâ€¦ You’re moving to a place where probably cars aren’t really that necessary. On the other hand, on the other other hand, it’s involving a newlywed or a new wife and a big move and I imagine these things to be really stressful and so I’m really curious how thisâ€¦ A lot of people say, â€œPut off a big challenge for later. Don’t do a big challenge.â€ You’re thanking me. What’s going on? How have been things working out? It’s been a while.
Daniel: Yes, especially you know you mentioned the new marriage so you don’t want too much change. At least that’s what people coach you through and the advice that they love to give. However, you know this was something that I thought alignedâ€¦ You know you talk a lot about values, in alignment with your values. Yes, in Antwerp, Belgium a lot of people don’t have cars and they rely on public transportation and bikes. But in the same breath traffic is rampant and everybody you know majority of people do have cars. In fact, you know our parking lot is full so the condo we ended up renting has a spot for a car. So it’s sort of assumed that you know we would be driving. But for me I wanted to take on this challenge, like I said aligned with my values. But also, you know I read Leadership Step by Step and you know we’ve been in contact. And so this has been a fun experiment, itâ€™s been a very rewarding one as well.
Joshua: OK. So, first of all, I’m smiling because you talked about my book Leadership Step by Step. And so can you tell me what are the facts of what happened? You moved. You sold the car. I mean did you still have discussions to go on? Well, walk me through from last time until now, just the highlights.
Daniel: Yeah. We sold two cars because we moved from Texas where cars are king, for sure. You know everywhere is just bunch of big roads, big trucks you know and that’s what they say everything’s bigger in Texas. The funny thing is we sold my relatively big car which was the Acura RDX. I miss you, I love you, Acura. And then Miriam she had a much smaller tinier cute car Toyota Yaris. So we got rid of both of those. Making an international move is expensive so we explored all the options â€“ sending the cars over along with our stuff, selling the cars and buying cars here. But we also mapped out the public routes for her to get to work. I work from home. She’s working at the University of Antwerp. And we thought that we could make it work relying solely on buses, trams, taxis if we had to and bikes. So that’s what we decided to do and it’s been a great change. You know a lot of times you talk about sacrifice and the way people think about sacrifice as you know limiting what you’re able to do and somehow maybe even dampening the experience that you have in your life. But again, the opposite has been true with this change and there’s been a lot more joy, a lot more happiness than even though we’re not talking about food, getting rid of cars here has led to delicious in a different way but just the deliciousness of enjoying life.
Joshua: Part of it may be your values and your thinking, â€œI love not pollutingâ€ say or you know â€œnot taking up all the space and not being dangerous to othersâ€ and maybe others who didnâ€™t have the same values might do the same things, feel the same sensations but not feel as joyful as you. Any sense ofâ€¦ Is it anyâ€¦ All of these are and you know or anyone of them?
Daniel: Yeah. I think it’s a mixed bag there. I mean definitely you know you talked about being reminded what it was like to be a kid but sure to value in terms of the environment and not wanting to pollute. And you know I’ll be interestedâ€¦ I wish we would have this conversation again in a few years especially if Miriam and I have kids. That’s the only situation where I could think of being very tempted to potentially buying a car again. And I’m sure it just needs some creative thinking but it has to do with I don’t know just I guess convenience and safety and that kind of thing. But I do feel just more connected to other people and the earth in some type of way because it’s me making the bike move you know, if that makes sense.
Joshua: It makes me think of something that I’ve put myâ€¦ It’s a nuance and a subtlety that I hope comes across here. Maybe it’s obvious to other people but it was a nuance to me that we as a society we generally look down at people who are self-righteous. And I also don’t like people being self-righteous. I get really annoyed by them. But when I do stuff thatâ€¦When I change to live consistently with my values I wonâ€™t deny there’s a feeling of self-righteousness. But other people I think people think it’s like I’m judging them but I’m not. I’m self-righteous over myself in the past. I mean the past that chose say comfort and convenience over you know taking responsibility for how my behavior impacts others. And that self-righteousness over meâ€¦ What is self-improvement if not changing something about yourself and saying, â€œThis is better than what was in the past.â€ And I’d like that feeling now.
OK, so everything sounds so positive. Everything sounds so emotionally, joyful and fun and simple. Any challenges? I mean have you gotten stuck in the rain? Have you gotten a flat tire? Is there anything that happenedâ€¦Has it just been all positive?
Daniel: No, I’ll give you some challenges. I want to give you one more positive though. Because for me how I spend my money you know and how I guess budget and use it in a way that I think is responsibly that aligns with my values. And so the other positive either going to the market and buying the produce like you could get three little packages of raspberries for three euros. That amount of raspberries in the grocery store probably easily cost 12 to 15 euros minimum. And so it’s cheaper. But the same thing with the bike too. And I love that you know in terms of not having the car, the gas, the maintenance, the insurance, it’s so much cheaper as well. So that’s another positive.
In terms of challenges, yes, I mean you are at the mercy of the elements. I can’t run into the car and stay dry and that sort of thing. I had a terrible moment. We were out. Our friends flew from Texas. Our first visitors are [unintelligible]. So shout out to them. They flew from Texas to Brussels for a conference because Koko’s Mirriamâ€¦ They are epidemiologists. So you can imagine like eating fruit from the farmersâ€™ hands was a bit of a stretch for her because she didn’t know if those hands are clean but she got over that hurdle.
Anyways. Yeah, they came to visit and you know that was a wonderful time. But we were waiting for the train because you know you could ride your bike from Antwerp to Brussels but it is going to take a little bit longer. And oh my god, Josh, we could have used the car, we would’ve just hopped in the car, we would have gotten there, we would have been dry. Maybe it’d been easy to park at the hotel. I don’t know. But we had to wait for that train and it poured and it poured harder, Josh, than I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Joshua: Wait. It was open air station that there was no roof?
Daniel: So we were waiting for the train to get to the central station to go from Antwerp to Brussels so we were out at the corner in our neighborhood. So there was a bit of recovery. But again, Josh, you have never seen rain like this and I’ve never seen it since. So this was a freak thing. But everybody that could huddle under the very limited amount of covering they were there. And that did include Miriam and myself. Now that’s not so bad. But we did have umbrellas. However, most of our raingear hadn’t been shipped to Antwerp from the States yet.
And I was OK. And yes, my feet were a little bit wet and my clothes maybe a little bit wet but we were still huddled under that umbrella. And then, Josh, the wind blew and it was a gust that was so forceful. You know when the umbrella actually inverts and now it’s totally lost its use as an umbrella. That happened and we got soaked. I mean just absolutely drenched. And it was more than I could handle. And I had a moment whenâ€¦ We’ve had a few meltdowns you know trying to navigate integrating into a new culture. That was my meltdown moment. And I ran back to my apartment and I’m not afraid to say I started to cry. I was so upset, man. And I even bent the umbrella a bit and threw it to the side to let it die a slow shameful death because it totally didn’t work as an umbrella. But that was terrible. And if I did have a car, that never would have happened. And that was really rough. Definitely not proud of that moment we were able to talk it out and regroup. We made it to Brussels. We had a lovely time at a Greek restaurant that night. But yeah, that never would have happened.
And so now you know the elements of what happened we are more prepared. We have some rain gear that makes it easier and some sturdier umbrellas. And so you also have to wear [unintelligible] your mindset. I know in the Leadership Step by Step book you talk about rain and you talk about snow and thinking back to when you were a kid and the emotions you had at that time was, â€œThis is fun. Letâ€™s go play in the puddles, letâ€™s play in the snow. We can build snowmen snowballs.â€ All that kind of stuff and the sport too. So why am I getting so ridiculously frustrated that it’s raining or it’s snowing?
I didn’t have that at that moment when it was raining so hard but I try to take that approach now even as we’re recording this podcast. I love that it’s drizzling outside. I’ve been able to navigate the smaller downpours but, man, that one day it was rough. So that’s the biggest challenge. Yeah.
Joshua: If you went back in time toâ€¦ If you could go back in time to Texas, would you have started this then?
Daniel: That makes me think of even more preparation too [unintelligible] because Texas is so high and would there be a shower and that sort of stuff, those facilities at work or a gym near work prior to getting there? And the honest answer, Josh, is maybe. You know I need to think more about it and maybe that would also then influence where I live. So that’s not necessarily as far as I was from where I worked. That would’ve made it more difficult too with dating courting Miriam because she lived in Galveston when I was in Houston. So making that drive was much more convenient than biking that. I wouldn’t have been able to see her as frequently.
Joshua: So let’s say not getting rid of the car necessarily but biking a lot moreâ€¦
Daniel: I think so.
Daniel: Yeah and you know and I took it out a bit. I ran a lot more on the bayou trail which is an incredibly beautiful trail that I used to live off of in Houston so I biked there occasionally but I ran there a lot. I did the Galveston half marathon last year so that was the place where I trained the most. But, yeah, I think it would have been nice to definitely integrate into my life a lot more.
Joshua: Okay. So yeah, I’m trying to get you know if someone’s at home and they’re like, â€œOh, I don’t live in Antwerp. I don’t live in Europe. It might be more challenging.â€ But you can start with what you can start with. That’s why I’m so big on doing something because if you don’t mind my editorializing about what you’ve described about yourself and correct me if I get anything off, but once you start doing it you start figuring out yeah, you had these issues of like it’s a big rainy day one time, maybe you had a flat tire at the worst time or something that. And then you figure it out and then you know if you live in a culture that’s not standard you are going to have to figure out more things than others but that doesn’t mean you can’t figure it out and generally on the other side of it you feel better.
Daniel: I think so. I mean working through any type of a challenge the perseverance in the lessons learned is always a satisfying thing for me. You know if you think about reading a difficult text and understanding what it’s saying to playing a video game through leading an organization, any challenge that I’ve overcome, even the challenges that have defeated me, you know I’ve learned something about myself that’s made me a better person. So you know I agree with you there 100 percent.
And also, to the listeners too, yeah, take action, start small and then expand. You know in America I think there’s many, many different types of park reserves and trails that are created because maybe the biking isn’t green in terms of a commuting culture but in terms of a lifestyle and for fitness I think there’s a lot there.
Chicago you know you’re probably just as likely to get hit by a car or by a biker if you’re out on the lake trail you know. Those guys are ruthless out there. So but they’re made right so people can enjoy those types of passions and that aligns to another value too is just the fitness aspect of it is really nice to see results in terms of leaning out. Just because I’m never in a car now and everywhere I go it has to be powered by me and that leads to some physical results that I enjoy and so does Miriam.
Joshua: I bet the food is a big part of it too.
Daniel: Absolutely. Yeah, definitely.
Joshua: Cool. And two questions about me. One is I think thatâ€¦ I think in physics language and math, I am thinking of the slope and so your slope sounds like mine and then it’s just a matter of time before you get to… I have a feeling you’re going to likeâ€¦ [unintelligible] talking of electronics and energy use and I think that there’s more to come. You also mentioned that you think of me when you’re trying to not pollute as much or try to not produce as much garbage. Were you also thinking of me, and maybe I don’t want to have the answer, but when you were in the rain and be like, â€œJosh, he’s the reason for all this!â€
Daniel: No, no, no. When I had my meltdown the only thing I could think of was, â€œWho creates this rain?â€ Why is it destroying my life?â€ But you know I have thought of you in smaller moments when I’ve had victories and I’ve been able to change those emotions you know like you talk about in the model and the method and that’s been cool. You know you’re going to see this I hope when you do meet with my clients. But we would talk about that. You know we did the exercises, they are very practical and the reflections and then we would share you know what we experienced. Then we’re still in the process of doing that. So in some of those smaller moments I think you know when I’ve been victorious but when I hit that point, when I’m having a meltdown my brains are even really working. I’m more of an animal at that point, the lizard brain has definitely taken over and I’m just trying to survive I guess.
Joshua: Well, it’s gratifying to hear that you think of me when things go well but I have to say and I want to point out to listeners he’s not just reading the book, he’s doing the exercises and reflecting on that afterward which is a major piece of the value of the book. So I recommend getting the book. I really recommend doing the exercises and then reflecting afterward. And in particular what you’re talking about here. Well, I want to point out that I didn’t do any of theâ€¦. I gave the exercises but I didn’t do any of the exercises. So I’m happy to be associated with these victories that you described. But I didn’t do it. You did. So I give it all back to you.
Daniel: Appreciate it.
Joshua: So wrapping up. Is there anything I didn’t think to ask to add that’s worth bringing up?
Daniel: No, I just want to encourage the listeners like you say you know I mentioned starting small and you challenge them to go big if you can. So I think in both those threads it’s just the idea of taking action. And you can do it. So whatever that is you can make the world a better place and in doing so you’re going to find that your life is so much more rewarding. So I just love that line that you have that now you experience delicious. It’s just such a great phrase that stuck with me. But it’s a positive one, itâ€™s a playful one, you know it makes me happy just even hearing that word. And so listeners you can have a delicious life as well and I just encourage you to take action on whatever that change might be.
Joshua: Yeah and their change might not be your change. It might be a different one.
Joshua: But it’s whatever it is for them that’s what it’s delicious for them. So my last question was going to be any message for the listeners but you just gave one. And I’ll ask you just like I always do. Any other messages for the listeners?
Daniel: You know you got the book like Leadership Step by Step. You know I’m reading one with clients right now Never Split the Difference and you know on paper they may look like one thing in terms of teaching leadership or Never Split the Deference on negotiation. But at the core there they’re really about relationships and they’re about listening. And so I think those are overlooked depending on what kind of position you might have within the organization, where you find yourself in life. But I would just encourage the listeners to not forget about people and figure out ways to connect with them in a more meaningful ways and to really truly listen and put everything else aside and you’re going to experience a life that is just so much richer, richer and so much more delicious.
Joshua: I love that you ended with that. And thank you very much. I want to leave the door open. You said in a couple of years you want to revisit this. We’ll be in touch anyway. But if in a shorter period than that things come up that you want to share for this community, please you know let’s do another episode and we will be in touch. I’m happy to hear about what’s going to come up. Iâ€™ll probably share with listeners another podcast or things like that. Any things about you that people should know about – blogs to read or podcasts to listen to, things like that?
Daniel: Yeah, you could find most of my stuff at betterleadersbetterschools.com. And so that focuses mostly on education and leadership. But I do work with small business owners and help them work the steps through a system to make sure that they get profit and run a tightly organized business. Yeah, go to betterleadersbetterschools.com, check out their content. I think you’ll find it valuable even if you’re not in education but if you consider yourself a leader and feel free to reach out you know through the web page if there’s any you knowâ€¦. Every time I could help you out, whatever that is, please send me that question. I’d love to help.
Joshua: And the groups that you lead, are they filled or do you pick up new ones periodically?
Daniel: The school leader ones I may have capacity. You know I’m building this up and so I think I have room for aboutâ€¦. I want to get to 60 clients. I have 35. And then with the small business that’s just starting the coaching there and I got a lot of room to serve small business owners so I just can’t wait to fill up those groups. It’s going to be a blast and just to see people you know living out whatever dream they have and they found you they saw a problem they found a great solution but then to actually profit from it and not let the business run their lives, you know live a life in chaos but to actually have this freedom and work on their business instead in it. Really excited to help out a lot of people that way.
Joshua: So that’s for people. If someone is listening and they think, â€œThis is something I want to do and I want to learn from someone who looks at rain and laughsâ€¦â€
Daniel: Most of the time. Sometimes I melt down. I am human.
Joshua: I mean that’s a thing. It’s like starting a company. You’re going to meltdown. I mean whether you’re Zuckerberg or Gates or whatever, Sergey and Larry, there’s no question in mind that they had their rain, their tears and so forth and you want to learn from someone who’s been through that and learn how to laugh afterward.
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. That’s one of the missions I’m working on. I’m playing with mission statements right now but I like that idea of being able to laugh at challenges into gathering community and persevere. So I like that description quite a bit.
Joshua: So I recommend working with him and with that I’m going to wrap up and I look forward to sharing another episode with you at some point and in the meantime good luck with keeping things going.
Daniel: Thanks for having me on the show, Josh.
I can’t help but mention that I love that he put the lessons from my first book Leadership Step by Step into practice in his life. I also noticed he saved money. He handled the friends visit in the rain. Did he sound unhappy? I don’t think he did. In fact, it reminds me of this old phrase that I came up with myself, â€œPeople who suck at things tell you how great they are. People who are awesome tell you about the disasters that got them there.â€ So I think the life experience has benefited him. On a personal level when Danny decided to get rid of the car that was a big moment for me on this podcast that someone is taking on a challenge bigger than most people consider. I’m really glad this worked out for him. I hope that people listening if you want to take on a challenge like this, let me know. I’d love to put you on the podcast because I think people benefit from doing things like this and I hope to bring out the leader in all the listeners because we can use leadership in this area. People crave it and the opportunities are there.
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