Discover How You Can Unlock Your True Potential?
There is great potential within all of us. However, in order to reach this potential, we must go beyond the norm and the comfortable. Many men go an entire life unwilling to go beyond their comfort zone. It is the willingness to face our greatest fears and understand we all start at the beginning before greatness is achieved.
In this episode, Thom Singer, a professional speaker, shares how men can unlock their potential and what it really takes to be a fulfilled man today. Listen now and get ready to thrive!
To learn more about Thom Singer, visit https://thomsinger.com/
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Ep. 20 - Thom Singer
Hello and welcome to the strong men podcast. Empowering men to thrive. I'm Anthony Treas from strongmencoaching.com, where I share how men can thrive in their health, wealth, their sense of adventure, and mental toughness. I'm going to get right into this next interview with Thom Singer. And just before this, you know, like a lot of people know, we obviously talked to our guests before we get on. And, that's what I really enjoy. Because I get to know my guests a little bit more by having this brief period. Some of them I've met in person. I have met Thom briefly at a conference in San Diego. And so, I'm really excited to continue to have this conversation going, this energy that we had before. So Thom, welcome to strong men podcast.
Well, Anthony, thank you so much for having me on your show. When I was growing up, I never felt strong. I always felt like the Wimpy Kid. But, now I'm on the strong man podcast. I feel empowered, man.
Wonderful because that is the theme of this podcast. And you have your own podcast. And for those who are listening right now those entrepreneur types, "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do", is Thom singers podcast. So, go and check that out. He's been doing that for four years and has almost 400 episodes. So I guarantee those entrepreneurs that you will learn something from Thom. So Thom, so how did you get into this? I know, you're a professional speaker, you hold a unique title, very few people who hold a professional speaking titles such as yourself. So, how did you get into speaking, how did you get into this personal development, working with people, entrepreneurs? How'd you get into that?
Well, I always tell people that I started speaking about one years old, I think "Mama" was my first word. And now I make my living as a professional speaker and master of ceremonies at corporate and association events. I do sales trainings, team meetings for companies. And one of my older brothers came to see me give a speech a couple years at a big corporate event when I was in his city. And my other two older brothers were very curious about it. So as soon as the the speech was over, they called him and they're like, was he any good? And my brother said, My God, we've been trying to shut him up since he was a baby, and now they pay him to talk. So we're never, we're never going to stop him. but I didn't answer your question properly.
I got into speaking, I was the marketing director for a law firm. And the managing partner asked me to create a business development and networking class for lawyers. Because he pointed out that I was really good at it. I was well connected in the community, the lawyers sucked at it. And he wanted me to create like an educational program. And I really thought, Oh, my god, they're gonna hate this, and the lawyers liked it so much. They asked me every quarter to put on some sort of a business skills class. And they started sending me around the different offices. It was a big national firm, and I was working in the Austin and Dallas offices. And they started sending me to New York and Palo Alto and Seattle, and Denver and San Diego, and everywhere, Washington, DC. And the lawyers really liked the programs that I was doing. And somebody came up to me one time and said, Why do you work for the law firm? Why don't you just go and speak and train and I literally said, I don't think that's a thing unless you're famous. And they were like, no, it's actually a thing.
And so I started looking into it, it took a few years. But that's how it sort of got started. And then I went out and started doing training classes, and then doing training for other law firms and banks and consulting firms. And then that led to Association work. And it's never stopped, I've been doing it full time for 10 years.
Incredible. It's amazing how people do fall into the things that they eventually do. They eventually do very well. And they had no idea that that's what they would be doing. So that's incredible. Now, tell me, what have you learned over the years? I'm sure when you go back and you look at your past speaking engagements, or even in your first few years into your podcast? And you listen to those are you watch your video? What are some of the things you've learned over the years?
Well, I think the biggest thing I've learned is that skill comes with experience. So I've given almost 800 speeches to different audiences over the last 10 or 15 years. And I've done 400 episodes of my podcast. And if you were to go back in time, and look at the early ones of either of those mediums, of either those ways of speaking, I wasn't as good as I am now. And if we could go forward in time, five years from now, I'll be even more skillful than, than I am at this point. So the way you get better is doing. And so often, in our society, people want to overthink, they want to be perfect with everything they do. And they don't even try. And so my motto is try new things. And I go out and I try new things. And some of it sticks. And I keep doing it. And some of it doesn't. But the only way you're going to get better at it is if you keep doing those things, doing something once will never get you to perfection.
Yeah. So let's dive more into that experience. Because I know and I've struggled with this, we want things to be perfect, right off the get go. And we're afraid to fail, we're afraid to not perform very well, we're afraid of these things that that we're just not going to be the best at it at the beginning. So, often times, men don't even try or they put it off for so long when they could have started years ago. So let's talk a little bit more about the importance of experience and just getting going no matter where you're at?
Well, I think for me, the thing that I've really come to see is that we all have a little voice in our head that's judging us. And we're worried about what other people are going to think. And the voice in our head is saying, well, you're not good enough to do that. Who are you to go up and train lawyers? They have advanced degrees, you don't have an advanced degree. Who are you to be the keynote speaker at a conference for 5000 people? You're not famous, these people don't want to hear you. And if you if you let those little voices talk you out of doing it, then you're never going to do it. So even if it's a desire, and the truth is, as a kid, I wanted to be an actor, and I never did anything about it. And Anthony, I'll tell you the worst part. I grew up in Los Angeles. So I was 15 miles from Hollywood. And I never went for it. So the flip of that is, is that when I turned 50, I decided that little voice in my head wasn't going to stop me anymore. Didn't matter what it was, if something sounded interesting. I was going to say yes, and I was going to go out, I was going to explore it. So my little personal hashtag is 50 to 75. And I tell everybody make age 50 to 75 the best years of your life. But then I counsel younger people, don't wait till you're 50. Just get out there and do stuff, try new things. See what happens. And the more you try it, the more you're going to find out some things you want to do more something you're going to go that was nice. I went surfing and I did not like it. My legs aren't strong enough. I hurt myself shoulder. I but I tried it. But I don't want to do it. Again.
This idea of experience, if we have a man listening right now, and as we discussed earlier, you're in your 50s. I'm in my early 40s. And oftentimes we get to a period in our life where we start thinking about what we want to do for the next period of our life. And for you, you mentioned, let 50's to 70's be the best years of your life, but not to wait until you are 50. But to start doing that a lot earlier. You have spoken with a lot of entrepreneurs, let's get into the topic of being an entrepreneur, what have you learned from these entrepreneurs that when they just first started and not being quote unquote, successful, what are some of the lessons or some of the things that people have struggled early on as an entrepreneur and have grown from those from those experiences?
Well, I've interviewed, I've done 400 episodes, some of them are just me. So there's about 300 and 50 interviews with entrepreneurs. So entrepreneurs, business leaders, and others. And 350 people. There's a couple of themes that keep popping up. And one of those themes, which I think inspired my just try new things and go make the next 25 years the best years ever. Oh, and by the way, there's a caveat to that. That's hard to do. Because I've had a really good life. I mean, make 50 to 75, the best years of your life would be one thing if the first 50 years suck, but I had a pretty good life. But I did have that little voice in my head that held me back.
And so the entrepreneurs I talked to, one of the things they say is you have to take action. Don't overthink and go. If you want to start a business, go start the business. If it's not working, the term in the tech world is "pivot". So get momentum. If you're not going the right direction, and the business isn't growing. And you're not getting clients switch directions, go ahead and pivot or do what they call the other term is "fail fast". Get out there and realize that I've started a business that nobody wants to buy my product, shut it down and go start another business, either pivot or close it. But either way, go do! Sitting around writing out business plans isn't going to get you anywhere, you have to be a doer.
So one of the things I did is in addition to being an actor, I had a secret fantasy that I wanted to do stand up when I was in my 20s. And I used to go to comedy clubs all the time. My friends would be like, well, let's go to an open mic, I'll come with you. And I was always like, no, because I thought I'd suck. And so I'm like, no way. So, five months ago, I got invited by a professional comic friend of mine to go to open mic night. And I thought he meant come watch me do new material. But what he really meant was write a five minute set and get up on stage. And I told him no. And he goes, aren't you the try new things guy. And I'm like, "God Damn, yes, I am." And so I wrote a set. And then when I was in New York, a month later, I met him and Greenwich Village, and we went to a comedy club down to the open mic night in the basement. So, I didn't just go to an open mic night and like to Tapika. I went to Greenwich Village, New York City to a comedy club. And I did a five minutes. And I will tell you that I was not the best comic in the room. But I wasn't the worst. And I learned a little bit, and I and I pushed myself through that little voice. But now, I do it once a week. So I've done this 22 times since March, where if I'm either in the town I live in, or I travel so much, if I if I'm speaking at a conference, I will Google open mic night Kansas City. And if there is one while I'm there, and if I don't have a conflict with the conference, I'm speaking at all show up in an open mic night, put my name on the list. And in most cases, you get on and I will go and I'll go and do a five minute comedy set. I've written three or four different five minute bits.
Now, Seinfeld is not worried about job security, because I'm doing open mic nights. This is hardly high end comedy, right? This is not Kevin Hart or that stuff. But I'm learning a lot. So I've made a commitment to do it 100 times. Just keep going. Keep trying. Write new bits. And I'll tell you what, that's what I've learned from all the entrepreneurs that I've interviewed is, if you want to do something, you don't have to be great at it. You don't even have to have the plan right out of the gate. Just go out and do and you will learn from doing.
I love this. Because I've been there. I've done that in the sense where I've doubted myself. But part of me also wanted to get busy to start taking action. And that's what I did with this podcast. I know I'm into my at this point, I'm less than 20, my first 20 episodes. And so I'm learning and growing from this. And I know that before, I remember when I was about to hit Publish for my first episode to go out. And I'm thinking people are going to be able to listen to this, hear it. But at the same time, I realized that I and I've heard this from other people, and I've read many books and have talked to many people, whereas, It's okay, that it's not the best. It's okay that you're going to make mistakes, or are there things not necessarily mistakes. But yeah, you could have been done differently, or better in the sense. And for me, I was like, I'm just going to get this going. I don't have to get it right. I just have to get it going.
It was my idea or my thoughts. And I think for many men and I had struggled this for many years, because I had known about podcasting for a very long time. I'm not sure exactly. But I knew about podcasting a long time when when you had to upload your your files to, and it was Libsyn that was my hosting. And you would hope to get somebody to listen to it. And anyhow, so I've known about podcasting. And I had wanted to have a podcast show for quite some time. But I just released mine after so many years of just holding back and not believing that I was worthy, or that anyone would listen to my podcast, or what I had to say. Maybe I had to grow a little bit as a person or as an entrepreneur. But I got it going. And like you mentioned earlier, little looking back at those early years of your podcast, or your professional speaking career that you've improved over the years. So that's, it's incredible. So what's the second thing that you're seeing a theme in with entrepreneurs?
Well, I think the other thing is, is that you can't do any of this alone. We live in a society and especially for men, where we think it's all about the Lone Ranger, that if you're going to be successful, you're out there by yourself slugging it out. But it doesn't matter who it is, you can't find that success by yourself. So you need to surround yourself with the right people, you have to have that right tribe of people who are going to support you. And sometimes the people who are closest with you aren't the ones who are the most supportive. And it's not that they don't mean to be sometimes they just have different goals. They have different visions, they grew up in different situations. And so you have to find the people who are going to be there for you.
So I have a mastermind group with three other professional speakers. And we've been together for God, it's five years and we get together twice a year, we rent a house on Airbnb that has four bedrooms, we move into the house for two or three nights. And everybody gets three hours over the course of the time where we do nothing but dissect their business or whatever port portion of their business they're struggling with. And we all have different things going on. One of the people has tripled his income. So he's not struggling with getting by money wise, he's making a lot of money, but he has other things that he faces in his business and his personal life. And so we will get in, and we'll write him a little bit more, push him and we'll say, okay, when we're together again, in six or eight months, how is this going to be different, and we get together by Skype or zoom every other month.
So like five times a year should be six times we are either in person, or we are on a call, and we are being supportive of each other, we're holding each other accountable. Sometimes we're kicking each other in the butt. But one of the things I've learned from talking to all of these entrepreneurs is successful people do not do it alone, you have to have your team around you, if you're not good at being a team player, you're gonna have a lot of trouble.
You know, I'm really glad that you brought that up. Because oftentimes, and you brought up the term, you know, the Lone Ranger type where we think you have to do it alone, that if you're going to get the credit, you got to do it alone. And I look at people who are, quote, unquote, successful, whether they're successful authors, whether they're successful businessman, whatever they are, quote, unquote, successful at, they didn't do it on their own. And oftentimes, I hear this many times with men, that whether being a good husband, being a good father, being a good quote, unquote, man, that it does take a positive supportive group to support you in that. Whatever it is that you want to be, or want to become, like, we do become, I remember, as a kid, my parents would always be concerned with who I was hanging out with, you know, they were very concerned about that. Because why, because who you hang out with, is who you become, or you start espousing characteristics that they have, and that doesn't change as adults. That doesn't change as we become adults. And that doesn't change. So who your friends are, who you the people that you associate with those who you connect with, you're going to be like them in some way.
It's the old Jim Rome quote, right? I mean, it's over quoted, but it's, it's true that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. If you hang out with people who are better than you, when it comes to character issues. You're going to have to strive to get better. If you hang out with people who are making shortcuts and who are schlocky, it's really easy for you to take shortcuts and not do the right thing.
Absolutely. That also goes for relationships. That also goes with friendships, being a business person, every area in our life, whether we're trying to, if we're trying to lose weight, you know, who are those closest to us, right? Are they going to be supportive, or they're going to help us in that. If we're trying to improve our relationships, all sorts of things. And that's all where I really want to get that message out to men about empowering men to thrive. I wanted to start questioning ourselves, like, Who are the people who I look up to, who are the people that I surround myself with? Do they have the relationships I want? Do they have the business that I want? Do they have the income that I hope to have. And it doesn't mean that we just let some friendships go. But at times, we do have to make those decisions about like, what is best for me and my life at this time. So any other themes that come up?
Well, I was just going to add that men have it tough to because by the time you're 50, it's really hard to make new friends, right? I mean, when you're, when you're in high school, and college, you have classes every hour, you're involved with sports teams, or fraternity or some other type of organization, and then you become a young professional. And there's all these young professional activities that you can go do after work, or even inside your company, putting all the the up and comers, the high potential young employees together into special learning.
And then you get married and you hang out with all the other new married couples. And then you have kids, and all your kids make friends and the friends have parents and then your friends with all those parents. And then you turn around and 50 and you're just not in those new social circles. Yes, it's really hard to make new friends. And so it's one of those things that as you get older, you have to work harder to put yourself out there to make new friends. Two of my closest friends on a day to day basis in the city I live in are both 29 years old. And one day I realized that to my best friends are 28 and 29 years old. How come I have these close relationship with these young guys? Well, they had come to me to kind of be their business mentor, and they sort of stuck like, after five years, they're not going anywhere. They come up with a nickname for me, they call me dad. And I, you know, I actually thought like, really older brother would be a better nickname. But you know, my own children referred you guys my fake son.
But I hang out with them a lot. And, and not as their mentor, but as their friend. And one of the things I've realized is, is they're ambitious, they're hungry, they're trying new things. They're trying to figure out stuff. I like being around that energy, where a lot of people my own age have either made it and are done, or they've given up. And so you know, I haven't done either of those things. So I got to get around people who are hungry, who are trying new things, who want to go have adventures. So I believe strongly that everybody wins with cross generational networking. And with mentorship and mentorship isn't just the older person helping the younger person. I learned as much from these guys as as they learn from me.
And that's awesome. I'm really glad that you brought this topic up of mentorship, you're in your early 50s, and these other men and their late 20s, let's talk about that too. Because I know, you know, you brought up the idea that it is difficult once you get older, and you brought up those different stages. And I definitely have had conversations with my friends about when you get married. And now you're hanging out with married people. And then when your with other couples, and then when you have kids now you're hanging out with others, couples who have kids, and then they have friends and these sorts of things. And so when you do get to your 50s, and I've heard this from other people too, that it is difficult to build those relationships. But I want to talk about the idea of that when you are retired. Or when you are older in your 50's, 60's, 70's of how you can continue to contribute at this age, even though you might feel like you've never done anything with your life, or you have made it as you suggested.
Well, I think you just find ways to give back. And I think if you've made it to 50, you've accomplished something. I mean, the world is a tough place, there's a lot of loneliness out there, there's a lot of depression, there's a lot of other stuff that's real. And I think that a, we have to realize that that a lot of people really struggle. And if you're fortunate enough, where you don't feel lonely, or at least not all the time, and you don't feel that you're in a constant struggle, one of the things to do is find a way to give back. And, and maybe I mean, I'm not a psychologist, so I don't know, maybe even if you are struggling, find a way to serve others. And I think that if you can find a charity or you can find a cause. In my case, I started mentoring some, you know, younger people who would see me speak at a conference and talk about mentorship as part of a way to get ahead in the world. And every now and then people will come up and be like, Hey, can I buy you lunch? And I'm like, Yeah, of course. And not all of them become people I have ongoing relationships with. But Nick and Jake did, and they sort of stuck around and they kept calling. And we developed a real friendship out of the mentorship.
But part of that was people said, Why do you give so much time to these guys, like, anytime they call, I take their I take their phone call? Well, one of the reasons I take the call is that's sort of my way of giving back. There were people who did that for me. When I was in my 20s, there were people who gave me advice and always were there and told me, I'm oh I probably didn't call them enough. But they told me I'm always here if you're facing an issue, because as you're coming up, you know, you're asking for a raise, or you're going up for a new job or maybe you get laid off, if you've never been through any of those things before. It's really hard. And yet, I've been help these guys through those types of things in there. Like, how did you know because I'm old, I've seen it, if it hasn't happened to me, it's happened to one of my buddies. So you know, I think one of the things to make is go serve others, go give back.
That's great. And yes, I would say that the best way to get over a period of loneliness or depression is to take the focus off yourself, and to go and help others. That is a great piece of advice there. So three things that we've covered here that you've seen this theme, speaking with entrepreneurs, is go out and get the experience, don't feel like you have to be perfect, or the professional or anything, go out there and get an experience. And that is important to go out there. No matter what level you're at, even if you're just beginning go out there. And then, with that is to go out there and take action, start taking action, whatever it is that step you think you need to take, take that step you're going to learn from it. And then go on. And as you mentioned, pivot and go a different direction with that newfound knowledge and experience.
The other thing is, is to find supportive group of people, they may not be the ones that are directly close to you. But to go and look for those successful people, you brought up the idea that someone asked you out for lunch. That's definitely an option for people to want to begin to surround themselves with supportive people, and also mentorship and being able to pass on or to give back to people who are at one time where where you are at. And you have that opportunity to do that now. So any last words for our listeners today, Thom.
Take ownership of your own life. And if you don't feel you where you are, if you're not feeling strong, if you don't feel like you have it all together, go out and hire someone who can coach you, or go listen to podcasts, or read books, or learn to meditate, talk to your spouse, talk to your friends, get the people around you to support you. But, take a ownership. You are where you are today because of decisions that you've made.
The older I get, the more I'm learning don't point fingers at other people. Because the reality is, is even if you had a bad relationship, if you had a friendship that never happened or didn't work out. It's not all the other person's fault. It takes two people to build a friendship. It also takes two people to screw one up. And so you know, pointing fingers and saying, well, that person's a dick. Well, that's great. But maybe you are too. And, as I get older, I'm learning that that is a very, very key thing is I'm totally starting to take ownership of where I've failed. And I think of a couple of relationships that have gone awry. And it would be really easy to say it's all them. But the truth is, is that I'm a contributor here, but it's never going to get fixed. Because they're not going to stand up and say, I'm a contributor to.
I actually had a super close friend in college, actually, in high school, too. She and I were like brother and sister. We went through a lot of stuff together. And I'm still not fully sure what happened. But she started dating someone in college, and he and I didn't get along, and she felt like she was putting a corner and she had to make a choice. And, and she chose him and they end up getting married and had a couple kids and a good life. But our friendship fell apart. And it was a shame because it was an epic friendship. And a couple of years ago, our paths crossed and 30 years went by or 25 years, our paths crossed on Facebook. And she had commented on something some high school friend had said, and had liked what I had said, and I thought, you know what, that's acknowledgement that I'm alive.
So I'm going to respond. So I sent her a direct message. And I said, Look, I'm sorry for my part in torpedoing an epic friendship, you were really important to me in our teens and 20s, and I hope you're having a great life. That's all I said. She immediately replied back and said, I'll take the other part of that problem. I'm sorry, too. And we ended up texting for like an hour, we end up getting on the phone. And we're not best friends. But you know, we send Christmas cards to each other, we chat on on social media and now what's while. She and her husband might come to the area, the country where I am for a business trip. And if that happens, we're all going to go out to dinner together. And it's all water under the bridge. I mean, whatever it was, it happened, I don't even know what it was.
I don't even remember. But when I said pay, I'll take my responsibility in this. She said, I'll take mine too. And the rest of it was like, well, that was an unfortunate lack of a friendship for 25 years. And we both understood that we were young, we probably could have handled it differently. And I admire her so much for her immediate response saying, me too, because I think a lot of people don't do that. I think a lot of people, you say, hey, I'm really sorry for what I didn't. They're like, well, you should be, you should be sorry. And, the only way you repair something like both people have to say, I screwed this up. And, it's not well, you were 60% and I was 40% I don't know who was more at fault. You know, I could have been 99% but whatever, it was what it was, but the only way you get past something like that in a human to human relationship is if you're willing to take ownership that I am where I am. And every situation I'm in at least partially, if not 100%, because of decisions I've made, and I'm not going to make the same stupid ones tomorrow.
And that we will leave it as the last message for this episode. Fantastic! Thank you, Thom. For those interested in reaching out to Thom. You can find him at thomsinger.com. That's t h o m S i n g e r .com. I will be leaving a link in the notes where you can click on that and get more information on Thom.
Thom, thank you very much for your time. And for all the tips that you have shared with us today in your experience in having over 800 speeches, professional speeches, and your podcast. Also, for those who are listening. Thom's podcast is "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do", has be going on for over four years and many episodes, hundreds of episodes, for 350 entrepreneurs have been interviewed and some words of wisdom from Thom as well. So, be sure to listen to this podcast and visit him at thomsinger.com.
Thom. Once again. Thank you for being part of the strong men podcast. And for those listening. I'm Anthony Treas from strongmencoaching.com and until next time, stay STRONG!
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