Episode 179: David Richman's Cycle of Lives - Overcoming Adversity Through Inspiring StoriesDec 19, 2022
An entrepreneur, author, public speaker, athlete, and philanthropist, David Richman uses the lessons learned in his life to enrich and inspire others. As a former sedentary, overweight, smoker, David knew that he needed to focus not on what others wanted out of him, but on what he wanted out of life. With his first book, Winning in the Middle of the Pack, David discussed how to get more out of ourselves than ever imagined. Now, David shares the interconnected stories of others overcoming obstacles - specifically cancer - in his second book Cycle of Lives.
Here's what I cover with David Richman in this episode:
- David Richman's childhood experiences of feeling unwelcome and having to solve daily problems
- David's career journey from financial advisor to manager of financial advisors
- David's latest book, Cycle of Lives, which tells the stories of 15 people's experiences with cancer
Visit David’s Website to learn more about his story and mission.
“I just always worked ten times as hard as everybody else because I was afraid, like, man, I'm going to start from zero again at any time."
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Welcome back to your Next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. In this episode I speak with David Richman. He is an author, public speaker, athlete and I want you to think about this little blurb for a second. Inspiring deeper human connections through life changing stories.
When David and I were put in contact with each other and I spoke to him, his story blew me away, first of all. And then what he has done with his story and how he is changing lives is just incredible. So his latest book, Cycle of Lives, it is 15 people's stories, 5000 miles and a journey through the emotional and chaos of cancer. I'm just going to leave it there. You guys do not want to miss this.
When I tell you this book, I was driving around the block so I can finish certain chapters. It is so beautifully written and just super impressive. David is an award winning author and is just amazing. So you can find David on Instagram, David Richman underscore Cycle of Lives or really on his website. That's where everything is.
And you can purchase the book. Davidrichman.com, all the proceeds of the book go to the participants in the book. They go through their charity. So all the proceeds, 100% of the book's profits go to cancer charities. So you guys do not want to miss this.
Again, if you have not heard, I consult people on helping them tell their story. So if you're a small business, you're an influencer, you're in the podcast circuit, you're a podcaster, you're out in the business world and you want to network. I help you be able to share your story. I help you be able to take the parts that are going to connect deeper with people and put them together and help you formulate that. I also help with taking out parts of your story for different increments.
So like if you're on a podcast that's a half an hour versus a podcast, that's an hour versus a media segment versus you're standing up and doing a pitch. I help you take out the pieces that are going to connect deeper with that audience and just really help you kind of fine tune it. So if you want more information on that or you're interested in learning more, you can email me at info at I m Juliet Hahn. You can also find me in all the socials at Juliet Hahn J-U-L-I-E-T-H-A-H-N. Or you can also find them at imJuliet Hahn.
I do a 30 minutes free consult to see if I am the person to help you formulate your story and get it out there in the media podcast world. So we will see you guys again on your next stop. Have you ever been listening to your favorite podcast and that moment comes up and you think, oh my gosh, I need to share it? Well, now you can with picked cherries. What I love about picked cherries so much is that when I'm listening to my favorite podcast and that moment comes up that I want to share, I can take a Snippet, which is called the picked Cherry, and I can send that to my friends and family so they can get involved in the podcasts that I love.
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Welcome back to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. I say it every single time, but it is so true. I am really excited for my guest, David Richman, author of Cycle of Lives. He has inspired deeper human connections through life changing stories.
Wait until you guys hear the story. So welcome, David. How are you? Great. Juliet.
Really good. Excited to talk to you. I'm so excited for this. And just so our listeners know, we have been connected, like, I know your story. I've heard your story.
I've read your book. I was telling David, typically I will read a little bit of people's books before they're on, but I could not stop reading David's books. I literally was driving around and I was listening to his book, but driving around my block at times to listen to it more because it is so good. And I can't wait to dive into that. But first I would love the listeners to get a little bit of who you are.
Sure. Well, thank you. And by the way, thanks for taking the time to do that because you know, as a provider of content that you're going up against a million other shows where people could be tuning in and they choose to tune into you. And when you choose to read a book that I wrote, it's really nice. So thank you.
You're welcome. Because you have a couple of books. But again, we're going to dive into that and then we'll tell everyone where they can follow you. But if you just give us a little background on where you grew up, if you went to university and give us a little background. Yeah, so I grew up in Southern California and in a very kind of wacky childhood.
I had parents that were nearly 40 years age difference. So my mom was 18 when she married my dad, who was 56. And they had kids starting a couple of years later. So you could imagine that she was pretty young and really didn't want or like kids. He was pretty old and really didn't want or like kids.
So I don't know why they had them, but I guess I wouldn't be here if they didn't. And then when I was 18, I kind of left home and was on my way to go to select colleges to attend and like out of a movie. But it was a real life thing. My car broke down in Vegas and one bad story after another. And I ended up going to the University of Hard Knocks, as it were, and crawled out of any holes that were thrown my way or that I jumped into on my own and eventually made it onto Wall Street.
Worked at a major Wall Street firm for many, many years. And I used to say I ran 100 million dollar in revenue business and I just prayed that nobody would ever see my resume. Right. Well, life sometimes gives us those experiences that college doesn't. But I remember you sharing with me very shortly and you can get into that.
When you were 18, when you were in your car, you basically were robbed and taken everything from you. So can you just give us a little bit of that so the listeners can kind of really picture? Yeah, I guess the reason I tell this story is because you just don't know what people have gone through. You can't assume that things have been easier or hard for them because it might have been the easiest life in the world and you thought they had it tough or vice versa. And I think everybody has many, many of those stories that if people took the time to understand what they've gone through and they just have a little bit more appreciation for me.
I was 18, going on about eleven, had no awareness of the world. I was very immature and very unaware as my car broke down in Vegas. To make a long story short, within three days of that car breaking down, I got robbed at gunpoint of everything that I had. So I had fifty six cents and a carton of cigarettes and nobody to call and know where to go. And it was rough.
I mean, it was rough. I didn't even know where to take one step forward. But eventually I figured it out. And it was strange because I was just telling somebody this story the other day. Juliet and I finally got like, I went to a Jack in the Box, got a job, right, and made enough money to not stay on somebody's couch so I could get a little apartment.
And one of the things I used to do as a kid that I love was play pinball. And across the street from this really crappy apartment in a really crappy neighborhood was a little pinball place, a little pinball arcade, and I went to play pinball and I came out of the pinball arcade, like with the first, like $3 I could afford to spend. And I looked across the street up at my second floor apartment, Juliet, and all my life it was getting robbed as I watched it. And I'm like, dude, I literally have like three pairs of clothes and like $40 in the drawer. There's nothing you could take.
But yeah, I saw them crawling out of the window with a couple of things that I had and I just was like, oh, my God. Like, what is the world going to? It's unbelievable right now. Was this the second robbery? Yes.
Or this was your first robbery? First time, I was just passing through and yeah, somebody just robbed me at gunpoint and just said, hey, give me everything you got and get the heck out of here. I feel lucky that I didn't get shot in the head. It was really scary. Really scary.
Especially when you're 18 and you leave home. I mean, the things that you learn again, that you kind of didn't have a choice. You were like, okay, I just have to figure it out. And then you get robbed again and watch the whole thing. Now, this time you're not in the vicinity, so you don't feel like you're getting harmless.
But being robbed.
It really is it's hard to deal with. And again, I'm like 18 years old. I don't know anything from anything, right? And I just remember, like, literally walking across the street, getting in my car and driving to work, and I just stayed at my I never went back to that place ever again because I was scared. I was just too scared.
I stayed with a friend and started again from scratch. I think by, like, by 19 or 20, I had been, like, robbed and started from scratch, like, a few different times. And I'm just like, what the hell? Like, how is that even possible? But whatever, I mean, everybody has a husband, and I just got one job and then another, worked two jobs, then another, and finally worked at a restaurant, became the manager of the restaurant, became a senior manager, managers of the restaurant chain, and then went into finance.
And I just always worked, like, ten times as hard as everybody else because I was afraid, like, man, I'm going to start from zero again at any time. Right? So those experience. Now, do you think as an 18 year old getting robbed at gunpoint, you said you never felt like you were truly wanted as a child. Do you think, though, your grit really just became because you were like, I want something better, or do you think it was just something that you saw and was instilled in you as a kid?
I don't think I had the consciousness to make a decision to say, I'm going to get through this. Right. Like we do when we get older, we get some perspective. We have some things to measure against, like, oh, this isn't so bad, remember when or, I know I can do this because I did that, right? But when you're young, you just don't have that perspective.
And I didn't have that perspective. It was just forward energy. Like, just figure out a way to make it to your next day, your next meal, whatever. And I'm sure a lot of people can identify 100%. And then there's the ones, though, that kind of just let life take them over.
As much as life happened to you, you never let that define you. You were like, okay, I'm going to work out of it. I can see where my hard work is going to bring me somewhere. So where do you think really? You got that?
It's a great question. Juliet the only thing that I can think of that I got it from is I had daily problems to solve as a kid, and again, in my world, dramatic. In somebody else's world, they're not problems. But an example is my mom, who didn't want kids around, would say, you can't come home till dark, but if we came home after dark, it'd be a big trouble. So we'd have to sit my sister and I would sit across the street, hide in the bushes and wait until it was dark.
Like, when's dark? I don't know when dark is. And so every day, I had to make a decision, like, I could do a, and it's going to get me out of trouble. I could do a the next day, and it's going to put me into trouble. Right.
And so I think I was just very aware of the fact that life is just about solving problems and figuring out how to escape the wrath each day. And so I didn't consciously think, like, having a loaded gun at your face while people rob you and saying, get the hell out of here or we're going to kill you, I didn't consciously go, oh, this is a problem to solve. It's just like, all right, I'm out of this. Now, what's the next problem? What's the next thing I got to deal with?
It's kind of a weird thing, right? It was unconscious, right? But I think it makes a lot of sense that your childhood, the way you grew up, was, okay, I have to figure things out. So when you found your way to Wall Street, tell us a little bit about that. So I've done real estate loans.
I kind of faked my way into doing real. I was really good at math and stuff.
I worked hard. If I put myself into something, I'm usually pretty good at it, but I don't try everything, so I don't know the things I'm not good at because I don't like to try them. So I was pretty good at math and pretty good with people. So I started doing real estate loans, and I did that for a few years. And one of the people that I did real estate loans for became my stockbroker.
And her and her husband were really, really nice people. Not quite mentors, but they kind of looked out for me a little bit. And she came to me one day and said, dude, you'd be a really good financial adviser, so you should become a financial advisor. And I went, all right, what does that entail? I got to take some tests, and I got to do whatever, which was no problem.
And then I started to do it, and I realized I'm going to be a really good financial advisor. But, oh, my God, every time I turn around the corner and look at a manager, they're horrible. Like, managers are bad, right? And all you have to do is be a little bit good to be a really good manager. So I said to myself, because I'd managed in hotels and managed in restaurants, and I go, I could be a really good manager.
So I left being a financial advisor to go be a manager of financial advisors. And I had a good career because that's a skill set of mine. I'm really good at managing people, but in a good way, right. And I think that's because, again, from my childhood, I got to manipulate to make people happy, what's going to be upset? And I'm always focused on them, which is a good thing sometimes, right?
I mean, even when I need to be strong, when I need to be forgiving whatever. But I feel like it's a very positive place when you're leading others to really be aware of the reaction, the consequences of your strategy and that type of stuff, right. I don't bulldoze through people. I have this theory, like, I'm the guy with the beach ball, and and you're on one side of the beach and you see a yellow ball, and the person over there sees a green one, and the guy over there sees a red one, and they're all right. But when I twist it around, I'm trying to show you it's a whole beach ball with a bunch of different colors.
So I'm pretty good at that interactive stuff, right? So that led me to a pretty good career managing larger and larger businesses for big Wall Street firms. Got it. And then I know there was a time in your life that we talked a little bit about your childhood that was a struggle. And I know you always say, oh, other people have more trauma, but that's traumatic as a kid not to feel like you wanted.
So you had to really kind of navigate that. You ended up having a career in finance where you're really successful. Where were you at this point in your life? Married, kids? If you can take us through a.
Little bit of that, sure. As far as I could have come in my professional life, in my personal life, I was pretty not nearly as successful. I think that approach as a manager of worrying about other people and the consequences of your actions and that type of stuff is good. But I think in your personal life, you need to kind of focus on the things that make you happy. And I think I was always focused on what might make other people happy, which is not a way to go.
And being trained that relationships are making angry, mean people, not be angry and mean. I found myself in a lot of those relationships, and in my personal life, I was completely stressed out. I was a smoker. I was overweight. I was in a relationship with a violent alcoholic.
I had four year old twins. And as as happy and successful and and confident and capable, I felt in my professional life, it was the exact opposite of my personal life. I was really at the end of my rope, not understanding why life was so hard, why people were so mean, why I couldn't be even, you know, 2% happy with with who I could be and who I was. I was really at a very low point and didn't know where to turn, didn't know what to do. And that kind of like, low points can be good, right?
Because when you have no other option but to figure it out, oftentimes you get the chance to figure it out, right? When things are kind of going, they're a little bumpy. You're like, I can handle the bumps. But when the bumps are so hard, if you run over the next bump, you're going to die. Don't run over the next bump.
You figure it out, right? And so it got so rough that I was just like, man, I'm at a brick wall. I got to figure something out. And that was kind of the change in my life, right? And you had a friend say something to you if you can share with the audience, because I think it's such an important thing.
And this friend was in your life for a long time. If you can share what he said to you, that really made you stop in your tracks and be like, I got to figure this out, like, now. Yeah. So in my professional life and in some relationships, I was really good at just wrapping my arms around the situation and figuring out how to move the ball forward, like, how to solve the problem, how to have a favorable outcome, right? And I like that about business.
I like that about challenges and relationships and that type of stuff. But in my personal life, I just was not able to do that. And I'd say cynical, certainly complaining.
I probably felt a little self pity, and it was just like, I'm just always complaining. On the one side, I'm so happy. On the other side, I'm just so miserable. And I was sitting around with my friend Chris, and I'm just reiterating all of the bad stuff in my personal life to him, and he finally stopped, and he stood up, and he goes like, Dude. He goes, like, four years I've been listening to this crap.
He goes, I got to tell you, you're the problem. And I go, what? I'm like, what do you mean I'm the problem? And I started explaining about how I couldn't be the problem because this person here and this thing there, and this person is so mean, and I can't say anything or else and my home life was just horrible. And he goes, no, you're the problem.
And I go and he goes, look, man, he goes everything in your life is a wild animal. You love wild animals because they pose a challenge to you. And you go find that wild animal, and you bring it home, and you give it a nice place, and you wash it, and you pat it and you talk nice to it, and you do everything you can to make it feel comfortable. And then it turns around and bites you. And you start complaining, like, why the hell does it bite you?
He goes, do wild animals bite? That's what they do. He goes, your wife is mean to the bone. She doesn't know any better. She doesn't know any better.
But you do. Like, all these other people that are in your life, that you have in your life by choice, they're who they are. Why do you choose to be around them? Because you should know better. You're the problem.
Go home, look in the mirror, and figure out how to fix your problems. And I'm like, Whoa. Like, that's profound, right? I'd heard those things before. I thought them before, but it never really made sense until it made sense, and that happened.
Everybody has some many points in their life where they heard it a million times. They knew it. But eventually, at one point, he had clarity. And at that point, I had clarity. Julietn, where I hit you, it was like, okay, yeah, I had to say, like, all right, maybe I am the guy with the problem.
Maybe it's not everybody else. Maybe it's me. It's a hard thing to handle, right? And especially the time in your life that you're there and you're suffering and you just want your friend to listen, and you're just like but you're not at that next stage to make a change. It is really hard to look in the mirror and be like, okay, what do I do?
It's scary. What do I do? Leave my wife? I have two kids. How do I do this?
Where do I go? There's so many different questions. And when you're feeling frustrated and tired with life, the last thing you want to do is figure something else out, put another fire out, especially when you're doing it in all aspects of your life. So take us through that a little bit. Where did that lead you?
Yeah, and just to put a point on that, Juliet, is that it's a very complicated thing to call yourself a victim. But sometimes if you are being victimized, you got a gun to your face or you're getting beat up or somebody's yelling at you all the time, yes, you are the recipient of that. But sometimes why did you put yourself in that place in the first place? What makes you make those decisions to be in those situations, so you can take responsibility for it, which then allows you to not be the victim. Right.
And so it's a weird gray area. So what I did, Juliet, is I literally took my friend's advice, and I went home. Maybe that day or the next, I don't remember. And I stood in front of the mirror. I got my kids and I the safety, we were out of the house, and we were safe.
And I looked in the mirror, and I just said, like, dude, who are you? It was odd because first of all, I felt self conscious. I got talking to myself in the mirror, but then I thought, who asked themselves that question? Does anybody really care about themselves that way? Are you allowed to put yourself first?
Are you allowed to think, like, what's important to me? I've never, ever done that. I'm sure I made decisions that were self centered and self fulfilling and done out of self care, but I don't know that I consciously did it up until that point. And I just remember how weird it was to go like, the guy in the mirror freaking matters. I know it sounds trite, but the guy in the mirror matters.
Who do you want to be? And I didn't know. What are your good points? What are your bad points? And I'm like, man, you got to figure this out.
It's okay. Start to figure it out. And I just was like, wow, that was a very empowering conversation. Right? And I think if you think about it, your childhood not being the center of your parents world, you having to figure everything out.
You being there with your sister, figuring it out, and then jumping into the business world, all the jobs, whether it was at the restaurants, it was at, anything that you were doing, the robberies, all those different things, as you said, you were kind of going through life but never really living that day. To that day, it was like, okay, what's going to happen to me today? How am I going to figure it out? And so when you do that constantly, time and time again, it's something difficult. But now you're aware you have two other people that are counting on you.
And so how much was it that it was okay? You were like, okay, I have to make a choice because I'm miserable? Or how much was it I need to get these two other people that are counting on me to safety because I want to be the dad that maybe I didn't have. Yeah, all of that happened in a few months of awareness. Right.
And I like to think of it this way. Part of my existence and my reality. And everything I knew was in learning these tough lessons and being self reliant and feeling good about myself and feeling good about life and accomplishing things and really like a valuable trove of lessons learned and applied. And then over on this side of the scale was this person who didn't have a conduit to that. So I was learning all these lessons, but I didn't know how to apply them to myself.
And when my kids started to get to the point where they were aware of what was happening in the household, and I was starting to become aware of the fact that I needed to be a good dad, and I knew I was going to be a good dad because all I had to do was the opposite of what my parents did. I was going to be good. He's very easy to do. Make kids feel safe. Give them a little bit of love, teach them some boundaries, but just make them feel safe and give them attention.
I knew the easy formula for me that would make me feel like I was going to be a good dad, but that had to start with starting to apply some of those lessons I learned to myself, like, why am I in this relationship with an abuse of alcoholic? Does that make me a good dad? No. You're a smoker. Does that make you a good dad?
No. You're overweight. Does that? No. You're stressed out.
You're around people that aren't healthy for you. So all of these things that made me realize, like, I got to take charge. I can't be my best person when I'm this and who am I? And I didn't have the answer. So I just embarked on a journey right.
Which is scary. Yeah. So I just embarked on a journey of trying to figure it out. Right. And now take us through when you're on the porch with your daughter and you're smoking a cigarette, what does she say to you?
That, again, is a pretty life changing moment. You know? It is, and thank you for bringing that up. It's a really a touching moment for me. We all have these moments where kids say something where you're just like, did you really just say that?
What the hell? So during this very short period of time, when I was starting to understand that again, I'm sorry if this sounds trite, but starting to understand that the guy in the mirror mattered and that I could focus on myself, that it was okay. I saw this big, long, like, road ahead of me with, like, just endless possibilities, and I have no idea where it's going to lead, but it's brand new for me. It's a road I've never been on before, which is, like, to figure out how I positively and proactively interact with the world to mine and everybody else's benefit. Not just everybody else's benefit.
And at that same time, I get a call from my sister Juliet who says that she's been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. And so her life, although it's way more settled and great than mine, she's come out of our childhood and has. A beautiful marriage and beautiful friendships. She knows exactly who she is. She's totally grounded.
She's wonderful. And she's got this short journey ahead of her. And I remember talking to my kids about it. They weren't quite five when we found out. And my kids were at school and maybe the teacher must have said something one day, because I'm out on the porch and I'm having a cigarette.
And my daughter comes out and she says, hey, dad. Teacher says that cigarettes are going to give you cancer. And I don't want you to get cancer and die like in June. And I went, what the hell did you just say? You haven't say that.
But I thought to myself, what the hell did you so my response was, all right, well, if you stop sucking your thumb, I'll stop smoking cigarettes. And she said, okay. And I'm like, wow. I had heard myself say a thousand times, you got to quit smoking. I'd heard from people that might have cared about me that said you need to stop smoking.
But I didn't hear it. But looking at her at that point, that's as honest and as pure thought as any child could have, as any person could have. And it really touched me and it hit me and I said, yeah, you know what I absolutely need? And I literally that day quit smoking. Never had another cigarette.
First of all, that takes control, self control. Now, did your daughter stop sucking her thumb? I was a thumb sucker. And I know that was not an easy journey. Do not tell her this.
She'll listen. She'll give me a hard time. It took her about a year. She didn't hold of her into the parking. But then she was basically five years old.
I should cut her little slack. You should cut her slack. What she did was the end game was the better side of it, right? Maybe she had to have some orthodontist work. But you were able to give her that.
But you stopped smoking cigarettes and that is what came out of that, which is huge. So take us to that next day because I know I love this, where you're like, okay, I'm going to wake up and I'm going to do something healthy. So many of us have been in that situation, like, what do we do? How do you be healthy even though you know what to do? It sometimes doesn't always match.
So if you can take us through. That journey yeah, and it's really cool because I'm sure that, you know, maybe you have several points in your life like this, and maybe your listeners have points in their life where you like you start to do something or you think a new way or you hit some kind of a hobby or some kind of a passion, and it's just like it just gives you unlimited energy to go do whatever that is at that moment in time, which, again, was a short period of time. At that moment in time, that passion, that energy was like, oh, my God, I can make decisions that make the matter to me. I'm like, what the hell? Like, oh, this is great.
I never really thought that. And I was just like, well, what the hell? If you're going to stop smoking, you might as well go start running. Like, woo, you're going to be athletic. And I remember going and buying a pair of running shoes and coming home and put on my running shoes and going, all right, you're going to be a runner.
Because, look, I smoke 250,000 cigarettes 20 years every single day of my life, so it's not going to be easy to quit smoking. But if I run, I'm not going to smoke anymore. So I put on my shoes and I walk out and I'm just like, yeah, I'm like this healthy guy, and I matter, and I go start to run. And I couldn't run all the way down the street. I'm on the side of the road, like, passing out from a heart attack, going, oh, my God, you know, this is horrible.
So I literally couldn't run two minutes. And then the next day I was like, well, I tried again, tried again. A week later I ran a mile. And then a couple of weeks later, I ran a five K. And then I said, well, shoot, once you start swimming and biking too.
And I heard about this thing called triathlon. So a couple of weeks later, I did a triathlon, and then a few months later, I did a half ironman, and then a few months after that, I did a full ironman. And I'm like, oh, my God, this is kind of cool. Nobody like, you didn't go to college and now you're managing a couple of hundred people on 100 million dollar PNL. Nobody would think that you could do that.
And if you looked at your resume, you shouldn't be doing it. Well, nobody thinks you could run an Iron Man. And if you look at your resume, there's no reason you should be running an Iron man. So what the hell? Go do an iron man.
Tell us. Because I know my listeners are going to be like, okay, well, how old were you at this time? Because some people will put age in a sense and be like, okay, I can't do it because of X, Y, and Z. But I think one of the things that you said to me, which I found very interesting, is that you weren't an athlete. And when you started talking about this, I was like, what are you talking about?
That is an athlete. That right there is an athlete. So what was your age? And then take us through some of the I mean, I love the story where you were I think it was the iron man or the half ironman, where you had your speedo on, you were looking around. So tell us your age and then tell us that story that's so awesome.
I will guarantee you that you cannot roll the clock back to zero. You can't press reset, but I'm telling you there's absolutely 100% proof that you can roll the clock back, at least temporarily. I was 39 years old. I was almost £60 overweight. I had just put down the last of a quarter million cigarettes.
I was absolutely completely stressed out. I probably looked ten years older than my age. And at 39, I really had done a little snowboarding, a little bit of wakeboarding or whatever, but I had never been anything athletic. And at 39 I said, okay, this is where you're at. And 20 years later, 59, I've done 20 iron mans and 100 miles runs and 5000 miles bike ride.
And I've done ridiculous things that you could never ever do. And I started at that low point of almost 40 years old, all those cigarettes and being very unhealthy. So I feel like you could start any time and you could set your goal really high. Could I have 40 said I'm going to go into the Olympics? No, but what powered me is one of those stories that you alluded to is what powered me to try to figure out what I was capable of was I was getting ready to do my first half ironman and this was in July and I had quit smoking beginning of February.
So I'm only like five months into it and I'm still really overweight. I have no idea what a half fireman is. I've never done any of those distances by themselves. I'm going to do them all together, one after the other. It's a 1.2 miles swim, 56 miles bike, and 13 miles run.
And I'm like, okay, I'm built for this, I can do this. And I go to the start line because they have a wave starts. I'm watching the previous people go out ahead of me and all of a sudden I look around Juliet and everybody is like carved out of a Mcalangelo piece of marble. There's not an ounce of fat on the entire place. And I'm going, what the hell are you doing here?
Look around, man. Everybody's young and they're beautiful and they're fit and they're tone and they're all athletes. And you're just this poser. You're just like, who are you? You don't belong here.
That was the negative self talk, right? We do that. And I had that negative self talk hardcore. I must have said 100 times to get the hell out of here. And I'm like, okay, I could go to my backpack, I could get my keys, I could just pack everything up and go home because you don't belong here.
And then the gun goes off and like 90% of the Greek gods take off. But then I look at the back of the pack and there's like dudes swimming on their back, and there's people, like, doggy paddling struggling for air. And I'm like, well, they knew they couldn't swim and they knew they were going to start, but they don't care if anybody's looking at them, right. So why do you care if anybody's looking at you? Nobody cares what you look like.
You're this fat guy in a speedo trying to do a triathlon. Like, who cares? Like, they don't care. Why should you care? They're not looking at you.
Why are you looking at them? Why don't you just worry about yourself, right? And that's where your book Middle of the Pack came about, right from that idea. So if you can take us through that a little bit. Yeah.
So this might resonate with some people more than others, but kind of some of the things we've been talking about. Juliet which is like, if you're really good at caring about what others think, maybe sometimes not to your benefit, but sometimes to your benefit, but what's the teacher going to think? What do I need to do to make the boss happy? What do I need to do to make it okay when I come home? That everybody won't be angry or all these things that we do to focus on others?
I got this idea that when you listen to Oprah Winfrey, she doesn't care about what anybody thinks. She's going to be a world beater no matter what. And you listen to Michael Jordan, nobody tells him how to do anything. He does whatever he wants. Right.
And they're not limited by how they think they're going to be perceived. They just do. And then I thought, the guy that's living on his mom's couch in the basement playing video games doesn't care what anybody says either. And I'm not either of those people. I'm not the guy on his couch, and I'm not Michael Jordan.
So where am I? Am I in the middle of the pack? And in the middle of the pack? I don't think we have that same mindset. We're always trying to make other people happy or doing things because we think we should.
We're doing things because we think it's the right thing or because we think people are watching us. Right. They're not. Nobody cares. They're just living their lives, too.
So I thought, well, right. Everyone's just trying to stay afloat. Yeah, but what's winning in the middle of the pack, I thought, is like, doing what's best for you, even if for you is being charitable, doing things for others. I'm not saying being self centered or self serving, but I'm saying doing it because you don't care what anybody thinks about what you're doing. You're doing it because it's what you want to do.
And that was this like winning in the Middle of the Pack where it's like, I didn't need to go to that triathlon to win. I certainly didn't need to go to look good. I just went to go say, did you want to try to be athletic? A half ironman means you're athletic. Just go do it and figure out a way to go do it if that's what's going to make you happy.
And if it doesn't make you happy, that's okay. But if it does, then go do it and go do something else. And it's like, it's a very positive, freeing, and empowering thought. Like, I can win where nobody cares and nobody's watching. The only guy that matters is me, right?
It's very empowering, no, and it's beautiful. And I love that. Then you were like, you know what? I want to write a book about it. So take us through a little bit of where you found that love for writing.
So I'd always been a writer. As a kid, incidentally, both my parents were writers. My dad was a prolific writer, written many books. My mom was a writer. Not a very good one, I think, but she was a writer as well and written many books.
And I always thought that I could be a writer. I was very observant. I feel like I have a pretty good talent of being able to get people to visualize the story that I'm telling, the story that I'm writing. And I didn't really find that, like, in a lot of books that I read that they were very visual. So I always wanted to be a writer, but I never consciously made the effort to be a writer, right?
So I wrote, but I didn't write with purpose and with intention and with an end goal. And so when I finally said, what do you want to do and who do you want to be? It was like, you're a writer, so be a writer.
So I wrote this first book saying, okay, well, if you're a writer, then you have to write a book. You can't just write. You have to write something. So I got a great editor. I had a great premise for the book, this Winning in the Middle of the Pack, and it was putting together lessons learned in life, business and sport, endurance, athletics.
And I felt like there were so many parallels between the three. And I could tell stories that would prop up the idea that you can make it about you in a very positive way and affect others and affect your life in a very positive way by developing this kind of winning in the middle of the pack mindset. So I want to write fiction. I've written a ton of fiction, ton of nonfiction, put out books in financial services, put out books in athletic, and felt like, okay, even though there's not a lot of money in books, it's fun to write them, and I think I'm good at it, so I'm going to keep doing it. And then out of my sister's situation with terminal brain cancer came the idea for my latest book, and that's the one that you just read, right?
Yeah, I would love to because as you said, and I want to reference something that you said earlier in the episode, if the listeners here, you came from a childhood without a lot of want and love, it was kind of like, oh, why are you guys here? It was you and your sister. You saw your sister then go on, though, successfully, to be happy, married, have kids, and you were struggling in that part. So you and your sister had a connection there. Then your sister was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
And if people think about and listen to this, whoever has siblings, we know we all have our place in our families and we have these thoughts and okay, this person's here, this person's there. But we all have that connection as children, as we're growing up, things that we've gone through where we either connected deeper or maybe didn't connect as deep. And the fact that you and your sister had this relationship and you saw her in this space that was like, okay, she has such great things and now she's dying and you're struggling to get to the place where you think life should be, where you're happy. What was your mindset there? And then take us a little bit through, as you wrote, The Cycle of Lives.
Sure. And thanks for framing it that way, because I was very touched by it. Right. Because I admired her for having come through the trauma of her childhood on the other side so much better than I had. I didn't worship her, but I admired her and really strove to understand what made her so grounded and so happy and so positively interacting with the world and accepting of who she was.
Like, she was just great. And everybody loses people, and I think every type of loss is very unique. I think sibling loss is important, as I came to learn when I grieved her much later, that the thing that I needed to grieve with her. Especially if you have a traumatic childhood and if you're close in age and the same experience is that you lose the person. In June, I lost the person that knew me as a kid, felt my pain.
You know how you're trying to describe something and you can't quite describe the emotion because you feel it and you're trying to say it, but there's a disconnect. Nobody really understands how emotional you feel about something. But I could look at her and say, Remember when? And we get it right. So I had to lose the person that got me in a way that nobody else could ever get me.
So I knew that that was coming, and I felt really touched by it. And I wanted to explore with her emotions and my emotions because we had an opportunity to do that, because she had time until she was going to die. And there was a lot of reflective period. And she had two young kids, like my young kids and friends. And I just wanted to figure it out, like, get as much as I could from her and how she was able to navigate this, because she was doing it like a lot of people do, with grace and with strength and with peace and with perspective.
And she was doing her best to live as best of a life as she could with her circumstances, which I was really touched by. And so I wanted to interact with her as much as I could. And we didn't get as much time as we would have wanted, but we got enough time where I felt really comfortable that I understood a part of her end of life journey, a part of the emotion of what it was going to take for her to leave her kids behind and her husband and her friends behind. I didn't understand the full depth of it, but I understood at least some of it. Right.
I was very moved by that. And when I did some events that were in support of the cancer center that took care of her to raise money, I noticed, Juliet, that there was a common theme with a lot of the people that I ran. Into whether they were doctors or the survivor or a family member of the survivor or caregivers or whatever it came to kind of the tasks around the cancer.
My kids watch what I'm getting chemo. How do I eat better, how do I reduce my stress, and how do I navigate insurance at work? When it came to how do I get information about what I'm going through, they were really good and open and energetic and there's tons of resources and we all talk and we're going to figure it out, and I can teach you and you can teach me and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But when it comes to the emotional side, like, how are you feeling about it? It's like quiet.
Everybody kind of self isolates. We kind of abandon. We keep arms distance because we don't want to. Like, I'm not going to ask you, Juliet, how you're feeling? How do you think you're feeling?
Like, I don't want to say the wrong thing. So when it came to the emotional side, I realized that we're not good at starting those conversations, the hard ones. And I wanted to figure out why that was. And I didn't think I was qualified to come up with any answers, but I wanted to understand better. Why is it so hard for us to have these hard conversations?
I remember sitting on the porch being so scared to ask my sister the question, but I had to ask her, right? But I had to ask her. But our kids were playing on a trampoline in the backyard. Kids are only a few years in age difference, and maybe they were like, seven or eight at that time, and hers were a couple of years older, and they're all jumping around the trampoline. And I looked at her, and it was so hard to ask her, but I had to.
I go. I go, dude. I go, you're going to die soon. What's that like? What's that like?
You're going to be dead. What is that like? And it's a hard question to ask, but I wanted to ask it well. Because she obviously, she had to been thinking I mean, you know, she's thinking of it, right? But she didn't start walking.
People are going to walk around going, I'm dying of cancer. Let me tell you how it feels. They don't want to bring you down. They don't want to make you. They're ashamed.
They're feeling guilty. They're sad as hell. They're fearful. They don't walk around like that. But I needed to know.
I don't know why, but I had to ask her, and I'm sure she wanted to tell me. So it's just like I asked her, her answer was just so poignant. It was so wonderful. But we got to share that between ourselves. And although I didn't ask every hard question and we didn't have every hard conversation that there was to have, I felt like we were better for having them.
We formed a more authentic, deeper connection that helped solve some of the angst and the issues around such a traumatic tragedy that it can only be helpful. So why is it that we're limited? Why is it that we can't ask hard questions? Why are we so scared, even with the people that are closest to us, to ask these hard questions, to have these deep, authentic conversations? And so that's what set me off on this journey, on this book.
Right, and I would love for you to share with the listeners. You didn't just decide, okay, I'm going to interview 15 people about their cancer journeys, about the emotional side, but you decided to take it one step further. And so what did you do as you were interviewing? And then where did that journey take you? Yeah, so I don't think I talk to too many people about this, but during the financial crisis and this is all right around the same period of time during the financial crisis of 2008, I was managing a very large office for a major Wall Street firm, and one of my brokers took his own life.
Young guy, young family, young kids. It was absolutely horrifically, traumatic. And before we could bring in an expert to come in and talk to people about the trauma, before we could bring a trauma specialist in, which I knew we had to do because it was so tragic, I walked around and I started talking to people. Juliet and I closed the door, and I was comfortable having hard conversations because I was right there. My my sister had just died.
Like, I just gotten out of a horrible mirror. All this stuff was going on. And I felt comfortable, like I could start hard conversations. So I'd walk in and I'd say, jeez, it's terrible. And every person would go, let me tell you a story.
And all of a sudden they would tell me a first person story of something in their childhood, a relative, a parent, a sibling. I'm just like, oh, my God. And I'm just like, I've known these people. I've been to their houses for barbecues. I've been to their weddings.
We've gone on vacations together. And they're carrying around the burden of these traumas. And I'm just like, why don't we know these things? Why aren't we talking about it? And I was just like, what the hell?
So I don't think that I can identify with people's really kind of acute traumas. I don't know what it's like to lose somebody from suicide. I don't know what it's like to have cancer. I don't know what it's like to lose a parent or a child in a car accident. Like acute trauma I don't understand.
What I think I can understand is traumas that I could identify with, what's it like to be physically abused or mentally abused or what's it like to lose somebody close to you, what's it like to ponder somebody's death, like these kind of traumas, what's it like to feel abandoned or feel alone in the world. I could totally identify with those traumas. And so I thought to myself, if I could find people that had evocative enough stories of trauma that happened before cancer, so precancers a before a is these traumas that we all have that if we could uncover, we could all have some kind of connection to some kind of empathy for some connection to if I could understand those traumas and really understand the person, then when cancer entered their life at point A and today is point B, the emotional journey from A to B that's either been enhanced or has been limited by those traumas. The emotional side of it. If I could understand the traumas, then I could maybe relate to them better about the emotional journey that they're going through with cancer, whether they be a patient or a doctor or a loved one or a survivor or whatever.
And that was the premise. So I wanted to find people Juliet different types of cancer, different ages, different emotional responses to the cancer. I wanted to find people who had overcome really difficult times in their life and who were abandoned or had a great network or I just wanted diverse people with really interesting stories where I could identify with their trauma. Understand it so that when I look at what they're going through now or have gone through and losing someone or in battling cancer or in caring for people with cancer, that I could maybe have a way to interact with them better if I uncovered the idea. Juliet of you never know what people have been through or what they're going through.
If I could uncover that thought and kind of get a glimpse into that in a really deep, meaningful way, it might allow me to have those hard conversations with them. And that's long answer, but that was the purpose and the premise behind the book. No, you did. And as I said, I listened to the book and it was so beautiful. And I think I shared with you every time I share it with someone that I know has been touched with cancer or has gone through cancer themselves, I share this because it is so beautifully written.
And we're going to have David back on the live show for anyone that is interested. It's going to be really fun because we're going to have he and his wife come back and it will be a couple of months. So we'll kind of keep you guys posted. And in the beginning of this episode, I put out where you can follow David as well. But we're going to really dive into the chapters and talk about the different people because there were so many.
I think after David, after I read it, I said to you, can we just unpack some of this stuff? Because I was so floored again, I would drive around the block to finish certain chapters because I was so floored with the connections and the way that you wrote and depicted these people's stories, but you really felt like you were there. And I think it was so beautifully done and is so important and it's so wonderful. But I want you to also share with the listeners that you decided to take your endurance athletics and combined this journey together. And that was one of my favorite parts.
So I'm just going to kind of queue this up. But David rode 5000 miles on his bike and he's going to tell us how the insane short amount of time he did absolutely insanity. But the thing that's so beautiful is within woven into these stories is David's journey on the bike. So he basically went from California down to Florida, up to New York and did this all on his bike. And how many days?
45 days. So I went just under 5000 miles and 45 days was stupid. Well, my first thing I asked you, I said, oh God, how bad did your butt hurt? All I kept thinking was the physical, like oh my gosh. And then when I read the story, I mean, I really felt it.
There were times I would write and I would get up and I'd be like, oh, my legs are so sore for you. Like I felt it deep. And then I was like, oh my butt. Yeah. So take us through that and why you decided to take the journey across the country on your bike and coupled with this book.
Yeah. Well, thanks, Juliet. And I think if anybody knows. Me. One of my faults, I guess, is that I don't like to disappoint others, right?
That's from as a kid, like, oh, I better not do whatever bad consequence. I better do the right thing. I don't want to disappoint.
I feel like if you're going to disappoint someone, the last person you want to disappoint is yourself, right? Especially if you matter, if you care, if you're trying to do something that is of consequence, you don't want to disappoint yourself. And when I found the people that would allow me to go so deep into their history and into their hearts and into the really tucked away traumatic I mean, you know, this we uncovered some just raw, moving stories. About people, and not everybody was able to go there and I wasn't able to go there with everyone, but with the 15 that I was able to go there with the stories where I felt really raw and really relatable and very real and really gave us an idea of you just don't know what people are going through or what they have gone through. And I thought, okay, well, now that I've done that, how do we make it more authentic?
And I thought to myself, Juliet, that it might be myopic, like, am I finding a problem and then coming up with a solution, or does the problem exist? And I'm trying to come up with some insight. Well, I'm not trying to give a solution, and I certainly didn't find the problem. And I thought, well, what could you do to prove to yourself that you're not being myopic, that you didn't create this dynamic of the book? And I thought, the only way that I could do that is to go out and meet a bunch of people.
Okay, well, if we're connected by emotion, we're connected by story, how do you meet a bunch of people? And I said, well, just connect the stories. And I go be like, really awesome is if you got on your bike and you rode your bike to all the book participants, or most of them in a zigzagging way, and connected the stories, like, you could meet a ton of people. It would be this epic adventure. It would give meaning to the idea that we're all connected.
And I go, so I put it out there in the universe, and I didn't want to disappoint once I had that idea, anything less than that would have been a disappointment. So I spent a couple of months, logistically, with a team putting together the idea of where I would go each day and how we could get hotels donated and what hospitals and cancer centers I'm going to stop at and the media I'm going to do and all this stuff. But I also had the bike. It was a solo bike ride, and I averaged just under 12 hours a day of biking. And I said, okay, well, this is going to make this an epic connection.
And I went out hoping to prove only one thing. Well, yeah, I wanted to prove that I could do it, but I really went out to prove and to discover was I making this up? Was this an issue that was isolated to my experience? And I'll tell you, Juliet, I put some of these stories into the book, but every single day, I ran into multiple people, and the conversation would go like this. They go, oh, what are you doing?
I'm like, I know it's stupid. I'm riding my bike across the country. They go, Why? And I told them, and they go, oh, well, jeez, let me know when the book comes out, because my grandma just died, and she was married to my grandpa for 55 years, and I'm so close to my grandpa, but I don't know what to say to him. What do I say to my grandpa?
He just lost his wife. Or, you know what? Oh, my God. Well, somebody at work just told me something about their son or a friend of their kids. I don't know what to say to him.
I don't even want to go to work because how do I say every single day. I ran into this idea of we have such a hard time starting the conversations about the emotions of trauma that it kind of powered me to go. Through each day, which is so beautiful. And you guys have to check it out, and you can find again. This isn't the beginning of the episode, but if you were driving or doing whatever and you couldn't write it down, you can follow David Richman.
He's on LinkedIn, but you can go to his website, which is David Richman.com, and then also on Instagram, David Richman underscore Cycle of Lives. And David, it is so beautiful, and I know we're coming to the end of the episode, but you guys really have to check it out. When I say that these stories were so empowering. But the way that David woven in his ride and the experiences that he had and the things one of the things that I thought was so profound, David, and I'm going to kind of leave it at this is one of the days that you were like, why am I doing this? Or someone asked you that was close to you, why are you doing this?
Why are you to keep going? Like when you went through all the bad storms and the weather, and you said, because I get to I get to do this. My sister can't do this. These people that have died of cancer can't do it, and I get to and I'm going to make a promise to my I made a promise to myself. And that what I thought was so beautiful is because there's times where in parenting where we're like, oh, we have to go pick up our child, and we have to go to their game.
And I remember someone one day said to me, because I love watching my kids play and I love this. Even though this time of life is so hard in so many aspects, I love that I get to do those things. And someone said, Change the semantics. Don't say I have to do this. You get to do this because think of all the people that don't get to do it because they're not here anymore or they're terminally ill.
And I really put perspective in my life. And when I talk to other parents, that would be like, oh, I'm so crazed because I have to do this, I have to do this. I just say to them, just think about that. Think about that. You get to do it.
And even though we're crazed and we're running around and we're tired and we're raising teens and injuries and all these different things, we get to be a part of it. And that's a beautiful thing. Yeah. And thank you. It's really well said.
But I try to do this as often as I can. Right. I'm not saying it in a preachy way, but to myself, I try to do it as often as I can. And that is that. Who do we know that's not insanely busy?
We're all going a million directions. We got a million things going on. Everybody's busy. There's never enough time. And at the end of the day, we're just like, oh, we got to catch our breath.
And we're busy, busy, busy, busy. Right? And it's all these things we have to do. And all these things we have to do. I got to do that.
Just take for one moment. I don't care if you get a phone call about your mom, about your kid, about a co worker, about a friend, and they said they've been in a terrible car accident. They're okay. They're at the hospital. You need to go over there right now.
Is anything on your plate important enough that it's going to prevent you from going to go do? Of course not. Everything you choose is everything on your plate most of the time. Most things on your plates are choices. Don't have to do anything because you could drop all of it if you had to go get to somebody in need that was important to you.
None of it would be a have to. You have to do that one thing. So as often as you can, try to make the things that you do things that you get to do, because you don't really have to do anything. Yes, we do a little bit. Of course we do.
We have to put food on the table. We have to get our kids to school on time, whatever. But most of the time, the things that we fill our place with are we get to do. And so if you get to do it, make sure something that's important to. You right and I love that.
And don't put yourself up when your kids are late for school because mine are late all the time. Side note, we try to be on time. We are not on time. And it is the bane. My mom cannot believe it.
I can't believe they're like three minutes late all the time, more one than the other two, but the other two used to be late at this time and then they decided, crap, I can't be late because now I have an important class. And I was like, okay, well, at least you'll learn to do it yourself instead of me yelling at you. That's so funny because my wife and I, we joked, very busy person and not in charge of her calendar very much. And we said we're going to change her name to late for a Meeting because no matter what, five times a day she's going to go, I'm late for a meeting. I'm late for a meeting.
So I'm changing her name to late for a meeting because she's always, I'm late for a meeting. I get it. It's that time management piece which sometimes gets away from us. But David, I want to thank you again so much and really, you guys, you want to check out. And one of the things that's fun, whether you're a reader or you listen, my listeners know I'm dyslexic, so I listened to my books.
The Audible was so impressive because it was done by voice actors and it just was so fun to have the different voices and then your voice in there as well, telling your part of the story. So it was so well done from top to bottom. It is a book that you guys do not want to miss. And David, I think that you shared that a lot of the proceeds go to a charity. Can you tell us with that as we end the show?
Yeah, sure. Thank you for that.
There's not a ton of money in books, but wherever books are sold, amazon Bars and Noble, the bookstore directly from the website, wherever money comes in from those books. And 100% of what comes into me goes out to the different cancer focused organizations that were chosen by the book. Participants, which I think is so absolutely beautiful because that just again, and especially if you have The Audible and you're sharing it, which I've done with a few people because I wanted them to get it. But then I said to them, listen, please, then go share this with someone else so those charities can be recognized. So, David, thank you so much for joining your next to stop.
Yeah, thank you for having me. Juliet, really awesome talking to you. I know we could talk for hours and those organizations are listed on the website or in the book so you can see who they are going to support. So it's really good stuff. It really is good stuff.
I mean, it is very good stuff. And we all know that I love stories. And then when David, you and I connected, it was really like, oh, my gosh, here's another person that loves stories as much as I do. So what I always say is, stories connect us. You guys, if you're listening to this episode, please send it and share it with so many of your friends because someone needs to hear this.
Unfortunately, cancer touches so many of us. But it's not only the cancer. It's the trauma that happens in people's lives. So share this with as many people as you know, like rate review. Please go.
Follow David. You can again find him at David Richman.com or on Instagram. David Richman underscore Cycle of lives. And we will see you guys for another episode of your Next Stop. Thank you so much, David.
You're welcome. Thanks, Juliet. I hope you've liked this episode of your next stop. Please subscribe to my channel, share with your friends and join in each week.
My focus is entirely on helping you follow your passion, even when you feel like you've got stuck in crazy town. There is a way out, its me helping you. You don't have to ditch everything in your life that is making you feel overwhelmed and stuck, you just need some help to navigate it.
WHEN YOU FOLLOW YOUR PASSION YOU WILL NATURALLY ENRICH THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE