Podcast Transcript: On Ayahuasca, Masculinity, And Leadership In Chaos – Geoff Hanzlik
Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Geoff Hanzlik.
Geo Hanzlik joins Paul Austin for an insightful conversation about ayahuasca, masculinity, and how to cultivate embodied leadership in the midst of chaos. He shares his experience as an ayahuasca facilitator for the Santo Daime church, why he abruptly stopped hosting ceremonies, and what he has learned about emotional regulation from plant medicine.
In this episode, we talk about:
- Why humility, above all else, is required when holding space for plant medicines
- The 3 lessons Geoff learned from holding space that he now applies to his executive coaching
- Why emotional regulation is critical for leadership – and what lessons psychedelics teach us to regulate in the face of the inevitable unknowns of life
0:00:30 Paul Austin: Hey listeners and welcome back to The Third Wave Podcast, I’m your host, Paul Austin. And today’s episode is with Geoffrey Hanzlik, a good friend of mine and a man who has sat in over 750 ayahuasca ceremonies. Geoff and I met back in early 2018 through a mutual friend, Geoff had recently moved to New York from Boulder, Colorado, and was just certain to get into the high level executive coaching scene. So I wanted to bring him on the podcast for an episode about ayahuasca, masculinity, and the necessity of emotional regulation for mature and developed leadership. Basically in this episode, we go into Geoff’s experience as ayahuasca facilitator for the Santo Daime church, way, way back in the day, why he abruptly stopped hosting ceremonies after an unfortunate sequence of events with his family, and what he learned and has continued to learn about the role of emotional regulation, particularly from men in leadership positions, and what lessons, plant medicine, hold in that process.
0:01:40 PA: A few things that we touch on, why humility above all else is required when holding space for plant medicines, the three lessons Geoff learned from holding space that he now applies to his executive coaching, and what lessons psychedelics teach us about how to handle chaos, how to handle the unknown when we’re going out in a leadership position and trying to piece together very difficult things. So, without further ado, I bring you Geoff Hanzlik.
0:02:10 PA: You’re living in New York now, your great apartment in Williamsburg, overlooking the Williamsburg Bridge, how do you find… How did you find yourself here after all the work that you’ve done with ayahuasca, after all the work that you’ve done with psychotherapy, and now the work that you’re doing with executive coaching. Just bring us a little bit into your life and your story and what brought you to this point.
0:02:33 Geoff Hanzlik: Sure.
0:02:33 PA: And start wherever you want and then we’ll just find a…
0:02:36 GH: A river.
0:02:38 PA: Find a river.
0:02:40 GH: Great question. I would go to being 20 years old, and I was a student up at Middlebury College, and I was a West Coast kid, and I had transferred into Middlebury, so I was not used to the East Coast’s social, lubricated, deep trust-funded, intellectual lead kids. And I’d never seen anything like that before and it actually overwhelmed me. I had a really hard time, that year fitting in and trying to figure out who I was amidst so much… Just being in such a different culture.
0:03:14 GH: So, I got actually very depressed at 20. And what I began to recognize is when I came out of the family that I did, that my family of origin was pretty messed up. So a lot of mental health issues on my mom’s side, a lot of trauma from the military on my dad’s side. So I was not equipped with the internal structures to even handle what it was that I wanted to do. And I thought I was gonna be a business, finance guy. I had a whole path that I was ramping up for, and I just came to a grinding halt. So I flamed out of Vermont in my junior year and went on to the mountains, started working as a white water rafting guide, taking kids out and started to at least feel better. But that level, I knew that I wasn’t gonna succeed and I was even at the point of suicide, probably, I’d say five times during that period, 20, 21. And then I was on a back-packing course and this is what changed my life through UC Santa Cruz.
0:04:09 GH: It was a bunch of hippie kids discovering organic food, this is 1996 probably, and my instructor, his girlfriend said, “Hey, there’s two things I think would help you.” And I was a mess, crying every day, I couldn’t even function, a lot of anxiety, I was freaked out. And this was in Oregon and she said, “Therapy”. So I started… I was 21 years old, 22, I started going to therapy. I used to ride my bike down to therapy, paid my $30 out of my pocket, doing Hakomi therapy, which was somatic-based. And I had to, it was a forcing function. It wasn’t some sort of idea that therapy would be good for me, it was… If I didn’t do it, I was gonna not be here. And then the other half of that was she said, “I think you should try ayahuasca.”
0:04:56 GH: And this is 19… What, ’97, mind you, so it was not cool and hip. In fact, it was cult-ish and scedulish, it was intense. So…
0:05:08 PA: There was probably still a lot stigma and people really didn’t really understand it. And when you…
0:05:12 GH: Nobody knew anything about it.
0:05:13 PA: When you first heard about it, what were your initial impressions of ayahuasca and that type of different world?
0:05:18 GH: I was terrified. And I think my biggest question back then was, “What is it gonna taste like?” I just… And it represented, “If you drink this thing, something’s gonna happen and I don’t know what that’s gonna be.” So at that point, I went to my first ceremony, I still remember. And I took it and my thought was, “Hey, that didn’t taste that bad.” I got it down and I had a very heart-opening experience after that first drink. And then the second drink was the moment where it hit in a way that it hits, and I had never seen anything like that. And the panic and the anxiety and all the things that came over my system. And interestingly enough, it was a super organized group. So it was about 40 people and this was… It’s called the “Santo Daime” religion, which is based out of Brazil. And it was just this niche little crew of adults up in Oregon that were… Had this church up there, which is crazy. Like, “What are they doing [chuckle] way up in Ashland, Oregon?”
0:06:10 GH: So, I remember going to the bathroom and wanting it to stop, begging for it to stop, and the voice said, “Stand up,” and I looked at myself in the mirror, and I remember saying, “Alright, you’re gonna figure out how to handle yourself on this. ‘Cause if you can handle yourself on this, then you can start to look at your life and put certain pieces in place.” So that was the initial encounter. And I left there probably partially traumatized and also extremely elated with something that I felt was the first time something could take care of me and I could work with it. So I started going back, somehow facing this gnarly thing. But again, it’s that… If you’re up in the corner and the suffering is so high, you gotta do something.
0:06:53 PA: You’ll do anything, right?
0:06:53 GH: Yeah, and that was the place I would… Just had to do something, and this was finally a lifeline into getting better. So I saw that if I stayed with this probably over, I didn’t know how long it would take, that ultimately I could find myself again. ‘Cause I remember, one of the memories I have up at Middlebury was sleeping outside by myself, probably the spring on a sleeping bag looking up at the stars, and my thought was, “Even the stars are unfriendly.” I was so lonely, so isolated, I didn’t have anywhere to go. I was so shut down. So to go from that into seeing some sort of possibility that I could connect to humanity and engage, that was a big deal. So I just started working. And going back to my therapy, I was doing a lot of somatic work with my body and starting to realize, “Oh, man, first time… ” These are fun stories, right? Like the first time I ever went to therapy.
0:07:41 PA: Yeah, what was that like?
0:07:44 GH: Again, I think I was 22. I had a VW, 1976 VW van that a friend gave me that had tie dyes all over it, so I was this hippie kid driving around and I knew I had to go, and I parked in front of the office, and I looked at the door. I was like, “Shit, I think I have to go face this.” So I walked in and I sat down, and my face was bright red. I was sweating. It was some nice Southern Oregon, very gentle Hakomi therapist who said, “Are you feeling anxiety right now?” And I never had a language for any of this, and I was like, “How did you know? Wow! Yes! As a matter of fact, I’m feeling anxious.” And then my next thought was, “Oh, shit. I’m gonna have to tell her I masturbate, ’cause she can see everything.” But it was so funny. So I went. I had a really good session, like a breakthrough, and it was the first time I’d actually humanly connected with somebody.
0:08:35 GH: So I think those two things together of being able to work spiritually, beginning to unlock the inside and see some possibilities in a very rigorous fashion, and the way the Daime was set up there was such… It was so clear and organized ceremonially, that people… I wasn’t walking into an unclean space, like people had their shit together. And then having a framework for therapy where I started to work with my body for the first time in my life that there was these things called sensations like, “What’s that?” Someone actually would talk to me about emotions, I didn’t even know you could do that. So these are all revolutionary things, and I had to start to piece myself back together and I just rebuilt my operating system through those two channels over the next 15, 17 years.
0:09:16 PA: So you’re 20-years-old, you’re struggling with depression, like crippling depression it sounds like.
0:09:20 GH: Yeah, exactly.
0:09:22 PA: You go back out to the West Coast, and you start doing Hakomi therapy, which I just heard about a couple months ago.
0:09:28 GH: Really? Yeah.
0:09:28 PA: I interviewed someone else for the podcast named Françoise Bourzat. She just published this book called “Consciousness Medicine”, which is fantastic. All about preparation, experience and integration for guides, and she’s a Hakomi practitioner.
0:09:40 GH: Beautiful.
0:09:41 PA: So I started looking into it’s somatic-based therapy. Anyway, it’s something I’ve been potentially wanting to do…
0:09:47 GH: Do it.
0:09:47 PA: Myself, yeah?
0:09:48 GH: It’s the best.
0:09:49 PA: Is it?
0:09:49 GH: It’s awesome.
0:09:50 PA: Is it? Okay. So you do that, that gives you at least an initial framework of starting to drop with your body, and then like you start working with ayahuasca. How deep did you get into that, that world?
0:10:00 GH: Oh boy. I think as far as you can take it. I was probably in that top 5% of people. When you’re in your 20s and your 30s, you’re looking for an identity, everyone is. Like, “Who are we?” We need something that we do, you see a lot of that in adolescence, like if they’re into basketball, they wear basketball gear. Like they take on the band that they love and they suddenly become… So for me in the 20s, I didn’t have much of an identity, and so I became the ayahuasca kid. I saw this. And there was this path of growth that you could take through it, and one of the channels was if you became a musician, you could engage, you had a job, and that was the best thing about the Daime’s, everybody has a job.
0:10:34 GH: So it was probably the sixth time I went, or seventh time, and we were in the middle of a ceremony, and there was nobody to play the guitar, and I had brought my guitar and the guy that was leading it was a room of 15 people, small. He looks at me, and I never forget. Everything’s turning green, I think I’m gonna throw up, I can hardly move. And he looks at me and he uses his fingers like he’s playing a guitar and goes, “Go get it,” and I just thought, “Oh my God.” And I went and I picked up my guitar shaking, and I put a capo on to put it in some kind of tune. They were already singing, and I never forget it. I strummed this chord and it was exactly in the key that they were singing in. And it just, this brightness came about and I got deep into it, and I studied this music for the next 15 years. And one of my goals, it’s funny you have ambition, like most of these people in New York driving towards these careers. My goal was just to become super dialed musician in the ayahuasca world. Yeah. You can’t make any money that way, but…
0:11:29 PA: But it’s cool.
0:11:29 GH: It’s cool, yeah.
0:11:30 PA: And so you learned a lot of musicians.
0:11:32 GH: So I would go to ceremonies minimally twice a month, maximally six to eight during that time for a lot of years, ’cause when you’re a musician, you’re doing all these ceremonies. So the calendar’s quite full on the weekends. Maybe you have a Friday Sunday deal going on, and the way the Daime is set up, is you could have a Friday night meditation one, and then another 10-hour thing on Sunday. And then I really wanted to get into… I loved the music so much, and I was, used to be a Phish fan, and I used to be a Grateful Dead guy, so it was somehow getting to play guitar and be the one guy of a couple in the room and everything’s keyed around the music. So I loved playing, and being the main influence, one of the two in the room that’s actually driving people’s journeys. So that it was very instructive for me of how music and how intention, and how you’re… Where you’re located in yourself, how that could move through the sounds of the guitar and actually you could look at someone and play something and watch them smile and open up and start healing just through the sounds of music, was interesting study.
0:12:34 GH: Yeah, so I went really far, and then we had a troop of some folks, about four or five of us in Oregon, and we started just traveling around and we would have these workshops, and the guy I was with, he was the main leader of the church, and he was the guy that actually freed the Daime during early 2000s when the DEA came to his house and was gonna arrest him. They had maybe, did arrest him, threw him in jail. It was right before Y2K, so we were just putting… I think we had 250 litres stocked up, ’cause if the computers went down and we couldn’t have our tea, we’d be in trouble, so we stockpiled all this. He was a really revolutionary guy. His name’s Jonathan Goldman, and strong figure, resilient and pretty visionary. So a lot of shit went down, DEA came, took all the ayahuasca, threw him in jail, which then led to a whole two to three-year legal process in the state of Oregon, and now they fought it and won. And so that’s why, and at least in Oregon, it’s legal.
0:13:37 PA: For the Santo Daime.
0:13:38 GH: For the Santo Daime, yeah.
0:13:39 PA: I think in New Mexico, it’s like the UDV, which is…
0:13:41 GH: The UDV, yeah. So Jeffrey Bronfman and John Goldman were together working on this at the same time, and there was politics and people were… These different channels, and… But hats off to them, it was not an easy work to stand for ayahuasca in the face of jail was a big deal and so nowadays, it’s amazing that ayahuasca is so prevalent. It’s just in vogue and you can drink it with anybody. I mean, you’re in Brooklyn. You could just…
0:14:06 PA: Ten circles every weekend.
0:14:09 GH: Exactly, it’s just happening. And everyone’s just sort of like… Now it’s cool. And did you go and I wanna go and it’s very open. But back then it was we wouldn’t even check… We’d have to not even talk on our phones, about it. And it was very under… So a lot of people did a lot of work. I think over those initial years to sort of bring this forward and kind of plant the flag.
0:14:27 PA: So what was that like for you going from… You come into the space, not knowing anything about ayahuasca having some pre-conceived notions about it being the sort of hippy thing and.
0:14:35 GH: Yeah.
0:14:35 PA: It sounds like you had your own hippy tendencies if you were listening to Phish, and so you had one foot in that world.
0:14:41 GH: Yes.
0:14:41 PA: But you also had a foot in the world of you wanted to study finance and be somebody, in a way.
0:14:47 GH: Yeah, I was a white kid from private school, in Southern California. Christian Science background with this whole trajectory. So I still had that fundamental structure of education and the culture that my parents believed in, but I just knew that whatever I was coming out from my youth and whatnot, that I had to do it my own way, and do it differently, but my system broke down, and so it was within the ayahuasca and it was with doing all that therapy, that I began to slowly piece these things together. And we’ve been, this… Boy this has been a long journey just to get to where we are today, but it’s amazing, I’m so grateful for that work because it gave me so many tools that today are highly useful in everything, I do.
0:15:39 GH: I’m an Executive Coach now. I was a psychotherapist for a long time. I do a lot of work with people, just helping them move out of very difficult states and into better states of self, but also connecting that up to who they are in the world, what their careers look like, what can they build. A lot of entrepreneurs, it’s a lot of fun. I think what makes me able to work with them and at least from the entrepreneurial perspective, is that’s a pretty risky state to constantly put your system into. There’s a lot of unknowns. So, to hang out in ambiguity, ayahuasca’s a great training for that. ’cause it just throws you out the middle of nowhere kinda the ocean without a life raft and you just have to handle yourself in the deepest way.
0:16:16 PA: And it’s obviously safe enough where you’re not gonna die or you’re not gonna like… But you think you will.
0:16:21 GH: Sure.
0:16:22 PA: Your ego is going…
0:16:24 GH: Yeah, it’s almost like you think you’re dying, but even you can think, “Oh, I’m not gonna die, but it’s like no, I’m probably gonna die.”
0:16:32 PA: The fear is there still.
0:16:33 GH: It still feels like…
0:16:34 PA: You feel that fear, it’s like right in the stomach, in the heart…
0:16:38 GH: Absolutely, but I remember one of the tricks, that one guy told me he said, “You will go home after this.” And I used to tumble that over, “Okay, at least I’m gonna go home and have my pancakes and I like chill out, I’ll be okay.” That was a really powerful process and what sort of happened for me was because I was a musician. This was just a bit of a journey is I got picked up to work with some interesting people that do this work called the path work out of the East Coast out of down near Charlottesville in Virginia, great therapist, really strong, solid teachers and they were doing a deeper work, combining healing work with ayahuasca their with therapy and I was a hired gun to just play music for them, so it was just one of those being at the right place at the right time, so I would travel with them and watched… We would do these five-day retreats with 10 to 15 people doing therapy and so we would do these ceremonies and then do therapy all day and then do ceremonies and do therapy all day.
0:17:28 GH: So a lot of the development for me was using ayahuasca in therapeutic context both with the people from the original church I was at, we were traveling, doing that. And then these very specialized therapeutic applications. So you learn a lot. And I think that that helped me really understand the human system. You understand the emotional body, the spiritual body, and also how that affects the physical system and it’s amazing. Nothing’s automatic and nothing works always, and you have to go through a lot of shit, and it’s not like it’s a guarantee that it’s just healing, it’s hard. It’s grindy work to get yourself through. But I find that people that actually stick with it and really take it seriously, you really… There’s a prize to be won at the end of it.
0:18:11 PA: So one of the big things that has come up in the psychedelic space as of late is this concept of integration.
0:18:18 GH: Right.
0:18:18 PA: Right, were we have this experience with something like ayahuasca, could be with mushrooms or any other psychedelic, or it could just be a sweat lodge or breath work, or whatever it might be, but basically we have this opening or this clarity, or this insight. When you’re doing this work, with the Santo Daime or the path, what was your own process for integration? How did you handle integration in those early days when there really wasn’t, it’s not like you could just Google psychedelic integration online and find a coach. It was really on your own shoulders. Probably through maybe the teachers that were teaching you that… What was that process like for you? From an integration perspective?
0:18:58 GH: Right. That’s a great question, I think what was cool back then, was that you got thrown into the deep end, and there was a level of having to figure it out. And in that process of what works for me, I think there was an opportunity to figure out your own system and what works and so by nature of suffering a lot, you start to work towards, well, what supports. And so the main pieces for me is just go to therapy. Pay the $125, $150 it’s the best money ever spent, per week. I mean, you have to be doing that work. I don’t know how you actually can develop, how you can evolve, it just takes care of all that noise and I call it “building fences”. It allows you to build a fence around all that inner material, you can meditate, you can do all those good things, but at the end of the day, unless you’re processing it through with somebody I just think it hangs and it’s sticky, and it’s gummy and it just creates problems.
0:19:49 GH: So for me it was consistently staying with therapy, I was really grateful for that doing a lot of physical activity, being in my body, just playing sports, going for a lot of runs just being really physical, that way. Just basic stuff, drinking a lot of water. And I was married at the time, I was married for 19 years, and also having a partner that was willing to process a lot of this stuff with me, too. I think we were both hell bent on developing and getting better. We used each other, there was a lot of conversation around this kind of having at least a partner to… As you’re growing, they’re growing, there’s something in the middle that your… There’s a shared understanding. So all those, I think, were really key and having community. People that you can just talk to and that are supportive through it. So those were the key ones. Yeah.
0:20:37 PA: So when you were out of the worst of it, so to say, you started to work with ayahuasca.
0:20:41 GH: Just last week… [chuckle]
0:20:43 PA: Right. Things were getting better and better.
0:20:45 GH: Yeah.
0:20:48 PA: Externally. How did things shift for you? So there’s a lot of internal things going on but externally, what changed for you in terms of maybe how you interact with other people or how you even perceived your sense of self? What were some of those external changes that you can point to that go yeah, that’s why ayahuasca or that’s why therapy or that’s why doing some of this deep work was so meaningful and transformative for me.
0:21:11 GH: I think once I started to clear out some of the emotional noise, the gumminess, there was a bit more clarity just in terms of who I was and I think the anxiety got lifted. So, I didn’t feel as reactionary and needing to do things so I didn’t have anxiety. Questions started to be what would be interesting? What would I like to do here? What am I drawn to? I was young, so I had kids already. Five years in, I was married with two children doing all this ayahuasca. There’s a forcing function. For me, I’m a guy that just if you’re suffering, or you need money, are the two reasons I’m gonna get off my ass and do stuff. I think if I don’t have those, I’m sipping lattes and reading something, whatever just getting lost. And so it was really good for me to have a financial responsibility, responsibility to a partner, as well as to my own sort of emotional lobbying. So, as I began doing those work, what I found was I had a natural gift. I think I’m answering this in a roundabout way, but as I began to finally clarify it became this idea that wow, I could actually help people by doing therapy. I’ve done so much. I understand the internal system. I could make 150 bucks an hour instead of making 17 or 15 bucks as a carpenter or a cabinet maker.
0:22:34 PA: Is that what you were doing then, in your 20s?
0:22:36 GH: Yeah, I had eight jobs. I was cleaning houses, I was doing financial books for people, I was doing bid night work painting, and commercial buildings, I just opened up a private practice doing psychotherapy barely from 30 bucks an hour. Whatever it took I was doing, it was such a grind. This is about a decade ago. And it was a series of just taking clients, getting better, experimenting with ayahuasca with clients, just doing one-on-ones with them and showing up every day to the kids, showing up everyday to the marriage and consistent development and growth. The thing is, is there’s no fast track. One challenge I sense is that people take ayahuasca once so they can have an opening experience and then suddenly go I got it, or maybe I’ve taken it 10 times and not ready to bring others along on this. It’s a day-to-day grind, and you’re gonna have your ups and have your downs. And the support system is solid and you’re showing up to work every day, it’s just things start to shift.
0:23:30 PA: Well, one thing that you said maybe about a year ago that always has stuck with me, there are a few things that you’ve told me that have always stuck with me, but this one in particular. We were talking about a community, which I won’t name, but we were talking about community and about how many of them were somewhat new to ayahuasca and psychedelics. So they had this sort of energy about them. This drive of okay, I’ve been doing this a year, or two. Let’s come out, let’s make things happen. And I think what you said at that point was something along lines of well, wait ’til you’ve been doing this five years and then wait ’til you’ve been doing this 10 years and wait till you been doing this 15 years, essentially saying there’s no end to this. The layers of the self go deeper and deeper and deeper. And just when you think I’ve, “become in my inner”, “I get it”, or, “I’m there”, life throws you another curve ball. And I think this speaks to why psychedelics and ayahuasca is so great because they sometimes can help you adapt to those curve balls.
0:24:33 GH: Yeah, my own sort of great shame story here is, I have the great ambition to be a rock star and so I played the guitar really well, and I can play ceremonies and get 100 people in there and the place rocks. And the music going and it finishes and there’s that sort of spiritual materials. I’m like, I’m the guy. And because I’m a quick study, over about five years of doing that I figured shit, I know stuff and then people said, “Well you should start your own place, you should start your own thing.” And so I moved to Boulder, Colorado, and planted a flag and started serving people ayahuasca and I was doing it in my house. You bring 10 people in 15 people in, 20 and then you’re kind of the guy. And suddenly you have an identity and people are asking you questions and they want your opinion. I like that. I felt like that was very important.
0:25:16 PA: You felt important.
0:25:17 GH: Absolutely. I had things to do and people to see.
0:25:18 PA: And respected and looked up to. Like okay, I’m here. Yeah, yeah yeah.
0:25:22 GH: Absolutely, ayahuasca is so cool. It’s fun talking about it. I haven’t thought about ayahuasca this way in a while. But it’s fun because what I find that it does is it completely allows whatever you want sure, go for it. If you wanna rename yourself, Raven, Little Hawk Running or something and be the guy serving ayahuasca and you’ve only been doing it three years it’ll still happen. Go for it. I think you should do that. And you should do that. And so I had my own version of being, I didn’t make myself that, but I thought I was cool.
0:25:51 PA: What did you do? What were some of the things that you did?
0:25:54 GH: I just thought I was the man. And it must have been 33 or 34, and I never forget this time. We had a big ceremony in our house living room the night before. Not big, but there was enough people, full. And then the next morning, I remember just breaking. And what I wasn’t paying attention to is if you’re going to invite people into your house to do this kind of a ceremony for instance, or if you’re a therapist and you’re inviting people into your office, or if you’re going to have something to say, if you’re writing an article about development and you think you have a point of view that’s worth considering, you might wanna consider that. And the position you’re taking because what started to happen was I had to kind of work with everybody else’s energy that was coming in. So, people open up themselves, they drink this drink and then they just let go. They feel better, but what are you gonna do with all that stuff? Where is the drain? Where is that going down to? Who’s trans-muting that actually? And ayahuasca will do some of the heavy lifting, but you still have to if you’re facilitating take it on. And so that’s a tricky business. And I never forget.
0:27:03 GH: I had an emotional break at the breakfast table, and I was so mad and… I had a plate of pancakes. It’s like both emotional. I feel like I’m gonna cry but also laugh. I broke the plate of pancakes and the plate shards went everywhere. And my three-year-old daughter was standing there. And one hit her eye and she started bleeding and crying and I just thought “Holy shit, it just came to this?” Here I am, Mr. Light bringing all this light to the world, and now I’m cutting my daughter’s eye because I can’t handle my own anger. And it was just a wake-up call and I think within two weeks, I just was like, “I’m out, I’m not doing this anymore. Because I haven’t developed myself enough to hold space for this many people, it’s not my bag, so I’ve got my own homework to do, I’m gonna go much more quietly and take care of my own garden, before I feel like I should actually have something to say for other people.” so…
0:27:52 PA: Where did that take you then? When you talk about taking care of your own garden and what were the next steps for you?
0:27:58 GH: Yeah, it’s that’s good question…
0:28:00 PA: For you after that.
0:28:00 GH: Not to quote Jordan Peterson, ’cause I’m not a huge Jordan Peterson fan but I mean his whole thing he’s talking about how are you gonna go help people if you can’t make your own bed? That sensibility, and I basically needed to look at a lot of stuff around my shadows, the shadows around my sexuality you and I have talked about this. I was married for 19 years, never acted out of it, but the intensity of my sexuality because I got married very young, was very much in my face, and I didn’t know how to work with that and in some ways I wasn’t an emotionally safe person around intimacy even with my ex-wife back then, and I didn’t know how to work that. So one of the things I just did was a year of somatic work on my body trying to understand my sexuality so I could actually hold it better and be more clear, that’s a whole thing.
0:28:43 GH: Figuring out my finances, just getting tighter on my money, having my books and how do I show up as a father? Can I just be here day in and day out, with needing to just pop off and escape and go to my next ayahuasca retreat ’cause that’s what I was doing. I had this sort of life and I could call it. I’m spiritually, developing, but I wrote a lot of… Wrote a lot off to this spiritual development when I was just going to ayahuasca to play guitar and have a great time and then come back, but walk back in the door and go, there’s a lot of work here to do just to lift up my own energy, lift up the family and be supportive and be somebody that’s contributing. There’s a lot of learning…
0:29:19 PA: Well it’s a big burden to take on in your early 30s. I’m 28, almost 29. I turn 29 in a week. And a lot of things that you’re talking about now, in terms of that break down that you had, I went through earlier, this year, which we spoke about over dinner a couple of times where essentially I drank a bunch of ayahuasca at the beginning this year in a couple of retreats, and kinda like you were saying, ayahuasca said, “Yeah, go do this and go do this and go do this.” And I went and did some of those things and then.
0:29:47 GH: “See that cute girl over there, she really likes you, you’re the man, you got it buddy. Look how handsome I am.” You are handsome…
0:29:57 PA: But then there are these sort of second and third order consequences that you’re just so in the medicine space that you don’t quite have the understanding of what might happen as a result of that. And for me I was… When I was… After I did those two straight weeks of ayahuasca, I was so ungrounded that I did a couple of things that were big mistakes looking back at the same time, it’s like that was the only way I could learn the lessons that I needed to learn to really…
0:30:27 GH: Perfect right?
0:30:28 PA: Move on to the next stage. And I think this is what we’re talking about when it comes to development and when it comes to maturity when it comes to learning and when it comes to the work. I had been doing psychedelics for, I started when I was 19. I was always very intentional and reflective but at the same time, nine years into doing psychedelics clearly, I still have my own issues with the ego, clearly, I still have my own issues with the way that I relate to people with arrogance from time to time. And it’s just like when you think you’ve got it, it’s just like, no, go look at this and go look at this and go look at this, and it’s just, it’s almost like the more aware you become, the more you realize that, just like the layers and layers they keep going, the depth doesn’t end.
0:31:12 GH: It’s interesting, I think a few things that strike me with that, I totally identify. And the second it becomes your identity that you’re this person that’s evolved and now I have something to say around it. And I thought Steve Cotler said something interesting. He was talking about how, when he stands on stage in I’m totally going off here, that he’s in a position of a teacher on stage, but when he gets off stage, she doesn’t want to remain that guy. So then he’ll just start asking questions to people, for like… 10 minutes. Just, “Hey just get himself out of… I have something to say, versus… I wanna just rebalance this out. So I think that’s really interesting. And that fixed identity piece.
0:31:50 GH: And the other thing, I think, is we were referencing earlier these sign posts going back to your earlier question about, you see someone drink five times they think they got it, or they think they have something to say on it, or they’ve done it for a year, and they take a position on it. And I think I was there for 17 years, and that’s kind of a certain… Okay, that’s a certain threshold, there’s people that are 25-30 but then you see the five-year wave, of those people that have done it for five years and they think they know this thing, then you see the 10 years and it’s not that developed or that advanced. And I know, Sean’s… Friends of mine that are now 20-25 years and they’re kinda over it. They wanna retire and do something else and it’s like a job as opposed to this kind of.
0:32:37 PA: Spiritual calling of sorts.
0:32:38 GH: Yeah, instead of this instagram culture, where I get to be this person that has this thing, I think we all need an identity that way. But a lot of humility is required until you fall on your face and get hammered enough times, then I think that’s where you might have something to say. It’s just when you think you know… So it’s kind of interesting.
0:33:00 PA: There’s a quote that I love lately, which is something like wisdom teaches me that I am nothing and love teaches me that I am everything and life basically exists between those two points.
0:33:09 GH: Yeah, that’s very sweet. Yeah, I love that until then you… It’s nice. I don’t know, maybe the ’40s is easier. You don’t have to think so much but I like this thing that we were talking about too, between this is kinda looking at this track, of… I’m really interested right now in how psychedelics are used. I’m not facilitating anymore, but I… Because there’s so many people that can. I think that’s amazing, what an amazing time we are that if you wanna micro dose, you can go online and find a course. I sent people all the time, I’m like, “Oh you have to meet Paul, go to third wave and you start there,” ’cause you’ll have a lot of questions and there’s a huge amount of need to develop and to grow. And I’m so interested in how psychedelics and ayahuasca and all the tools that we have for that provide the opportunity and the technology for us to work with the interior, I think, and I think therapy has grown a huge amount over the last, you know, Hakomi was something back in the late 90s that came out of Buddhism and tracked a lot and there’s somatic experiencing, and now there’s so many new branches that have come off that are very intelligent and evolving and stacking on top of what was already the frameworks that have already been laid, and there… It’s amazing. And how this use of psychedelics this way, allows you kind of entry into your internal states and allowing you this kind of gateway into how do your emotions work, and it can be very uncomfortable.
0:34:32 GH: Like, I tend to be a guy that just thinks psychedelics, and not to be self-flagellating, suffering-absorbed person, because that’s not who I am, but I… It’s through the suffering that you learn so much and psychedelics can be highly intense, and ayahuasca’s not a comfortable experience for anybody. You might have a good night, but it’s generally a doorway through a lot of pain and a lot of hurt and finding out those sort of cubbies and closets that you didn’t take care of for a while, and there’s some gnarly shit in there. But it’s amazing that it can teach you to relate to a lot of emotions that you would not wanna be in relationship with, or that you push off negative emotions, a lot of anxiety, sadness, depression, anger, anger, huge amounts of rage, resentment, there was a huge amount resentment, I find as well. And generally people don’t wanna go snooping around that. You’re not gonna say, “Hey, come over, let’s jump into that for an evening.” But you get in there, and if… And once you start to form a relationship with these really challenging places, it changes things. And I used to do a lot of trauma work with kids and adults, but I like doing it with teenagers, because you don’t think they have the capacity to really do work, but sometimes they’re the most open, ’cause it’s also is these kids that have no friends.
0:35:57 GH: They were always the ones for me that broke my heart, these 16-year-olds that had no social skills, which was how I felt probably in my early 20s, which is why they’re so close to my heart. But they would come in and they had just had no recourse, they didn’t know what to do. So I had a chair in my office called the Work Chair. It was separate from the couch, and you put a kid on the chair or an adult and say, “Okay, close your eyes.” And you’ve done this work, we all know it really well, so what do you notice in your belly, what do you notice in your chest, and people start to pay attention, and the young people would initially start close their eyes, within five seconds, open their eyes again, ’cause they couldn’t, they were like, “I’m getting vertigo,” “I don’t know what’s inside there,” “It hurts,” and they would leave. But they would come back and there’s this one kid, it’s my favorite story of all time, he was such an awkward kid. Oh my god, poor guy. He had no chance. His favorite car was a Prius at 16. And he went to Men’s Wearhouse and dressed in suits at 16 to high public high school, I’m like, “Man, we’re in trouble.”
0:37:00 PA: Yeah.
0:37:00 GH: But he came in, and to his credit, and he wasn’t getting any invites to parties, he couldn’t participate in clubs, like nobody invited him anywhere, he was just, he was a bummed… Bummed out, very depressed kid, and so he started to do this work. And I lined out to him, I said, “We’re gonna learn how to put a picnic blanket down in the cave of your despair,” and that was always the metaphor is, let’s go to the cave and we’ll walk up and first day you’re here, we’re gonna look at the entrance to the cave, it’s dark, you can’t… You don’t really know what’s in there… Great. And now I’m gonna tie a rope to your belly and then you’re gonna go in and just close your eyes and what do you feel when you start walking into the cave? He was like, “I feel nervous, I feel anxious, it lives in my chest, my stomach’s tightening up.” Great, come back out, and leave… And week after week, he finally was able to repel down, ’cause you can get very metaphorical, as he repels down and pulls out his blanket from the knapsack and hangs out, and he’s like, “I’m in the midst of my despair.”
0:37:52 GH: And how does it feel? And he goes, “It sucks.” Are you breathing? I’m breathing. So he’s breathing and then suddenly he’s like, “You know what? This isn’t that bad.” And I love that, because that’s the basic of the… The basis of the work, the fundamentals of how we can operate, ’cause today, we’re running around with our phones, running around distracting, going to the next thing, moving really fast and not taking that time to check in and we don’t have to make our identities about checking in on ourselves and sitting at Whole Foods and stare at each other for a long time and talk about the yoga classes we’re going to, but we can know fundamentals, and I think the psychedelic work, and the ayahuasca work and all these, provide this avenue in a very clean, coherent way, to connect the emotional work with the, kind of that, spiritual, in the way that psychedelics can break down thoughts, break down your body in certain ways, that there’s no hand holds. I really believe in that stuff. And then, if you get some stars that are shining and it’s flying out and there’s some red carpets and you’re getting the mass of crystal people and talking to… Like great, I think you should totally do that.
0:39:04 PA: Bonus.
0:39:05 GH: Yes, all bonus material, great, definitely write that in your journal, and that can inform you. But the best work that you can walk out of is being extremely grounded.
0:39:15 PA: And knowing yourself, and becoming comfortable with all aspects of yourself, even the parts of yourself that are the scariest or…
0:39:21 GH: That you hate…
0:39:22 PA: Or that you hate.
0:39:23 GH: Yeah. And for me, the parts of that, it took me a long time, I’m 45 now, working through my sexuality in a really clean, coherent way, that even my 18-year-old son’s visiting and we can have conversations about his body and his sexual desires and how do you hold that in a clear way and a safe way, but also not be too scared from the Me Too movement and then like cut off your masculinity. What is that role? And I learned a lot in that work.
0:39:47 PA: Well, you’ve been one of my biggest mentors in network, you’ve made a couple of really good book recommendations. The King, Warrior, Lover, Magician.
0:39:54 GH: Yeah, Robert Moore.
0:39:55 PA: And Iron John by Robert Bly. I’d love to go into that a little bit.
0:40:00 GH: Sure.
0:40:00 PA: What have you learned about sexuality and masculinity, either from ayahuasca, from your own work that you’ve applied to your own life, what’s that process been like for you?
0:40:09 GH: It all goes back to Burning Man. [laughter]
0:40:11 PA: It does? It does? Yeah?
0:40:12 GH: Yeah, a big thing happened for me at Burning Man, and this is a pretty candid story, but I was married for 19 years in New York for a couple of years, and when I went to Burning Man, I was in a place in my own marriage where we were kind of on the line, where I wasn’t acting outside of the marriage. I’m a student of myself, but I had a question about men and I still hold in this question. If you haven’t had sexual experiences. And then you get married, do you actually need to go have those sexual experiences in real time or can you actually work them out internally and maintain one partner all the way through? And we could go into Esther Perel work. There’s a lot of work being done on this and it’s an open conversation, but that’s a strong holding question for me.
0:40:54 GH: So, I left the Burning Man, holding that question, but not feeling like I was gonna act outside of that. I knew it wasn’t… So I went to Burning Man, which ended up being a really… Whatever. Burning Man’s Burning Man. I stayed true to the course, and really worked myself, and I remember coming back from there feeling amazing. I actually learned that I could work with my internal states, and I don’t have to act out on anything, and that gave me some piece of truth. And the second I got back from Burning Man, I remember texting my ex-wife, and it was my wife at the time, and saying, “I’m back, and it was an amazing trip, and I also got some jobs ’cause I networked really well. Our money is taken care of,” all sorts of things.
0:41:27 GH: And she said, “Don’t come home.” And it was a really shock to my system, and that unraveled a whole bunch and sent on a big journey about what does that mean. And the study around the sexuality piece for me at this point is, it really unlocked something. And what I’ve learned is now, being a single guy at my age, after a year and a half and being in some relationships, expanding that, God. It’s recognizing that it’s so layered with so much stuff from my childhood and so much shame, so much stuff on top of what we think it is, and what we think it isn’t, a lot of remorse, even around pornography is a whole thing. And I was interested in it, and kind of into it, but it was really bad because it wasn’t okay, and I don’t know. And then even having a girlfriend saying… Recently, I was telling my son this… She’s like, “What kind of porn do you like?” and not having an answer, a good answer, like, “Well, you know what I like,” actually made me look stupid, which is a whole flip. And I was like, “Oh well, maybe I should figure out what kind of porn I really like,” [laughter] just so it’s open and the thing I’m learning is I just don’t have to shut all of it down, and I don’t have to put judgements around it, and it could be okay. And I just have to really stay honest with it, make room for it, let it out, let it be there, but also be a good gentleman around the whole thing and be clear. So no, no, I’m still in this deep study around it. It’s deep fun.
0:42:52 PA: It is a lot of fun.
0:42:53 GH: I love sexuality. I think it’s an incredible part and I think men struggle a huge amount with it. I think a lot of guys have no sense of how to actually work with themselves.
0:43:00 PA: There’s no awareness typically for most men around their own sexual energy and how they can work.
0:43:04 GH: And a lot of women are suffering for this too. I go on dates, you’re in New York, you’re dating online because that’s the way people date. And I just like talking to women about this, and you just get a lot of stories of there aren’t men that know how to show up at just a very basic level. They’re not in touch of their bodies, they’re not in touch with their emotions, communication isn’t so great. Just some basic fundamentals that could really support the process. So I’m endlessly curious about it.
0:43:30 PA: I feel like there’s a really good transition point here, with the professional work that you do. So when you’re starting to work with executive clients and starting to bring some of your own tools like the work that you did with ayahuasca, the fundamentals that you learned from psychotherapy, the stuff that you’re learning now around sexuality, how do you show up then for a client? Why do clients come to you? Why do clients wanna work with you specifically? What sort of questions are they asking? What sort of things are they struggling with?
0:43:57 GH: I work as executive coach, as a bread and butter, for pre-IPO startups. Early-stage, [unclear speech], CEOs, founders, and kind of the team that’s around them, or the basic group. You get hired because you know tactical operational skills and so a lot of times people are bringing you in to help their company because you can speak the speak. So you’re gonna get into hard skills about how to run a company, from having your vision, to road map, to OKRs, to how you’re running your 101 meetings. And it’s a bit of my world, is just sort of hanging out up into those basics. But once, it’s a little bit of being, as we were talking about before, the wolf in sheep’s clothing. So once you’re inside and they trust you, then you’re beginning to have secondary layer of conversations where the self is emergent, and blind spots are showing up, and they’re seeing where they’re causing pain. And it’s a really interesting journey to kinda get under the layers of that. These super successful people, God, they’re so polished. Anybody that’s running a company from the external always looks like they’re crushing it, and they’re killing it, and they’re doing great.
0:45:05 GH: I don’t know any company that’s doing… But once you start talking to people, the people aren’t stressed. They’re just under the next series of funding, or what’s happening in the next quarter, or the numbers aren’t right, or… It’s neverending. And I really love the work once you’re in with them enough that there’s trust built and you start to get the real story, that they don’t really have someone to talk to about the deeper fears that they have. “Why am I doing this? What’s the purpose? Here I am doing this company, is this the use for my time? I’m working 15s year after year and we don’t even know if we’re gonna hit this thing.” And a few guys popped through, a few women popped through, and [unclear speech], and get the payouts. A lot of people are grinding in this and it’s not an easy space. So I think the work that I love so much is when you’re under that level of stress, things start to pop, and that’s where your shadows come out. It might show up with your team, how you talk to people, it shows up in your arrogance. It shows up with your families.
0:46:06 GH: And so that deeper work around, I don’t know, what happens if we just say, “How are you really doing?” This is a very basic human thing and can we just connect you back to yourself, that and just using breathing and “It’s okay, right here.” And that basic ground that we’ve talked about, that I’ve been able to develop after 20 years of this work, kind of underground. I love this idea that we’re open loops and that as humans, and so if we sit in a room and if you’re highly anxious, let’s flip it, let’s say I’m highly anxious and you’re extremely regulated, depending on if your regulation is bed rocked and solid and baked in enough, that it’s stronger than my anxiety. Then you’re gonna draw me into your grounded state. But if my anxiety… If it’s not rooted, my anxiety is higher than your ability to maintain your regulation, then I’m gonna pull you into an anxious state.
0:47:04 GH: And that’s a really interesting idea. And so I love working with leaders in that way, because what state are you… What are you bringing? What state are you coming in on? And are you able to draw people into your settled comp-state rather than being driven by the anxieties. And then you’re… If you come in and you’re not regulated and you’re dropping in all that shit, that is just going right into the team, it’s going… Maybe just brutal.
0:47:31 GH: And I find a lot of executive teams suffer for this ’cause there’s no time and everybody’s just tactically driven. Just looking at the numbers, looking at what’s happening quarterly, whatever product market fit, just isn’t happening that we thought that it would or maybe I did, but now we don’t have a market. There’s so many questions and people are up to their ears. So, I’m super interested right now in organizations of how people drop into… I trust that if we drop into a state, then we’re gonna, from there find a more interesting solution, and that’s hard… That’s a hard sell man.
0:48:00 PA: The hard sell.
0:48:00 GH: Yeah, no one believes you. If you say, “Let’s get to a better state.” They’re like, “Yeah right, who has time for that?” And so a lot of people have ideological ideas, that’s kinda repetitious, but they have a… They’re very idealistic about the way companies could be run. But until you’re in the midst of it all, it’s hard to do, right? And so, how do you make an off-site, take people off? Maybe they have a deep experience, connect with themselves and each other, but finding ways to make that sticky when they go back, into the day-to-day grind, can you actually start to help that? Whole system, if it’s an organization, even a 100 people, 50 people, 300, how do you start to embed a different type of culture where there’s more regulation involved.
0:48:38 PA: Because if the leaders aren’t regulated.
0:48:40 GH: Impossible, it’s top down man. Always is. And then it comes from CEO, as every time, every single time. I’ve never seen an example where it’s not. And whatever level of shadow or whatever lack of regulation, or whatever anxieties they have, whatever things are lurking that they don’t handle, and there’s a great podcast that Jerry Colonna did with the Gimlet Guys, startup podcast. You can refer some here and put it on the…
0:49:04 PA: We’ll link to it.
0:49:06 GH: Yeah, it’s brilliant, because Jerry’s awesome, psychoanalytic-based executive coach who everybody trusts, but Jerry’s a guy that’s going right after your mother and father issues consistently. Every conversation is going there. So, I’m not saying anything new, but the state of the leaders is going to set the state of company and the culture. And if they’re not doing their homework, they’re in trouble. So, I like this thing about taken teams. If they’re progressive enough and willing enough to go to answer to him.
0:49:37 PA: Do mushrooms.
0:49:38 GH: Yeah.
0:49:38 PA: Drop in a little bit.
0:49:39 GH: Yeah.
0:49:39 PA: Learn what that means.
0:49:40 GH: And I think a lot of leaders are curious. People ask me all the time like, “Do you know the circle or how do I do this extra work?” ‘Cause they recognize there’s a key in there that if I can regulate myself I think I can… Something can be different.
0:49:53 PA: Like, how have you seen that play out then with the clients or the people that you worked with, what are some of the transformations or the changes that you’ve seen, before and after? Before, you started working with someone and then when you start to teach some of these principles… I’ll be honest, even as someone who I certainly I don’t mean your client, but as a friend and mentee of yours, I’ve learned a lot from you that I’ve applied to some success in some degree, but at the same time, I’m also still learning. Even this conversation right now, this little tid-bit about the person who’s regulated, the person who is regulated.
0:50:30 GH: Yeah.
0:50:32 PA: Versus the person who’s anxious, I’m now like, “Oh, understanding a past relationship that I had because of that.” ‘Cause I’m like, “Oh, I thought I was firm and established, but clearly I was being drawn into that more anxious state because this woman that I was interested in, was in that energy.” So, I guess what I’m saying is, I learn something from you every time that we sit down, which is incredible and so, I’d love to just hear a little bit, example wise, how have you seen leaders change as a result of your…
0:51:00 GH: Sure.
0:51:00 PA: Your impact at work.
0:51:01 GH: So, if you think about that open-loop system, about anxiety in the relationship you’re in, think about sexually, if you’re actually intimate with someone at the physical level, who’s spiritually more hygienic for instance, who’s emotionally more hygienic? If you’re engaging with people that are not as developed as you, you won’t feel good after. It’s heavy. So you… Yeah, you wanna get the stage, but that’s hard lessons. Those are the ayahuasca teachings that are so beautiful, as you start looking an energy and you start looking at just how I feel in my system, after I engage with somebody, that’s the sexual part I think is interesting.
0:51:32 GH: I think from an organizational standpoint, if you walk into a room with someone, and people if you’re going to VCs to raise money and some of the VCs are assholes and they’re just in a certain energy and you’re locked and you’re much more grounded in yourself, you’re not gonna wanna work with them, you’re gonna make a better choice in who your investor is, just because you’re a regulated person, and you actually can see the room and you’re not walking in going, “God, I should make… I really need these guys, I need their money.” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but if you take their money, you’re now going to be involved in that energy. Yeah, that capital system and they’re gonna drive your numbers and they’re gonna drive you crazy, and that’ll suck. The entrepreneurs that I love, that I work with, who are more grounded, can walk into the next round of funding with their head on their shoulders and actually be evaluating.
0:52:08 PA: And responsive rather than reactive.
0:52:08 GH: Absolutely. And if you’re not a fit for me, it doesn’t work. So in terms of the clients I work with, what I discover is, I think I do two things: One is the invisible work where that open channel we’re talking about. Just if I’m in a room with somebody and we don’t even talk and I leave, and I’m consciously being more regulated. I’m just staying with that. They just feel better when I walk out. And they think, “Oh, what happened?” They’re not even sure, but we already explained it. We’re just helping regulate. And so it doesn’t even matter if they’re Fintech guys I work with, some of them are so… I make them breathe for 10 minutes as we begin these sessions. We have an hour, but it’s like, “We’re taking 10 minutes,” and they’re like, “Are you kidding me?”
0:53:00 PA: Let’s get to this, come on!
0:53:00 GH: And they’re so funny in their Oxfords and they’re all buttoned up, but after about three months, they’re just like, “That is one of the best tools and it’s slowing me down.” And so through that regulation, then they start to sit back and look at their calendars, and go “Wow! What’s my prioritization?” So if I’m driving from anxiety, if I’m on a team where everyone’s anxious, I hate working for anxious people, ’cause they want extra information from me that’s not necessary, and it’s just for me to take care of their anxiety, or CEOs that have been anxious, and then I gotta do three extra emails to satisfy them because something got done but it didn’t really need to get done. So I think a regular team, like helping people get down to that is gonna make a big difference in terms of, “Shit, I can do better work. I can work less hard, a little more regulated.” I think Patagonia’s a great example of a company that you just go surf, just do your thing and come back and regulated, you’re gonna be far more effective.
0:53:55 GH: So that’s where I’m interested in teams, is helping them and the leaders of it, at least come in and understand that, and have some sense that they’re driving the inefficiencies of their teams. And if we can all sit back and look at how we operate, how we talk to each other, what… How we’re coming in, if we’re coming in hot from tough meetings or whatever it is, really making sure we’re on the same page before we start, then we’re gonna have a high quality conversation. That could be 30 minutes instead of an hour. Suddenly you’ve shaved off 30 minutes. The calendar looks different. How long do our meetings really have to be? And I use an example about my kids when we moved to New York. You see people… This is so funny. It’s like you’re in the subway and you’re running and you’re getting your subway card, and you, “Oh my God, the train’s going.” We tried to get my daughter through and we’re like, “Go, go, go!” And you’re swiping the card.
0:54:46 PA: And it doesn’t work. It’s like, “You need to swipe it again.”
0:54:48 GH: And someone’s running, and that that little gate thing and you swipe and they think it swiped, and they hit their stomach and they roll over, and you’re like, “Ooh,” and then there’s the whole recovery, and then you’ve already missed the train. His mom was great. She just looks and is like, “Slow the fuck down, mother fucker. Let’s walk and swipe and we’re gonna catch the train.” And it’s always true. So I think the work that I do a lot that I see is it’s good knowing all that tactical stuff and you have to. I think that there’s a lot of bad coaches out there who don’t get that you have to have all of it. You have to have the soft skill side, be able to dive and plunge really deep, because that could show up as something you have to deal with. But sometimes it is that your priority setting system sucks, or you haven’t really looked quarterly, like your processes aren’t in place in ways that could work.
0:55:39 GH: Or maybe your head of marketing is just not cutting the mustard. And how do you know that? Or maybe your hiring processes. You do have to understand, at least have enough context. But again, that’s just the entry point, and the fun stuff is down in where you start to synthesize and they’re bringing their full self in and they start to recognize the emotional responsibility that they have, and the term is being responsible for your emotional wake. So if you’re responsible for your emotional wake, you know what you’re bringing into every room, and hopefully your… We’re all making mistakes, we’re all trying, but at least you can recover, hopefully a little bit quicker.
0:56:12 PA: ‘Cause you have that awareness of how your actions and how your sense of presence is impacting those around you…
0:56:17 GH: Absolutely.
0:56:17 PA: Your team, all those sorts of thing.
0:56:19 GH: And if somebody walked in the room right now completely pissed off and didn’t say a word and sat down next to you, we would change. And so, get a room of eight people and one person comes in. And I play a lot of pick-up basketball, five on five. It’s funny, if you have a team of five in pick-up and one guy is… Doesn’t know what he’s doing or one guy is plogging up the middle, the rest of the five… You don’t play basketball but you just, like it sucks. So it’s amazing how one person could shift the dynamic in terms of flow, in terms of communication and all that, and I think we have to be honest about that. And are we that guy?
0:56:49 PA: Oftentimes that’s the hardest part. And this is bringing up so much for me as we’re talking about this, ’cause I’m now reflecting. I’m like, “Oh, this is why things were so messy for me,” and so I moved to New York. We were just talking about this. I moved to New York about two years ago, and came in thinking, “Okay, I would come here and I would hustle, and I would meet people, and make things work, and really take things to the next level of what we were working on with the third wave.” And then we launched Synthesis last year, and then I was hinting at earlier, there was a bit of a breakdown earlier this year with what we went through, and now with everything that we’re talking about, I’m realizing it’s because for most of the time that I was living in New York, I was operating from this very anxious, reactive scarcity mindset for various reasons, but then that energy showed up in how I ran my business, showed up in disorganization, showed up in poor communication, showed up in all these other things, and for much of it, I was like, “Oh, the issue is there, the issue is there, the issue is there.” And then when I got knocked upside the face earlier this year after all this ayahuasca, I think that’s when I finally was like, “Okay, the issue is definitely with me.”
0:57:56 PA: And now, how do I go about actually addressing that? And it’s probably gonna happen again, but being aware of it as it comes up, and not here, not in the head, but really here physically in my body, in my heart, in my stomach, in my just general organism. Like when I’m around people who I don’t feel comfortable with, when I’m around people who it’s like, “How do you sense that? How do you observe that, and how do you create boundaries?” I think understanding boundaries. That’s been my biggest takeaway since working with ayahuasca. It’s been clearly to take care of myself. That comes first, because if you can’t take care of yourself, if you’re in this anxious reactive state like we’ve been talking about, that’s gonna be projected outwards. And often the hardest work for someone who’s in a position of leadership, or power, or a CEO, is having the humility to step back and say, “Okay, this is my work, this is my problem. And the reason X, Y, and Z isn’t working out here is not because it’s the wrong team member or because that person isn’t doing the right thing but it really, it’s gotta always start with, I think, personal responsibility.”
0:59:08 GH: Absolutely, yeah, I mean, it’s… My brain goes to so many places. But one is in terms of managers and somehow their directs aren’t actually doing with, they think they should do them, they’re like, Oh, they’re not A players. And my question back is like, what kind of fucking manager are you? Like you talked that you can manage someone so well, that they’re gonna be awesome. But you didn’t make this person awesome. And let’s like [unclear speech] they can actually do the work, at the end of the day. Maybe they’re not talented enough, fine, but let’s get granular enough to identify and highlight talent. But before talent, there’s processes and letting them know having good agreements and you know the scope of the work and expectations and all that stuff is important. The other thing I think is interesting is the CEO guys, the men and women both, they don’t actually have the liberty to be insecure in the room, in the position, because they’re being looked to.
0:59:56 GH: And the investors are looking to them, the board is looking to them, they walk into a company and they can go… I heard this example one time, you can just like taste the coffee or something. And like the coffee is bad and you’re like, Oh, this coffee sucks and they walk away and people were like, Who made the coffee? Who is that? Because they’re being watched and suddenly they’re no longer themselves, their persona, they have actually have to project a sense of security and knowledge and a fundamental sense of leadership, which is important.
1:00:28 GH: And if you get behind the closed doors, what you start to hear is they’re like, here I’ve hired all these super smart people that are smarter than me. And they know more about the domain than I do, like they know far more about product than I do, they know like, they know about engineering, way better than I do. How do I know what the timeline is? If what they’re telling me is the right timeline, can I deliver on that, I can’t say that’s fast or that’s slow. I don’t know if the marketing team should have delivered on the thing they said within the time of the launch. So this is like this blend of you see it a lot in boys in their 15-16, where they’re projecting what they think, a man would look like, but they’re terrified.
1:01:07 GH: So it comes off and their interactions are actually not right, like it actually isn’t suited for the human being in front of them. ’cause they’re not actually located in themselves, ’cause they’re scared, but I’m supposed to act like I know. So then you’re like, What’s up with that dude, he’s weird. Whatever, so, I think it’s true, that’s beautiful, what you’re seeing in terms of that progress, and then we were talking during that time. And it’s sort of like who is the asshole, I think you’re just like, we have to put it [unclear speech].
1:01:33 PA: You do as if you gotta yourself. Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely.
1:01:36 GH: And if hopefully, you can have that conversation with your team it will be like, Oh my God, that was totally on me, I got it, can we start. And maybe trust has been broken enough or things are downstream, so you’re not gonna recover that thing. Okay, good, lesson learned. It’s probably not until your second or third company before you’re even gonna get a sense of like how that works. Your first company is gonna sink, you gotta make mistakes, it’s the only way. It’s so sweet.
1:02:00 PA: That’s just part of that.
1:02:01 GH: Yeah.
1:02:02 PA: Part of the past.
1:02:02 GH: Yeah. And everybody wants to fast track it, but yeah, just get hammered. And I think the ayahuasca thing is great too, I mean, just because you just say yes, let your big ego do its thing, well that’s what you’re supposed to do. We’re all humans, who maybe have a sense of humor about it. But if you fall in your face, good, yeah, that’s important.
1:02:20 PA: You need to, you need to suffer, you need to go through, you need to go into those dark places, you need to like really sometimes hit rock bottom.
1:02:26 GH: 100%. And have good friends, those I used to isolate [unclear speech] huge amount about asking for help, and texting people that I never thought would show up. And lo and behold, there’s good people here, that will take your text at a later time, and be like, “Why don’t you just come over.” And I’m like, “Really?” And you end up having a really powerful conversation and invitation into a deeper level friendship, that I didn’t knew was possible. So I’m grateful for it. I think that this place is somewhere between feeling relaxed enough that you don’t check yourself too hard, but when you get your legs and you’re down, you ask for help and you have enough good people around you out there, calling you out and supporting you. What does that style like you’re the aggregate of the five people that you spend the most time with?
1:03:13 PA: Yeah, being mindful of that and being aware of that and again this comes back to boundaries and who you spend time with and who you choose to invest in and who you open up to. And these are all really things that again, I knew intellectually to some degree, I’d learned ’cause I’d listened to a number of podcasts or read the books that I needed to read or whatever it might be. But, I mean, that’s the thing with life and experience, it’s you learn one thing after working, doing the work for five years, learn another thing after doing the work for 10 years, and it’s just a matter of like, you go deeper and deeper and deeper, not only into elevated states and bliss and love and acceptance and transcendence, but also into deeper and deeper states of suffering and like holy shit. Because I have this power, this responsibility, because I am in a leadership position. My behaviors, my actions, the way that I present myself is impacting all these other people around me. To recognize that and understand that it requires a lot of maturity and a lot of awareness and you only can learn that through doing at it.
1:04:14 GH: Yeah, and then coming back to the tools, the therapy, a good coach, the psychedelics, if that’s something that you’re open to and ends with so beautiful as it’s now here and available. You can make a couple of calls, and probably someone’s gonna have some avenue in that can support you in that, which I think is amazing, yeah, it’s powerful.
1:04:37 PA: I wanna transition into forward thinking a little bit. So we’ve talked a lot about our own work and your past with ayahuasca and psychotherapy and getting into executive coaching. And you come from such a diverse background, because of all the work that you’ve done, because of where you find yourself now in New York. From your experience and keeping in mind business is changing quite a bit, right? And the way that we perceive the world is changing quite a bit, and I think it’s largely brought on by the ecological crisis, by people recognizing that just pursuing money and status is at the end of the day very unfulfilling. More and more people wanna work in jobs or positions where they can pursue purpose, pursue meaning and pursue something that really resonates here with them in the heart.
1:05:21 GH: God bless them. [chuckle]
1:05:22 PA: Yeah, all these millennial things, right?
1:05:25 GH: It’s great.
1:05:27 PA: So for you, like, A, what does leadership mean, so how do you define leadership? Let’s start there. How do you define leadership?
1:05:37 GH: That’s great. I think what comes to mind is Colin Powell. There’s a really great quote from him that I would hack, but a good leadership I think is being centrally located in yourself, recognizing the emotional wake that you’re leaving on a consistent basis, being secure enough and located enough to be able to make hard calls and hard decisions and clarity, in terms of what you’re saying yes, too, with the understanding of also that means no to quite a lot of things as well. An ability to read the room, to read your people, I think that’s a really key element these days is really understanding how to engage people, how to move people, how to motivate people, how to inspire them, it’s a really… It’s one… Good leaders are able to do that. I think that’s a really big skill. Technical knowledge, all that’s very helpful, in terms of the domain, and when I think about leadership, I mean, are we looking at it politically or are we looking at it from a business standpoint? I don’t spend a lot of time in politics, it’s much more… At least from a business standpoint, but I don’t mind this benevolent dictator thing.
1:06:49 GH: I’m kind of into it, which means that certain people have enough experience, they’ve done their homework, internally, externally, that they’re able to stand and see something that the rest of us can’t see, and that they engender enough trust that they can kind of help guide the rest of us in a certain direction. I don’t know if that’s articulate enough, but you can feel a good leader when they walk into the room, because it’s somebody that you wanna talk to and that you suddenly want to… You’re up to whatever they’re up to.
1:07:21 PA: And you trust them, there’s a level of intuitive trust in that relationship.
1:07:27 GH: Like one of my favorite leaders right now, I’ll make a shout out to this guy, Sam Levin. He’s CEO of a small-sized business in California. Sam’s one of the quintessential guys for me because I’ve worked with him for a couple of years, and he’s like, he comes out of Techstars, and he has all the fundamentals down, consistently. He’s a French guy, so he can run the business, he knows how to do it, but Sam is equal parts self-introspection, equal parts discipline. He’ll wake up early, he meditates, he does his self-work, he loves his family, shows up to his kids, and a guy that’s willing to get creative and iterate in front of his team and totally fail. And people love him. You will follow him because he just engenders this trust, and he gets a little smile and a twinkle in his eye, and I’m like, “Oh, where is he going?” He’s smart enough to sort of see a path, he has enough vision and yet, he’s curious enough as to how each and everybody fits into that vision, ’cause he wants everybody to be in the best place.
1:08:37 GH: And I don’t know, I think that’s really hard to do, but he’s always in my mind whenever I meet new leaders. It’s just like, how do we bring out their greatest potential? Like how to, like Sam who’s just… He’s so well-balanced and all of those things. I have a huge amount of respect for him, and even coaching with him, I sit back and listen far more than I speak, you know. It’s cool, he’s willing… He’s game for this creative… He’s game to know that there’s an answer that he doesn’t know yet that’ll come out of synthesis. He’ll come out of dialogue and he’s patient enough and curious enough.
1:09:11 PA: So almost like kinda getting back to what we were talking about, the lessons that ayahuasca teach you about living in ambiguity and being comfortable with the unknown, I think that’s another element that you didn’t mention with leadership, but that’s gotta be key as well. It’s like, how do you handle the unknowns?
1:09:26 GH: Absolutely, yeah, yeah, the ambiguity, I…
1:09:29 PA: And then how do you remain centered and grounded when you’re faced with the unknowns? Because there’s I think the natural tendency is to get anxious and the mind starts worrying. The mind starts, “Well, what if this happens, and what if this happens? And what if this happened?”
1:09:45 GH: Right. But then you’re making actions that’s sort of taking care of your own anxiety instead of actually what the situation is calling for. My only version of that is, I was a therapist for a long time, and I would get into session and it would always happen somewhere, someone would be talking, and I would hit a point, and it still happens to the day on every session where I don’t know if I can help them, really don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t trust myself. And I just… I’m freaked out. And I learned to suspend anything for about seven minutes and it usually comes in around minute 32 of my sessions, and I’ve learned just to sit and feel my anxiety and appreciate it and just breathe. And what I’ve learned is, is there’s a space in there, where things are already reorganizing. And then what ends up coming out of that space is something new and synthesized that we haven’t thought of before. As opposed to what I used to do is say, “Oh I need to fix this.” So I’ve… People feel like I know what I’m doing as opposed to, “I’m willing to hang out in this ambiguity.” That’s a very micro-level of it, but I imagine a lot of the good leaders can sit back and hang out the ambiguity, take some breaths and let… Some part of the trail is gonna open up, and being… Are willing enough to let that be highlighted rather than they have to actually make that happen.
1:11:01 PA: Yeah, there’s this, I forget the term, but Nassim Taleb has talked about this quite a bit in his work with Antifragile and Black Swan. Essentially, how there’s so many issues that are caused because people think they need to be doing something, when in fact, the best option is just to do nothing at all. In other words, often times, the best answer is simplicity. The best answer is keeping things minimal, to do less, but we have this tendency to kind of to just put our hands in places where they really don’t need to go.
1:11:32 GH: Because we’re anxious.
1:11:33 PA: Because we’re anxious. Again.
1:11:34 GH: We’re unregulated.
1:11:35 PA: We’re unregulated.
1:11:36 GH: So, it’s a… It’s amazing, right?
1:11:38 PA: And just to bring it back to that psychotherapeutic background and maybe like a full circle on the ayahuasca and your own work, where does that unregulation come from? Why is it that so many business leaders and so many of us in general have this anxiety? And why aren’t we better regulated and more in touch with ourselves, and why haven’t most of us as a culture and society really developed these inner-things?
1:12:04 GH: Well, a few things. One is, I think it’s what families we grew up in. You’re gonna recreate that consistently until you do your homework, and you uncover the unconscious. I mean those are all… That’s deep, early systems of your mom and dad, and the way that they processed their emotions. You’re gonna do it just like they did, until you don’t, number one. It’s just… It’s rote. There’s just a certain level of work to do that. What’s the second thing that comes to mind with that? Ah. Here’s the other thing about that, anxiety is not a bad thing, actually. And I don’t know, people say this thing like, “Anxiety is just excitement without breath.” Okay, maybe. Whatever it is, anxiety’s hard. It sucks. And sometimes I have it and I’m breathing. But this Jungian psychoanalyst said the most brilliant thing and to the day, I love it, is, “Basically you’re gonna have two different things going on in your life, if you’re creating something.” He says, “They live at the bottom of your bed. So when you wake up in the morning, at the foot of your bed is this Gremlin… Two different gremlins. One is anxiety. The other is depression.
1:13:11 GH: The anxiety will be there because you’re gonna be trying things and you’re afraid and you just are doing stuff that’s the unknown. So naturally our systems wanna feel safe. So the second we start doing anything, we’re gonna feel anxiety. It’s okay. Actually anxiety is not a thing that anything’s wrong, it just means you’re probably emotional, or you feel depression because you’re not taking action, you’re not moving.” And I love that you just get to choose. So a lot of times, I think people are looking at what’s happening internally and then make decisions about what they’re doing, whether that’s good or bad, as opposed to separating those out, and going, “Alright, there’s some emotional content here. It’s highly uncomfortable. I’m afraid. I’m scared. I’m anxious.” You know, it’s part of the human system. And I love the saying… I can’t think of the guy who said it, but… It’s basically there’s a pendulum between confidence and fear, and anxiety lives on the fear side, and it’s swinging back and forth. And his point is, regardless of whether you’re confident or whether you’re afraid, it doesn’t matter. The action is the action. So a lot of people are waiting around to be confident to take this next step, thinking that that’s the right read, you can make just as bad a decision if you’re confident, as you would if you were afraid.
1:14:25 PA: And sometimes a worse decision, because it’s maybe out of arrogance or maybe out of hubris or whatever it might be.
1:14:30 GH: Yeah, it could be, could be. I just love that. It just sort of takes away this idea that something’s wrong. But we also, I think if it’s unchecked anxiety, that’s where the problems come up, but if it’s up and we’re working with it, and we’re breathing into it, and we’re having our practices, then I think we have a better chance of making a clear decision. But I’ve made a lot of decisions from an anxious place, and they’ve been good ones too. So one of the things we were talking about that’s fun. And I think, you and I have just looked at coming to New York City, and I had never seen it before 2015, admittedly, never stepped foot into this place. And I came from a very suburban background. Whatever moves, people come here, they’re making moves and they have a dream. And trying to get into this place, when you haven’t ever seen it, feels like catching a train that’s going 90 miles an hour, and you’re just at a stand still, it can rip your arm off and… And this place can also take you down a back alley, and beat the shit out of you, and take your wallet and just leave you.
1:15:26 GH: For a while, it can feel like that. But we were talking about how that inner work can really help you move and create in uncomfortable or challenging situations. And there’s… The suffering’s so much, that if you’re like a refugee and you’re in crisis, you have to move, you actually have to be defending yourself, because it’s a life or death situation. So the human system is gonna flip the switch on, and you’re gonna do what you can to move forward. I think a lot of people and… At least here, in sort of the demographic that we know and work within, it’s comfortable enough that you don’t actually have to act, and so the paralysis can set in, and you can get overwhelmed from an emotional standpoint, and it can get really scary. And I think that this deeper work that you can do through the psychedelics and whatnot, can help you handle these extreme states and still have mobility, without paralysis.
1:16:25 GH: And that’s a really interesting place to be. And I know the Flow guys like Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler, looking at the SEALs for instance, and how these guys are trained to get into these high-intense states that would paralyze most people, and they’re breathing and they’re calm, and they’re able to see the next move. And there’s something about, I think the psychedelic space, that opens up that opportunity, ’cause it creates such chaos at an internal level, and if you work with it enough, you’re used to the chaos, but then you realize, “Oh, I’ve got more room, I’ve got more space. Just because I’m feeling these things doesn’t mean I can’t get up and go do the next action or go take that next step.” It’s cool for the people that wanna create, because it gives a little more, I don’t know if it’s viscosity, or it gives some less friction between the emotional states and the abilities actually to make moves. That was a big piece for me.
1:17:18 PA: And coming to New York and living here?
1:17:20 GH: Yeah, man. I mean that first year, it was insomnia, panic attacks. And coming here with only… With no work, two kids, a wife at the time, and wow, I’d never seen anything like it. And every day was so crazy, so scary. And you just had the survival. I don’t even know where the next check will come from. And how that switch got flipped being here, and the stakes just got heightened and heightened and heightened, and not sleeping days in just out of fear, but still being able to wake up.
1:17:52 PA: And move and do the next thing…
1:17:53 GH: Yeah. Work out in the morning, sweat a little bit, take a deep breath, shift the mindset, reset, and do it again. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until some kind of daylight starts to happen. Then, you know… It required some big moves since those, we’ve kinda spun some stories, but that time, it was like 2017, and I had some crazy invite to go to Necker Island and at this point I had $30,000 left in my savings, which… Not the income to support my family, I think it gave us a month left. And it cost $25,000 to go to Necker, and just making a move like that, like, “Okay, I’m gonna spend 25K, just trust I’m gonna leap, and then something will happen there that will provide the next thing.” Which is fun from a coaching perspective, is where I like to coach people is into that scary, exciting, right at that edge. If you lean forward enough, ground will be there, and putting that to the test, I think, is always an interesting concept.
1:18:50 PA: Going out into the unknown and being able to handle…
1:18:52 GH: Yeah. And the thing I noticed about the entrepreneurs that really do well is, in proportion by which you’re able to relate to your own anxiety, if your anxiety is too high and you hit paralysis, then you can’t actually move. But if you’re able to work with that and regulate it, then you actually can take steps. And I notice people’s success is related to their ability to move. What kind of relationship do they have with their internal states? A roundabout way, but in proportion to by which they’re in touch with their anxiety, in proportion by which they can actually make moves and climb, ’cause some of it’s dicey. And look, the people that have had success in the entrepreneurial world, it’s not like it just happened. I’ve been in a lot of rooms where, “Four weeks of cash, and we’ve raised 80 million, and how do we get here?” That’s a super interesting, scary place for people to be. And how do you problem-solve out of that? You’re not gonna do it. And of course, you’re anxious, but how are we gonna regulate? And then, start to look for where the crack is. And maybe they make a move and they do the next thing, and then, the next thing hits. There’s a series of steps, over and over, and this resilience constantly up against it, until at some point, sometimes it breaks through. It’s a little bit random.
1:20:04 PA: But it’s a great example. It’s a really good example of the, I think, the need to be delusional at times, and the need to be… I think more than anything, I was having a conversation about a month ago with a potential investor, and he said something along the lines of, “With the work that you’ve done with The Third Wave and Synthesis over the last few years, what have you learned?” And for me, the first thing that came up was, “I think I’ve really learned to trust myself, more than anything.” That I’ve continued to go out into the unknown, to try this, to fail at that, to try this, to fail at that, to get hit upside the head. And I know enough about myself to know that I can still get up, to know that I can still make a move, that I can talk to someone, that I have the support system in place, and that at a fundamental emotional level, that I feel safe and secure.
1:20:53 PA: That even if X, Y and Z were to go wrong… I try who knows what it was, and I just totally fucking land flat and everything goes wrong, I know, at the end of the day, I’m still gonna be better off than most people. So, I think that also, at least in a personal level for me, comes back to the sense of emotional regulation, comes back to the sense of the unconscious and the subconscious. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a really loving household, where I had most of my needs taken care of. So, on that fundamental, child psyche level, I feel safe. And for me, I think, getting into the sense of regulation versus anxiety, working with leaders, etcetera, etcetera, this is why the work that you’re doing with them is so important, because I think, ultimately, it’s helping them to understand that at a really fundamental knowing level that they can drop in and they can be with themselves and they can feel secure secure and safe in that knowing.
1:21:54 GH: Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of room, a lot more room. As you were saying, you fell flat on your face. I ran out of money twice. Kids, the whole thing, a $5,100 a month apartment. It’s crazy. It’s just, the burn is so high, and then you run out of money, and what do you do? And you’ve been so scared to run out of money, so scared, “Oh my God, oh my God, it’s gonna be the end,” and “After the curtains close, what happens?” And then, “Okay, there’s air down here, and maybe I have a new idea, or maybe I’ll do that next thing.” And it comes down to putting that picnic blanket down in that pit of despair, whatever that thing is. If you can hang out down there, give it some room.
1:22:35 GH: And I love what you said about support. I cannot stress that enough. And I’m finding more and more, I think, that there’s more language for it. I think people… That level of conversation is much higher now, that… Look at online. You have talk therapy, you can get… Coaching is everywhere now. It’s the rage. And so, people were saying, “Oh, support’s okay.” So, the stigma’s been lifted that, if I need support, it’s not longer equated with weakness, it’s just equated with, “Oh, that will actually help me optimize or work in a different way.” I’m gonna serve better, it gives me a better chance for whatever kind of success, however I define that. That’s a big deal. And it’s just more baked in these days. But like you’re saying, without that reach out, you can’t do it alone, it’s so important. And that idea of sitting down in that pit of despair, you can do a little bit of that alone, but it definitely helps to have…
1:23:36 PA: You need support.
1:23:37 GH: You need the support.
1:23:38 PA: Whether it’s family or whether it’s friends, or whether it’s business partners, you need someone who reminds you of your greatness, who reminds you of what you’re really capable of, and who will stand by you even when things are shit and you yourself believe that, “Oh fuck,” and they lift you up.
1:23:54 GH: Yeah. Or, maybe you have been an asshole, and you you’re just messy in front them, like, “I’ve been an ass… This is just me, too, totally imperfect.” And yeah, those are rare, good people. I think this takes years to foster that level of safety. But, man, I think it’s hard in America. We have so little fabric that I think we have to work extra hard to make sure that we have those types of people, that you can knock on their door and be like, “Man, I suck.” [chuckle]
1:24:24 PA: Help. Help me. Vulnerability, vulnerability is not easy for men in leadership positions, who feel like they have it all figured out.
1:24:33 GH: No, no. And again, I’m not a big fan of making an identity around vulnerability in some of the places I’ve lived in the past, certain communities. It’s a little much, identifying as the vulnerable guy. “And we’re these vulnerable guys together.” Enough. I prefer the guys that… “People are doing shit, but we have the skillset.” It’s a lot more interesting.
1:25:00 PA: Agreed. I wanna touch on two things before we wrap up, even…
1:25:02 GH: Yeah, absolutely.
1:25:02 PA: We’ve been wrapping for a while now. This is, an hour and a half goes by and it’s like nothing.
1:25:07 GH: It’s so much fun.
1:25:09 PA: One, a lot of what we’ve been talking about is emotional regulation, and you’re still in New York. Can I just be curious, from a very tactical, practical level, what do you do to stay clean, to stay present, to just be able to show up with your clients and be that presence that you talk about?
1:25:28 GH: That’s a great question. So during that 2017 year of hell, where New York City had its, the heel of a boot on my neck, I learned a few things. Number one, is the morning routine is so critical. I cannot emphasize the morning routine enough. It is the reset button of life. So now I have the same routine every single morning. It varies a little bit. But I hop out of bed, I throw my yoga mat down, and I’m doing my… Everyone knows I do the seven minute workout, and I feel like I’m a vegan preaching veganism about the seven minute workout, but I start moving my body, or I go, I have a tennis partner now. We play three times a week at 7:30, 8:00 AM hit balls and come back, and so, boom. I’ve already moved my body, and so that’s an instant mindset changer. So just clears the palate. And I’m already in a different… So there’s a massive state change. ‘Cause I wake up every morning that, “I suck.” Honestly, I wake up that, “I suck, I’m scared, nothing’s gonna work, people don’t like me.” This is my inner dialogue. That’s kind of my default thing, and I don’t know that that will ever go away and I don’t actually need it to. I really don’t think I’m gonna heal that thing, so much as it’s just kids in the backseat that they just need to be in car seats with their sippy cups.
1:26:48 PA: Lock ’em down.
1:26:49 GH: Yeah, exactly. And they need to know where we’re going.
1:26:51 PA: Keep ’em distracted a little.
1:26:52 GH: So the only way I know how to deal with that, is to go and move my body and get myself moving to do a mood state change, now whether that’s 20 minutes on the bike, Pellston, or whatever. So that’s one step. The other is that I do like a five-minute breath work of a strong, like box breathing or the different tools. I love on that, and then I do a 10 to 15 minute meditation, and those are the three things I can’t mess with. Whatever else happens in the day, I don’t care. But those, that fundamental morning platform is such a key to my sense of success and how well I do.
1:27:27 GH: And a few other things is, I’m learning a lot more about this working less thing, that I can get into my work systems and think that my work systems are correct and then I’m a slave to my processes. So it’s really good to travel and get out for a couple days. Even here or hopping up state, or if I get in the water, just being away and coming back helps me look… Come back and look at everything and go, “Is this the best way I could be doing things?” This constant process of checking that out is a really important step for me. The two other things that have changed my life, is texting people in advance to set up good stuff socially, where I’m making sure I’ve got inspiring people that I’m constantly engaging with ’cause man, I learn so much. I love being around people that I’m learning from. It’s been huge.
1:28:13 GH: And then of course, my kids, making sure that I’m staying in touch with them on a daily basis. And whatever that means is key. So those are the pieces. I would say the fundamentals. And then I have a coach. I keep somebody and I see them every other week, and it just makes… It keeps it clean. I just can let go and they’ve got… They’re holding my trajectory and they know what I wanna create and where I’m going, so it’s nice to have someone else taking care of that so I can fall in and they said if I forget, or I’m out on course with that, whatever’s showing up in the way of that, they’re able to reset my course, I remember, and then I’m off to the races again. And so I have a consistent touchpoint with that.
1:28:53 PA: Accountability, to some degree.
1:28:54 GH: Yeah.
1:28:55 PA: External accountability.
1:28:56 GH: Yeah, exactly. And they know me well enough to know where I’m gonna goof off or I’m gonna just miss. But they’re kind enough as well to know like, “Man, maybe you needed to spend a week and just fuck around. Make room for that.” So those are some nice pieces that I found it can’t be too rigid, but just enough that I can keep moving my steps forward. And then I fall off. In June I was depressed for a couple weeks, but coming back, coming back, coming back.
1:29:28 PA: Always coming back, always getting back up, always finding that… And I think that speaks to the last question that I wanted to ask you before we end, is like, “What’s your deeper why? Why is this work important to you? Why do you do what you do, and what keeps you coming back even when you have these days or weeks or months that aren’t so great?”
1:29:46 GH: Yeah. I think a big value of mine, is for some reason, is the potentialization of other people. I just like seeing people do well. And there’s something that happens for me when I watch someone access some part of themself that they haven’t seen before, or they’ve done something they didn’t know they could do. And the way my system is set up, it almost just lights me up. And so it’s perhaps it’s little selfish or something, but that’s what I love. And I’ve taken enough risks and blown up enough of my life and structures and put myself in really challenging situations in order to allow that channel to be opened, and it’s amazing to be 45 and created the structures and located in myself, getting to let that my gift, which I feel is to be the spark for someone else’s fire. That’s my gig. To have a life based on that, to have income based on that, and it’s meaningful to me.
1:30:51 GH: And it’s interesting, ’cause it puts me in the room with people that are intellectually far brighter than I am, than I’ll ever be. Who are pulling levers at levels on the planetary levels that what they do is having impact and is affecting what we experience on a day-to-day level, that I can get in the room with those folks and I don’t have to do what they do, and I’m never gonna compete at that level, but I know what I do do, and I can just hang out in that and relax enough, and that’s a fun place to sit. It’s really, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s cool to walk into a company and suddenly be with a leader. I don’t know why I got in the side door, but I’m in the room knowing really what’s going on within a few hours, and that… That really feeds me. It’s like an interesting puzzle. And if I can make things a little bit better, and if that’s showing up in product a little bit differently, or if that leader is touching into their humanity a little bit more, and maybe that’s…
1:31:48 GH: This could just be me self-delusional. But if I can really shift a little bit of their humanity to become a bit more human, a bit more kind and more in touch with what they’re doing. ‘Cause my firm belief is that everybody has a gift. We are all unique, and if we finally get in touch with what that is, and we double down on it and felt that trust of ourselves and have some humility and start doing stuff, like, I feel like the pieces of the puzzle start to fit better together. And a lot of people don’t trust themselves, a lot of people are connected outside, so I just feel like we have a better chance if we have humans being a little bit more human.
1:32:26 PA: In relationship with themselves, knowing the deepest parts of themselves, knowing the shitty parts of themselves knowing the greatest parts of themselves, trusting themselves on that process.
1:32:33 GH: And if they have that with themselves then the chances are, they’re gonna have that with the circle of people around them, and they’re gonna show a bit more real, into the day-to-day. And we love real people, we all love real people. The second you see a real person in a room, you want to know them and you can’t mistake it and you can’t fake it. Not for too long anyway. And that, I hate to use the word authenticity ’cause it doesn’t mean much, but that type of authentic expression, it’s well-earned. You know, there’s scars underneath that. And I don’t know, those are the people I love and I wanna make a lot of room that people don’t have to feel like, people are so much closer to the gift and I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s just so layered with a bunch of stuff we think other people want us to be. It’s painful. So.
1:33:28 PA: I love that.
1:33:30 GH: One human at a time.
1:33:31 PA: We’re closer to the gift than we think.
1:33:32 GH: Yeah the gift is right there. As the alchemist, in some way, you have to go on some big journey and…
1:33:39 PA: Then you realize “Oh wait… ”
1:33:40 GH: The church is right there.
1:33:41 PA: I had it the whole time.
1:33:43 GH: But I needed to go see everything in order to capture it, so, and it’s good, getting older is good. 20s are hard man, 30s are tough. I mean you just… I think age is a beautiful thing and that’s the other thing I would say is get elders in your life. Get thos, you know, I’m 45, so I need the 65-year-olds, 70-year-olds that just have a bit more perspective, they’re like, “ah you’ll be fine.”
1:34:10 PA: Well, this is why, this is why I love you, this is why I love our relationship, and this is why I’ve always looked up to you as a mentor and as like someone in my life who, you know, is just… You’re authentic, you’re real you’ve done the work and it’s always for me, like an honor to sit down and just like be with you and learn from you, and then all that. So just wanted to…
1:34:33 GH: Thanks.
1:34:34 PA: To let you know that.
1:34:35 GH: Yeah, it’s beautiful. All the imperfections are okay that I have. [chuckle] Yeah, it’s, it’s beautiful. And I just wanna say, I think the work that you’re doing is the one thing I was gonna say, that you remind me of myself. That’s what I told you when I first met you. Is like in my 20s, late 20s, in the ayahuasca scene… I was just gonna surf the biggest wave, ’cause I consider ayahuasca like surfing. And you go out to [unclear speech], or whatever, Mavericks, some of the big waves out in the ocean and I just “what wave could I surf?” And if I could surf that wave it would prove my spiritual. Like I would just give it to me and I was hit some walls. And I could just… Like your willingness to be like… We’re gonna do circles and we’re gonna get people in and really start to change them and like you need that… That kind of fire blended with a little naivety. ‘Cause if you knew that, and afterwards you look back you’re like “how did I do that?”
1:35:30 GH: Like if I actually knew how hard that would be, I wouldn’t have done it. And so that’s what I was appreciating was like, keep going man. ‘Cause I think the three way is an incredible space and platform, this ability to reach all these people that are taking up their consciousness, just maybe they just go once, my God, already. Maybe there’s a life shift there. You know that’s that 1% sale that thing. The compass moves 1%, but over 20 years, that’s a pretty significant change.
1:36:00 PA: And so, you change.
1:36:00 GH: I feel like that’s what you guys are, you know, at least you’re buying into a micro change, but you’re also offering macro change.
1:36:07 PA: Yeah, because I think the fundamental belief with a lot of the work that we’re doing is that psychedelics, when used with intention of responsibility, allow us to know ourselves on a deep, deep level, which gives us that sense of safety and security and trust and knowing that we’re okay, and that, like you said, we’re closer to our gifts and let me think that we are. It’s right there, it’s right under the surface of the fear of the anxiety of the anger, the rage whatever it might be. It’s right there and it’s just… You gotta go through a lot of layers to get to it. But yeah, psychedelics unlike anything else can just… They put you in touch with it. Like that. Yeah, and that’s what… So, beautiful.
1:36:48 GH: Yeah, and God, it’s so true. And as you were talking it made me think of this, James Hollis thing. It’s a youngin idea that we have two different adulthoods that you know I’ve talked about, is you have 0-318 where you’re in full development, family origin, the culture you’re in all the different socioeconomic forces that come in sort of shape what you are. And then like from 18 to 37… 38. You get your provision adulthood, and it’s only in reaction to or in service of those first 18 years. And then you go through transition, and then in your 40s… 50s and early 60s you get to do your authentic adult hood. And what’s so fun, as we talked about that with 20-30 rounds and they’re like, “Well shit, do I just do nothing until I get to my adulthood, but that’s the beauty is, is if you have that support, you’re supposed to go into it, you’re supposed to be hammering into walls and be hungry. And like go and do these things and maybe you get married, and just do it. Like put yourself in the situation and through that growth and then you get a little more… Wise to it. But it’s like get in the game. It’s so much more interesting. The sidelines is boring.
1:38:00 PA: It’s boring.
1:38:00 GH: Yeah, yeah, and that’s… That’s the thing I was coming back to you is like, “You’re such a lightning rod, you’re like, “I’ll get on stage.
1:38:06 PA: Do whatever.
1:38:07 GH: I’m cool with that.
1:38:10 PA: Put myself out there.
1:38:11 GH: Yeah.
1:38:11 PA: I just, I feel like I have something to say, even if at times it’s not the best thing to say or even if at times it’s not, you know, whatever it might be. I think we learn by doing, and we learn by putting ourselves out there and failing and tripping.
1:38:24 GH: But it’s honest.
1:38:25 PA: It’s honest, yeah.
1:38:26 GH: You’re honest and that’s the beautiful thing, there’s light, and there’s honesty and that translates. And not people are probably gonna remember what you said, but remember this guy did this thing and it was pure, great. That’ll catch. And so, keep going.