Ali Jafarian

Eternal Optimism with Matt Drinkhahn

Episode Number 021
Duration 63 min

New podcast episode with my good friend, Matt Drinkhahn, also known as “The Eternal Optimist.” Matt is a father and husband first, then business coach, who’s redefining what optimism means.

In this episode Matt and I explore a variety of topics that yield positive energy, including his unique story and how it shaped who he is today. We discuss fear of other peoples’ opinions, morning routines, family first leadership, old identities, and so much more. Matt is the type of person who inspires greatness in others.

I’m honored to have shared some of his story and hope you enjoy the discussion!

Guest details
Matt Drinkhahn - Father, Husband and Business Coach
Matt Drinkhahn

https://eternal-optimist.captivate.fm

Links
Transcript

[00:00:00] Ali: Welcome back folks to The Pursuit of Something Podcast. Ali here. I am with a good friend, Mr. Matt Drinkhahn. Matt is a special guy in my life for a variety of reasons. He's also in my Front Row Dad's band. So I get the pleasure of seeing him at least once a month, usually on Zoom, but I've also gotten to meet his family, which is magical, his wife, Julie.

So there's this beautiful relationship continuing to evolve. And we may even find ourselves living close to Matt here in the near future. So I am thrilled to be able to jam with you today man. How would you like to introduce yourself?

[00:00:43] Matt: Well, I have to first say that, that would be magical for you to move down here to Charlotte, North Carolina, and this is an invitation of beacon to all positive people that wanna have a great impact on the world, to come to Charlotte, North Carolina. If you have bad attitude, then come here and let's do some coaching because I wanna associate with positive people. And if you're gonna ask me who is Matt Drinkhahn, the first thing I say is, I love to be around Ali because he's a great influence and an inspiration for me.

One of the first things I remember about you is the very first time we met back at my very first Front Row Dad's retreat, you brought up the idea of making your own peanut butter. And my wife at the time, was on a major kick to rid the house of plastic and to start making and creating our, our food and growing our food and garden at home.

And I always remember that, that the first time we met you planned to seed my head that I don't have to be on the sidelines with Julie wanting to do this. I can align with her and find ways we can, we can get around it together. And as a result of our very first discussion, I'm sure I've told you this, but if I have not, as a result of that first discussion, our home right now is about 50% less plastic than it used to be.

We haven't brought any new plastic toys into the house in years and we are recently on this very big focus to live an unprocessed food lifestyle. So having shared all that, that might be a place to start. You might be thinking now who's this weirdo whose like unprocessed. He's probably like a raw vegan dude, like a hippie dude with long hair. He's probably got some like tie dye shirt on, uh, farther from a truth can it not be right now. And by the way, I just spoke that way cause I'm looking at your Yoda in the background. So that's why I'm speaking in tongues.

So Matt Drinkhahn is the one that is a protector of all nerds. If there's someone that's downtrodden or getting picked on, then Matt steps in and, you know, wants to help them out or support them in some way.

The people in the day know me as business coach, my close friends will know me as an eternal optimist and even closer to that, I'm a Front Row Dad, someone who believes that we should work on our family and be the best husband and father that we can be. And that trumps every other priority in life is, is showing up for our family.

So those are a couple things to start. I also tinker around at playing golf. With a scratch handicap attempting to win my first Charlotte City Amateur golf championship here next month in August of 2022. Wow. And yeah, I've got a date later on today with my lovely bride who, by the way, I really went outta my league on this one. I have a gorgeous wife, thank God that she chose me for some reason and we have a date tonight. So those are the things that you ask. Those are the things that go through the mind at 4:00 PM Eastern on a Friday.

[00:03:37] Ali: Oh, beautiful. It couldn't have been a more perfect intro. And I think that not only did you answer that in a very honest and comprehensive and optimistic way, but just the energy you set right there, it goes to why you can be easily labeled as the eternal optimist, which is also your podcast I'm sure we'll talk about here in a second.

Something I wanna note, I do remember our first meeting and sharing that and then feeling around like the, the, making your own peanut butter and kind of having a bit of a more natural approach to life. And you sharing what you and Julie immediately took action on, which felt so awesome. I also want to give props to my wife, Gabrielle, because she's the one who started that in our home. And as much as I try to encourage her to share that shit, go on Instagram.

[00:04:37] Matt: We can cuss? I like it.

[00:04:39] Ali: Yeah. We can cuss today, it's Friday for sure.

[00:04:42] Matt: Take it easy, Frank. Okay, good.

[00:04:43] Ali: But yeah, I have to recognize her because she is the one who amplifies this in our home. And it's so cool that you all, like I said, just ran with that. It spoke to you, you ran with it and it's another piece that I wanna honor you for. Is that one of the things that has always stood out to me, whether it's in business or it's in Front Row Dads, or it's just us jamming on our monthly calls, you are a master of taking action.

I'll hear things that are said I'll nod my head and I'll be like, oh, that's good. And I'll need to sit with it. And then you're already creating the system in the implementation mode and a week later being like, oh yeah, here's what I did. And here's how it worked. Here's the outcome, et cetera. I think it's a beautiful skill that not a lot of people do well. Does that spark anything for you? Like maybe that can lend into a bit of your story? Were you always so good at taking action or did this come later in life?

[00:05:41] Matt: Yeah. Well, quite the opposite, actually. And I appreciate you making the comment about taking action and I'd say yes nowadays. Before I can go all the way back to like middle school, high school, younger years when I was the paralysis by analysis person. I was that let's make a perfect plan.

I even remember my first few years in coaching eight years ago, I remember making a big plan for 178 person event, huge plan, huge event, getting ready to go on stage and speak the keynote. And I'm gonna do a kind of a tag team on the keynote with my business partner. And we planned this speech out two months in advance and I meticulously planned the slides. The, the words I'm gonna use, we get up there on stage and I'm gonna wrap up. The key note, he's gonna kick it off and instantly we get up there on stage and my partner says, okay, here to kick us off, Matt Drinkhahn. And literally all my plans were shattered in that moment. I'm like, hold on a sec in my mind, which seemed like an eternity, unlike a deer in headlights. Wait, I planned the wrap up speech.

And I remember at that exact moment when the shift occurred that I have to go, I have to do it. I can't just sit back. Mm-hmm. And something happened at that moment on February 4th, 2015 in Atlanta at that speech, when I was just thrown into the culdron, thrown right into the fire, had to dance. And we did it, we did a great job. And at the end I had a conversation with my business partner later. He said, Matt, I wanted to test you. And I wanna see how you respond to that because you've always got great plans. I wanna see how you take action. And I already had a good business practice going on. My coaching was already successful at this point, that empowered me with a new lesson to not only take the big plan, but to learn.

And then maybe there's a lesson for the listeners here. Mm-hmm. To take the best of the strengths of your friends, your partners. And my partner was great at taking action. And I was great at a strategy. Put us together, we got a strategy and an action and we're unstoppable. And you know, the business is grown tremendously as a result.

So that would be something I've learned over time, Ali. It was not always easy to take action. I remember there was a time in high school when my dad was selling Amway, multi-level marketing products and membership-selling the dream. And, uh, I remember that very clearly. And by the way, I support and love anyone that has the courage to go out there and, and attempt to be an entrepreneur.

It's a challenging road, many don't make it, but those who succeed and and remain are gonna be champions. And, and my dad, unfortunately, was not a, a long term success in that, but over time, the impact that's had on me has empowered me to find success in business. And I'm eternally grateful for that.

To go back to your original question, the ability to take action was not always a strength. It was something that was originally the anti strength, the opposite of what I did. And I learned it by taking in and sponging up all the strengths of the people I'd spend most of my time with. So take whatever lesson we can from that. But that's, that's where that strength began is borrowing it and learning it from my friends and partners.

[00:08:52] Ali: Wow. That's so cool. And part of what I interpreted there Drinkhahn is like, in some ways your business partner saw the potential and created this sort of new, risky, on the spot, uncomfortable moment for you in which you took action. It sounds like you thrived or at least made the most of it. Because a lot of people could have easily been consumed by fear and turned around like, wait a second, this wasn't the plan. I need to step back and talk, but you actually embraced it. Is that true?

[00:09:25] Matt: I feel that way. Yes. Another example of how this might play out, you know, this in the moment, really testing yourself. When you're uncertain of what to do next, or putting yourself into a situation that is different or it's uncomfortable to see how you'd respond. I remember there was a speech I was giving. There's 125 people in the room. It was a lunch speech for a networking event at a real estate conference in the summer of 2019. And I'm there speaking at this event two minutes and 45 seconds in, I have a mental mind fart. Mm-hmm. I literally go deer in headlights and forget what I'm going to say next. Mm-hmm.

I was trying to talk about page one of that awesome book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear and telling the story of the aggregation of marginal gains . Mm-hmm. But as I'm saying, the aggregation of marginal gains, I get tongue tied and it comes out like molasses, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then after stumbling over my words twice, the blank sets in. The deer in headlights sets in. What the flip am I gonna say next? I totally lost my train of thought.

And rather than totally freak out, pee your pants and have anxiety for the rest of my life, it had been trained in me enough at that moment to be able to appreciate whenever there's any anxiety or fear or nerves or what the flip do I do next that comes into my mind, I've really built in a, a system of thinking that, wow, let's appreciate where we are right now. I don't have many new feelings very often. So let's appreciate this feeling I'm feeling right now. And what might I learn from this? Mm-hmm. What is it here to teach me? So even moments of like total blah, on, on the stage or front of people, it becomes, what can I learn from this moment?

And I can totally laugh at myself. If, if your listeners become viewers and you ever air this video, then they will see, I might be the handsomest man in the world to someone who could be blind. But if you look at me, I, I can be easy to look at if you know me, I suppose, but as strange you wouldn't say that's not, that's not like a model by any stretch of the imagination.

So I've become very comfortable in my own skin and laughing at myself and just over time through a lot of rejection and, and call sales reluctance, you know, back in the day, I just don't care about those opinions as much anymore as I used to. And I tell you, Ali, if someone could figure out how to overcome those fear of other people's opinions, that was, was a major game changer in my life. And that's helped me to, you know, be able to adapt, to learn on the spot and be in those uncomfortable situations. Totally man. I totally forgot the question you asked. I just excited to be in your presence, looking at your Yoda here.

[00:12:10] Ali: Exactly. I don't care about the question either. The way that you responded to that was awesome. I do feel that you show up as yourself and you have very little fear of what people think, which is such an awesome trait, because a lot of us, I actually have a blog post that's halfway written about, take off your mask, please. And we just live in this world where people are constantly wearing masks or aiming to impress other people, instead of just finding themselves and showing up as who they are, you know, at their core.

And you do that. So thank you for doing that. A part of what that is and what I wanna talk a little bit about a part of who you are is optimism. I remember when we met at our first Front Row Dad retreat, I didn't get to have many conversations with you, but you shared this hilarious story about farting in church, and one of your daughters called you out. And in my head, I was just saying like, this dude is funny, he's authentic and he just seems full of life. And now that our relationship has evolved, I know a lot of that to be true. I've rarely been with you and felt negative energy.

[00:13:16] Matt: Yeah. What's the point, you know?

[00:13:17] Ali: Exactly. So tell us about that. How did you become so optimistic and were you always like that?

[00:13:24] Matt: I'd say a real positive and a real challenge. The real positive is I grew up with parents who were very loving and they helped to instill a strong self-esteem in me. So that was, that was a positive. The challenge was, I grew up a little bit awkward, so to speak. Awkward, meaning that, you know, I didn't live in one place for more than a year ever. 17 moves in 21 years growing up, my dad was in the military. So always kind of moving, always having to make new friends and always being challenged.

And I don't know if I've shared this story with you, Ali, but something that might resonate with some of your listeners, if you ever seen that movie Forest Gump? Mm-hmm. When he gets on the bus the very first day of first grade, and he is walking down the aisle and all the kids move to the edge of the seat and they say "seat's taken."

[00:14:07] Ali: Yep.

[00:14:08] Matt: That actually happened to me. It happened to me, not in first grade. It happened to me in seventh grade when I moved to New York, upstate New York back in seventh grade. And I remember that first day halfway through seventh grade when I went into the lunch room and there was a person named Steve, I won't say his last name. Steve was there. I always remember this. Mm-hmm.

And I went to sit down at the table I thought was the most fitting table for me. And these are the basketball players. Cause that's, that's who I was at that time. Mm-hmm. And he kind of said, uh, table's full. And there was a chair right there and, and no one else said anything. So I just kept walking. That was the only day that I can remember where I ever felt really, really low and down and maybe depressed. And I ate lunch that day in the bathroom stall. Wow. Like you might see on some, you know, show, where you wanna feel bad for the, the nerdy kid or the new kid. I did that, that one time.

And I knew on that day, once I went home and talked to my dad about it, another strong dad influence here is he said, son, you are not always gonna be able to get the things that you want, but the way that you respond to it will really show your character. Mm-hmm. He taught me a valuable lesson around character and I've, I've worked through this over, over the years. And when it came to that one incident with Steve at the lunch table, he may or may not have had support at home. He may or may not have, have cared who was coming up to him and saying this. That didn't matter. Because I knew that I had value and I knew that moving forward, I was gonna do my very best with what I had.

And if some people didn't like it, some people didn't like it, you know? And that was the year I really, I say blossomed in sports. That was the year that I had my first pseudo girlfriend. Yep. We held hands in exchange, like, uh, bubblegum, fortune, fortune bubblegum, something that was big back in 90 , 1990.

But I, I remember clearly that episode as a turning point as a, as a monumental moment because of a conversation with dad, because the pain that happened. And at that moment, something was born, something was born that said, you can do it. And my dad instilled that in me and that right now, Ali is the mission of my life. It's to teach people, to lead people, to help people to see that there is hope and that they can do it too. And, you know, I coach in a, in a business practice where I help people build repeatable systems. And I, my, my tagline is I coach highly functioning workaholics and recovering perfectionists to keep things simple.

Underneath all that, what I'm really doing is showing people how to scale and grow business and cloaked in there is scaling and growing our thinking and really helping impact the world in a positive way through the way we show up every single day with optimism. And this shows up with all kinds of enemies or, or combatants every single day.

Number one example, the news, which I could not tell you, last time, I actually watched the news outside of like election night, which is like the one night a year I'll watch the news every four years. And aside from that, I don't ever watch the news. So I couldn't tell you what's going on on the news, but I can tell you that there are a number of people who just sit there and stare at it and not even knowing it. They are being negatively influenced by that 10 to one negative to positive story ratio.

I'm not saying this with any judgment towards anybody, you know, people are welcome to consume anything they want to. My mission is to fight back against the evil, against the negative, against the things that are causing more pessimism, cynicism, negativity in society, and point out some of the positive aspects of the things that are happening out there.

For example, the average median income in our country has gone up. The average age of lifespan has gone up. If you look just back, uh, 200 years ago, war was killing some percentage, maybe 10% of the globe that maybe it's 500 years ago. It's like 10% of the globe is dying annually because of war. And you look at right now, our globe is so interconnected that the chance of having some war that destroys everything is, is much more minute than it used to be.

I say that knowing that there's some, some conflicts going on in the world right now. If you look at it objectively as a per person or percentage basis, things are much better now than they've ever been. And people just don't hear that story very often, you know, and they aren't taught to, to think positive and I wanna make it a mission to help everyone's identity shift to the positives. And that does not mean, and since we're deep into it, I'll share what optimism really means and what it doesn't mean.

It means to see the positive side of things. What it doesn't mean is to have rose colored glasses, where everything's all hunky-dory and it's always perfect all the time. Mm-hmm. It doesn't mean that I am naive, that there are challenges, that there's a trafficking industry out there, which is the worst thing in the world, that people are starving in many places in the world. Right. So I'm aware of things. And I have empathy for these things. And while I'm aware and have empathy, I'm also aware that there are many things we can do to take action, to serve some of those challenges. There are many things we can do right here in our homes, in our families, in our communities, in the businesses that we all work in to spread this positivity.

And eternal optimist, to go one step further, the name of the podcast, an eternal optimist is one who sees the positive in the moment. And they're willing to learn from whatever challenges coming their way so that they might take action and learn to overcome those challenges tomorrow. That's what comes up when you say the word optimism and it's an important subject to me and I feel the world needs more of it. And dammit, I am here to offer that to the world.

[00:19:55] Ali: I feel that! Yes, man. Wow. So, to rewind a bit, thank you for that story. I didn't know about that. It's cool to learn something new while we're on air. And that's a powerful story, man. So I appreciate you sharing that. It sounds like your dad was a pretty awesome human as well.

I also have very aligned feelings on the news and I actually avoid the news, mainstream media for reasons you mentioned. I rarely ever catch the news and feel better or feel like the world's moving into a better place. And so to your point, we could totally take action and support people that are a bit more aware in saying like, hey the intent of mainstream media is generally to keep us rooted in fear as opposed to inspire optimism, which is what you're doing.

And then the way that you articulated the eternal optimist is really cool. That's also the name of your podcast. Mm-hmm. Um, this may be where we go next, but it wouldn't be the Pursuit of Something if I didn't ask you what's currently in focus. So what does Matt Drinkhahn doing right now?

[00:21:09] Matt: Great question. And, uh, you know, I don't have one simple answer for that. I got several answers cuz there are several main for sure in life that are, that are hyper and focused. Always the most important thing in focus is be the best dad I can be. Mm-hmm. And that shows up in the form of quality time, every single day, 365, or probably more like three 50. Cause I'm not in town every day of the year. The days that I'm in town I am going to invest time into my family every single day. What I'm not gonna do is mail it in and use the work excuse.

So I'm working all day and I'm tired when I get home. I've gotta put them first and that's why Front Row Dads is such an important pillar of my life now. When I met Jon Vroman and joined the dads three and a half years ago, I wouldn't say I was lost. I'd say that I was off course. My navigation system was set in a slightly different direction.

Mm-hmm. And as a result of being around these great dads and many of whom are very successful in business and are going through the same opportunities that I'm going through right now to become a stronger presence, a more patient presence, more loving presence in the lives of their children through the Front Row Dads, I have been able to shift that focus to be on my kids all the time.

An example might be this, uh, this morning, you know, I get up and practice something from a book I have, you can see it in my background back here, The Miracle Morning. Mm-hmm. I've been doing that for be my seven year anniversary on that coming up on July 21st. And when I say do the Miracle Morning, I wake up at 4:30 and from about 4:30 until 6:20, six days a week, I will get up and do this personal growth practice. And I say until roughly 6:20, cuz some days the kids wake up early. 6: 20 is the time they normally wake up. So I get a couple hours basically for myself every day. Mm-hmm. And the girls got up this morning at 5:04 AM. Ooh! So I know, I know. Right? So the girls are downstairs. It's 5:04 AM. It's way too early to...

[00:23:12] Ali: So you had a miracle mini morning today.

[00:23:14] Matt: Oh yeah. Yeah. So here might be a shift and it was definitely a shift in my thinking. When that happened like three years ago, before I joined the dads three and a half years ago, I would be frustrated that man, this is messing up my normal time for myself routine. Totally. And instead of having it be something my kids are doing to me as if my three year old and one year old at the time were trying to sabotage my day, which they were not, they just wanna be around me.

And if I see it through their lens, they just wanna be around dad. Yeah. So they're down here this morning and we are literally getting a chance to practice putting. They got their own little golf set here at seven and five now. So we're practicing putting, we're doing a 2000 piece puzzle together, which I gotta be totally honest here, they didn't, uh, stay totally focused on that puzzle the whole time. It did go to play time and a little bit of craziness earlier than usual.

The point is that we welcome that chance to invest more time with the kids. At the conclusion of this podcast, recording the podcast, we are going to go outside in the backyard and we're gonna hit some chips together, kick a soccer ball together. I just got a cheer from someone who is now listening on the couch in there. So yeah, that's gonna happen. And you know, every day from 5 to 7PM, it's, uh, electronic free time. We, simply spend time together, you know, and that's, that's super hyper important.

Weekends, if I'm playing golf nowadays, I'm taking two children with me. Every time I go and we're always together. So, you ask what's in focus right now, and my answer is set to autopilot now it will always be this. This is now and will remain the most important thing in my life is being a great dad.

Second thing. Mm-hmm. Is to be a husband who pays attention to the needs of my wife. And Julie, she is, if you follow the five love languages by Gary Chapman, she is a quality time person. That is the fifth love language for me. So I need to work intentionally very, very diligently to make sure that I'm paying attention to her.

And a lot of people I coach have this exact same opportunity is to invest quality time with their spouse. Mm-hmm. And making that shift from go and crush business all the time. Go and do your job all the time. To learn how to mentally check out. Don't pick up your cell phone and respond to everything that comes at you all the time outside of work hour, and actually have some boundaries and invest that time with your spouse. That's been a real opportunity for me as well. So that's the second thing. Mm-hmm. Is spending quiet time with Julie.

How did I know this is important right around December the 26th, 2016, about two months into having two kids, I made a decision to ask my wife for some feedback. Okay. So buckle up. I said to Julie, dear, I love to ask you for some feedback and how I'm doing it as a husband, as a father and as a human. I wanted to give you carte blanche permission to just share whatever's on your mind. No matter how direct painful it might be or great it might be just share what's on your mind. Her instant response to me was, are you sure?

And I'm like, okay, uh, yes, yes. I think so. The next words out of her mouth were, I feel you've been lying to me. Uhh. I'm like holy freaking canole. Cuz that's one of my trigger words. Mm-hmm. Call me a liar, cheater quitter. I don't respond well, historically I didn't used to respond well to those and she said liar and I was like, what? Why, why would you say that?

Well, you told me when we had our second child, you'd get rid of your sports car and we'd get an SUV so we can all fit in a car and you haven't done that. And we've talked about it three times and you haven't done it yet. So I feel like you've been lying to me. Hmm. And in my mind, I instantly rationalized I've not been lying. I simply didn't prioritize it. I didn't think we needed to do it right away. But I wasn't really hearing her cuz for her, it was super important to do it like now. So, we went out and got a car the next day, two days after Christmas. It might have been three days after Christmas cuz it was on a Monday we got the car, not a Sunday. Yeah, so the moral of story is if your wife's upset, buy a car. No, I'm just kidding.

The moral of story is, for me, it's, it's learn how to pay attention with quality time. Right? So that has been a daily practice in my miracle morning for roughly half of the days in the last three years. Mm-hmm. Since the day you and I met in San Diego, that's been it. It's been writing in that journal, who must I show up as today for Julie to say Matt, you're a great listener. And that's really important.

Those two things are the most important. When those two things, kids and my wife are feeling the attention, the love, then I'm really winning. I'm really winning, cause I can deal with the rest of the stuff very well. I can compartmentalize and deal with that and I have my own stuff on the inside, but tell you what, when the kids are happy and they feel like daddy loves them and they feel in their mind that their own internal narrative is saying, I can do it. That's, that's what great parenting looks like to me. And then number two would be if, if Julie, when she's feeling loved and, and paid attention to and, and, and cared for and nurtured, then I'm winning as a husband. So that's my answer to your, your question. What was the question again? What's in focus? Those are the top two things that are in focus. Those two things.

Oh, love it, man.

I wanna offering one more thing. Yeah, please. Something that's hyper focused for me right now. I, I alluded to earlier the Charlotte City Amateur Golf Championship is coming up on August 26th, 27th and 28th. That may not be the most important thing in the whole history of the world. I tell you what, it's important to me to test myself, to see how I can compete. Mm-hmm. And how I can make a shot at taking home the title. And in order to do that, I've gotta just show up and do more than just show up. I've gotta practice.

So I put together a game plan and for the next 49 days, cuz it's on the 50th day from now for the next 49 days, I've got a practice regimen and a fitness regimen that I feel is gonna give me a pretty darn good shot at success there. And success meaning ultimately the dream would be to win it. Success might be, I shoot my lowest score in a three day golf tournament of my life.

Either way you look at it I have done what we talked about earlier. I, I, I want something, I set out an action plan and darn it, I'm gonna consistently do something each day to prepare for that. And what it really boils down to is about an hour and a half a day of practice and a little bit less Netflix. Right. It's a little bit less, you know, just leisure time. Mm-hmm. A little bit more focused on something that's important. That's in focus right now, too.

[00:30:06] Ali: Beautiful. Yeah. I think you under sell your golf skills, at least from what I've heard, and I'm sure that you will find some form of success in that. I also think it's cool the way you answered that, Matt, is like, you have these sort of two, what I'll call critical focus points that never go out of focus. They're just ingrained in the way that you show up. And there's so much power. I've experienced that in my life as well. When your family is filled up, as opposed to the opposite, like when your family's drained, you as the leader, cuz I know you hold a leadership role in your house, just like Julie does. It can be extremely taxing. Whereas if you fill other people up, there's this really beautiful harmony that can flow through a family dynamic.

On the counterpart though, which is why your third focus is really interesting is that there's also an argument for making sure that you're giving yourself enough attention, enough self love, enough whatever it is that fuels you. I require very similar fuel. I like to compete. I like to push myself. I like to get onto nature. I like my autonomy. And I've really learned since joining Front Row Dads on how to hold space for both of these things. Because just like you, such a good articulation, a great way to describe, like, I was totally off course as a father, at least that's how I feel now. Yeah. Yeah. And then boom, that gave me some course correction or at least a sense of different navigation. And now being able to prioritize and hold space for my family, but also prioritize and hold space for myself. That's for me, where things are firing on all cylinders.

It's not as easy though , I'll confess, for me to always keep that at optimal efficiency. Whereas I feel like you do a really good job of that.

[00:32:07] Matt: Well, it may seem that way. I can tell you right now that what may seem, and what's really happening, it's like we're both on the surface, super cool, like a duck underneath the water, you know, going a hundred miles an hour and it's not easy. It's not totally natural and automatic to be that focused on the family. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. You know, there's old habits of, I remember back and got outta college and started the first business. It was literally 80 or 90 hours a week and it was seven days a week. Wow. I was that way for probably a good six to eight years out of school.

[00:32:38] Ali: So you had to turn that off after a while?

[00:32:40] Matt: And it was hard. Yeah. And I know a lot of people it's very challenging to do that and they feel they're letting down people in their professional world, or they feel this sense of guilt or shame that, you know, maybe the old mantra of work hard, play hard. Maybe that served me in my twenties and early thirties. And maybe that same mantra might be a little bit damaging to me now, you know, maybe the mantra has evolved from work hard, play hard to work hard, play hard and learn how I might be able to play smarter or, and learn how I might be able to work hard, play hard a different bucket over here than just business, cuz it's always been just business.

Right? Mm-hmm. So the, the family part, the part that I really have to do every day is I have to write in a journal every day to remind myself this is who I need to show up as today. It may sound all nice when I say it out loud. In reality, if I'm not writing down in the journal every day, Matt show up as a good listener. Matt show up patient, loving, with positive reinforcement, reassurance for my kids, then I can very easily jump on the wagon and just jump off the wagon and get right back to, you know, being in a yelling environment, you know, being in an environment where I'm a very impatient and frustrated and kind of uptight and perfectionist.

And I have a lot of people that I've either coached or known personally that have been in recovery in some way, shape or form. And I feel that if, if anyone out there has ever had an identity challenge or some thing they learned from their parents, for example, and they want to change that. That old habit, that old identity is always there lurking, being triggered by something that's a stressor, something that is an old trigger of theirs. And in order for me to fight that back and be positive and proactive and an optimist moving forward, I've gotta be able to love and accept and appreciate that person I've grown out of, but that person's still there.

Right. And I've gotta be able to love and accept and appreciate that. And know that for me to keep the forward path, the righteous path, the right thing for me, I've gotta have some type of habit that keeps me some type of routine, that keeps me on that path. And that routine for me is the Miracle Morning in journaling and some positive affirmations. And some of those things I do every day. So hope that's a good answer that your audience can relate to is that I'm certainly not perfect. And I know that old habits and tough stuff's gonna show up when I'm not doing these routines that help me stay focused on being the best me.

[00:35:16] Ali: Totally, man. Yeah, totally. I appreciate you sharing that being a bit vulnerable because your spot on. It's easy for us to seem tough and strong and diligent and stoic and all the words that are described, where sometimes you get that feedback from others. But then inside you're like, hey, actually, this shit is hard. And I work on it regularly.

One of the things that came to mind when you were sharing that, Matt is, I feel like this kind of goes a little bit back to the masks topic that there are these different masks that we may have acquired or identities right, in our past. And to say that you can just completely be free of those is a pretty strong statement. Whereas I like to think a little bit more along the lines of let's say you have a shelf or a closet and you're like, hey, I'm taking this one off. Doesn't serve me anymore. But the reason it's on the shelf is sort of a metaphor for saying it was part of me at one point.

In other words, I am who I am because of this specific mask, this experience, whatever you want to use to symbolize that. Because this book I read recently and I had Eric, the author who wrote it on the podcast, The Being Equation, he gave a really nice method for understanding this in a way where it's like every single thing, every single experience, every single feeling, every relationship that you've had to this point in some way defines who you are right now.

And I thought that was powerful. It's easy to be like, no, I don't do that anymore. I can tell you in being relentless and starting to rip away some identities that used to serve me that I don't want right now, but you've sparked the idea to think that that is still a part of me I just don't need to honor it anymore.

[00:37:14] Matt: That's right. As you're saying that the analogy that comes to mind is, that's a part of me and it's stored in the attic now. Yes. And I don't need to bring it back down cuz it doesn't fit me anymore. What fits me is the outfit I'm wearing now. Totally. And I feel that the outfit that I'm wearing now, the person you're hearing and seeing right now, I feel at this moment at the age of 45, that this is, the right me at the right time for who I want to be, where I want to go and the impact I want to have.

And that will likely shift at some point. And I look back at the pictures of me 15 years ago when I was 30 years of age. And that was a totally different me. That seed of optimism that seed of wanting to make an impact that seed of positive. That's always, always been there waiting for the right time, the right season to come out and I feel we're getting close to being a full bloom.

What's exciting. If you wanna talk like an internal optimist is we're just getting started. I remember hearing Tony Robbins do an interview with Nelson Mandela one time and Nelson had two pieces of wisdom for him. And one of the wisdom pieces was when he was locked away for those 27 years on Robben Island prison in South Africa, he was not there just in prison. He was there preparing for what was gonna happen next. Mm-hmm. He wasn't just languishing away sitting there. He was in preparation. And I feel that everything that's happened to this moment in life is the sum, like all the experience. It's the sum, total of every relationship, every conversation, everything has led to this exact moment right now in the real time and has prepared us to have this discussion that hopefully it will impact one person.

Maybe it just impacts you. Maybe it just impacts me in some way. Mm-hmm. Hopefully it impacts someone and inspires them to take some action to live the life of their dreams, to break a bad habit of their own choosing. But ultimately I completely agree with your guest, Eric, about the Being Equation of let's take everything that we've experienced to this point and let's use that to our advantage, to go and just live and, and do it very congruent with who we are and our values.

[00:39:30] Ali: Totally man. When you first mentioned attic I had a quick chuckle. I loved that analogy because my mind went to putting this old competitive beer pong player in the attic. Hmm. Because when I was younger, I used to really like playing beer pong mostly for the sport, not as much the drinking and I was quite good at it. And I chuckled cuz I was thinking like, it's been years since that has come out. But I might run up one day. I might run up into the attic and be like, hey, I'm gonna bring this out for a night, have some fun and then put it right back the next morning. You know? So that's, that's a really cool analogy whether we're using shelves or addicts is just to know that there's a part of us that we can kind of put to rest and if needed, maybe it comes out, maybe it doesn't in the future.

[00:40:19] Matt: You've just sparked an idea. I know that I've already shared this with do on our last band call. I will share that after going to four different high schools, I never actually attended a high school prom. Mm-hmm. And one big idea that I wanna bring to life in the next few years is to have a prom. To actually orchestrate and create a prom. And I envision something like a Cinderella's ball, where a lot of friends from all over the world fly in and they get picked up at the airport and limos. And by the way, if anybody's listening to this, that gets invited and it's not a limo, actually, if you have to Uber your own way there, then no judgment friends.

What I imagine is getting picked up in limos and showing up and now, because you said it and because I'm just a big kid at heart, I may be 50 years of age, but darn it, we're gonna have some ping pong tables and some red solo cups and it's gonna be the Ali Beer Pong Championship. And maybe at that point, if I'm not drinking it, it might be, the water championship, who knows, but we're gonna have some, some solo cups up. So we're gonna ask that one to come outta the attic.

It's interesting you say, in the attic, and, and I've mentioned the attic and just thinking about it, there are parts of us that might be best served to be in the attic and stay there. And there are parts of us that might be still in the front closet right next to the door that are ready for us to literally open the closet door and take it out like a jacket. Mm-hmm. And whatever parts of us might be there in that front closet that we really don't want to be there. Like we should put 'em in the attic. Then what would that mean?

The difference between having some type of habit or some type of, old characteristic there in the closet versus in the attic? Cuz there are things I want in the attic. I don't want it anywhere near me. And one of those things might be negative energy, vampire people that just suck the life out of me.

And there are some people in my life that suck the life out of me that they're just energy vampires that I love. And it pains me to not hang out with them. Cuz they're dear, dear friends. I take them in doses. Mm-hmm. Right. Take them in doses. But some things are, are, are best for the attic. Yeah, that's, that's that.

[00:42:32] Ali: I think that's awesome. What haven't we covered, man? There's all types of things I want to talk about around leadership and coaching, but I feel like this is gonna get long if we go that route.

[00:42:46] Matt: I got one for you. Talking about leadership and coaching. Mm-hmm. I'm looking at you in the web came and behind your left shoulder is the same doll that I have. So for anyone inspired by you, yes. We have a giant, like 15 inch tall, Bob Ross plush, stuffed animal. Maybe for different reasons. I don't know. I have mine because I like to throw things to the kids when they try to interrupt the Zoom calls. I just throw 'em stuffed animal, like my Groot or my Bob Ross and they go away play at the animal. But here's the deal.

I have a coaching client that I used recently at an onsite facilitation for a couple days where we did some really deep under the waterline neurolinguistic programming. We did some deep mental work say, say it like that. And, we anchored into them this idea of whenever they see Bob Ross, they chant their company motto.

So today I sent eighteen Bob Ross plush dolls to this company. Yes. With one person's name attached to each Bob Ross. And it's something simple and funny and probably half of 'em will really use it and get deep into it. Some will just put on the shelf, give it to their dog, whatever. The intention is that they can use this stuffed animal, this, this little plush do as an emotional anchor. Mm-hmm. That whenever they see it, it gives 'em a little bit of joy. There's a little bit of inspirational, a bit of positive, you know?

So if there's something that is around wherever your listeners are sitting. Hopefully they're in their car. They're at their home office. They're sitting there in the chair, they're in the break room, wherever it is. If there's something around that you can look at and it just causes you to smile, it could be a picture of a family member. It can be like a little small squeeze ball. Like I got one of those right here. It's in my pocket all the time. Uh, whatever it might be, uh, the coaching lesson or leadership lesson might be, how do you create an environment that is always inspiring you in some way? Mm-hmm. How do you create an environment where the things around you, just make you smile or give you a sense of hope? And one simple way to do that might be to have more Bob Ross. Or as I said to a client this morning, I need more cowbell in my life. Yes. Which means more Bob Ross, more Bob Ross.

[00:44:51] Ali: No, I love that, dude. I love the anchor concept. I bought the doll inspired by you. I'm not as skilled in knowing when to use it like you are quite yet, but I think there's a lot of power in play. Cause when we're able to play it cultivates and energizes the child in us that is just wired to do that. As adults, we have serious tendencies and we have responsibilities and commitments, all the stuff, mm-hmm, and it becomes stressful.

We were just on vacation with another family and we were hanging out on the back deck. The kids were in the hot tub and then playing in the backyard and we were having conversation around how do they have so much energy? And what came to mind for me is this is theoretical, I'm not backing this by any science, but I don't think kids, especially young children like ours before they get into, you know 10 plus years age, incur much stress. When they do it's that real time intense emotions and they get through it and then they move on.

Whereas we as adults, especially adults who take on a lot, perhaps are high achievers. We operate with a lot of stress and we keep it. We have this sort of mental processing that never quite turns off that children don't have. And so I was just thinking about that as we were discussing with them, I'm like, I wonder how much energy we burn through just holding mental space for like, oh, here's the thing I need to get done, or this thing with business or this client or this project, like it's just in the background, like a computer just constantly running. Whereas kids are like, hey, let's go play. And so your pattern interrupt, your anchor of bringing play into serious environments is beautiful, man. I'm an advocate for the world having more of that.

[00:46:45] Matt: Oh, that's kind, I, I agree with you, but bringing play in more often. A good example might be the old when you're walking down your driveway and you see a big puddle after the rainstorm. The kids will jump in it and splash it. Yep. Yep. The adults will avoid it and the older adults will avoid it and complain about it. And if you can teach yourself that whenever you see a, a puddle, play like a kid, man, just go splash it. Then that's one simple thing.

I'm sure there are some adults out there in Charlotte, North Carolina they've seen this, this tall six foot six guy downtown with kids, my children. And they see him jumping in puddles. That guy probably looks like a weirdo. Well tell you what that weirdo is having a great time playing and that, that right there was a great stress reliever. It's a great stress reliever.

[00:47:35] Ali: A hundred percent.

[00:47:35] Matt: Here's an example of how this may be impactful for people. And just talking about how you might use one of these little emotional anchors and for those who are listening, I'm holding this little squeeze ball in my hand right now, or even, you're Bob Ross doll as an example. But whatever it might be, I'll give you the real life example. When I was qualifying for the City Amateur Championship I had a triple bogey on a hole. Now, for those of you not, not privy to golf, that's a really high score in and a hole. That's not good to have a high score in a hole. Mm-hmm. But I had this with me. I go back to the golf cart and I'm super pissed and frustrated, and I see this, I touch it and I give myself permission to let it go.

And if you have a way, a mechanism by which you can let go, just learn to love the things that hold you back and set you down, learn to love and appreciate those things. They'll have less and less power over you over time. So a frustrated emotion I was able to practice some breathing. I was able to touch this artifact I have right here, my emotional anchor. And I was able to bring it back to a good place, a really optimal place.

And the last thought on this subject, around the emotional anchor and around the idea of maybe stress relief or of taking it from feeling all this stress, it might be this. I had this little index card on my desk here on the index card it says, PAUSE. BREATH. What's important now? Yeah. And that's the little three step process to really serve me well whenever I feel, as you say, like overwhelmed or stressed out, or just starting to feel pissed. Or I can see your wall behind you. When I start to go below the line and start to see red or get frustrated or what I might call negative or detracting emotion, I just pause breathe. Let it come in. And then, uh, what's important now? That's helped me a lot.

[00:49:32] Ali: Totally, man. Yeah, that was very, very insightful for me when we last connected because it, it aligned with exactly what I felt after our dog passed. And I actually just released a shorter solo episode around this this morning where I, I was able to process thoughts around how death can be quite polarizing. It can be quite polarizing for what's actually important. But what I love about your approach is that having a consistent reminder, because it's easy for something tragic to happen, and then I'll be like, oh shit, I need to wake up. Where are my priorities? But, this ties into everything we've talked about, just your ability to create these systems and take action and in an optimistic way that serves you so that you can serve others. So I love that you have those daily reminders, man. That's such an awesome strategy.

[00:50:31] Matt: Well, appreciate it Ali. And there's one thing I've learned in the last year, that's been really helpful, around stress reduction. I've used as a being in recovery, myself, recovery from perfectionism, a really, really, really high strung around some perfect result. One thing that's really worked well for me is I, I used to use the word SHOULD all the time. I should have done this. I should have done it that way. You should do it this way. And I started to think about using the word should, and that should in itself is a self critical trigger just using the word should.

So I've, I've learned to, and I don't always catch myself most of the time now, instead of using the word, should I begun to use the word I CAN, mm-hmm or I COULD and by making that tiny shift in semantics, in my words, I've shifted the way I think. And I feel that my perfectionist tendency is a little more relaxed. I'm still as intense and focused as ever. And I'm not feeling stressed about it or overwhelmed about it. I do it when I can. It's not because I should be doing something. I do it because I want to, and because I can. And because I can turn a question you didn't ask into a long answer. I'll I'll keep building on that one last thought would be this, that dude, I just totally forgot.

[00:51:59] Ali: Well, actually it's good timing because this is amazing. This is one of those beautiful ways where the universe just plays itself out. Yes. Months ago I remember having a discussion with Tim and hearing him reference from conscious leadership, that SHOULD is a below the line statement. And then after he said that, I really gave that some thought and for very similar reasons that you just described, I was like, this word is powerful, self critical, like you said. And I can't find a lot of use cases when it's something that I'm using to help myself or others.

And funny enough, Matt, I kid you not just last night, I took my mom out to dinner. We're talking, I was observing her language. She said should. And I said, wait a second. And we had a discussion around this, like last night I was having this exact discussion and being like, I don't like that word. Of course it comes up in English language from time to time. But I'm so aware now when it comes out or when I'm about to say it, and I can almost always use different language, different words to make the point or communicate what I'm trying to communicate better. You know.

[00:53:15] Matt: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, totally agree. And you've sent me into the vortex here, just thinking about my mom, thinking about you having dinner with your mom. And I, I, I think back to some of the things in my mind that may have created stress or created these triggers in early adulthood, teenage years until I got over 'em. It was the judgment or the, the opinion of mom and, and what I've come to learn and realize is that I love my mom for who she is now, and I need to show up in a certain way for her to love her and be there for her in the way that she needs it.

And it's not, I need to convince her every time and have a debate over politics, or I need to convince her and show her that I am successful in this world. I just need to show up and listen. And I feel that one of my shoulds for the longest time was around my mom. Mm-hmm. And it was around she should, see me as a as a successful adult. She should see me this way. And that was so hung up on that for the longest time.

And now in creating this lifestyle that we have, it's not just the physical world, it's also the mental world and the mental part of being over these mom triggers and being totally at ease and comfortable and loving and supporting with mom. That's been a long, challenging journey, and I'm so grateful to have gotten there in, in her lifetime, cuz she's still with us. And she's very young if she ever listens to this, she's very young.

[00:54:44] Ali: Totally, man. That is beautiful. Yeah. It takes me back to our run in Key West where we had some awesome connection around our moms and I'm sure we'll have more about that soon.

To honor the clock. What do you say we we wrap up with a few fun fire, rapid questions?

[00:55:02] Matt: Shoot. Anything you got baby.

[00:55:03] Ali: Okay. I got three. The first one. What's the best book you've read lately?

[00:55:10] Matt: Ooh, best book lately. I will say the best book lately. I've read a few of them. I'd say the best one, I just happen to have it right here cause I keep these next to me. The best one is by John McPhee, M C P H E E, John Mcphee. It's called A Sense of Where You Are. I like that title. It's about Bill Bradley. He's a politician now or retired politician now. It's not about politics though. It's about him when he was at Princeton University back in the day. And it's about how he rose to become the number one basketball player in college sports, and then become a, a professional and all star in the national basketball association. And it's all around his mindset and his habits in the way that he treated people and the way that he was around his family and his peers.

So A Sense of Where You Are is a very, very granular look at the habits and the mindset of a legend. Someone who's not just good, not just good enough to make it to the highest level, but to be the best at the highest level. So it's granular and this guy McPhee has written a bunch of books, and this is the fourth one I read of his.

[00:56:10] Ali: Did you say this is about bill Bradley? That's right. Oh my gosh. Another lightning strike of serendipity. So this morning I was doing a little bit of language verbiage on my website. I came back from a very impactful retreat in Ireland, which is a topic for another day. And part of this was me feeling a little bit more confident in some coaching. So I played with coaching and I now have some new inspiration to kind of give more energy towards it in a way that feels right for me.

Why I'm sharing this with you is, I kid you not, this morning I update the page on my website that talks about coaching with a quote, "Leadership is unlocking people's potential to become better" by Bill Bradley.

[00:57:06] Matt: Oh, boom! Nice, nice.

[00:57:08] Ali: What are the odds! You said this earlier in the podcast, like everything we've done up until this point is a culmination of where we should be, right? Oh, I just used the word where we are right now. Yeah. I don't wanna say where we should be, but where we are right now. And that is just beautiful. So not only is that beautiful. I'm gonna also read that book cuz I love that title.

Next question. What's the funniest thing one of your kids has said lately?

[00:57:37] Matt: Oh, wow. Well, uh, you already let the cat outta the bag earlier. I think you told a fart story when my kids called me out in church. So, uh, that happened, but the funniest thing recently, I was given a keynote speech for an organization. It was Tuesday it was just a couple days ago. And, I've got, I think it was 25 or 27 people on the line on zoom and they've got my screen pinned. And it's the middle of the day. It's summertime here in the Carolinas and my, my three and a half year old daughter. She comes running around the corner from the, the hallway in the front all the way to my office and she pulls her pants down and she says, daddy, I just pooped in the toilet. My underwear are clean, look! And like, literally everyone there is on the call and they're like, what? And like, I probably would've like flipped out and like just gone scared and turned white and, and totally been in deer in headlights a few years ago.

But this time I, uh, totally just went with the flow and I said, hey team, that's, uh, that's what you get when you're at home. Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever seen. And some people smiled at it and the inside, I was like, holy freaking cow. Uh, but I thought that was pretty funny. I'm always gonna remember that one.

[00:58:46] Ali: I love that was a good one. Oh, I love that. Your kids are awesome, man. That just shows the way you lead is that they just, they live authentic lives and they, they say what they're feeling, which is beautiful. Okay, awesome.

[00:59:00] Matt: Well, she's also three and she's just past potty training and...

[00:59:04] Ali: But that's a big deal. That's a huge win. Definitely worth interrupting a zoom call from my perspective. All right, last question, brother. How would you spend $10 million if you couldn't use it on yourself or anyone you loved?

[00:59:21] Matt: Good question. So if I'm not able to use it on myself for anyone I love that that would actually be an easy one for me. A couple thoughts. I would like to invest in and create a business where people like let's just say someone from Shark Tank, were to go in with an investment like that. And we were to create, instead of like the, the usual news network that is 10 to one negative to positive shows, I would love to create a news organization that is 10 to one positive to, to negative. If you had to have something negative. Or figure out how to spin it in a way that serves the world, and we might even call it the Optimist News Network the, O N N. I was thinking the O P P, but I think that, uh, you know, Naughty By Nature probably grabbed O P P a while ago. But some type of optimist, positive news network or some collective organization where we can share positive. That'd be the first thought that comes to mind.

The second thing that comes to mind cause that's, that's more of a grand vision or mission, so to speak. The more practical thing that comes to mind is just go feed people. Figure out a way to take 10 million and turn that into feeding people that are hungry. I don't know how. But if you gave me 10 million to invest in something, not of my own, then I would play with it that way and go feed people.

[01:00:38] Ali: I love that dude. A couple things on that. So first I think you should totally do that even if you don't decide to invest $10 million into it, because that's something that the world needs and you are totally the person to deliver that message and to create that energy.

Two, what comes to mind is I remember during COVID earlier on in the pandemic, one of the actors from I'm actually looking up right now, so I can cite the exact name. One of the actors from the office, John Krasinski, created this show called Some Good News. And I remember Gabrielle tuned us into this and we would watch it for weeks where he literally showed up in his underwear and a sports coat. It was a level C production, looks like it was shot from an iPhone. And he was just delivering good news, dude. I don't even think there was anything negative in there. And obviously it was warm and uplifting during the pandemic, but it got me thinking like I would watch this news. Like this is the type of thing that I love to hear more of. And so I know there's a, a plethora of things you could do, but I just wanna say that I could totally see you doing that and creating a lot of impact in the world.

[01:02:04] Matt: Well, that's kind. Thank you. And who knows what the future may hold? At some point we may morph into that. We'll see, we will see. In the meantime, fix your own oxygen mask first to your face, take care of yourself, your own thinking. Be the best dad you can be, be the best significant other you can be and just show up for yourself first, you know? And then when you do those things, it'll create the foundation to be able to go and be that, that next big thing.

[01:02:31] Ali: Beautifully said. And I think, uh, this feels pretty complete. Anything left unsaid?

[01:02:39] Matt: Appreciate the invitation to connect, uh, love ya. You've had a great impact on my life and, uh, look forward to our next discussion my friend.

[01:02:47] Ali: Love you too, brother. Thank you. And I hope you enjoy that date night tonight.

[01:02:51] Matt: Yes, sir.

[01:02:52] Ali: Alrighty.


Ali Jafarian

Ali is a father, husband and serial entrepreneur with a deep drive to create. He writes, records, codes and builds things to inspire the artist in all of us.


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