[00:00:00] Welcome to the School of Moxie podcast brought to you by Sensible Woo. This is the podcast where we break the mold around business podcast conversations. We make it fun around here by using television, movies, and entertainment as a jumping off point for conversations about how we navigate the world as individuals.
I’m your host, Mary Williams, and I’ve been an online creator since 2010. I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go over the years, but one thing that has persisted is a struggle among entrepreneurs to connect more authentically with their audiences. As a business systems process and operations coach, I’ve seen how much my clients and subscribers have benefited from learning how to incorporate their fun sides.
So we’re going to demonstrate this for you here on this podcast through analogous thinking. Not only that, but we’re using media and entertainment as the lens through which we reflect on our own desires and strengths. Fiction is the vehicle that gives us words to articulate our value systems. And tells people who we are.
I find that a lot of my
[00:01:00] audience, and probably yours as well, struggle to find words for their problems until they start thinking about how to use analogies. Analogies help us build bridges between something we can describe into a new area that we are in the process of developing. As humans, we are a languaged species, which means we find context and meaning in our lives.
Through the ability to put our feelings into words. This podcast is going to help you normalize this process and see how it’s done in real time as my guests talk through their own experiences in relation to the episodes they’ve been assigned for this show. Our first season of this podcast is centered on the first season of the H B O original series, the Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name, consider this your official spoiler alert.
On this podcast, my guests are going to jump right into the conversation, and we are going to spill all the tea on the story and the plot. So if you enjoy being surprised, I encourage you to watch the episode first before listening to our discussion. Thank you to our generous
[00:02:00] sponsors for the one and only premiere week here at the School of Moxie podcast.
This week has been made possible with support from the AK Collective with Amber Kinney. You’ll hear about the AK Collective in the show credits every week because they’re a major part of how I do my marketing around here. And I’m so thankful to Amber for the additional opening week support. Scale fast with clear metrics and ads that convert like crazy.
And that’s just a very small part of what the AK Collective can do for you. Additional support comes from The Secret to Thriving Online Communities with Tonya Kubo. If your online community needs to grow and delight your members, this is the service and program for you. We are also supported this week by Everyday Effectiveness
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[00:03:00] alternative methods of learning on this podcast, and that’s what Beth can build for your organization as well.
Links to each of these amazing sponsors is located in the show notes on this episode. I encourage you to give them some love by visiting their websites. Before we get into this week’s episode, have I told you about the weekly readings that I create for entrepreneurs just like you each and every week? I am an Akashic Records and Tarot reader and I’ve been giving clients intuitive guidance coaching for just about 20 years now.
That’s a long time. I know that most readers out there don’t focus on your business needs. So that’s where I come in. Readings with me are only about your business development and it helps you feel more aligned with your intuitive messages so that you can incorporate those gut feelings and inner knowings into your business data for better results.
Click the link in the show notes. and subscribe to my weekly email updates, where you can get a free reading sent to your inbox every single week. If you want more, you can subscribe to the weekly extended readings, which are just
[00:04:00] 9 dollars per month and help you get focused on your business energy every week.
No more Sunday scaries. You’ve got this better in hand than you know, and I’ll help you see it. Now let’s start watching and talking. We are starting at the beginning. Episode one of The Last of Us is titled, When You Are Lost In the Darkness. It’s where we meet most of the main characters and we understand how the world has changed so dramatically through a fungal pandemic.
To help us examine this in our life’s experiences, we are joined today by Megan Graves. Megan is a performance coach and I know her as my ADHD coach. She works with CEOs and their staff to improve operations, communication between team members and management, leadership skills, efficiency in tackling projects and daily tasks, accomplishments of both short and long term career goals, and execution of responsibilities.
Megan has a real strength for helping individuals set priorities and take quick action to exceed the expectations. She holds people accountable and supports them in their continued
[00:05:00] personal and professional growth. I can tell you as someone who has needed help with ADHD, Megan will help you get to a place where you have greater daily ease organizing, prioritizing, accomplishing, and balancing all of the demands placed on you.
Sounds like the perfect set of skills that we all need to survive an apocalypse. Welcome to the show and thank you for being one of my very first guests who is holding space for better business conversations.
[Megan] Thank you. I’m so excited to be here. This is going to be a really great conversation. Wow. That was a mouthful of my intro, wasn’t it?
[Mary] It’s a lot. It’s good though. It was good. If people don’t get it, I don’t know. Maybe they’re not meant to survive the apocalypse.
[Mary] Um, okay, so, this is a big episode. It’s almost, it’s, well, basically 90 minutes. It’s basically a feature length film, a short one. And so there’s a lot of material. But I feel like, I personally find that this is the most exciting episode of the entire season.
I really love origin stories. I love seeing
[00:06:00] how people came to like, be in this predicament, and we really get to see that in this episode, and there’s a lot of beautiful nuance in it. So the first key point that, just to kind of kick us off, is that every business starts with a bang, whether it’s dramatic or not.
And then there’s the period after the initial rush. Some of us love to chase the rush. In this episode, we see a very dramatic scene play out. It sets the stage for a lot of character motivation, especially on Joel’s part, and he is our protagonist. What kind of origin stories have you seen that have left scars on entrepreneurs, possibly even yourself?
[Mary] Well, first, I think drawing a parallel between episode one and the difference between when we see them having their everyday lives where it’s peaceful and relaxed, and then there’s this big moment where everything changes and panic ensues, and then you’ve kind of got the time
[00:07:00] after that line in the sand where everything has shifted and you’ve got a reorient.
I think you have the exact same timeline when you start a business, you have sort of this peaceful idea about what it’s going to be like to get your business up and running. And it seems pretty everyday. And then you actually launch the thing. And that is that line in the sand moment that we saw in episode one when it felt like the whole world was exploding.
And it literally was, wasn’t it? Bombs were going off, military was everywhere. And when we start businesses, I think very few of us have any real idea of exactly how hard and scary it’s going to be until we actually get into it. And then once we’re in it. We’ve got so many hats to wear and
[00:08:00] so many different experiences that we go through trying to figure out how to do the thing correctly.
And it really can feel like you are in an apocalypse because it can be so hard and so scary. You can feel so alone. And by yourself and in the middle of the wilderness, and it feels like if you screw up, it could mean your life. Because if you don’t make money, you can’t keep a roof over your head and feed yourself.
So then it does seem like your life is over.
[Mary] It throws people into fight or flight. I mean, these people in the story are literally, we’re watching them experience trauma.
[Mary] In real time. And While hopefully we’re not being chased by fungal infected people who try to bite us.
[Megan] Fingers crossed.
[Mary] Fingers crossed.
I can feel like that. I can. Someone’s like, buy my coaching program.
[Mary] Get away from me. I was really struck in this watching that outbreak on outbreak day and just drawing like a couple of like really obvious parallels to our world that we’ve been living in. I mean, you gotta be living under a rock not to recognize the parallels to like having lived through a COVID outbreak and it wasn’t
The Last of Us, but it was very jarring. It’s unexpected. It’s what we call a pattern interrupt. And for a lot of entrepreneurs, I think it, you know, it’s, it is that feeling of life or death. A lot of us did exceptionally well during our. Real pandemic.
[Mary] Because it forced the whole world online and a lot of us had been online and we were like, finally, you learned how to use Zoom.
[Megan] It’s so true. I was in that boat.
[Mary] I was totally in that boat. I had my best year ever. Yeah. End of 2020, all the way through 2021, best year ever. And it was great.
[00:10:00] Um, in this world, the fictional world, like that’s obviously not the case. Um, like society literally collapses. But I think that there are people who, entrepreneurs who feel like that almost on a daily basis.
Like right now, so we’re recording this in the summer of 2023. There is not an official recession going on, but there, this question about recession fears has come up in all these, you know, communities that I coach in, you coach in other people’s communities too. And I find that so fascinating because that fear of recession is just like these people in this story of like this fear of getting sick and this fear of society collapsing.
You know, a financial collapse is a type of a collapse of society and…
And you know, I, I just, I, I wonder. You know, when we’re, when we’re trying to navigate that in our entrepreneurial journey, like, how do, how do we keep going forward when sometimes this stuff does leave really big
[00:11:00] scars? Like, Joel loses his daughter, Sarah.
The death is ugly.
[Mary] And, um, you know, we might not be losing, say, a child, but like some of us, our businesses have died in the past. It feels like losing a child.
[Mary] It’s your business baby. We call them business babies.
[Mary] And they can leave really big scars.
[Megan] Absolutely. It can. Birthing a business. is paralleled with birthing a human child or having a pet baby.
It changes you. You become a totally different person. You’ve got to step up in ways that you never had to before. It grows you. Your emotional intelligence will change and grow. Your maturity shifts. Your intelligence around how to do things changes. And you expand yourself to be able to deal with all of the…
potholes in the road while you’re trying to figure out how to keep your business afloat or just get it off the ground in the first place. And when you hit
[00:12:00] hard times, it can be very scary, especially if you’ve grown your business to a place where you’ve got staff and you’re facing a recession or the potential for a recession, and you’re not really sure how recession proof you are until you’ve gone through one or two of them.
And it can be a very terrifying ordeal, especially because when you have to support other people or even just yourself with your business, you’re relying on yourself or other people are relying on you. And if there’s a failure there, what does that say? The message a lot of times is, I can’t be relied upon.
I think all of us want to be Joel. In our businesses, in our lives, but there’s a burden that comes with that. He’s the hero of the story. He is the very stereotypical alpha in that he is a protector and he is a rescuer and he is
[00:13:00] very much in charge. All business owners. I have to have a very similar mindset and it is not for the faint of heart.
And when you go into business for the first time, I don’t think anybody really knows that that’s how much of that kind of energy that you’ve got to embody. And it takes falling down a bunch of times before you start to realize just how strong you need to be to be able to keep your business running and moving.
Pandemic aside, there’s a lot to it. And then you’ve got things like the pandemic on top of it to add the chaos. And if you weren’t online, good luck. There was a bunch of chaos there. And there is a lot of struggle that’s happened just in the last four years for us. But even those four years aside, running a business is not a cakewalk.
And I think a lot of people think, I’m going to be my own boss. It’s going to be so great. I’m going to be in charge. And
[00:14:00] then they actually get in charge and they do become their own boss. And then. The shiny of that statement becomes tarnished and you realize just how much brute force you’ve got to bring to what’s going on, to how you’re moving forward.
[Mary] People see what they want to see and they see, I think a lot of people during our COVID, they saw a bunch of us who worked from home and they’re like, Oh, doesn’t that look so nice. It must look so easy. You just find some clients and get paid and you’re like, Bitch, do you know what I have done to make this thing fly?
Um, so when I didn’t think about it till now when you were talking, and I like had this mental imagery in my head of that scene when we first see Joel again 20 years later, and he’s picked up like a real shit job to like earn what is the equivalent of like their currency, dollars or whatever. Putting euthanized bodies into a pyre, into the fire to burn them. I can still see his face, the bandana pulls down to the tired hero shot.
[00:15:00] And I’m like, Oh he’s a tired entrepreneur 20 years later.
[Megan] Yup. The weary.
[Mary] Yeah. I can handle that kid body. I’ve seen it all, you know.
[Megan] Kind of numb.
[Mary] Very numb.
[Mary] Do you think that a lot of our entrepreneurs right now are dealing with that numbness?
Yeah. They are. I don’t know if they would necessarily all call it numbness. I think a lot of people are calling it burnout. But there’s definitely a shift that has happened as a result of the trauma that people have endured. With all that’s been demanded of them because of COVID and how we had to change everything over the last three years and it
[00:16:00] wasn’t just business trauma.
We were also managing personal trauma because our entire universe flipped upside down. We couldn’t be outside. We couldn’t be with people. Everything that makes us healthy and happy was taken from us. We had to figure out how to create new equilibriums from a bubble within our homes and these tiny little spaces and man running a business is hard all by itself.
But then when you add on top of it, life trauma, that’s a whole nother ball game. And it was interesting. That everybody experienced the same kind of trauma together because a lot of times business owners will have personal life trauma going on and other people don’t necessarily know that you’re having a hard time.
And there’s a glamour to owning a business that you want to keep this very polished exterior like everything’s fine. And so it’s really interesting to witness the fact that we’re all
[00:17:00] navigating together this change and the trauma and now the healing process is beginning. But I think there’s an exhaustion to it too of just like a can we just be done with this?
You know in the same way that Joel was like fine, whatever. I’ll take the kid. He’s like one foot in front of the other. Whatever, what do we have to do next? And I think a lot of entrepreneurs at this moment in time are in the same space where they’re just like trying to keep their heads down, trying to keep going.
They’ve survived the worst of it and they know it. But we still have a ways to go to get back to where it feels less hard.
[Mary] Yes. And I’m also thinking to, like, past the halfway point in this episode where Joel and Tess find Marlene and she’s shot, so she can’t do the mission she had, which was to get Ellie to whatever Firefly Base Camp, because they’re going to try to make a vaccine or whatever.
[00:18:00] You see Joel and Tess, like, business partners, I mean, they really are, and they, like, have their little huddle, and they’re like, is this going to give us what we need right now? And they’re so weary, and they’re just like, okay, these are the terms, yeah, we’ll take the job. Because they’re like, we need the job right now, and they don’t, but they’re, they’re, Pretty adamant.
They’re like, we do not smuggle people.
[Mary] And I feel like I’m seeing entrepreneurs right now, it’s like, we don’t smuggle people. Okay, we’ll take the job.
[Megan] Yep. Reluctant willingness for survival, for what must be. And that comes back to entrepreneurs recognizing their why. There has to be one. It fuels you.
It keeps you going. When you lose sight of it, that’s when you really buckle. It could have been a very different story if those two business partners decided not to smuggle people. End of
[00:19:00] story. That would have, nothing left for us to watch. And yet, there was enough fueling the motivation for them to accept a change in what they normally do.
And I think we all faced a lot of that in our own businesses. I think a lot of like government institutions over COVID were forced to go online in ways that they never wanted to. I work with a lot of law firms and they have to deal with court systems who were stuck in the fifties. They were still doing fax.
They were doing most things by paper courier. So there was all this very ancient way of doing business that was making a lot of law firms insane because they were trying to come into today’s technology and they couldn’t get the courts to come along until COVID happened. And it forced that machine, the government
[00:20:00] machine, to transform.
In ways that it had been dragging its feet on for 70 years, and it was very positive in a lot of ways to see the transformation that COVID forced because we couldn’t be around each other. We had to find ways to electronically communicate and interface with each other and keep things running. So just the transformation to get people from paper to online in certain areas was the trauma itself.
And they made the switch because they had to. The government had to keep going. So they figured it out. The transformation was a hard choice for them to make. They didn’t want to make it. And that’s true of most of our businesses. All of us had to change on some level on how we were doing things. You and I both have online businesses.
We’re very comfortable in that space, but we were still doing in person networking. We were building relationships in person. We were going to coffee with
[00:21:00] people. We built relationship in real time in person. Not to say that we didn’t do some online, but we did a lot in person and for that to be taken away from us.
That was a huge shock all by itself.
[Mary] It was. And the really interesting phenomenon that I noticed was how much, just to build a bridge, people took what they had done in person and they tried to just exactly cookie cutter put it on to, say, Zoom.
[Mary] Which doesn’t work.
[Mary] I hate to break that to people, but it doesn’t work.
And I think when you see a fictionalized story like this and you see how society is trying to rebuild itself, I think the thing that humanity has such a hard time with is recognizing that when there is a major disruption, the system has to change. Your systems of operations have to change. You’re not going to do it like you used to do it.
What got you there ain’t going to get you here. And, you know, we’re watching this civilization really struggle, but like, they’ve tried to put in a government, like how they used to have a government that ran things.
[00:22:00] It’s not working. And you know, later in the series, we get to see a whole community of people who have completely changed how they live and they’re living in harmony, not in a survival state.
And it’s a completely different operating system.
[Mary] And, and, and I think that for entrepreneurs who are going to watch the show along with us while we talk about it like this. I think for the ones who are really feeling like COVID really did a number on them. I think one of the best things you can learn is like, in what ways did the operating system change for me?
Am I still trying to duplicate what was, because even though our world is opened up, like we’re not wearing masks pretty much for the most part anymore. We have gone back to doing some in person things, you and I have been doing some things together here in town. And, but, but they are different.
[Megan] Yeah, they are.
And whether we’re talking about mid or post COVID experience,
[00:23:00] or The Last of Us pandemic experience, I think the highlight for me that’s really popping out is that all of it reinforces our flexibility. And those who are unwilling to get good at the pivot, fail. Flexibility is so essential for all of it, right?
[Megan] Yes. Joel is cranky and grumpy when we first meet him and he’s very stoic and sort of this like ice face where he just doesn’t have a lot of expression and he’s just sort of going through the motions and you can say, you can tell he’s trying to just bear it. and get on with his life. And I think to a great extent, what we watch is his evolution of continuing to show us that even though he’s stoic on the outside, he’s got this tremendous strength for flexibility, adaptability, and the
[00:24:00] ability to pivot.
He can deal with things that come at them really fast in very crazy scenarios. And the same is true for business owners. We have a lot of unexpected things happen. A lot of them can be very scary and it can threaten the livelihood of our business. And if we don’t have the skills or the reflexes to figure out how to make those pivots and those changes, then it does
break our business and our ability to move forward. And some people can have a really traumatic experience and have it kind of almost ruin their business and eventually they can crawl back and make it better. But a lot of people don’t survive those pivots because they don’t ever figure out how to shrink their ego enough to be able to pivot and grow and change.
And keep that ability to adapt in the forefront.
[Mary] I love that you brought up ego because I
[00:25:00] think in order to survive change, your ego has to die. And, um, just from a metaphorical business perspective. You know, I, I love, Tess was one of my favorite characters. She died too soon. But, I watch, you know, the way she operated with Joel, and she really was the one in control.
Yeah. And you could see her put her ego aside multiple times. She does it in this episode where when we first meet her, like, she’s been beaten up and she’s just like, I’m gonna put my ego aside, and she’s like, let’s just move on.
[Mary] Like, let me re-engineer this deal that went shitty, and
[Megan] But she meant it, too.
[Mary] And she meant it, and she meant it, and I think I see entrepreneurs today performatively do that.
[Mary] But they’re like, they don’t mean it.
[Megan] No. And unless you really mean it, your performance isn’t going to get you anywhere. You’ve got to
[00:26:00] really mean it. Because if Tess had not really meant it, that probably would have shown up in her history somewhere and they would have suspected that she wasn’t being truthful or honest and they probably wouldn’t have cut the deal that they did and she wouldn’t have gotten to where she needed to.
And I think the willingness to be earnest and honest and let yourself be vulnerable and make some hard choices and forgive both yourself and others is a huge component to being able to run a great business.
[Mary] I mean, I see Tessa as such a great example of that. I mean, I’m even just thinking, and I know we’re getting into episode two here, but even the way she dies, she’s like, she thinks of a plan for the benefit of everyone else.
Yeah. And she’s like, and I’m going to die anyway, so let me just finish this whole thing and put a period on the end of the sentence and do it right. And she
[Mary] It’s pretty badass.
[Megan] She’s got incredible character that you see through and through with every action and decision that she makes. And she came to being that way through her hardship 20 plus years in to them being in this new world.
She probably had a lot of those personality traits before the world ended, but I think they must have been strengthened by everything that she’s gone through. And isn’t it interesting how personalities are brought forward and stronger when they are put through hardship? For better or for worse, it could be bad traits.
Some people’s bad traits really come out in hardship, but then there’s other people where they’re best qualities shine and get stronger when they’re going through hardship too. And I
[00:28:00] do believe that we find a very mixed bag of people’s personality traits when you’re rubbing elbows in the community of business owners because some people do struggle to keep their best or their positive traits forward.
Like I’m and I’m thinking about leadership skills here. Leadership skills are not the easiest for a lot of people. And the people who know how to do leadership right are really thriving, but even the people who don’t know how to do leadership right in their businesses are still trying to figure it out and they manage to keep going every day.
There’s a lot of big businesses that have terrible leaders. But they’re still making money and going forward. So doing something right. It’s working for them, but we’re also in the midst of the great resignation.
[Mary] Oh, people are moving around right now.
[Megan] People are done. They’re tired of bad leaders.
They’re not putting up with it and
[00:29:00] they will work for you for 24 hours or three weeks or four months, and if they decide that this is a crappy place to be and that they’re not happy, they’re out fast.
[Mary] We’re talking about the first episode that really sets up everything for the next eight episodes that follow, and we really see the gamut of leaders in leadership.
We end up going to Kansas City later where we see the new military regime has been toppled. By rebels, who are no better than the government that they just displaced.
[Mary] And then we see, you know, people off in their own little pod, way out in the middle of nowhere where nobody can find them, and, and then you find people who’ve sequestered themselves, just, I mean, completely isolated themselves out of survival.
And like a whole spectrum in between. And I think it’s just such a
[00:30:00] beautiful way of seeing our business communities, too.
[Mary] Because it’s everywhere. We’re seeing all of the same traits all the time. Mm hmm. It’s not a result of like the pandemic. This has been happening since before pandemic, during pandemic, after pandemic.
[Mary] And I think there comes a point where like an entrepreneur has to say like, okay, what are my values? When am I going to, you know, take a stand on like what really matters to me? And you had brought up the big why earlier, which was our second point we wanted to talk through today. So I kind of want to segue into that.
Because Sarah dies in Joel’s arms and he never really recovers from it.
[Mary] Not even after he finds healing through Ellie.
[Mary] Because in the end, he still betrays her.
[Mary] So, Joel’s driving need to never be hurt again affects him at like every turn. And I’m wondering, like, how do we maintain a healthy connection
[00:31:00] to our big why?
Like in what ways are we seeing entrepreneurs affected by aversion to pain and discomfort because they’re fighting for their big why, whether it’s a healthy version or an unhealthy version, but there’s this like aversion to having to go through some kind of discomfort to get to something better.
[Megan] When we start a business, it’s always propelled by some good reason why, at least we think it is a good reason. We often in the late hours of the day or night are cursing the gods and wondering why did I do this? But. You know, the motivation and the thing that propels you forward, sometimes it is negative.
Sometimes it’s positive. Sometimes it’s a mix of both, but whether it’s positive or negative, one thing’s for sure. It’s a growth journey to be a business owner, and everybody’s at different stages of willingness to
[00:32:00] grow and change and develop. And I think we see this in Joel. His evolution through the story arc is pretty slow, and it’s very, very subtle, whereas I feel like we see Ellie change a little bit more dramatically in front of us.
You can see a lot more evolution for her more obviously, and I think that’s very metaphoric for any business. There’s some people that they seem to change very quickly and they are great at adapting and they move from maybe what started them was a negative why they move into having found a more positive, propelling why to keep them going.
One way or the other we all come into whatever we’re doing with scars and traumas and some people are consciously aware of the fact that they’ve got these scars and traumas and they’re working on them and they’re trying to get better and
[00:33:00] other people are unconscious of them or hiding from them actively and sometimes they start businesses just to avoid their trauma and their difficulty and they hide from their pain and from their negative why by 80 hour work weeks. And paying attention to everything but themselves.
I’m working with clients who don’t put themselves first, second, twelfth, two hundredths. They put everybody else in front of them, which is the opposite of Joel, who didn’t want to put anybody before himself. Uh, episode one, he was very reluctant to get on board with this new mission. More so than Tess, she was like, remember why this is so important to you.
She really had to fight for it with him, and she was smart. She brought his reason for wanting to go anywhere
[00:34:00] back into the forefront for Joel to motivate him to say yes, to do this thing.
[Mary] She reminded him of his most recent project, so to speak, where he was like, no, I’m gonna find another way to get this truck and a battery.
Yeah, I’ll find my brother. And she’s like, like a good coach. No. No. Chop, chop. Focus. You said that you wanted to do whatever and here’s, you know, like all the, all the opportunities right here. Um, but he’s very slow because he doesn’t even really get on board with being comfortable even having Ellie around until episode three.
[Megan] Isn’t that like months into their journey too?
[Mary] Is it?
[Megan] I feel like it’s a ways in a little bit.
[Mary] They’ve had some time on the road. They’ve had at least at least a couple of weeks. Right? Because they walk to Bill and Frank because Bill and Frank live just outside of Boston because they’re in Boston.
[Mary] And then they get
[00:35:00] Bill’s car and start driving.
[Mary] That’s longer. But that’s episode, that’s episode four. And that’s got to be, like, days. So, I mean, that’s, that’s pretty slow.
[Mary] Poor guy.
[Megan] Well, and I think it’s just such a strong reflection of his guardedness. You can see his scars from losing his daughter, Sarah, in his resistance.
[Mary] Yes. All the time. Um, and I feel like his… Big why comes from a place that is fueled by, I hesitate to call them negative emotions, but they’re, um, it’s a fuel that runs out more quickly. It leaves you world weary and I’ve been channeling this energetic note for my community, the people who tune in for readings.
In the last couple of weeks and it has been so strong around
[00:36:00] finding where your fuel comes from, where your fire comes from, which is a big reason why like all of this is happening, this podcast because I feel like the really big question we’re asking ourselves is like, but where do I actually get my motivation from?
It has to come from a quote unquote healthier place inside myself because the other ways are not sustainable.
[Mary] And you can totally survive and recover your life. through, you know, bouncing out of trauma or fight or flight or whatever, but to sustain it in that state? No. Um, you need to find, you have to find some motivation greater.
And I feel like eventually, you know, one of the beautiful things we see over the course of the season is like we see how Joel’s, you know, his relationship evolves with Ellie and she really helps him find that.
[Mary] Um, which is gorgeous. And, and then it’s sort of like that discomfort moment again and it’s like, like a rubber band.
I think I’m going to snap back to what I know. And he betrays her in the end, you know, and.
[Megan] But again, I’m not sure that’s fully a, I mean, it is a betrayal to her, but it is a snap back to protecting himself from pain.
[Megan] And that motivator of protecting yourself from loss is what we’re talking about.
That’s the negative thing that you can’t live in forever that’s not going to drive you forward. That’s the kind of motivation that does drain you. Only operating out of energy for protecting yourself. It’s going to get you nowhere. It’s going to get you a little ways, but you’re going to get burnt out and worn out, and your journey’s going to be so much harder when that’s what you’re focused on.
So much more dramatic, so much more traumatic, and, you’re going to get tired faster and harder.
[00:38:00] It’s a very lonely journey when you’re operating out of the space where you’re merely protecting yourself and that’s what’s driving you to make all of your choices. When you flip the switch and stop operating out of the space of self protection, the energy
raises the community around you gathers more readily.
[Mary] Yes. Thank you for putting that into words. That.
[Mary] Well, I like that you bring this up because, I mean, really, it brings up so much mental health needs that we are all now, thankfully, talking about a lot more. Just this past week, there was a new story that I think it’s the AMA, the American Medical Association is now encouraging all physicians to screen all adults for anxiety no matter what.
[Mary] Uh huh.
[Megan] Good call, AMA.
[Mary] Yeah. While people are like, what time is it? Yeah. And. But what I, I love through looking at pieces of fiction like this is that, you know, the way we deal with trauma as entrepreneurs, it really affects the way we navigate our relationships with our customers and our clients, our collaborators.
You know, I’m wondering, just based on some of like the beautiful nuggets that you’ve dropped here on the mic today too. Like, how can we as entrepreneurs find more purpose while navigating all of these mental health and emotional needs and become, in essence, smarter survivors, become more, more like Tess in a way, totally imperfect, fully aware of it, and able to, you know, carve out
genuinely a livelihood.
[Megan] The thing that the show
[00:40:00] highlights is that the world has ended and all you’ve got left are the people around you. Your safety and survival, of course, are primary because of how dangerous their world has become, but the people and the relationships. Become the only thing that matters, you know, not to dip into episode two too much, but we see an episode where they’re destroying antiques in episode two, the things stop mattering.
And the same is true in business. I think whenever I’m working with business owners who have their eye on the dollar rather than on the people, they’re missing the mark. And when you can refocus on the humanity of it all. And remember that what’s most important is taking care of people. Then you’re going to win every time.
When you can really look out for the well being of everyone around you, including yourself. That’s when everyone’s not just surviving, they’re
[Mary] Ooh, here, here. And I was just thinking too, like, when you said you’re left with the people around you, and I thought, in that world, there’s outbreak day, we get to see it.
And you end up where you end up, based on where you ran, literally.
[Mary] And those are the people around you. And when our pandemic broke out, where you ran to was, you’re, you need to stay home in quarantine.
[Mary] We can use the internets. We can get online. And I saw people who were like, well, shit, I look at the people around me.
This doesn’t look like a very good picture.
[Megan] The divorce rate during the pandemic skyrocketed. Law firms that were in family law were thriving because were like,
nope. I’m out. They had been able to spend enough time away from their spouse that they were continuing to stay married. But all of a sudden, you force two people into a very small space and all of the
[00:42:00] troubles they were ignoring become impossible to ignore. And it is very much in your face and you’ve got to deal with it.
And I think that that can happen a lot just in running a business. Your own failings, shortcomings, things that you’re not great at are put right in your face and you’ve got to deal with it or it’s going to be over. I think anytime somebody’s doing something performative and I feel like this first episode shows us the reality of like how you can’t be performative when you have to navigate
a complete change from a system you knew to a system that is completely new.
[Mary] If you’re performative, you are left with like, not a whole lot. And I just feel like we have so much more choice. To choose what communities we choose to end up in a quarantine zone with, so to speak.
[Megan] It’s true. And I don’t know what the exact phrasing is, but there’s something about you are the
[00:43:00] combination of the five people you keep nearest to you or something like that.
[Megan] This is oftentimes applied socially, but the reality is that it takes business owners who are in their infancy a minute to recognize that when they swim in small ponds with other small, small business owners, not only can the community become kind of incestuous, because nobody has money, but the only people you’re buying from are the people that are nearest to you and your networking group.
And as soon as you figure out how to climb out of that small pond… Your business starts to grow too. If you can start getting people who will pour into you that have bigger businesses and you start getting connected to people who have more abundance rolling through their lives, you start to learn what they
grew into that you haven’t yet grasped and you start to add some of those new lessons into your experience
[00:44:00] and you change which changes your business. And then you start to more naturally spend time with other business owners who have much bigger businesses and your growth journey starts to escalate in a positive way.
Some people never make it out of those small spaces, right? In the same way that people a lot of times just stay living in the QZs. I think there’s a lot of business owners that they build their businesses up enough that they can survive on it and then they leave it at that. It’s good enough. But then there’s other business owners who they want more than that.
They want to make a bigger impact. They want to grow. They want to be able to see more audience and they find ways to claw and scrape their way out of that small space into working with bigger people. But I find that that threshold between the small business spaces and the medium sized spaces can be a tricky one to traverse for our small business owners.
[00:45:00] They’re in the small business space for a reason.
They don’t really know exactly how to like jump the hurdle.
[Mary] Yeah, I feel like this is, interestingly, it is reflected through Marlene in this episode. When we first meet her and she’s talking with one of her like, probably like second in command type people who doesn’t really understand what the strategy is, why they’ve been doing what they’re doing.
[Mary] And she’s like, because we’re all going to leave and she’s like, what do you mean we’re going to leave? Like we’re the resistance. And she’s like, there is a bigger path to follow over here and this is what we’re going to do. And I think a lot of our entrepreneurs are like, no, I know these four walls of this QZ.
And I’m the resistance, damn it. And I’m gonna do the thing. And it’s like, there’s a whole world out there. And yeah, it’s gonna, you know, be dangerous. You got to traverse, you know, the great wilderness. But, you know, if you’re part of something bigger, and you can make
[00:46:00] that change, and you’ve got the resources, which they clearly do, the characters do, um, even though, even though they get to end up getting ambushed.
Um, but I think that our, our business community sometimes forgets that just because you’re inside your quarantine zone, so to speak, doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
[Megan] But it is terrifying to think about leaving.
[Mary] It is.
[Megan] Because you don’t know what’s on the other side of the wall.
[Mary] And like even Ellie tells stories while they’re walking.
She’s like, I thought I was a mess out here. Everyone said these stories.
[Megan] Yes. And that is the protection mode that we all fall into around ourselves and our businesses. Like, better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don’t. And that can’t be any more wrong when you apply it to your business because when you get out of your comfort zone, then you start thriving.
The more you get to grow and change and
[00:47:00] develop and you learn that it’s not as scary as you thought it was. Is it hard? Yes. Is it some often arduous? Absolutely. Are there risks? Definitely. Do you still need to stay alert? You sure do. But we see in The Last of Us through the story arc, there are lots of times when Joel and Ellie go lengths of time without having to fight the infected.
There’s a lot of open spaces where they’re safe.
[Mary] Most of the time.
[Megan] It’s most of the time. And that’s not to say that they’re not staying very aware. They’re not, they’re hyper vigilant the entire time. They’re keeping an eye out. They’re keeping an ear out. And you, you see them… Practicing good safety. So they are being careful, but they’re also not letting their fear keep them in one place.
[Mary] No. And, you know, it’s funny because the show creators got a
[00:48:00] lot of flack from the gamer community because when you play a video game, the whole point is to shoot the zombies, right? And they were like, there’s not enough infected. There’s not enough monsters and they were like, that’s so boring. Like this is a show you’re not gonna just gonna watch that week after week after week. This is not The Walking Dead. Thank God And they’re like this is a character drama is about the people and the honest to god truth is in this world like you can be really scared of the infected in they pose a very real risk.
Serious one. But the worst risk, the worst thing, are the other people.
[Mary] Who do horrible things to each other.
[Mary] And I feel like our entrepreneurs forget this lesson a lot. They’re afraid of these existential crises or recession or, um, something that is really out of their control and when it’s in front of you, you will deal with it and you’ll get through it.
[00:49:00] otherwise, there’s a lot of stuff happening around you that is human powered, and we really need to pay attention to those kinds of things.
[Megan] Yes. Choosing your circle wisely is essential in being able to have one experience over another, right? When you’re living in a QZ, it’s a very violent experience.
It’s very dangerous. It’s brutal. But later on, as the show goes on, we’re seeing different kinds of communities that are not dangerous, at least not as dangerous as QZs seem to be.
[Megan] And I think the same is true of like building business communities. We talk about it a lot, the concept of finding your tribe.
But don’t just find a tribe, find your tribe. Find the people that resonate with you because they align with your values. You don’t have to stay in places that feel scary or dangerous or are hurtful to you. But again, this circles back to people’s awareness of their trauma and their wounds. If they’re
[00:50:00] unconscious of their wounds, they will flock to what’s familiar, even if it’s brutal.
[Megan] And they’ll stay there. Because that’s all they’ve ever known. And it feels comfortable.
[Mary] I mean, we see that with people who renew for communities that are, frankly, abusive. Coaching programs that are so expensive. And they’ve been renewing year after year and they haven’t made any progress. It’s not helping them.
[Megan] But it’s all they’ve ever known.
[Mary] But it’s all they know. And they’re like, these are the people I know.
[Megan] The out of the box thinking isn’t always there. And I think a lot of our culture frowns on unique thought processes. Don’t pick up your life and go live in Thailand where you can spend three cents to survive for a week or whatever, that’s unconventional and ridiculous.
You need to be here and buy a house with a white picket fence and
[00:51:00] have a dog and two kids. And you know, if you’re going to own a business, then it should be part of the community and giving back to the community. And it needs to make a certain amount of extra money and you need to look a certain way and sound a certain way.
And the reality is that we’re all making it up. Everything’s made up.
[Mary] It’s performative.
[Megan] There are these rules that are performative and not always good for us. And for people who struggle within the confines of what the culture prescribes, when they can make the brave choice to break out of those confines and go on their hero’s journey getting themselves to make a business that reflects who they are.
That’s when people start to grow healthy and they get better and they get stronger and it’s hard and scary, of course, but they’re happier than when they were struggling to survive
[00:52:00] within the confines of what was expected of them.
[Mary] I feel like we get to see Joel and Ellie discover more avenues for a not necessarily happier, but a more peaceful existence.
And I feel like I’ve seen some entrepreneurs discovering this. Recently too. It’s sort of this, I feel like we’re having a great awakening in our community right now. Where people are realizing, wait, I’ve been living in a accuse and you’re telling me that there’s something else out there and that it’s not swarming with infected and I can venture out and like what
[Mary] And I’m so curious to see. where the migration leads and how people navigate it. There’s going to be plenty of people who want to stay where they’re at. Okay, that’s fine. But I think some of us are craving something different.
[Megan] A shift in the dialogue. And I think changes can be subtle in our grander picture
[00:53:00] of the culture, but I think that we’re going to see a lot of switches and how people are conducting business.
Like you and I have spoken offline about how the coaching model that we’ve been experiencing with the way people run their coaching businesses, where it’s one coach, coaching business owners or maybe they’ve got a program and eventually they grow to where they’ve got a bunch of employee coaches that work for them and they’ve got a coaching program.
That model may never fully go away, but I think that we’re going to see a shift where it’s going to be less of a pyramid model and more of a community model. And this comes back to the peopling of it all.
[Megan] When you can change your focus to the people and everybody’s well being and welfare and abundance, then it really shifts the tone, the energy, and the vibe of how people show up every day.
And abundance has no other option but to show up.
[Mary] Oh, that’s such a good quote. [00:54:00] Oh, it’s so true. And we see evidence of it in the piece of fiction that we’re, that we’re watching. We see evidence of it in our world. I’m starting to see some evidence of it in some of the communities that help support right now.
[Mary] And that’s very encouraging.
[Megan] Yeah. It’s the beginning of, I think, a much broader change that we’re going to be seeing.
[Mary] Aw, thank you for helping us open up the podcast. I have one last question for you. I’m asking everybody, what does The Last of Us reflect back to you about yourself?
[Megan] I think we’ve touched on it a couple of times, but for me, The Last of Us really resonated in how important it is to stay connected to the people you love most and to keep the people around you that you love safe and take care of them in every way that you can and that there are personal, professional, financial rewards for when you selflessly take care of those that are around you and that that’s where it matters most.
That’s where the
[00:55:00] value is and I think it’s really easy to lose sight of that when we’ve got these personal professional goals, then we kind of forget that there’s other people around us and involved with whatever we’re working on. But when you stop and slow down and everything else is taken away from you, all you have left are the people and the love and That for me has been a big part of what I’ve taken away from The Last of Us and just from spending time dealing with being in COVID and nothing else really mattered once you kind of boiled it all down.
It was just about the people and staying together, keeping our relationships going. And I think happy business owners are in communities of people that mutually support one another. And so I really felt like you see this message in The Last of Us as Joel starts to take care of Ellie, and
[00:56:00] you see it in the everyday with us running businesses as well.
So when we can slow down and really love one another, as cliche as that sounds, I think that’s really, I think that’s really what it boils down to when we can really love each other well, even just professionally loving each other, that takes care of one another in a way that you can’t do when you’re just worried about the financial exchange.
[Mary] Uh, so good. Thank you so much for joining us.
[Megan] Thank you for having me.
[Mary] I know that this wasn’t a show where you naturally would pick it up unless I was pitching you hard to please, please watch it. So I really appreciate that you did it. And um, I’m sure this won’t be the last time that we get on the mic together.
[Megan] I hope not. This is always fun.
[Mary] This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host, Mary Williams, and special guest Megan Graves. The show is written and produced by Mary Williams. Chris Martin from Chris Martin Studios is our editor and the sound engineer for this episode.
[00:57:00] The episode was recorded in Vancouver, Washington at the CoLab coworking space.
Additional production and marketing support is provided by the AK Collective, founded by Amber Kinney. I’m Mary Williams, your host and the founder of Sensible Woo. You can watch the HBO original series, The Last of Us on Max.com. As a librarian, I will always encourage you to check out the companion book, Bittersweet by Susan Cain at your local library.
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