S. 2 Ep. 31 – From Human Doing To Human Being: A Story Of A Growing Speaking Business

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Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 2 Ep 31 - From Human Doing To Human Being A Story Of A Growing Speaking Business with SpeakerFlow and Tharaka Gunarathne

In this week’s episode, we’ve invited back Dr. Tharaka Gunarathne (aka Dr. T).

We met with Dr. T back in season 1 to talk about how to master your mind to increase your bottom line.

At the time he was about a year into his speaking business and since then, he’s completely transitioned away from his full-time six-figure salary to his speaking business.

We unpack his journey of the last year, the roadblocks, the successes, and most importantly, the mindset required to not only make the leap but to be successful afterward.

His story is many can relate to and as always, we hope you enjoy this one.

See you there!

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Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking, we’re your hosts, Taylorr and Austin; and today we’ve invited back a guest of ours from season one, that guest being Dr. Tharaka Gunarathne, A.K.A. Dr. T. Now, we met with Dr. T back in season one to talk about how to master your mind to increase your bottom line. Now, at the time he was about a year into his speaking business and since then he’s completely transformed his business and transitioned away from his full-time six-figure salary to his speaking business. 

We unpack his journey of the last year; the roadblocks, the successes, and most importantly, the mindset required to not only make the leap but to be successful afterward. His story is one that many can relate to and as always, we hope you enjoy this one. See you in there.

Austin: I am, and we are live. Man.

Taylorr: Exciting.

Austin: Yeah. This is going to be such a fun episode. Dr. T, welcome back. Second time too.

Tharaka: It is so good to be back here with you guys. How are you?

Austin: Oh, man, just so much better now that you’re here with us, I must say.

Taylorr: He just has a presence about him, Dr. T enters the room and I just, I feel better. I don’t know what it is.

Austin: Maybe it’s the therapist’s opinion.

Tharaka: Well, thank you. That’s lovely to hear on a Friday afternoon. And if you’re asking me, how am I? I’m saying that I am happy to see you guys, that’s how I am. So, it’s great. It’s treats all around for us, it’s great.

Austin: Oh, man, I would agree with that. You are just coming off of a little bit of a hiatus too. You took some time for self-care this week, right? Tell us about that.

Tharaka: I did. It’s been very nice. I live in Aberdeen in Scotland, so it’s very lush here, there’s lots of greenery and the weather’s actually quite nice for a change. So, the sun is shining, a lot of blue sky, and I’ve been out on my bike, I’ve been out in nature a little more, some quality time with my family, so my wife and three little kids, we’re doing up my daughter’s room, going out for lunch with my wife, it’s just great to spend your best time with your best people. So, it’s very rejuvenating and I’m really grateful for it.

Austin: Man.

Tharaka: Yeah.

Austin: It’s good for the soul. You have to do that sometimes.

Taylorr: That’s a good reminder.

Austin: There’s that cliché, right? Have to slow down to speed up, that’s a real thing.

Tharaka: Yeah, absolutely. And interestingly, did you know this, that when you enter that brainwave state of that more relaxed state, it actually propagates creative thinking. We can actually think and access non-literal thoughts, ideas you can animate, you can create, you can write, you can come up with solutions, you can solutionize in ways that you can’t when you’re in that hyper-focused state. So, that’s why we get some of our best ideas in the shower or when we go for a walk, because you literally have a shift in your brainwave activity from a focused beta-rhythm into a kind of more creative alpha-rhythm. 

Yeah, it’s slow down to go faster for sure, mate, I agree. It’s hard though, isn’t it, to kind of fit that in and out, high, fast-paced life. How do you guys do it?

Taylorr: I don’t. I feel, oh, man. It’s like, unless I completely break down, then I’m like, okay, I ran out of gas, I have to do something about it, but, yeah, I feel this is an area of my life that I absolutely need more discipline around because it’s difficult, as you said, because it’s hard to equate value to relaxing when you’re working at such a high pace and there’s productivity happening and you’re getting things done. Austin and I talk about this all the time, it kind of feels like lizard brain mode, where we’re just like, go, go, go, go, go and there’s almost less value that I equate personally to slowing down to enter. 

But I totally know what you’re talking about, because, for example, every year I go up to the cabin for a week and, man, by the end of that week, I’m playing guitar again and writing new songs and being creative and you unlock kind of, you’re solving deeper problems that you didn’t even know were there. But I’m definitely not intentional about it, I think the intentionality behind taking that space is difficult.

Austin: Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree with that. I go through, what’s the phrase fits in starts or something like that, where I’ll be more self-aware about where my headspace is at, and as you said, going on walks, that’s probably my favorite thing. If I can get away from my house, my environment, and just go walk around, ideally the more in nature the better, where I’m not surrounded by concrete and cars and stuff, but that helps a lot. But I find it’s when you need that most that it’s the most difficult to be self-aware enough to make the space to do it, as Taylorr said, lizard brain. 

So, we’ve coined this term at Speaker Flow, LBM, lizard brain mode, where you’re just totally not in your executive function, you’re just reacting to the things happening around you. It’s a discipline thing I think, because what happens is you have to build the habit ahead of time, right?

Tharaka: Yes.

Austin: We were just talking to our financial advisor and he’s like, the time to get a line of credit is long before you need the line of credit. Because the bank’s not giving the line of credit when you need it. So, yeah, with this, I feel it’s kind of like that, you have to build the discipline so that you have it when you need it. Easier said than done.

Tharaka: It’s like what we say for speakers, the time to have an admin assistant is long after the time that, or it’s long after the time that you can afford to get one when you needed one particularly. So, yeah, but I think you’re right, again, this is quite important, I think for us guys in the speaking industry, it’s like we need to be able to switch brain modes that you’re talking about, that rational executive function kind of, I always have brain on my desk, I’m a psychiatrist, so that’s kind of what I do. 

But this colored layer here is your thinking cap and that’s that rational, sensible decision-making, stay calm mode that we can be in and then this deck underneath the colored layer is your emotional processing unit, the fireworks factory and you guys are calling it lizard brain, the lizard brain’s part of that system. And we need both of those to operate well so that we can have a good normal human life, if we were just all that we’re robots and if we’re just all emotional fireworks factory, we’re just impulsive and all over the place and we should be on the Oprah Winfrey Show all the time, we’re just emotions, 10x. 

So, we need both, but I guess that as speakers, there’s a lot of pressure on us to turn the dial up for that moment when you’re delivering value to a whole bunch of people at once and it’s like, well, how do I stay executive and keep that rational way of thinking so I can perform well. But at the same time, how do I create, how do I empathize? How do I think about my audience and what is the value that they need? How do I sort of touch on their pain points? And it’s kind of like we need both and when you’re overly stressed, the first thing to go offline is this colored layer. 

This top deck, this thinking cap, when we’re overly stressed, we’re less rational, more emotional. And so, I’m with you, Austin, I think that when you get away and are able to cool down, the self-awareness goes up, but when we’re overly stressed, sometimes it’s hard to read the label from the inside of the jar, I always say. And so, it’s even harder when you’re working like crazy and you fogged it up on the inside and it’s like, I can’t see anything anymore. So, I’m totally with you on that.

Austin: Such a good analogy.

Taylorr: Man, this is why, so many good labels association, this is why we love you, Dr. T. I do have to ask though, this really doesn’t have anything to do with the topic that we’re about to segue into, so stay tuned folks, but I just have to ask anyway. As a psychotherapist, do you find it difficult to still read the label of the bottle you’re in, or is it easy to self-analyze like that and remove yourself from it? Or do you find yourself, a victim, to that same kind of lizard brain mode when that happens? Is it easier for you to get out of because you have all these labels and things, what’s that like?

Tharaka: Labels definitely help. And Austin and I have had conversations about this when I’m in coach with Austin, when Austin’s taking me through so many sorts of, in inverted commas, life-saving journeys in my business, we’ve had this conversation, and labels, I think definitely help, because when you have a framework, if you’re wired this way, you can conceptualize something. You go, oh, I can put a name on why I do that. Or, oh, that’s my mind playing tricks on itself in way X, Y, or Z. And so, I think frameworks can help build up self-awareness but more importantly, help you reach into your toolkit for how you navigate that. 

I think that helps. But for me, if you’re asking me personally, I’ve just learned to have this default belief that I really can’t trust what I think, that is literally my default belief. So, I try to have this attitude of stay curious and be in pursuit of truth. I don’t know how close you can get to objective truth, it’s same statue, different perspectives and that’s what makes team really cool. But the thing is that I don’t often think I’m right, I often think I’m in pursuit of what does right look like, and I’ll get it wrong a lot of the time. 

And I think that’s kind of a healthy way to stay. Why? Because, as you said, I’m in psychiatry, and so I understand that there are over 200 documented cognitive biases and distortions that our mind has, so literally our mind is not the perfect lens of reality. It’s a version of it. But also in my personal life, I’ve grown up as a kid with mental illness in my family, my parents, my mom with quite severe chronic schizophrenia. So, from a young age, I was seeing her going in and out of the hospital, hearing voices, not knowing where the line between reality and hallucination and delusion was. 

And so, I’ve had a lot of practical training in life as well of like, what is reality? And how do we stay half-wise in this situation? And so, yeah, I think it does help, but I would say my default setting is I’m really not, I’m not sure I’m right. And so, staying curious, and I think that’s my superpower, but sometimes there’s a trade-off, there’s a shadow side to that, and that is sometimes looking at something from a gazillion different angles and then not taking action.

Austin: Paralysis by analysis.

Tharaka: Yeah. Right. Analysis paralysis. Or even just not being able to have the confidence to choose one of the roads that you can see down. And I think that’s the shadow side and that’s why when I’m in session with you, Austin, for example, I think, okay, I’m a psychiatrist but I always need somebody else. Because you’re going to see something that I can’t see, or you’re going to articulate something that, like, my jars are all fogged up and we’ve had those moments and I think, yeah, it helps, short story, it helps. What do you guys think? How do you navigate, do you have labels for what’s going on in your mind and business? Or do you just work it out or what?

Austin: Trying to find them more often, but I found, this was so interesting to me. I’m kind of, and people argue with me about this, because this is a very divisive figure, so I’m going to just put that warning label on this before I get into this next part. But I’m a fan of Elon Musk, he fascinates me as a person and I was listening to him in this interview, a panel discussion almost, and he was talking about how you can learn anything. And the point that he was making is that a lot of, and he was actually talking about the flaws in terms of how our current education system works. 

He’s like, if you want to learn about how to build an engine, for example, you go into school, and they give you a whole course on wrenches and they teach you when they were created and how they were created and whom they were created by and the different variations of wrenches. And from that, now you’re going to go learn about nuts and bolts and how those work and the history there, and so you build from the bottom up, but his whole point was that, if you really want to learn something and improve a skillset, it has to be contextualized into something that’s relevant. 

So, he’s like, if I wanted to learn how an engine would work, I’d get an engine, and then I’d start taking it apart, and pretty quickly you’re going to figure out, oh, well I need to loosen this thing. And, well, what do I do that with? Well, I should use a wrench, and now you have this idea of a wrench contextualized into how it’s actually relevant to you. So, as it relates to the conversation we just had, I’m trying to identify those labels in real-time, for a long time, I tried to put a lot of pressure on myself and go and seek labels for things, and it’s not that it doesn’t work, but if you want to improve, the best way to improve is to pay attention and figure out how you can deconstruct the things in your life that need improving. 

And then from that, you’ll find the relevant tools and labels and things that you need in order to be able to improve it. So, I thought that was an interesting anecdote, but that’s my take on that. I don’t know if you agree with that or disagree with that, Taylorr?

Taylorr: Totally agree with that 100%. I just feel it’s not relevant until it’s relevant; you kind of seek pursuit for all these things that aren’t relevant for you yet, now you have a label for something that you haven’t experienced and so it’s not entirely helpful. I think the same is true in business too, as you kind of navigate running a business, we don’t know all the things we need to know about running the business, but we start to identify the gaps that we have right now and then start to find solutions to those problems, because, again, it’s not relevant until it’s relevant.

Austin: Yeah.

Tharaka: Yeah, I’m with you a hundred percent. And actually, what you’re describing, there’s clear brain science behind this in the sense that learning in its very fundamental nature is attaching something you didn’t know to something you already do.

Taylorr: Oh, whoa.

Austin: Say that again.

Taylorr: One more time.

Tharaka: Yeah. So, the fabric of learning is really attaching something new that you didn’t know before to something you already do.

Taylorr: Wow.

Austin: I’ve never heard that described that way, that makes total sense though.

Taylorr: Wow.

Austin: That kind of bridges that gap to relevancy, right? It sounds like that’s kind of what you’re talking about right there.

Taylorr: I just learned something.

Tharaka: It’s the science of relevant learning.

Taylorr: That’s what just happened to us, Austin, if you think [Cross-Talk 14:41].

Austin: We’re done, the show’s over. Hey, everybody, don’t forget to rate it, like it, subscribe to it.

Taylorr: We have nothing left to talk about here. Wow, was not expecting that epiphany today.

Austin: Yeah.

Tharaka: Yeah.

Austin: I love you, man. What a great [Inaudible 15:02].

Tharaka: I had a lot of fun about a year and a half ago doing a television show here in the UK called Can I Improve My Memory. And in that, I have the great privilege of being a memory and focus coach for some famous British faces. Some celebrities. These guys get tasked with a trunk, they have a treasure chest or some kind of box, they unwrap it and then they discover what they have to learn in the space of a week and then be tested on it by the host of the show a week later. 

Now, what’s interesting is that the amount of information is, there’s a superhuman quantity of information that they have to learn, but that’s not the difficult bit, the difficult bit is that the topic that they have to learn has been cherry-picked to be something far removed from the area of interest to that person. So, it’s not that we have a bad memory, we just have a bad memory for things we’re not interested in. So, it comes full circle back to this idea of relevant and associative memory and learning. And so, then as a coach, I get to work with somebody. 

One of the celebrities had to memorize tons of facts about the solar system and I ended up doing a blindfolded draw the entire solar system exercise with this celebrity so they could access creative thinking a lot more. We did so many different fun techniques to create associations out of what they already knew; they were trying to attach new information to what they already knew. It was a lot of fun.

Taylorr: Wow.

Austin: Man, that was so valuable. I feel like I’m walking away from this conversation with a tangible way to improve how I gain new information and skills and retain that. So, wow, thank you. That was incredible. Holy crap. I don’t know how we actually, how do we go on from there?

Taylorr: Yeah, I know. Seriously, holy crap. Honestly, yeah, it was a segue we just had; we were just learning a bunch of stuff. Yeah. Well, Dr. T, the reason why we wanted to bring you on for round two this time is because, you’ve grown so much as a business owner over the last year. From the moment that we had you on the show and I think the last couple of years, because you’ve been kind of building your business over the last few years now. 

And we just wanted to kind of bring you on because we feel you’re kind of a case study that a lot of people can relate to as far as what it’s like to say, Hey, I’m going to now do this thing and then start building their business and then start doing it and learning from it and just kind of the standard path that many speakers and I think other entrepreneurs too are on. And so, I guess one of my biggest questions, because really, I just want to unpack the last year for you. So, from the last year, a year ago, what would you say are your biggest highlights and your biggest lowlights from the year in growing your business?

Tharaka: Okay. That’s a really good question. Well, a big change that I’ve gone through since we met up last time on podcast is that I moved from full-time employment to full-time doing this stuff, right? So, sharing a message with passion to create change. So, yeah, full-time clinical psychiatrist to a full-time speaker, coach, trainer, that was a big jump, maybe the guys listening into this can relate to some of my story there. But the big punch line with that jump for me was something, Austin, that you said, and I don’t know if I’ve had the chance to repeat this back to you, but you said, I don’t know if you remember this, but you said, we build the plane as we fly it. We build the plane as we fly it, that’s what you said to me. And that went straight in; it’s actually the banner of my Facebook page, Austin, that thing that you said.

Austin: Are you serious?

Taylorr: Wow, Austin’s quoted on Dr. T’s Facebook page.

Austin: You’re attributing that to me?

Tharaka: Don’t get too excited. I didn’t put your name beside it. It’s just.

Taylorr: It said Austin Grammon at Speaker Flow.

Tharaka: You can come after me with a gun when I start saying things like I’m slaying dragons for a living, so it’s kind of like.

Taylorr: Okay, yeah.

Austin: That’s right. And you’ll be hearing from me at that. I’m flying out to Aberdeen when that happens.

Tharaka: So, yeah. On my personal Facebook page, for me, that felt like that was a really apt status update and it’s kind of the reason that gave me so much comfort and it moved me to action. What Austin said was because, for me, in full-time employment, everything’s perfect, you don’t even have to think about being paid, you don’t have to go look for work. They come to you, especially in my line of work, the queue to the clinic is going out the door, if you know what I mean? 

So, work finds you, you’re being paid and you just kind of get on with it. And in my line of work, everything has to be right in inverted commas because we’re talking about medicating, in my case, children, teenagers, working with families, the stakes are high when we’re talking about mental health, mistakes are super high, I feel, when we’re doing that with little people as well. And so, there’s this kind of ingrained risk aversion that I have been trained with as a doctor, in fact, the first thing, the first part of what we call the Hippocratic Oath that doctors have to take when they become doctors says, do no harm. 

Number one, I will do no harm. So, that’s safe and if you’re a patient, you really want a doctor to be able to think that number one, right? I’m not going to get worse if I go to her or him. However, when you have that playing out in your head and you’re trying to be an entrepreneur, that can leave you plummeting to the ground, and so when you, Austin, said that you figure it out as you go along, we build the plane as you fly it, that got me moving. And that helped me communicate to people who thought I was insane. 

What are you doing, Tharaka? You just left a full-time occupation; you’ve trained for so long. Why are you throwing that all away? And I didn’t feel I was throwing it all away, I felt I was taking a big pot of treasure that I was able to accrue over the years and now I can go and distribute that to other people who really need it in a different way. IE, in my case, leaders and managers in the corporate world, who they want to have a better life and create more impact, but they just don’t understand what’s going on in their heads or the heads of their team or their, you know, so I want to kind of create an impact. So, we build the plane as we fly it, that really got me through the jump, you know?

Austin: Wow, man, that’s so cool. I love that it’s rooted in action too. Because you, by every measure are the person that should be on stages. You’re a specialist, you’re an expert and you’re a fantastic communicator, you empathize well, you emote very well, in terms of who I would love to watch do their thing and be impacted by, you’re at the top of the list.

Tharaka: Awe, man, thank you.

Austin: So, I cannot shower you with enough compliments really, but it’s actually not enough though, to your point, you have to take action, you have to take the thing that you can do to create value and then go and do with it, because, as Taylorr says all the time, the whole concept of build it and they will come. It’s just not real, it’s not real.

Taylorr: It’s not real.

Austin: You have the skillset, but you had to go out and take action, and so you decisively took action, which is freaking awesome. So, what a badass move.

Tharaka: Thank you. It’s really nice to hear you say that and reflect that back to me. It’s interesting; we’re very good at homing in on the bits that need to be improved and bits that need to be fixed. Can you appreciate that? Do you relate to that?

Austin: Oh, yeah.

Taylorr: And then when you hear a friend or a buddy or a coach or someone just reflect another view of you back, it’s just lovely to hear and it’s good to hear and it’s important. So, yeah, I would say that the jump from full-time and I remember agonizing over writing my resignation and then deleting it and writing it again and then saving a draft and all that kind of stuff to the point that, I actually released it and it just felt, how did it feel? It just felt, it did feel like I was dancing with death a little bit. 

It felt like there was the death of something, maybe it was the death of the old version of security that I knew or the death of, let’s face it, we all struggle with stuff like this, the death of my parents’ dream or intention or whatever, all of these narratives get woven into who we are and how we think it makes sense to the world. And so, I really felt ever since I was a kid, and again, people who are listening in might be able to relate to this, ever since I was a kid, age five, maybe four, something like that. 

My dad was telling me, you will be a doctor, it was a very, very straight railroad of choices made for me, and this is where you’re going to, and to eventually hand that resignation, that was all I knew, a medical life was all I knew. But doing more of this on this side, speaking and being in the wellness space, because as a medic you’re dealing in the illness framework, but being in the wellness space, which for me was about, okay, how do you take your game from great to even greater? How can I help you do that? That’s what motivates and fascinates me, I come alive. And it’s exciting, and it’s just lovely to share that passion. 

So, doing that on the side, I have this cognitive distance, this disjunction actually of feelings of one minute I’m in the clinic and I’m really struggling, and this is not me. And at the weekend I’m delivering something on stage and it’s going great, and it’s these two, in the pressure cooker, these two worlds were colliding more and more and would’ve been squeezed together. The point that, that tension got so high, and I was like, I’m sending this letter in, and it saying I’ve loved working with you and I’m going to try something different now, and so I did that and then three months later I was able to move on. 

So, that was March last year, I moved on, and actually, there’s a bigger narrative around this, isn’t there, guys, the great resignation we’ve seen this worldwide. A lot of people being shaken by the realization that security is, it’s our psychological sense of security that we pursue rather than certainty itself, and so with so much uncertainty in the world, people who are just a little less afraid about jumping ship, and so for a multitude of reasons, people were moving around, but I did that. Can I just finish with one more highlight? 

So, I think the highlight was shifting, but another highlight was the sense of community and actually, I have you guys to thank for that. And this is a bit, it just sounds, it’s maybe not a big thing, but for me, it was a big thing because I was watching the video training that you guys were delivering and last year, particularly, I was watching you, Taylorr, delivering the video training on the CRM that you guys have set me up on, which has just really helped revolutionize how I can handle the business side of things. 

And even just seeing someone that I know who has my back or who supports me and I’m here in the UK and you guys are over there, but even just getting to watch you and being part of the kind of community on the app and things like that, just made me feel like, okay, I’m building the plane as I fly it, but there are other people that have my back and kind of have done this too. You guys take your own medicine, I know that for a fact, and I know you say you do and you actually do that and that’s why I benefit from what you do. So, that’s been another highlight just the community with you guys has been great.

Austin: Awe. That makes me happy to hear. Community just in general though, it’s so.

Taylorr: Knowing you’re not alone.

Austin: That’s right. That’s the thing right there. It’s maybe in the top five most common things that I hear about in coaching sessions with people is that it’s really difficult to do it alone. That’s another thing that happens intentionally, community doesn’t just happen, so you have to go out and take the action necessary to meet people and build relationships and this is kind of the ethos of what we talk about on Speaker Flow. And this is not news to anybody that’s listening to this probably, but it’s an active thing that you have to go into, but I think that it’s really hard to understate how valuable it is to feel like you’re not alone, to have people in your corner. Because you can’t build a whole plane by yourself, that’s a funny analogy.

Taylorr: I don’t even know how to build a plane.

Austin: Because it’s accurate, but, yeah, right?

Taylorr: I need other people who have built a plane before, so I can build the plane as I’m flying it.

Austin: Seriously, you don’t just build a plane, you have to have some people to help, you have to have more hands-on-deck, you have to have some blueprints, you have to know where the heck you’re going and unless you just so happen to be the person that’s already done this once, in which case, none of this conversation is relevant to you at all. And that’s nobody, so hello, everybody, but, yeah, you have to have more than just yourself to make it happen. So, I hear you. I resonate with that myself, in fact, this is something I tell people all the time. 

I’m so grateful to have Taylorr, having a business partner, somebody that’s locked in with you, that’s helping you do this, a separate perspective that you can consistently go back to, to help navigate problems and look at things in new ways and challenge the way that you’re thinking. It’s so valuable and I’m really lucky to have Taylorr as my actual partner, but anybody can find somebody like that for themselves, for those of you listening to this, you have SpeakerFlow, I will do that for you anytime you need it if you’re listening to this. 

But, yeah, it’s helpful to have what’s the term in literature, a foil, somebody that you bounce off of to create more than you had by yourself alone. So, anyway, that was a whole rant, but I hear what you’re saying, Dr. T.

Tharaka: Yeah, no, it’s really good. And, hey, actually, you’re reminding me of how I felt, I think that when one leaves their full-time job and goes to try something themselves as a solopreneur say, not only are you leaving a role, but most likely you’re leaving an element of your identity behind and I think that’s what’s really destabilizing for people. I often say we’re not human doings, we’re human beings, alright, don’t tell me just what you do, don’t tell me what your role is only, tell me who you are. 

What do you care about? What are your values? There’s a real importance in being able to, and actually, so when I’m delivering coaching in my space, I’ll not get people to just write a to-do list. What are your goals for the year? That’s fine, write them, but also write a to-be list. Who are you becoming this year?

Taylorr: Whoa. Dr. T, man.

Austin: Tell us more about that. What happens when you have people do that?

Taylorr: Yeah. What’s the transformation like?

Tharaka: Yeah, sure. So, when we write to-do lists and we check those boxes off, it feels great, right? It feels good. And if we want to get geeky about it, the reason for that is that we have reward circuits, I’ll name two; the mesolimbic circuit sits in the middle of the brain here. And then the mesocortical circuit. These are your opening hit circuits, so I bite into the chocolate, ding, ding ding, ding. That felt good, let’s go again. When we are setting tasks for ourselves and checking those boxes off, we’re quite rightly having these dopamine hits, which not only make us feel good but motivate us to return to do more of that. That’s fine. 

However, that’s not the whole deal of being human, and then so far as the brain’s concerned because there are other bits of the brain that don’t get lit up when you check boxes off the list or get rewarded, or someone gives you a whole bunch of cash because you’re great or whatever. There are other bits that light up when we’re connected to a sense of self, our values, purpose, and the big things of life; vision for service in the world, impact, contribution, things like that. And this actually contributes to whole-person health. 

So, things like your ability to think positively, to think creatively, to lower your blood pressure, improve your cardiovascular health, even boost your immune system are connected to actually being in touch with who you are as a person. So, when I work with people in the fast lane, they sometimes don’t have the time or the intel to work on themselves as a person, so it’s all about the to do, to do, to do. So, you do that for 10, 15, 20, 30, 50 years and then you exit from your business, literally, these girls and guys fall off their perch, they don’t have a life anymore because all they were was a role, right?

I was a human doing, everything I did, the role, my job, the thing that I did was where I got my meaning from and that’s it. And it’s kind of like I didn’t diversify my portfolio enough so that when that collapses or I exit, I literally have nothing and that’s why you have a higher incidence of mortality after people retire, you’ve heard of people dying within six months of retiring, right? A heart attack maybe, or a stroke or something like that. Or you’ve developed dysfunctional coping mechanisms, and actually, this is rooted in the sense of actually I’ve lost who I am. So, when we develop our sense of self and enjoy what we do, but also enjoy who we are. 

So, not just the human being, human doing rather, human being and then that’s a bigger package of health and actually, ironically, this increases performance in the workplace. We know people who are powered by purpose and teams that are powered by purpose have increased levels of trust, brain oxytocin, increased productivity, engagement at work, and things like fewer sick days and less burnout at work. So, actually, there’s a big ROI in developing the human being side and kind of knowing who you are and the reason I brought this up was, of course, when I left my job.

Taylorr: I was going to say; this sounds almost just like what you experienced transitioning.

Tharaka: Exactly. When I left my job, there’s this degree of wrestling with, have I just lost my identity, but having community, which is what we’re talking about, with other people who go, yeah, I’m a speaker. Yeah, I’m a speaker. Yeah, I’m an expert. Yeah, I’m getting coaching with these guys or coaches like yourselves say, hey, I’ve walked this jungle, let me help you. I’m actually now relating with other people who have a very clear reality, and so it allows me to destabilize less in that transition psychologically. So, that’s another power of community is what I’m saying, so there you go.

Taylorr: Holy cow. Austin, this is why we need two-hour-long episodes.

Austin: I know. I’m walking away just a changed man.

Taylorr: It’s like we just got started.

Austin: I just loved what you just said there, man, that was amazing. A human being versus human doing. I don’t think I’m ever going to forget that.

Taylorr: Look at that conflict. Yeah, well, no. Well, it sounds like the human doing and human being part; it’s almost kind of indicative of your story of transitioning. You were feeling pressure in their past position of being a human doing and you kind of saw the opportunity of this treasure trove that you have built, so you could be more of a human being like the story you just unpacked there is almost indicative of the journey that you just went through over the last year. Yeah, I’m just left pondering now. I’m thinking,

Tharaka: Yeah, you’re right enough. Wow. Taylorr, I think you’re right. That was a nice way of phrasing it because I think that the fit that I had ended up in was it didn’t cohere well, so who I was as a person didn’t cohere with the role that was asked of me. You have to be very by the book and doctors prescribe, so we’re always following systems that are put in place and I think the way that I’m wired and who I am as a person is very much more, I want to color outside the lines a little bit. I want to create, hey, how does a crow fly? Is there an easier way to do this? 

And that’s kind of more me, and so the human being bit of me just kind of grew over here organically in the sort of speaking expert space, and so taking the jump was a very, very healthy thing for me. I have a lot less security at this point maybe, let’s be real, that’s just the stage I’m at, a lot less financial security, a lot less, you go away on holiday for two. I went to South Africa for my sister-in-law’s wedding, and we had enforced power cuts in the region, there were no zoom meetings or anything happening. 

And so, I’m trying to get away, but knowing that the tank is starting to deplete, it’s dealing with that kind of stuff, so it’s a lot less security, but I am a ton happier. My wife is happier with me, she thinks she has a new husband, and she’s talking about me.

Taylorr: Thank you for clarifying though.

Tharaka: She tells me; ever since you quit work, I just feel I have a new husband. But it’s been good, I’ve been more present. But I also feel I could deliver more of an impact now in a different way than what I could before and I’m passionate about that.

Taylorr: It’s a beautiful story, man.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: It really is.

Tharaka: It’s like you guys, right? You look and feel like you’re living out your passion, that’s the experience I get when I’m in your presence.

Austin: Oh, well, I’m really happy to hear that that’s how it comes through. It feels like that at times, it’s really hard sometimes too, so I don’t want to make it seem like it’s all peaches and cream because it’s not, but there’s something about taking responsibility and control of your own path. That I think is maybe somehow contradictory, it’s liberating, it doesn’t seem like it would be because more responsibility and freedom don’t always happen in the same sentence, I don’t think. 

But I think that really, you have the ability to make choices when you go down this path, and so maybe you don’t always make the right choices and sometimes you suffer if you make the wrong ones, but you had the opportunity to make the right ones and then you are living your passion. So, when I’m doing that intentionally, I definitely feel like that. Well, and it’s these conversations, right?

Taylorr: That’s right.

Austin: I don’t enjoy every part of running the business. In fact, not to just toot SpeakerFlow’s horn or something here, but this is the point of systems, you build systems around yourself so that you can spend more time doing the things that feed that passion and less time doing the things that are necessary to continue doing so, but maybe don’t excite you the same way that your passions do. 

But, yeah, I think honestly, in a lot of ways it comes back to intentionality, I think for anybody you choose, and you act intentionally so that you are living the life that makes you feel fulfilled and gives you that sense of meaning and makes you feel you’re in alignment with what you actually want out of life. Just like the leap that you’ve taken over the last year, it’s something that you create, it’s not something that happens, you know?

Taylorr: That’s right.

Tharaka: Yep.

Taylorr: Powerful. What an episode you guys.

Austin: I know. I just want to keep going, but I know you asked for an hour, Dr. T.

Taylorr: So, for those who are watching the video or just who are listening, shoot us an email if you’re interested in this, if you guys want some longer episodes with some deeper conversations, definitely let us know and we’ll host some of those occasionally. Because I just feel we could talk about this type of stuff for hours on end. So, unfortunately, we do have to end it somewhere. Dr. T, this has been an incredible episode, thank you for coming on for round two, being crazy enough to join us for round two, we appreciate you. 

And, hey, guys, if you like this episode, don’t forget to rate it, like it, subscribe to it and if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all-in-one suite of tools you need to run your podcast. And it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning, podcasts simple, it makes recording podcasts simple, it even makes publishing podcasts to the masses simple, and quite honestly, Technically Speaking wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. 

Thank you so much Auxbus, and if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently, get our special offer, auxbus.com/speakerflow, or click the link below in our show notes.

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