Discuss this post in The Guild Hall!
Hey folks! Here’s part two of my interview with Kenny Rotter, founder of Dumbbells and Dragons! If you didn’t see the posts on social media yesterday, Kenny also interviewed me for his podcast, and it went live yesterday! You can check it out here! Also please make sure you give the podcast a review on iTunes so we can help them get on New and Notable!
When we last left our hero, he was about to tell us what skill he would learn if he had unlimited time and resources! Let’s find out!
Dan: And you know what? That is absolutely a skillset! You know, people may not realize it but cheerleaders are awesome, and they talk about how if you’re an entrepreneur you have to wear a lot of different “hats,” and cheerleader, they say, is one of the hats you’ve gotta wear. I would say, as a fitness trainer cheerleader is probably the most important skill to have outside of knowledge of the fitness that you are offering. Now if you could have any new skill, if you could just start learning it right now, you have all the time and money necessary to learn that skill, what would it be?
Kenny: How to travel time.
D: There you go! We’ve got a future Time Lord here!
K: Honestly right now I would have to say coding, social media management, and learning effective ways to use Google Adsense and affiliate programs. All this tech know-how that I feel I was in the generation where I could have gone either way, and I just found it so incredibly dull and boring that I went the opposite way of coding and other technology interests. While I’m fairly tech-savvy, I don’t think I’m anywhere near somebody six or seven years younger than me.
D: Now, having taken the coding route myself for a while, let me tell you, you’re absolutely right. It is boring. It’s very dry. Once you get very good at it you start making cool stuff, but man, the road to get there? That is a rough journey if you’re not really fired up about coding from the outset.
So, moving on, what would you consider, to this point, to be your most defining moment? Could be a good moment, bad moment, or a mix of both, what we’re really looking for here is the story of what was the most defining moment in your life.
K: Oh god, the most defining moment of my life…
D: Or at least at really defining moment. You know, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the number one, but just a really important moment that helped define you as a person.
K: Can the moment have consumed maybe a few weeks?
D: Sure, absolutely, when I say moment it could be a six-month period of your life that resolve to a moment of clarity.
K: Okay, so in August of 2013, I had another very tumultuous breakup. Different girl, also not my wife. (laughs) At one point we had this huge fight, and she was just like, “Get out of the car.” And we were about a mile and a half from our home. So I get out of the car and I start walking, and she zooms ahead, and this guy pulls over. He sees me walking, and he gives me a ride home, and he’s asking me questions, and he says, “I kind of figured you weren’t out for a run…since you’re wearing flip-flops.”
D: (laughs) That’s a good indicator!
K: He was very generous with his time, and he sat in the parking lot of my condo complex and we had this really, really in depth conversation. He was on his way to church, and I am not religious, in fact, I will be more than open about my atheism. But I try not to be one of those atheists that thinks people who believe anything are dumb. Like, what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you, and what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for me, I’m very pragmatic about it.
So, we sat there for about ten minutes, and he just prayed with me, prayed for me, and that really meant a lot that A: He took time out of his day for a complete stranger and B: That he would use probably one of his most sacred tools to help a complete stranger. And, while I thought the words just came out into the air and disappeared, you know I didn’t think that they went up to a higher power, him taking that time really touched me, and it kind of started this steamroll that I need to be more open; and I need to be more giving; and more selfless, and not be as selfish as I had been.
K: Yeah, even though I had had this epiphany, things with the girl were – it was too late, I tried to fix it, but it was irreparable at that point. So she left, and instead of doing what I use to do in breakups, which was spend all my time with friends or video games, getting drunk, and sleeping around, I took a month or two and just kind of isolated myself. There were times that I would just sit there, and I would work through whatever it was I was feeling.
I kind of eliminated the distractions because I realized the friends were a distraction, booze was a distraction, TV was a distraction, even going to work and going to the gym were distractions, however there are some necessary distractions. I never fooled myself, like, when I went out with friends I was like, “This is a distraction. I’m still not okay on the inside, but I need this distraction.”
During this time, I met up with a buddy, and he gave me a book. The book was called, “Hardcore Zen,” and it’s by Brad Warner, and it completely changed my life. It’s essentially about Brad’s entrance into Buddhism and just kind of an entry book into Buddhism. People often make fun of me because I do consider myself a Buddhist. I’m also Jewish. So yes, I do self-identify as a Jewish Atheist Buddhist.
K: And if anybody ever wants to drop me a line to be like, “How can you reconcile all these things?” I will be happy to have that conversation. It will take longer than we have time for here. But if people are open and receptive to my definition of these things, then being a Jewish Atheist Buddhist is incredibly easy.
Through that breakup, that experience with the guy in the car, and this book, it’s kind of made me realize that we’re all in this together. Because you’re a part of me, I’m not going to wrong you.
D: Now there is some truth right there.
K: Yeah. So that has kind of been a fundamental tenet of how I decided to live my life. And I’m not trying to be preachy! I’m not trying to convert anybody, because like I said, in my experience in my life this is what has been working for me, and has made me the most calm and happy. For other people that might be church, going to the mosque, going to temple, going to the weight room, y’know? So if people are curious and want to talk I will always have conversations, but I’m never going to push what works for me on other people because shit just don’t work for other people sometimes!
D: Hey, I asked for your most defining moment and that’s going to involve some talks about personal beliefs, which is totally fine, don’t sweat it! You know, what I get personally out of that is that the whole story is about relationships. You’ve got your relationship with your ex (who was not your ex at the time,) you’ve got your relationship with that guy who took time out of his life to pick you up in his car and talk with you for a while. You talked about your relationship with your friends, and your – not necessarily your vices, but as you phrased them, your “distractions.” Really it comes down to the balance of the relationships in our lives and it sounds like you took time to remove those external relationships, and kind of rebuild a relationship with yourself. Which is always a good thing to do if you find yourself kind of listing in one direction or another. I think that we all have moments of self discovery like that and it sounds like yours was really productive for you, so thank you for sharing. That was really great to hear.
K: You are absolutely welcome! And interesting side note: I actually got to meet Brad Warner for the first time last Friday night! His new book came out and he was doing a signing and we ended up chatting for a little bit. He’s a HUGE old time movie buff, and we had some great conversation. His new book is called “Don’t Be a Jerk,” which I thought was extremely fitting.
D: HAHAHA! That’s great! Well Hardcore Zen and Don’t Be a Jerk, I’m putting them both on my book list. I read voraciously, and I listen to audio books as well, so I’m definitely going to look into that. I really enjoy books written from eastern philosophical perspectives, so that’s definitely going to be on my reading list for the future. Really cool that you got to meet him, though!
K: Yeah and it was not a crowded event at all, really cool. Definitely start with Hardcore Zen. It’s a great intro into his style.
D: Awesome, will do!
K: I’ve actually probably bought and given that book to three or four different people.
D: Dude, that’s how you know it’s a great book. If you actually buy it for other people, instead of just talking about it, that’s how you know it’s a good book.
K: Oh yeah. It’s also a way for me to pay it forward because a buddy of mine had originally loaned me his copy and I was like, “I need to buy a copy of this book for everybody I’ve ever met.”
D: (laughs) I hear that. It’s funny I just gave my brother a copy of a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. It’s kind of a self-help book, but it’s also about productivity, and how your morning kind of sets up you up for you day. Lots of cool methods and stuff. I’ve heard him on podcasts and stuff and I really like his stuff. So, if you’re ever unsure about what to do with your morning, check it out.
D: So, one of the tenets that we have on Be a Game Character is living boldly. It’s part of my personal creedo, and it’s something I probably say entirely too much. But, generally speaking, living boldly is just going above and beyond, doing stuff people would not normally do. You know, overcoming fears and doing stuff outside your comfort zone. So what would you say is the boldest thing that you have ever done, personally?
D: HA! That’s cheating, man! No, I absolutely agree, that is always a bold move.
K: And to go back to what we were talking about earlier is, the reason it was so bold for me is I had to go from this place of selfishness where I really didn’t care about anyone else’s feeling to meeting somebody, and making the decision to put this person above myself for the rest of my life. It was the exact scariest thing I had ever done. If you had told me, three or four years ago, to put somebody else’s needs above my own, I couldn’t even imagine doing that. I was extremely selfish, I only cared about myself, because putting somebody else in front of me, above me, was terrifying. So I think true bravery, true boldness, is doing exactly what we’re scared of.
D: There you go. Never let fear be a limiter, man. That’s cool because it definitely helps you grow as a person.
K: Oh yeah.
D: Also, speaking as someone who is married and also had a kid somewhat unexpectedly (not with my wife, I might add, it was way before that.) That whole “someone outside yourself taking priority over you on a regular basis” thing is definitely a game changer, as far as your life goes. So that’s cool! I know I said cheating, but that is absolutely a valid answer because that’s a bold move, and it’s a move that some people make too soon, and other people don’t make when they should.
K: And I can definitely relate to that, but I think sometimes we need to do things – I don’t want to say in spite of fear, but because of fear. Like, if we are afraid of X we should go do X because we are afraid of it, not in spite of being afraid of it.
D: Use that fear to light a fire!
D: I like it, I like it. Cool! Well that’s definitely a solid answer.
Now, second part of the creedo is “change the world,” so if you had a magic wand and you could change one thing about the world, one big sweeping change of any kind, what would it be?
K: If I could change one thing in the world, it would be to eliminate insecurity.
D: Like, for everyone?
K: Yes. I just think so many times we don’t live out our full potential because we’re insecure, and I think if everybody was just secure and loved themselves, everyone could go after their passions. That’s where true advancement happens.
D: And also I would say get along much better, too. There’s a lot of social strife that just comes from being insecure and worrying about what other people are thinking of you, too.
K: Oh yeah, absolutely.
D: That’s a solid one, I like that. Did you ever see the movie, “We Bought a Zoo?”
D: Good movie. Not particularly earth shattering or anything. But one the things I love about the movie is there’s a speech where the son is nervous about talking to a girl he likes and his dad is talking to him and he says it only takes twenty second of courage. Twenty seconds of absolute crazy, makes-no-sense courage. Twenty seconds of releasing yourself from your insecurities and doing what you want to do, rather than letting them tell you what you should do.
That’s cool, I really like that one. That’s an awesome “one change in the world” to make.
K: Thank you!
D: Absolutely. Now, we talked about this a bit earlier, but what’s something you’re working on right now that you are super excited about? Anything big coming down the line?
K: You know, it’s all about the Dumbbells and Dragons Podcast, we launched last week (Ed. note: a month ago, now!) I am pushing so hard to make it to the front page of iTunes “New and Noteworthy” so I’m blasting it on Facebook, blasting it on Twitter, we’re all over Pinterest… I’m trying to get people to iTunes, all I need from people, because we have eight weeks to do it, what I’m asking people is to go to iTunes, subscribe, download, please leave my a rating. I prefer five stars but if you want to leave less that’s fine, I guess. And a short little review.
What’s great about this is, it takes five minutes. I encourage everyone, when they have time, to actually listen to the podcast, it’s great content, but I know asking people (especially since we already have three episodes up right now,) asking people for three hours of their time can be a lot. So, I would ask people five minutes, go to iTunes, subscribe, download, rate, review, and then when you have time, go back and listen to the content. It’s going to be there forever, because everything on the internet lasts forever.
So that’s what I’m pushing a lot right now.
D: Awesome, well we’ll throw that signal boost out there. This should go up when you’re still in your eight week phase!
K: Awesome, I will send you a link (Ed. note: here it is!)
D: Cool! Any final words of advice that you would like to offer the Be a Game Character community before we go?
K: Start now. Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, start now. A year from now, you are going to look back and be glad you did. If you start six months from now, a year after that you’re going to look back and say, “Man I wish I had started six months earlier.” I speak from firsthand experience. It is never too early to start.
D: I agree completely. There’s a great phrase, and I’m probably going to mangle it, but it goes, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is now.”
Finally, before we go, what is the best way that we can get in touch with you?
D: Awesome, very cool! Thanks for sharing! Thank you also for your time, I think this has been a great interview. First real interview I’ve done for the blog, outside of the success stories I’ve put up before. So, thanks again for your time, and we’ll probably have you on again at some point.
K: Hey, anything you need from me man, I got it, I’m there for ya.
D: Awesome! Well as we always say on the YouTube channel and the blog, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
That’s it, folks! I hope you enjoyed it! Please take a couple minutes to go over and give the Dumbbells and Dragons podcast a positive review on iTunes, and check out my interview while you’re at it! No iTunes? No problem! You can grab the podcast off the Dumbbells and Dragons site, as well!
Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace