Joe Serio Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Joe Serio
Joe Serio is today’s guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots Podcast interview.
He is one of those people that when you start reading his about page you think…”Is this real or has he made it up?”
When it starts with, “he spent 10 years in the former Soviet Union investigating the Russian mafia and working with the KGB”, you start to think this is one that will be fascinating to see where his dots have lined up.
But the surprising things about him keep coming, he grew up in a family of 14, lived in China.
He loves using musical instruments to demonstrate his opinions and views, and well……I guess we will find more and more as we go on.
How The Dots Joined Up For Joe
Nowadays he is an international speaker and author with a specialization in Leadership and Organizational Behaviour.
With the underlining theme of much of his work is to help people overcome the fears that hold them back.
As he says it’s all about getting the nerve to succeed.
Learning the skills to overcome those self limiting thoughts that not only hold us back as individuals but have the same effect on organisations too.
If we were to become more ballsy, and have a plan to help us overcome our fears then we can do amazing things.
So what did he learn growing up in such a big household that he has taken into his adult life…not least how to get in the bathroom before anyone else?
And does he see more and people wanting to change direction but unwilling to risk what they already have in their lives?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots, with the one and only Joe Serio.
During the episode we discussed such weighty topics with Joe Serio such as:
Why it so important to focus on the dots of your future and look for ways of joining them up to make those goals occur.
How when he was a kid he was scared of everything, and had to find a way to escape the version of him that grew up in New York.
Why he remembers watching of 9/11 occur in front of him, and knew that life was so precious he couldn’t afford to be scared anymore.
How he sent an email to all his siblings asking whether they had a problem with him, in order to move forward in his life.
“Face the brutal facts” by Jim Collins has become the mantra that comes back to him time and time again, and is such a powerful game changer.
How To Connect With Joe Serio
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Full Transcription Of Joe Serio Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:22]
Yes, hello, bear world. How are we welcome to Join Up Dots. We have David Ralph. This is Episode 291. I say this a lot. But I’m amazed but you can get up to 291 episode so quickly and enjoy it more than you did in episode one. And two, I love doing this job and hopefully it comes across when you hear me talk to the guys and it’s the interesting stories and we’ve certainly got a guest on today that has got an interesting story. And I suppose he’s one of those people. But when you start reading his about page you think will as always, he made it up when it starts with. He spent 10 years in the former Soviet Union investigating the Russian mafia and working with the KGB. He started saying this is one that’ll be fascinating to see where he’s dotsub lined up. But a surprising things about him keep coming like he grew up in a family of 14 lived in China loves using musical instruments to demonstrate his opinions and views. And well, I guess we’ll find more and more as we go on. Nowadays, he’s an international speaker and author with a specialisation in leadership and Organisational Behaviour. But the underlying theme of much of his work is to help people overcome the fears that hold them back. As he says, it’s all about getting the nerve to succeed, learning the skills to overcome those self limiting thoughts, but not only hold us back as individuals, but had the same effect on organisations to if we were to become more ballsy and have a plan to help us overcome our fears, then we can do amazing things. So what did he learn growing up in such a big household, but he is taken into his adult life, not least how to get into the bathroom before anyone else I suppose. And does he see more and more people wanting to change direction, but I’m willing to risk what they already have in their lives. Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Joe Serio. How are you Joe?
Joe Serio [2:16]
Hey David doing great How are you?
David Ralph [2:17]
It’s great to have you here because I’m feeling great as we were talking just before recording your your the first one of the day Joe and I feel energised. I feel all ready to to battle with you verbally.
Joe Serio [2:29]
Let’s do it.
David Ralph [2:31]
Are you somebody that when it comes to a conversation, or did you sort of are you inspired by somebody else’s sort of enthusiasm? Or do you sometimes go comic down comic down just Just be cool? Because you seem a very cool guy.
Joe Serio [2:47]
No, actually, I’m very much a chameleon. I take cues from the other person and pretty much match their energy, their mood, but left to my own devices. Pretty geared up Yeah, pretty enthusiastic person.
David Ralph [3:02]
So so so what gets you going? You wake up on a Sunday morning and obviously you you look at your calendar and you think I’m going to be on episode 291 of Join Up Dots. This is my Pinnacle. So you’re pretty excited. But around that what what sort of gets you going on your downtime? What’s a kind of a hobby or pastime? Obviously we’re going to talk about your professional life but what bored you enjoy doing?
Joe Serio [3:26]
Oh, I number one is music. I love music. I love getting geared up by music. I, I pick up a guitar almost every single day and play. I play the harmonica. I’ve played on stages around the world. And I just that’s the thing. The single thing that gets me totally jazzed is a great performance by somebody else, or jamming with a bunch of guys in a band on a stage on a back porch, whatever.
David Ralph [3:59]
So so if you You ever went to prison? You’d be perfect because you can already play the harmonica you’d be doing those haunting tunes that’s the guard is locking up at night.
Joe Serio [4:09]
Well, David, let me tell you, you know, you mentioned that that thing about the bio and are these things true and all the rest of it? I played on the prison yard in the, in the prison in Texas where they do the executions. And we got a band and we went out on the yard and we had three or 400 inmates in 105 degree temperature dancing all over the yard. And yes, we played Johnny Cash is Folsom Prison blues. And how’d you get into that? Because
David Ralph [4:41]
that, that is another surprising thing, and I’m going to talk about this. How’d you get taken into a prison to entertain the convicts that the people that have done bad stuff,
Joe Serio [4:51]
advocate that well, you know, I can tell you and your listeners that you know, unbeknownst to you David, my life is about joining up dots. It’s and I mean that quite literally quite, quite actively. My goal has been number one to have fun. Number two to understand what the connections, the connecting lines are between dogs, and then go connect them. And and to get a sense of, you know, there’s something I believe that’s called I call it What’s your What are your assets? And what’s your access? So if we’re talking about assets, it’s not money and houses and stuff it you know, what, what am I skills, what can I do, what do I bring to the table and my access are my network, who do I know etc, etc. So, if you want to join up some dots, when I was getting my PhD in criminal justice, I worked my day job was working in a place called the correctional Management Institute of Texas, in Huntsville, Texas, which is where they do the executions for the state of Texas. Inside Huntsville, there are five prisons. And one of those prisons is where they do the executions two blocks from the university. So my job had been going into the prisons quite often. I got to be friends with the warden. And one day we’re standing on the street, the wardens out on a cigarette break. And I just said to him Warden, you know what, something I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to play music in a prison and took a drag on a cigarette and said, okay, and that was it. It was as easy as that. He set out a couple of ground rules. We brought in all the equipment full band, we had a we had a stationary video camera. We had a portable video camera. We had a still photographer, we just we had these guys dancing out on the yard, and it didn’t hurt that the lead singer was a woman.
David Ralph [7:01]
Did so the fascinating thing about that was you always wanted to play was was that kind of flippant comment? Or did you always want do you have like a list of things that you want to achieve before you depart?
Joe Serio [7:14]
I had a list that it’s kind of always changing as I get myself into new situations. But I had that belief and that wish, probably about 10 years before it happened. So if if I get something on my radar, I don’t let it go. I just file it in the back of my mind and say, okay, someday that’s going to happen. Let me keep my eyes open to see when the dots appear and then go draw the line myself.
David Ralph [7:46]
That’s, that’s brilliant, isn’t it, but you’re actually using but joining up the dots, our theme as stepping stones as a way of setting goals. And our show is very much about looking back but you can actually project forward and you can say How you can literally make a linear powerful that sometimes not even a linear path, a squiggly path, but still get to your goal just by having those dots lined up in front of you.
Joe Serio [8:10]
Yeah, once once you get the idea once you have a few experiences that show you that everything is connected, and I don’t mean that, you know, philosophically and abstractly and vaguely, I mean that literally, and the question is kind of like the Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation, right? It’s okay, this, this separation, it might be 50 degrees, it might be two degrees. And if I want to find it, I need to put the antenna up and keep my eyes open, because I’m going to find the gateway that’s going to get me into that opportunity. And it may be and I’m totally fine with the fact that it may be today. It may be five years from now. I you
David Ralph [8:58]
because you say From your history, I imagine that you are very analytical, straightforward thinking guy. But is there any sort of elements of whoo, whoo to you? Did you do things happen to you? And you kind of go Oh my God, that’s amazing. And but you accept them because you’ve got that personal belief.
Joe Serio [9:18]
Oh, yeah, no, I’m definitely not. I’m not so analytical that we kind of, you know, I’m always rational and the blinders are on. And, and I’m, and I’m looking for an a scientific explanation. I believe in that a lot. Obviously, I have a PhD. I’ve been through all that training, except I believe that you can inspire, you can conspire, if you’re so disposed with the universe, to make things happen that you never believed could happen. You never Imagine happening to you. And that once you get into that agreement with the universe that you’re going to stay open and flexible. Those two things if you can stay open, because once we start making judgement, we start closing ourselves down. But if you can stay open and flexible guy, I can’t tell you if we have time for a quick story,
David Ralph [10:22]
you we borrowed a time in the world, you go for it.
Joe Serio [10:25]
Let me tell you a crazy thing that happened. I used to run a magazine, I was the editor in chief of an international magazine when I was getting my PhD, and learning to play guitar and I wrote a book about the Russian mafia and I did all these things at the same time. Because I figured out along the way, how to turbocharge my time. Okay, so I was producing this magazine. And we, we were going to a conference in Turkey that was being hosted by the Prime Minister of Turkey. And I said, Okay, let’s coordinate a little bit. I’m in a graduate programme. With a dozen Turkish PhD and masters students in criminal justice, who are cops back in their home country, the Prime Minister is hosting this conference. Let’s get some articles in that magazine about Turkey by these guys. Great. Okay, number one. Number two, the middle section of that magazine. I called the publishers pull out. And in it I would accept the book. Every month that we publish the magazine, a book that I thought was interesting, I just pick off my shelf, excerpt, interesting parts of it, put it in these four pages that are basically the centrefold, if you will, and you can yank that section out if you want to read it, in the toilet, whatever, you know. And so I pulled the book off the shelf, it was on organised crime, excerpted it blah, blah, blah, whatever. We went on, publish a magazine. I go to Turkey for the conference. Right before I left, I sent a message manuscript to a publisher about this Russian mafia book that I wanted to write. And the day I arrived in Turkey, I got an email saying, We sent your manuscript to an anonymous reader. Don’t make any other arrangements, don’t sign any other contracts. When you get back to the States. We want to publish a book. Great. Okay, super. I’m in Turkey. The second night in Turkey. The Prime Minister has a reception for the for the conference. 500 600 people, you go to the reception lovely, blah, blah, blah. At the end of the night, we get on the buses to go back to the hotel. My buddy and his girlfriend is sitting in front of me on the bus. There’s an empty seat next to me. A gentleman sits down. He says. He says to me, you know, who are you and what do you what do you do? The only thing I told him was I’m joking. stereo. I am in the PhD programme at Sam Houston State University in Texas. And I’m the editor in chief of this magazine, you know, crime and justice International, which you may have seen at the conference. That’s it. And he says, oh, oh You excerpted my book. The organised crime book that I accepted that I pulled off of my shelf was written by this guy who sat next to me. I never met him before. He never met me before. There are 600 people heading to buses in Istanbul, Turkey. And this Italian guy who teaches in Washington DC sits next to me. And I said, No way. That’s That’s crazy. And then he pauses for about 15 seconds. And he says, did you live in Russia? As a Wait a second. I didn’t tell you that. He says yes. But I realised now that you are the guy who wrote the manuscript for Russian mafia book. And guess what? I was the anonymous reader of that.
Unknown Speaker [14:15]
That’s amazing in it.
Joe Serio [14:17]
It’s crazy. And that kind of stuff happens all the time.
David Ralph [14:22]
So so the question for you, and this is kind of pointed towards our listeners, many of our listeners are in that point of their career where they, they’re wanting more, they want to do amazing things. And they hear stories like that. And they think to themselves, well, that never happens to me. I never had these kind of connections. I never had these these flukes that occur, is it because you’re putting yourself out there? Is it causing a face? The more networking the more actions you take, the more likely that those ripples are going to come back to you. Or is it a bit whoo, whoo, what what do you
Joe Serio [14:55]
think it’s both? I think you have to you have you know, it’s like they used to say about the lottery, you have to be in it to win it. Right? So you have to put yourself out. Because guess what, you know, your next job or a celebrity denethor knock on your door coming to look for you. Right? You know, in all likelihood, that’s not going to happen. So you have to get out there as uncomfortable as that may be. But I think if you’re out there with the attitude, and the Spirit, then there’s a little bit of that rule thing that kind of takes over. And why is that because people who meet other people who are engaged, who are open, who are flexible, who believe there’s something bigger than themselves, who trust in process, who trust in faith and trust in whoo, whoo. that attracts a certain kind of people. And the kind of people that attracts, at least in my experience has been people who want to do things People who want to do get things done, who want to do cool things, and they also frequently happen to be people who want to help you. So I’ve always had people appear on my radar who wanted to help me. And, and one last one, you know, one little quick thing is, once I got the nerve to go after it and put it out there, then then other doors start opening. For example, I was flying from Berlin to New York, I get on the aeroplane and the front section of the plane that I have to walk through to get to the cattle section, the the business class that is empty, except for one guy next to him as a woman, and as a man in a suit standing in the aisle. And that’s it. I get on the plane, I recognise immediately who the man is. And I walk back to my seat and I write a note on a piece of paper and handed Flight Attendant and say, could you bring this note upfront, please? And she says, fine. Halfway through the flight, I had fallen asleep. The man in the suit comes back, taps me on the shoulder wakes me up and says, Dr. Kissinger, we’ll see you now. I get up to my seat, walk up to the front of the plane, he doesn’t turn he doesn’t. Look, he points to the empty seat on the other side of the aisle and says, I’ll be with you. I sit down, I wait for 10 minutes. Then he turns all his attention to me. And we talk and we talk about my experience coming out of Russia as the only American to work in the Organised Crime Control department of the Soviet National Police. We talked about this and that. And I was basically asking them for a job. And he gave me the business card of his head of security and said hey, call this guy and that was it. It was where else would that have happened? And Dr. Kissinger was not going to get out of his seat and come back and find me.
David Ralph [18:10]
So So is it purely nerve because I’m fascinated by your upbringing. You grew up in a family of 14, which is huge. You know that that’s it was the old brothers and sisters or sisters, brothers. How did that number come about? First of all,
Joe Serio [18:23]
so it was a 12. Kids, Mom and Dad, seven boys, five girls. I’m the sixth boy and the ninth kid in the family.
David Ralph [18:35]
So So you were coming to have in the middles? Almost. Does that make it difficult for you to find your identity? Did you have to learn to be more ballsy because you were sort of in the mix somehow? Because I would imagine that is difficult to stamp your identity when there’s so much going on. That’s like that Steve Martin filming it cheaper but it doesn’t that sound like a family.
Joe Serio [18:58]
My father would always say Kids, everything after eight is the same eight 910 11 or whatever. It’s all you know, it’s the reason my book series is called Get the nerve is because I grew up afraid of pretty much everything. I didn’t get ballsy when I was younger because I was fighting for identity. I, I Shrunk because my oldest brother is a priest, my second oldest brother went to Ivy League schools. You know, my father was old world Sicilian. You know if it wasn’t, you know if it was if it was great and you got 100 on exam, okay, big deal. You’re just doing what you supposed to do. So there’s no way to get the old man’s attention on the pat on the head. So after a while, I gave up and I just I was I was afraid of public speaking. I was was afraid to learn how to play music. I was afraid to write books. I was afraid to go to class in high school and college I was, you know, anxiety and breathless and, you know, so I was scared of everything. I’ll tell you quite frankly, I ran to Russia. Not because I was ballsy, but because I was running away from myself in New York.
David Ralph [20:23]
Well, why do you want to feel that because I find it difficult. Your history is amazing. And it’s full of both those statements, those statements of intent. But when I did look at it, as I said in the introduction, you kind of think it is it’s real, because I’ve never met anyone who has even spoken to somebody in the KGB, let alone working with the KGB. The KGB is one of those kind of initials you only see in spy films. And so the fact that you made that occur, I can’t quite grasp what the difference was. Was there a moment that changed it?
Joe Serio [21:02]
There were there were there were moments. Okay. One moment was, you know, the game in my family was, can you get old enough to make it? You know, to get to get in with my father, right? My father for guy who had 12 kids would say, I never liked kids. He was waiting for us to get old enough to have a conversation with him right? old enough to be in college or graduated from college and have an adult conversation blah, blah, blah. Well, that didn’t really help me out because when I was today, two steps from the game, my father died. So that was kind of one of the things. Another thing was 911 you know, and that was obviously much more recent. My father died in 1989. But I watched everything on TV from Long Island where I was living. We spent half the day looking for my brother who was in New York City. Trapped in one of the buildings, and he was fine. But I spent three weeks watching every single thing. And that was kind of my last major shift. Because, I mean, if if you watch those people go through that stuff. And now I’m just gonna sit back here and whine about being afraid of public speaking. Are you kidding me? You know, you think you think you have a problem? You think you have, you think you have it rough you think you have something to be afraid of when people are leaping out of 100 storey building, you know, get over yourself. So, in 2009, just to use one of my quick little, you know, phobias, in 2009. I spoke in front of 1000 people for three hours, and I had a blast, and there’s no way 20 years ago, you could convince me that that was possible that I would I have the nerve that I ever have ever had anything to say for three hours, whatever. And it was fantastic. And that’s how I take everything. Now I might you know what, David, my attitude is? Screw it. This is my life. It’s going to be over soon. And I have something to say Damn it.
David Ralph [23:19]
Well, let’s play some words. Now I really emphasise this point of the conversation. This is Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [23:25]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [23:52]
So have those words right for you. Can you see resonance in those words?
Joe Serio [23:58]
Not only are they right, but I know That speech very well. And I’ve, I totally believe that. And it, it applies to my father. My father didn’t do the things that he loved. I mean, he, he, he was successful. And he, you know, put himself through school and I think he liked and loved his his occupation, his profession, but he didn’t go after the other, you know, whatever that other was. If he had some burning passion, I don’t know what it was. He talked for 25 years about about getting a boat. And I totally get and appreciate the, the the stress of the financial pressure of raising 12 kids. But the fact of the matter is, he could have done it much, much sooner than it did. And he ended up doing it two years before he passed away. He he was locked down emotionally and didn’t engage didn’t let anyone in and didn’t share. And, and to a large extent my own interpretation of it is that that’s one of the reasons he died when he was 68. No, he wasn’t engaged. He wasn’t connected to people. And that is a huge lesson very much. In a similar in some similar vein as Jim Carrey. It was, Hey, you know what? You’ve tried a couple of things. And sometimes they worked and sometimes they did. And you know what happened afterwards? Nothing. Your friends who love you didn’t leave you. Your family who loves you didn’t leave you. They didn’t make fun of you. They didn’t reject you. You didn’t get kicked out of your house. You didn’t go to the poorhouse you didn’t get arrested you did. Nothing happened as a consequence of my failing other than learning more about myself. Self and taking smarter steps in the future. That’s it. That’s the worst. Really. I mean, when it comes down to it, that’s kind of the worst that’s ever happened.
David Ralph [26:10]
But it’s fascinating you say that you watch 911 and you fought visit the last time. But so many people, I think thousands, millions of people would have watched fat and done nothing. So what why do you think that was? So of your moment? Why is that that terrible tragedy, really kickstarted? You have to achieve what you have, because it’s deeper than just saying, I feel like my life is drifting away. I’ve wasted so much of it that there’s got to be some something deeper, isn’t it for you to go right. Hang on, this is it and because it doesn’t normally occur that way.
Joe Serio [26:47]
Well, you also have to keep in mind that
when 911 happened, I heard
the process in a lot of ways number one my father passed away in 89 Number two, I spent the five years after my father passed away, trying to make sense of it. So I was, I was, you know, when I was growing up, my mother always called me aloof. Because I was one of the 12 kids that that did not jump immediately into the fray. You know, I wasn’t one of the big talkers, you know. So, I would always sit back and watch, I was always watching and i was a little bit more, you know, as that sensitive kid, what do you want to call it? And I was very observant, and I was a bit of a writer in my head if nothing else. So I was watching and describing and writing and feeling and trying to put myself in other people’s shoes for a long time. But in the 90s The other thing keep in mind that by time 911 happened. I had already lived in Russia. I had already lived in China. And so my worldview had been thrown upside down. I had met people whose family had been to the gulag I met Chinese people that were sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. You know, people who lost everything. I’d also had a couple of extremely moving extremely profound epiphanies and revelations that rocked me to the point of of not outburst, whatever, whatever word that’s on the magnitude of 1000 times beyond outburst is it was this toxic, welling up from my toes from the, from the cosmic dust inside of me. This you know, primordial anks that was just ripped out from inside of me. You know, I, I let myself when I felt it coming. I realised enough to know That I had to let it come out. And it came out that the toxic relationships, the self hatred, the I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough for the old man, I can never be, you know, my brother, the priest, you know all that kind of thing. And and once that started coming out and it came out in very dramatic ways it it was part of that whole mosaic of shifting my perspective. And do you think that is
David Ralph [29:31]
because what you’re pretty much saying you are removing yourself from from painful situations but I’ve sorted them delve down and really dug into over the years is a key part with your role. Now obviously you are helping the world get their nerve to succeed. Do people actually have to have something to push against or they need to have something in their life that is causing them pain because I see so many people who are in that comfort zone haven’t got anything to rally again. So they don’t they just seem to coast Do you think as a key point to life that we need to fight against something?
Joe Serio [30:07]
You know? I don’t know, I think I think I think the answer is probably yes. But it’s not necessarily going to be as massive, you know, as mine was for everyone. So for example, when I teach class, I do a lot of presentations, a lot of keynote addresses and conferences, a lot of speeches, a lot of trainings. You know, one of the audiences I train, probably one of the toughest audiences in the world is cops. So I bring this stuff, overcoming fear, emotional intelligence, you know, effective communication to cops. And, and once you figure out the way to present it, to law enforcement, probation officers 911 you know, emergency dispatchers, once you figure out how to present it and get inside of them, it doesn’t take that massive tragic event. It takes them willing to hold the mirror that I’m offering to them. And I offer them a mirror for them to look at who they are in a safe environment. And a lot of people have taken the invitation. And they’ve said, Oh, haha, I’m the one who’s standing in my way. I keep yelling at my wife, I keep yelling at my husband, I keep calling my boss, my supervisor names. And really when it comes down to it, I’m the only one who holds the key. And then I show them how to have a shift and how to how to make that, that transition that that personal transformation. And the results have just been crazy. And I myself am shocked by what what a lot of these people have been doing in their lives as a result of just talking to them. Like a human being, who is in pain, and who’s vulnerable, and who’s not stupid, and I speak with them and not lecture at them, and they pick that up and run with it.
David Ralph [32:15]
He’s fascinating, though, isn’t it about, you know, your Episode 291. And every single person I’ve spoken to have struggled to find the key to their own personal door. And they always had the key, but it was like they were looking in the wrong hand. And then they would swap the key over and they were looking in the wrong hand again, and suddenly it’s very in front of them, once they open that door. It’s It’s such a shift. It’s such a mindset shift, and the speed that they build up, just because I finally realised that life is down to them. And it’s not the wife is not the mum and dad is no one else. It’s down to them. And I suppose it takes us right back to the very beginning, Joe because once you start doing that, You realise, but it’s you that has to make these things happen. Certain things do happen to you, but you kind of go, oh, wow, how did that happen? I’m not really sure. But once again, it’s cause and effect. The more you do, the more it comes back to you. But ultimately, it’s only you that can do it. It seems so simple, but people just don’t get it until they start getting it. And Ben, it’s full speed ahead.
Joe Serio [33:25]
there’s a there’s a book in business circles, you may have come across called Good to Great, very popular book. So you know, bazillion copies, and is by a guy named Jim Collins. And he there’s one thing in that book that sticks in my mind all the time, and it’s just half a lines not even line. It’s a it’s a motto. And it it goes face the brutal facts. When you need to turn a company around. You need to face the brutal facts. What wrong here. What do we not getting what’s not working? Right? Well guess what? Same thing on an individual level. When you get when you get the nerve to face the brutal facts and come clean with yourself and say, yeah, you know what? I’m pretty impatient. You know what? I think I have the right way. I think I know the answers. I think I should be able to tell other people what they should do. And I need to control them and put them in their place. It’s all rubbish. It gets you nowhere. One thing I love to do and when I do presentations and trainings in class, is I hold up a glass, an empty glass and have a fistful of change. And I tell the audience about things I told you and I said, You know, I have to get 100 on this exam, and throw the change in the glass. And I have to win a medal a track the track meet, and throw more change in the glass and I have to score a touchdown the football game and throw more change in the glass. And I’m trying to fill that glass and fill that glass and fill that glass. So my mother, my father, the, the neighbourhood, whatever gives me a pat on the head and show and tells me you know, you’re wonderful and you’re loved and you’re, you’re fantastic and never bad. And little did I know growing up, that as soon as I get that hundred, and dad maybe grunts or doesn’t say congratulations, doesn’t say anything. I empty the glass again, and start all over again, trying to fill it. And the thing that I found out was, the glass was always full. It was always full from the day I was born. And all this stuff I was trying to do in order to be worthy in order to think I’m worthy of love and need to get approval from everyone around me. And, you know, Be a good boy and get a pat on the head. That wasn’t about me. It was about me being a six year old, seven year old eight year old, who’s terrible at interpreting his environment like all of us were. It’s about my father hanging on with a death grip to his crap. And my mother and my neighbourhood, and whoever, my siblings, whoever, all the people around us, right. And the bottom line is, we’re chasing all this crap. That isn’t going to change us. And it isn’t going to matter. And it’s not us. And we can’t control that stuff. The only thing I can control is me, my word, my responsibility, being 100% responsible and accountable for my own life. And there’s not really much more than that.
David Ralph [36:51]
So so if we took you back into the Russian environment, because I’m fascinated by the the sort of the dichotomy of it
Unknown Speaker [37:00]
There’s I have the
David Ralph [37:01]
same issues as all of us have devotions, habits are now down I ultimately in control or from your experience of a struggling with the same kind of mental issues that we all have.
Joe Serio [37:16]
I think there are two things. Number one, people are different. And number two people are the same. And by that I mean history, culture, geography, politics, whatever. They impact how we see things in the world, right, what we value, what our priorities are, how we view, you know, from where you’re sitting, the world looks different from them where I’m sitting, what your set of experiences is, is different from my set of experiences, which changes the way we look at the world, blah, blah, blah. But the bottom line is, in respect to the question that you asked, people are people we’re worried we’re afraid. We’re afraid to be embarrassed. We’re afraid to be dismissed, we’re afraid to be rejected, we’re afraid of losing approval or love. Just look at if those things weren’t the case, and let’s say, for example, money was the solution, just look at the celebrities, look at celebrities who are alcoholics, drug addicts, you know, addicted this, that and the other thing. I believe that all of us are on a journey. And the question is, are you willing to face the brutal facts to number one, admit or face or belief that you’re on a journey? And then number two, do what you have to do to have the healthiest, perhaps most spiritual journey that you possibly can.
David Ralph [38:48]
And do you think that your journey now is to that level? Or are you still on the journey?
Joe Serio [38:55]
Oh, I don’t think the journey ends. I don’t think it ends. I think it I think It’s a it’s kind of a spiral upwards, with some plateaus along the way where you just, you get to hang out on a plateau, and reconsider and think and meditate and pray and play music and meet new people and travel around and do what you do. And you have another insight, and you hopefully go to another level. And then you do the same thing again, and you go to another level, and you just keep trying to get, you know, you know, what I think is you’re trying to get at yourself, trying to get to your real self.
David Ralph [39:38]
Because it’s interesting when you say go to a different level go to a different level, because many people will be listening to this conversation, and they will think that’s what I want my life to be like, but you obviously in your life, so the next level is just going to be as scary as bear first starting point, and you’re constantly upskilling up levelling going into New, uncomfortable zones are you? Are you come? It’s a strange way of saying it. But are you comfortable now going into uncomfortable zones? Are you comfortable knowing that the next new thing is going to stretch you?
Joe Serio [40:15]
Yes. But you know, I have my moments I have my moments of being, you know, afraid of the unknown. What am I walking into and all that one thing that that you listeners should know. And this is one thing I hate about. I hate about celebrities or motivational speakers, and people that portray the image, like they have figured all of it out, or that they’re so good and they’re so, so steady and so stable, that they’re not susceptible to human, fill in the blank foibles, weaknesses, fears, whatever. And so for me, the key is not you know, having reached a point where there’s perfection of whatever word you want to use. I have a lot of mechanisms. You know, I’ve got blueprints and mechanisms and tools to help keep myself or get myself out of that space. So for example, I wrote a book in this get the nerve series called overcoming fear 50 lessons on being bold and living the dream. And in that book, I put a seven action, a seven step action plan for dealing with fear. Well, guess what I opened up when I’m get afraid. My sister joked that that’s a true self help book. I wrote it myself, and I use it on myself to remind myself of what I wrote. And to remind myself, Oh, yeah, here are the mechanisms. Here’s the, here’s the plan here, the tools to keep me from going back to that space from 30 years ago.
David Ralph [41:59]
So So when You look in the mirror, when when you look in the mirror that you were showing to the cops. Do you like what you see now? When you look in your own mirror?
Joe Serio [42:10]
Oh, yeah. I mean, I don’t want to sound cocky about it. But if you put it in relative terms, I am the person now that I wished I had been or thought that I could have been when I was 1415 2025 30.
David Ralph [42:33]
And how old are you now, Joe? If you don’t mind me asking. I’m 50 you’re 50 years old. So you would say that it’s taken you half a century to get to the point of being authentically you. The person that Joe serio was born to be.
Joe Serio [42:50]
Yeah, let me tell you something. I got married
seven eight months ago for the first time Congratulations, to thank you to a woman that I never believed I would or in this kind of adolescent way could be married to. Right number one, she’s gorgeous, but past that she’s talented, and strong and insightful. And she’s she’s just she’s that person that I visualised, and people would tell me, oh, you’re too picky. Oh, you’re too fussy. Oh, you know, you’re waiting for the wrong thing, Bob, what you want doesn’t exist. And it does. It just took me longer to find it then. Maybe his traditional body wise. 45 pounds lighter than I had been at my heaviest. I speak in front of hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, which I never believed I could do. I have more ease and peace of mind than I’ve ever had in my life. I’m cool with my father. My mother’s still around, and she’s 85 this year and she and I have very good relationship. I have a clean slate with all of my siblings, because I went in and at proactively, you know, sent them an email and said, Hey, if there’s anything that I inadvertently did to you or said to you, that hurt your feelings ever. And you’re still hanging on to it and I you know, you an apology or we need to talk. Let’s do it. So at some point, I cleared all the decks and said, you know, look, let’s do this thing. I was afraid of getting a PhD. And, and did it I was afraid of playing music and did all the all the worldly kind of tangible things. The music, the harmonica, the the guitar the recording on CD playing in Nashville being on big stages, prison, whatever, all those things, I’ve done all that stuff. And it showed me a lot of things that I’m going to talk to my younger self about when that time comes. And when you
David Ralph [45:13]
when you send an email to your brothers and your your siblings did they think because because that’s unusual to do that, and I’ll be honest with you, I did a similar thing. Maybe two years ago, I wrote surprise letters to my kids, and to my wife, telling them what I thought about them. And but I love them and all the things that you would want a dad to say. And it wasn’t received in a way that I thought it was received as what’s happening to him. I think he’s having a breakdown. Did your family think it was strange as well about this email come out of the blue and oh my god, why did he Joe Arceus. You know, what came out of that?
Joe Serio [45:54]
Well, I set it up. I said, Look, get back to me. If there’s an issue. And I gave them three weeks. And I don’t remember, frankly, if I gave them three weeks in the email, or just in my mind, but I set a deadline of three weeks. And I decided after that three weeks, if I didn’t hear from anybody, then it wasn’t mine to own anymore. And I got one email. And it was from one of my siblings, who said, Hey, I don’t have any problem with you. But I have a problem with somebody else. And they say, okay, that’s not what this is about. I’m not, you know, I didn’t engage that conversation. But no, I didn’t hear from anybody. And nobody, nobody wrote to me to say was weird. Nobody was wondering what was going on. And here’s, here’s part of part of what you’re talking about a part of what I found valuable in what you’re talking about, is I didn’t own any thing, right? I didn’t own the their reaction or their lack of reaction, if they thought I was going off the deep end, that’s not about me. I can tell them no, I’m not going off the deep end, I’m just and I can explain to them, I’m clearing the decks because I want to move forward. And I do I would not have had to own if they were angry, happy, sad, confused, you know, I’ll explain it and talk with them to the extent that they want to talk. But anything beyond that, that’s one of the great lessons I’ve learned. distinguishing between what you own and between what between what you own and what other people own. And I decided that I’m not going to own other people’s stuff anymore.
David Ralph [47:43]
So so what you did you systematically cut those ropes that were anchoring you to the past those those doubts, those fears, all those kinds of things, but we in in in the darkest moments, when you’re laying in bed, you think to yourself, ah, that person’s gonna think about me, that person could Think back and you basically separate them and you were free to float up like the balloons in up and you just floated off to to a new future.
Joe Serio [48:10]
I love that. That’s such a cool movie. Do you cry?
David Ralph [48:14]
Joe? Do you cry in that one?
Joe Serio [48:15]
I’m a crier. I could cry at the drop of a hat. So, you know, I probably did that. I
David Ralph [48:21]
don’t me big time that one did.
Joe Serio [48:22]
It’s a great movie. But you know, it. That’s exactly what it was. It’s not it’s not tip. I think people make the mistake of turning and walking away. And disowning and purging and whatever, you know, so I just want to be clear. That’s not what happened. So it was it was purging exactly what you said, Oh, well, you know what’s, what’s this one going to think if I do that, or what’s the other one going to think? Oh, they think I’m I’m a screw up because I’ve been doing nothing but wandering around the world for 1520 years. Oh, you know, he look at him. He’s so much more Successful than I am once you’re going to think about me, it was understanding that you can’t judge your insides by other people’s outsides. And, and stop looking at other people as if you know they’re successful. They have no fears. They look so confident. They’re wealthy. They have a beautiful wife, beautiful husband, a fantastic car, a big house and look at me on nothing. That’s a trap. So part of the exercise was stopped judging my insides, according to other people’s outsides. And that email was part of that process.
David Ralph [49:42]
I think he’s fascinating, and it really is the gold in this show. For anyone who’s out there listening to this conversation, really reflect on how many times you worry about what other people are going to think. You’ve got that dream in your head of doing something you want to write the book And you don’t want to tell anyone in case I laugh at you. And it’s all those kinds of things that just anchor you and it keeps you in place. And more often than not, they’re not founded more often than not once you start getting that momentum and the key thing is and I don’t know if you agree with this job, but I call it the, the the success vacuum, that when you start, nobody really believes in what you’re doing. But when you actually get rid of the crabs are pulling you back holding you in place you for a while, a totally on your own, you’ve got no one around you. But then the success vacuum starts happening and you find that more and more people start coming towards you. Maybe across the globe, now virtual friends, people that think that what you’re doing is great, and that gives you personal belief again, and that means that more successful people come towards you and in the end you’ve surrounded yourself with thousands, millions of people, but of all giving you the power to go forward. The success vacuum Do you find that in your own life,
Joe Serio [51:01]
David, I think that’s exactly right. And I think it’s very insightful. And I think it’s right on. Two things about that. Number one, what we were saying earlier, My belief is that people think about you, far less than you think they do. Right? That applies to anybody. People are thinking about you farther. They may make fun of you for a minute. They forgot you 10 seconds later. And so often we hang on to that. Well, he made fun of me five years ago, that jerk, no, they forgot it 10 minutes every 10 seconds after it happened. So people think about us, far less than we think they think about us. The second thing is, I learned a very important thing when I was the editor in chief of the crime magazine. I started by believing, oh, I’m going to publish this magazine. And it’s going to be wonderful and people going to, you know, pat me on the head and and I’ll be Somebody and this is going to be fantastic. And when magazine comes out, I’m going to be so proud and blah, blah, blah. Well, I found out that when you produce a magazine, you’ve looked at that content so many times, that by the time it comes out, you’re so sick of it. Never want to see that magazine again. But what what occurs is the road to your success is not the adulation. And the people telling you how great you are. For me, in my opinion, from my perspective, it’s the process of doing the work. It was the process of putting the magazine together. It was the process of doing the best we could and then you put it out there. I don’t get to decide if I’m great. Other people decide if I’m great and that’s their business that has nothing to do with me. People have can congratulate me if they like the magazine, whatever, that my business is putting that thing together and getting my fear, my doubt, my confidence, my skill, talent, cockiness, whatever getting all that stuff in proportion and lined up to go do the best job that I can. And to me, the value is in the work, it’s in the process. It’s nice to get the compliments, of course, I’ll take it anytime. Nice to get the pat on the head. But for me is if you do the work and you join that dot with the.of the people that receive your work and you see the look on their face, or you see them look in that mirror that you held up to them. And you hear the stories of how they change their life as a result of your seriousness about the work. That to me from Workers perspective. That’s the lottery. That’s when you win. That’s when all the chips come in. And you’ve got you’ve earned more than money could ever give you. And it’s just, I mean that you asked me at the beginning what gets me off. Besides music, it’s speaking, and having people write to me three months, six months, a year later and say, I lost 100 pounds. After I heard you speak, I went to, you know, change the relationship with my teenagers. And my wife and my husband, and I got a promotion at work, and I got an award for excellence because of something you told me. And that was driven by the time that I spent doing the work. It’s fascinating,
David Ralph [54:48]
isn’t it? I’m going to play the theme of the show. Now. These are words that Steve Jobs said back in 2005 10 years ago. And really, I think we we’ve already touched but these are going to be true. To you, but let’s find out Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [55:02]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [55:38]
So relevant to you.
Joe Serio [55:40]
Oh, yeah, totally. And the way that I look at the dots
at a certain point, I totally agree with Steve Jobs that, you know, in college, there was no way I could connect the future dots because because I had no idea was that what was coming? No Somebody said, you know, when you start learning how to play the harmonica, you’re going to, you know, whatever playing Nashville play in a prison in Texas, play for KGB agents in Moscow, whatever. But I think what happens is, if you’ve connected the dots enough, you know, over 10 years, 20 years, and you get how that process works.
Unknown Speaker [56:28]
Joe Serio [56:29]
can make, I think you can make and should be making better decisions, decisions that are more true to yourself. decisions that are more authentic, and you’re being sincere and genuine with yourself and the people around you. I think that’s what helps propel your vision forward about what’s possible, and, you know, dot connecting, you know, so at this point in my life, I see a lot of dots and the way they’re connected from the past, and partly because, you know, I maybe I’ve had more experiences, maybe I’ve thrown myself out there, more than a lot of people were average people, you know, whatever, whatever that is. But I also know what I don’t want to do. And half the battle for people is getting serious with themselves about their priorities, and what they’re not willing to do. And what they’re willing to say no to, because they know the path to the connecting dots is, you know, the one that Steve was talking about, it’s over in this direction. That’s what fuels me. That’s what’s true about me. So in order to do that, I have to say no to these other things. That’s how I connect the dots going forward.
David Ralph [57:51]
And do you have a big.in your life do you have one and I love asking this question. So I asked it literally every day. But do you have one when you think Yeah, that really was the moment that Joe was born.
Joe Serio [58:09]
That’s such a hard one. I think. I think that presentation that I did in front of 1000 people was an important one. I got up on the outside of the grand old Opry. You know, besides the Grand Ole Opry, the, the next largest stage in Nashville. I got up on that and played in front of 1000 people play the harmonica. That was a that was a mile marker, I think in terms of, of kind of like improvisational music, right. So, so you have you have mile markers. And then all you know, you can kind of go out and in jam and improv, but we all got to meet up back at this mount biomarker for the refrain or the chorus or whatever, and then we can go off and jam again. And I think I think of life like that. I’ve got mile markers that I need to get to I I think I think speaking in front of 1000 people playing in front of 1000 people, when my father died, my father had a stroke to my arms. And he never spoke again. And he lived for 19 days after that, that’s a mile marker. The people I worked under in Moscow, you know, one guy in particular, who was a deputy chief of Organised Crime Control department for the Soviet Union, meeting him and working with him was a mile marker. So it’s, yeah, they’re a bunch of them are a whole bunch of them. And I know the ones that are coming, that I want to happen. So in terms of that, in that sense of goals, priorities and drawing dots to the future. I have a good idea of some major moments that I would like to see happen.
David Ralph [59:48]
But I hope you make those happen. Well, this is the end of the show. Really, Joe, I could I could add this going on for two hours is this conversation, but this is the part that we call the Sermon on the mic and this is when I send you back like A young Marty McFly to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the younger Joe, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give when I’m gonna find out in a moment cuz I’m gonna play the theme tune and when it fades you up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [1:00:20]
Here we go. With the best beer on the show.
Unknown Speaker [1:00:29]
Joe Serio [1:00:37]
Hey, Joe, guess who it is? It’s me. It’s you. I mean, it’s both of us. It’s Joe. It’s your older self. And you know right now you’re 1516 years old. And you’re a bundle of nerves and, and anxiety and you’re afraid of, of everything and everybody what people are going to think about you I just want to come back and tell you a couple of things that I found out. And some things you might want to keep in mind along the way. One of the biggest things is, guess what? There’s less to being seen than you thought. Remember when you wanted to be on TV, you want to be in the newspapers. You wanted to be on the cover of a magazine and have people know you and, and get some kind of fame. Well, that was just you trying to find your way and, and create an identity as a ninth kid out of 12 and a crowd getting lost in that group. And, you know, you want to meet celebrities and have money and all that. You know, I came here to tell you that I’ve done all those things. I’ve done every single one of them. I’ve done more than that, and there’s far less to it than you think there is because those things will not identify who you are, they will not make up your essence. They’re good, they’re fun. They may help with business. They may teach you some things, but they are not the basis for who you are, who your friends are going to be, and who your family is. The second big thing I want to tell you is those people that you think are judging you all the time, they may be judging you. So what they probably know less about themselves than you do. They are thinking about you far less than you think they are. They’re not really paying that much attention to you. So when you hang on to all those fears, about being less than about having to show people who you are, it’s time to let some of that stuff go. Because it’s not how it works. People aren’t really people are more Interested in their stuff than they’re ever going to be in your be about in your stuff, not that interested in your stuff. And when they’re making fun of you, most of the time that’s not about you. It’s about them. It’s about their insecurities, and about the fact that they can’t do what they want to do. They’re dying inside almost as much as you are, to go be the person they want to be. Maybe they’ve got people back at home, parents, siblings, who are beating them up all the time, psychologically, physically. Don’t fall into that trap. You spend so much time trying to get their attention. Well, I found out that their attention doesn’t really change that much. The people who loved you still love you. And the ones who came along and didn’t love you, because of all their own external superficial things. That’s all right. Let him go. You can please Everyone, so you got to please yourself immortal words from the Ricky Nelson song garden party, that was worth heating. Good luck to you, my little friend. It’s an awesome world. It’s so many things out there to do and see and be and be come. And the most important part of it is not to be able to do something, but to be able to be that’s the definition of real power. Able to be good luck.
David Ralph [1:04:40]
Joe Serio. How can our audience connect with you sir?
Joe Serio [1:04:45]
I am on a website. www dot Joeserio.com that’s Jo e S. Like Sam er I O on Facebook. At Yo stereo enterprises. I’m on LinkedIn at Joe Serios, PhD, and Twitter at Joe serios speaks.
David Ralph [1:05:12]
We will have over links on the show notes. Joe, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots and please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Joe Syria. Thank you so much.
Joe Serio [1:05:29]
Thank you, David. I enjoyed it.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.