Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Travis Thomas
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Introducing Travis Thomas
Travis Thomas is my guest today, on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview.
He is a man after 20 years of performing hundreds of improv comedy shows across the country has learned that the same principles that apply to improv comedy also apply to business, mental, and leadership skills
Travis is an author, speaker, coach, improv comedian, and the Founder of Live Yes And!.
Which is where he has been helping businesses and athletes apply the cornerstone improv mindset-“YES, And! to succeed in life and business for the last 10 years.
In the world of improvisation, “YES, And” means accepting whatever is being given to you, and then responding and building on that reality.
Most of us live life in denial – saying “no” to reality.
This leads to a life unfulfilled and lived in fear.
Living “YES,And” is about accepting and embracing everything that is happening–even the bad stuff!
Because good or bad, the only way to move forward is by facing it and moving through it.
Joining Up The Dots To Where He Is Today
As a professional public speaker and coach, he has trained thousands of people and dozens of organizations.
From the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, University of Georgia Football, US Soccer, Gatorade, PepsiCo, and Under Armour on the principles of improvisation and how developing a “YES,And” mindset will help create an engaged, creative, collaborative, and healthier life and work place.
So was this a dawning realisation that his skills could be transferred into more and more lucrative areas, or a “God i need some more cash what can I do quickly?” route?
And why are so many people frightened of “Yes” when it always brings some potential for growth in their lives?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Travis Thomas
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Travis Thomas such as:
Why the concept of “Yes, And” was born from a desire to prove support and mindset to the corporate world which can lead to the kind of success that are required everywhere.
Travis shares how throughout his journey there have been times when quite frankly he didn’t have a clue…but that’s ok. You can always figure things out.
We discuss how the best comedy isn’t about finding the joke, but is instead finding the truth. The connection with reality is where real humour is formed.
Why sometimes, no matter how positive you are as an individual you have to wallow in your despair. You have to sit in the goo ready for the big transformation to occur.
How To Connect With Travis Thomas
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of Travis Thomas 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 [0:25]
Yes, hello, a good morning to you. Good morning. And welcome to join up dots. Yes, join up dots, the motivational, conversational show that literally, I never know where it’s going to go. And that’s what makes it so exciting for me. Today’s guest I’ve only been speaking to him for about 30 seconds. And he’s already tried to twist me sexually. He’s tried to take me off in different directions that I wasn’t expecting. And that is because he’s an improvisation expert. He’s a man of the 20 years of performing hundreds of improv comedy shows across the country, as learned about the same principles that apply to comedy also apply to business, mental and leadership skills as an author, speaker, coach, improv comedian and the founder of live Yes. And he has been helping businesses and athletes apply the cornerstone improv mindset of Yes. And now to succeed in life and business for the last 10 years in the world of improvisation, yes, and means accepting whatever is being given to you and been responding and building on that reality. Most of us live our life in denial saying no to reality. And this leads to a life unfulfilled and lived in fear, living Yes, and is about accepting and embracing everything that is happening, even the bad stuff, people now why because good or bad, the only way to move forward is by facing it and moving through it is what happens in life. Now as a professional public speaker and coach, he’s trained thousands of people and dozens of organizations like the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox, blah, blah, blah, blah, how to get the mindset that will help create an engaged, creative, collaborative, and healthier life and work place. So was this a dawning realization a skills could be transferred into more and more lucrative areas? Or cause I need some cash? What can I do quickly root? And why so many people frightened OBS when it always brings some potential for growth in their lives? Well, let’s find out as we bring into the show, to start join up dots with the one and only Travis Thomas. Good morning, Travis. How are you sir?
Travis Thomas [2:25]
David, I am fantastic. After that introduction. I don’t think it’s possible not to be motivated and enthusiastic after that wonderful introduction. And so hello to you in the garden, David.
David Ralph [2:37]
Yes. It’s lovely in the garden at the moment. I think we’ve got better weather than you’ve got. I’ve heard you’re in the state of Florida. And I’ve heard it’s been raining constantly for two weeks, which is a nightmare. Yeah, it’s the lights me Travis.
Travis Thomas [2:51]
Yes, we were not use. I mean, this is the rainy season, but we’re not used to, you know, 1012 days of unrelenting rain. And that’s what we have right now. And, you know, my sun is sweating over a soccer tournament this weekend that might be cancelled or rained out. And so yeah, well, yeah, we moved to Florida for the for the sun. And so we we look forward to getting it back soon.
David Ralph [3:10]
Now, the interesting thing that I always talk about when people talk about moving for the sun, is more often than not, entrepreneurs move for the sun and Ben spend half their time behind a computer screen in their bedrooms with the curtains drawn, I generally think it must be terrible to move somewhere beautiful. If you are creating a business, I’d rather go to some shack in the woods, frightened to come out of. So if I come out with a business, I mean, I can live my life.
Travis Thomas [3:39]
Yeah, a lot less distractions. Right. When you’re when you’re stuck in the shed, or you do what my approach has been, which is you, you drive around town, you find the most beautiful areas in the town that have free Wi Fi. And you just make that your mobile office. And so you know, I’ve got three or four spots here in Jupiter, Florida. And I just go in and I grab a coffee or you know, sie bowl and ISIS set up shop and enjoy the sun and the warmth. And just, you know, not pay for an office space anywhere else,
David Ralph [4:08]
which is brilliant. Because I know a lot of people are looking at closing down the expenses of office space, I’ve got a recording studio at the back of the garden. And literally I close every single blind down so I can’t see anything. And I caught people can’t see but I’m surfing the porn instead of doing this, which is which is really good. So it works both ways, Travis, but I was off the whole world. I don’t think I could sit in a coffee place. I’d be distracted all the time. Well, yeah,
Travis Thomas [4:38]
I think that’s the thing. You know, I think personality wise I am I think I’m extroverted by nature, not that. So if I go somewhere, I don’t want to talk to everybody. But I am. I am energized by being around people. So I don’t again, I don’t need to talk to people. But I feed off that energy. I actually I wrote the the only book that I’ve written but my book wrote it primarily sitting at different coffee shops. And with the noise going on around me I found much I find it much easier and much more inspiration when I was sort of around other people’s positive energy. My wife is just the opposite. She is in the bedroom blinds closed off focused on her computer and being able to not be interrupted. But for me, it’s the it’s the exact opposite.
David Ralph [5:24]
You know, I nearly thought you said that your wife is in the bedroom with blindfolds on. I thought I thought you were going that I’m gonna have to slap an ad on this show and make it x.
Travis Thomas [5:35]
You know, in the improv business, you do have to pay the bills, David. Yeah, of course you do.
David Ralph [5:40]
Yeah, of course you do. So So let’s talk about the reason I wanted you on the show. And it keeps jumping out at me. I have a lot of people that come to me, and it’s all Yes, yes, yes. Yes, everything is positive. And I go, yeah, I can understand that. I can understand. It’s a way of doing it. Yes. And that’s totally different. And now that puts you on a totally different spin to anything else I’ve seen. Why be and why just not the Yes.
Travis Thomas [6:08]
Exactly. So, so yes. And right. Yes. And again, I’ve been doing improvisation for 20 years. And what anyone will learn in their first improvisation class is that all of improvisation is based on this idea, this concept of Yes. And so I didn’t create it, right. I’ve just kind of taken it and made it my own. And I’ve tried to introduce it sort of, to people in a way that’s much more relevant and practical in every aspect of their life. But what Yes, and means, from an improvisational standpoint, David is if you and I step on stage, and we’re improvisers and I don’t know what you’re going to say, and you don’t know what I’m going to say. But we we’ve worked together we You and I have an understanding that whenever I step on stage, whenever we step on stage together, whatever idea I have, you are going to say yes. And to and whatever idea you have, I’m going to say yes, and tune. So we’ve got this built in agreement, that we’re going to support each other’s ideas. And so basically an improvisation, yes, is acceptance. So if you come out on stage and say, Oh, my gosh, that train is coming right at us. I you know that I’m going to say yes to it. So now we’re on the same page. I agree. Yes, that train is coming right at us. But the important part, the powerful part is the end, the end, is how I’m now going to collaborate with and build off of your idea. So now I can say, yes, that train is coming right at us. And look, there’s a puppy on the tracks. And so you had an idea, I accepted it, and then I built off of it. And now all you do is yes. And off of my idea. Yes. And the puppies part is is caught, right. And so all we’re doing is it’s like a game of catch, where we’re just collaborating back and forth. No one owns the scene. We’re telling the story together. And we know that we can take some leaps and some risks with our storytelling, because no matter what I say, or no matter what you say, you know, the other person is going to Yes, and you’re idea. So that’s the nature of yes and on stage. And so I’ve just kind of taken that like, Well, how do we apply that to every aspect of our life? And the reality is, the same thing applies, no matter what we’re doing?
David Ralph [8:13]
So So wouldn’t it work in the same? I understand totally what you’re saying. But when you say if you said to me, Look, there’s a train coming? And I say, No, it’s not a train. It’s a very large woman. And then what can you not sort of improvise by just sort of saying stuff?
Travis Thomas [8:30]
Yeah, well, you know, a good improviser is, is probably going to be able to work with that a little bit. But if I’m doing if I’m doing a scene with you, and I say, that’s a train coming right at us, and you go, No, that’s not a train. It’s a large woman that might get a laugh from the audience. But then everyone’s going to feel including the two actors on stage like, oh, shoot, where do we go from here? Because Are you just a crazy person? You know, are you what’s, what’s the relationship? We have? You know, I could Yes, and you and go, Oh, hey, Charlie, it looks like you got out of your room, again, back to the mental hospital with you
David Ralph [9:01]
already know the answer to the crazy person, don’t you? You know,
Travis Thomas [9:05]
exactly. And so that happens all the time. And and so, you know, again, I was just teaching an improv class the other night, and there was a whole lot of what we call is negating or blocking an idea. And so as season improvisers going to be able to kind of keep taking that and trying to spin it and spin it into a yes. And, but it becomes really difficult and often to the hindrance of the scene, compared to two people who are just really connecting with one another, and just building off of each other’s ideas.
David Ralph [9:35]
Because what I love about this, is it something that makes total sense to me, in the area that you’re taking this, because I have been to the business world, I’ve been through the corporate world. And I can see that the power of saying yes, and which is work all the time, but it does. It’s always Yes, but or, yes, view that later, and nothing gets done. But yes, and is a powerful sort of, I don’t know if it’s a metaphor, statement of fact, that could really sort of cut through a load of crap, basically, that you have to deal with in offices.
Travis Thomas [10:14]
Absolutely. I mean, whether that is in a corporate environment, or your personal life or on a sports team, you know, what, really, what you’re what we’re talking about here at the end of the day is, is relationships. And so if I’m, if I’m in a company, or a corporation, or I’m part of a team, in an environment, and there is a high level of trust, and respect and value, I’m going to feel safe, kind of sharing ideas, and sharing my perspective and sharing what I really think, if I feel safe. And the only reason I’m going to feel safe is if if I have felt valued and respected and trusted in that environment. But if I’m in an environment where I have to be very careful what I say, or when I share an idea, my ideas are constantly nitpicked or shut down or ridiculed. Really quickly, I’m going to determine that this is a relationship where I can’t be honest, and my creativity really isn’t wanted. So I’m going to follow the company line. And I’m going to keep my mouth shut, and I’m going to play the game. But we also know that that’s not a really inspiring environment or healthy environment to work in. But we’ve all been in relationships or teams where there’s this sense of, hey, let’s put all of our crazy on the table, recognizing that maybe 90% of the stuff that we put on the table is going to be useless, and and and crazy, and garbage. But we also know that we don’t get to the brilliance, we don’t get to the real creativity, unless we go through the garbage as well. And I think great environments, great workplace cultures, and great teams realize that in order to get to the gold, you’ve got to go through a lot of the dross. And, and but I’m not gonna I’m not going to share that if I don’t feel safe. And so what makes yes and possible in the corporate and environment is really building an environment and building relationships where people feel safe to be authentic, vulnerable and creative.
David Ralph [12:08]
I can imagine a world and I’m sure you you will be swelled over time, sir. Where you going to organizations and the staff, the employees shout, yes. And the owners shout. Yes. And, and the middle management say something totally different. And the last thing that they want is yes. And
Travis Thomas [12:30]
yeah, you are exactly right. And, you know, a good friend of mine, Tracy Fenton, who has an organization called World blue. And she is all about going into companies and working with leaders and helping them transition from a fear based mindset of organizational management to a freedom based mindset of organizational development. And that’s really what you’re talking about. People by nature, right? I you know, I don’t know how many people you’ve run into David, who really wants to go into a job or a workplace where they feel stifled and they feel unsafe. And they feel like, they just don’t want to work with other people. Most of us, I think our human nature is that we want to collaborate with people, we want to have healthy relationships with people. But if we feel right, we feel if my number one priority at work is to protect my own behind. And if me, sticking my neck out might be unsafe for my well being I’m not going to do it. So what is my incentive to collaborate with you compared to those companies and those organizations that kind of flip that upside down and build an environment? Rich really deals with mindset, which deals, you know, a mindset and the environment. And then you have, like you said, you have the management in place that has the same mindset, the leadership in place has the same mindset, which reinforces this idea of authenticity and collaboration. Because if that’s not there, we’re going to revert back to our default, which is protect ourselves. It’s that fight or flight, or I like to call it the turtle effect, right. As soon as that turtle feels threatened, the turtle goes back into the shell, it’s really hard to play with that turtle when the turtle is in his shell. So the only way to get the turtle to come out of his shell is is to give it time and space to feel safe again. And so as it as it feels, to the extent that the turtle will stick his neck out, is to the extent that that turtle feels safe. And that’s that is the difficulty in companies. And sports teams are no different. When people don’t feel safe. They, what they end up doing is just making sure that they’re they’re doing what they can to protect themselves. And we know how limiting that is from a collaboration standpoint, compared to improvisation, improvisation. The mantra when I step on stage for all improvisers is my goal is to make my co performer look good. To make them look brilliant to make them look genius. And so now I’m completely focused on the choices that my my co performer is making. So because I’m going to yes in them and make them look good, because what are they what is their objective, their objective is to make me look good. And so now we are totally connected with one another. And we’re collaborating with one another instead of competing with one another. And that’s kind of one of my huge ideas is right is getting people to, to notice how often we are in a competition mindset. Instead of collaboration mindset, when in essence, most of life is a collaboration. But it is our competitive nature that prevents us from really sort of thriving because we keep getting in our own way.
David Ralph [15:39]
I’ll tell you what, Travis, I didn’t want to jump in there. But as he was talking, I felt I felt as chill go through me, I felt something good go through me that the world is there supporting each other, because that it would be a beautiful place, wouldn’t it but we’re not in competition. Although I don’t want it to occur in the World Cup this year. I don’t want to just go Amazon is each other. And everything’s a tool drawer. That would be bad be rubbish. But I just see it in my whole life, really. But competition is amazing. Competition is brilliant. Now, I’m gonna sound like a hypocrite here. So I don’t even know where my brains going. But
Unknown Speaker [16:19]
yeah, let’s go there
David Ralph [16:20]
on certain things. I hate it about the school kids go and just patterning up on the day they get a medal, I think where’s the competition for that? So I think there’s got to be competition. But I also think there’s got to be competition to a point that it then becomes supportive. And you see that in teams, you see that in football teams, you don’t see that in individuals as much. And I think the trouble in business, certainly in the entrepreneurial business is we’re all individuals fighting our corner. So there’s not an awful lot of support, where in your environment, I can see you’re just walking around teams and and organizations but have to pull together and if he done but dead.
Travis Thomas [17:02]
Absolutely. Dave and actually, this whole idea of competition, right is the way that we have sort of the way that most of us view competition nowadays is kind of has a dirty stigma to it right? And we tend to think of competition of competition is when we often see the worst in people. And and the reason that happens is we turn competition into proving that we are quote unquote, better than somebody else. When competition in its purest form, if we go back to you know, you go back to the root of competition, it’s really with CO is with and it’s the idea of, you know, if you and I, David are training, if we’re both athletes, you know, I’ll use the World Cup, because I’m a huge soccer fan, and I’ll be cheering for England.
David Ralph [17:46]
In the real world,
Travis Thomas [17:47]
I will should I should I should I use football for this podcast?
David Ralph [17:52]
We do use? We do us
Travis Thomas [17:55]
understand football? Well, listen, hey, I’m right there with you. I’m just you know, I’m trying to I’m trying to speak to my my American audience here.
David Ralph [18:03]
I don’t listen to this rubbish, rubbish, you got to remember them only interested in what happens in their own place.
Travis Thomas [18:11]
That’s true. And they will not be paying attention because we’re not playing in this year’s World Cup. Right. So they’ll be watching boring baseball. So. So the CSU and i, you and I are both on the English national team. You’re a right, midfielder. I’m a right midfielder. And the unhealthy side of competition says when we get to training today, I hope you injure your ankle so that I can get the starting spot, right. And so that’s the side of competition that we’re used to sort of the ugly side of competition, there’s a different side of competition, which says, You and I get to training today. And I say, hey, David, you know, today, I’m going to try to, I’m going to try to whip you out there, I’m going to try to kick your butt the entire training today. But David, what I need you to do, I need you to try to kick my butt today. And so you and I go out there almost with this agreement that we are going push each other as far as we possibly can push each other. Why? Because I know the only way for me to reach my my potential, and hopefully get some playing time is by me getting pushed and having to grow and get better. And so if you and I are in partnership, actually, we’re in cooperation, that we are actually going to compete and push each other. Why not? Because my end goal is to just beat you out and make you look bad. my end goal is for me to become as good as I possibly can become. So I’m now actually in cooperation with you, if you take it easy on me and training, you are not helping me get better. And if I take it easy on you, I’m not helping you get better. So if we can get to the standpoint of my goal is to become as good as I can possibly become. And if companies obviously the inspired companies take that mindset, right inspired companies don’t go, our goal is to crush the others in our field. They’re usually about something bigger than that. And so they’re there, they’re there, they’re inspired, become something bigger. So they’re not competing with just their, their competitors in their field, they’re about something bigger. And at the end of the day, if you and I are pushing each other, and the manager decides, you know, listen, I’m going to start David, in that position, which sure I’m going to be hurt. Because you’ve got the deal, you’ve got the DNA, you’ve got the DNA, he’s going to make that decision, it’s going to be hard on me. But I’m going to know You know what, I’ve got to be able to live that decision. And now we can go from being competitors that training to now I can actually celebrate you and cheer for you. Because if I believe and I’m a firm believer in this, I’m a firm believer in talent will always get an opportunity. And if I believe that talent will always get an opportunity, my opportunity is going to come. So I’m not going to spend the majority of my time trying to push other people down, I’m going to try to keep getting as better as as good as I can become. And when I get my opportunity, I’ll be ready for it. And so hey, David beat me out. I’m going to be David David’s biggest cheerleader and support order now. And and now and again, in doing so I have become as good as I possibly can become at that time. Instead of spending all my time trying to make you look bad. I
David Ralph [21:12]
I love everything you’re saying. But at my core, Travis been totally open with you. I think I like to crush people. I think I like to win. And I don’t know why they there was a desire to grow on top.
Travis Thomas [21:29]
You and me both. And that’s why I that’s why I teach this, David is because I recognize it in myself. I recognize it myself as an athlete growing up. You know, it’s what we know in the in the world of mindset right now Carol Dweck and what she has defined with the growth versus the fixed mindset, those who really seem to thrive, have that growth mindset, which they realize that, that learning, learning is all about failure and becoming really good at anything is about the personal journey of becoming as good as we possibly become those of us in the fixed mindset. And I had been caught in the fixed mindset so many times in my life where I recognize that it’s just, it’s really hard work to become really good at something. And so it’d be much easier on me, if, if I took the easy path, or if the person I was competing with got hurt. Or if the company that I’m competing with, you know, goes bankrupt, that’s gonna be a lot easier on me. And so I recognize that in myself. And so it’s probably one of the reasons that I enjoy teaching this so much, because it’s constantly causing me to rewire the way that I’ve been raised and trained.
David Ralph [22:37]
is paid family in a yes. Saving saving families. Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Travis Thomas [22:43]
And I’ll tell you that, you know, when the most of the people that I’ve taken improv classes with both when I was taking training, and then when I became a teacher, and now the teaching that I’m doing now, the phrase that people use more and more, when they take improv classes is it basically this is my therapy, to come and for a couple of hours a week, to be with a group of people, where, for those few hours, your goal is to make each other look good, and to build off of each other’s ideas. And that that is therapy, because we are so used to being environments and relationships, where the opposite is true. And, and I don’t think that’s natural. I think that is cultural. And I think when we find those, I mean, count out, you can probably count on one hand, David, the number of relationships in your life, where you can be totally authentic and vulnerable, and feel safe, right. And I think people crave that we all crave that we crave work environments where that is the case, we create sports teams where that’s the case. And we you know, our personal lives, right? We have those few relationships in our life where we know that we can let all of our faults and vulnerabilities flow and that those people are still going to love and appreciate it.
David Ralph [24:00]
Yeah, but do we do we Travis? But for example, I know it’s a family show. But say, just say a magic. But me the family man, the grand idea has some kind of deep fantasy going on. Even though it’s me and it’s in me, I don’t think I could share it with my wife in case she you know, even though and I’ve known that she all my life, she was there at my birth. I’m sure she was. But I still don’t think I could be totally authentic to everyone.
Travis Thomas [24:31]
Well, I think that’s it, I don’t think it’s you know, the goal is to be totally authentic to everyone, right. And maybe there are some skeletons in our, our mental closet, which are bed, which are better kept in the closet. But I think again, at the end of the day, it’s each of us, right? None of us. We all have insecurities, we all have fears. We all have these things inside of us. And to the extent that we are in relationships, where we can let our guard down, we can let that facade down, especially in leadership, right, David, that the old school leadership model is the person who the person who seems to have all the answers, that’s the person that we promote. Yeah. And it’s such, it’s such a broken model of leadership, right. And we have seen sort of a new tide of leadership, which is it’s the person who has so much confidence that they can stand in front of a room of people and say, I’m not the smartest person in the room. In fact, I don’t know how to solve this problem. The reason we’re all here is because I believe in the power of the ideas in this room, I am going to be the one to help lead us and navigate us through this. But I need everyone’s expertise in this room in order for us to accomplish this. And so that vulnerability of a leader to be able to say, Hey, I don’t have all the answers. But together, we can find the way. Now you’ve just basically empowered everybody else on that team and in that organization and say, You know what, while my ideas matter, and I am a part of the process, and I’m not just a cog in the wheel. And I think when we when we start to empower people around us by acknowledging their greatness, and also acknowledging that we are not this. We are not this genius who’s going to who’s going to have all the inflammation solve the problems, then you invite people in to be a part of the process.
David Ralph [26:23]
Oh, I Yeah, I agree with base and I honestly, Travis, I’m going to go home today, I’m going to be totally open and authentic with my wife, I’m going to mention my bring alarm or into the bedroom fantasy, and see how it flies. I’m gonna see how it goes. And
Travis Thomas [26:38]
get the llama one to
David Ralph [26:40]
two in a Wonder Woman outfit, which is that’s the bizarre thing you can’t get the four legs in is quite difficult. But I’m going to do that. And if my marriage survives the night, so I’m going to come back to you. And I’m going to say you’ve changed me for the best.
Travis Thomas [26:54]
But if it doesn’t, you probably won’t get an email response from me.
David Ralph [26:58]
No, fair enough. Fair enough. Today, what I’m going to do now what I’m going to do, we’re going to delve back into your own personal story. I’m going to play some words. Now these are from Jim Carrey shoes, the inspiring here he is
Jim Carrey [27:08]
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 [27:35]
Now always reviewing history. And you first saw improv when he was about 18 or 19. And you were drawn to it. Yes. What was it about that? Because as Jim was saying, He’s dead never had the to really go for it. But you going into an environment, although supportive, is quite scary as well.
Travis Thomas [28:00]
Yes, it is. And I’m glad you played that Jim Carrey quote, that is that is by far one of my favorite favorite clips and favorite quotes that I’ve heard in the last few years and and return to that one frequently, especially when, you know, I’m going through days or weeks or a month where I’m looking at my business and going All right. All right, where’s where’s the next growth here? And I started to question Am I doing the right thing? You know, is, is there a safety net? Is there a plan B? And I go back to that idea, and I’m like, No, right like this, this is what I’m passionate about. This is where this is the thing that right now really connects with my sense of purpose. Now I’m not attached to it having to to be this specific thing. But I know that this this thing is live. Yes. And that I’m doing right now, is the best expression of my individual purpose. I’m totally open to that evolving is something else. But I also know that when i when i get queasy or hurt, nervous, that’s just fear. And so I go back to, hey, you know, I wake up every day and I get to work on something that I love, and I’m around my kids. And I know that I can just I could take a quote unquote, job somewhere else. And I’ve done that before. And I know the the lack of happiness, I have sort of making that sacrifice. But to go back to your question of, I actually didn’t take my first improv class until I was 25. My wife and I had just moved to Boston, we were both working corporate jobs. And I’d always wanted I’d seen improv before, probably when I was 18, or 19, or had always wanted to take a class, but never had the opportunity. And when I saw the show in Boston, I said, I need to do that. And there was something about why
David Ralph [29:45]
why need that’s a strong word.
Travis Thomas [29:47]
Yeah, you know, it’s a good question, what I think that resonated with me. I’d always loved comedy. And I’d done a little bit of stand up comedy in college emphasis on little. And I love comedy comedies always been very important to me, but I grew up playing sports. And there was something about the team dynamic, the collaboration dynamic of having a group of people on stage, that were creating something out of nothing. And they were doing it in total support of one another. And there was an energy there was a spirit about that. That was to me just, it was just so inspiring to go like, wow, how did they do that? How did how did those people create something where where it looked like it was pre planned, which, which we know that it wasn’t? And I just like, wow, how do you do that? I want to know how to do that. And that was kind of that sense of I need to know how to do that. And so, you know, I signed up for the training center the next the next Monday, like no exaggeration. And then, you know, a year and a half later I was I’d finished all all the levels and was able to get into performing. But it was that initial spirit of I want to understand these principles. What are they doing doing? What is that group of people doing differently than the rest of the world is doing? Because I just don’t see how that’s possible in the real world. And I think that’s that’s what I initially fell in love with. And then
David Ralph [31:11]
what was the end natural fit for you? I was it like a cloak you put on? Or did you have to sort of squeeze into it and get your arms in and your legs in and it was a bit bit tight for a while.
Travis Thomas [31:25]
It’s funny, you know, it was actually it was a ton of unlearning
my wife and if it’s fine my wife and I actually we unschooled our kids. But for me it before I even knew what what unschooling was for me level one improv was I was having to unlearn what I thought comedy and improvisation was. And for me, you know, in college it’s funny that the whole you know, Jim Carrey I was in college when Ace Ventura came out and, and the rise of Jim Carrey or my college years and, you know, I I’m sure I wasn’t short on really bad Jim Carrey impersonation college. And so I thought, you know, improvisation was going to be Oh, take this impersonation, take this impersonation, bring it to stage. And it was just the opposite. It was no, we’re not doing impersonations. No, you’re not trying to be funny. No, don’t go for the joke. And so improvisation that that that first class or that first level was no, improvisation is not about trying to be funny. It’s not about going for the laugh. It’s actually finding the truth in the situation. Finding the truth in the situation and connecting with your scene partners on stage, and focusing on the relationship, let the comedy come out of the truth. And so for me, that was a huge on learning lesson that I that took a while but then once I kind of understood that I was like, Oh, this is even better. Because now I don’t have to pretend to be someone else’s funny character, I get to create a real, true authentic character and let the comedy come from place of the audience going, Wow, I can connect with that. And it feels more organic and natural than trying to you know, kind of wink into the audience and going for the laugh, which might get the laugh, but it undoubtedly always ruins the same.
David Ralph [33:14]
It’s funny you say that, because I understand that totally older comedians, I really laugh at a brilliant at speaking my life with a twist. And so it could be just you know, how you put biscuits into your coffee and started really sort of mundane stuff, but I can just see the kind of things we do. And they can just twist it perfectly. Now I love all that stuff. But I also love Jim Carrey, when he before he went mental, really. But you know, he’s he’s, he’s a, he’s a bit strange now to say the least. And in the United Kingdom, we had a guy when I was growing up, I don’t know if he really came across to America much called Rick male. And he was a UK guy. He was legend in the 80s. And he was just mad. He was just totally mad. Now my wife hates him. And my wife hates Jim Carrey. And I say to him say to you know why? And she says, because he’s just not funny. And he is funny. Look, he’s naked in a rhino. And he’s trying to climb out a backhoe or the rhino, our funnies bad, you know, can you see? That’s funny? Now, it’s just stupid. She says, and so she couldn’t get that at all. But I totally understand, but there is humor in every area. And yes, I certainly seek it out. I try to seek out the family. I don’t always hit a home run. But I always try to find a finally before I find the serious.
Travis Thomas [34:43]
Well, it you know, in the introduction that you were given for me, David, you talked about this idea of, of this idea of Yes. And even in the difficult times. And I would say the idea of Yes. And especially in the difficult times. And I think the reason the mundane and comedy can resonate with us so much, or, you know, comedians who are able to take, you know, really difficult situations and find the comedy in it. And I think that really is what the essence of us and is all about is when we can we can kind of step back and objectively look at a situation and and be able to sort of deconstruct it in a way where we find the humor, or we find we find the blessing or find the happiness in it is a gift. And when we share that with others people can relate to that, you know, for me, you know with Yes. And the reason I think it’s so powerful is because it’s it’s it is most powerful when we’re going through something in life. That is difficult. The passing of a loved one, a failed business losing an account. It’s during those times where we really want to shut down or we want to make it better uses when we want to kind of switch into that victim mindset. It’s during those times where we really have to be able to say yes and right. And that yes, again, that yes is acceptance, it’s acceptance, that whatever is happening is actually happening, right? We don’t have to like it, but we have to accept it. And we actually cannot overcome it or go through it or move through it until we accept it. And so that when we can accept that whatever we’re going through is difficult. Yes, it is difficult, right? The end is is how we get to choose to respond to it. And that’s why Yes, and is so powerful. It’s not ignoring the challenge. It’s embracing the challenge. It’s not ignoring the facts. It is collaborating with the facts. And so to me living Yes. And is about all about being in partnership with reality. Yes, this is happening. And I actually get to choose how I’m going to respond to what is happening. And I think great comics do that. And then why I’ve tried to bring that into these different fields to say it’s actually during the difficult times where you have to have your yes and mindsets. The most it’s really easy to Yes, and life when everything’s going your way. It’s a lot harder when you run into some roadblocks. And, and that’s why I think it’s so powerful.
David Ralph [37:20]
Yeah, I was gonna start with mentioned that actually, you led me perfectly to my next question, because it’s always been the Yes. And man. But there’s occasions you want to be the no Sod off and leave me alone, man. And yeah, how would you get over that way? You’re not in the mood. You don’t want to do it. You know, it’s all right. Being positive, positive, positive all the time. I try to be positive, but then there’s sometimes you just don’t want to. And the last thing you want is people saying to you, oh, I heard you say on the podcast, basically. Yeah, it was been I was thinking in vain. At the moment. I’m not, you know, how do you get away from just being the normal person and not be? Yes. And man all the time?
Travis Thomas [38:01]
Yeah, it’s great. It’s like you’ve been listening to my bedroom conversations. David, my wife, my wife, and I’ve had this conversation a few times or last few weeks where, you know, I found myself in those moments of just kind of wanting to wallow, I think all of us want to wallow from time to time. And I was just wanting to vent and wallow in my pity. And she was coming in and she was like, No, like, no, I gotta get you. Yes. And there’s a yes. And it sounds like a roughly cutting her off and. And she’s like, what’s wrong? No. And I was like, No, no, no, listen, I know, I get it. I get I know, I have to get saying this. But let me have this moment right now. To just vent.
David Ralph [38:43]
Yeah, and sign it below move away saying the long way
Travis Thomas [38:48]
away. Right. It did work, bad timing. And I just need to vent right now. And I think, you know, again, you know, I’ve got you know, leadership coaching and life coaching skill, experience, maybe skills is debatable. And the ability for us to, to listen to people in a way that’s not always trying to fix and so for me living Yes. And it’s not always about fixing What is going on? It’s been an acceptance with it, and and then responding to it. But yeah, I mean, I am as human as anybody else. Again, I think the reason I teach this is because I struggle I you give me You give me the opportunity to to, to make an excuse why something didn’t work out, I will take it. But then this damn training that I have quickly reminds me like, all right, Travis, you know, at some point, you’re going to have to face it and say yes, and to it. And so yes, it is human. I do not want to, you know, use Yes. And as what a friend of mine would call it a spiritual bypass, which is, you know, we do need to allow difficult things, I think to hit us. And and we can sit with and we can learn what we need to learn from that adversity. But we can’t stay there. Right. At some point, we’ve got to go Okay, I think I’ve I’ve sucked out whatever learning I can get from this adversity. Now how do I move forward in a way that is actually a positive, negative positive, because I’m just going to be a positive person, but a positive because all right, I’ve suck the marrow, I suck the learning out of this adversity. Now I’m going to move forward in a way that actually makes me better and stronger. And I think if you look at any athlete, any company, anyone who has achieved anything notable, they went through so many challenges on the way to getting there. And it’s not because they went through the challenges. It’s what they learned from the challenges along the way. And so you know, I like to say you cannot progress until you say yes, at some point, we’ve got to be willing to say yes, and gain acceptance with whatever difficulty we’re sitting in, but we can’t stay there. That’s why the end at some point has to be all right, schmuck. And what are you going to do about it? And that’s when we get back up on our feet. That’s when we brush ourselves off. But it’s totally fine. We got to sit in our Guru from time to time we’ve got to allow we’ve got we’ve got to allow the good I call it the goo. We’ve got to allow the goo to transform us. And where I came up with that that analogy, David is, and I never knew this until a few years ago is that when a caterpillar creates its cocoon, and the caterpillar goes into the cocoon. Let’s be honest, that cocoon looks a lot like a tomb looks like a coffin. I imagine that Caterpillar is thinking this is it. It goes into its cocoon. its entire body. The entire body of the caterpillar liquefies into a black goo. There’s no part of that Caterpillar body that is there anymore, it becomes a black goo. But this is science science says that goo is rich with nutrients potential. And it is from that black goo that the new form of the butterfly is formed. And what I also just found out this week is that the DNA of the butterfly is the same DNA as the caterpillar. But now he had a pillar form. Yes, that Caterpillar, that Caterpillar form turns into a black goo, the butterfly comes from the black goo, the DNA stays the same. And that glue is rich with potential with that potential with nutrients and potential. So that’s why I say we have to be willing to sit in our cocoon of goo, so that we can be transformed. There is no Caterpillar that gets to have the bypass and go straight from Caterpillar to butterfly. So we need to we actually need to embrace and appreciate those guru moments. But we can’t stay in the goo. We’ve got to allow ourselves to transform and I think that is the Yes. And of those difficult situations.
David Ralph [43:00]
you’ve convinced me you’ve convinced me Travis, I’m gonna fill up a sleeping bag full of blood orange, and I’m going to zip myself in there. And stay there all weekend until I come out as something better than I am now.
Travis Thomas [43:13]
Oh, please video that for me.
David Ralph [43:15]
I don’t want to do that kind of stuff. I don’t want people to see my naked body or blue monster. Well, maybe somebody. So what was going through my mind as you were saying that was um, how does it lead to a business phone is always saying you’re doing improv, which is great. It’s fun. Let’s turn it into a corporate gig. But it’s not as easy as just going. There you go. It’s a corporate gig. How do you first transition?
Travis Thomas [43:44]
For me? For me personally?
David Ralph [43:47]
Yeah, for you. But yeah, for you, because I’m talking to you, Travis. No one else is going to answer that question. This is a podcast.
Travis Thomas [43:56]
You’re asking how have I personally trained turn this into a business?
David Ralph [44:01]
Yes, absolutely true. concept.
Travis Thomas [44:04]
Do you don’t get it? I’m slow. Yeah, there’s some translation that’s lost in the waves from across the ocean, David? So yes, how if I so let’s I’ll put it this way, there’s been a lot of goo. I’ll tell you that. And I’m sure I’m probably sitting in some guru right now. And the reality was, you know, from the time I started performing as an improviser, just about 20 years ago, to where I am now, it has been a crazy, crazy journey, the fact that your podcast is all about connecting the dots. joining up the dots is if I look back on my path, and I’m like, holy cow, I had no idea the decision that I made here, or at this point, I had no idea it looks completely disjointed. It looks so in congruence, it looks and so to be able to look back and connected dots on my journey of how one decision led me into personal development. And another one led me into corporate training. And another one led me into working with elite athletes, and living in a boarding school boys dormitory with my family of five for three years. None of that made sense at the time. But there’s no way I can be doing what I’m doing today, working in education, working with sports teams, and working in corporations, if I hadn’t had all of these different experiences along the way, And truth be told, all of those experiences at the time were desperation, because I needed I needed to work. But I was open enough to go Okay, I need to work. But I need to work in a way that is purposeful and meaningful to me. And that’s what showed up. But as far as where I am today, I’ve used sort of that, that wealth of diverse experience, to feel like I can go into educational institutions, I can go into college and professional sports teams. And I can go into corporations and say I have I have been here. I know what you’re dealing with. I know the mindset of what you’re dealing with, and and some of the ideas I have to offer, I believe we’re going to be helpful. And I think it really is that that wealth and diversity of experience that has helped helped me kind of create a niche in this field of public speaking and corporate training. There’s a lot of improvisers out there who do corporate training. But I don’t think there’s a lot of improvisers out there that have necessarily had, maybe the diversity of experience that I’ve had in these different fields. And again, that wasn’t always by design. That was by sort of life happening. And and me sort of living in the goo and turning each of those into a yes and but truth be told, I’m smack dab in the middle of it right now. No turning this into a life and turning this into a career
David Ralph [46:51]
he’s gonna work is going to work because I’m going to play Steve Jobs famous beach now that cements the faith you have in your journey, his Steve,
Steve Jobs [46:59]
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 leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [47:34]
Say Travis, Steve, Steve says those words sound is going to be true. done it.
Travis Thomas [47:38]
I know, right? And I know every skeptic who’s listening to this right now David’s going it’s really easy for Steve Jobs to say that after he had built an empire, right. And but but but I agree with him 100% and I again, I look back, I look back at my path. And those dots did not make any sense. My 20 years of Dodds didn’t make any sense at the time. But and that’s why I feel you know, David, for anybody listening is that this idea of, of having a personal sense of purpose in our lives. And for me, you know, purpose is not what you do is why you do everything that you do. It’s very sort of Simon cynic, you know, it’s the why, yeah. And, you know, having a having an intrinsic motivation. To me, it’s living with meaning what are the things that are most meaningful to you in your life? Well start to start, start to spend time and attention, developing things around the things that are meaningful to us. And you actually just might create a career out of it. Or we can spend time developing a skill set and an expertise and things that have no meaning to us, we could become really successful in it and be miserable at the same time. It’s that whole Jim Carrey quote again, so if but if we’re really clear, if we’re really clear on what’s meaningful to us, us, and what feels purposeful to us, well, then it’s just start moving in that direction. and say, yes, and, you know, as Tina say, Tina Fey’s great quote is say yes. And then you’ll figure it out afterwards. Right?
David Ralph [49:14]
Which is true. He’s absolutely,
Travis Thomas [49:17]
yeah. And Peter black wrote the book The answer to how is yes. Which is one of the chapters in my book, because that’s it the answer to it’s not, I will make that decision. Once I have figured out how every step is going to go along the way. Is that an opportunity that falls in line with my greater sense of purpose? Yes, well, how are you going to figure it out? I don’t know. But let’s say yes to it. And then now, we’ll, we’ll figure it out afterwards. And even if you don’t achieve the success, or if it doesn’t go as planned, you are waking up and you are dedicating your time and your effort and your spirit and your passion to something that you believe in every day, how in the world is that not going to lead to other opportunities that continue to bless you and your family. Because it means you’re showing, you’re waking up happy, you’re waking up on purpose, knew that energy itself is contagious, and your blessing everyone else around you. And so as long as long as we’re not attached to what that specific outcome needs to look like, we are going to continually be opening ourselves up to new opportunities that we can say yes, and to, and it might, the end result might be completely different than what we thought the initial goal was. But we’re probably going to look back at and go, Oh, my gosh, who cares? I’m so much happier now. Or I’m so much more fulfilled, because I have followed that, that that purpose along the way.
David Ralph [50:39]
Now, brilliant stuff. And I’ll tell you what, just before we send you on the Sermon on the mic to have a one on one with yourself. I’ve been reflecting recently, because doing anything, as you’ve been saying, and I’ve been saying it’s hard, it really is hard. And there’s times when it looks like an overnight success. But it’s just looks rubbish behind the scenes, you know, it’s just terrible. And I’ve been reflecting recently that my greatest gift was actually having the listeners out there. Because if I’m doing a show about Cameron, guys keep going. And I give, you know, I see that a lot with podcasters. They they create these shows, and they do about five episodes, and I give up and I think you never got it, you never got the understanding of what you’re actually doing. You are giving belief to people, and they give it back to you. And so I think it’s been the biggest gift that I’ve ever had really, and when things got really, really tough, and he did and financially was difficult. And I was still churning out the podcast episode saying, you know, keep on going keep on going. It was just like on FaceTime that that sort of saved me really.
Travis Thomas [51:47]
Absolutely. Right. And and and by you being committed to, to blessing others with this podcast, right? That is that built in accountability that is that built in intrinsic accountability to something bigger than yourself, that that helps you get through those guru moments. Because if it were just about you, you can close up shop and no one would would care, right? But if it’s just about Wow, if I stop doing this, there’s going to be all these people out here. Who Who Who are being deprived of some inspiration that I can share with them. Well, then you crawl back into the garden and you do another podcast and that accountability to something bigger than yourself is so crucial.
David Ralph [52:27]
It would be advocate, I tell you, it would be anarchy across the world, the markets would crash. That’d be tsunamis, it would be terrible. If I didn’t share my mad ramblings with the world. I can I can feel it.
Travis Thomas [52:40]
Absolutely. So don’t do it. I won’t
David Ralph [52:42]
I’m gonna be him as an old man still gonna welcome to join up dots. Yeah,
Travis Thomas [52:48]
yeah, it’s the button on last week at Season Two or whatever, where they had to keep pushing the button every, I don’t know, 20 hours or something. And they were afraid what happens when we stop pushing the button, I don’t know the world might end. So you got to keep pushing that button.
David Ralph [53:00]
I will do I will be bringing the mic into the garden whenever I can, as I will also be pressing this button. But I’m going to do now because this is the part of the show that we called a sermon on the mic when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Travis, what age would you choose? And what advice would you like to give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme. And when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Travis Thomas [53:51]
Man, I could listen to that all day. Hey, hey, 14 year old Travis. Hey, buddy. How you doing? Yeah, don’t be freaked out. Right? Yeah. Here’s a little bit greater than it was right now. Yeah, I know. I’m a little thinner than you are right now. That’s okay. Hey, you’ve got a growth spurt coming? It’s going to be on right? Yeah, you’re gonna you’re gonna straighten out and those teeth are getting fixed by braces. Hang in there, buddy. It’s gonna be okay. Hey, man, let me give you some advice. You know what, a lot of times you question your worth you question whether you have any special gift in the world that anyone really cares about? And the answer is yes. But it’s not. It’s not the gift that you typically associate. It’s not about being the smartest kid in the classroom. It’s not to be said about being the most talented player on the field. It’s not about being the funniest kid. It’s not about having any of these superficial gifts that make you feel special. It is about your ability actually, to connect with people and actually bring out the best in other people, which doesn’t really sound sexy, and cool right now and your life. Let me give you a little insight your life is going to be coming crazy, right? But, but guess what? everything’s going to be okay. And so even though you’re going to question yourself continually, you are going to wonder if you know, what is your purpose in this world, just stay true to yourself. Stay true to your heart. Everything’s going to be okay. It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to question. But just keep on doing what you’re doing. And know that along the way, you are going to meet some amazing people. You’re going to be blessed by amazing people. And you are going to get the opportunity to also bless people at the same time. And so your superpower Travis your superpower is the ability to make other people feel good about themselves. And at the end of the day, it’s not such a bad superpower to have. So hey, hang in there. My buck tooth chubby, chubby, chunky 14 year old Everything’s going to be all right.
David Ralph [55:54]
Tony back to chubby. He’s gonna grow up with a Come on.
Travis Thomas [56:01]
Well, that’s what he’s doing in his head right now. So I was just you know, I was just, you know, confirming you know that that’s exactly what his inner dialogue sounds like.
David Ralph [56:09]
Just get him to do the shuffle, shuffle, and then it will be fine. If you remember this.
Travis Thomas [56:14]
Yeah, of course. Do I remember the shuffle truffle? Of course. I do. Goonies in the house? Yes.
David Ralph [56:19]
Yeah, I tried to get my kids to do that. But I won’t do it. I would they’ve gone beyond that. They are in their 30s. But still the shuffle trap all never gets boring, does it? Well, Travis, thank you so much for being on here today. And what’s the number one best way that our audience who’ve been listening can connect with you?
Travis Thomas [56:37]
Yeah, easiest way is my website is is live. Yes. and.com? Just one word live. Yes. And, and on social media, you know, instagram, twitter, facebook at live. Yes. And, and I love hearing from people, if anyone wants to ask a question or anything like that, I’m super accessible. Because as you all know, now, I don’t really have a life. So if you reach out, you will get you will get a response. Or if you run into me sitting at one of the many coffee shops here in South Florida, come on up and say hi, I’d love to talk to you.
David Ralph [57:11]
I’ll tell you what, when I’m over there, I’ll come up and say hello. And I’ll give you a big slice. And
Travis Thomas [57:16]
I’m going to hold you to it. David gonna hold you to it.
David Ralph [57:19]
Yeah, you won’t want that man hug because sometimes I don’t let go. And sometimes I wrap her leg around as well and just make it uncomfortable for you. But hey, that’s what I do.
Travis Thomas [57:29]
Well, hey, I know some great lemma farms here. So be ready, my friend. I’m
David Ralph [57:34]
excited already. I’m excited. And I’ve got to finish up the show. But hang on. I’m a professional. Travis, thank you so much for spending time with us today and joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you got 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. Travis Thomas. Thank you so much,
Travis Thomas [57:54]
David, it’s been such a pleasure. Thank you.
David Ralph [57:58]
Travis Thomas, I really liked him. I really liked him. I like the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. But he’s taking humor into an area that maybe you wouldn’t expect. And by getting the corporate world to think in a different way. I salute you, Mr. Thomas, because that was always one of my big bug bears where people were just too serious in companies. And it wasn’t a fine a lot of time. And you get some companies that you hear that they really thrive and I play frisbee at lunch times and stuff. And it’s a real team effort. I think they’re few and far between. So I’m Travis, as I say, I salute you. Thank you so much for being on the show. And thank you so much for doing what you’re doing. Until next time, and please continue listening to join up dots. If there’s anyone that you’ve seen on the internet or a friend of yours and things yet they’ve got an interesting story, interesting backstory, they’ve got success, please let us know. Because we’re always looking for different types of guests that you may not have heard on our podcast. So that’s always very, very useful. So if anybody’s got got a guest that I think would be good on the show, please just drop us a line at join up firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re taking it forward. But other than that, please be here next time because we will be waiting for you. Look out for yourselves. Thank you very much and goodbye.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you were 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.