A conversation with Neal Foard, Chief Marketing Officer at Within Inc.
“There is a phenomenon in quantum mechanics where vibrations of energy actually have an effect around them, on their environment and the other. You’ve probably heard that in quantum mechanics, you can actually observe a quantum phenomenon, and by observing it, you’ve changed it. It’s the strangest weirdest thing. Well, you go out there in the world, and you reflect a certain positivity. It’s astonishing how it creates momentum of positivity.” –Neal Foard
In this episode of Control the Room, I had the pleasure of speaking with Neal Foard about his latest initiative spreading messages of positivity on social media. He shares how he stumbled into his role as a social media influencer, improving people’s day. Later, he shares stories about his faith in humanity during these divisive times. We then discuss the importance of finding a tribe of people that you vibe with. Listen in for more inspiration on how to practice positivity.
[2:20] How Neal Stumbled Into His Work Spreading Positivity On Social Media
[16:20] How Some People Live The Wreckage Of Their Futures.
[28:32] Why You Need To Practice Positivity.
[28:12] How Change Starts With Local Solutions To Global Problems.
[39:40] The Most Important Decision You Make Is To Be In A Good Mood.
Links | Resources
Neal on Linkedin
Neal on YouTube
Neal on TikTok
Neal on Twitter
Neal on Instagram
About the Guest
Neal Foard has spent 25 years in advertising, creating award-winning ad campaigns for global power brands like Budweiser, Lexus, and Sony. For his work on Toyota, Neal ranked among the world’s top ten most awarded creative directors in 2002. He has consulted on creative messaging for Fortune 500 companies and universities and has been a featured speaker at TEDx conferences. Most recently, Neal has gained a sudden following on social media for his inspirational videos about the kindnesses of everyday people.
About Voltage Control
Voltage Control is a change agency that helps enterprises sustain innovation and teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings.
Subscribe to Podcast
Engage Control The Room
Douglas: Welcome to the Control The Room podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures to the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control, and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting.
Thanks for listening. If you’d like to join us live for a session sometime, you can join our weekly Control The Room facilitation lab. It’s a free event to meet fellow facilitators and explore new techniques so you can apply the things you learn in the podcast in real-time with other facilitators, sign up today at voltagecontrol.com/facilitation-lab.
If you’d like to learn more about my book, Magical Meetings, you can download the magical meetings quick start guide a free PDF reference with some of the most important pieces of advice from the book. Download a copy today at magicalmeetings.com. Today I’m with Neil Ford, the chief marketing officer for Within Incorporated. Neil came to our attention because of the sudden viral notoriety on TikTok and YouTube, where stories about the better side of human beings have found an audience thirsty for something other than the parade of conflict and perpetual outrage dominating our traditional social media. Welcome to the show, Neil.
Neil: It’s very nice for you to have me.
Douglas: Oh, it’s been really looking forward to this conversation because I’ve been a big fan of the videos. Anytime a new one pops up, it really has a positive impact on my day. So it’s glad to have you here, and want to just start with just hearing a little bit about how you got your start in this work of spreading kindness.
Neil: It’s kind of a funny thing, Doug. I hadn’t started out with any intention of doing that. What I had done was my company Within is we supply labor to Silicon Valley and technical talent. And what happened was as we were just starting out, we didn’t have a giant marketing budget. So I reckoned that maybe a kind of cool way for us to get the word out is to do some videos on LinkedIn and because I couldn’t necessarily make any promises about how much better we were than everybody else, I thought, “Well, let me just make general statements about my attitude and our company’s attitude towards business and people.” And that started to shape itself. It sort of took on a kind of life of its own. People would give me a lot of positive feedback and I was trying to just do something inexpensive and fairly bite sized, but that would nevertheless contain a kind of ethos, a sort of genetic imprint that positivity is a good thing.
And as it turns out, my daughter and I were having breakfast in at one day in a little diner and she decided to post one of the videos to TikTok, and it kind of blew up. And the one that really got over was called a postcard from 1969. It very rapidly got about three and a half million hits on TikTok. And then that bounced over somebody just pushed it over onto Facebook and it got like another 5 million shares there. So clearly, it was like, “Wow, I might be saying something that people like, and I can go deeper into it.” But that was just the fact, it was like a lot of things that get unexpected traction it was sort of accidental.
Douglas: I love that. In fact, one of my favorite forms of innovation is called ex adaptation, which is where people just kind of stumble in the stuff. It’s like the guy that invented the microwave just happened to have a chocolate bar next to a microwave tower.
Neil: And had a chocolatey pocket, but-
Douglas: That’s right. So for our listeners, what’s the 69 postcard about?
Neil: Postcard from 1969 was a reminiscence about a true story that happened to my father and I. 1969 was a very rough year for America, and it was not to… Just to paraphrase the video it was all about the incredible strife and social division there was in America. And people forget because of our current circumstances. They forget that this can be a kind of persistent American phenomenon, that we’re a little bit at each other’s throats. And we don’t see eye to eye on very important, significant issues. Back then it was the Vietnam War and it was civil rights and it was the politics of assassination. It was a really rough era. And my father was just at his wits end. He’d grown up in the depression and he’d seen firsthand how Americans can come together in very desperate circumstance.
And it was sort of so destroying to him that the country was tearing itself apart. When we went on this drive together and our car broke down and what then happened was the astonishing generosity and kindness of strangers in getting us back on the road. And it kind of restored his sense of humanity. If you had told him at the start of the day, “You’re going to be broken down in the middle of summer in Bakersfield, in the California Central Valley in a temperature of about 102 degrees and yet by the time this day ends, you will have your faith in humanity restored and you’ll feel better about everything,” it would’ve been very difficult for him to write that script. But that was the fact. That’s how it went down. That’s like a lot of things. Yeah. What you think is going to be a disastrous start to your day and then it turns out to be one of the coolest things that could have happened to you. It shapes your future.
Doug: Well, I was talking to a public speaker trainer recently and she was talking about how recognize our own emotions and how they play an impact and how we respond and what unfolds in front of us. Right? So example being before you go on stage, if your heart is pounding a little bit quickly and you haven’t done this much and so you think, “Oh, wow, I’m just terrible at this,” and you let your head get ahead of you and the negative thoughts take control or even you see that person on the front row yawns, maybe they were up all night caring for a sick loved one and yet you’re thinking, “Oh, they hate me.” And so those, those negative thoughts really kind of destroy you and to your point you don’t know how the rest of the day is going to unfold and so it’s, gosh, a little positivity goes a long way.
Neil: Yeah. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that people don’t think badly if people don’t think of you at all. It’s very rare when it’s about you.
Douglas: Yeah. That actually reminds me of the coffee shop story you told about, I think you called it perfect.
Douglas: Yeah. And the lady that clearly she was absorbed in something other than it wasn’t about the barista, but wow did that barista have a tough time?
Neil: Yeah. In that story, the thing they’re sort of like three heroes to the story. For the benefit of your listeners, the basic thrust of it was that we rolled into a Starbucks. A woman went up to the barista in a very crowded morning and made a complicated order. And when the barista repeated it back and didn’t quite get it right, the woman was sort of mean spirited and rude about it. And in order to console the barista, none of us called attention to the fact that the lady was being mean. We simply decomplicated our offers and everybody just kept asking for a black coffee. And that was it. One after the other, just as a gesture to say, “Hey lady, we got you back, nothing complex. It’s just going to be 10 of us one after the other. All you got to do is just turn around and pour us a coffee. We’re good.”
And what happened was that the woman, it wasn’t just that, but when we would pick up our orders, everybody would sort of turn to the barista and say, “Ah, perfect.” And it was sort of our way of chasing this woman had been mean to say, “Look, don’t ask for something complicated. You’ll get it the correct way.” This is not to say that people aren’t allowed to order complicated things at Starbucks. It’s just don’t be a dick about it. And in the end, the hero of the story turns out to be the woman who was rude because she had the presence of mind to see that, you know what? I should have been nicer. Everybody else is being nice. So she went up and apologized to the barista. And to me that really truly was a heroic act because we’re all capable of being dickish.
We’re all capable of having a bay and being mean. It’s the ones that decide they’re going to apologize for it. The ones that take a step back, recognize their faults and try to make amends. Those are the ones that are going to make everything better because if you don’t double down on your meanness, if you acknowledge that other people are humans and maybe you had a bad effect on them and then you fix it or you try to fix it, it’s really quite an extraordinary, it’s like an analgesic for the whole culture. If people would just admit occasionally that they’re wrong, just acknowledge. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to have that effect on you. People are hugely forgiving.
Douglas: Yeah. I think the trick is making it safe for people to do so because it can be really scary to step up and make that move. And I think so many dynamics of play there on that story because, Hey, here’s someone suffering and Hey, we can make their life a little bit easier. But then also giving that lady a playbook in an open space of freedom to realize that, “Oh, maybe I can also like step back a little bit and be a little nicer.”
And it reminds me of some other stories, specifically the blowing out the USB cable. And I want to just point out to listeners everyone, I would say at least the large majority of the listeners are facilitators or people that are interested in facilitation. How do we make our meetings better? How do we support our coworkers and teammates and how do we work better and collaborate better? And we all know that positivity, kindness, listening, fostering, these kinds of behaviors is really critical. And I think this guy, this support guy had just such an amazing knack apparently for making people feel comfortable, not knowing the right answer and not making people feel bad just because they made a mistake.
Neil: Yeah. The trouble with IT is that people are often when they have a problem, they’re often under a lot of stress because the fact that their equipment isn’t working means they’re not getting their job done and they find that hugely problematic. What they’re hoping for from IT is an instant fix. And oftentimes these things have to go through a certain packing order of process. What this guy Chris Francisca, I used to work with him at Satchi what he was so good at was he understood that 90% of the time, the problem is going to be really simple. It’ll be something silly like your keyboard isn’t plugged in. The problem is that if you ask somebody if their keyboard isn’t plugged in, it’s embarrassing if they find out that it isn’t. It’s a huge embarrassment.
And instead of being happy that you have fixed their problem, about 40% of the time they’re upset that you now know that they were an idiot. And so they don’t like to be confronted by the fact that they’re stupid. And I shouldn’t even put it that way because they’re not stupid. It happens all the time. Stuff gets unplugged. So what Chris would do is instead of going there, instead of just saying, “Is it plugged in?” In order to embarrass you, he would make a suggestion that, “Oh, you know what, sometimes this is to…” And then he would come up with this fake thing about dust in the USB connector, just so that you would have the opportunity to pull the keyboard away and see if it was plugged in. That’s not what he’s saying he’s doing, he’s saying, “Oh, I need you to unplug it.”
Okay. What he’s really doing is giving you the opportunity to see whether it’s plugged in. And then when you discover it’s oh, shit it wasn’t plugged in. Instead of asking you to admit it, he says, “Now I want you to blow out the USB connector loud enough so that I can hear it.” Like why would he do that? Well, because he wants to give everybody the permission to act like, “Okay, I’m following instructions.” And then he says, “Okay, now you plug it back in and let’s see if that solves the problem.” And about 85% of the time that really did solve the problem. Not because there was dust in the connector, but because he’d given people the opportunity to check if the thing was plugged in. Okay. So what does all this amount to? It seems like such a small thing.
Well, what it amounts to me is that was his approach to everything is I’m not here to embarrass you. I’m here to fix your problem. And in order to fix your problem, I have to walk you through certain steps that might embarrass you. So I’m trying to think about like what the equivalent would be. You go to the doctor and it’s something simple that you’re doing that you don’t realize you’re doing and he, or she could give you permission to admit something without making you feel silly. That’s like a great thing to do. I’m trying to think Doug, of how your listeners might make use of this.
Douglas: It’s really, I think really pretty profound. And I think people, I would encourage folks to just think about their own situations and how they might make it, they just might soften those interactions and make it safe to speak up and people to be vulnerable. And as facilitators, we often have to do that. We often in conversations or in moments of tension or conflict, we might have to ask people to step off the edge a little bit. And giving people a soft way to do that, I think is really great. But when you mention the doctor it made me think of the doorknob or the door handle phenomenon where you’re leaving the doctor and every question you had for the doctor flood into your head and it’s like, maybe that’s what the doctors could do for us. Like they could simulate an early ending so that we so that we can like be ready with all this questions.
Neil: Wow. That’s clever. That’s kind of a cool idea. I will say one thing that one of my colleagues Shrueas does, which is fantastic. He will say to clients often at the beginning of a process, he will say, “Look, you and I both know that this can’t possibly go perfectly. As we doing this work we know it cannot be perfect. Therefore, let’s acknowledge right now. We’re going to have disagreements down the line. There are going to be small things that bother you. They’re going to be little things that irritate me. Possibly you’re going to be asking for something you didn’t think of before and so forth. And I just want you to know we’ll figure it out. We’ll be okay.” So even when we have disagreements, I don’t want you to be scared of them. And I don’t want you to be scared to not speak up when something’s bothering you, because it’s just an organic part of the process.”
I thought, wow, Shrue it’s well done. That was really good because just by acknowledging that you’re going to have trouble and that bringing it up is not a bad thing, it relieves people of the guilt of worrying about whether or not this is what they really want. I think we could all at the beginning of any process acknowledge like for example, let’s take your example. Suppose the doctor were to say, Hey, so the way these things work is we talk about this and then you get out to the parking lot and finally think of the thing that was really bothering you. So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to try and suggest things that you might ask and maybe that will trigger something else. If the physician just acknowledges that this happens, I think it unclocks kind of relief on behalf of the patient.
Douglas: That’s right.
Neil: And oftentimes the reason we don’t think of these things is we’re just too tense. So to whatever extent the physician can make you feel relaxed, it makes it possible for you to think of these things. You were saying something earlier about, sometimes you just get in your own head and you cycle through and you can’t get out of the loop of tension and stress. And my friend Marcus used to call it living in the wreckage of your future. He’d get so caught up in the disasters that might happen. He simply couldn’t be present. And if you have a way of making people relax and feel calm and feel taken care of, it tends to push them out of that loop teammates that will say, “You know what? We’re still going to win.” Don’t relax. We’re still going to win.
You got this. A mate that is very supportive and says, “You’re going to be okay. We’re going to make it.” Did you see that documentary on the brilliant standup comedian? Geez. Who am I thinking of?
Neil: Yeah. George Carlin.
Douglas: Oh, so good.
Neil: He married the absolute perfect person for his career because he came back and announced that he was going to give up his TV job, which he didn’t find satisfying. It was very early in his career. It wasn’t for him. And he wanted to explore a completely different direction, which was going to set them back financially. And when he asked how she felt about that, her response was, “Well, I’ll start making the new press releases.” And as soon as your partner or your colleague hits you with that, as the response like, “Let’s get it. Let’s do it.” It pushes in the clutch and you’re no longer in first gear. Now you’re getting second gear.
And I think we could all do a better job of supporting our colleagues and just people we meet every day in their jobs and let them know, “I got you. I got you. We’re all good here.” Did you hear, not to sort of dig into the stories, but one of my favorite stories, which again was a true story was the one where we were all on that plane from San Jose to Los Angeles. We used to take this plane all the time. The Nerd Bird. Does that ring a bell?
Neil: Okay. So we got on this plane, the Nerd Bird was one of these flights. It was like a 6:00 AM flight LA to San Jose. And then likewise, there would be a Friday flight, 6:00 PM, 7:00 PM. And you would notice that you’d get on the same plane in LA, heading for San Jose at six AM and be the same people every time.
And it would be the same crews, the same flight crews. They were always making that trip. So everybody got sort of familial and there was this phenomenon that occurred, which is we got very proprietary and about we felt like we owned the flight crews. Like they belonged to us. Like if they tried to bring in a substitute crew, we’d be like, “What the hell? Where’s Janet?” And so what happened one day was that this guy gets on and he starts to try to stuff his… There’s no way his bag’s going in the overhead. It’s too big. But he’s trying like hell to shove stuff around and move things. And the flight attendant comes up and says, “Listen, let me check your bag. I think your bag’s too big.” And he wasn’t taking no for an answer. And he starts pulling other people’s bags out and she’s like, “Would you please let me check your bag. Please don’t do that.”
And he got kind of dickish with her. And what he didn’t realize was you think she’s alone on this plane and guys got up out of their seats and came forward. And at first he’s thinking, “Nick, they’re going to help me with my bag.” No dude, we’re going to tell you to shut. I won’t swear on your program, but it was like sit down. And the idea was like, you are being mean to her. She is one of us. Please do not speak badly to her because that is making her job difficult.
This guy was like, “What the hell? What is this like five air marshals?” Well, the best part of the story was that she turns to the plane and realizes everybody has her back like you’re not alone on this plane. You are among friends and we’re not going to let this spoil your day. Well, he sat down, God bless him. And he shut up. But all of a sudden her demeanor completely changed when she realized everybody was there to support her. It really improved her the way that she did her job, she was just extra smiling to people and all the guys that had gotten up, they got an extra wink.
Douglas: So I love this story and it, and I was already thinking about a previous guest that I had on, which is Peter Gray from the University of Virginia. And he does a lot of work in network analysis. And one of the things in network analysis is this idea of the energizer. And if you don’t have any energizers in your network, it’s a really bad sign for your network, for your company, for your organization, for your cause. And what you’re describing, whether it’s Carlin’s wife or even these passengers on this plane, these are energizers because they’re providing positive energy into the equation. They’re saying, “I want to hear what you have to say. I’m going to support you in your next steps.” I think it actually permeates a lot of your stories around how a random stranger or a colleague can spread a little positivity, can support people in some meaningful way.
Neil: Yeah. There is a phenomenon in quantum mechanics where vibrations of energy actually have an effect around them, on their environment and the other. You’ve probably heard that in quantum mechanics, you can actually observe a quantum phenomenon and by observing it you’ve changed it. It’s the strangest weirdest thing. Well, you go out there in the world and you reflect a certain positivity. It’s astonishing how it creates momentum of positivity. You and I were talking before the things we started recording Doug and we were talking about how there are technologies right now that are weaponized to divide us. They are negativity, outrage, rage, yelling, screaming in the public sphere and what I find is that it’s unlike previous times in our history, because everybody is anonymous. You can be anonymous in the public space and so there’s just all this vitriol.
And there are people who make their living, driving a wedge between us and my goal in all of the videos that I’m doing is to be the antidote to that. Now I am a very, very small, tiny little infinite decimal molecule, but I find that the more positivity I radiate out into the universe, the more like-minded people there are. And my hope is that by reminding people, there are forces trying to divide you but people actually aren’t like that. 90% of us are pretty cool. And of the remainder. They’re just having a bad day. Yes, there are sociopaths and psychopaths, and there are people who just don’t give a crap and they’re a narcissist, but their number is actually quite small. It’s just that, now that they’ve been given a platform and people love watching a good train wreck, they become large parts of our lives, but we can’t allow ourselves to let that negativity… We can’t allow ourselves to spend any more time with it. You got to let it go. Don’t watch the negativity. Don’t listen to it. Just recognize people are generally pretty good.
And the way that I always caution people about this is I say, so I’ll prove to you that people are mostly good. And it’s that think of your own case. Have you ever said something that you regretted later? Have you ever been mean to something and someone and needed to apologize? And of course the answer is yes, of course you have. Does that mean you’re a bad person? No, no. You’re human. If you make an effort to apologize though, that’s also very human and that’ll go a long way. And by the way, a little advice on apologies, an apology should never contain a but. I’m so sorry but. Just be sorry.
Even if you have a good excuse, like I’m so sorry, my mother died yesterday. You don’t have to tack that on just be sorry. And by the way, and that includes, don’t be, I’m sorry, but it’s partly your fault. You know what I mean? Because that’s the real, the non apology, apology. Like I’m sorry if someone took offense. What you’re pretending is that it was somebody else’s fault for taking offense or do you know what I’m talking about? That non apology apology that’s so in vogue.
Douglas: Oh absolutely. Yeah. That’s pretty selfish because it’s actually pointing out that you think you have issue with someone else. Why should they take offense? It’s like you’re also like automatically separating those. You’re not sorry to everyone. Just the people that took offense. Maybe some people felt weird because you offended others. It’s like everyone deserves an apology if you offended someone.
Neil: Yeah. And also I do find that taking offense is like in the words of the stoic, pay no mind to the things that you can’t control. You have only the control over your own reaction to things. And you needn’t inflam things. To go back to this principle of the forces of division within, we were dealing with a cybersecurity company and we were helping them develop some of their programming. And they sort of pulled me aside at one point and said, cyber crime, cyber terrorism, all these cyber threats are going to increase because they work so well. And he started acquainting me with just how many divisions of the Russian FSB that’s the subsequent version of the KGB. The FSB has whole divisions, whole giant bureaus dedicated to spreading misinformation in the United States, spreading division.
They will create whole identities and bought farms and everything else in order to create outrage and tension. These are… You know when you say, “Oh, like armies of people doing this?” No, literally armies. The Chinese have the same thing. They have two very big bureaus whose purpose is cyber crime and fermenting disrupting America because it cannot be destroyed from the outside. So they attempt to destroy it from the inside. And when you have professional weaponized divisions of incredibly smart people trying to sow division in the United States, we have to recognize that you’re not disagreeing necessarily because your people are bad or you have an enemy it’s because you are being encouraged to be mad at people and they use technology to do it. What is the anecdote? The anecdote is to unplug, to try to recognize the humanity in your fellow people to see it when it’s there to admire it when it’s there and when you are less than perfect to be perfectly all right and enable yourself to go, “Hey, I’m sorry about that.” I didn’t mean to upset you,
Douglas: As I think about the anecdote of at the system level and this videos kind of feeding out there and becoming part of the algorithm and getting recommended and it’s like, people have a dose of it. There’s also, I think at the individual level, a really profound shift of concentrating on the positive, practicing the positive, affirming the positive versus just getting sucked into the negative. And what I mean by that is there’s actually been some research that shows that venting doesn’t work.
Neil: Oh yeah. It only winds you up.
Douglas: Yeah. Yeah. And you get accustomed to venting. So you just want to vent about whenever something happens, that’s your instinct go vent. So the negative is just as addictive as the positive. It’s just, what do we seek out and what are we wanting to hone and build up with inside ourselves.
Neil: There’s a astonishing quality of sunny people who make other people smile. And I have a huge admiration for people that are just generally upbeat and there’s a quality that I most admire. And that is the ability of people to be calm in the face of stress. It’s not a quality that I have hence why I’m such a big admirer because I see how it’s very difficult for me and I look at people who remain calm in the face of stress or in the face of somebody coming at them angrily and they remain peaceful. It is a very calming and soothing thing. So as you were saying to vent is the opposite. Venting it spreads bile. It spreads negative energy. And in the law of attraction, it doesn’t attract peace to it. It only attracts more violence and fear and you know leaders, great leaders radiate an air of calm in the face of what seems to be everything burning down.
Zoo animals are on fire machine, gun bullets are flying over overhead and leaders radiate a sense of calm. And don’t worry. We’ll get through this. And I think positivity, a sense of keeping your eyes open and your ears open and looking for the positive, you’d be shocked at how many good things happened to you during a day. But you never took notice of it because it didn’t cause you any pain. The person that holds the door open for you, the person who points out, “Oh, you’ve got a little piece of food on your goatee or who just smiles at you or in a family in particular I always make it a point to when my children are in the room to touch their mother sweetly so I always touch my wife when I walk by, because I want their children to feel the reassurance that I love their mother.
And those little gestures you don’t notice them as the good parts of life, but I think it might be a good thing for us to every once in a while recognize and just take stock of the fact that of my colleagues, how many of them do I like. You’d be surprised that probably most of them and even the colleagues that you don’t necessarily like if you were to stay sunny around them and always be a positive effect on their lives, they might not be able to control themselves. They might wind up liking you in return.
Douglas: It strikes me again I kind of mentioned this a moment ago. That’s like there’s a phenomenon here where there’s different grain sizes to the same work. Whether it’s something small, like touching your wife when you walk by or something bigger where you’re actually producing videos and putting them out there. And hundreds of thousands of people are seeing these things. It’s still local solutions to a global problem. And that’s one of the phenomenon of solving complex problems. I don’t know how intentional that is or if it’s just something that comes naturally to you but I really applaud that because so often people get paralyzed because they see how just the weight of the problem and how big it is so it’s hard to take action. And these simple movements can compound and have a big impact.
Neil: That’s a great observation. The idea that you can be overwhelmed by the scale of problems and that being overwhelmed, paralyzes you from action. I wish Doug that I had started out with the intention of doing what I’m doing, but truthfully, once it got a kind of accidental traction, I just grew addicted to the positive feedback. There’s this great Gary Vayner Chuck sentiment. He goes never read your comments. Never read your comments because you don’t want to let the haters stop you. And you don’t want to get addicted to the positive because you’ll start to think things that aren’t true of yourself. Well, and I was saying, it’s too late Gary, I’m already addicted to the positive feedback I get because people will so often have the reaction of, oh, you’ve really made my morning or these are tears of joy and so forth.
And I think to myself, well, I’m not making any money on this, but it’s certainly feeding me in ways that I pretty much will never stop because even if I haven’t monetized it, I still love the idea that there’s somebody out there that I don’t know who I have had a good effect on and I’ve improved their day. In fact, I think that’s one of the coolest things in fact that I don’t know these people. How cool is that right? That somebody in Olathe, Kansas, or Shared in Wyoming or Raleigh, by the way you’ll get a kick out of this. I mentioned, somebody said to me, “Hey, if you’re ever in Tera Haute, stop in, let me know and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee. And I thought, “Oh, that’s kind of a cool idea.”
And then other people would say, it they’d go, “Oh yeah. If you’re in Tampa, stop in. I’ll buy you dinner.” And I thought, what a nice sentiment. I would actually like to go out and do that. Well, there’ve been enough of them now where I’m actually planning on a kind of a tour and going out and seeing if I can make it all the way across the country without paying for a cup of coffee. It’s not fully baked yet, but I’m working on it with these guys from Sheridan, Wyoming that I met because of the videos, these young guys they’re the best they have this company called Go Fast Don’t Die. And they make accessories and stuff for motorcycle culture. But that’s a very certain kind of attitude that they have, which is, Hey, we want to run from any regrets. We want to live like… I don’t want to end this adventure thinking to myself, “Oh, I didn’t do this thing. Or I didn’t meet that person.”
And they’re just such gamers, not gamers in the sense like they play video games, but they love their life. And so they’ve said, “Hey, you know what we could do? All we could do is, we’ll tack ourselves onto like some band traveling the country and maybe you could be the opening act and then we’ll go around and we’ll stop in all these towns. And we’ll do podcasts based on the conversations you have with these people.” I’m thinking that sounds like a great idea. Let’s do it.
Neil: Yeah, I think it could be really cool. And it’s just about finding a tribe out there of people that spiritually agree with you. And by the way, I know for a fact that I’m getting people from all over the political spectrum. In other words, I know [inaudible 00:35:44] blue state and red state and I’m getting a lot of like, “Hey, that was a great message.” And I’m thinking, “You see, if you people are as divided as you think you are, you wouldn’t be responding to this message this way.” That proves to me, that’s the that’s proof of concept that we are all actually kind of in the middle on this stuff. And this division that we have is artificial. It’s created, it’s fomented by people that hate you from other places. And there’s a special circle in hell for anybody that is trying to drive us apart when in fact, most of us all just want to be good people to each other. So I could get all the way across the country, red state, blue state I’ll find people definitely.
Douglas: Well, if you’re anywhere near Austin, we’ll take care of you.
Neil: Oh Austin for sure. Absolutely, Austin for sure. Because I know people out there that have signaled back and said, “Yeah, we ought do this.” I’m like, “Okay.”
Douglas: That’s so cool. I’ll tell you this. I’ve traveled quite a bit as a musician and I actually have blog about how amazing it is to travel when you’ve got people that you are traveling to to connect with. And it’s a little different in business travel because it’s a little bit more when you’re going there for an internal purpose and you have a little time to actually be with the people. It’s similar to business travel in the sense that you’re going there to meet with someone. The people are as much the reason you’re going there as the destination and they show you their town. They’re like, “Oh, come over here. This is my favorite coffee shop. Or you got to eat at this restaurant or you got to go check out this thing,” and see it through their lens.
And so I’m sure it’s probably obvious to you if you’re thinking about this trip, but I tell you it is. I got spoiled because when I started to travel outside of being a musician on the road, just kind of going from like show to show with other musicians and had to just kind of go be just a normal traveler, I missed it. I would draw.
Neil: Yeah. You show up in a town for a business meeting, you do the meeting and then you’re back to the airport and off you go or you’re inside a hotel and it’s not the same experience at all. And it’s a funny thing Douglas, because if you think about why are you alive? There’s this great Charles Bukowski quote, where he says people get so up in arms and outraged over tiny little things that don’t matter. And then they seem when it comes to something important, like the meaning of their lives, they don’t even notice.
I think that the ability to go out there on the road and meet people and talk to people about just their life experience is that’s the human adventure to be good to each other and to laugh and smile and share a cup of coffee or beer and just acknowledge that we are all in this big adventure together. That’s not what happens in business. In business today, we are focused on delivering 32% validity whatever and we’re making sure that we have our minimum viable product by March 24th. And look, I get it. Okay. And these things are important, but we are not here to deliver that app on time. That’s not why I was born to make sure that we have a 22% increase in this month’s dividend.
Douglas: That’s why we always talk about connection before content. Because even though we have some content to get through and understand together and make progress on, if we make the connection a lesser priority, we all have experience that and the results are just not as good. Well, Neil, I have a feeling we could talk for hours-
Neil: I know we could. We could. We could just go on.
Douglas: We had to come to an end. So I want to give you an opportunity to leave our listeners with a final thought.
Neil: Well, you know what? There’s a great quote from Voltaire. That is the most important decision you make is to be in a good mood. This is one of the 18th century’s greatest minds. And he was a contemporary of aristocrats and philosophers. And his final word was the most important decision you make is to be in a good mood. And I’m sure the stoics would agree. I would say that’ll be the thought I leave everybody with.
Douglas: Amazing Neil. Well, I also will just suggest that folks seek you out on tech talk or LinkedIn or-
Neil: YouTube. Go to YouTube.
Douglas: YouTube. That’s your favorite?
Neil: Because I have a very unusual spelling to my name. It’s N-E-A-L F-O-A-R-D. And if you just look me up on YouTube, you’ll find the whole bank of the videos there.
Douglas: Yeah, and we’ll put links in the show notes and everything, but highly recommend that folks go and check that stuff out. And Neil, I just want to thank you for the positivity and just the kindness you’ve been spreading in your message and just keep up the good work.
Neil: I appreciate that Doug. Thanks for having me on. You’re a good egg.
Douglas: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control The Room. Don’t forget to subscribe, to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want to know more, head over to our blog, where I post weekly articles and resources about radical inclusion, team health and working better voltagecontrol.com.