MGU 100 | Celebrating Milestones

 

Even in this digital age, celebrating milestones never seem to get old. On the show’s 100th episode, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen take us behind the scenes – tackling the noteworthy issues they’ve encountered since they started production less than eight months ago. From expectations and celebrations, motivation, and the pros and cons of success to podfading, burnout, failure, and social media pressure, listen to this no-holds-barred conversation between Jason and Whitney.

Listen to the podcast here:

Celebrating Milestones: The Pros And Cons Of Success

A Behind-The-Scenes Conversation About Our Podcast

Jason, I have a request for you.

Go for it. I feel like you make a lot of requests of me and they’re the ones that I’m amenable to. I feel like the ratio of yes to no is very much in your favor when you make requests of me. The track record is strong.

This is our 100th episode. We didn’t have anything planned to celebrate. I will pause to say before I have a request for you. I do find it interesting when people celebrate milestones and it almost feels like an old school thing to do. People still do this online saying, “Thank you for X number of followers,” or whatever. I feel like it’s a little strange, to be honest. There are some people who are growing rapidly that they’re constantly saying thank you. It’s important to have gratitude for milestones, but I almost wonder if it’s self-congratulatory where you want to draw attention to your progress. Part of me is like, “It’s cool.” Doing 100 episodes is a little bit mind-blowing. That is a lot of work. Looking back and like, “Wow.”

Especially because it’s been several months since we released the show. We had this loose idea of doing three episodes a week. In the back of our heads, we’re like, “We could cut back to one episode a week if we wanted.” Here we are several months later going strong with three episodes a week. I do find it interesting when people take photos with balloons that count out how many followers they have or how much they’ve done. What do you think of that? Do you think it’s a little extreme or do you get it? Do you want to do that? Are you planning 100 episodes celebration without me knowing?

I don’t know if it sounds cruel. I’m not sure how it sounds. To me, I have to laugh at this, Whitney. When I have seen content creators, influencers and online personalities doing the whole balloon, they put a little hat on their dog and their spouse or their partner is giving them a kiss. They’re like, “Thanks for one million followers.” The next thing you know, you check back. It’s down to 999,000 because of the way the algorithm works sometimes. A few years back, and it’s probably overdue for doing this, but this was around 2015, Instagram did their first purge. They went through everyone’s profiles. They had algorithms to remove “fake followers.” I remember there were these articles going around. The most significant person I remember was the rapper, Mase.

Do you remember Mase from the Bad Boy days? Mase had close to one million followers or maybe he had one million followers. After the Instagram purge a few years ago, he went down to 200,000 or 300,000 something. He had lost 70% of his followers. I remember it was the first time. You and I had been talking about this for a while with Twitter and people buying followers. To me, in the age of algorithms changing and social media platforms scrubbing fake followers whenever they want to because we’ve seen it in the past. This whole idea of celebrating one million.

There’s a couple of colleagues of ours who I won’t mention by name, who have had one million followers in the past. I checked in on them and they’re under one million. It’s also a bit like clenched teeth and feel cringy when someone’s like, “I got one million.” You check back a couple of months later and they’re under one million. It’s like, “What is the actual significance of this anyway if it’s constantly changing and numbers are an illusion? We’re beholden to these platforms anyway that can give or take away any number of followers whenever they want to, which is the truth.” My long answer is yes, celebrate oneself, but it’s all arbitrary.

There’s something about these whole numbers. We were excited when we reached 50 and 55, that being one of our favorite numbers. Now it’s like, “We’ve crossed 100. What else is there to look forward to?”

This is our final episode as well. It’s our 100th and our final episode.

What’s interesting is there’s this statistic on average, most shows don’t make it past twenty episodes. I don’t know the exact number, but it’s something around twenty. I remember we started with more than twenty. We had 30 episodes recorded when we launched in December of 2019. I felt accomplished. We’ve already made it to this number. It’s interesting because we should give ourselves a pat on the back simply for doing so much and doing more than the average person would do. It does take a lot of work and persistence. We’ve made it a habit. It’s on our schedule every week.

We have many guests lined up. We talked about a few episodes ago how we didn’t have a guest one week. It was the first week without a guest. It felt so weird. We’re in the opposite scenario where we have more guests than I can mentally handle. It’s amazing how many people signed up to be guests on our show, which is exciting. For you, the audience, I am equally as interested as you might be, because we don’t know most of these people. Most of the guests that are coming on our show are strangers to us.

There's nothing wrong with making money, but doing it inauthentically and pandering to your audience, there's a price to pay. Click To Tweet

We had our first “stranger” guest episode. That episode comes out. It’s the 99th episode. The previous episode to this one with Taylor is somebody we’ve never met. We met online. It’s online dating in a way where you don’t know what you’re going to get. You think you match with somebody and then you meet for the first time in person. There’s a whole another level of pressure when you’re doing an episode with them. It’s interesting how we’re in this rhythm of creating the show. I had this moment where I thought like, “Why are we doing this again?” Do you ever have that feeling, Jason?

Do you want me to be brutally honest with you?

We’re not honest here on the show, so fake an answer. How about that?

In the past few days, I was away from LA and got a respite from the intensity of the energy here in LA. I don’t know if we’ve talked a lot about during this quarantine period. This is by no means complaining, victimhood or comparison, but it’s been intense in LA between some of the protests and marches that Whitney and I have both been blessed to go to and lend our support. There’s also been an equal amount of violence, police brutality looting and fires in buildings. We had an earthquake thrown in for good measure. It’s been incredibly intense last few months here. Getting away was a time for me to release the pressure valve a little bit.

There was a moment where I’m like, “I don’t feel going back and doing this show. I don’t feel going back and doing anything. I want to stay in the woods, in this cabin, send food to the animals, send food. I’m fine.” I got into this mode while I was up there. It was quiet and peaceful. It’s dead quiet at this cabin that I was staying at. I did have a moment, Whitney. It’s legit where I was like, “I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to do anything. I want to quit everything.”

Over the years I’ve had that feeling of like, “I don’t want to do anything anymore. I want to go be a mountain man with my animals, grow herbs, and live off the land.” There’s a balance here. That’s my heart and my soul wanting to get out of the city. To be a long answer, which you said, “I feel I don’t want to do this anymore.” There’s a part of me that wants more balance in my life. I don’t think that living in a big city moving forward for me is going to be something I want to do.

You bring that up a lot. It’ll be interesting to see when that happens for you finally. In terms of this feeling that we have some times of not wanting to do things, we can check in on it. First of all, notice the emotion because I work out every morning. I either take a live fitness class or I do an on-demand class. Now I haven’t done it yet. It’s hanging over my head. There’s part of me that’s like, “Take a rest day.” There’s another part of me that’s like, “You need to stay in the habit and be consistent with it.” Consistency is something that we are big proponents of. It’s tough. Sometimes you do step back and say, “What’s the point of this?”

I think of that a lot with various elements of life. I watched this new movie on Hulu that is pretty interesting called Palm Springs. One of the big messages of this movie, which is bizarre. It’s a bizarre take on Groundhog Day. You would like it, Jason, if you are looking for a quirky movie where it’s a romcom, but also with a weird sci-fi twist to it. It’s unique. One of the big messages of that movie is that life is meaningless, yet we’re in it, whether we want to or not unless we choose to end our lives. We have to create our own meaning. Sometimes we can get very in our heads.

If we examine things too much, we start to see or ask ourselves what is even the point of this. As we talked about in the previous episode with Taylor, it’s a lot about finding your own joy and leaning into what makes you feel. When I was reflecting on the show, I wasn’t necessarily thinking. I was at a point of saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” It was more that I was examining what we have been doing and how it has been feeling. For me, it feels very effortless. That’s a huge sign that this is something good. We each as hosts of the show have our moments where we don’t feel doing it, but that’s the same as not feeling doing anything. I would rather lay in bed and not work out and barely move around.

I would love to relax like that. I’m working on doing that more often. It’s incredibly important especially during quarantine or for anybody any time who’s working at home. Especially if you run your own business, you have to, as your own boss, make time for leisure. Just like you did, Jason, with your trip, which is wonderful. You made time to go on a trip and step away for two days and focus on pleasure and personal things, which can be tricky. I struggle with that a lot. There’s that balance too where sometimes you have to do something. One thing I’ve been sitting with a lot after we did our interview with Taylor for episode 99 is I’m curious about this 75 HARD Program that she mentioned.

I reflected on it. I’m like, “75 days, that feels tough.” I’m in the midst of a 40-day challenge that I’ve been doing called 40 Days to Prosperity or something like that. It’s a 40-day program. It’s based in affirmation surrounded by prosperity. It involves reading or journaling or speaking things out loud. I’m on day 28. I’m only devoting five minutes of each day to it, but it still feels tough. Five minutes of something where all I have to do is sit there. That feels a lot of energy. There are times where I’m dragging my feet. Speaking of challenges, I’m doing a 21-day anti-racism challenge that is amazing.

MGU 100 | Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating Milestones: Podcasting is thankless in a lot of ways. Many brands want you to have a certain minimum number of downloads, and it takes a while to get there.

 

For some reason, they had a cutoff point. I don’t know why. I wonder if they’re going to shift it. Previous to now you could sign up to get these daily emails. It’s been wonderful. Every single day I have been using their resources to examine my own racism, to examine racism in the country. I feel more excited about it. If you compare the two, it’s fascinating. For some reason, I feel more resistance when it comes to the prosperity. Maybe that’s a great opportunity for me to reflect on the fact that I might have some resistance or what they call money blocks. Maybe for some reason that’s tough or examining this in the moment perhaps I don’t think it’s going to work so why bother?

That’s a big reason why a lot of podcasters stop is that now that we have experienced what it’s like to do 100 episodes in several months or in our case, it’s been several months, which is also nuts like that time flew by. It’s been explosive for us. This is what I was examining. To give the audience behind the scenes perspective and transparency, we’ve had one sponsor. We’ve promoted a bunch of affiliate programs, but it’s tricky. Jason and I are very used to sharing things online where people click and I don’t think people do that quite as much as podcasting.

Monetizing with affiliates is a very different thing that we’re still figuring out. Working with sponsors is very similar to what we’ve done on YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms, but we’ve only had one sponsor so far. We’ve had some interests, but a lot of that is based on numbers. A lot of these brands want you to have a certain minimum number of downloads and it takes a while to get there. My point is that podcasting is thankless in a lot of ways granted or maybe not thankless, maybe the word is like you don’t see as much progress.

What we have is being able to see our downloads. I look at our downloads every day. If you’ve read our previous episodes, you know that I look at the analytics a lot. I check out what people are searching for. I see how many people are coming to our website, how many people sign up for our mailing list, or get our free offers. We get direct messages and emails from people. That’s probably a big saving grace. I can imagine for people that started from scratch with no audience.

Unlike Jason and I, who have had our separate platforms for many years on social media, our blogs and Jason’s TV show, etc. We already had people that knew who we were. We could tell them about our show and not have to start from scratch. Being in the podcast community and hearing people talk about their experiences, I would say most podcasters have zero audiences aside from friends and family. Some of them get a couple of downloads per episode or it takes them a long time to get to anything significant. I imagine that’s got to be tough, not getting much feedback.

To me, that says a lot about them because somebody has to be passionate to talk about something and have zero feedback or very little metrics to go off of. On that note, I feel we should be grateful for what we’ve had even though maybe it feels it’s taking a while to get the momentum. The good news is from what my understanding with podcasting, it might be slow at the beginning. Once you hit a certain point, your momentum can build fast. I guess I’m holding on hoping that will happen in the future, but try not to be attached to it because we have no idea what will happen or when.

It goes back to one of my favorite quotes from Lao Tzu, “Act without expectations.” We talked about expectations on the episode with Taylor Proctor. It’s something that I’ve been sitting with a lot, Whitney. If I look at a lot of the disappointment, sadness and depression that I’ve experienced in my life, besides the chemical component and the nutritional component of it, which I’ve talked about in previous episodes of how I have been dealing with clinical depression. A big part of it has been me having specific expectations of how I thought my career would go, how I thought my book would do, how I thought my TV series would do, how I thought certain relationships would go. You could insert an innumerable number of big things. To me, in a lot of cases, especially with career or creative things I’ve done, I haven’t been fully letting go of the outcome.

I’ve been so attached in the past. It has to go a certain way and that could look like it has to be a New York Times bestselling book or I have to win an Emmy for my TV series. We have to get renewed for five seasons. All of these ideas in my mind of what I thought success would look like or feel like. This is my opinion. People debate me on it. I don’t think expectations are useful. In a sense, they’re useful in that they bring the ability to reflect on holding on too much or how expectations when they are unmet or we cling too hard to them. They bring suffering to us. We talked about the usefulness of suffering in that episode with Taylor too.

If I look at my expectations, Whitney, they’ve brought me a lot of suffering because I’ve been so attached to how I think things ought to have gone and they didn’t. That crushed me. It’s interesting you talk about expectation because on the one hand with this show being a brand-new venture for you and I that have had these individual platforms and with our brand, Wellevatr and now with This Might Get Uncomfortable brand-new ventures. I didn’t have an expectation when we launched in December 2019 of like, “We need to get this number of episode downloads. We need to have these guests.” It feels we have been going with the flow. I’ve been feeling like the what’s the point feeling you discussed.

For me, it’s like we haven’t been getting a ton of feedback. I know people are reading because I’ll get DMs from people that say, “I love your show” and that’s it. They won’t give any more specific information and that’s fine. The challenging part has been, I’ve been so used to in years past, people commenting on YouTube videos, people commenting on Instagram posts, people re-tweeting, whatever the case is. I feel for some reason we’re not getting that level of feedback on this venture yet and I’m used to that level of feedback. It’s like, “We’re in the woods alone. We don’t know if you guys like this or hate it. We’re going to keep doing it because you’re not letting us know if you like it or hate it.”

I go back to touching off. To me, part of my mental health routine or my mental health practice, Whitney, especially in this time of quarantine in COVID and what’s going on in the world is I’m trying not to project into the future at all. An expectation to me is part of a future projection. It’s been challenging in some ways for me to get not caught up in a future projection. When I do start thinking about the future, my expectations, dreams or desires for the future, I’m like, “No, don’t do it. Don’t go there.” I’ve been resisting talking about future plans, thinking about the future because it all feels expectation to me. I don’t want to be attached to how things are going to go in life. I’m trying to shed my attachments and let go of expectations because I find that attachments and expectations caused me a lot of mental suffering.

Doing something that fulfills you and brings you joy nourishes your soul. Click To Tweet

It’s always interesting to examine our motivations for things. To me, I imagine it’s like a level where at that sweet spot that you’re trying to get is feeling at peace. There are these two ends in which you don’t have peace for one like they’re different extremes of where you can go. You can swing from one place to another. The extreme is not having expectations because you’re afraid of suffering and you’re afraid of being let down.

On the other end, which we were talking about, Jason, I’d love to hear your perspective. It’s like your relationship on different ends of the spectrum with the woman that you’re dating. You’re on this end of not wanting expectations and wanting to be in the present moment, which I also think the present moment is what I visualize in this level of being in the center. The past and the future could be two ends of the spectrum. A lot of advice, especially Buddhist advice is coming from this place of being in that present moment. In the present moment, you don’t have fear. I almost feel like, Jason, if you were looking at it from the spectrum, correct me if I’m wrong if you can look at this less bias, especially in your relationship dynamic where you are saying that your girlfriend loves focusing on the future plans. That feels comfortable to her.

That feels uncomfortable to you. You’re trying to stay present, but it feels to me maybe a little bit of it is based on the past experiences. Maybe you equate the future with pain and suffering. That’s because of past experiences of having pain and suffering thinking about the future. It feels you’re trying to level yourself off and be in that present moment, but still you’re attached to old pain thus the past.

I’m not afraid of the future. I’m afraid about clinging to expectations about the future. The analogy that I use is expectations is like touching a hot stove and be like, “It won’t happen. No, I’m good next time.” Expectations are my hand going and touching the hot stove over and over again. At a certain point, maybe you don’t want to touch the hot stove anymore every time you’ve had concrete, super clear expectations. There’s a conversation about the quality and the energy behind an expectation.

If I enter into a new project like this show with you, a new book, TV series, or new relationship, whatever it is, the point that I’m trying to get to is creating something and releasing the expectation of how I think it’s going to go or ought to be. It’s like, “I’m going to enter into a new romantic relationship or a business partnership, or create this new entity, this new creation like this show.” Releasing the expectation of like, “If we don’t have 10,000 downloads by the end of the first year, then we fucking failed.” That’s an expectation that if we don’t hit that metric, we’re fucked. Let’s close down the shop.

If you’re just joining us, welcome to our 100th episode. We get very tangential. We freeform because Whitney and I have a lot of ideas in our minds are very quick. There was a friend, he’s not a friend anymore. We barely talk. A few years back, we were having a conversation about art, money, purpose, and all that. He was making over $500,000 at that point. He made a comment to me. He said, “If I don’t hit $1 million this year, I’m quitting. I’m packing it up. I’m done.” I’m like, “What?” That was his metric of like, “If I don’t make $1 million this year, I’m done with my business. I’m done with my art.” That sounds fucking stupid to me. That sounds ridiculous. Is that your primary metric of continuing? You’re already making $500,000.

Judgment aside, the point is that when you have a hard, clear metric of success, fulfillment, happiness, joy, and you’re fixated like it has to be this way, that brings and invites an incredible amount of suffering. Some people might say, “That’s also motivating. You got to have big goals. You got to hustle harder. You got to go for it.” Mediocrity is bullshit. We can hear the chorus of “transformational leaders” that ring that bell loud. I personally think that spiritually, emotionally. It’s setting ourselves up for a lot of suffering. I say that from experience because I’ve had hard metrics for happiness.

If my book doesn’t hit the bestseller list, I failed. It didn’t. I felt like a fucking failure. My show has to win an Emmy and get renewed for a second season. It didn’t do either of those things. I felt a fucking failure. I have a certain income, be married, and do all these things by age 43. I don’t have those things so you’re a failure. For me, this is my opinion. When I’ve set very hard metrics, Whitney, it invites a lot of deep suffering. I’m looking at how I’ve done things in the past and went, “Every time you’ve done that, you’ve brought yourself a lot of pain. You need to take accountability for the fact that you’ve set these ideals in your mind of, if and only when this creation or this relationship or this thing hits this metric, then you’ll feel a success. You’ll be happy. You’ll pat yourself on the back.” It’s a hard and painful way to live. I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m not afraid of the future. I’m afraid of me setting hard, clear, definite expectations for how things ought to be. When they’re not met, I’ll feel crushed. I don’t want to live that way anymore.

Who does want to live that way? I’m very passionate about this outside of the show and our brand, Wellevatr. I’ve been working on a program called Beyond Measure. The huge element of this is how we can get so attached to outcomes, expectations, numbers, and all of these things. They are vanity metrics. A lot of us are looking for meaning. We’re looking to feel validated. We’re looking to feel special. As I mentioned in the previous episode, I’ve been reading the book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. One of the last sections I read was about how important it is to know that a lot of us are going to live average lives.

The things that we do might be average, that not everybody can be special, yet a lot of us have been raised in this environment of trying to boost our self-esteem through feeling or chasing an extraordinary life. If we don’t feel special, we feel awful. That’s a huge issue. This is a huge passion of mine. That’s why I’ve been developing and will soon be launching my new program, Beyond Measure, to address this and other things that have to do with issues around self-worth. Jason and I also have our free eBook, You Are Enough, which you can download at Wellevatr.com. If you visit the website and click on the Free Resources, we have several different eBooks. Our very first one was about addressing that issue of not feeling enough because many people struggle with this.

I saw an interesting tweet/Instagram post. One of the trending styles of Instagram is to screen capture tweets. I liked them. I’m glad that this is a trend. One that I saw was somebody talking about how it’s such a shame that in your mid-twenties, they’re like, “It’s such a shame that at age 23, many people already feel they failed because they see many examples of success.” It’s not a real statistic. My point is that’s very true especially with platforms like TikTok and Instagram that are so based on showing you how amazing other people are.

MGU 100 | Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating Milestones: When you’ve set tough metrics, it invites a lot of deep suffering.

 

You see these teenagers and these people in their early twenties making millions of dollars off of their personal brands. It’s very aspirational, yet as we talk about often on this show, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes and so much that can be faked and not based in reality or people cheating the system. It can be a fleeting fifteen minutes of fame however long that fifteen minutes is. Imagine how bad people feel that don’t get to that level of success, which is most people, and how awful a lot of those people will feel when that success does fade away at some point because that type of success is fleeting for most people.

There are some examples of people like Oprah who’s been incredibly well-known and successful for a long stretch of time. The average celebrity or public figure fades away fairly fast, almost as fast as they rose to fame and this overnight success. I also watched a documentary on HBO called Showbiz Kids. It talks about what it’s like to be a kid in the movie industry. It was specifically movies. They interviewed a bunch of people at different ages about their experience. It’s eye-opening because some well-known actors have talked about their struggles. One that stuck out for me is the kid that played the main character in ET. He went his whole life being known for that role. He still acts to this day as an adult. It was a big struggle for him. He said he felt a lot of imposter syndrome when he was on set. Here he was the star of this huge movie. He felt inadequate in a lot of ways.

After that role, he was continuously typecast. Everybody wanted that it kid, the big well-known kid from ET. When he was a teenager, it was a big struggle for him because people were still thinking of him as this younger boy. It was hard for him to get roles. I imagine that a lot of people in their teens and early twenties that are getting all this success through the internet are going to struggle with that too. It’s in our face in a lot of ways. Another big issue is with Britney Spears. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been spending so much time on TikTok. I have always been fascinated by Britney Spears.

The #FreeBritney Movement is growing and so much so that people that aren’t even paying attention to her or TikTok are starting to notice this. The issue there is that it was many years ago, she got put under something called a conservatorship where she doesn’t have control of her life. There was this concern for her mental health. Now after all this time has passed, people are starting to wonder was it a concern for her mental health and protecting her wellbeing through controlling her life? Are people taking advantage of her?

There’s been this movement around it because people are seeing how she’s acting on social media and feeling very concerned about her wondering how much is she being manipulated and controlled. Is that process worse for her mental health? When you look back on her life and how much pressure this woman had as this huge pop star, your mental health is going to suffer. You can’t live a normal life. Everything that you do is controlled. Everything is planned out. Britney Spears is a fascinating case study in this in general and it continues to reveal itself. I was thinking like, “Sadly, I would not be surprised if something tragic happened with her soon because the tension feels so strong.”

It’s such a weird feeling to observe that and feel helpless especially when we’ve seen many cases of people who have succumb to drug usage, suicide, or other things. Their lives become almost unbearable. That’s the flip side. Here we are talking about our “struggles” and the concerns we have like, “We don’t get as many comments as we would like,” or, “We don’t have as many sponsors.” It’s such a small, silly thing when you look at the other side. Imagine if this show blew up and the amount of pressure that comes along with that, it’s not an easy road either. A lot of people on social media wanting to be a big social media success, they forget that side of things. They forget what comes with that, the responsibility, the work, the pressure, and the workload in general. Here we are thinking like, “Is it too much for us to do three episodes a week?” Imagine if it got to the point where we had to do three episodes a day in order to keep up with the success.

It’s interesting because if I reflect back on my dealings with some of the tentacles of the entertainment industry and the contracts that I’ve signed, I don’t regret any of the contracts that I’ve signed over the years. If I look back on how these contracts are structured and hearing a lot about what’s been coming out in particular say publishing in music or a television contract. You’ve heard this expression like the house always wins. You bring up Britney Spears as an extreme example, especially with what’s going on with this conservatorship you mentioned.

Do you know much about that as an aside?

I was reading about it and it was fascinating. The part about it that fascinated me most was not necessarily the controlling aspects of the conservatorship, but as a young woman, how they completely shut down her actual voice. It was saying that apparently when she was in her early teens, according to what I read, that she had a voice that was similar in power and range to Christina Aguilera. They said, “No, you’re not going to sing like that.” They basically told her that, “If you’re going to be big and we’re going to make you this big thing, you got to sing in this little baby voice,” or the thing that we know Britney for.

There was her “real voice” under there somewhere. She wanted to release an album back in ‘06 or ‘07 that was mostly acoustic or guitar-driven. They’re like, “You’re never going to release this.” It’s like I want to know what her real voice sounds like. That’s the part that’s like I want to hear the music that she’s never released because of the record company, her manager and her dad shut it down. That’s an aside. My point is this, TV companies, movie studios, huge record labels and publishers want to make as much money as possible.

That is why they’re in business. They take advantage of artists milk them and bleed them with the promise of fame success, notoriety, “We’ll make you into a legend.” We hear enough stories about this. There are many examples. What are you giving up in exchange? Britney is an example. I don’t know how many hundreds of millions of dollars her estate is worth. There are hundreds of millions of dollars there. What she is going through, has gone through and gave up creatively as a human, as an artist, as a soul to get there horrifies me. I would never, ever want that in my life. I would never want that amount of fame and wealth in exchange for selling my soul. I don’t say that lightly selling your soul, being forced, and being coerced into doing it.

There’s nothing wrong with repurposing old content because there’s always a new audience. Click To Tweet

Manipulated because someone like Britney Spears has been doing this almost her entire life. She did the Mickey Mouse Club back when she was a preteen or maybe she was before she turned a teenager, I don’t remember exactly. That plus starting her huge pop career in her teens, you’re not mentally developed at that point. You’re doing things that seem fun and exciting. You’ve got the pressure of family and culture. You’re made to feel so special. Her, in this case, having all of that weight on her shoulder.

Who’s to say that her mental breakdown wasn’t something that a lot of us go through privately or it’s something that she would have gone through anyway, but it was magnified based on the situation that she was in. Especially a lot of these young stars talk about how awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable it is to grow up in front of the cameras. That pressure of always being seen. A lot of us struggle going to the grocery store and we don’t feel that we look as nice.

Sunny, who was on an episode we did about beauty a few months ago, talked about how it’s tough for her as a public figure online to be recognized at the grocery store when she’s not all done up with her makeup on. She’s probably recognized a few times every now and then, but someone like Britney Spear, everybody is going to recognize her. Can you imagine not being able to go out of your house without somebody recognizing you, noticing every flaw and photographers around? That sounds like a nightmare. As you’re saying, Jason, did you choose to do that in order to get the fame that you want? Were you forced into it in a way or manipulated into it without realizing what the consequences are?

There are many layers to this psychologically. Not to focus specifically on Britney, but focus on how the industry is structured. The fact that artists who have built these companies. Publishers don’t have a business without authors. Record labels don’t have a business without, especially legacy artists who sell most of the records. TV series, production companies don’t have anything without vehicles. The reason I’m saying this, Whitney is you go back to the idea of the fifteen minutes of fame that Andy Warhol quoted that in the age of social media and digital media has become all too true. The entertainment machine and it is a machine, by its very nature, the way that the contracts are set up and the money works in every facet is designed to bring new blood in, milk them for everything they’re worth, chew them up and spit them out.

The machine does not care. Over the years, you and I have been doing this. You and I have had the great fortune of meeting many people, not just social media, luminaries, influencers, huge YouTubers. We’ve met actors, directors, and producers. We can go on down the line. There are too many dimensions. I’m not saying that as a humblebrag. We’ve met a lot of interesting people. How many of them, when we met them, it was they worth a shit in that moment? Whatever it was, viral videos, huge YouTube channels, big movies. Sustained success on that public level of fame and influence is incredibly rare. Most of the system is designed to suck in, “There’s talent there, sniffing out talent, cool. Let’s launch them into the machine, feed them into the machine, see how much money they make, see how much longer they last. If the public doesn’t take to them, fuck it. We’ll chew them up and spit them out.” It’s a brutal industry. All of it is brutal because its nature is brutal.

One of the reasons that podcasting thus far has felt a lot of joy is because it’s mainly you and me recording. We do have a team of people that assist us with the editing, and the website. It’s mostly us calling the shots, making our own schedule, and doing whatever we want. There’s a lot of creative freedom there. The same thing is true with Instagram, YouTube, and a lot of the other platforms. The problem that I found on those platforms is that those are monetized that I feel this weird pressure all the time because it’s numbers-driven. That is coming back to this monetization side. Either I want the numbers so I can prove my worth so that somebody will pay me.

I can justify all the time and effort that goes into this or we’re concerned about numbers because we want validation. If we don’t get the validation, we feel embarrassed or we don’t feel good enough. There’s all of that emotional weight that goes into that as well. It starts to feel draining. I so far have not experienced that with the show. It feels in a way nice that we’re not getting a ton of feedback all the time. As nice as positive feedback is negative feedback can also be there. That’s challenging as well.

As we were talking about this, I was looking up some information about podcasting and I had forgot the term for this, which is called Podfading. It’s when somebody starts a podcast, but they don’t continue with it. They can’t maintain it for whatever reason. They’re not going to be as consistent about it. I don’t know if this statistic is still true, but this is the average statistic that’s gets thrown away. It’s a lot different than I thought. For many years, it’s been found that most podcasts don’t make it past seven episodes.

Most podcasts become inactive. Up to 75% of podcasts that have ever been made are inactive. Granted, there’s a lot of podcasts out there. There are new podcasts being started all the time. There were also some statistics that if only 50% of podcasters make it past episode 7 and out of that 50%, only 50% make it to episode 15. If you can make it past episode 25, then you have a high chance of lasting for two years or more.

That’s the number I had in my head when we started the show. We had already recorded over 25 episodes. I was like, “Great, we’re in it.” The thing is that pod fading happens for a number of reasons. One is that a lot of people underestimate how much time goes into this work. I was thinking about that too. It is a lot of work. We schedule out two hours per episode to do it because if you, the audience, have checked out our show, you don’t even have to read them to know that they’re on the longer side. We block out two hours for every single episode that we do. We’ve done over 200 hours of recording this far. It’s a lot of time.

That doesn’t include all the other thing that goes into it. We have an editor so that is not time that we spend, but somebody is spending time editing our shows. We have two websites. We have Wellevatr.com and we have Podcast.Wellevatr.com. Even though they’re the same domain, they’re operated separately. Those take work to maintain them. The research that goes into planning for an episode and to booking guests, there’s a lot of time involved there.

MGU 100 | Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating Milestones: We’re concerned about numbers because we want validation. If we don’t get the validation, we feel embarrassed or don’t feel good enough.

 

There’s a lot of little things. Plus, the newsletters we send and the social media that we post. There’s a lot of things that we don’t do simply because they haven’t been time priorities. A lot of people don’t even know all of that. They don’t expect it or typical of a lot of different elements of life personally and professionally, we simply get excited about something without realizing the effort that it takes to maintain it.

Podcasting is also challenging technically. Jason and I have been self-taught and we have a great support system. Whether that’s the support system of the web because you can teach yourself anything online, which has been great. We have the team that we work with Podetize, who has helped us a lot, mentored us and educated us. They’re the ones that edit our episodes and all of that. We have people like Pat Flynn. I’m in one of Pat Flynn’s groups.

I learned little things from him every time I meet every month with him and the other people in his groups. We have our friend, Alison Melody, who has a wonderful podcast called Food Heals. She was one of our guests and she does a lot of education around this. I’ve been to events like podcast movements. Here I am lifting out all of this stuff to say there’s a lot that goes into learning how to podcast. As we’ve been bringing guests onto our show, it’s been enlightening to share how much preparation in terms of getting the right equipment it takes to sound good.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while or you go back to one of our first 30 episodes, there’s a huge difference in how we sound. Up until now, we didn’t have what’s called a pop filter, which helps reducing the amount of air that comes out and hits the microphone. When you say certain words, it sounds very different. I cringe when I listen to some of our earlier episodes. We are also using different mics for a little while. We were using one called the Blue Yeti and Jason’s Audio-Technica mic. We were gifted two mics from Podetize when we signed up to be part of their program. Don’t we have a blog post, Jason, that has shares all of our equipment?

Yes.

You can find it at Wellevatr.com. It’s a behind the scenes look at everything. My point being there is that technical side of it is A) Expensive, but B) There’s a learning curve. It takes a lot of finessing and passion for it. As we’ve taken on guests on the show, I’m realizing that a lot of people podcast with very basic setups. They don’t know how to do a lot of these advanced things. A lot of podcasters don’t have pop filters. We’ll have guests on and you can hear their audio quality sounds so different than ours. We’re not even at the top of the line stuff. We still have a lot of different tweaking that we can do and different mic that we can get and headphones and all that stuff that goes into it.

You don’t have to have that. If you don’t have that, sometimes it’s hard to build up an audience because people want it to sound good. It’s important. If you’re not willing to invest the time and money in the technical side of things, I can see why people would give up. Some people will start recording and realize they don’t like their voice or they’re not comfortable on the mic. They don’t want to put the time into learning. This has certainly been the case with us too. I know in the beginning we had to find our flow and I feel we still are. Don’t you think, Jason? Not talking over each other is something we used to do a lot more. We’ve found that cadence in the way that we talk with one another, pausing and listening to each other.

It’s an ongoing evolution. One of the things that keeps me going, you briefly mentioned this Whitney, when you talked about the pressure of how monetized Instagram is, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the big four platforms that still remain on social media. At least I look at those as the big four. They’re the OGs with YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, et cetera, those four, for sure, YouTube. The joy got lost for me. Even when I on occasion will meet people who are strangers and we’ve talked about this in previous episodes, we’d be like, “Are you Jason from YouTube? I watch your video.”

You’ve been there for a few of these meetings, Whitney. It doesn’t bring me joy anymore because I’m burnt out. I have nothing that I want to say on YouTube. I haven’t had much I’ve wanted to say. Part of it is the scrutiny of the numbers now, working with brands and how obsessed brands are with metrics and numbers were the same thing with Instagram. The same thing with Facebook, the same thing with, to a lesser extent, Twitter.

What we’re doing now through the first 100 episodes at least feels similar to the early days of YouTube, 2009, 2010, 2011, those first few years, I was on YouTube. There were no expectations. Brand partnerships were starting to be a thing. With this, even though we have had a sponsor and we have conversations with sponsors and affiliate links, there’s not this level of pressure and expectation from brands and partners. It hasn’t become this beast, this juggernaut like the other social platforms have where to your point, it’s become fucking calculated in some ways of like, “Is this me authentically creating from joy, fun, and freedom or am I doing this ‘for the gram?’”

That’s become an expression of doing it for the gram. I’ve interpreted that phrase as me. I’m being inauthentic. I’m pandering to my audience. I’m giving them what they want. I’m probably doing this to attract some brand attention so I can make money. There’s nothing wrong with making money, but doing it in an inauthentic way, pandering to your audience, placating yourself to a piece of brand to get the dollars coming in. There’s a price to be paid energetically and spiritually for those decisions. I say it out of experience.

If fame, money, and influence are used as a positive tool, it’s a wonderful thing as a means to an end in itself. Click To Tweet

Part of it is the over-optimization of a lot of those platforms. For better or for worse about podcasting is you don’t have as much access to that data as you do with other platforms. You can go into your Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube insights, and you can pick apart everything about your content and constantly try to optimize it to make a better and better. When we were starting the show, one tip was to keep your episodes a certain length because that’s how long people will read.

Jason and I were like, “No, thanks.” We want to record until we’re finished. We found that our sweet spot is an hour and a half. That’s long, but that’s what we want to do. We know we’re not the only ones doing it. Even if we were, that’s okay. I don’t want to create a show like you were saying, Jason, to make money. That’s never been the motivation. It was something we did out of curiosity. We have enjoyed it thus far. That’s much why I started on YouTube. It was like, “I’m curious about this. This is fun. This feels creative. It’s an outlet.” In a lot of ways, these episodes feel therapeutic.

It’s neat because I can tell people are reading. Sometimes we’ll get feedback. Sometimes we won’t and that’s okay though. I feel almost safer in a way, freer to express myself. As nice as it is to get reviews on iTunes, direct messages and emails, etc., it’s also nice when it’s quiet. You feel you’re free to do it however you want to. I feel so much pressure of knowing that there’s an audience and then the fear that someone’s going to say something mean on YouTube or unfollow me on Instagram because they didn’t what I did in one post.

It’s important for us to find that balance and going back to that leveler imagery of doing something that fulfills you, brings you joy, nourishes your soul and taking in perspective from other people, there’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism. It’s very beneficial. A lot of what’s caused me burnout online as a creator is the unconstructive criticism. It’s people that are trolling, being rude, venting, or saying something that they would never say to your face, but they feel comfortable doing that online. Luckily, we’ve only experienced that one time with our show as far as we know. Going back to the pod fading statistics here. Another thing that is common for people is that they run out of things to talk about.

I don’t know that we’re ever going to reach that point by virtue of there are always things we can pull right out of our ass. I don’t mean that as a dismissive thing, Whitney, I mean that you and I, as people are so curious about the world. We have so many life experiments. We’re constantly reading, learning, and trying new things. I don’t think that you and I would ever run out of subject matter by virtue of how we’re wired as people.

I have compassion for people that feel they run out of things to talk about. It does take a lot of confidence to be comfortable riffing as Brendon Burchard would say speaking extemporaneously. Speaking of him, a lot of the big speakers, podcasters and content creators out there, they’re repurposing the same things over and over. They’re not saying something new all the time. Sometimes they repurpose old content. There’s nothing wrong with that because there’s a new audience and who knows how somebody finds you?

Chances are I don’t even know if we have a single audience that’s read to every single episode that we’ve done. I sometimes wonder if we’re doing too much content. How does somebody even stay up to date, especially during quarantine when you’re not commuting to a job or whatever. I want to give hats off to any audience who’s devoted or read into most of our episodes or makes it through to the end of them. That’s incredible.

If anyone can prove that they’ve read all 100, we will send you a care package with an Abyssinian cat, a French bulldog puppy and an unlimited supply of homemade vegan cheese.

You’re going to send them your animals to visit or to keep?

To visit. We’ll do a socially distance visitation with my animals. All of a sudden, we get screenshots of people with 100 episodes in our DM. I watched all hundred send me the bulldog. I was kidding. I will not ship you a bulldog.

Maybe we could have a meetup or something?

MGU 100 | Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating Milestones: When we try to monetize our creativity or talent, it’s hard to maintain that original, pure, core spirit of creating for creation’s sake.

 

In 2021 when we can get together again.

It is nice when people do giveaways. Maybe we give away one of our courses or something like Wellness Warrior training. I’d be open to that. This is the thing. If you, the audience have something that you would of ours, let us know. Maybe we’ll give it to you. If you want to reach out to us and say, “I tuned in to a ton of your episodes. I’m sorry I haven’t commented before, left you a review. Would you please give me something?”

It reminds me of that wonderful TED Talk and book about rejection and how a lot of us are afraid to ask for things, but sometimes having the courage to ask and be bold about it, you’ll get exactly what you’re asking for. We encourage you the audience to do that. If you would to leave us an iTunes review, we’d be thrilled. We also have a survey that we’d be thrilled for you to fill out especially if you have been reading regularly. We set it up. It’s at Podcast.Wellevatr.com/survey. We’ve been mentioning it every week and some people have filled it out. Thank you for those that have. It’s a few questions to help us better understand you.

Another cool thing that I started using is called Goodpods. This is an app that you can use to follow your friends and podcasters, to see what shows they’re listening to. You can have conversations. It’s a little social network and you can listen to podcasts on there. It’s a beautiful interface. If you want to find This Might Get Uncomfortable on Goodpods and connect with us. You can be our friend on there. You can recommend it to your friends and have this whole podcasting experience. It’s lovely. I recommend checking out Goodpods and filling out that survey so that we can learn more about what you want, what you like, maybe give you some prizes or some thank you gifts. You can reach out to us through direct message. Our Instagram handle is @Wellevatr and our email address is [email protected]

The thing that I’m taking away from this conversation, Whitney, it’s almost this childhood sense of spontaneous wonder, creativity and awe that I’m trying to maintain in my life. Whereas when you’re a kid and you’re making art or for me, when I was little, my thing was making skits. I still have cassette tapes of all of these characters, voices, skits, TV shows, and all this crazy stuff. I’m sure there is a way to digitize it. I don’t know how to get a cassette recording onto a computer.

You’ve said this before.

I don’t know how to do it.

If you did a Google search, you’d probably find the answer within a second.

There’s got to be a machine to do it. Maybe I will go ahead and get that machine or that device, and digitize these cassette recordings. At that age, I wasn’t thinking about I need to have a career as an entertainer, a TV host, go to comedian school and do all this shit. I was creating for creativity’s sake. There is a very distinct challenge that comes in as we get older. We realized that we have some intersection of talent, work ethic, and passion creatively. When we try and monetize our creativity or our talent, it’s hard to maintain that original, pure core spirit of, “I want to create for creation’s sake.”

Not because there’s an expectation of it making me money, giving me fame, giving me notoriety, all the bullshit that comes in. If fame, money, and influence are used as a positive tool, it’s a wonderful thing. As a means to an end in itself of, I want to be famous. I want to be rich. I want to be this thing in a vacuum. I don’t think there’s much value in that. My point in all this, Whit, is I’m asking myself, especially during this downtime, this introspective upheaval time, this evolution on Earth, this changing that’s happening on a global level. How do I get back to the fun, the freedom and the space of being creative without forcing it to do anything for me?

That reminds me also of Big Magic and Elizabeth Gilbert talks about that in our book of as artists or creators, we put these expectations on our art to do something like, “Book, Music, you’ve got to make me money or fuck off. You don’t deserve my time and attention if you don’t make me money.” I’ve done that for a long time of, “I’m not going to make a YouTube video. I’m not going to record a song. I’m not going to do another book unless it makes me money.” I’m at the point now where I want to create for creativity’s sake. If it makes money, yes. If it brings me whatever or us fame and notoriety in a different platform, great. I don’t want to do things for the sole reason of that anymore. There’s been a long time where I think I was creating for that sole reason, Whitney. I feel burnt out on that. I don’t want to do that anymore.

It's important for us to live lives that are fulfilling, but we have to remember that there is a tradeoff and that it takes a lot of work. Click To Tweet

That is the big challenge and something that a lot of people don’t step back to think about is it sounds amazing to be able to work for yourself and to create a career, cash in on your passion as people like to say. I’m a big advocate for that because I feel it’s important for us to live lives that are very fulfilling. We have to remember that there is a tradeoff and that it does take a lot of work. Having a show takes a lot of work and some people don’t even know what they’re signing up for. Making a career out of your creativity takes a lot of work and that’s how money works in our society. It’s usually trading your time for money or your effort for money and all of that.

It takes a lot of balancing, honesty, evaluation, and not being afraid to change too. That’s been a big lesson that I’ve learned. I’m still in the process of figuring that out for myself as I’ve been switching my focus away from the brand that I built called Eco-Vegan Gal to my two new-ish brands, which is Wellevatr and my name Whitney Lauritsen. That transition is interesting. Wellevatr was easy because that was an additional thing.

Moving what I’m known for away from Eco-Vegan Gal has been an interesting thing because I feel I’ve outgrown that in a lot of ways. I have to figure things out for myself while also educating people about what I do. The more that I do it, the easier it becomes and the more comfortable I get with it. I’m developing more and more confidence. Finding joy and all sorts of neat things. One thing that surprised me, and I mentioned this to you briefly, Jason, but haven’t gotten into it with you is Pinterest.

I joined Pinterest probably 2011 or 2012. I know I was on there around that time because it was when I was in San Francisco. I remember using the platform in parts of San Francisco. I didn’t find that it stimulated me very much back then. My attention got drawn towards Instagram as I grew, YouTube, and all those other platforms. As I felt burnt out on those platforms, I’ve gone back to a curiosity for Pinterest. I’ve been utilizing a lot and it brings me much joy. It is satisfying. I feel free. I feel creative. I feel at peace there. I love that. It’s nourishing to me.

Whereas when I go on Instagram, I feel tense. I feel afraid. With YouTube, the same thing, I go on those platforms and I’m like, “Am I doing this right? Am I in my creating in a way that people like? Are people going to unfollow me? Are they going to give me a thumbs down? Are they going to leave a bad comment? Are they going to talk about me behind my back?” I feel insecure on those platforms and that’s a huge sign. The challenge with that, Jason, that is also important to address is that it’s leaving an abusive relationship, which sounds extreme.

It’s emotionally feeling so drained but also tied to it. I feel you’ve expressed this with your chef career. You’ve been talking about for a long time wanting to do less or no work as a chef anymore, but you continue to do it. You continue to post on Instagram and do sponsored things and all that. It’s the golden handcuffs or something. The abusive in that is when you know something doesn’t feel good anymore, it’s not right for you, it’s not nourishing, it’s hindering or hurting you more than it’s helping you, but you stay anyway because you feel comfortable there. That’s what you’re used to. That’s what I mean by it almost being an abusive relationship. You know it’s not in your best interest anymore, but it’s hard to leave that because that’s what you’ve known.

That’s a wonderful analogy. It’s almost as if, even though part of your soul is like, “We don’t want to do this anymore.” There’s the proverbial carrot that keeps getting dangled. It’s funny because every time that I’ve thought about publicly posting about my retirement from cheffing. Let me be clear about this. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be in the food industry, the wellness, or the transformation industry anymore, whatever the term is that I want to use. It means that working as a chef, being known as a chef, and being solely looked to like that, you talk about the Eco-Vegan Gal brand that you built, Whitney.

For me, sometimes I feel like I’m a prisoner of my own design because I branded myself so well as a chef through YouTube, social media, book publishing, the TV series, all of those things coalesced into most people call me as a chef or I get gigs as a chef. After the last trip, I went on left LA and got some mental space. I was like, “I’m ready to retire.” I’m going to make a public post. Not that I need to, but as a buffer of like, “I’m not doing this anymore. I’m done.”

Low and behold I get an email for something else. I need to sit with it and think about it. I don’t want to get into it because I can’t. It’s a low effort thing where it could also be like, “I’m being grouped in with all these other amazing people.” I have to ask myself why. If I do that, it’s going to keep perpetuating the thing that I probably don’t want. I’m so used to getting money, adulation, accolades, attention, all the carrots, but it’s from a thing that I don’t want to be doing anymore.

That’s the trick. A lot of people struggle with that and don’t talk about it very openly because there’s the shame and turning something down that you feel you should be grateful for. “I have this opportunity and not everybody else gets this.” That happens to a lot of creative types. It was talked about in that documentary, Showbiz Kids. It was Evan Rachel Wood who was saying one of the hardest parts about this industry and all the manipulation and even abuse that happens in the entertainment world. There’s certainly a lot that goes on that we were not aware of until now with the #MeToo Movement, with child, and all of the issues that were going on.

There is this huge carrot that’s dangled in front of you if you want to pursue a career in the entertainment world. It’s like, “If you’re not willing to do what it takes, somebody else’s right behind you.” I feel this way in the influencer world. There are many people that want to be social media influencers. If you turn something down, there’s someone right behind you that will take it. Even though you know you’re worth so much more or you deserve a better scenario. It’s hard because you don’t want to miss out. That fear of missing out is hard. That fear of not being grateful, that fear of being perceived as hard to work with is tough. There’s a lot that goes into it.

MGU 100 | Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating Milestones: Following your own heart in this world is hard work because it’s so much easier to capitulate.

 

The fear of changing too, that’s the other thing is sometimes we want to be different. We want to do things differently. We want to evolve, but because somebody knows us for being a certain way, there’s that big fear of will it be rejected for showing either my true self that I’ve never shown before or a different side of myself that I haven’t expressed. People liking me for who I used to be versus who I am. We’ve talked about this. I forget who it was with. It was during one of our guest episodes. We talked about this. I brought up a musician from Hootie and the Blowfish.

It’s being typecast in a way to have an overarching entertainment jargon slogan that’s being used. You get so known for this one thing that that’s all anybody sees anymore. Sometimes if you’re the one responsible for building your own brand identity, the onus falls on you. I branded myself too well, but sometimes you get sucked into the machine, especially when you’re young and they create the identity for you. You happen to have a hit movie, a hit song, or a hit book. They’re like, “Do more of that because we love that. We want you to only do that because that kicked ass. That was amazing. That also made a lot of money for everyone.”

As an artist, you’re like, “I don’t want to do EDM. I want to do a country album.” They’re like, “What do you mean you want to do a country album? You’re an EDM artist, print the money.” It’s hard. I have much respect for anyone who chooses to be vulnerable enough and open enough to do the work to explore who they are and put that out into the world. Especially if they’re successful at it because the pressure and expectation on that level that gets layered on top of it, to be a fully directed autonomous individual following your own heart in this world is hard work.

It’s much easier to capitulate, “Dangle all the carrots. Give me the money and the fame, the cars.” It’s easy to chase all that shit. To move through life of your own volition, of your own heart and the spark of creativity within you without expectation for all that stuff is some of the most difficult work to do as a being on in this world. There’s a lot of hard work to be done. Choosing to move through life of your own internal compass, try and tune out the voices around you is tough.

I found the episode that I was referring to that was with Ruby Roth. We talked a lot about this with her this conversation. For you, the audience, if you would to hear us talk about being an artist and more depth with a guest, please check out that episode. We should start wrapping up and sharing some brand shoutouts as we’ve been doing and we get into one of our favorite parts of our show, which is called Frequently Asked Queries.

Let’s begin with some brands that we love. Number one, I’m excited because I have been experimenting with some alternatives to Amazon. As we talked about a few episodes back, being mindful of the ethics behind companies that we support and promoting things that feel in alignment with our values and that we feel are being owned and operated by great people. I have mixed feelings about Amazon. I feel it’s nice to give somebody else a try. I found this wonderful platform called Indigo Books that’s based in Canada. You can purchase their products for most places in the world, probably not anywhere. It’s worth checking out.

For example, Jason mentioned Big Magic. The link that you’ll find to Big Magic at Wellevatr.com is to Indigo Books. I’ve done this for some episodes. A little heads up to you, the audience, that we are working hard to make sure that anybody that we talk about is an alignment. Aside from that, two other brands I’d love to give a shout out to, one is Kickstarter. I thought this one was cool and worth bringing up. Jason, I feel you would get very excited about this. This is for a Mexican vegan fast food restaurant in Barcelona. It’s run by two vegan friends, Ken and Francis. Ken has a history in restaurant management.

One of his restaurants catered to and employed blind people in Madrid. Francis has created vegan diets for athletes. Both of them found themselves in Barcelona. They’ve started a Kickstarter for this restaurant and I thought it was neat. Their project will only be funded if it reached its goal of $45,000 by August 8th. Please go check it out, donate what you can, let’s check out some of the perks. What did they give you? It’s in euros, which makes sense.

If you pledge $6 or more, you’ll get your name on a donor wall. If you pledge $12 or more, you’ll get a free meal. If you live there or you would like you can opt to pay that money forward and give a free meal to a homeless person, which is neat. There’s a lot of amazing things that they’re doing. I’d love to start mentioning more Kickstarters, fundraisers to promote some of these people that are working hard. It’s amazing to get plant-based food across the world and to also support a lot of small businesses, friend businesses, vegan businesses, that’s in full alignment. I feel I’m going to mispronounce the name. Jason, maybe you will be able to correctly pronounce it. It’s probably not that hard, but you’re so much better at pronouncing things than I am.

It’s Chuga Libre. It reminds me of Nacho Libre, the great wrestling movie with Jack Black.

A completely different note, but speaking of Mexican fast food, I went and tried the new vegan offerings at the fast-food chain, El Pollo Loco. I’ve never been there before because I don’t know if they’re a California or a West Coast chain. I don’t remember them being a Massachusetts or the East Coast. When I moved to the West coast, I was already vegan and did not get to experience it. It was a place that people that eat chicken are into right. It’s similar to KFC. I went there and I tried the El Pollo Loco burrito and tacos. The tacos and the burrito are pretty good.

Choosing to move through life of your own internal compass and tune out the voices around you is tough. Click To Tweet

It was neat. It’s a lot of these fast-food chains. I’m going to try the KFC. Although I have mixed feelings, Jason, I got to say not about the ingredients, but you have to double-check because not all KFCs will cook it separately. On their website, KFC says it’s not technically vegan because a lot of the products will be fried in the same fryer as chicken. You have to decide how you feel about it. As I talked about in a previous episode about the KFC situation, I still think it’s cool. If you are eating chicken and you want to try to eat more plant-based and you like KFC, great. This is probably for you. I don’t know if this is for vegans. Vegans can be excited about it.

Some vegans are not into it because they don’t want to support a business that capitalizes on selling animal products. My feeling is this is progress, not about perfection. If we can make this an exciting, cool thing and an acceptable thing, I have to give huge props to Beyond Meat in general. I’m a shareholder of theirs. I bought some stock and so I have some vested interest in them. I bought stock because Beyond Meat is doing amazing things, even though it’s processed.

It’s the same thing with Impossible Foods, even though it’s GMO, genetically modified, they’ve changed the game and opened a lot of eyes to plant-based proteins out there. I for one am curious about KFC and as it’s had another episode, I will probably try it even it’s not gluten-free. It’s probably going to make my stomach hurt. If I can find a KFC nearby that has it and hopefully doesn’t fry it in oil. I don’t know how I’m going to confirm that, but I’m going to look into it. I’ll report back on that experience.

I want to give a shout out to two platforms in the Pantheon of the interwebs that allow people to learn more plant-based cooking. During this quarantine time of COVID, cooking schools, culinary schools are not operating. It’s another one of the casualties of the economic downturn during the quarantine. I do get messages still, Whitney, in my culinary career that is winding down of people asking me, “Where do I go to get a culinary education if I want to cook plant-based?” I go back to two dear friends of ours, Chad and Derek Sarno, the Sarno brothers, who have a great company called Wicked Healthy.

They launched Wicked Healthy Cooking, which is an online portal for you to learn plant-based cooking. They have two classes that I have watched the videos and I love. One is Plant-Based Party Cooking, which teaches you hors d’oeuvres and party food. Not many people having parties, maybe you are with family though. It could be something you bring to a small family gathering. The other one is Plant-Based Cooking for Kids.

If anyone’s interested in the small bite-sized courses, we will link to the place where you can find wicked healthy cooking online. They’re beautifully shot classes, easy, approachable cooking techniques. If you want to dive deeper into your culinary education, we have loved Rouxbe Online Cooking School for many years. Chad Sarno was one of the progenitors of their Plant-Based Online Academy. It is a phenomenal program that teaches you basic techniques like knife skills and flavor combining, building a recipe from scratch all the way up to more advanced techniques like making your own homemade pasta at home.

It goes from the beginner level all the way to the advanced level. Other than the culinary school I went to and many colleagues have gone to, Whitney, in terms of an online education, I think that Rouxbe along with Wicked Healthy are probably the best thing you can do online. For you, dear audience, if you or any of your family members or loved ones want to get an amazing culinary schooling and do it online, check out Wicked Healthy and Rouxbe Online Cooking School.

I second that I feel like I relate Rouxbe to Chad Sarno because he was working with them when we were introduced to Rouxbe and he did amazing work with them. Jason and I have both been students of Rouxbe. We can attest to the amazing teaching that they do. They forever changed my relationship with cooking knives. I felt very confident with using the knife in the kitchen. There are techniques that have been ingrained in my brain because of their teaching style. That’s wonderful. People like Chef AJ have classes on Rouxbe. Chad and Derek are two of our favorite people. We’ve thought about inviting them on our show. Maybe this is a reminder to do that, Jason.

As we are wrapping up number 100, Whitney, do you have any frequently asked queries to lay on me?

What do you mean, do I?

I feel that would have been gems.

There’s no way I feel confident sharing those. There has been a slew of sexual queries.

For me, what are they asking for?

I also wonder how does that query have anything to do with our website? It’s fascinating. For those of you who haven’t read, we explained several episodes back when we first started doing the Frequently Asked Query segment, how you can go on Google Analytics, or if you’d like an alternative, you can use Fathom Analytics by our friend, Paul Jarvis. You can use these analytic platforms to go and see what people are typing in. It creates an impression on your website. When you search for something on Google, for instance, it shows you all the search results. Those are all considered impressions.

If you scroll past them and you come up with as a result, that can lead to these analytics that you can look into. Somehow certain phrases are typed together that will give somebody an impression of our website. Most of the time they don’t click on it because we have nothing to do with these queries. It’s always interesting to look at it. I’m fascinated by it in general. What we do is we will share a query that is funny, one that is interesting and one that is serious. Which order would you to go in, Jason?

Let’s start with serious.

I have a spreadsheet here where I keep track of all the interesting things that I come across. The query was affirmations for insecurity.

I would go back to a modified version of one of Louise Hay’s affirmations for insecurity. One that I’ve enjoyed that I learned not from her directly, but reading Louise Hay’s work over the years, which my exposure to her work got accelerated by being a Hay House author with my book, Eaternity. The mantra that I use when I’m feeling insecure or not trusting or feeling things are going to shit is all is well and everything is working for my highest good whether or not I can see it in the moment. I totally forgot it, Whitney. This is ridiculous because I say it almost every single morning and I’m blanking on it.

Does that mean that you’re insecure? What do you do when you forget it? Do you think that you’re forgetting it because you feel on the spot right now?

The reality is a choice that it goes back to Einstein’s quote of the most important decision that we can make is whether we live in a friendly universe or a malevolent one. When things are going to shit and we’re in chaos and we’re feeling insecure and we feel the ground is falling beneath our feet, I invite myself, the audience, and you. I invite everyone to remember that anytime we’ve been feeling like the ground is collapsing under our feet, everything’s going to hell and nothing’s right, is that we have ended up in a place where life finds balance and harmony. My therapist Gary says this moment, every chaos completes itself in peace. If we’re in a moment of chaos, panic, and insecurity, it’s important to remember that life finds a way to rebalance itself and the chaos and uncertainty and insecurity is not going to last forever. I have to remember I say that because I need to remind myself of it too.

That’s helpful. You can also build your own affirmation by simply reflecting on what is it that you want to feel or what don’t you want to feel like getting to the root of it. If insecurity is fear of the unknown, you could say something, “I am brave. I have the courage to walk through uncertainty or sit with uncertainty.” You can create these mantras for yourself, these affirmations for yourself that what you’re trying to feel, what you’re working on, what you want to remind yourself that you have deep down inside. Those can be the most powerful kind because you’re not relying on somebody else’s words. You’re creating your own and that makes me feel good. I will sometimes record myself saying affirmations and then put some calming music underneath it.

I’ll use Garage Band on Mac if you want to get serious with it, but you can also record it on your mobile device. There’s a record feature built into it and the same with your computer and play it back to yourself. That way you could meditate and make it more of a relaxed practice versus an active practice where you’re saying it out loud. You’re trying to remember it and I’ve read other people’s affirmations and played them back for myself. I do that every day. It is a very soothing process.

Create your own mantra. Let’s go to interesting now. What’s an interesting one you have for me?

That’s our biggest category. This one is completely random. I’m going to tie in one that might be semi-related. Somebody asked, is Byron Katie a vegetarian? Do you know the answer to that?

I have no clue. I did the school for the work back in 2012, which is her ten-day intensive. I did it here in LA. Unfortunately, I did not sit down with Byron Katie for any in-person meals. Although what I recall them providing was a mix of things. It wasn’t exclusively vegan or vegetarian. I remember them having animal products there too. I don’t know the answer to that question. It brings up an interesting overarching conversation, which might be better for another episode, which is how nonviolence, ahimsa or plant-based lifestyles are intertwined in different spiritual practices.

For instance, in the Jivamukti yoga lineage, which I’ve been practicing on and off for several years in New York and LA, one of their core principles is veganism. They take ahimsa very literally, which is ultimately do no harm or do the least amount of harm possible. It’s interesting you bring in Byron Katie, who’s definitely one of our preeminent spiritual teachers of the modern time. I don’t know if that’s part of her philosophy.

I’m sure a Google search could also give you the answer if you would to look at that behind the scenes and see what you can find, Jason. While he’s doing that, I’m going to pull from the funny category, which we don’t have that many. I’ll go with this one because I also know that you could answer this, Jason. The query was, “You can’t have shit in Detroit.” Is that a line from a song or a book?

I’ve never heard that phrase in my life. Although in my mind, it was a chorus for a song in the exact same melody as Ain’t No Church in the Wild by Jay Z and Kanye. That reminds me of the Cleveland video that Whitney showed me years ago. There’s a slam video about how shitty Cleveland is. Apologies to any Clevelanders or Ohioans. The saving grace in this parody video is, “At least we’re not Detroit. We’re not Detroit.” It’s like Cleveland is shitty, but it’s not as shitty as Detroit.

Going back, I found a quote from an interview with Byron Katie that talked about shifts in her life. She says, “Yes, radical physical shifts. I went down from over 200 pounds to where my husband was fearful. I was so thin and it was amazing and amazing phenomenon. If I ate any animal products at all, my tongue would bleed. That’s how I knew to eat vegetarian, not even dairy. That’s shifted now and it doesn’t happen anymore, but it would bleed and bleed. I would have to hold a handkerchief on it, but then it would move through.” I don’t know if she’s vegetarian, but appears she went through a very terrifying and interesting part of her life where if she ate animal products, her tongue would start bleeding. That’s definitely put the stake down my tongue is gushing blood. It talks about her feeling of lightness. Apparently, at one point, she was vegetarian. The funny one was the shit about Detroit?

Yes, that was a third and final query.

I’ve never heard that phrase. I don’t know what to say about Detroit other than props to my hometown. You’ve been through a lot of shit, Detroit. I got mad love for Detroit. I think about moving back sometimes, but then I think about winter and I go, “No, we’re not going to do that. We’re not going to subject ourselves to the winters there.” On that note, Whitney, my good friend, I believe we are coming to the end of Episode 100. How do you feel about this? We’re concluding 100 episodes for God’s sake?

I feel great.

Me too, I’m happy. Without getting too hung up on the milestone conversation, more than anything, it feels a combination of gratitude and pleasure that we get to share our voices. There are people reading to what we have to say and resonating with it or doing whatever they’re doing with it. It feels wonderful that we’re doing this together. Thank you, dear audience, whether this is your first episode or your 100th, and you’ve been with us throughout the whole journey. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for reading. If you want free goodies, shoot us an email or DM us and we’ll hook you up with something good. Our email is [email protected] You can find us on all of the social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, it’s @Wellevatr. We always love hearing from you, always love your comments. Thank you for the new iTunes reviews that have been coming through. We appreciate your support on that platform as well.

When you get unexpected criticism, it stings a little.

You’ve got to brush it off. I remember when my TV series was out years ago, Whitney, someone was like, “His nose is huge.” I’m like, “Thank you.”

Wasn’t there a blog post by a vegan blogger we knew or we knew of at least that it was critical?

It was Vegansaurus.

Does that website even exist anymore?

It was one of those reviews of my TV series, Whitney, there was nothing constructive about it. It was a slam piece. “His delivery so annoying and he’s got this cadence I don’t like.” I’m like, “What is the point of this?”

They haven’t posted anything on their blog since 2019. They have posted on their Twitter. They’re still going strong. They have a bit Twitter following.

My thing is this, people who exist as critics or one of their drivers is to review music, art and TV shows and all they do is look for critical things. I find that’s a very sad existence. When I get critical feedback that is not imbued with anything that is helping me move forward. I call it a slam piece. I don’t find much value in that. I don’t mean this to be about that review in general. It can also mean about the review we got on our show. It’s like, “I am not liking this because you guys aren’t covering X, Y, Z, whatever it is. Could you focus more on so and so? Could you speak slower so I can take the information right?” When you get things like that, there’s something constructive you can chew on and work with. As opposed to like, “I don’t like their voices. They ramble all the time.” It’s a blog. How big do you know my nose is?

That’s pretty much exactly what the comment was. Maybe it was somebody from Vegansaurus.

They can burn and dinosaur hell. We’re going to grind them up and turn them into fossil fuel and put them in the tanks of our cars like all the other dinosaurs.

I’m going to take this as an opportunity to remind the audience that Jason’s views do not reflect my own.

I get angry than Whitney.

Their Instagram is drool-worthy. I’m going to plug Vegansaurus despite Jason’s feelings. I also discovered, Jason, that Blackbird Pizza. This is the same Blackbird Pizza that we had when we were in Philly. I could be right or wrong. Blackbird has a frozen pizza. If it wasn’t for Vegansaurus, I would not have known that.

Vegansaurus, all is forgiven.

They post a lot of cool things. I wasn’t following them, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff on their feed about vegan food.

In all seriousness, I’m not upset about it. It’s one of those things where it’s like when people do things again with the energy of tearing you down without offering something constructive, I do take umbrage with that. I’m not hurt about it. It’s like, “The thing you did few years ago wasn’t cool.”

We’ve all done things in the past that we regret and we’ve changed and evolved. Some people haven’t. We don’t know who left us this critical comment on iTunes. If you, the audience, would to go and leave a nice comment to make up for negative comments by all means. If you also don’t like our voices and you’re still tuning into us, thanks.

It reminds me of a comment that was made about Howard Stern years ago, which was his listenership and the stations he was on was like, “Why does anybody listen to this guy? They hate him.” They’re like, “They hate him because they don’t know what he’s going to say next. They tune in because they want to know what he’s going to say next.” Whether you’re reading because you love us or you hate us and you want to see crazy shit we’re going to say next, thank you for that either way. In conclusion, thanks for being here for our 100th episode. Whitney, congrats. I love you. I appreciate you. Dear audience, we love and appreciate you no matter why you’re reading. We appreciate you being here. We will be back for the next 100. We’ll see where this goes. We don’t know. We’re trying to make it through the day!

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