When I teach yoga, I often begin the practice by asking students to close their eyes and set an intention for what they want to do in the class. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with an intelligent man about the future of my podcast and blog site. He made the poignant observation that my brand was not clear and that I would have difficulty marketing myself if I did not hone in on one particular aspect of my personality. At first I was resistant to this idea, but upon deeper reflection, three things became abundantly clear to me. The first was that he was absolutely correct about the problem with my “brand”. It may be hard for the public at large, who has never met me, to process fully the plethora of messages that are disseminated in my podcast. The second is that this inability to stay “on message” has affected my life in the same way it has affected my podcast. I have not, in my adult life, committed whole- heartedly to one field or craft. I’ve been a jack of many trades and not quite the master of any one. I have a few that I am highly proficient in but to claim the status of master would be wrong; at least according to Malcolm Gladwell and the 10,000-hour theory. The third, most vexing, realization that I came to is that my love and appreciation for various and drastically differing facets of the human experience is primarily my favorite thing about life and living! So the question remains, how do I reconcile these three facts while honoring the intention of the podcast? What is the intention of the podcast?
I’ll begin by addressing the issue of my “brand”. I understand the idea behind branding. It is a way of making clear to the public who you are and what your mission is. Whether that mission is to sell sneakers, soap, or snake oil you want to be clearly identifiable to the masses. The problem is I have never been much of a salesman. I’ve been a passionate debater, a persuasive speaker, and a positive motivator but never really much of a salesman. I’ve always had a negative association with salesmen in my mind and have had difficulty shaking it as an adult. As a youth, I was known to be tenacious in trying to get my way and occasionally I would hurt people I loved by being overbearing or manipulative. The backlash to my early aggressiveness is that in my 20’s I became more passive and less comfortable convincing people to do things that they did not want to do for fear that my passion for any given topic would get the best of me. I was afraid to make the hard sell. However, I understand now that life is too precious to make fear based decisions. I will no longer mitigate my personality in the interest of politeness. I can say that with confidence because I know what my intention is and where my heart lies. I am not trying to sell anything. I am trying to share and spread an idea to everyone who needs to hear it, which is pretty much everyone: LIVE NOW!
The PotuS Lives Podcast is not my first attempt at doing a podcast. It is actually my third attempt. If you can believe it, the first two were even more unfocused, but probably a little funnier. I have aired a few of the old episodes so people can see the growth and maturation over the years to come. The problems with the podcasts have been a reflection of the problems I’ve had personally in my life. They were entertaining, disorganized, stimulating, poignant, and sometimes rudderless. I have been very good in spurts at a few things but have had trouble committing to any one of them long enough to bear fruit. I’ve essentially failed to “brand” my life. I never wanted to be boxed in or locked in to one way of thinking or being. It has always seemed a dangerous prospect to me to believe that anything is the absolute truth. Religion is all theoretical and to quote Mac from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, “Science is a liar sometimes”; basically asserting that widely held beliefs can change over time. This inability to commit to wrestling, college football, military, hip hop, bartending, slam poetry, or my early yoga teaching career contributed to my lack of professional progress but has allowed me to gain some invaluable perspective. My life experience has clarified for me what is important. Being present, being honest, and living well. I teach yoga and I know I will do it forever because I love it and would do it for free. I have born witness to the profound effect it can have on healing the body and mind. It is without hesitation that I say that the world would definitely be a noticeably improved place to live in if everyone did yoga. I believe that the practice of yoga is one of the most efficient ways of getting at the truth of who you are and learning to be present in the moment. Essentially, yoga can help you live now. As I have deepened my yoga practice I have seen my focus, awareness, and energy increase. That being said, I have decided to base my life, and podcast, primarily around the idea of living now by finding a way to bring exercise and mindfulness or meditation into your every day lives and being the truest version of your self. I love yoga but whether it is yoga, running, jiu jitsu, cycling, or anything else, moving mindfully can help drastically improve the quality of your life and that is something I want all people to have access to.
So how do I keep the podcast “on brand” while still living in the real world and acknowledging my love of all things! This, my friends, is a dilly of a pickle. My parents were born in San Pedro De Macoris, in the Dominican Republic. I grew up in Paterson NJ but went to high school with gifted and wealthy white children. I’ve had friends whose parents owned acres and were CEOs of fortune 500 companies and friends who’s parents smoked crack and committed suicide. I have been to Ashrams in India, five star restaurants in Soho, am an Eagle Scout, and I am comfortable walking through any hood near you. Needless to say I have lots to talk about and can sometimes get distracted while speaking to interesting guests. The thing to remember is that everything is everything. Whether we are discussing the discipline it takes to train for a fitness competition, an acting gig, stand up comedy, headstand, or to be a teacher in the public school system, what we are essentially addressing is the human experience. We are all wrestling with the finite nature of our lives and how to make the best use of that time. Some of that time might be spent training rigorously and some of it can be opening your heart and mind to the people around you.
I will do my best, regardless of who my guest is or what the subject matter, to honor my life’s truest intention. My intention is that my podcasts, blog posts, yoga classes, and shows can all serve to help bring people closer in some way to the realization that life is short and that they should spend every moment trying to live their best version of it! Go for a run today. Take an improv class. Write a song. Ride a roller coaster. Register for school. Call your mother. Let go of a grudge. Learn how to play that instrument you always wanted to play. Finish that book. Chase a dream. Respect the dream. Fix your credit. Stop lying. Start living. DO YOGA! LIVE NOW!
-PotuS Lives Sansshackles