In this episode, I was recently on The Seven Hats Podcast, and I've never done this before, so this will be my first time on the show that I do anything like this. You're about to listen to an episode like me as a guest on someone else's podcast, and...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e186-how-i-became-unbroken-on-7-hats-cptsd-and-trauma-healing-podcast/#show-notes
In this episode, I was recently on The Seven Hats Podcast, and I've never done this before, so this will be my first time on the show that I do anything like this. You're about to listen to an episode like me as a guest on someone else's podcast, and part of the reason why I do this is that I want to spread the message, right? I want to talk about Think Unbroken, I want to talk about The Unbroken Nation, I want to talk about the show because honestly, if people don't know about you, they'll never find you, right?
I want to spread the mission and message, and I think that's incredibly important. And the reason that I decided to do this was for a couple of purposes, (1) that way you can have a little bit more insight into my thoughts and my life and my experiences and what Think Unbroken means that depth and (2) to be straight up, this is one of the best interviews of ever had in my life.
The Seven Hats podcast was an incredible conversation. I want to know your thoughts on this, and if you wish to hear more episodes where I have been a guest on other people's shows, as I believe honestly, it may bring a tremendous amount of insight to you.
And also, if you go to thinkunbrokenpodcast.com at the bottom of the screen, whether you're on mobile or your computer at thinkunbrokenpodcast.com there's a little microphone; you can click that microphone, you can ask me a question. Leave a note. Just say hello and mean the world to me if you would do that. I'm very excited about this conversation and to be a guest.
So I really would love some feedback here.
I love this conversation, and that's why I wanted to share it with you!
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Yuval (7 Hats): Michael, Welcome to The Seven Hats!
Michael: What is up, my friend. I am very excited to be here with you right now.
Yuval (7 Hats): Oh, so am I. You know, your story is inspirational and heroic to say, the least. I came across one of your quotes and it really hit me hard because not everyone's life turns out, okay, it's a lot of hard work to get our lives in in order and for you to be here speaking with me now was a herculean effort. So the quote that I'm referring to was I came from a place where statistically, I should not be talking to you right now, I should be dead or in jail. So what I'd like to do now is uncover some of your journey, but in order to do so, we need to start at the beginning to get a sense of your struggles and challenges that you had to overcome. So let's start with where were you born and how was your childhood?
Michael: Like, yeah, totally and I'll definitely give you the elevator pitch here. So I grew up in Indianapolis, my mother was a drug addict and alcoholic. She actually cut off my right index finger when I was four years old and people always go like wow, how could your mother do that? And like the truth about it is she was perpetuating the continuation of trauma, her mom abused her and so on and so forth. And she married my stepfather who was super abusive, you know, like the kind of dude you pray is never your stepfather and he would beat the shit out of my brothers and I put me in the hospital, you know, that whole thing and I spent a lot of my childhood homeless and deeply in poverty. I mean we were always getting evicted, they were always turning off the water, the heat the electricity and I live with 30 different families as a child, just getting bounced around place to play separated from my siblings, separated from safety, some of those places were super dangerous, some of those places they took care of us.
And my grandmother adopted me when I was 12 and you think that'd be a godsend but so I'm biracial and black and white, my grandma some old racist ass white lady from a town in Tennessee you never heard of so insert identity crisis, right? And I got high for the first time when I was 12 drunk at 13 at 15 I was expelled from school, I was selling drugs, running with guns, running from the cops, breaking into people's houses, we'd still people shit, go sell it at the pawn shop, you know, it was crazy, man. We steal cars we were doing what we thought we needed to do to survive and luckily, I got put into a last chance program and I still don't graduate high school on time. And in fact, they basically handed me the diploma dude they're like, you just got to get the hell out of here, we're done with you. And I was trying to find like after that the solution for poverty, for homelessness, for abuse is seemed to me like money had to be the thing, right? Because like when I sold drugs as a kid like that was about survival, but I knew that wouldn't go where I want it to go for me.
And as of today my three childhood best friends have been murdered like doing the shit we used to do man and I remember after not graduating high school and not being able to get in. I had two dreams as a kid, don't die, become a marine corps scout sniper, that's it. Come from military family, my brother served, my cousin serves, my uncle served, that was where I was going. But I hurt my knee, my senior year of high school, couldn't pass maps, got an almost perfect ASVAB score I could have done anything I wanted in the military and I was stuck like, what the fuck am I supposed to do? And I was like, I want to make a hundred thousand dollars a year legally, by the time I'm 21. I had clarity around that goal at 18 years old and so, I just started learning the skills and the first thing that I knew was like, okay, what is my environment? I'm going to go get a job at a fast food place, maybe I'll be a manager, and if I become a manager, I'll make that money and that was my plan and next thing, you know, I'm a manager of one of the busiest fast food restaurants in all of Indiana or doing like 10 G's a day in fucking cheeseburger cells, man, I had 52 people wonder me, I was working sixty five hours a week, I was making thirty six thousand dollars, which is like a million dollars when you're 18, right? And I was in this place where I was just trying to figure out what was next. I thought the path to a hundred thousand dollars a year was to become a regional manager, right?
And I was on Myspace chat with one of my friends aging myself a little bit here and he's like he went to my high school, we grew up together, we were friends and he was like, dude, I just got a job for an insurance company. I was like, holy shit, that's a thing like you can do that? Because I didn't know, dude, like we work fast food, we work warehouse jobs, we worked in kitchens, we bought our cars at Buy Here Pay Here Lots, I didn't know you could have that, doesn't literally the first time I've ever heard anyone say anything like that in my life and I was like, oh that's how I get to it.
And for the next basically year and a half, I got better at writing resumes, but are at writing cover letters, interviewing I interviewed with like 15 insurance companies and then right as I turned right as about to turn 21, I landed a job with a fortune 10 company, no high school diploma, no college education, started doing sales, hit that goal of six figures and my life became so incredibly terrible because that thing happens to people when they get money for the first time that happened to me.
I remember the first time, I got a check for ten thousand dollars. I went and spent it the same day, you know, dumb, that is when you're like 21 years old, dude, think about this, it's like if the word drip exists back then I was dripping, dude, I was so stupid. And so for the next five years, that's what I did and my life became so terrible, I was 350 pounds, smoking two packs a day, drinking myself to sleep, cheating on my partner's, lying too people all the fucking time and that's when I put a gun in my mouth. I was just done, man. I was like, money was supposed to solve all my problems and it didn't and I didn't know what to do. And the next morning I woke up and I was laying in bed and, you know, getting keep in mind I'm 350 pounds, I'm smoking a joint, eating chocolate cake and watching the CrossFit games. Like, dude, if that's what I'm earning bottom, I don't know what it is and I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and I will never understand why I did this.
And as I was looking at myself, like I was looking at this fat face, this body, I hated this life I was miserable in. I remember being 8 years old, and the water company came to our house on Allison Avenue and they turned our water off and it was like a blistering hot, Indiana August summer day and a win in the backyard and I took this little blue bucket and I walked across the street to the neighbor's house, I turn on the spigot of the side of their house and I stole water for the first time and I grew up in America, dude, and I remember thinking in that moment when I'm a grown-up, this will not be my life and it wasn't my life financially, but it was in every other aspect because I was still that hurt lost little boy. As I had that memory and looked at myself in the mirror I asked myself, what are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? And the answer was no excuses, just results. And in that moment, I realized two things.
One, I was no longer a child and two everything was my fault.
And from that moment, I got deep into this journey, I started doing therapy, group therapy, Gestalt therapy, men's group therapy, trauma-informed therapy, CBT, EMDR, I started going to coaching, getting coaches and reading the books, going to the conferences today I have over 30 trauma form certifications and certificates. I started putting myself in a position to be successful and stop putting up with my own bullshit, taking care of myself and 11 years later, here I am talking to you.
Yuval (7 Hats): I love it and will dig into a lot, you just gave us a lot so we'll dig into that. I want to take you back a little bit, your siblings, how are they?
Michael: I'm super proud of my siblings, man. Like we are really breaking this cycle, you know, recently I actually took them down to Florida to go to Tony Robbins, Unleash the Power Within. And you know, I'm so fortunate I was able to afford that and take them and show them the other side, they're changing their lives every single day, man, it's fucking incredible. And we were orphans in the world, we don't have parents, I can't pick up the phone and call somebody because you know, it's one of those things like your brother is never going to listen to you, you know what I mean? No matter what I ever do, they'll never listen, but like being able to take them and expose them to that and just watch the way they are thinking now and changing and moving like, I've always been proud of them. We've had our wars, we've had our battles, I love them dearly and I'm proud of them everyday.
Yuval (7 Hats): So they changed their life around you think that their model citizens at this point.
Michael: I would never go into a model citizen.
Yuval (7 Hats): Okay, would so, did you have that effect on them or did they do it themselves and you kind of merged in later in life?
Michael: I think there's levels the best, right? I think there's levels and what I mean by that is they were always trying to strive and figure it out, same as me and then I think one of the things that happened is they just noticed. I mean there was a period of time where my family wouldn't talk to me. They were like don't your fucking asshole, you're a piece of shit, don't talk to me, don't come around, don't text me, nothing man like I had to earn that back and it's really beautiful the way that all my siblings think. You know, I don't know that we'll ever be as close as a lot of families are but man were trying and whether they got from me, or they got it from Jay-Z or Kobe, I know people they look up to or serving in the military, it doesn't matter to me, where it came from, it's just that it's there.
Yuval (7 Hats): Yeah. I mean, you had a fucked-up childhood, take us a little bit into that a little deeper, you know, your mom was a drug addict, alcoholic, she really fell into that addiction. How is that growing up, was she the one who did introduce you to drugs initially? Like how how did you get a hold of drugs at 11 years old? How did that happen?
Michael: Yeah, so there's a lot in that first. I mean, we were always exposed to it like, even at, like 6 or 7 years old, I knew, if I climbed on top of the armoire, there was weed like, I knew it was up there so it wasn't like, I was shocked, or surprised, we were always around it. You know, it was really prescription drugs and OxyContin that really got my mom, right? The prescription drug addiction, we would have tons of those little fucking orange bottles all over the house they'd be hidden, they'd be stopped, there be alcohol everywhere, she would drive drunk, she almost drove us off of a bridge one time, like it was fucking crazy man. She'd get pulled over all the time, I had to call 911 like three different times where she overdosed, I mean, it's the most chaotic shit, you can fucking imagine. And in that like it just was so normal, that's the thing people have to understand, like it was not uncommon like, my mom, I can't say they're not a fucking. My mom suit Walmart one time and she got all this money from them and she went on this Bender where she disappeared for like a fucking year.
Yuval (7 Hats): Wow, and we're who was taking care of you?
Michael: No one. I was by myself, at one point for three months, no one whipping in an abandoned house, like taking showers at school and stealing food from the Big Lots around the corner, where my friend's mom worked. And like that was just another fucking Tuesday, you know what I'm saying? And like, that's the power of drugs, that's a power of addiction. So when I was 12 years old, my grandmother who adopted me in the neighborhood, my best friend was up the road and his family life was very similar, it was not that much different and his parents sold drugs so we would just go it was weed at first, right? That's how it always starts.
So we’d go pinch off a little fucking nickels and shit, they would never notice and we take that money, we'd go to McDonald's, we go to the corner store and buy slushies, and fucking Butterfingers and shit like that, but eventually it was like selling suit ephedrine and stealing from the grocery store and selling them to our friends and then it was cocaine and then it just continued to go deeper and deeper until the point where I had to hit the eject button. I was like, wait a second hold the fuck up like whatever's about to happen is bad, but dude, we would be in the most precarious situations because we'd get stoned the moment we woke up, whatever it took man, we were popping pills, we drinking cough syrup, we were smoking weed, we were taken fucking like, we'd blunt roaches and breaking them down and loading pipes and scraping off the fuck, dude, I'm probably gonna have fucking lung cancer from the shit that I did in my fucking teens, man, and that's what felt right, it was numbing to us, it made us invisible to all the pain.
I mean at one point even I smoked a blunt dipped in embalming fluid, well, like I went to another planet I was like 14, I was the craziest thing I've ever done in my life. We had no regard for our own body, we were just trying to like survive every day and for people who have never lived, like, how we lived, I cannot explain to you, why you think it's crazy? And I think it's normal because it was everywhere.
Yuval (7 Hats): Yeah, and a lot of people would just not get it, they're going to hear this story and going to be like, oh poor guy, poor kid, but the reality is that was your path, that was your experience and we come to this earth to experience all there is to experience in some experience what you've experienced and some are born to billionaires and sit around popping pills because they have no purpose in their life, right? But same addiction different experience, right? We spoke about trauma and resentment of our past in the sense, his definition of trauma is trauma, is just your drama rehearsed over and over and over again. And Wayne Dyer, provided the following analogy that resentment is like venom, that continues to pour through your system, doing its poisonous damage long after the bite of the snake, it's not the bite that kills you, it's the venom. I'm sure in your practice, you work with individuals that hold resentment blame and experienced trauma, right? Long after the event has transpired, you had to deal with that, right? You eventually had to cut the venom because it was killing you. So, how did you do it and how would you help somebody who in their mind they are going mind, is continuing to replay that trauma from childhood we're currently, they're not being hurt by it?
Michael: Yeah, and this phenomenal question. I love that quote. I've heard it many times. You know, I carry this scar man, I carry this finger, my mother cut off, the damaged, the discoloration the missing fingernail, the fact that I can't feel it, multiple skin grafts. I carry that every day and I hid from it, I ran from it, I stuffed it down, I made it seem like it didn't matter, this is the venom, right? And the more that I did it, the more it consumed me and the more it consumed me, the more and it destroyed my life and it wasn't until I brought awareness and acknowledgement to it and I sat with and I was like, hold the fuck up, man this matters you can't run from this. There was a period of time, I didn’t cry for 15 years. One of my best friend's got murdered in that window, my grandmother died, my mom died, I didn't cry, I just turned off and then I realized like in this moment, this journey of, like, wait a second, this isn't working, this stuffing it down, it's gonna come out and so it was coming out, was coming out in sex, and drugs, and cars and clothes and being obese, it was coming out, it was existing because it needed to get out. You know, Bessel van der Kolk wrote an amazing book called, The Body Keeps The Score and it really alludes to the reality like the pain, the trauma, the experiences, they're stored within our physical body and you must release them and again, this thing about this venom like, it holds so true, I had to get it out, I had to let it go. And then it turned into like really diving into that work. Like getting serious about therapy having hard conversation, you know more about me and eight seconds then people who knew me for 27 years, I kept it, that close to the chest. People would be like, what's wrong with you? Like nothing, I'm fine. My partner's, my girlfriend's, they would be like, you never open up to me. I'm like – I tell you everything, you know what I mean? And it's like that stuff was consuming me and it wasn't until I got deep into the work and understood the ramifications of trauma that my life really began to change because I would go to therapy, I would pay this dude hundreds of dollars an hour for years and lie to him because it was safe, you got to understand like the real implication of trauma; the real ramification of the experience of the past is that the most dangerous thing a kid can do is exist and so you learn to turn off, you learn to become a robot, you learn to be not seen, not heard, not exist, you learn that every single time you have an opinion, you're going to get thrown through a wall and so, what do you do you turn off, its safety. What is the brains purpose? Very simple survival, that's it.
The brains only job is to make sure that you can procreate and that your creations can procreate, that's it. And so what happens is your autonomic nervous system learns to take these experiences make meaning of them, apply meaning to them and recognize stick or snake. And in that what happens is you start to adapt skills of survival, you learn how to shut off, you turn off, you remove identity, you become robotic and dissociated and what happens in that is that it actually serves you until it doesn't and then when it doesn't, what happens is you're faced with the most existential crisis that I believe, anyone will ever face. You've never been yourself before and you don't know how. And the hardest thing that I've ever done the Michael sitting here right now, today having this conversation is a creation of the idea of the person I thought I could be and that required a tremendous amount of work, effort, failure, trying things, putting myself in precarious situations, fucking up a lot, right? But also doing the work finding grace, finding love, finding peace, finding companionship, and intimacy and hope and learning the cry and learning to be compassionate and empathetic and writing and journaling, and meditation, and going through coaching and seminars, and conferences in the whole nine because the reality is like childhood trauma is the theft of identity like that's what it is and every experience that we ever have impacts who we are today and to be dismissive of those things that happen to you, that's the venom to pretend that stuff didn't happen, it's going to consume you.
And one day, it's going to take everything from you and it almost took everything from me and I'm not joking when I say, I'm lucky, I should be dead or in jail, but I'm here talking to you today.
Yuval (7 Hats): Yeah. You're talking about my spiritual teacher. I've commanded us said, the only way that you can combat that ego is humility and humility in understanding that the ego is in control of you and you're lying to yourself just like, you're looking in the mirror. How did humility come into play with you?
Michael: I knew everything until I figured out that I knew nothing because knowing everything felt like safety. My greatest character trait, and my greatest character flaw is that I'm stubborn. And so what I didn't understand then that being, that stubborn, being that so close to feeling like I know everything was a defensive mechanism entirely, it was about safety because if I knew more than you than I could outsmart you, that doesn't bode well for anything, for life, relationships, or friendships for career for entrepreneurial ship, I fucked up so many things in my life because I had to know everything, but I didn't and I don't.
And when I switch my identity and I recognize that like I had to learn the greatest tool that I think anyone has and healing traumas to become a learner, to get educated, to sit and just really consume information all the time so that you can start making meaning of things because it's really a fixed mindset, right? I know everything like that's the ultimate fixed mindset and that's where I was. And so removing that in stepping into the identity and I don't have the words for all, I'll credit Tom Bilyeu, for actually talking to me one time and being like, Oh, yeah, you're in the learner mode and I'm so lucky I have him in my life and like, recognizing like, oh, holy shit like the truth is when I became a learner, everything about who I am changed forever. And I think that's what it was and it's not that I've liked removed myself from my ego because I certainly have not, but it is very much so that I get to know who I am at a deeper level because I'm willing to acknowledge like, I don't know anything.
Yuval (7 Hats): Yeah, that's great, through that’s the first step is acknowledgement, right? Did you ever reconcile with those that hurt you? I mean, you have your mom, you have your dad, your stepdad, your grandma, probably others, or did you just basically leave them behind?
Michael: Yeah. No, so I'm going to give you context here so I want to make this clear for people. My mother and my stepfather, when I was 14 years old, I put her straining order on them, I had to like I knew like if those people stayed in my life, I was going to be way worse off than I was and eventually my mom actually sobered up, there was a period of time when I was like 17 where she was off of drugs and it was actually pretty interesting. I have a photo of my report card where you can see where she was healthy and sober and I had straight A's in high school. I was on the football team captain, wrestling team on the baseball team, I was dating a cheerleader like life was actually good for a moment. And then she relapsed again and then one night when I was 18, it was in the spring, she tried to attack me in my sleep, and I told her, like, after I kicked her to the ground and I said, if you ever touch me again, I'll kill you and until the day she died, I did not talk to her again, dude, you can only give somebody so many chances. But I think what's really important that I've come to recognize and understand about myself, I know no longer carry the weight of that with me.
And my grandmother died and like by the time that she died like I was so removed from being a human being like I couldn't have had a conversation with her, you know what I mean? And that was in my early 20s, my stepfather I haven't seen that dude in forever, I have no want nor need to and oddly enough I've actually never shared this on a podcast about six months ago, someone reach out to me and told me my father, still alive, I knew it was going to happen, do I sort of got like a movie?
Yuval (7 Hats): The more famous you get all of a sudden, they creep out of the woodwork.
Michael: And that's what happened and she hit me up and she goes, your dad's alive, she sent me a picture of him and I go, that's not my father, I don't want to know him, good luck to you and I'm okay with that. Look, man, I'm going to say something that's going to fuck people up right now. I am grateful for everything that ever happened to me, I would not be here right now, if it not and I can't change the past when you let go of that, when you let go of this notion that you can change what happened to you, and you get out of that fucking victim mentality and you make a decision, you make a decision to take control over your life and you understand that everyone is having a human experience no one knows what they're doing and sometimes people are going to fuck up way worse than other people and you just try to do your best, it's a lot easier to navigate this world.
Yuval (7 Hats): Yeah. Absolutely. You know, it's looking back everyone says, I'm never going to be like my mom, I'm never going to be like my dad, but we all inherit traits. Now, we know that the you've inherited a lot of the bad traits, right? And you overcame them, but my question is kind of the opposite, let's flip it around. Were those that hurt you so much 100% evil, or did they have redeeming characteristics; those characteristic that you actually took from them that we're great that you can speak to?
Michael: I don't think anybody is evil, man. I think people are embedded with chaos. I think people continue to perpetuate things that they're taught. I'll give you a great example, my grandma was kind of a terrible person like for real and she was super racist, and she was so mean to all of her kids, but look at her, how her parents treated her. My stepfather's mother, I would argue is the worst person I've ever known, she was a terrible fucking human being, I would put her at all a worse person than anyone else I was close to and I go, of course, how well how would he end up like that? She was a terrible human, but imagine what her parents did to her, that's why dude, that's why I'm telling you my mission is very simple. End generational trauma in my lifetime through education and information so that another kid does not have to have a story like mine because that is a fucking cycle.
Those people are not even like my mom wasn't evil, my mom went to drugs because it made her feel disconnected from the pain of her experience, right? Why do people do the things they do and it's easy, I did too for a long time. You don't end up 350 pounds, smoking two packs a day, drinking yourself to sleep and being high from the moment you wake up to the moment, you go to bed because life is good, I promise you that.
Yuval (7 Hats): Did you ever blame yourself for your parent’s behavior and others?
Michael: No, I didn't. Here's why actually one of the best things that happened to me as being homeless because I had to live with all those different families. One of the things that was very interesting, as some of those families were really, really good, some of those families were really, really bad and I didn't blame because I was like, wait, some people are good some aren't fine but implant like it didn't make sense to me, but was I pissed at my mom? Fuck, yeah, all the time; pissed at my stepdad, my grandmother, the world, absolutely but I like it. It's not like I blame them for the shit they did to me, I was just like this is my life. Again, this just really comes down to like, people don't know that there's a different way and so I just was like, this is what it is.
Yuval (7 Hats): I mean, your awareness, there was a point that you really struck bottom, and you had to make a decision to make changes like to stop breaking promises to yourself, right? So tell us about that, time in your life and this the most important aspect, how did you find the strength to stay consistent and discipline throughout the journey because, you know, addicts and those that are self-sabotaging always want to make that change that no one wants to stay there, but they just can't stay consistent and discipline through it, was it the therapy, was it something else that gave you that strength because ‘cause you're the one percent most people never get out of that, so how do you get out of that cycle?
Michael: Yeah. I had a lot of rock bottoms on the way to here. I'll probably have a lot more to because I think there's just levels to this shit, you know what I mean? And every time you go into a new level, you're going to find something new right there, something new, you gotta go through. For me, rock bottom, my first one like for real was, I'm 18 years old, so, I want to make context for where we started this conversation, and you'll understand why here in a second.
When I was 18 years old, I didn't graduate high school, my girlfriend calls me, she goes – hey, your name's not on the graduation list, and I was like, you gotta be fucking kidding me. It's impossible not to graduate from that High School in 2004 Harris Pulls did a study and called Dropout factories. My school was on that list, it was one of the worst schools in all of America and it's impossible not to graduate. And so, I'm like, holy, fuck, dude, I'm now the embarrassment, I am now the biggest loser in the whole school, all of my friends, ostracize me, I got uninvited to every graduation party ever like I would see them in passing on be so fucking embarrassed. And so my girlfriend calls me, I'm at home stone, playing video games, I go to school, I already knew why, I didn't go to school, I missed a hundred days of school my senior year and I go up to Mr. Bush's class, here's the irony, in all this, my first period business teacher. I go up to him and earlier in the semester I said A straight up and I was like, Mr. Bush your class at 7:00 in the morning I'm not coming to this shit, I'm selling drugs, I'm working a fake job at Hollywood video trying to cover ship shit up, I got a girlfriend, my grandma's in a coma like you think I give a fuck about this And he is like 20 years in, he seen everything. I'm not telling him nothing surprising and he goes look dude, check in with me, do homework, we'll figure it out. I didn't check in with him or do homework one time and so, I walk up to his room and I'm pissed, dude, I'm like 18, I'm like a fucking monster and I go, how dare you fail me? What the fuck is wrong with you? And he goes first off you don't talk to me that way you're a fucking child like, right? And which I respect and he goes, I didn't fail you, you failed yourself and he tells me the most important thing anyone to this day has ever told me in my life anyone and I've had amazing mentors, but anyone he goes what you need to understand about life is you cannot get by on your charms and your good looks if you want something, you have to earn it.
And in that moment, that rock bottom being the biggest loser in the whole school, that is what gave me the fuel to start the path to reach that goal at 21 and then the next rock bottom just came again and again, it was just failure after failure after failure. From a business standpoint I was good, from an entrepreneurial standpoint when I started my side, hustle of a photography business, I was good eventually when I figured it out I was great at making money and everything else in my life was misery.
And when I had that moment, 11 years ago, the first thing that I ask myself when I said, what are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? I was like, oh, I've got to learn, I don't know how to eat, right? I need to quit smoking. I need to quit drinking. I need to start going to the gym and moving my body and sleeping right and all the things. And look man, it took a long motherfucking time for that stuff to work. I'm telling you right now like people are always Like, you know, how do you stay consistent? By fucking trying every day.
Yuval (7 Hats): And not giving up.
Michael: I'm all about yoga meditation, journaling, personal development, I didn't do none of that shit today, right? I did the other five days this week, I'm going to go to the gym as soon as we're done with this after another interview, right? Because I'm going to get to it, I still make nobody's fucking perfect man, stop holding yourself to this esteem of perfection, it doesn't work.
Yuval (7 Hats): Because you just said something I was just thinking about this I'm going to talk to this subject right now. I'm this Seven Hats, take care of yourself, morning routine, evening routine, hustle, don't give up, you know, everything that you say, right? But we're about to move and it's been hectic. So I didn't do six days of workouts and I didn't eat perfectly and I had New Year's and whatever that shit is, it's fine, you got to be able to not use in the past. I used to fail one day and have to start all over again saying, you know what I failed I got to go all the way back and that's just fucked up in your mind. What you need to do is like, okay, just continue, don't go, start over again, just you miss a day, okay, you didn't do seven days to five, it's okay, but if you stop and you give up, guess what happens? You got to go all the way back and all those things have to happen again and again.
Michael: Grant Cardone taught me the most important thing recently and it hits so home because it's the way I always have operated but I never thought about it. He goes people only lose when they stop. You don't climb up Mount Everest and then fall back to the bottom, that's not how it works and so, when you're in that place because look, dude, I'm all about the morning routine, I'm all about showing up, there's fucking chapter in my book about it I talked about, I teach my clients about it, I did not mess up today because I didn't get into the routine, other things took priority and because of those other things, the days a little askew, but that doesn't mean I can't still do the things, I said I was going to do, this is what I think is really important, right? I told you like as soon as this is done, I'm going to do this other show, I'm going to go to the gym and then I'm going to sit down with my journal, I'm going to write my goals, I'm going to do the things that I normally do because just because it didn't happen in the time frame doesn't mean it can't happen and I think that's a great parable for life. What you think is going to happen isn't always is going to be what happens but you can still do everything in your power to make sure it does.
Yuval (7 Hats): Let me ask you this question, Eckhart Tolle speaks of the now, right? Being present in the moment, Byron Katie speaks of loving what is in the moment. Based on your past I can't imagine presence was a key to any of your upbringing, right? So, how did you change that and what did you learn about presents and loving what is through your journey?
Michael: Yeah, and I'm still learning it and I think that's a concement education for everybody. And what I mean about that is like, you know, I look at my life and I go. Control what I can control, let go of what I can't and that's held so much power in my life and presence was not a part of my experience for very long time because you have to understand when you're dissociated, your brain is basically removed from your body, you're operating on autopilot just trying to make it day to day, I was the first 26 years of my life – autopilot, not really knowing what I'm doing, not knowing how I'm showing up and meditation became a huge role, yoga and even bigger role I still practice yoga at least three times a week journaling, right? Being present, like – you have to create presence in your life, right?
Not looking at that phone when you wake up, you hear people say that all the time but think about it knowing that the biological response that we have in our human brain is to be flooded with cortisol when we are triggered, right? Fight or flight., that's what happens, that's where triggering comes from your in that. Think about this, this will blow your mind, people don't connect these dots. Do you know the very first biological response that happens in your body when you wake up in the morning? Cortisol release. Your triggered, the moment you wake up and so the brains autonomic response to that is to move towards self soothing behavior. What happens when you wake up, you're flooded with cortisol because you have to be alert because there might be a fucking lion.
Yuval (7 Hats): Especially if there's an alarm ringing right that wakes you up too
Michael: Yeah and that's even worse. I don't have an alarm that never do, that alarm sends me off a spiral. If I hear a beep, beep, beep, oh my god, dude, it takes me an hour to get back to like, baseline, no joke because, again, that's the cortisol release, you’re immediately being flooded with that. So, think about this, how in the fuck can you get presents when you're flooded with cortisol immediately your brain goes to self-soothing mechanisms as a survival tactic and then, you're picking up your phone to look at it to start your day.
And I'm not, like, do you, you want to be on your phone in the morning, find whatever, just recognize the reality that disassociation exist when you're flooded with cortisol. So getting back to this place of presence, you know, my morning starts with, I get out of bed, I put my feet on the ground, literally the first thing I say, when I wake up, allowed I am in control of my life. And then from there I go drink a whole bunch of water, I stretch I get into the routine and less like this morning I had a super important thing I had to do literally before I even normally wake up and so messed up the flow of the day, but you still have to go and do the things, you still have to show up for yourself.
Yuval (7 Hats): I love that tip. I'm going to start, I'm going to adapt it, I'm going to take it for steal it from you, get up and say I'm in charge of my day. I also learned how to give of a high-five in the mirror every time I leave the bathroom. So tell us about your entrepreneurial journey. No one is immune from the entrepreneurial world coaster. So I'm sure you've experienced many challenges that we all experience as entrepreneurs. What were some of those struggles for you, especially with your current business, right? Of becoming a solopreneur in a sense and what skills did you gain through those traumatic years to help you push past those challenges?
Michael: Yeah. Look, I think resiliency is the number one skill I've gotten from all that if you want to be entrepreneur you got to be resilient because this shit is hard, and it's going to and it's going to take you five times longer than you think it is to do the thing that you think you're going to do and that's been my experience. I mean really, I've been entrepreneurial since I was a little kid at 8 years old, I was selling popcorn for the Boy Scouts trying to fund trips right at 12, I was selling drugs, I always kind of had a side hustle and high school as sound burnt CDs like, you know, I always was trying to do I'm really just aged myself, some people like, what is the CD like, you know, and then by the scared when I was in my mid-20s, I started a photography business and I grew that thing from zero to making fifteen thousand dollars on a Saturday, right? And that takes time and today Think Unbroken is an entrepreneurial endeavor, this is not a charity, I promise you that and I'm also a partner in multiple retail companies, I have real estate investments, things of that nature, I'm nowhere anywhere remotely close to where I'm trying to go, but I'm somewhere and I'll tell you this, the greatest mistakes that I've made and Entrepreneurship over the course of the last, really my entire life has helped me be successful today.
One of the things probably the most important lesson is understanding consumer behavior, and buying demanding, and marketing. I'll give you a perfect example, this is one of my favorite stories about being an entrepreneur. So, I grew up in Indianapolis 30th and Georgetown was one of the area's, I lived in right around the corner from that is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Multiple times a year three hundred plus thousand people need to come to Indianapolis to go to the speedway and guess what they all need? They all need a place to park.
And one summer, I dug up my chain link fence because it's about a two and a half block walk to the infield, I dug up the chain link fence, I parked cars for $100 a piece triple and quadruple parked in even in the backyard and I made 1,500 dollars on a Sunday. I understood, can you motherfuckers need somewhere to park a parking lot? You got money, let's go and that was really one of the first times when I remember, I sent my little brother up the street, one of my little brother's up this street, I said, start waving people down the block and I'm going to wave them in and we're going to park them and 300 was too expensive, nobody would park but when I got to a hundred people like yeah, and it was right? And so now understanding that, understanding marketing, understanding in one of my businesses, it's a retail business, I'm the Vice-President of international sales and marketing, I'm also a board member and a director and I have shares in stocks in the company and Think Unbroken on the chief executive officer and marketing officer and we have a team of people under here, who help with customer happiness and the podcast and content, and social media, and helping me build programs and we have teams that we hire out.
You know, we could have a whole conversation about entrepreneurship but I think that the most important thing is just recognizing and understanding that (A) you've got to make decisions really fucking fast, you've already taken too long, you have to make decisions really fast while also simultaneously being incredibly patient.
Yuval (7 Hats): And not having to look back to and saying, what if because ultimately you need to make a decision, be okay with it and then deal with the circumstances as make those decisions because there ain't going to be perfect decisions and you will always have challenges along the way. So it's not regretting it in sitting around wondering what could have been or should have been, that's another mistake that I see a lot of entrepreneurs make.
Michael: Totally. And if you get caught up in that, you're going to be paralyzed because you won't make the next decision and that's the most dangerous thing for business. When you lose momentum you’re in trouble. Like I lost momentum in my photography business at one point when I was making six figures, I swear it took me six months to get back, right? It was a nightmare and now I think about momentum every single day, I don't stop putting out content, I work on Saturday. Now, look, I get it self care, take care of yourself do you, I'm trying to build something, right? And so I recognize that you have to always, always be moving forward because like, I think Branden Dawson taught me this, like if you're on a flat line, you're failing and that was terrifying.
Yuval (7 Hats): Yeah, so I can speak with you about Business and Entrepreneurship for four days but and maybe I'll get you on again just specifically found that topic but I want to really cover a serious topic, a difficult topic to talk about right now especially, you know, I lost a couple of my friends to suicide and last couple of years and it's a topic that many shy away from just because it's such a scary and dark subject but especially now, I think it's a topic worth at least acknowledging so with covid, you know, many people experience a lot of trauma with their businesses, right?
Shutting down, loved ones dying, feeling isolated and abuse, I'm sure spiked up, double, or triple digits at home, no one knows about it. So, at 21, you started working at a corporate job, you're making serious cash legally, then you became a solopreneur and so you kind of have this double life, you know, demons on one side and you have your success in the other side, but you were still riddled by your past and in your book, you write that a 26 you had a gun to your mouth. Tell us about that time and what stopped you from pulling the trigger and maybe that's going to help some, who have in a sense, a gun to their mouth right now?
Michael: Yeah, dude. I pulled the trigger.
Yuval (7 Hats): You did?
Michael: I don't know why that gun misfired. Maybe I was just so fucking drunk, maybe there's a problem with the firing pin, I have no idea. I've had guns in my life since I was a little kid that's part of growing up in the Boy Scouts. My girlfriend is pounding on the bathroom door, like begging me to talk to her and like I was done, here's the thing known people always talk about people who commit suicide are selfish, dude, I get it, I was done like the paint like how much more pain could I possibly have to go through? How much more suffering can one human being? Like, dude, I don't know anyone and it's not a competition. I don't know anyone who had a worse childhood than me, right? And it's like, man, I was just so fucking done. I just, I needed an out. I get it, but let me tell you this. I'm lucky, I don't know why, I really truly don't. I'm here for a purpose. That's for this conversation. That's for this Mission. That's for this goal. That's for this impact on the world. Here what's so fascinating when I was little, when I was a kid when I was like, 7 8, 9 years old, like I knew I was supposed to do something great like I would look at my life and I'd be like this, all is going to mean something one day. I don't know why I just did and and I think in that moment like not dying meant that I had to do something about this and then looking at it really in a very biased perspective. I understand, it fucking sucks, dude.
One of my friends killed themselves, when we were young, we were like 15, a fucking socks and like the truth about it is its freedom for some people, I don't care if you want to hear that or not, it is. But also like I think the really important thing and if you're suffering right now and you're like, I'm done, if I could go back in time and kind of change something about the way I was thinking about the world at that time, there's a few things I would do that I think are really important. I wouldn't drink, I would remove the majority of the friends I had in my life and I would go and volunteer, I would go and serve people.
I had a mentor ones teach me, that the moment you were at your lowest, is the moment you need to give and that became profound, that's really part of the catalyst to how I got to this. And in that recognizing like, yes, there's the chemical side of it in the biological side of it and the pain of it and the hurt and all the things and I believe this, I think if you can get super clear about the meaning of your life, not being about you, it will help you not make that decision. But at the same time, I recognize for some people they're just done and it sucks. I don't know what else to say about it.
Yuval (7 Hats): And I feel that as well. I mean, one of the suicides, one of my friends. I feel that was a choice that, he made and it was a conscious choice, he put a Tarmac down. So people didn't have to clean up after the mess and when you make that type that kind of choice on a solid; he had a solid, you know, mind in the sense, he was more optimistic than I am and you got to have to say you know, that was his journey and he came and did what he needed to do but yeah, I love your advice to those that are suffering right now. Hopefully they can at least view their life from a different perspective and have that chance to do a little more, you know, get a little further down the road because it could change for you. Nothing is forever and it just in the interest of time I know you're you have a show to go to and I'd love to have you back in, there's so much so much to uncover here, but I'd like to close out my interviews with the following question. Who did you have to stop being? And who did you need to become to manifest your current success?
Michael: Man, I love that question. I'm going to reference Grant Cardone again because he's just played such a great role in my life. He's invested in Think Unbroken like nobody gets money from Grant Cardone.
Yuval (7 Hats): Well, you're good salesperson, they didn't go out, sold him.
Michael: I told him I was like, you know, the truth is, I'm a better salesperson than you know, is great moment. He told me when he goes, you're going to have to quit something to get something. And I reflected on this journey and I was like I had to give up being a victim, I had to give up being an addict, I had to give up not being in control, I had to give up the reality that I was not showing up for myself. You got to give a lot of shit up if you want to get stuff, even now, like real-time, dude, I just had to make three of the hardest decisions of my life in the last four weeks; devastatingly difficult decisions that I wish I never would have had to make but I had to because if I didn't, I knew I would die with regret. And that's the thing that drives me, people ask me all the time, they look at me, they go. You're Fearless. I go. No, I'm not. I'm scared every moment of every single day.
The only difference is I'm willing to face my fear because the reality the truth about my life, is that the number one thing that terrifies me and you hear people talk about this is that I'm going to be on my deathbed and in my last breath I'm going to go, I wish nothing terrifies me more than that. And so when I have to make the hard decisions, when I have to move towards the thing that keeps me awake at night like and there's things that come up where you're laying in bed and you can't sleep and you feel it in your body and you're like, fuck man. If you make that decision, if you face that fear, your life will be different and the longer you avoid it, the more that it consumes you until you explode, and one of the greatest things that I've gained is the willingness to face fear and if you can do that, your life will be different.
Yuval (7 Hats): Well, I love that. Your last name Unbroken? That was am assuming changed, I'm assuming it's not your birth name, right?
Michael: No, it's not my birth name.
Yuval (7 Hats): So unbroken. You are unbroken, you know, and I love that and you're teaching others how to be unbroken and I thank you for that. We need more of you in this world, there's too much darkness and we need those light beings, I was just telling the my previous guessed out as well because he is as well. Thank you, Michael for gracing us under seven hats and I look forward to continuing our relationship and hopefully doing something again in the future. How can the seven Hatter's find you? Tell us a little bit about what you're offering websites linked in whatever it is that you want to present.
Michael: I'm everywhere on social @MichaelUnbroken. It is not that hard to find me but the thinkunbrokenpodcast.com is where I put all of my effort energy, iTunes, Spotify, whatever think unbroken podcast. I tell people all the time, if you just listen to that, you never have to do anything else, well, but you gotta listen.
Yuval (7 Hats): Michael, thank you so much, I will speak with you soon.
My pleasure my friend.
Michael: I appreciate you so much, thank you for the opportunity.
Yuval (7 Hats): Absolutely!
The Seven Hats Podcast is for entrepreneurs who want to develop and gracefully balance the 7 critical areas of their lives, so that they’re able to provide both the IMPACT they seek and the fulfillment they crave.
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