Our guest today: Gustavo Serafini
I’m proud to co-launch the podcast with Gustavo Serafini (altMBA) and Adam Leffert (associate producer) today. To learn more about the Enabled Disabled podcast and project, go to: https://www.enableddisabled.com/
Our first episode went live today with Dr. BJ Miller.
This is a podcast created for adults and children with disabilities, families and friends who care for them, professionals who treat and help people with disabilities, as well as people and companies who want to learn more.
Watch our interview
Feisworld podcast helps independent creators live their creative and financial freedom. I’m your host, Fei Wu, and I’ll be taking you through a series of interviews with creators from around the world who are living life on their own terms. Each episode is packed with tactics, nuggets you can implement origin stories to make listening productive and enjoyable. We’re not only focused on the more aspirational stories, but relatable ones as well. We also have none interview based miniseries releasing throughout the year to help Deep dove into topics such as freelancing, marketing, even indie filmmaking that would benefit creators like you.
Show notes, lengths and ways to connect with the guests are available on Feisworld.com. Now onto the show. Hey, guys, this is Fei from Feisworld Media today, I’m here with Gustavo Serafini, who I’ve been friends with, I feel like forever, but officially since the beginning of twenty seventeen when I met him actually through Seth Godin Alt-MBA, I remember that. I just found Gustavo really interesting, a great listener. And I decided back then and we’re going to work on something together.
So years later we have a lot of projects to talk about. But today it’s very important. Today is the launch day of our brand new podcast called the Enabled Disabled Podcast. We’re super proud because that was the host, not me. So you get to hear from him directly. But before we get started, while Gustavo smiling and sitting there, I would like to just say that this episode of the phase where Livestream is sponsored by Restream, a really easy tool for anyone to go live simultaneously on 30 plus platforms.
I’ve been using Restream since the beginning of twenty twenty. I was a customer first before they came on as a sponsor. They’re one of the best brands to work with. I learned so much from them and other influencers who are part of their brand. So mega appreciate that. So I included a link below. If you want to give it a shot. They do have a free account, completely free. Honestly, I was on the free account for a long time before switching to the pro accounts, so that’s it.
But I know your time is very precious right now on a Sunday afternoon and this episode means so much to us. But I want it to mean a lot to you as well. If you’re a new podcast or you’re contemplating about starting your own show, have some sort of self doubt, fear. This is the right conversation for you. But Gustavo also identifies himself as someone with a disability. So this project really extends beyond himself. And we’ve done outreach to so many different guests.
And I want you to hear this out. I know it’s not always easy to work on projects that has a sense of advocacy. And I think it’s so meaningful. And I want you to hear that directly from Gustavo. So welcome, Gustavo. That was a long intro. How are you doing?
I’m doing great. It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s always great to see you. Thank you for doing this.
All right. You’ve been on the road before and you’re here back for the second time. And we are announcing something so profound. Third. Oh, sorry. That’s right. Third time. Second time was a VJ with B.J. Miller and Rebecca Tausig. Sorry, that was wonderful. And that episode, I still listen to that all the time. It kind of opened up this wave of opportunities for us to be four, for me to be involved in for Adam to be involved in what an honor.
Tell us about the enabled disabled podcast and project, please, why you decide to work on something like this.
OK, thank you. First of all. So as somebody with a disability. I feel so lucky, yes, certain parts of my life have been difficult and challenging, but I feel so lucky that I’ve been given so many opportunities in my life, great education, wonderful parents and friends, great support structure. I’m an entrepreneur. You’ve been pushing me to do this for years as well. And I really want to give back and participate and be a voice for people with disabilities.
I’m trying if we can change one person’s mind on how they perceive us and how they think of us. One thought leader, one corporate leader, we’ve done our job. And so that’s really the mission of enable disabled is to highlight people’s stories who have how they’ve adapted in the world, what they’re doing, what they’re working on, and share those stories in the hopes that we can change their minds.
That’s incredible. And you’ve put that into action already. And you talked very briefly about your upbringing, your origin story. But could you tell us a bit about your disability with the disability you identify with?
Absolutely, so I was born with multiple disabilities, the primary one is called P 50, it’s proximal focal for moral deficiency. So my femurs are much shorter than most people’s and my right hip is fuzed. So I use a prosthesis on my right leg in a brace on my left leg. I was also only born with one arm. So there’s been I was born in nineteen seventy six and when I was born there were only 12 other documented cases in the world of people like me.
So my parents had a quite a journey to get to the United States and find the right doctors and. Help fight for the opportunities to be here today and then this to me, even though I made us sound like we’ve been talking about this forever and I’m really comfortable talking about disability and disability with you, you really open up that. I think just this the space for me and the knowledge and the words I learn to to choose to use when I speak with someone who identify with a certain type of disability.
But I must say that when we first met talking about business, we talk about business growth for the company you’ve been running, which is a phenomenal establishment called pure audio video dot com for anybody. You want to check it out. But we really didn’t really talk about disability for the longest time. We met up in person in the summer of twenty eighteen. We didn’t really talk about it much back then. So I was really hoping that as one point with your trust, I will not only be able to talk about it, but work on something so profound.
So it’s a moment for me. But why do you think know I guess with me or with anybody else, did you choose to avoid the subject or something that you what what made you feel like now is the time? And what was that kind of mindset shift like for you?
Interesting, um, I didn’t I didn’t avoid it, I did speak to it in certain not MBA cohort’s when it was relevant. And I think that. When we met in person in that Temba gathering, it was. There were so many people and it was so open and warm and comfortable and inviting that like it didn’t even I felt so. So embraced and so accepted right in in a group of mostly strangers, I had never felt that way before, so I didn’t really feel the need that I needed to.
Usually when I talk about my disability with people with strangers, either they’re asking me or I feel the need to break the ice in order to say, OK, I can see that you’re a little uncomfortable. I can see that you want to ask me something. Let’s let’s go through this process together. And then I’m pretty sure that you’re going to get comfortable. But there was already that comfort level. With you, with Adam, with Helena, with the people that were there, where it just didn’t feel like it was like if I was open to answering any questions, but it didn’t, I it wasn’t the usual social interaction, so I didn’t feel the need to bring it up.
And I think now to answer the second part of your question. I think something that one of our guests, Fernando, said, really struck a chord with me, that two thirds of all people with disabilities in the United States are unemployed. The the third of us who are. I have an obligation or a responsibility to say, OK, how can we improve things for the next generation, for the current people, how can we help change those perceptions and grow opportunities?
And one way to do that. It’s to talk about it, to tell our stories and have people understand that our disabilities don’t define us. Yes, they are a very important part of who we are, but they’re not the whole picture.
Absolutely. And something that I’ve been able to learn from you, Gustavo, my opportunity with a friend that I feel comfortable and trust and that I can open up conversations, demystify disability, and for people who are watching, listening, no matter where you are right now, this that was not a kind of blanket umbrella statement. We really mean that we want to hear from people. So if you look at the link in the description below on social media, YouTube, wherever you are, there’s a link called an abled disabled dot com.
You can learn more about the project. There’s a big red button that says you can submit your story. So, yes, we’re basically accepting stories that are of audio and text or blog format. So we have a number of episodes already scheduled and recorded and scheduled right now. So, Gustavo, tell me about how you approach your first cohort or your first or what how do we call it like season one? Guests like how how do you distill your questions, your thinking and actually conduct the outreach?
Was it difficult? Was it easy, unexpected?
All of the above it was so yes, I was really nervous the first time, thankfully, I knew the person I was interviewing a little bit, we had spent some time together, so that made it a little bit easier. But to me, I approach it. I want to learn about the person. I want to have some knowledge of what they’re about, what they’re doing, what they’re working on. And then I think. It’s like you told me, just use your natural curiosity about the person I like talking to people.
I’ve shut plenty of restaurants down in conversation, so I enjoy getting to know people, learning more about them. So I’m just activating those natural tendencies during the interviews in terms of things that were unexpected. Yeah, we did an interview on Friday where I was not expecting to share as openly and honestly as she shared. And it was. It was hard and it was beautiful and it was amazing and, you know, you just go with it and and show your appreciation for.
Another human being who’s willing to be vulnerable.
Oh, I have the pleasure to listen to your song, number one, which was released today with Dr. B.J. Miller, and there was one segment of that. And by the way, I recommend anyone to listen to this episode. It was just so groundbreaking. I happened to be someone who has interviewed B.J. I don’t know many, many times in the past yet. I discover so much about him that I didn’t know. So thanks to you, Gustavo, who came from such an authentic place, will ask him really challenging questions.
But I remember there was an area I think towards the end, you ask B.J., is there anything that I haven’t asked you but you want to share? And that was so beautiful because together you echoed the fact that doesn’t matter, that you now make the topic seems OK. You’ve learned a lot. You’ve uncovered a lot of grounds. But at the same time, you know, the topic comes with a certain amount of pain, vulnerability. So could you take us to maybe what the pain, what you mean by the pain, what it looks like?
Because I don’t think a lot of people have a good understanding of what it really means. So we use a lot of imagination in our heads to to think of what it means. But what is it what does it mean to you as someone who has a disability?
Well, I think there is a there’s a lot of sensitivity around this subject and awkwardness around the subject, so it it it definitely helps. Me anyways, interviewing talking to people with disabilities because I have one, so the first thing is I’m trying to come at it from a place of respect and from a place of curiosity, because I feel these stories are important to share and learn from for me. So for me, for example, when I don’t want to give too much away on the conversation, but I’ve had some really I’ve had some amazing doctors that I’ve loved and cherish that we can talk about.
And then I’ve had some really not so good experiences with doctors where, you know, they make me feel like I don’t know how you function. I don’t know how you do what you do. You’re a medical marvel. Like, I don’t get it. You shouldn’t be you shouldn’t be able to do anything that you’re doing. It doesn’t make any sense physiologically. And that’s. My ego is not that big, so I don’t it’s and it’s just not true, and it comes from a place of it’s very off-putting and it feels when you have a doctor tell you, boy.
So my left leg is stronger than my right leg, right. It’s not I don’t have a few step. I have more range of motion. When you go to a doctor’s office and they tell you, boy, wouldn’t it have been great if you had been born with, like, two legs instead of your right leg. How do you react to that? Well, sure, it would have been great if I had been born in Michael Jordan’s body, I guess, to like I don’t know, like what what do you do with that information?
And so those are those are hard conversations that we are diving into that we’re not we are not fearful of those conversations and we are not fearful of sharing those moments. We want to share them so that we can learn from them and so that we can learn better ways and we can understand each other a little bit better. Does that answer your question?
Yeah, absolutely, and I feel like it’s this is one of those projects that just made me learn so much more about myself as well. And I feel like I grew so much as part of hearing the recordings, arranging the recordings, listening to them, working with my editor, Herrmann, on the actual post-production process. And one thing with all of this, Gustavo, is that you and I like I know we’ve made those sounds pretty official, but there are moments where we’re we’re just like pausing.
We’re giggling and thinking, how is this possible? I mean, for people out there who knows that I’ve been running this show live stream and before this was just a regular podcast for a while, since twenty fourteen, you know, I’ve had sometimes struggled with having guests booking the appointment and we have a single Lane Lee or acuity booking. It takes so many back and forth. And there moments from your guests, Gustavo, that we’ve had several guests who are quadriplegic and who were able to book these interviews, by the way, with photos, bios, links, complicated process within 30 minutes or less of me sending the link.
And it was done beautifully. They answer every single question. Yet I, I personally struggle with the word ableism as well. So these so-called able bodied people, including myself, are somehow struggling with the most basic of technologies, like how do you interpret how do you process this? Please help us.
I know people are busy, people are doing what they’re doing, I mean, I think with what we’ve seen from so many of the guests so far, which has been it feels so good, is that they’re honored. They’re like they’re they’re happy to tell their story. They’re honored that to be on the show. I’m honored to have them on the show. And there’s this sense of we’re actually doing something important. We’re doing something that matters. These stories need to be told.
And so they’re jumping at the opportunity when they hear about it. And and just like in their regular lives, if they really want something, you know, nothing’s going to stop them. Not technology, not. Whatever constraints they have in their lives, they’re just going to go and do it because they want to do it and. It’s been. It’s really surprising how. Many people how many of these guests, I mean, even B.J., who’s super famous, he’s been on every show under the sun pretty much, right?
I mean, he’s been at the height of Oprah Winfrey, like how it doesn’t get bigger than that was so was so gracious and so happy and so thankful to be on the show. I mean, what do you say to that except. The honor is ours, and I do want to point something out to Faye and ask you a question.
Oh, please do.
The way to working with you has been amazing. It has been a joy. I feel like it’s not it’s enabled disabled. I’m on I’m on the cover, but it’s I feel like you and Adam are just as critical components of the show. I feel like we are a team. We’re united. We’re working really well together. What made you say yes to doing all this work and taking a chance on something that who knows what’s going to happen?
Yeah, that’s so great. Thank you. What a great question. I was going to say, yeah, I’m not going to do I’m not a producer of podcasts for everybody who’s interested. I love to podcasting, but man, it’s so much work. It’s endless. You know, the other day I was walking. Sometimes I take walks by myself listening to music. And Gustavo, I must admit that between this project, which is about disability enabling people, the community and I think beyond, I think enabling able bodied people as well.
And another project I’m working on for childhood cancer, it is incredible. I have so much to say about that childhood cancer hall of Champions, thanks to another shout out to another El Tumba alum. And you know, and palliative care because of Dr. B.J. Miller, this triangle and maybe some other aspects of these projects made me feel like my my life and my being is really quite fulfilled and makes me feel like my life has so many different meanings. What has meaning in general than what I thought it was possible working for for certain Fortune 500 companies?
How’s I’m living in the brands or the brands? I’m where none of this really matters. But when you as a one person team, as a three person, two, three, three people, the three of us can reach out to so many people and put a smile on their faces. And who knows? Because I hope that, you know, with no pressure, I hope you do this for a very for a long, long, long time.
And I hope you do this. You continue to interview other people, build this platform when you’re eighty five. Ninety one hundred. I mean, that will be just an incredible outcome for me. And I want to be able to be on this journey with you as long as I want. I don’t know how many people can actually say that about the projects they’re on. And I you know, I think it’s a bit of an elaboration elaboration. As you know, I don’t have kids.
I love kids. I don’t have kids. And I I hear about this thing from parents all the time. Right. Like, they they have all their hope and hopes and dreams, like kind of embedded in their children. They’re so happy to see everything. I sort of feel the same way. Our podcast about it’s like every person who joins my mom knows my mom sees me running downstairs and I’ll be talking to her breakfast, lunch and dinner.
She she still today. We’ve been on this for two months. Today she’s like an hour. She’s like, oh, I feel so profoundly fulfilled by this. And she’s just an observer, you know. Yeah man, it’s such a love. I can’t even fake this kind of love fest. It’s just the amount of joy that I’ve seen us seeing you bring to other people. And, wow, there’s really no word for it. And I’m we’re trying to invent these words, trying to find this perfect moment.
I mean, how does it feel like what does it feel to you viscerally? I mean, I can text a lot from you lately, and I’m not going to leave you, but I want to ask you. You’re blissed out, I mean, what is it how does it feel in your body right now thinking about working on this project versus before? What’s the difference?
It’s felt real for a while. Right now, it feels more real, it feels like we’re launching it’s official now we’re here, we can we can kind of put our stake on the ground and say. This is who we are and we can grow that or we can. If you think of it, I like the gardening analogy. We’re starting a garden and it’s going to grow and a whole bunch of ways. Some of them are going to be expected and some of them are not.
And it’s it’s I’m so curious and so interested and so excited to see where we can take this and how much of an impact it can have on. People now, so, yeah, just excitement. This belief, lots of hope, and I want to be doing this for a long time, too. Eight hundred years old, who knows? But let’s let’s take it let’s take it a day at a time.
Yeah, I think that would be great if we as mentioned, you know, if felony if Lena is watching, there’s a bunch of our friends that we’re going to grow old together. You know, if we end up having kids or no kids or whatever, a bunch of us from Elton Vuh and people who believe in the same things will grow old together. I hope in old people’s homes and retirement homes. We’ll still have our microphones and our laptop computers and young people teaching us, training us how to do this.
But yeah, keep growing. The show will be just incredible. Could you give us a I know you want to give away so many of the conversations that have already happened, but give us an idea of some of the people you’ve interviewed, maybe just like some snippets into who they are. Why do people subscribe? Follow your show. Who are these guests coming up in the next eight to 10 weeks, every Sunday?
Sure. Well, there’s a world famous Dr. B.J. Miller and we get to hear. A side of him that he hasn’t shared before and I think with. With the more well known, I guess that’s really going to be my goal is to approach them from a different angle so that they’re not just as powerful and amazing as their stories are. I don’t want to recycle that story again. I want to I want to help our audience learn something new about them of, you know, another another piece of the puzzle of what makes them who they are.
Then we have. Goodness, Christina Ryan, just an unbelievable advocate out in Australia, a disability rights advocate. She’s been an advocate for four women. She’s been on the United Nations. Just unbelievable. She comes from a family of advocates. Right. So, again, having having a conversation with her about her work, about what she what she’s learned, how we can help the community of people with disabilities. It was incredible. I learned so much from her.
I felt like I told you this on text message. I felt like Destiny tapped me on the shoulder and said, you know, are you ready? It was it was mind blowing. All the guests have been incredible. Amanda Hill, also from Australia, motivational speaker. You know, we’ve had several really interesting guests who are vision and have some type of vision impairment, Fernando Alberto, Alberto Urrea, who’s a technologist, inventor, unbelievable foreigner, one of the smartest people I’ve met.
We had a great conversation about how. But a bunch of things, but really we delve into how we can help more assistive technology get out there. What some of the constraints were, why, why more of it isn’t being developed and there’s a huge need for it. Viola from all Temba, who we both met, what, six months ago. She’s yes, she is amazing, amazing human being, one of the supersmart great YouTube channel, The Kinkiest.
And again, another interesting conversation. I’m still thinking about what her experience was working for the bank as an H.R. specialist and how we can help corporations better understand and accommodate for people with disabilities. And really, that’s that’s, I think, another key highlight. Right. In all the conversations, what are the things that people with disabilities bring to the table that other people don’t know about as problem solving skills? It’s empathy. It’s the ability to think outside the box to say, OK, how are we going to accomplish this when we can’t do it in the quote unquote regular way?
So what how have they adapted to their constraints in their lives? They’ve all they’ve all done so differently. And you learn something from each conversation.
Amen. I mean, when I saw when I joined your conversation, for example, with Ryan recently on real estate, what do you call real estate agent or realtor from South Florida? And I saw Ryan is quadriplegic and he was so delicately kind of using basically using his very minimal movement, using his nose. And there was a pair of glasses where he uses to control Google Homes, Alexa. And he had no trouble of booking the appointment. Very the whole thing just feels very seamless.
So open my eyes to a lot of things. And because of you and I start talking about like furniture at home, different kind of assistive devices and how they’re some of them are poorly designed. And really, when you think about so much of what we’re going through every single day, you know, as people without a certain type of disability, we simply don’t think about it. And we don’t appreciate the environment around us, which are primarily probably designed by people without disabilities.
And, you know, I still remember my conversation recently with you, like if you’re comfortable talking about it, you know, I ask about the opportunity to maybe develop a YouTube channel with you so that you can show people of a certain disability how you’re able to adapt. We talked about people diagnosed with cancer. And part of I didn’t realize this before amputation is part of a certain type of cancer diagnosis. And how do people adapt with that transition?
And, you know, I ask you that, like, for example, how do you put on a jacket easily? And as a result, you know, I started experimenting it myself and I couldn’t get anything done, for example, with a single hand. And you smile these. Oh, that’s super easy. Let me show you five ways to get it done. Like, could you talk to us about that?
Yes, we’re we’re we’re definitely going to do that. We’re definitely going to do that. And Kikka is going to help us out with that, too. So she is a massage therapist and she’s also certified in muscle activation. And she helps me and take care of me. And and so we we’re going to do videos on how to put on some different strategies on how to put on a jacket with one arm. Right. Because I had to learn how to do that.
And there is a bunch of different ways to do it. Or how do you. How do you roll with one arm on a roll machine or how do you like we’re going to explore a bunch of different bunch of different aspects of that. And one of our guests, too, recently, Linda, who’s a martial artist who had a as a disability now. And I think it’d be great to show videos with her cane and how we can how we can do maybe some tichy to help.
Losing muscles up and strengthened muscles, so I think there’s a whole range of videos that we can do that we will be doing that I’m excited about. Absolutely.
I think it’s super exciting. Do you. I would you remember when you had to learn these skills? Do you remember being, I don’t know, three, four years old and have to kind of consume and learn everything all at once? Or was it more of like a gradual process for you?
Was it was a gradual process. So when I was young. I would like to put on a shirt pretty easily, but my parents had to help me get dressed for a while, then you start to learn gradually how to do it yourself. And you occupational therapists helped with that. Just trial and error helps with that, I mean, putting on a jacket, I grew up in California, so I didn’t have to use a jacket all that often.
But when I did go to Chicago for graduate for undergrad, that was that was trial and error. OK, you know, do I have to kind of ripped the other side of the jacket with my mouth or do I have to, you know, how do I do it? So it was it was awkward for a while until you practiced it and you tried out different things and you thought about it like, OK, what if I zip that jacket up before I put it on?
At least it doesn’t have to be all the way. But part of the way that’s really easy to do and that’s made it made it easy. Or if I’m leaning so I don’t have a right arm. Right. So if I’m leaning up against the wall on my right side, that part of the jacket isn’t going anywhere. So it’s a lot easier to. The zip it. Wow. So there was a lot of trial and error.
Wow, that’s beautiful. And you mention it the I’m learning so much more about you in the past year or so. Let me just open those up to people who are listening or watching. You also have coached basketball. You play tennis for hours. I know I have not played tennis for hours. You should go swimming on a regular basis. Could you tell us about that, like how you’re able to adapt to these sports and what you had to learn to pick them up or perform to a certain level?
So interesting, so we talked about this with Dan James, who was that was another great interview. He was the US Paralympic coach for wheelchair tennis and sports for me was not just something that I loved as a as a kid, but it was. It helped me participate and helped me. So people that I that I belonged, I remember when I was in the second grade, I went to an amazing school and there was two sports that they played there.
It was a small private school in California called Walden. And I think there was like second through fourth grade, fifth grade maybe. And there was a girl there who was a fifth grader. We played handball and we played tetherball. Those were that was basically the sports on the playground that everybody played. I was sitting there first day at school. I’m nervous, like I don’t know how to ever played handball. And it was this or fourth or fifth grade girl.
She was like super athletic. She was kind of like the leader of the of the playground. And she was just like, you’re going to play and we’re going to give you two bounces and like, they can’t hit the ball over your head. And that’s how and that’s how I started to learn to play handball. But she like she said, no, Gustavo, you’re going to play like just like everybody else is. You know, this wasn’t like teachers directing it.
This was just a bunch of school kids on the playground. And she taught me how to play handball and she taught me how to play to another ball. And I played it and I loved it. So sports was a way to participate, to learn, to grow, to call out some very famous names. I went to Magic Johnson’s basketball camp when I was young and I have a picture with them. I went to Byron Scott’s basketball camp when I was young, and they never said no, they never set up.
You have a disability. You don’t belong here. You can’t play. No, they accepted me. They said yes, you play basketball. Great. Here’s the age group. Let’s play. Let’s let’s get better. Let’s love the game. I got into coaching basketball because there was a coach at Magic Johnson basketball camp. We said, look, Gustavo, you’re shorter than the other kids. It’s great that you love the game of basketball. But if you want to if you want to participate as you get older competitively, you should coach.
And and I did, and it was an amazing experience, but again, sports for me, equal participation and acceptance.
Participation and acceptance, it wasn’t just like a competitive play. It’s not that you’re trying to you know, for a lot of us, I think when it comes to sports, at least from my memories growing up in a kind of a very competitive society in general, you know, height was very important. I was pretty good at basketball, but they would never put me on the team because I’m five, four and the other kids were at least five seven five eight.
There were I feel they were a lot of kind of excuses and requirements that are kind of I had to navigate around as well. But my God, compared to your story, I feel like there was nothing really for me to to avoid or to say no to. What was it like Magic Johnson’s camp for you to be when they say, hey, come on over and let’s do this wasn’t like a way of negotiating with you like KOSTOVA. Do you think you can handle those?
Like you? Sure you’re going to be OK? I didn’t hear any of those like type of languages. Like was it empowering to you. Was it, would it it, how did it feel.
I mean look at they, they had a right it was all day for I think it was a week so yeah. It was really tiring. It was really fatigue. I come home with blisters, you know, and, and all that, but it was so much fun and I was doing something I loved. And so they helped out like, OK, so Gustavo, you know, do you want to. I ran the lines like the other kids, but.
Sometimes they make you run, you know, go run two laps around the track to warm up. I didn’t have to do that. That was OK. I didn’t feel less accepted because of that or because there was a chair there if I needed a little bit more rest than somebody else. They made little adaptations that still made me feel like I was a part of the group. Like I didn’t I never felt left out. I never felt different.
If anything, I was. I was appreciated and celebrated.
Love it. And lastly, I wanted to ask you about swimming, and I swear I won’t keep probing every single sport. And I’m you know, I love sports myself, and it gives me a whole bunch of joy and kind of takes me away from working in digital marketing, which is another amazing reason. But when it comes to swimming is something that you do regularly now. And we only started the conversation of how you are able to swim. Like four people were watching this.
Like, you know, if they know someone who identify with a certain type of disability and think that swimming is completely out of the question, what are I mean, it was different types of strokes, the different styles like how do you go about swimming?
So when I was young, we were in I always love the water, but I didn’t know how to swim yet, I was really young, must have been. First grade, something like that, we’re playing at the pool and. My brother pushed me off the step, not for any it wasn’t a mean thing, it was just boys playing, boys playing. Right. And I didn’t know how to swim and I almost drowned. And I think some lady, like, jumped into the water and got me in time.
And the next day my parents were like, OK, time to learn how to swim. So I went to the YMCA, local YMCA and just unbelievable teacher, their instructor, she taught me how to swim. And then she said, guess what, why don’t you join the swim? Why don’t you join the swim group and compete? And I did. And I got third place in the backstroke and there was my name in the paper. There was a reporter there who, you know, put me on the paper.
But so I swam backstroke. I swam freestyle. I swam butterfly. I don’t do well with the breaststroke, but swimming has always been once I learned. I loved it, so I would I would encourage people to go to the YMCA or. Find a swimming instructor, because you never know just because it looks different, look at the Paralympic swimmers. They have all kinds of different disabilities and they’re still swimming or there’s an eighty four year old gentleman who swims here in the pool in my building.
And he had major back injuries and rotator cuff injuries. And he can only swim the breaststroke. But he’s unbelievable. And he and he does it five times a week. It’s great exercise. And you don’t know if you don’t try.
Could you tell us about that story? I think with this gentleman and the trophy, do you mind sharing that?
I love that at all. So, yeah. I mean, so he’s a he’s a competitive swimmer. He competes in the Masters events. And he started talking to me kind of slowly here and there. And one day he said, I’m going to give you a gift. And I was taken aback. I said, OK, great, thank you so much. And the next time he saw me, he brought one of the medals that he’d won at an event and that I’d like to give you this medal.
He just like, you know, you’re you’re strong in the water and you you haven’t given up and just keep you know, he’s one of those people that believes in positivity and resilience and grit. And he sees that in the pool. And he just wanted to honor that. And it was it was beautiful.
I just love a story. So many others as well. I think I experience what you’re in a way, what you’re going through, what you’re living through in this moment, kind of vicariously living through you. So a couple of examples I want to bring up. And, you know, one is I believe is from American Idol about a young woman. I hope she’s watching this at some point because we really want to get her on the show. And for anybody else who’s watching this, by the way, you do not necessarily have to be the person to identify with a disability, but you can also be a contributor.
This may be a cause that you care about. You know, someone who does. But I would love to take a moment to talk about the American Idol woman as well as Krib camp, so which we watched recently together, sharing with each other. Tell us about that woman. What did you learn? What did you see from her?
From talking about you’re talking about Mandy Harvey?
Yes, I think so. Yes. Yes.
Um, I mean, so she is. Remarkable. She’s also the, I think, the brand ambassador for Not Impossible ABS. So if Makeable is listening, we would love to meet her. She. It to be a musician her whole life, and when she went to she got accepted into a music school in college and she lost her hearing that same year and she taught herself how to sing again, even without being able to hear. So I looked at that story on.
On You Tube and I was just blown away again, great perseverance, termination and her selflessness to say I think she said it in one of the gabbling interviews where she said, I don’t sing for myself. I can’t even hear myself sing anymore. I’m singing for the people that are listening to me, who can appreciate and who can be touched and inspired by what I’m doing.
How did you how did that make you feel? Yeah, how did you feel listening to her sing and like learning about her story?
To me, people people like Mike, Mandy, or there’s somebody that we haven’t talked about, too, that I would really. Mattie Stepanek passed away many, many years ago, but his mother, Jenny, is still alive. So when you when you see someone. When I see someone like that. I think it does two things for me, it reminds me of who I am. And it gives me hope for the person that I want to be.
So it it brings me back to myself and I get to recenter myself. And then it inspires me to say, OK, what else can I do? How much more can I contribute? How much better of a human being can I be? That’s what it does. That’s how I feel. So it’s it’s inspirational in in the best way possible. Not not a cheap thrill. Inspiration like, wow, look at that person. I’m glad I have it so much better.
No, it’s more like. This person is like me, a lot like me. How can I actually improve what I’m doing to. To help other people the way they the way they’ve helped me.
One thing I think can sound very sensitive to a lot of people is a lot of people do wonder about this. You know, did you ever for a moment and think, you know, this is unfair. Why this? Why me or did you ever have feelings like that? Of course.
Of course. Now, when I was young, it was more in the teen age and of high school and college years where you’re if for me it was self discovery and awareness and being exposed to like I remember my first year of college, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell the story, but I’m going to tell the story. So first year of college at the University of Chicago. I’m in a class called Human Being and a Citizen, and I don’t know why the debate started, but it started.
There was a kid from really smart. Don’t remember his name, really smart guy from one of the science academies who basically flat out said in class, everyone with a disability is a waste of society, they’re a burden, and they should be we should commit genocide on them like they don’t belong here. And I think every single person in that classroom. We like, froze and looked at me and was like. Are you going with that? Are you going to say something?
Are you going to stand up for yourself or are you going to react? And I didn’t I didn’t say anything. I was one shocked to. Didn’t trust myself to actually have an intelligent discussion when the reaction was, wow, I would love to, you know, kick the crap out of this kid. So I didn’t say anything. And then, of course, there were some other smart people in the class who. Defended the other side, but to be exposed to that very you think all those thoughts and I didn’t want to shy away from that, because if I did that, I wouldn’t really examine myself fully.
Right. I had to go through those sentiments for me to be authentic. Otherwise, I’m just I’m just faking it. Like, if I don’t have those thoughts, if I don’t internalize those thoughts and deal with them in my way, then then I haven’t. Developed as a human being. That’s how I saw it.
Well, I hope that person first of all, he does not sound very smart to me at all. But if he is ever listening to this or come across the project, yeah, I think the debate is on. So definitely join us. And, you know, it worries me at the same time, but it also interests me to know that they’re the things you hear and the things you don’t hear. They’re people who vocalize how they feel about the situation and those who don’t.
You know, this is a different almost feels like a different Kivett, as you and I were exploring on YouTube for the different channels that kind of celebrate people with disabilities. And we came across a lot of channels that happened to have couples in them, and in particular the so-called people, a person with disability and the person without. And I feel like I saved this part for, you know, 50 minutes after we started recording. But to me, it was very shocking to read some of the comments.
I don’t hear your interpretation and what you got out of it, because, as you know, on YouTube, anything goes. So anything anybody with anything on their minds, they they were not really afraid to to say it, especially people with, like these fake accounts or who don’t identify to reveal their identity. And part of me for a moment, I felt like, oh, my God, just the people that who are judging people were together with and without disability reminds me of people in a mixed race marriage almost there.
So much, especially the negativity against it, like how could you you walk down the street, you can maybe walk through Chinatown in some parts, but not anymore. But, you know, other parts of areas where people don’t see this as a possibility or it’s not accepted and there’s fear in their eyes very there’s the extreme discomfort. So how how did he hit you when you were talking about when you were younger versus now like.
I mean, I think so one of the. No, no, unfortunately, it’s probably not the right word, but one of the about my background, right, is I never really had a lot of interaction with other people with disabilities, so. It’s unfortunate in the sense, because now in retrospect, it would have been it would have been great to have been exposed to those communities more, but I was always the only one or one of the only ones I know, like in University of Chicago is pretty big school.
I’m sure there were other people there with disabilities. I just never saw any of them. And for me. I’ve had I’ve had. Girlfriends who were not disabled, I am super open to dating people who are not like that doesn’t matter. That’s not the important point. I feel like there’s a lot of those people out there, like in my school, who think that we’re a burden, who think that we don’t belong, who think that. Why would somebody without a disability ever be with somebody with a disability?
I’m sure there’s tons of people who think that. I wish that. Those YouTube channels wouldn’t even focus on that so much because. For me, at least for me, it’s irrelevant who who I’m with or who I’m not with or they’re with me for the reasons they’re with me, and I don’t need to share that with anybody. So I have a different reaction. Like maybe it’s the old school where your your dating life is private and, you know, your work is something else, but.
I’ve seen people with disabilities who were with people. That one, and they seem to accept it and they seem fine, and there was you know, I didn’t judge them and I hope there’s more of that to come because it doesn’t. There’s a lot of reasons for it, but how does it make me feel I have mixed feelings about it. You know, I think we need more openness and we need to have more of those conversations. But at the same time, there’s an element of it that’s private that is between you and that person.
Yeah, I would agree. And I’m on one hand, I’m really thrilled to see there’s so many channels on YouTube and YouTube like platforms that have these shared conversations. But when you look at the full scope of the types of topics and and channels topics around disability, it’s still a very, very small subset of the world of concentration. So unfortunately, I think unfortunately they’re starting, but unfortunately, I feel like it doesn’t it’s not all encompassing and it’s a little bit, you know, single dimensional.
And the focus is rather narrow. But I think it at some point it will be normalized in a way that people will actually focus on the bigger picture as opposed to the differences. And I you know, I think people who are so concerned about these relationships and people with disabilities have a lot more fear, have a lot of uncertainties, self doubts that they need to manage on their own first. So I definitely would encourage them to go down that path first.
With that said, I mean, we are approaching the hour, but I know that there are a couple of areas that we talk about learning acceptance, pick up new skills. But one thing we haven’t really talked about, which is podcasting, having gone through so much in your life, adaptation and dealing with these people, unfortunately, here is podcasting. You’re putting yourself out there, your voice is out there. And the people who decide to come along, their voices out there as well.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced as an interviewer where deLites perhaps like what is that learning curve like for you? Because for people who don’t know, you haven’t been like a platform speaker for the past 20 years. You’re not really like you’re not quite a speaker yet, but we all know that’s on the horizon. So what’s that what’s that like as an interviewer?
So, again, for me, I think I draw on my experience coaching where I had to speak in front of a team in front of the team with parents, sometimes in front of where you’re. In a packed high school gym, so projecting my voice, having something to say comes. I’ve been I’ve been through that. I also. Go back to my law school experience, where I really loved doing moot court, arguing in front of judges and where they taught you really to overprepare.
So for me, probably I know you’ve been you’ve been telling me not to kind of don’t worry about spending five hours preparing for an interview or whatever it is. But I like to prepare for those interviews. I like to put myself in the right mindset before an interview for probably two hours before the interview. That’s mostly what’s on my mind. I’m clearing I’m clearing my head and creating space for those conversations to happen. So I think it’s just drawing on those experiences as made it easier.
The delight is, again, when people share things that you don’t expect them to and you get to see where it goes and where to take it from there. That’s been. Yet again, it’s not easy conversation, but if it’s not fun either, if it’s easy, so I accept the challenge and I want to see I want to see where where we can go with it.
Yeah, what about. We have several guests who may be opening up and talking about this for the first time publicly or being interviewed as a podcast guest for the first time, by the way, for podcasters out there are highly encourage you to reach out to people with disabilities because they have such unique, such interesting stories and life stories to share with you. Definitely don’t exclude them. And a host of other guests. I found it kind of challenging to find their backstory, find their origin stories, because they some of them haven’t been blogging there, unlike B.J., who, like you said, spoken on three hundred different podcasts.
How do you go about researching them or or just do you have an open mind go in, just kind of see where it flows, where it goes.
Both, so some of them you can find on social media, right, LinkedIn, Facebook. Some of them have YouTube channels, some of them we talk to ahead of time for a little bit just to get to know them a little and see who see who they are and what they’re about and get a sense of their story, those things. I’ll help you book a 20 minute call with them ahead of time and kind of feel it out a little bit.
And then the other part is. Trusting, trusting in the process and the conversation and. You taught me right. There’s some there’s general general questions that are just segues into deeper conversations that you can ask anybody that are there. Mm hmm. And also listening to other interviews and listening to other podcasters. I’ve been listening to podcasts for years. You know, whether it’s Fais World or Tim Ferriss or James Alzate or just the litany of of podcasts, great podcasts out there, you learn how do they ask questions?
How do they talk to their to their to their guests, which which interviews were really, really good and which ones kind of fell a little flat. So it just. Engaging with podcasting as an art form and trying to get better at it. Mm hmm.
Wonderful. All right. I’m going to do a slight pivot here because I think there’s one area we haven’t covered. And I encourage you to, as you know, the question you ask to everybody. But I would say there is one area we haven’t kind of delved into that is for companies and people who are listening to this. Who do you want to hear from? What are some sort of what are the type of maybe contribution help that we’re looking for or how we want to might want to get involved with the type of companies out there?
What are your thoughts on that? Maybe they can reach out to us and collaborate and partner on something.
Sure, I mean, there’s a number of possibilities there. One, I think it would be great to have a company sponsor the show, maybe a company that’s working on assistive technology or is more open to assistive technology, but I’m thinking Microsoft. I’m thinking Nike with their new shoe that they came out with where they actually in their design process, had someone with a disability help them to design that shoe. So I think there’s. Great opportunities there, but I’m also interested in and I should say we’re also interested in exploring how can we?
Change company culture, just a little bit to say, like, how can we maybe provide some additional training or some some ideas as to why you should be hiring more people with disabilities, what you should be looking out for, how you should be approaching those potential employees and workers to make sure that they give them a better chance to succeed in your company. There’s there’s so much potential there that that’s untapped. Have I missed something here that we’ve been talking about?
Because I know we’ve been talking about a lot of things.
Yeah, yeah. That is important. We are now kind of launching the show and we talked about there’s so many different ways to contribute and to kind of step in by referring guests, referring yourself to share your own stories. But other stories as well, for companies to get involved, to sponsor an episode, to sponsor the project. We have very reasonable rates at the moment. We have launched one episode already, but there are more than 10 in the can or releasing on a regular basis.
This is a niche podcast, I will admit, which means we are well targeted in terms of the audience we’re going after. But also, you know, anybody who is interested in just learning more, you might not even know someone with a disability. You don’t have any family members or friends with a disability. But this is a subject I think we all need to learn, because according to CDC, I think twenty five percent of Americans have some sort of disability.
And that is a that is a much bigger number plus, I think a really mature conversation when it comes to that. As we age, as we get older, as we were diagnosed with certain illness. You know, I think disability is ahead of all of us. Why don’t we learn something about it now? Same thing we talk about palliative care and death isn’t something that we could avoid it. So I think we need to be more knowledgeable and more accepting.
Yeah, because that would take us off track or anything else. Yeah. So this is really wonderful. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about? I know I jumped around a bit, but I really want people to hear your story.
I know you mentioned you mentioned Krip camp that we didn’t really talk about. Is there something that you wanted to. To bring up about that, sure, first of all, Gustavo and I would like to interview everybody in the show, so we’re going to go through IMDB and just conduct literal outreach to every single person from top to bottom. So if you guys know anybody, anyone, you feel interesting. We have watched the show. Let us know in the comments below.
But, Gustavo, what what are some of the key takeaways? Why should people watch that documentary if they haven’t already?
For me, it was again, I just learning about the disability rights movement in the United States, so many things that I didn’t know about. To me, there were certain elements that were difficult to watch, some of it was hilarious. A lot of it was, again, deeply inspirational. I mean, how can you for me, how can I not if I ever meet any of those people, how can I not just thank them for everything they’ve done, all the the the sacrifice, the fighting, the activism?
I wouldn’t be here today without them. And so to me, at least partially, it’s. It’s a I would like to communicate that gratitude or for everything that they’ve done in their life.
Yeah, I highly recommend guys. I mean, it’s the executive producers, I believe is Barack and Michelle Obama. And and it just is an incredible project. It’s a film definitely. There are many delights as well. There are moments that are just hilarious and it just so funny, so human. And I think it brings us closer. And I have such high hopes for this project, also for this podcast, Gustavo, because I realize that, you know, for me, we have lived here in the US for 20 years and prior 17 years prior to that in China, I must say that I’ve had the opportunity to bring a lot of my friends through China.
Some of them just went on their own. But every person who came back to the states and said, wow, now I know so much more about China, the people, the culture, even the even the politics, the mundane stuff. So different than what I have learned through mass media here in the States or Europe or anywhere else. I get to know the people, why they’re lovely. And and I realize, you know what? It just I hope that this show, this project opens up doors for people to experience disability in a really authentic way and.
I I mean, yeah.
Also just it was great to see people with disabilities on camera. We don’t get to see that very often and that was refreshing. And, you know, maybe maybe we can help inspire that next story teller. Right. Where are the characters who are strong and smart and interesting with disabilities? Where are they in Hollywood? Where are they in our media? Where are they? In our books? Not a. Not a spoiler for people who haven’t seen the show, but I mean, there’s one show that I can think of that actually had main characters who had disabilities fairly recently, Game of Thrones.
Right. Super popular show. Lots of people watched it. Two of the main characters had disabilities. So kudos to George R.R. Martin for doing that. But we need more of that. We need more people with disabilities as strong. Interesting. Inspiring characters. Yeah.
Wow. Well said, and there’s a lot to reflect on that, I’m so glad that you join me in this conversation, because at some point of listening to 10 or a dozen conversations of you interviewing the guests, there’s more of me, I think also the listeners for your show thinking I want to learn more about the host. I want to know more about Gustavo. So this becomes the opportunity for us to kind of reflect and come together knowing each other for so long.
We really get to see some of the juicy details. I really, really appreciate that. And I absolutely love to bring you back again. Maybe after we release season one, after we release 10, 12 episodes and then see what else we have learned. And this is it. Just a phenomenal project for for both of us, for everyone involved.
Thank you. Absolutely. A welcome that I’m looking forward to it. It’s always. It’s always a joy. Yeah. It’s always it’s always an honor to be on face as well.
Thank you. And for everyone’s watching links below, we do have a group on Facebook which is called Meet Each Other. And if you search for each other, enable disable, you’re going to find the page, the group. And we welcome you to submit your stories and subscribe to our show and the other. Or there are a lot of really incredible stories coming your way and hope that will brighten your day as well to kind of see the all the possibilities that you have in your life.
Thank you so much for watching. I’m going to take us offline now by. This episode of the First World podcast is brought to you by First World LLC, our marketing service agency created for independent creators and businesses. We offer website development, video production, marketing, mentorship to people who want to tell better stories, level up and create a profitable brand phasor podcast team or chief editor and producer Herman Silvio’s associate producer Adam Lefort, social media and content manager Rosta Leon transcript editor Allena Almodóvar.
And lastly myself, the creator and host of Face World. Thank you so much for listening.
Word Cloud, Keywords and Insights from PodIntelligence
What is PodIntelligence?
PodIntelligence is an AI-driven, plus human-supported service to help podcasters, webinar hosts and filmmakers create high quality micro-content that drives macro impact. PodIntelligence turns any number of long-form audio and video into word clouds, keyword and topic driven MP3 and MP4 clips that can be easily analyzed and shared on multiple platforms. Learn more: https://www.podintelligence.com/