Interesting Lives of Normal People

RH Projects

“I think you guys should start a podcast with Jake.” The podcast started with a group text from Maggie, Jake’s wife. A few months later, Holdeman and Fin sat down with Jake to find out what was behind Maggie’s text (besides her usual motivations of starting a wildly successful business that would allow us all to retire at 40). Jake shared that he just had a nagging desire to ‘do something’. Life was good, work was good, but still, something creative and generative seemed untapped within him. He needed a passion project and had a hunch that a podcast might be that. Holdeman proposed we just start recording, capturing the process of unfurling Jake’s passion project in real time, sharing the journey with people, and maybe helping them along the way with a word of encouragement or an actual exercise to complete. The early episodes reveal an earnest, if clunky, pursuit of understanding passion, passion projects, and the risks of ‘doing something.’ Soon, though, Jake dialed into what he wanted to do: listen. More than just booking guests, figuring out how to mix sound, or determining the best marketing channels for the podcast, Jake wanted to concentrate on creating a space where people were heard, focused on, and maybe even learn something about themselves by being on the pod. For him, these conversations became almost like spiritual practices that stretched him and served others. By midseason, Jake had discovered his ‘something’ and had dived deep into what became the crux of the show: deep conversations with “normal people”--people like him, with jobs and kids and mortgages--who were living out their normalcy in the most interesting and extraordinary ways. Jake noticed something else about “normal”, though: the further away he got from how he defined normal, the bigger his definition became. Here’s what the podcast is about: We believe that regular people are living interesting lives all around us, but in the day-to-day grind, it’s easy to overlook them. So, we’re going to talk to normal people - people you could pass in at the grocery store or meet at your kid’s daycare - who are living normal lives in extraordinary ways. We’re going to talk to a mom who is slowly going blind but refusing to wallow in it. We are going to talk to a first-generation American who’s actually trying to “go back where he came from.” We are going to interview a serial solopreneur who’s fighting racism with a new business. No famous people allowed (take that, Ke$ha!); just normals with day jobs, kids, and mortgages who are intentionally living their lives in some pretty compelling ways. Find us on Instagram Jake Smeester: @jakesmeester Ryan Findley: @finsky777 Ryan Holdeman: @ryanholdeman Music by Hygge. Please follow her on SoundCloud. read less
Society & CultureSociety & Culture
09 - Humiliated at a Potbelly (and other cheerful stories of learning humility on the path to living one’s life purpose)
15-02-2022
09 - Humiliated at a Potbelly (and other cheerful stories of learning humility on the path to living one’s life purpose)
Episode OverviewAs a child, Segun Olagunju prayed for wisdom, which is the only thing that can explain a 20-something recognizing that if he’s going to make a difference in the world (Nigeria, in particular), he’s going to work backwards from being a 50-something changemaker in 2035. Setting out on a 30-year journey to learn business, leadership, French and return to his home country strategically, Segun realizes the path is anything but straight. Worse, it’s anything but *forward.* Through a series of humbling experiences (“only out of humiliation comes humility,” he says), Segun learns that if you’re pursuing a meaningful purpose in life, these setbacks are minor blips—and even laughable rabbit trails—in a life with a clear direction.Upon second thought, it makes sense that a life following a North Star will occasionally take you down from mountains that you climbed and through muddy bogs in your way— and this is to say nothing of the inevitable trips and falls that come with going somewhere and doing more than just staying put.  But how do we even find our North Stars? Segun has wisdom to offer for that as well. As a leadership coach for individuals and organizations, Segun offers a few exercises we can do to find out what might be our purpose in life. We hope you’ll listen and give his tips a try. Episode LinksLinkedInUnison Solutions (formerly eFacil)African Leadership AcademyQuestion of the DayWhat’s one of your most embarrassing moments that led to you feeling proud of your resolve to overcome it? *tell us in the comments or email us at info@ilnppod.comBooksLove Your Enemies by Arthur C. BrooksThe Dream Giver by Bruce WilkinsonHomo Deus by Yuval HarariGrit by Angela DuckworthEpisode Highlights[9:57] -  Story of failure[24:52] - What is happiness?[29:10] - When a job finds you and humbles you[38:35] - When searching, write a letter to your friends and family and tell them what you’re looking for[42:30] - What is the African Leadership Academy (ALA)[44:40] - Segun and Fin met in Narnia[46:40] - Writing and sharing your manifesto, leaping forward in an organization[56:00] - Segun influences schools around the globe[58:12] - Finding your next purpose work[67:45] - When your purpose shifts away from your vocation and to your family [1:13:33] - Tools - Transition Email - Manifesto -Work Backward Press Release -Strategic Outcomes Worksheet
08 - An Accidental Rant on Christianity With A Kind, Patient, Open-minded Pastor Who Took it Well
14-12-2021
08 - An Accidental Rant on Christianity With A Kind, Patient, Open-minded Pastor Who Took it Well
Most of the time on the Interesting Lives of Normal People, we try to dig into the stories of our guests to find out what they’re all about, what’s been on their mind, and what they ‘just need to get out into the world.’ This podcast turned out to be a bit of the reverse.In this episode with Dr. David Burke, mentor and friend of Jake’s, and a long-time pastor, it’s as though we were the ones doing the sharing. Especially about the church and American Christianity today. Surprise, surprise: talking about Christianity and the church (*during COVID*) struck some nerves and David opened up the space for us to share some thoughts, concerns, and hopes--holding all of them with grace and aplomb.It was clear in our conversation that David is no stranger to opening up space for others. Opening his schedule for his wife’s budding midlife painting career. Opening up a grocery store where low-income residents could shop in the middle of their food desert, Opening up his home and heart for his adopted twins *on top of his 4 other kids*. We hope this conversation opens up something for you--maybe even something unexpected. You can find the transcript for this episode here. Find transcripts for all episodes here.Questions of the DayHave you felt a deep calling to something in your life? Where have you found deep gladness in your life?When have you acted on your deep gladness and found it to positively impact others?Who would be your greatest supporter if you were to step out and risk pursuing a passion? Visit this episode on our website at ILNPpod.com and share your responsesLinks from the EpisodeKelsey Burke ArtBooksAnything by Dallas WillardBooks by John PerkinsEpisode Highlights[2:55] David’s life story in 5 minutes[9:30] The Son of a UW Professor (who was an atheist)[20:00] Helping his wife start her passion project: painting[28:20] David’s passions: college students, Ethiopia, Basketball[34:00] What makes passion projects successful?[36:46] Starting a grocery store in a food desert[50:20] Christianity, today[58:02] Where desire to do “passion projects” comes from
07 - “Do What You Love, Love What You Do!” And Other Hot Life Tips From The Fashion Queen of Denver
07-09-2021
07 - “Do What You Love, Love What You Do!” And Other Hot Life Tips From The Fashion Queen of Denver
If you’ve ever seen a music video from the band OK Go, that’s basically what it’s like hanging out with Brandi Shigley. Over there is the flamethrower, in this corner is a family of ferrets dressed in matching outfits, in walks a mailman with a green mohawk who is also her tattoo artist, and here you are sitting on a giant hand-shaped chair that smells of funnel cake.  The whole thing is L-I-F-E, turned up to 11. When you listen to Brandi’s story, you’ll understand; she eeks her way through college but becomes the hottest purse-maker circa Y2K (literally #3 on AOL), such that she has her bags showcased in Paris. Then, she becomes the de facto Fashion Queen of Denver by uniting, inspiring, and coaching dozens of CO-based fashionistas to take the plunge and “do what they love and love what they do” by becoming fashion entrepreneurs themselves. And then, she gave all these newly minted fashion entrepreneurs their first big breaks by selling their wares at her store (which she wrapped up like a burrito for customers).But her life also smacks of realness and...even normalcy. She grapples with understanding how being an adopted orphan continues to shape her; she remembers her now-past mother through videos of her on Facebook; she experiences the questions of God’s character.Enjoy Brandi and the authentic, whole-hearted joy she brings to every moment of life--and this episode.TranscriptQuestion of the DayWhat is a time in your life when you tried something, it didn’t go as expected, and you let it be the ending rather than a lesson? What would it take to revisit that moment, to reframe it as a step forward in the form of a lesson, and to transform it into something to be grateful for instead of a flop?Links from the EpisodeBrandiShigley.comFashionDenver.comBooksThe BibleThe Four Hour Workweek by Tim FerrissThe Hiding Place  by Corrie ten BoomNaked by David SedarisShow Notes[3:58] Born in Manila, Philippines[15:36] Sold everything but a sewing machine and a skateboard to move and grow the business[32:07] Purpose in your work beyond passion[42:05] Viewing flops as lessons rather than bad endings[47:51] Advice for folks starting a podcast[50:29] Self-confidence from vulnerability[52:10] Honoring a lost loved one
05 - Take Long Walks. And Other Mindblowing Creativity Tips from Normals in the Advertising World.
25-05-2021
05 - Take Long Walks. And Other Mindblowing Creativity Tips from Normals in the Advertising World.
Here’s something of a truth: ‘normal’ people don’t make commercials for a living. They don’t write 30-second spots featuring Muppets talking on a Facebook Portal, they don’t have their words read by Arnold Schwarzeneggar, they don’t direct actors in Romania over Zoom, and they definitely don’t have their work seen by millions of people watching March Madness. Husband and wife duo, Andy and Elly Holdeman, are two normals that do these very things. They market some of the most recognizable brands in the world--AirBNB, Facebook, XBOX--and, not surprisingly (given what we learned about their job to find human truth), they shared some very recognizable (even normal) facets about their lives: insecurity about your ideas, struggles for inspiration, frustration with clients, bosses/coworkers who just don’t get it.As Andy and Elly share bits of their creative process, they drop truth bombs (as Andy is wont to call them) that are accessible and useful no matter what you do. Take “Underthink”, which is salve to the weary souls of we anxious, neurotic, or perfectionistic types; sometimes, we just need to take a “less is more” approach. Another pearl of wisdom was “If you’re going to do it, you better enjoy it” because...life’s too short, man.                                                                              Finally, everyone should take heed to the Holdemans’ #1 axiom: “Take long walks.” So, download this pod, get your sneaks on, and take that stroll these creative genius normals ordered up.
04 - What Happens When You Examine The Life You Live vs. The Life You Want to Live
30-04-2021
04 - What Happens When You Examine The Life You Live vs. The Life You Want to Live
In the Summer of 2008, Tory Leggat took the leap to move from Seattle to NYC with no job and no real friends, but all the optimism and pluck of a 22-year old ready to live out a dream of a year in the Big Apple. But when the (financial) world crumbled within days of her arrival to NYC, Tory had to recalibrate her expectations for work, personal finances, and community—and also her perspective on living out her one-year ‘passion project’. Being lonely, jobless, and aimless in NYC, Tory learned the value of being pot-committed on scary things, saying ‘yes’ to everything and going all out to live the biggest life possible. Throughout this journey, and many others since, Tory thoughtfully reflected on these life lessons and others, and began articulating them as ‘guidelines’ for her life. Accumulating these rules for living—like “Remember what YOU are trying to do and forget others’ commentary on it“, “Don’t stress spending money on great experiences” or “Appreciate your job”—she’s created a wise-beyond-her-years framework for big-life-living.Listen to Tory as she shares this framework, being challenged by the realization that the wonderful, big-life she had lived (happy, comfortable and optimized for fun) was coming up against the even-better life she wanted to live (sacrificial, meaningful and bigger than herself). Takeaways:Remember the variablesSpot the opportunitiesDon't take too much adviceOwn what you're trying to doQuestion of the DayWhat variables do you have in your life that you're overlooking?What's true for your Experience Self at this point in your life? Describe what you see for your Narrative Self?Links from the EpisodeLehman Brothers Declares BankruptcyAlexander West: custom men's dress shirtsYuval Harari on the Armchair Expert podcastBook: 'Principles' by Ray DalioBook: 'A Million Miles in a Thousand Years' by Donald MillerBook: 'Shoe Dog' by Phil KnightBook: 'Ride of a Lifetime' by Bob IgerBook: '12 Rule for Life' by Jordan PetersonMusic by Hygge - "Quarantrap". Please follow her on SoundCloudHighlights and...
03 - Life as a Fun-loving Disco Ball Inside of a Kaleidoscope
22-03-2021
03 - Life as a Fun-loving Disco Ball Inside of a Kaleidoscope
Stephanie LaFlora is a disco ball inside of a kaleidoscope.On one hand, she’s a mom and a wife, she’s got a house in the burbs and a 9-5pm. She’s admittedly scattered, prone to quitting when things get painful and encounters impostor syndrome. She’s even got a 401k.On the other hand, Stephanie is black female in tech who has sang with Hillsong at the Staples Center, and been on the TV show Chicago Fire, and started the following ventures:SwimXL—a plus-size women swimsuit line CrownHunt—a tool to connect textured hair dressersThe Pep Talk Hotline—the place to go when you need a pick upA disco ball inside of a kaleidoscope.What you notice about Steph LaFlora at first—and this is clear in the conversations we were lucky to have with her—is that she clearly lives her life with some charming but intense I-can’t-sit-still wigglyness. Amidst this chaos, she lives her everyday life with the wisdom of a sage philosopher. She lives her life by some simple mantras for the here-and-now (“There are no trophies in the end, so life better be fun”); at the same time she carries a generational perspective about what it means to be Black in America. In this conversation, you’ll hear Steph take on tech for not being as woke as it thinks it is, fragile white people for getting so offended all of the time, and everyone who takes life too seriously. Buckle up!You can find the transcript for this episode here. Find transcripts for all episodes here.Question of the DayWhen have you created magic in your life? What's a story where you took a risk and created something magical that brought joy to you and others?Share your story in the comments belowSubscribe to the Interesting Lives of Normal People podcast on iTunesSubscribe to the non-iTunes RSS FeedSubscribe on your Podcast platform of choiceLinks from the EpisodeStephanieLaflora.comCrownhunt.ioSwimXL.comThe Pep Talk Hotline with Stephanie LaFloraQueen & Slim movieCheryl Strayed podcast interview on Design Matters with Debbie Music by Hygge - "Quarantrap". Please follow her on...
02 - How to Use Your Amazing Brain in the Quest for Meaning
14-03-2021
02 - How to Use Your Amazing Brain in the Quest for Meaning
In our second episode, we talk to Dr. Jessica Stern, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She has spent many hours sitting with people, helping them sort through what is true in their life, and guiding them as they name what they want to be true. We asked Dr. Stern to help us discuss passion and the longing for meaningful work. In this conversation, we cover passion projects, the drive to make a difference in the world, what drives people on a journey to create - like this podcast - and why people often fail in their endeavors. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to pursue projects of passion. Dr. Stern helps us unpack the components of modern privilege, both in time and resources. These things put us in a position to create and build - whether it’s a new business, a non-profit, or a podcast. What is this “itch” many of us get -- the itch to venture out into new projects, often propelled by the question “am I doing enough?”This is a great conversation. We hope you enjoy it! And make sure to throw us some stars!Question Of The DayWhat is the greater good you focus on that helps you rise above the scarcity mindset? Where are you helping others in a way that fuels you rather than depletes you? Who are the people living lives you'd like to emulate? Links From The EpisodeJessicaSternMD.com : Dr. Jessica Stern's websiteVeryWell Mind gives an overview of Erik Erikson: Psychosocial DevelopmentKhan Academy teaches Erik Erikson: Psychosocial DevelopmentThe Last Dance Documentary on the Chicago Bulls and Michael JordanHow I Built This podcast with host Guy RazArmchair Expert podcast with host Dax ShepardWTF podcast with host Mark MaronCareer Rocket Fuel: Whether You're a Millennial of Eyeing Retirement, Here's What You Really Need to Get Right About WorkMusic by Hygge - "Quarantrap". Please follow her on SoundCloudBooksAtomic Habits by James ClearThe Happiness Trap by Russ Harris and Steven HayesThe Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan HaidtDisconnected by Thomas KerstingRare Air by Mark VancilShow Highlights[4:09] Modern...
01 - The Happy Journey of Listening, Learning, and Creating Something That Matters
04-03-2021
01 - The Happy Journey of Listening, Learning, and Creating Something That Matters
OverviewHow do you start a podcast that’s about making a podcast? For us (Jake, Ryan and Fin), we ‘start’ this podcast almost a year into a what-should-we-make-a-podcast-about? journey. This “episode 1” is actually episode 14, recorded only once we found our proverbial North Star and were able to articulate--for ourselves and listeners--what this show was going to be about. So what’s it about?In the end, we found that our podcast wasn’t about making a podcast at all; this podcast became about meeting people outside of our typical ‘circle’, asking them thoughtful questions and listening intently to the answers, and finding out that everyone has a gripping story if you’re willing to hear it.We hope you enjoy listening to our journey of learning all of this through talking to some incredibly interesting normal people. Who are we exactly?Jake Smeester is a husband and father who spends his days as a content creator at AWS building out new programs for worldwide sales enablement (including gobs of podcasts). Ryan Findley is a husband and father who spends his days running the product team at Learn to Win. Ryan Holdeman is neither a husband nor a father. He spends his days helping personal growth businesses leverage technology.Join us as we explore.Question of the DayWhat’s the itch you’ve been needing to scratch? Do you have a podcast you’ve been dying to create? If you do, please share in the comments what you’d call it and what it would be about.Subscribe to the Interesting Lives of Normal People podcast on iTunesSubscribe to the non-iTunes RSS FeedSubscribe on your Podcast platform of choiceLinks from the EpisodeArrested Development (tv series)Arrested Development (music)BooksIn this first episode we didn’t touch on book recommendations, but in our interviews, we ask guests for recommendations. You’ll see those here. A favorite of Ryan Holdeman:Life in Half a Second: A great book about making things with haste that will last beyond youShow Highlights[2:09] How it took us *a year* to record Episode 1[4:02] Why Jake wanted to do this in the first place[6:07] How it started as one thing and ended up as another[7:46] The Secret Name of the Show [9:53] Why Holdeman joined Jake’s Show (and why he loves watching Fin eat tacos while recording)[12:06] Why Fin joined Jake’s Show (beyond eating tacos)[13:49] Why Jake joined Jake’s Show and what he’s been learning along the journey[19:23] Why “The Interesting Lives of Normal People”?[28:45] How we (Holdeman) made the logo[33:16] What to expect from...
Trailer
13-02-2021
Trailer
Welcome to The Interesting Lives of Normal People. A podcast experiment in finding passion, self-exploration, valuing others, asking good questions, and listening. Find out what it's all about in this short trailer.“I think you guys should start a podcast with Jake.”The podcast started with a group text from Maggie, Jake’s wife.  A few months later, Holdeman and Fin sat down with Jake to find out what was behind Maggie’s text (besides her usual motivations of starting a wildly successful business that would allow us all to retire at 40).Jake shared that he just had a nagging desire to ‘do something’. Life was good, work was good, but still, something creative and generative seemed untapped within him. He needed a passion project and had a hunch that a podcast might be that. Holdeman proposed we just start recording, capturing the process of unfurling Jake’s passion project in real-time, sharing the journey with people, and maybe helping them along the way with a word of encouragement or an actual exercise to complete.The early episodes reveal an earnest if clunky, pursuit of understanding passion, passion projects, and the risks of 'doing something'. Soon, though, Jake dialed in to what he wanted to do: listen. More than just booking guests, figuring out how to mix sound, or determining the best marketing channels for the podcast, Jake wanted to concentrate on creating a space where people were heard, focused on, and maybe even learn something about themselves by being on the pod. For him, these conversations became almost like spiritual practices that stretched him and served others. By midseason, Jake had discovered his ‘something’ and had dived deep into what became the crux of the show: deep conversations with “normal people”--people like him, with jobs and kids and mortgages--who were living out their normalcy in the most interesting and extraordinary ways. Jake noticed something else about “normal,” though: the further away he got from how he defined normal, the bigger his definition became.Here’s what the podcast is about: We believe that regular people are living interesting lives all around us, but in the day-to-day grind, it’s easy to overlook them. So, we’re going to talk to normal people - people you could pass in at the grocery store or meet at your kid’s daycare - who are living normal lives in extraordinary ways. We’re going to talk to a 40yo mom who is slowly going blind but refusing to wallow in it. We are going to talk to a first-generation American who’s actually trying to “go back where he came from.” We are going to interview a serial solopreneur who’s fighting racism with a new business.No famous people allowed (take that, Ke$ha!); just normals with day jobs, kids, and mortgages who are intentionally living their lives in some pretty compelling ways.Music by Hygge - "Quarantrap". Please follow her on SoundCloud.