Season 1
40 Minutes

E43 | Mark J. Silverman | When Personal Renewal Is the Story of Your Life

Mark J. Silverman has LIVED renewal, more than most. From making millions to being homeless. From being gay to straight to gay again. From banishing addiction to embracing sobriety.

A sought-after Executive Coach, podcaster and best-selling author, Mark has a passion for helping others master overwhelm. The possibility of liberating renewal is at the heart of this passion.

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Mark J. Silverman  00:00

I’m a situational extrovert. I’m an I’m a rabid introvert. If I don’t see anybody else for a week at a time, I am perfectly fine. But in public, I am welcoming, I am more and I’m dynamic. I can actually bring that persona up, it’s genuine. But it take you I can only do it for so long. And then I have to retreat to my car and music to my home and my dogs and go inside. So it’s really confusing because people see me as outgoing, and friendly and warm. And all I can think of is how do I get home?

Achim Nowak  00:34

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected fourth acts. Listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started.  I am just so delighted to have Mark Silverman as a guest on the My fourth act podcast. This is the episode that I think it was a holiday episode. And Mark and I are going to talk about the notion of renewal. Not necessarily in a religious sense, but in a very personal sense. Now, Mark has lived renewal more than most in his life. He’s gone from making millions to being homeless at one point, from being gay to straight to being gay again, from vanishing addiction to embracing sobriety. Most importantly, these days, he is a sought after executive coach, a podcaster. And a best selling author. And Mark has a passion for helping others to master their own overwhelm. So the possibility of liberating renewal is at the heart of this passion. So welcome, Mark.

Mark J. Silverman  02:04

I really appreciate having you you know, we’ve had some lovely conversations off camera without the recording going on. So this is going to be a really fun thing to actually do it publicly.

Achim Nowak  02:14

I affirm that with you, my friend. Our listeners already know you’ve had a juicy life story with many life lessons in it, which of course makes you are an amazing guest and an amazing coach for people. When you were young boy, you know how people ask us who do you want to be when you grow up? So when mom and dad asked you that question, what was your answer?

Mark J. Silverman  02:39

Hmm. I always wanted to be an oceanographer, because I wanted to play with flipper pretty. Younger, they don’t know who flipper is flipper was a dolphin, who was pretty adventurous, kind of like Lassie only in the ocean. And I love flipper. So I wanted to be I want to do that, you know, what was really in the cards was drunk, drug addict, alcoholic sex addict, you know, completely different than that. But I wanted to be an oceanographer.

Achim Nowak  03:05

Cool, well, you you took us right to the shadow side. But on the surface. You If I hope I get the sorry, you were in sales, you were successful sales guy. My sense of you just knowing you as you have an outgoing personality. At least that’s how you project to the world.

Mark J. Silverman  03:25

I’m a situational extrovert. I’m an I’m a rabid introvert. If I don’t see anybody else for a week at a time, I am perfectly fine. But in public, I am welcoming, I am more and I’m dynamic. I can actually bring that persona up. It’s genuine. But it take you I can only do it for so long. And then I have to retreat to my car and music to my home and my dogs and go inside. So it’s really confusing because people see me as outgoing, and friendly and warm. And all I can think of is how do I get home?

Achim Nowak  04:00

Well, you described what you call situational extroversion so beautifully. So I was going to go somewhere else. But let me stop for a moment. I identify exactly as you did with the same when it comes to that makeup. But we may have introverts listening to us and going gosh, I I wish I could do that more easily, you know, to be situationally friendly, approachable, warm, and what kind of guidance would you give to someone like that?

Mark J. Silverman  04:31

It’s all about range. Right? So you and I are coaches, we help people expand their range. There’s who we think we are, yeah. And then who we might be able to be. So having heroes having role models, using like Alter Ego kind of stuff, you can put on a persona. And once you start to learn that that your learned behavior, your personality who you are, is fungible, then you can start experimenting with different kinds of behavior. Now it’s really hard because if we have a certain kind of nature, so I was an EQ, when I drank and did drugs, I was an extrovert and around people all the time, I didn’t know I was an introvert, I tested on the Myers Briggs as an E, something, something something, right. And then after I got sober, I always test far on the introvert. So, you know, it’s we want to go out of our comfort zone so that we can do the things that we want to do. If our personality is holding us back from something that we desire, then it’s worth going out of our comfort zone to try on new things. But just to be someone different. That’s, you know, I don’t think that that’s, you know, why why go through that pain? For me, I’m so committed, my husband was, you know, says this to me, once, he said, is that I don’t understand it, you constantly say you don’t like being around people. Yeah. And you know, you’re an introvert, and you don’t have to see people. And when you’re at parties, you stay in the kitchen and wash dishes and things like that. But you’re on stages, all the time you have a podcast, I can’t go on Facebook without seeing your videos, like you’re in people’s faces all the time. He says, How do I reconcile that. And I said, it’s because I have a mission, it’s something I want to do. It’s something I want to accomplish, and I can make a difference in people’s lives. So I push myself, you know, I did a workshop for a bunch of CEOs this morning. I was exhausted after. But it’s exhilarating seeing the change in people. So I’m willing to do that.

Achim Nowak  06:24

There was a lot of wisdom to just unpack in what you said here and one or two ideas by you and just see if they make sense to you the way I say them. And if not, please add to it. You use the wonderful union term persona or public persona. And then I come from theater. So I love the notion of range. And I believe that every part we play in every persona we take on is already a part of us, that’s been unexpressed. So the notion of is this real or not, and that doesn’t mean we don’t have preferences around introversion, extroversion. The other part also, what I heard you say is a part of you has learned to enjoy the act of public performance, you step into a performance self, it’s enjoyable, and he has you’re exhausted afterwards. And once we learn how to do that, it opens great venues for us. And that could be true for our listeners as well. Did I get that right? Yeah,

Mark J. Silverman  07:21

sure. Absolutely. And, you know, and I do have a little bit of ham in me and I have a little bit of, I like a little bit of attention, you know, but there’s a book that I would recommend for people it’s called reinvention by Steve Chandler. Steve Chandler is one of those authors who can take concepts and make them so understandable, so bite size, and you can act on them. And basically, in that book, he talks, he walks you through how your personality is not fixed, and that you can actually be new people, when you did my introduction, if anybody actually believed any of that, in my introduction, that I was this person that I was that person that I was this person that I was that person that was this person, you know, they think it was crazy. That was actually my life. Yes, you know, this is the fourth act, I think I’m on my seventh or eighth. I’m also on my seventh or eighth person, I’m a, it’s just a completely different personality type. You know, you wouldn’t recognize me in my 20s. And you wouldn’t recognize me in my 30s. I’m a living proof of you can actually create yourself.

Achim Nowak  08:26

Yeah, since you’ve laid your shadows out for all of us, and we could spend hours just on each of them. But in the spirit of renewal, which is what I want to talk about, it’s holiday season. It’s often called the bottom when you’re an addict, but what was the bottom for you when you said, whatever the addiction was, like, I, I want to be done with this. I’m willing to be renewed as a person around it, you’ll probably have more than one of those stories but if one comes to mind that stands out.

Mark J. Silverman  09:00

So first, I want to make the distinction between a substance abuse addiction and bottom and then a life bottom because we coach people who have hit life bottoms and it’s not because of alcohol or drugs or anything like that. It’s because whatever was driving them and in my new book, I use the phrase the motivations and drives that got you to success in your 20s and 30s often turn on you in your 40s and 50s. Right so those things I became rich because I was homeless, and I never wanted to be seen as that guy so I wore a gold watch I were Hugo Boss suit I drove a Lexus convertible right so that I could be a different person that fuel to not be seen as that homeless poor guy got me to rich. But then it started to turn on me because I was unsustainable. It wasn’t coming from a place of internal satisfaction and drive it was coming from I don’t want people to see that. So it started to crack the drug and alcohol. That was just a bottom a desk At bottom, and I needed to get help, so that I could actually live a life, have emotions, grow my emotions grow my psyche grow, you know, grow up basically. Then later in life, it was, this life isn’t good, right? For me the motivations, the things that are driving me are actually eating me alive. And I came to a bottom with those and had to and that’s that’s I think the more interesting conversation is when I’m married with two kids. I’m the committee chair for the Boy Scouts, I coach basketball, I drive my nice car, I have my million dollar house. And all of a sudden, right? Do you call it a midlife crisis? Whatever is Oh, my God, this doesn’t fit. What do I do? I’m responsible for my elderly parents, I’m responsible for this family. I love this family. Right? All of a sudden, it doesn’t fit. So what do I do now. And then what happens is if you don’t actually listen to that voice, and this isn’t that fitting, life basically starts to talk louder and louder until it shouts and then it gives you job loss, or it gives you divorce, or it gives you a heart attack or some kind of tricky, like, life gets your attention when things aren’t fitting. So if you can actually listen and make those shifts in a productive, connected, grounded manner, awesome. Most of us can’t, right, most of us have to hit a bottom. And I blew things up stone cold, sober without any alcohol or drugs, I blew things up, because it just didn’t fit anymore. And I hurt people. And it’s really, it’s really hard to reconcile. But it was the right thing to do. And it all turned out okay. But it was rough. And I you know, anybody who’s in their 40s and 50s, will cop to, yeah, no, this doesn’t fit, but I’m afraid to look at it. Because I’m afraid of the consequences of realizing that this doesn’t fit anymore.

Achim Nowak  11:51

The phrase, this doesn’t fit is really beautiful. Because I think of like clothes that don’t fit anymore. And the nice thing is we can buy a new pair of clothes, you know, we’re not condemned forever to wear the old damn clothes that don’t fit anymore. And so that’s the beauty of that.

Mark J. Silverman  12:08

But hold on, I’m not minimizing. I’m not saying that I can change my marriage, I can change my wardrobe that my kids are despite I’m not saying that they’re that it doesn’t fit. So I’m gonna go live my life and live my bliss. These are a hard, deep questions to ask yourself, What choices do you want to make with the responsibilities and the things you’ve already created in life? And step by step? How do you start shifting those things? And when I say, you know, if you ignore them, because of responsibility, I have to stay together for the kids I have to do. But if you start to ignore them, then that’s when the blow ups come. Because your psyche is just not going to be ignored.

Achim Nowak  12:45

I definitely did not want to minimize the change by by using your clothing.

Mark J. Silverman  12:50

I was afraid that you know that right? No, I was afraid that I did in that

Achim Nowak  12:54

No, you didn’t. shift in awareness and consciousness leading to the moment where we go, something has to change. In my experience can come in two ways. One, sometimes There literally is a moment where it’s clear and we go, this can go on as sometimes as this slow creeping, ever growing awareness. What was it for you that led you to the Okay, this has to stop.

Mark J. Silverman  13:20

I didn’t do it gracefully. My ex wife and I were in therapy for years. And you know, she’s about a year after we got separated. She did say to me, you know, you’ve been No, actually it was the day that I told her I wanted to divorce. She sat there in her chair. And she said, You’ve been saying this, that you were unhappy for years, and I didn’t listen. Right. And that was that was the first acknowledgement. I’m not saying it was her fault. I’m not saying I was right. You know, I was not strong in my conviction. I did not lead my own life. I was a participant, but I didn’t lead my own life. I didn’t sit her down and say these things have to change. I can’t live with these things. Right? What do you what’s on your mind? What can’t you live with right now? Because I’m no picnic. What can’t you live? I didn’t really dig in and force the issue. So I blew things up. And I met someone. And I met someone who turned my head. I was like, you know, I’m really unhappy in my marriage. I did not cheat on my wife. I wanted to, and it was so powerful that that’s when I said I need a divorce. Right? I want something different. And that came with consequences. As soon as I separated from my wife, I went into a deep depression. I got really sick, my career took a nosedive. She got depressed because we loved each other. We really did want to make it work and be together. But it wasn’t to be the consequences of making that choice. First had to go through hell before it could turn into something else. That makes sense.

Achim Nowak  14:51

It does. I’m struck by the phrase I telling her for years that I was unhappy. And again, this is not about blaming her or anything but this is the question that interests me Why do you think it takes us sometimes so long to go from really unhappy to? I really do need a major change.

Mark J. Silverman  15:10

Guilt? A lack of, you know, again, I think it’s a lack of honesty. Yeah, I was saying I was unhappy with things didn’t work for me that kind of thing. But I wasn’t, I didn’t say no look, I will need to leave if I can’t change these things for myself. And like, I wasn’t as strong as I am now. So I’m not sure she got the message on those things. I’m not sure she gave me the message. And I’m sure she took for granted the fact that she thought I would never leave because I was kind of mousy, right, like I would never leave. And I took I know, I didn’t think I would ever leave until I left. Right, then that surprised me. And when I rip that band aid off, what was left was a shell of a man, I had to build a new deal talking about renewal, I had a build a new person. After my marriage disintegrated. I had to see myself as a father in a different way, I had to see myself as an ex husband, I had to see myself as an autonomous person. Because the dream that I had of growing old with someone was gone. So now it was really imperative that I find out who I am, what I want to be and how do I want to create myself next,

Achim Nowak  16:17

to use your phrase, how did you build this new person? And where did you start? Like, how does anybody start doing that when things around you crumble or to use your language, you blew it up,

Mark J. Silverman  16:29

I was really, I got really depressed and suicidal. But I knew I couldn’t kill myself because I had kids. And I didn’t want to leave that legacy. The one thread that I had left was that I wanted to be a good father. Right? I wanted to be a good ex husband, I made vows to my wife. And I wanted to keep as many of those vows as I could, not being married, so supporting her financially and emotionally and those kinds of things. So I became maniacally focused on being the best ex husband, I could be. Even if she didn’t want me to be I showed up. I never lived more than walking distance for my kids. I don’t understand, like, I couldn’t move even across town, let alone across the country. I was walking distance from my kids, there was a place for them to stay in my house all the time. I showed up at every baseball game, my ex wife was wonderful. We had Friday night Sabbath dinners together, she invited me even when she was furious at me, she invited me and said, You’re gonna come for Sabbath dinner, and be with the kids. And we did that, you know, religiously for a decade, which I’m so grateful for. We promised each other never to trash each other to the kids. But what happened was, I started training to run a marathon, kind of turn things around. And I was I started to listen to every self help book that ever lived, right? I started listening to something called philosophers notes, which is now free, free forever. I think philosophers notes Brian Johnson, it’s a summary of every great book that has ever lived. And all these things, Brian Johnson saved my life, you know, listening to these summaries, and then I would go find the book and I would listen to them while I ran. And you know, so I positive psychology Buddhism, like, I just filled myself with all kinds of crap. And one year I was suicidal. Next, I was like, Okay, I’ll stick around next was like, alright, I’ll die when Jake graduated high school to, oh, my God, I think I’m okay, I think I’m happy. And then one day, I was reading Alan Cohen’s relax into wealth. And I’m in the middle of the book, and the phrase in the book and relax into wealth was what if you treated yourself like you treated everybody else in your life. And I was sitting in my apartment with my $7, IKEA and tables, and all the old silverware from the basement of our house and all this stuff. And you know, like, and I’m a pretty successful guy, and I’m like, I’m living in squalor. And I treat myself like I treat everybody else. When I got divorced, I bought my ex wife, a baby grand piano and a new Toyota Highlander. Like, I treat myself like that. I’m not even on the list. And it occurred to me, Oh, my God, what if I loved myself, I was a precious child once. What if I loved myself? And from then on, I was an ex smoker. I was like, Oh, my God, I can love myself. Are you kidding me? I can love myself. And then I want to just tell everybody can love yourself, you can forgive yourself like and that that was the change in my world was the revelation that beating myself up like I beat like, I always tell people, I beat myself up before anybody else could beat me up. I wanted to beat myself up first, because I knew the world was gonna beat me up. And I thought beating myself up was being responsible. I thought if I trashed myself, I’m being responsible because I’m such a horrible person. And I’m such a lazy guy and all these things. If I beat myself up, then that’s the way I’m going to motivate myself. And I realized when I learned that that wasn’t actually being responsible and be that was a turning point. So when I finally found love for myself, all bets are off. Now I can create this up person, but it took years of it was even though I was reading all this stuff, it just really He felt barren and dry for several years until it all culminated into finally an epiphany. Right? You know, I was desperately reading desperately going to workshops and desperately listening to people who have seemed to figure things out. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. And then, oh, wow, I can actually live a life. And it’s been a very different world ever since.

Achim Nowak  20:26

A word from your sponsor, that’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast, fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. You say the word epiphany so lightly and I hear that. Because also it was just painstakingly showing up every day doing it’s a cliche to do the best you can, you know, and you show up. But was the epiphany. Was there one moment when you said enough of the self flagellation, or Yeah, that

Mark J. Silverman  21:19

was that that was when I was reading that section in the book. What if you treated yourself like a treat everybody else in your life, that was the turning point, went out and bought a sonic blue Lexus convertible, I bought a 46 inch TV, I bought a leather couch. And it was like I just

Achim Nowak  21:37

I just loved it. It immediately led you to buying stuff I have to laugh. It’s a good story.

Mark J. Silverman  21:45

It was very, it was very freeing. That was very symbolic that I understand I get to be on the list,

Achim Nowak  21:51

I think related to your story, and I think you touched on so many things that we all go through my senses, you’ve just gone through it in more extreme ways than others.

Mark J. Silverman  21:59

That’s the kind of conversation I’ve always have when people are interviewing me about my life is yeah, these are pretty dramatic and extremely, like yeah, I’ve you know, that’s kind of my personality. I have high highs, low lows. And you know, I don’t like to be bored.

Achim Nowak  22:14

You’ve spoken about shedding the part of you who really wants to be liked by people, and works hard to be liked by people. And I think many habit and but even even as we’re listening to you, we get a sense that you know, when you talk about being the perfect ex husband, it’s almost like you want your ex wife to love you. Even though you just left right in the party. You Yeah, she I wanted just like me, and let me show her that I’m still likable. And we get rewarded for that in many ways, right? Until it doesn’t fit anymore to use your language. How do you play with that part of you right now that still wants to be liked by people? Because on some level we all do.

Mark J. Silverman  22:54

It’s really funny, because my ex wife once said to me that my book is called only 10. Right? So my ex wife said to me, she says, you know, you’re a 10 is an ex husband, you’re a 10 As a father, you’re a 10 as a worker, you’re a 10 as a son, you’re a 10 as a brother, like I took pride in being all things to all people. And the funny thing was, is I could almost do it, I could be all things to all people because I’m really competent, and I’m quite energetic. The problem was, I couldn’t be all things to all people. And it started to crack. And it would it would just I remember, you know, when I when I switched from sales to being a coach, my income went down dramatic, dramatic dramatically. And I was still supporting my ex wife and my kids. And I was I told my ex wife, the first time I had to go over there and tell her, I cannot keep giving you these checks of this size. Yeah. wanted to die. I really like oh my god, I can’t like I’m going to be seen as, like, now I can say I can I’m going to be seen as human, then it was like I’m going to be seen as a loser that I am. That was the first part painful part. Then when I said to my ex wife, I can’t keep giving you this amount every month. She looked at me and she says you’ve been so generous, you’ve kept your word to me, I trust you were okay. That was like a knife to my gut. Because now she was being kind of me, she was being nice to me. I no longer had the upper hand of being the good guy, right. Like now I was getting help and being being having compassion. So it was really hard for me. I still have the personality type I don’t know, you know, like any you know, we all have these different kinds of personality tests and stuff. My Enneagram type is a is a to I’m the cheerful helper, I get my self esteem from being a value to people. Right so when I realize that my a lot of my kindness my love and my service is transactional. What I get from it is my self esteem at first it’s very quick it’s it’s kind of queasy to say like, oh my god, I I really want to be liked I really want to be seen as valuable i That’s my currency. But once I start to look at that, it’s like oh, now they see it. I can let it go, I can also see I can use it because it really gives me a lot of ease to help people to be kind to be of service to go to the mat for people. And then I can see where the transaction part is. And where the detriment to me is. My whole book is about setting boundaries, having difficult conversations, telling people the truth, all of that is hard fought, I created myself a person who you know, where you stand with me every time you talk to me, I created myself as a person who asks for what he wants, and sets boundaries, right? I’ve created myself to be a person who can say, No, I still have feelings around it. But I don’t believe that I don’t I don’t sit with those feelings anymore. Because you I have things to do. I’m in service to my projects, to my mission, more than I’m in service to my comfort.

Achim Nowak  25:46

You’re almost 60 You have a husband, you have two grown sons. You’re just rebranding yourself at the end of

Mark J. Silverman  25:56

2021. And 60. I’m not doing the reinvention again, right. I’m doing it

Achim Nowak  26:00

again, you’re you’re claiming part of your work that you were passionate called Mastering overwhelm. And it’s actually becoming a public brand. And I think that doorway into the 60s is interesting, because there are traditional narratives around what we do. And then the narratives we can invent for ourselves, right? What are some things that you mark, what would like to do more of in the next few years? And maybe what are some things you would like to do less of in the next few years? One of the

Mark J. Silverman  26:29

things I’ve always thought about myself was that I wasn’t an entrepreneur. That’s just not who I am. You’re right. That’s the limiting belief for myself. I’m not a businessman, I joke with people, I made a lot of money because I was a great salesman, not because I’m a great businessman. Yeah. And I coach people who are great businessmen, and that I’m not an entrepreneur. And then I got to know a guy named Jay Samet, who wrote about a book called disrupting you and then future proofing you. And another guy named Jeff Hoffman, who used to who was the founder of Priceline. And a few other people were Lissa Cohn, who just wrote a really good book about leadership in startups. And what I realized this past year is that entrepreneurship can be learned. It’s not it’s not a gift leadership is an unnatural act, leadership is something that’s that’s learned. And that I can learn to be an entrepreneur, I’m a really good coach, I’m successful as a coach, because I’m really good at what I do. And I get referrals and all that, but I haven’t been really good at building my business. So at six years old, I made the decision to get really good at running my business also, and to take my business coaching business to a million dollars a year, that’s gonna take work, it’s gonna take creativity, that’s going to take me getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that I didn’t think I was capable or willing to do. But it’s really fun. Like, it’s really fun to thank you, when it’s time to start making a million dollars a year. Again, it’s really starting time to start being a top tier guy, I have something to say I have something to offer. And I want to see how far I can take this. This is coming from a very different place, I have to be rich, so that I’m don’t know I’m not seen as poor. I’m no I don’t want to make the money so that I look like I’m the successful guy doing you know, like, so I can I can show you my high end car on Instagram. I’m just really curious of how far I can create something how great I can take something, it’s coming from such a healthy place. And so it’s it’s a game for me now to see what can I do in my 60s When people say you shouldn’t be slowing down? My husband’s retired, right? And then he’s just enjoying golf and walking the dogs and grilling and right. And I’m like, Well, dude, I’m done putting in high gear, because I want to see how many people I can reach. I want to see what I can create, at this time in my life, you know, as well as I do. Now we have to really be smart with our energy. I don’t have unlimited energy, no, right? I don’t have I can’t burn the candles at both ends and still be effective anymore. So I really need to pick and choose where I placed my attention and where I work, be creative, and I need to, I need a team to support me that kind of thing. So this time, this is going to be this time it’s going to be really smart. Wise, get the support that I need, and see what I can do.

Achim Nowak  29:02

I embrace and celebrate your entrepreneurial self, I am on my second business. I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur. And in many ways that defines what I do. I get so much pleasure out of starting things, creating things growing them. So I celebrate in you. You talked about the introversion part, in you’re describing a lot of outward activity that comes with growing. And I’m not saying you should but you have a plan for how you honor the part of you that can disappear for a week and not be social with a part of you that is going to go out and grow and expand somewhere. How do you reckon 100% 100%

Mark J. Silverman  29:38

That’s, you know, I’ve been laying the groundwork with my book, and with my workshops and with what I’m bringing to the world is mastering overwhelm thing. I know how to do that. I know how to separate the grunt work from the creative work from the rest and the fun. That for me is not going to be the hard part.

Achim Nowak  29:56

I know you figured it out. But most people haven’t. So Give us your recipe. Like how do you do that? Because most people don’t know how to do that.

Mark J. Silverman  30:06

It starts with learning who you are. It’s it starts with contemplation, practice, meditation, journaling, sitting without electronics. It starts with getting to know who you are, what you want. What brings you energy? What drains you of energy. Yeah, what’s a should like, like, if I know a lot of people in my industry, I should be on Instagram, I should have Click Funnels, I should be doing all these things, and not taking the bait of the things that people say you should be doing what’s right, what do I really want to be doing. And it takes a while to learn the difference between I should be doing this, too, I really want to do this, this is really coming from me. So the contemplation practice is the first place to start if you don’t, if you don’t slow down, yeah, if you don’t say, and I have, you know, I work with a lot of New York finance guys and that guy, and you know, they’re the ones tapping the pencils and their legs going a mile a minute. And, you know, they don’t know from balance for anything. And I say, alright, we’re going to start with a one minute meditation, you’re going to sit with your cup of coffee, and you’re going to stare out the window, and you’re not going to pick up your phone. And you’re going to breathe, like minute, a whole minute. Right. And then the next week, it’s two minutes, until I get them comfortable feeling their own skin feeling hearing their own thoughts. And eventually, now we can start to learn who we are, what we want, where we’re willing to put our energy where we don’t want to put our energy, and we can be honest with ourselves and others. So that’s the if you don’t do that, every other tip trick, Insight is useless. Because then you’re just listening to me tell you where you should put your time and attention until you know where you want to put your time and attention. It’s every time management thing. Every seminar, every workshop you go to is useless. Contemplation practice is the only place to start.

Achim Nowak  31:53

I appreciate the specificity of your examples Margot’s really tremendously helpful. I want to put out another word related to life experience and just see where that takes you. The spiritual practices that I come from, which are more Hindu traditions, there’s a phrase called called tasting the sweet nectar of life. And that that’s broad enough that can mean different things to different people. But if you think about sweetened sweetness in your life, sweet nectar of life, and the moments and the activities and experiences they that are that for you. Like like what comes to mind?

Mark J. Silverman  32:36

Actually, what comes to mind for me is I just saw a client in New York who I worked with for a long time. And I haven’t seen him in a year. And he he took his first long vacation in a decade. And he sent me a picture of him on the beach, reading my book, and say, and with the caption, I finally got it. He went on a really deeply spiritual retreat, which if you knew this guy, that’s crazy. Yeah, it was directly out of our work. So he does a spiritual retreat. And he has a major transformation. And he comes home. And he lives in, he lives in Brooklyn. He said, Mark, he said, I took my dog for a walk. I walked out to the promenade or wherever it is in Brooklyn overlooking the bridge and the river promenade. Yes. Right. He says, I walked out there. He says, I’ve lived here all my life. I walked out there. And I looked at the water and the sun and my dog. And I just started bawling. Yeah. Before he went to that retreat, he took that for granted, he did not see the nectar, the sweetness of what he had in his life. After that, that transformation, he came home and he realized the same thing that he took for granted could be the nectar of life. So that to me is more illustrative than anything I could say about myself.

Achim Nowak  33:59

It’s the perfect story in a way, the perfect moment. And as a former New Yorker who knows the promenade, well, I’m immediately placing myself in it, which is delightful. If you were to take what you know now, if you had a chance to whisper in young Mark’s ears to share some wisdom and guidance with him and not to change the course of your life because that’s what got you here today. But But what sort of wisdom would you want to impart to the younger version of yourself?

Mark J. Silverman  34:30

Don’t sell Tesla, Apple and Google that’d be the first. That was really silly.

Achim Nowak  34:39

I’ll take it happily.

Mark J. Silverman  34:41

Right. Buy Bitcoin in 2010. But no, it’s so it’s so interesting. Because whenever someone says that, or I see it on Twitter or something like what would you tell your 25 year old self? I’m really terrified of changing the course of my life, even if it meant avoiding some tragedies that I had I’ve had some really horrible things happen, because I don’t want to ever not be the person I become. I don’t, I can’t be who I am today without the experiences that I had. If one thing I whisper to younger Mark makes it so that my, my sons aren’t who they are, I won’t change a thing about my life or who I was and the mistakes I made. And if I could, wouldn’t it be wonderful a whisper in someone’s ear, you’re okay. Your life, you’re at choice with life. That’s the thing I never knew I that’s the thing I that absolutely blew my mind. I never knew I was free to make choices in life. I never knew that I was running my life. Like I, I get to make a choice left or right. I get to say I like this. I don’t like this, I want this. I don’t want this. I never I just never knew that I created my life. I thought my life happened. And I held on for dear life. Now, if we go really deeply spiritual, I really know actually, life does happen that way. And we pretend we’re a choice. But the first step is actually taking responsibility for my life. And that I get to create it. I never knew that. And that’s, that’s a game. That’s the freedom. Oh my god, I make my life. That’s freedom. So that’s what I would whisper to my younger self.

Achim Nowak  36:14

Well, if we take what you just said, I understand it can be weird to give to whisper to our younger selves. But I’m going to shamelessly last question and ask you to whisper to our, any of our fourth act listeners who might say, Oh, I’m, I’m just turning 60 Like Mark In and I’m impressed with that he has a full new goal. He’s excited about it. It’s an it comes from the right place. You know, it’s not the old market wants to make a million dollars. He’s clear about how he wants to grow and expand and learn things. It sounds great, but it can I don’t know if I have that in me or that would just terrify me. What would you say to somebody who was entering therefore the act around exploring other options, dreams? What’s your message to them?

Mark J. Silverman  36:59

Start small, start really small. Start with, you know, you’ll change your career. Take, oh my god, you know, I really always wanted to cook Asian food. Take an Asian cooking class, right? Or, you know, I really feel like I want to get my hands on some paints. You know, I want to paint, set up a little corner in your basement and start painting, you don’t have to change your whole life. My whisper would be you get to do and have the things that you want to do in half. It’s that’s the dirty little secret about life. And if you start small, and you start to listen, you won’t scare yourself back into your box. Because if you’re like, Well, I always I actually really want to leave my spouse, and I want to go weave baskets in Bermuda, that’s big, you’re going to shut that shit down too quickly. Start small, start with a contemplation and just start to see, you know, I’m really interested in this, I’d like this. I’m, you know, I’m going to go watch a TED talk or go to a lecture on such and such. And then you start to find your juice, you start to find the things that really lights you up. And they’re there. I promise you and often I there’s so many people I meet in their 50s and 60s, who don’t think that there’s anything any passion left? They don’t they just think it’s gone. It’s over. It’s done. Right? And it’s there. You just don’t allow yourself to look because it’s too dangerous. So start small.

Achim Nowak  38:24

I’m sure some of our listeners want to learn more about you and what you do when you’re just shifting brands, identities websites, but we’re gonna release this Christmas time so Christmas time, where do people find you Mark?

Mark J. Silverman  38:38

Mark J Mark the letter J That’s where you can find me that’s where my website is. That’s where you’ll find the mastering midlife podcast next year. The podcast that you’re going to be on is going to be called Mastering overwhelm. Instead of mastering midlife, the book will come out next year. Only 10s confront your to do list. Transform Your Life is out now you can go to Amazon and get that so that’s how you can find me I’m on all the socials have a YouTube channel. I’m everywhere. I for an introvert I am.

Achim Nowak  39:09

Thank you for the gift of this conversation, have a marvelous holiday season and

Mark J. Silverman  39:14

oh my god, I can’t wait to turn the tables on you. So this is gonna that’s gonna be fun.

Achim Nowak  39:19

I look forward to it. In the meantime, be well,

Mark J. Silverman  39:22

thank you. Thank you for having me.

Achim Nowak  39:25

Like what you heard, please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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