Season 1
45 Minutes

Ep.1 | Tom Asacker | What if the Stories You Tell Yourself Are All WRONG?

My Fourth Act - EP.1 - Tom Asacker
Tom Asacker, 64, is often described as a creative force, albeit a wayward one. The acclaimed author of beloved business books such as “The Business of Belief,” “Sandbox Wisdom” and “I am Keats,” Asacker speaks about radically new practices and ideas for success in times of uncertainty and stress.

Tom Asacker, 64, is often described as a creative force, albeit a wayward one. The acclaimed author of beloved business books such as “The Business of Belief,” “Sandbox Wisdom” and “I am Keats,” Asacker speaks about radically new practices and ideas for success in times of uncertainty and stress. He is a sought-after global Keynote Speaker and an Advisor to both businesses and humans. Asacker forcefully questions the status quo in all aspects of life.


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Tom Asacker, Achim Nowak

Tom Asacker  00:00

I can’t tolerate and hold back. Anything where I feel like I’m not being me. Yeah, when that inner self becomes repressed, I just I blow I go a different direction. It just, it’s, it’s wired in me.

Achim Nowak  00:17

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 that I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected for tax, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Well, let’s get started. I am thrilled to welcome Tom a sec or to the mind fourth act podcast. Tom is the author of some beloved business books, sandbox wisdom, the business of belief, and I am keeps. These are books I have reread often and simply adore. Calm is a sought after public speaker, a provocative business thinker. He is an advisor to businesses and humans. And most importantly, perhaps Thomas, someone who fiercely questions the status quo. I can’t think of having a better a conversation partner. Welcome, Tom.

Tom Asacker  01:34

Keen, thank you. It’s great to be

Achim Nowak  01:36

here with you. wonderful to have you. I’m interested in the stuff that changes how we do life. And I want to ask you some questions to walk us into this conversations and a good place to start can be you know, when you were a young boy or a teenager? What What were your dreams for yourself? Who did you want to be?

Tom Asacker  02:06

Well, you’re probably going to find this answer. A bit unusual. Hakeem and because if by your question, you mean, kind of a vision of the future, and I’m the central character, and it’s some kind of cinematic mental story and all that. I honestly don’t think I had any dreams or aspirations. In fact, I distinctly remember, as a young, young boy teenager, I was always totally absorbed in whatever was going on in the moment. And by that, I mean, if I was walking someplace to school, I wasn’t daydreaming about the future. I was interested in why there were holes in the trees, or why blade of grass, pushed through the sidewalk, or I would estimate the number of steps between telephone poles. I mean, I was just, I was always doing something in the moment. And then when I was with people, the same thing was happening to me, I was intrigued by Why are these people doing and saying the things they’re doing that the dynamics of groups, and whether these behaviors of people, were creating good experiences, bad experiences, I was always intrigued by that, what the goings on of individuals and groups. And if I was, if I weren’t in these situations with people in groups, I was intrigued by the things around me. Just I never thought about the Honestly, I chose my major in college, because I asked a friend of mine what he was going to major in, and he said economics, I said, that sounds good to me. I just picked it because he said he was gonna do it.

Achim Nowak  04:00

everything you just said make complete sense to me, Tom. And I’m curious about, you know, whether we like it or not, you know, people often ask us those annoying questions, which is, what do you want to do with your life? What do you want to it? Whether we ask it ourselves or not? So when mom and dad asked you those questions, and when people did, how did Tom answer those questions?

Tom Asacker  04:27

That’s a good one. Because look, I think about it today. People could if they wanted to, they could still ask me what do I want to be when I grow up? Because I don’t I never think about the being. I’m always thinking about the art, even really not focusing on it, but it’s just how my brain is operating. It’s the doing that that interests me. What’s interesting right now what’s going on? What needs to be solved? Where are the problems? What what looks like fun? I don’t ever think about becoming or being, it’s always just something inside me that wants out. Whatever it is, and I’m trying to, you know, expand the soil around that plant and let it go wherever it wants to go, you know?

Achim Nowak  05:18

So I my immediate thought, as you say it that way, Thomas, that must have driven a bunch of people around you crazy. Am I wrong in thinking that way or not?

Tom Asacker  05:29

Well, it’s certainly, like I was the first in my family in a large in a large extended family to go to college. Right. And it took a lot for them to help me. Help put me through college. It certainly drove my father crazy, because I can tell you what happened is I was originally Yes, sure. I majored in economics. But I took every course that I could take outside of my major was art. And I wanted to be an artist, that in a bad way, and my father used to say to me, Well, how are you going to make a living being artists? How are you going to do that? And I couldn’t answer his question. So I continued to pursue Economics and Business Management. But so that relieved him a little bit. But then when I graduated from school, I had an opportunity to leave college and become a professional magician. Mm hmm. And that just drove that just drove him crazy, right. So here’s the economics major. And he would introduce me to his friends, he would say, here’s my college graduate son, he’s he spent four years in college, and now he’s a clown, but something he did, he would just say crazy things, because it was disrupting his story. Yeah, the character I wasn’t his story, wasn’t mapping what his brain was imagining. And like, you had created a little irritation, you know,

Achim Nowak  06:52

I have no doubts. And I have a hunch many of our listeners have had similar experiences, right? I we’re gonna get to where Tom is, now, because your focus is on the now and then the being, as you said, but you’ve had an interesting life. And I just want to invoke a few stories about how you got to the now and you use this language when you describe your own story on your website. So this is top languages you I’m paraphrasing, but as I spent, I spent a bunch of years working in the trenches use that phrase, in the trenches, you’re talking about. Having had executive positions in a fortune 550 company, you were the owner, and an executive of an electronics manufacturer, you’re co founded, and with a CEO of a medical device company. So these are all when I hear that I go. Some of that was very traditional business roles. Some of it was very entrepreneurial. I hear that God Tom’s a risk taker. And because so much else has happened in your life afterwards, if you think of that time. And if you had to just think of a moment or two that stand out as well, you go either Gosh, this, this is what I loved being Tom, or what Tom was doing the time of this, this friggin drove me crazy, one way or another, like what are some moments that stand out from? Because trenches, to me is a warlike metaphor, right? I go to war when I hear that phrase. So what comes to mind? Tom, when you think of that time in your life?

Tom Asacker  08:37

Well, I love the way you you froze it, while you phrased it, where you said that what what turned Tom on, but what drove Tom crazy. Interestingly, all of those roles, I think every particular role that I’ve taken on in life has started with me being turned on to solve some kind of problems to make something better, whatever, it doesn’t matter what it is. I remember once I had I had a part time job in a summer. And they had me like putting together cardboard boxes, you know, stapling. And I just wanted to make it better. So I turned it into a game with these other people who can make the most cardboard boxes, make them the most square. I just wanted to make whatever it was better. So when I had the executive role that was with General Electric, I spent 10 years with them in and out of corporate management positions. I went through all of the training at GE. And that was great. As long as I felt like I was making things better. I was happy. The minute I didn’t feel that that was happening anymore, either the corporate dynamics, the environment, the experience, whatever it was, then I had to leave and that happened. I ended up just leaving. You know, I called it a vision collision. And I moved on to another thing, which was the medical device company. Yeah. Which the which, again, how can I solve some problems and improve people’s lives with these medical products. And I mean, I was so turned on by this, that nothing could stop me. And we were growing like crazy. And it was just wonderful. We were helping people. And then the partners wanted to start taking cash out, they didn’t want to invest in new product development. It looked like it wasn’t a game for them of improving people’s lives anymore. It was a game of lining their pockets. And again, another vision collision for me. So I said, I’m out and I left again. So that seems to be what happens with me is I go into something, and I see something that can really be changed to make things better. And then I bump into people that don’t want that they look they’re looking to someone once said to me, I was talking to him about writing a screenplay for a movie and I and he said, Is it going to be made? I said, I don’t know, and what’s the ROI of it, and I said, and he said, is the juice worth the squeeze. And I had never heard that every life. And I thought about it. And I came, here’s the thing with me, I want to have a great life squeezing, I don’t care about the juice. And as soon as people focus on the juice first, instead of the squeeze, I’m out, I’m off to something else.

Achim Nowak  11:39

A couple of things really strike me as I’m listening to you, you use the word turned on a lot. So and this is great, because we’re going to talk about fourth act and later stage in life choices and in what I’m hearing from you, and I’m going to test this because many people don’t do it, that when you stop being turned on, you got the hell out of there. And we all know many people who don’t do that, right. So how long did it take you to know like, shit, I’m not turned on anymore. And I need to get out of here. Like how describe their process to us?

Tom Asacker  12:19

I’m not so sure there’s a process because I remember hearing from a really good friend of mine at GE, about the incident that caused me to leave there. Yeah. That we were in some meeting all of the owners and directors and executives was sitting in a meeting. And it just all I could hear was blah, blah, blah. And I had and and this had been going on for a while. And I just, I couldn’t take it anymore. And he said to me that I had a meltdown. He said that I stood up and started telling everybody that they were idiots. And he said, he said you completely lost it. And I remember I don’t remember losing it. Like that whole moment. There’s a blur. But I remember after the meeting, the CEO called me into his office. And he said that, do you think you can run this company better than me? And I said, Yes, I do. But it was that it was that simple. And I was out of there by next week, you know? So I think what happens is this feeling starts bubbling up, and then it just moves me eventually it just moves me. I don’t know. I can’t tolerate and hold back. Anything where I feel like I’m not being me. Yeah. When that inner self becomes repressed, I just I blow I go a different direction. It just, it’s, it’s wired in me. That’s just how I am and I don’t ever look at it as a risk. Yeah, no, I know what you say that I’m a risk taker. I’m not a risk taker. I really am not. Right. I but I because I think the biggest risk is me not doing what it is inside of me that I want to do. That’s the risk that scares me to death.

Achim Nowak  14:03

But if we take the word risk off the table, and I love the way you said that is because the deeper part is and it’s to me is an almost spiritual thing, which is your soul knows it needs to move on. And, and you you decide to honor that yearning. Now that’s the deeper part over whatever meanings might be involved in the place of employment that you have at the time right?

Tom Asacker  14:32


Achim Nowak  14:34

I want to go to because you’re a prolific author, but there’s something about writing your first book when we’ve never written one. Your first book is beautiful book called sandbox wisdom. And I want to mention this because a lot of people may be listening going, gosh, I’ve always wanted to write a book. Or people if some people listen to us are in the consultant Coaching professionals say Oh, my business advisor says I have to write a book. I don’t feel like it dammit. But they tell me I should write a book. First of all, I want to say I, because I love your books, I think if you as a true writer, not a writer who writes marketing vehicles, so I want to just say this for our listening audience. But describe to us the moment of when you go, how did that book come out? And how did you know that? You had to write the book, you had to finish the book? Just tell us that story. I’m genuinely curious.

Tom Asacker  15:37

Yeah. So so it’s similar to what you said before regarding my soul, my inner Spirit speaks and I don’t really rational, I don’t look to find any kind of chinks in that voice. I don’t I don’t think it talks. I do it. Whatever it is, that’s just what happens to me. So when I had that vision collision, which is key, and I left, I said, That’s it, I’m done. I’m gone, whatever. And I remember I’m sitting at my breakfast table. Now I’m unemployed. It’s probably around mid morning, closer to noon. And I’m staring down into a cup of coffee, right? In an old raggedy bathrobe. And I just I’m holding my head, my eyes shut. And I look up and I see my youngest daughter and she, she’s eating a bowl of cereal. And she’s so lit up by the spoon in her hand. And I’m looking, I’m watching her and I said to Andrea, what do you do with the spoon? And she’s turning it around, and her eyebrows are popping up. But she’s she said, Daddy, when I look at the spoon this way. I’m right side up. But if I turn it around, I’m upside down. How come? Okay, immediately. I could feel it, I could feel it getting ready to flow out of my mouth. I was getting ready to say to her concave and convex. And I said, Wait a minute. Those are just terms that there’s no there’s no information in that those are words. Yeah. And I realized, I don’t know why I cannot explain to this young person why. And all of a sudden a connection hit me. And I realized that people in business used all kinds of big words, my 10 years in GE, they didn’t even understand what those words meant. They didn’t understand the real intricacies of why people do what they do, how they were in business, how we’re making money, why customers were staying loyal, none of it. So I said, Okay, I’m gonna write a book, I don’t even know how this came out. In my head. I said, I’m gonna write a book about a CEO who loses his way in business and in his life, he loses his passion, his creativity. And by chance, he has an experience with this little girl and through her eyes, rediscovers how to open his mind, open his eyes, be curious, be creative, be compassionate. I said, I’m going to write this I’m going to call it sandbox wisdom. I had, I had all this stuff going on in my head, I said, I’m gonna have on the cover a pair of sneakers in a business shoes next to each other. And then I went out and I started to do this thing. And there was no self publishing, there was no Amazon. Nothing.

Achim Nowak  18:36

And, and because big, just just to make clear, because you’re an old guy who’s been around before, I just want to make this clear for our listeners.

Tom Asacker  18:43

I think I’m in the sixth or seventh. So So I said, well, somebody must be able to print books. Yeah. So I went out, I found somebody that could print books. I did not take the advice of any of these publishers. One publisher said it’s too long. And it was like 100 and something pages. Another one said it’s too short. I was getting information from everybody. I said the heck with this. I went and printed 1000s of copies. My wife is saying, look, this is our money that we have left here. And you’re spending it and we’ve got books stacking up now. What are you doing? I said, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m doing it. It doesn’t matter. And then I started reading things that CEOs would write and I went, Oh, he seems to get it. And I pack these things and envelopes, wrote a little card and sent them out to all the CEOs. Yeah, I came the next thing you know, I’m getting I’m getting phone calls, all from all over the place, come out and talk to our people about this book. And I wasn’t a speaker, I’d never spoken in my life. That’s how it happened. It was just I poured my energy into the world. It connected with people that I had no idea that it would and it changed the trajectory of my life.

Achim Nowak  20:00

What what? I know you I need to say this but what I didn’t know this story and what strikes me right now is that the topic was sandbox wisdom and your actions took you into your own little sandbox, right? Not just the writing of the book. I mean, you were the book was the sandbox, and what unfolded was the sandbox, because you were willing to play in the sandbox for yourself?

Tom Asacker  20:27

No, it’s beautiful. I was I was willing to play I was willing to let go. Yeah. Play.

Achim Nowak  20:35

I have to mention the book that you’re probably best known for. And that’s the book that that I and that you have no idea how many people I’ve told her read that book, I just want to say that the business of belief. It’s, it’s a beloved book, it’s been read all over the world. It’s a book about this is my take on it. And please correct me on it. It’s about deconstructing all the shit we tell ourselves. It’s the beginning of challenging all the stories we tell ourselves that we think are sacred. That’s a Kim’s interpretation, which could be in the zoo, and only one that actually matters. Because that’s the impact of your book on my life. But anything you want to tell us about how that book came about? And what prompted you to, to write a little black book called The business of belief?

Tom Asacker  21:39

Yeah, so I’ve discovered that there’s a pattern here with me. So here’s what and this is through the through my experiences of writing these books. So this is voice inside of me that let me tell you how I think it works. Yeah. So I want to understand the world. I just, I just can’t help it. It’s just something that all is just my head is always wondering what’s going on? Why do they say that? Why do people do that? Who’s doing this? That doesn’t make sense. It’s just constantly on looking for reasons connections, to improve my own experiences, my own life and other people’s if I can, right? So if I see anything that’s like a misunderstanding of the world, and it’s ruining people’s lives, so it’s having some detrimental effect, then my frustration level rises. That’s how sandbox wisdom came out. I said, Look, these people don’t even know what they’re talking about. Let me see if I can boil it down here. And I do that by writing a book. That’s how that comes out of me. So I’m traveling around, I’m giving talks to people, businesses, about how to improve their connections with each other and with their audiences. And I had a return visit to a big client, after spending a lot of time a year earlier on strategy. During this returned, visit, I’m sitting at the front table with the CEO, you’ve seen these big meeting rooms, where everybody now presents what they came up with. Yeah, and I’m watching it. And it was opposite of what I taught them a year. And I couldn’t even believe it, right. So I let them do their presentation. And then I turned to the seat CEO. And I said, I have to ask you a question. And you know, okay, what is it? Tom? Look, I was here a year earlier, working with everyone here. And everyone told me they understood exactly what I was talking about in the direction strategies, tactics. And CEO, you know, yeah, you’re right. They understood. And I said, Well, how come they all did the complete opposite? I feel like, I feel like I failed or something. And here’s the response. I got. Tom, you have to realize when you left, they had to go back to their jobs. And then I looked in this person’s eyes, and I could see that’s the end of discussion now. So I got on the plane, I come home, I’m sitting at my desk, and it happened, that inner voice went, yeah, the inner voice was calling me calling me out. Like, look, you’re traveling around giving talks, getting it getting a lot of money from people, and it’s having no effect at all. Right? You’re, you’re a waste you’re wasting, you’re wasting your time, you know, and, and then my brain said, Yeah, but what just happened didn’t make sense. How can people understand something, but not do it? So that was it. My brain went off in this big place that said, If understanding is not what moves people to make change, what is it what is the thing that does it and I spent almost a year teasing out this concept and I found out that this this thing called belief, and it’s a really interesting concept, and that’s why wrote that book, the business of belief, to try to get it across to people. Look, you don’t make decisions based on your understanding, feed your head with as much information as you want. That’s not what drives you’re not a computer. That’s not what moves you to make decisions. It’s not input in output out. That’s not how it works. And so that’s what that book is to help people, how to change organizations, how to change their own lives, whatever, by understanding how their own minds operating.

Achim Nowak  25:33

Here’s a word from our sponsor. That’s me, I invite you to check out my fourth There’s a whole other world of fourth act conversations going on, beyond this podcast, my fourth, please take a look. If we go a little closer to the present time, then then you wrote a book that I went like, shoot, this doesn’t match my idea of who Tom is. And I know I’m not the only one had the reaction. And that’s the book called I Am Keats. And I’m raising this question for you. But for all of us. If I mischaracterizing what I’m saying or the way I experienced what happened, then it’s just my thing. But we all have a sense of my sense was Thomas Iker has written this wonderful books about how people can look at how they behave in some business and socio economic structures. You know, he can help businesses be better at this, he can help clarify brands, he flies all over the world to help people do this stuff. And then I read I am Keith, and it was like, you just jumped off a cliff.

Tom Asacker  26:50

My wings on the way down, right? So and you were,

Achim Nowak  26:54

I don’t know, blade 50s. or close to 60. When you wrote that book, in the middle of a very successful career speaking, consulting, helping businesses out based on some marvelous writing, you’re done. So what prompted you to write something that I, and I think some of your traditional fans thought, well, this isn’t a tom massacre book. So where did that come from? Tell us please.

Tom Asacker  27:26

Yeah. So because because I’m, I can deconstruct this for you and say, okay, maybe I’m getting it right. Maybe I’m not getting it, right. Because I’ve never really been interested in building any kind of identity. Like I said, I get moved by what’s going on around me. I don’t care what it was I was doing. I can be a magician. I can be a you know, economics major, I can work at GE, it doesn’t matter to me. So at this particular time in my life, I mean, I was feeling stuck. Frankly, I wasn’t thinking that I was stuck. But I was feeling I was stuck, for sure. And I remember I had met a friend of mine for breakfast, my business attorney, and we were just chatting about our children are growing children how they’re doing. And he said that his grown child, his son, his youngest, is stuck at home. So smart, that there’s no reasoning with him. And it kind of felt like me a little bit, right, I felt stuck. But I couldn’t think my way out of my own stuckness my own head was my enemy at that point, because I was too smart. What were you gonna do tell me, I’ve seen it all what we you couldn’t help me. And I thought to myself, I think I said it out loud to him. I said, you know, that then this was after studying belief and how beliefs are formed. He said, you know, the only thing keeping him stuck is his memory. If you could wipe out his memory, we could start him fresh, and he could become the possibilities are limitless. And he just looked at me and like, smiled and said, because he knows I’m insane. I say crazy things I got in my car. And here it happened again, I got this crazy idea. That would make a great premise for a movie, where you have two loved ones. One of them is just depressed a slacker, whatever really bright person but can’t get out of their own way has an accident, loses their memory and the other loved one decides to tell them a different story of who they are. Kind of rewrite their whole story because they didn’t remember it anyway. And then off, they go into some future and then how would that future play out? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing? And I said, I’m going to go do this. I had this was like writing a book again for us. I had no idea what I was doing. I had to go hire consultants in Hollywood to help me write a screenplay. I got all jammed up. I got it. A partner helping you with this thing. It took years, and I’m still trying to get it made into a movie. But while I’m writing the screenplay, I remember that there’s a certain thing that happens in movies where if something slows way down in this drama, it bores people. And in a lot of cases, Dad will tune it out, right? So there’s this thing, we have to keep it going keep the movement and the drama movement, really every scene. So there was a scene where it kind of stalled. And my, my writing partner said to me, Hey, I know what we should do in this scene. And we had this character fill in the scene. And I said, What? And she said, we should have filled do this. And it was such an out of character thing for this film guy to do that I lashed out at her. I said, What are you You’re out of your mind? I use worse words than that. I said, Phil would never do that. And then I had an out of body experience, like one of these LSD trip things. Yeah. I felt myself leave my body and look at myself saying, Phil would never do that. And I thought, What in the hell does that mean? Yeah, I had a visceral reaction to changing the story of a made up character. And then I said, if I had a reaction, yeah, imagine how hard it is for human beings who think their characters to change their stories to do what they want to do with their life. Like you said, I went and wrote something completely out of character, quote, unquote, right? And it affected people, people. But what’s he doing? Is he alright, why isn’t he doing this business stuff anymore? And it’s the same thing with all of us. We have this. And that’s the resistance of the fourth act. Yeah. Which is, Hey, I can do anything I want to do. Yeah, what am I resisting for? What’s going on in my mind. So that’s why I wrote that book. I am Keats, which is to show people what I discovered, to try to help them realize you are not a character any fictional fictional story. You’re the you’re the energy of the universe and human form, do it turns you on, do what will make a difference in people’s lives.

Achim Nowak  32:29

I love how we went back to turns you on.

Tom Asacker  32:32

That was good.

Achim Nowak  32:35

I also, you also did something that as far as I know, you hadn’t done before you were so moved by. I hate using this phrase because this this stuff, sometimes get trivialized. But, but it’s, you know, how we don’t even allow ourselves to be out of character. And you’re basically saying, like, screw this O’Reilly. Like, it’s time to be out of character. And you felt so strongly about it, you created a video series, where you have a program around this and what prompted you to go that far with it? Because you, you were speaking, you could have just spoken about it right? You could have just done a new speaking tour, where you talk about like Star being out of character, dammit. But you actually created a program around it, which I also still think is so unlike the old Tom massacre, so tell tell me about that.

Tom Asacker  33:38

Well, once that little book went out, and listen, that book, I am keys when I wrote that. I don’t remember honestly, how I even wrote it. Yeah, like I didn’t sit down and outline anything. It just, it just started coming out. And that was again, that was my writing partner saying, look, take these ideas and just put them down on piece of paper that you’re getting, while we’re writing the screenplay, these ideas about life, the similarities between living in a movie in a fictional movie in your head and what movies actually do to us. And after that book came out, I started getting emails from people, they saying, Oh, I feel something in

Achim Nowak  34:19

here. But I can’t put

Tom Asacker  34:21

my finger on it. Can you explain this? Can you explain that? And I’m sitting down, I got like a list of notes that people want explanations behind all this. Yeah. So I said, I gotta explain this now. And I thought about it. And if I were to explain it in a book, it was like 100,000 word book. No one was going to read it. So I said, you know what I’ll do? I’ll explain it via video. I’ll write down all my answers to every question that has come in. And I’ll create a beginning to end video series of what happened to us. How do we get conditioned to believe we’ll characters in these little movies who did it To us, how can we get out of it? What’s going to happen when we start trying to escape from that limiting story? And off we go into the series. Now it came. What’s funny is, now that the series is out there, and hundreds of people have gone through, and it’s free on YouTube now. I’m getting questions about that. So now I’m back into writing another little book, called your brain on story, to try to explain to people look, I’ll even make it simpler still, here’s what’s going on. So that’s kind of my, my new passion is trying to help people realize, as George Lucas once said, about humans, that we live in cages with the door wide open. Yeah, we’re doing it. It’s not being done to us. We feel that it’s being done to us, but it’s not. It’s a subconscious cage. And we are locking ourselves in it. And that cage is this hypnotic narrative identity, the story of, you know, who I am is who I was. Yeah, no, that’s not true. And I know that that’s what you’re trying to help people understand is, look, that’s done. Be what you want to be, be what you want to be do what you want to do help however you think you uniquely can help the world. Let’s go do this together. That’s what I want to do, too.

Achim Nowak  36:37

I want to ask a question that I feel you perhaps have already answered and what you just said. But and one thing that strikes me as we were talking, when we started, and I asked you about what what, what did what did young Tom want to do and be? And what strikes me as you’re describing what you’ve done, it’s young Tom has actually been pretty consistent,

Tom Asacker  36:59

is what I’m hearing

Achim Nowak  37:01

as your journey. But if you from the vantage point of a a wiser, older version of young Tom, if he were to whisper anything into his here, ears that you think might be helpful? What would you want to say to young Tom, that might help him along the

Tom Asacker  37:20

way? I probably would have said, I would have said, Tom, when you hear that inner voice, you’re going to doubt it. And you’re going to you’re going to be afraid. And you’re going to worry what other people think, especially people that you love in your life. Don’t, don’t be afraid. Don’t worry what they think. Because frankly, if they love you, what they want you to do is to be happy. They want you to do what you want to do with your life if they truly love you. So don’t be afraid, follow that inner voice. And I think if I had, because I did, right, but I made some missteps because I got nervous, I was afraid what’s going to happen? If but I could have done everything that I’ve done up to this date. Without that inner stress of being my authentic self, I could have done it in a loose way, instead of trying to fight through that resistance. But I don’t know, I don’t I’m not even sure that young people can be taught that. Yeah, I don’t know if you can teach somebody how to let go of that resistance. I think you got to fight it, in order to become your authentic self. But I don’t know, that’s just something that’s been running through my brain.

Achim Nowak  38:50

We have lots of different listeners. But but the fourth act is about folks who, you know, if we use the metaphor of a five act play, we’ve we’ve worked out some of the resistance, tension and plain old shit that we create for ourselves. And maybe we see the we see a little better that the doors were open all along. What else what else besides what you’ve already said, which was very generous. Would you say to folks maybe folks in their 60s and 70s because lots of stories about how what that part of the life could look like you know, there’s a whole industry around supporting what what that life could look like for people. And given your especially given your insights from Iam kids, what what are the words of wisdom would you have around that?

Tom Asacker  39:51

Well, look, I know that you know this. Because you know, you you you keep your pulse on what’s happening. And the changes that are occurring over the next 10 years. Right? So when we get to 2030, this over 60 population is going to dominate in this country, we’re gonna well have a larger number of people than any other cohort out there. And the idea in the past where you retired, and then you played golf for 10 years, that’s gone, because you could live to be 95. Now, or 100? Who knows what we’re gonna live to? Yeah, I don’t know about you. And no, I don’t, I think it was Mark Twain called golf, a long walk ruined. But I don’t want to be playing golf for 30 years. That’s not what I want to do. I want to have a meaningful impact. I want to get up and do something that excites me. You know, I want to be caring, but at the same time, courageous, and not worry what other people think about me, you know, so I want to do my passionate work, and I want to do it with grace. I don’t want any more drama. I walk away from drama when I see it. It’s not interesting to me anymore. Yeah. But that’s available to everyone. Yeah, I think it was a quote him off. And it was an inventor called Steven Levy. And he was like this prolific inventor. And they asked him, How does he come up with these ideas? And he says, Oh, it’s simple. When I hear someone curse, it’s assigned to invent something. Guess what, from from the standpoint of people that are looking to do something in the world, there’s a lot of cursing going on. There’s a lot of things that we can do to improve the world as, as individuals, and that’s what I’d like to see people put their energy into instead of debating. It’s like everyone wants to debate talk, is we need more people to do and our generation. And I don’t want to, you know, I don’t want to build us up too far, obviously, because you know, we’re here, aren’t we this so this, we created a lot of this as well. But we have a different perspective on the world and of life. We weren’t walking around with computers in our pockets back in the day, right? We weren’t, we didn’t have our heads in these video games. We weren’t on Twitter all day long arguing with people, we were out doing things, you know, we were out, creating our own little plays in the backyard, or little forts out in the woods. So we know what it is like to engage with people and to create, we need to look at the world today. Is that playground for us? Yeah. And say, What’s turning me on? What do I want to go improve? What do I want to work on, and go find some like minded people. And believe me, the energy that comes from that process, is what I really enjoy. I’d like to get everybody to live their fourth act, you know, don’t go through one, two, and three, let’s start right off and be that way.

Achim Nowak  43:00

And it’s a beautiful note to end this conversation on. Because as I listen to your story, in many ways, you you you did a lot of that in your 20s and 30s, and 40s. And I guess I’m still struck by the fact that you knew when to leave, you know, because many of us don’t. And it’s an honor to speak with you How, how do our listeners find out more about you if you had to direct them towards social media or sites? Where should we go?

Tom Asacker  43:37

Yeah, interestingly, because I’ve checked this out to see what would happen I think I’m the only Tom Asacker in the world. So So if the way My name is spelled, so if you go into Google and you put Tom and then Asacker is like, it sounds a sack, and then er, a ck er, if you Google that, things will pop up. My TED talk will pop up. I am Keats. The program, how to be alive will pop up that that’s on YouTubes you can get to it from how to be But yeah, I’m there. I mean, Google me email me I respond, believe it or not, I respond to every email because no one ever emails me the minute they start emailing, I can’t offer that anymore. So

Achim Nowak  44:26

thank you, Tom. I’ll mention your website,, where you can access all the different things you do, including the the video program you mentioned. It was a pleasure. Thank you for chatting with me.

Tom Asacker  44:43

Thank you very much. You’re doing great work, and I’m proud to be a part of the fourth act. Thank you. Bye, bye.

Achim Nowak  44:54

Like what you heard, please go to my fourth and stuff. 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.




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