Ryan Berman talks to thought leaders from around the globe in business, sports and entertainment to uncover what it means to be courageous in today's world.

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The Courageous Podcast with Ryan Berman and guest Eason Yang

Eason Yang – Founder & Design Director at NED

Eason Yang was on top of his game in his career until cancer shattered his life at the age of 33. But you know what they say about tough times—they reveal the toughest people. Instead of letting the cancer blues bring him down, Eason willed his way into social entrepreneurship and birthed NED (Not Entirely Dead) to take on the biased systems that put cancer survivors and career gaps in a bind. Within just 18 months of its launch, Eason bagged the AIGA Social Design Award in 2022 and even snatched the prestigious Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas award in 2023.

Episode Notes

In a candid and empowering conversation centered on confronting fear amidst adversity, Eason shares with Ryan his remarkable two-year journey battling cancer head-on. He recounts the incredible tale of how he connected with Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, the esteemed physician of Lance Armstrong, through a daring cold call. Their conversation delves into Eason’s profound motivation for founding NED— and how what once felt like a solitary struggle, a “you vs. you” battle, now transforms into a unifying force, bringing people with a common cause together.

[00:00:00] Ryan: All right, I gotta admit I love I love my music. I love the podcast music. It's And and I wanted to like give a quick shout out before My guests today and I kind of take off and jam to my man ben zebelman that ben is. First of all, he's ridiculously talented composer. He's a great overall guy. We went to college together, which is how I Found him.

[00:00:27] I was like, he's done stuff for me forever and just like an overall good dude. So if you do ever need a composer, by the way, this is hashtag not an ad. He's not paying me. I don't even think he knows it's coming. I just wanted to give him some love cause I love the music so much. And uh, so thanks Ben. Go check out benzebelman.

[00:00:46] com. Okay. Shameless plug that he doesn't know. Over with but just I love it so much just just kicks us off the right way now My guests who had to sit through that I'm pumped you're smiling. So I'm assuming you like the music too 

[00:01:00] Eason: Yeah, it's you know, it's like the Navy SEALs feeling you kind of expect.

[00:01:06] Okay, this is an American story 

[00:01:08] Ryan: Yeah, I'll take that. Yeah. Okay. Well, well don't you think your story is an American story? 

[00:01:13] Eason: Um, I think so a part of it. Yeah.

[00:01:16] Ryan: We're going to get into this. What a great, what a great way to kick this thing off. Hey, let's also give a second shout out to our mutual friend, Dave Holloway, who thought we would get along and boy, was he right?

[00:01:29] I've really enjoyed getting to learn your story, Eason. And, uh, you know, we're, we're both living on the same side of the brain and, um. And we're both trying to figure out a ways to make it a dent and a difference. I wonder though, look, my negative blessing, I like that term. My, my negative blessing was very different than yours.

[00:01:55] Now at the time mine felt intense because I was like a 28 year old, you know, kid in New York that was let go from a big, bad, be a myth of an agency. And I felt like my world had ended. And I remember feeling very. Like pissed off meets scared as I was leaving that building, but like your negative blessing, I mean, it really is a life or death negative blessing.

[00:02:24] Can you share a little bit about your, your negative blessing in your story? 

[00:02:29] Eason: Yeah. Um, um, we're, you know, I started with, I have, uh, you know, quite a few, a few of those, um, I'm a cancer survivor first off. So I guess, you know, probably. You know, the, the, the most intense, um, negative blessing I got was a few years ago.

[00:02:48] Um, I was diagnosed the very last day of 2016. I was sitting in a pretty big job, uh, in a tech company in Silicon Valley. I got diagnosed the day and, you know, the entire family, um, we just freaked out. We basically shit our pants. I mean, is this going to be censored or? 

[00:03:09] Ryan: Come on, brother. We're going to keep it real here.

[00:03:10] All good. 

[00:03:11] Eason: Right. And, you know, we, we were just scared to death and no one knew what to do. And I had to quit my job the next day. I didn't tell anyone what was going on because I didn't even know how to start that conversation. But I just knew, like, I wanted to live. I wanted to save my life. So I had to focus on this for a while.

[00:03:32] And that was also a pretty, well, um, I hate to use the word interesting, but it was a very Just tricky timing. My wife was going to give birth to our daughter in seven days and it turned out I actually had my First surgery scheduled in six days. So we completely missed each other's, you know, big moments in our lives and yeah ever since that the end of 2016 our life, you know, just turned upside down for quite a few years and And that's, you know, how everything started.

[00:04:12] Ryan: I'm curious what, you said it was the last day of the year. So were you just feeling sick? I mean like, that's sort of a week where, I mean, unless you have to go anywhere, it's kind of time just to chill, right? 

[00:04:26] Eason: Yeah, well, true. Um, but, you know, when you actually felt a, a, a lump, you know, in your body and, It went in, and that was also the first time we heard the, you know, word cancer, and that was also the first time I would actually connect the two terms, the cancer and tumor, because the doctor used the term tumor in the beginning.

[00:04:56] And we got confused and we asked the question. It was very silly, you know, um, looking back, we asked the doctor, what do you mean tumor? Is that the same thing with cancer? We asked all these silly questions and the doctor was pretty chill. Um, he was like, yeah, you know, that's the thing we're talking about.

[00:05:16] Ryan: So you're like trying to put this in your brain on like, this isn't how exactly how I thought I would learn that I have cancer. 

[00:05:23] Eason: And, you know, and also like coming back to our family story. Everyone, we were just expecting, we were just expecting our child, right, um, our daughter in a few days and we were in this mood like a new chapter of life will actually pan out and this is, you know, something you're actually really looking forward to.

[00:05:53] And then, you know, just like suddenly on the other side, 

[00:05:58] Ryan: uh, seven days later, there's a baby. I'm assuming a baby showed up, boy or girl. 

[00:06:02] Eason: Yeah. Uh, it was a girl. 

[00:06:05] Ryan: Did you feel like you could enjoy, I want to be real careful on this one because she, she may listen one day, right? So 

[00:06:16] Eason: Yeah, when she's 18, maybe, right, right, 

[00:06:18] Ryan: right, right.

[00:06:20] Like, just take us back to that moment. Do you feel like you could sort of compartmentalize the cancer news or no? 

[00:06:29] Eason: No, I couldn't, I guess no one could. And for such a long time, I guess I just turned completely cuckoo, just like mental. I was, you know, just hung up on this idea. Why the timing, you know, and there a message.

[00:06:49] What are you trying to tell me? And, you know, all these things. Um, but no, we couldn't really, you know, figure out anything. We were just, it's a mixed feeling. There's a new life, right? A new chapter of our lives. But also, we were just scared. And by the time, I didn't even know, um, if I was gonna live or, you know, how this gonna, you know, look like for, for us.

[00:07:18] So, yeah, we were just figuring out and, but I'll be honest, like, I, we, I think by the time we didn't even know that was just the beginning of this dark tunnel, you know, we had no idea. 

[00:07:35] Ryan: First of all, I. It's so funny when, when, when stuff happens to us, like we're such meaning making machines that you're like, this must mean something like there must, the universe must be at play.

[00:07:50] So I don't know if you're a religious guy, are you a spiritual guy? 

[00:07:55] Eason: I am, I'm not, I, you know, I, I was born and raised in Beijing, China, so, you know, religion is not a thing, I'm not religious. But I, you know, I could see, cause we briefly mentioned this last week, right? I could see where you were coming and yes, you know, sometimes we were, we were just wondering, like there has to be something, a higher power in the universe trying to deliver a message.

[00:08:24] We just don't know what that is in the moment. 

[00:08:27] Ryan: And at this time you said you're working in Silicon Valley. What were you doing? Where were you working? 

[00:08:33] Eason: Um, I was creative director at Uber. Um, and. Yeah, that was a great job. I was probably, um, that was a dream job for me for a while. Cause, um, you know, I, I loved, um, the mission.

[00:08:49] I love the pace of the company. It was super, super fast, very mission driven. We were building big teams, um, building a lot of products and it was just, it was just going. 

[00:09:03] Ryan: And then how off, how like fast after the diagnosis? Did you leave, I'm assuming you left or you stayed 

[00:09:13] Eason: there? I just left the next day. I didn't, you know, tell people like, you know, why or what was the reason or something.

[00:09:23] But also like the company was in so much change, uh, at the time. So no one was really trying to dig into that. You know, I guess people just assumed, okay, I had my reason. But yeah, it was very, very quick. Um, cause I couldn't even process anything else.

[00:09:41] Ryan: So yeah, taking me through the war, man, like take me through what the next couple of years were like, and from a support system standpoint also, did you feel I mean, like at this point, your wife has a new role called mom, right? First baby, first time to throw on that, right? New label there. So like, what was, what was it like?

[00:10:00] Like, I mean, the next, was it a year battle? Was it a six month battle? Was it a everyday battle over six months?

[00:10:07] Eason: Oh, that's a great question. Actually, we thought, well, I guess. We just didn't understand cancer like everyone else in our society, right? We just didn't understand cancer that much. And I thought I just wanted to kill it as soon as possible.

[00:10:27] So our lives and my life could actually, you know, get back on track. Um, but, you know, it wasn't really that case. I ended up spending two years, um, you know, going through the treatment. And that thing just, you know, kept coming back to me, just gets so annoyed, you know, when it came back, it's like, recurrence, like, again, um, so I ended up staying, uh, spending two years, um, doing all these things.

[00:10:58] And finally, by the end of 2018, um, I was confident, you know, I was honestly, you know, coming out on the other side, um, but yeah, there was a two years battle. Um, and I think my wife and I, we were like, in the partnership, you know, for that three years is we were focusing our, you know, missions, um, like different kind of battle, right?

[00:11:32] Because fighting cancer is very lonely. It's a, it's a lonely battle. It's on your own, even like, you know, the people you know, your family, your friends, they love you, but there's nothing they can actually help you with. It's just you and the disease, you know?

[00:11:49] Ryan: Um, this might be a strange question, but did you, did you talk to your cancer? Like, would you have a convert? Like, would you be like, fuck you cancer? Or like, would you be like, I'm going to beat you cancer or, or what the fuck cancer? Like, what would you say to it? 

[00:12:05] Eason: Um, yeah, there's a lot of, you know, cursing all that.

[00:12:10] Cursing all that's fine. Um, yes, it's just, like I said, I. I had a few times recurrence, and when it came back, I just get more and more annoyed, and at a certain point, I was just like fuck it, I want to end this relationship, you know, you have no chance, I just don't want to see this anymore, I just want my life back, I'm so annoyed at this time, it's not even like The anger or anything, just annoyed.

[00:12:41] Ryan: Um, well, you're just so damn lovable, Eason. You know, that's why this, this thing kept sticking to you. You're just a magnetic personality. Didn't want to leave you or your body. Um, all right. So, you know, we talked about your, your wife's labels, right? Where she went from wife to mom. I mean, you, you have a lot of labels.

[00:13:01] Now too, right? You're a creative director, uh, you know, you're Silicon Valley survivor. That's not a survivor I think you thought I was going to use. Uh, you know, husband, father, how has the, how hard was it for you to wear the label of father? 

[00:13:24] Eason: Um, that was very heavy in the beginning because I didn't even, you know, get to meet my daughter until she was, you know, one month old.

[00:13:35] We were just like in two hospitals, and I was inpatient for a long time, and I missed, you know, the whole thing when my wife was giving birth to our daughter, and yeah, so I didn't even get to experience that father, you know, label until we met in person, right? So, um, that was really strange, but that was also like.

[00:14:07] Um, that was so hopeful for me as a person and, you know, as someone like going through the entire process in that thing. I just felt like that possibly was another part of the message, you know, this higher power trying to deliver. Because all these things just like interwined and so complicated. And, but it was great, great feeling.

[00:14:33] And, you know, every time. Um, we're looking at this, um, We were just thinking like, Okay, we have to keep going. Whatever, you know, we're fine. You know, there's no way. We're letting any of these things go. 

[00:14:52] Ryan: So this reminds me of a conversation I had with a guy named Gary Ware. Gary Ware's the man. You'd like him.

[00:14:59] He's like a little Yoda. He has a book. He's got a book called Breakthrough Play. There go my dogs, by the way, if you can hear them. Shout out to my dogs. Um, Gary, Gary does this. I brought him into like, kickstart a lot of my Keynotes or workshops and he does this one exercise that just shows you how bad we are at multitasking We're just not wired to do it.

[00:15:28] And as I think about your journey, you know It's like you got to put the creative designer creative director role to the side you got to put the role of like I mean, you know, good husband sometimes to the side or father to the side, you just have to fight. There's no multitasking going on and you just have to fight.

[00:15:49] And, and you fought the first time for what you said, two years? It was two years. All right, so walk me through that conversation. Same doctor, by the way, or different doctor? 

[00:16:03] Eason: Oh, oh boy, um, so many doctors, so many hospitals, cause, you know, so many times of these people coming back and, you know, annoying stuff, right?

[00:16:15] And, um, the, the last doctor I had, well, you know, he's, and, and the doctor team actually my ultimate cure. I'm going to say that because I'm knocking in the wood, I'm knock away, you know, four and a half years cancer free. Um, so a little knowledge there until five years, you know, any cancer survivor can say like, you know, officially you're a survivor because that's just the mark.

[00:16:46] matters to anyone. Um, anything within the five years mark, it's, you know, it's small. So yeah, I met my doctor, um, the last doctor, because we had quite a few. And I think that was the point. I found this doctor with I was desperate, you know, at this point, at that point, I was like, well, I needed to go out, find a cure for myself.

[00:17:18] Um, and very, let's say this, um, fortunately, um, I actually, you know, had very same type of cancer as Lance Armstrong. So that's just the way I found my doctor, cause I just Googled, you know, the doctor of Lance Armstrong. And it turned out, um, he's this brilliant, Old guy in Indianapolis, um, he, we started all the research for, you know, these things when he was a PhD student, um, um, Indianapolis and.

[00:17:55] He's been doing this for his entire life and I just called his office and he was like, yeah, you know, um, we're not very close to where you are right now. By then I was with my family. We were living in Beijing. Um, so he was like, yeah, it's gotta be a long flight, but if you want to come out here, we're going to take a look at you and, you know, try to figure out things.

[00:18:22] So that's, you know, how I decided to. Yeah, I know, that's a lot, right? 

[00:18:27] Ryan: No, no, it's all good. I'm just like, so you're back in Beijing. Uh, is your wife and child with you?

[00:18:37] Eason: Yeah, entire family, you know, cause um, my, our parents, they all live there too, so. It's just our family. We needed all the family support and all that.

[00:18:48] So we were living in Bayside 

[00:18:50] Ryan: Island. Well, I'm sure though, it wasn't a, well, he picked up on the first ring type of thing, right? I mean, like, what was that process even like to get to him? Um. 

[00:19:02] Eason: You know, that was, that was a pretty big mental barrier because, you know, when you Google this person, you would think, oh, that has to be a very famous doctor.

[00:19:14] Right? Why would he just pick up a phone with, you know, anyone? Um, find out his story on the internet, but no, actually turn out these, you know, doctors, they're just ready and they're, they're humble. And Dr. Name's Dr. Lawrence.

[00:19:34] Until this day, he's probably already four, something like that until, and, but the mental barrier was, you know, it's just physically that's just so far away, right? And you, it can't, you can't really get to him, like, drive three hours or something, you know, if you wanted to, you know, be impatient with him, you have to go through all these things.

[00:20:04] So, yeah, you have to like, just. Talk yourself through this and just push through. And I guess there also another thing in inter one, uh, whether it's at the time I just didn't know if that was going to, you know, work out or not. Right. And, and you know, there's all always this thinking behind all these, you know, mortality thing.

[00:20:29] If you are gonna die, at least you're gonna die home. You're not gonna die like right out there 10,000 miles away. Um, but yeah, I just deeply inside I believe like I knew if anyone could save my life that would be the person. 

[00:20:49] Ryan: So, so Dr. Einhorn is in Indiana and you're in Beijing and now it's how the hell do I get to Indiana?

[00:20:58] Do you move to Indiana? 

[00:21:00] Eason: We flew there. Well, yeah, we moved there for a couple months, you know, a few weeks before all the treatment started and stayed there for a couple months after a big surgery. Yeah, sort of like just moved there. Bam. 

[00:21:17] Ryan: Do you feel like a lot of, I mean, I don't know the data on this. And I guess if I'm the listener, obviously the fact that Ethan and I are having this conversation, this is a positive story.

[00:21:29] And I mean, you had to jump through a lot of hoops and you had to really believe that you could beat it. And it sounds like you did the research to find the right support system to help you. Um, what percent, if you had to guess, what percent of people that get adhere, you have cancer or you have a tumor?

[00:21:50] Cancer. Do you think? Just give up. Just don't fight. 

[00:21:56] Eason: Um, I don't think anyone would actually give up. You know, that just makes why cancer survivors, this group of people, they're just super strong. Right? Resilient, tenas. Tenacious and courageous. 'cause you are, you know, there's the fight just between you and that disease and you have to win. And there's only one winner..

[00:22:24] So yeah, no one's gonna give up, and everyone's gonna, you know, fight until the end.

[00:22:31] Ryan: I'm not, uh, this might be really insensitive, I'm not sure that I, I don't have the data, and I also don't know if I, I've never been in your shoes, but as a new dad, I knew you weren't going to give up as someone that's thousands and thousands of miles away staying curious and doing what you need to do.

[00:22:52] And again, we're going to get to net here in a minute. So you're really on the front lines, but was Dr. Einhorn the same doctor that said tumors. Tumor's been zapped, or you're cancer free? Or was that a different doctor? 

[00:23:09] Eason: Different doctor. Um, I switched, you know, doctor teams and doctors for a few times. Just, yeah.

[00:23:17] Cause, um, Um, Dr. Einhorn was, was my, was my hope, you know, at the end. 

[00:23:24] Ryan: Take me to that conversation when you heard, way to go, man, like, yes, and we got to, we got to get to five year mark, but like, who told you, how did they tell you, were you in Beijing? Were you back in the States?

[00:23:41] Eason: Um, the five years mark? 

[00:23:43] Ryan: Well, no, when you first heard that you were cancer free the first time.

[00:23:49] Eason: That was, um, no, I was in the States, I, that was after, um, the treatment in Indiana. So probably a couple weeks later, cause they did a big surgery on me. Um, basically the theory there was, you know, they're going to clean up all the lymph nodes in your abdominal area and they just like took out everything.

[00:24:15] They didn't like throw them away and, you know, put everything they liked back there. Um, and they. Yeah, they told me after the surgery, like they found out, you know, um, X, Y, Z, and they were like super confident because, um, you know, it worked very well. So that was, you know, the first thing when you, when you heard someone like Dr.

[00:24:42] Anhor actually said that in person to you. You had that confidence, you knew like, okay, this is going to work, right? You know, I came to the right place. I met the right person and it worked. 

[00:24:55] Ryan: I mean, even that, like knowing where to go, asking curious questions, right? Where to say yes versus where to say no, I think is critical.

[00:25:07] Eason: Yeah. And still, you know, at the time, like, even he said that all these things to you, you knew you. Still, you know, had to count that five years, you know, day by day for, you know, 2000 days, right? 

[00:25:23] Ryan: So, 16 is when you heard it, like at the end of 16, right? Really 17, right? Cause Happy New Year, right? Happy New Year.

[00:25:34] And then, I mean, 17 to 20, we're beyond five years at this point, correct? 

[00:25:40] Eason: From the diagnose, but not the cancer free, you know. 

[00:25:43] Ryan: Okay. So. When did you feel, I mean, you know, asterisks knock on wood, right? All the things, spiritual universe, right? When did you feel like you could breathe and you're just like, okay, maybe, maybe I'm okay.

[00:26:02] Eason: Um, Honestly, I think cancer is this thing. Like we can breathe, but we're, you know, constantly thinking about it. You know, every morning, , every, every morning we, we, we just know like we're thinking about it. It's in the back of our head, right? Every day we're thinking about it. But I think the first time when I realized was I could probably, um, move forward a little, just take a little bit, um, breath was when the doctor told me that, and I had a little bit recover time, you know, for a couple months, and I was, now I need to move forward, I need to get back to my career, I need to get back to my life and just 

[00:26:55] Ryan: Of course, the rest of the world did not take a lifetime out, right?

[00:26:59] We're all, we're all busy, busy, busy, right? Uber, they're moving forward. And like you said, there's a big culture change there and you know, you're, you're fighting the fight. How much time went by, you think? And did you feel like you were sort of slipping or getting left behind as the world was moving forward?

[00:27:20] Eason: Yeah, well, yeah, so when I had the thought I wanted to go back to my career, I wanted to, you know, move forward that was already, you know, the end of 2018 and I started to look for work and trying to get back, um, January 2019. So that's solid 2 years out and during that 2 years, I already had the hunch, like, I became a workplace full out, you know, just very, very quickly since I quit the job.

[00:27:51] And suddenly I realized I became a society fallout because, you know, you have this label, you're a cancer patient, right? You're in and out of hospitals. This is your life. You're focusing on the fight and, you know, all other things physically irrelevant to, you know, what we were doing, um, at the time. So yeah, for that entire two years, I just felt like, okay, well, whatever was coming after the treatment was not going to be easy.

[00:28:26] You know, there's going to be a transition, um, life. For career for for everything. 

[00:28:35] Ryan: I mean as a creative and a creator I mean, we're emotional like everyone's emotional right beings, but some are more right somewhere khaki pants and work in Excel Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with that. We love everybody but like as a as a emotional being who's gets compensated to be in that that world like do you feel like Your skills were slipping or did you feel it actually birthed also a purpose and then you wanted to pursue that purpose.

[00:29:10] Eason: It was a purpose, of course, you know. Um, I think I had that very clearly. Like, I just, I didn't want to do, you know, small jobs or, you know, um, not mission driven jobs anymore. I, I thought it was a very clear purpose. I'm gonna have to do something bigger than I ever, and I think that's, you know. Also, every cancer survivor probably had that thought at some point.

[00:29:46] Ryan: Yeah. So why, tell me, I mean, why did you go ahead and leap into Not Entirely Dead? And again, for those of you who are listening, check out notentirelydead. org and you will see this community in this universe that Eason created. 

[00:30:06] Eason: Yeah, so, you know, during that two years we were talking about, you know, I realized this fallout aspect of cancer patients and cancer survivors, workplace fallout plus society fallout because, you know, when we're doing all these things in life, it's pretty isolated, right?

[00:30:25] You're focusing on this thing. Um, you want it to live, you're fighting. And when you're trying to make that transition, um, making the leap, going back to the career, I realized a few things, uh, when I was first interviewing jobs, I realized the workplace didn't really understand how to communicate with people, right?

[00:30:47] They basically, the recruiter, the higher managers. They wanted to ask you this question. They just don't know how to ask. They wanted to ask in the back of their head. They wanted to ask you, do you still have it? Right. But they go about it with it. It's like all kinds of stuff. Like what have you been doing for, you know, for the past two years?

[00:31:12] Like, um, do you, are you still, uh, relevant? Like, can you still do this job? So all these things, you know, people, they, they got stuck there. But you read them, you could see like, okay, well, I know what you're coming from. You just wanted to say, like, well, do you still got it? And I experienced all these bias, unconscious bias, stigma, and let's say, just, you know, discriminate this experience, um, your cancer experience or for, you know, a lot of other probably severe disease.

[00:31:48] In the workplace. People look down on these things, right, because your career is not linear, you're not climbing that ladder, you basically take your, take your time off. So I experienced all these things, and we're creative, so I just started to think all these insights, basically. The communication there is wrong, and the bias, the stigma, all, you know, pointing to this thing is called a career gap, right?

[00:32:22] A resume gap, because you have time off. So I started to think, okay, this is gonna be harder, but I was also thinking, I was also thinking, well, It's not just me, right? It has to be millions of suffering those together. And I think today, you know, as I started, um, um, NotInCharlieDead. org for several years, I could say this is very relevant to many, many others, not just people who have answered, even like that group of people, it's millions in the world.

[00:32:53] But we can, you know, speak to moms, right, veterans, whoever got laid off, um, and couldn't find work for a long time, and prisoners. Everyone would suffer from this thing called the gap. We're, like, fighting all this. In the beginning of 2019, I didn't really, um, understand all these things at the time. But I...

[00:33:16] understood the bias. So I wanted to fight back. I wanted to fight back. I wanted to have my career back, but I also wanted to fight back with everyone else. I know we're all in the same boat. We just need to, you know, start the fight. 

[00:33:32] Ryan: This is, um, one of the things I'm working on right now and it's not figured out, but in the spirit of sharing, even when things are messy, I try to keep it real.

[00:33:42] I think the Sometimes, you know, classic storytelling, one on one, right? It is a fight. It's, it's, it, it, it's almost always good versus evil. There is an enemy. It doesn't mean you have to be. Like, uh, it needs to be toxic all the time. We're working on something right now called villain verification. And it's like, you have to verify the villain, which helps you clarify your purpose.

[00:34:10] And when you have that villain figured out, you can go right at it. And I think you're right. It's like. And I appreciate you saying, I, first of all, like 600, 000 young adult cancer survivors in the U S who are like, let's go, they're ready to get back to work, but then to your point, and I don't know the number, like my wife, we made the choice 10 years ago when my son was born.

[00:34:38] Better for if possible, better for her to raise our children, right? Then somebody else, this was a, we were, it was a luxury, frankly, and a choice we made. And about three years ago, she started to get restless and that. So imagine the stream. I think, I think if you look at life. Professional life, like a stream.

[00:35:01] And then one day you're a flying fish and you end up flying out of the water. And all you do is you want to get back in the stream and swim again. And I know she's, she's passionate about becoming a therapist and she could survive me, right? She could clearly help other people. And for you, the same thing.

[00:35:21] It's like, it's so interesting to hear Eason. You say this you versus you battle. That which is what you versus cancer was now. It's like, how do I bring everyone together? I can't be the only one feeling this. Do you feel like you're it's like. You're building a community is not entirely dead, like, a communal thing, or is it a resource thing or all the above?

[00:35:50] Eason: It's all and we have been building a community. We have been building a community for cancer. So, you know, because this is. A safe space for cancer survivors to talk about our, um, issues related to career and we can all, um, come together and try to, you know, solve the problem together. And today we're also offering coaching service to cancer survivors, um, because people would need all these strategies, you know, for confidence readiness and also the resource.

[00:36:30] Right, so we have the coaching program for cancer survivors. So it's a community. It's a mutual aid community, but we also offer them all these things to get them ready to go back there. Or if they're already in the work, um. But stuck somewhere or just don't know how to communicate with, you know, uh, with their colleagues in the workplace.

[00:36:53] We also help them to stride that stretch of it too. So yeah, it is a community. 

[00:36:59] Ryan: Uh, so Ned, if I'm getting this right, which tells you that I have not had cancer before, no evidence of disease. Is that what it is? That's, that's what it's called, like, medical term?

[00:37:11] Eason: It's the medical term. When, you know, when your doctor, you know, tell you you're, no evidence, no evidence of disease, that's like the first sign, okay, cancer free.

[00:37:21] Ryan: Okay. And so, and then not entirely dead, where did that come from? 

[00:37:26] Eason: It's an inside joke. You know, it's a, I think it comes from this collective, Dark sense of humor of all cancer survivors, you know, because it's a thing like, we can joke about it, right? Not everyone else. We can joke about it because that's basically how we see ourselves and possibly like how society see us, you know?

[00:37:47] Yeah. Um, but I, I realized, you know, people appreciate that. Honestly, um, yeah. 

[00:37:54] Ryan: Well, my favorite line on the whole website is want to get tough shit done higher cancer survivor and, you know, you talk about courageous, yeah, sometimes it is going through the hard and not sidestepping the hard, even if you didn't ask for it, obviously, you know, people don't, you know, ask or summon cancer, right?

[00:38:16] And I kind of feel like we're full circle on this. You know, I'm curious if you're in an odd way, this negative blessing, do you see cancer as a negative blessing? Because yes, it was fucking clearly hard. Maybe we'll beat that one out, but like it brought you the opportunity for purpose and to build this community.

[00:38:40] So I mean, I know it sounds crazy, but do you see it as a negative blessing? 

[00:38:45] Eason: Um, I, you know, I actually have mixed feelings on that, but I can tell you on Ryan, I'm not one of the people. You see on TV like talking about cancer. Oh, that's a gift. No, it's not. You know, we hate every second of it. We just hate it.

[00:39:00] You know, it's our gut. Um, and I think a lot of the creative ideas, um, come from that side because we want to fight. We want to win and we want to hack this. Um, in the workplace, in the society, so I can't really say, you know, how much that an active blessing is, but, you know, cause you asked me this, I think last week, you know, if I were gonna, you know, have this same life again, or what if this, you know, never happened, you know, several years ago, I would say, of course, you know, I would love to just have a normal life, right?

[00:39:46] Who would want this in? Our lives even brought in so much purpose. We're, you know, doing all these things for the world, but still for several years our lives was just upside down. Possibly still, you know, until today, you know, um, yeah, we, we just love a simpler life and normal life and. That's just not life, you know, the shit just shit happens.

[00:40:17] You just have to like deal with all these things and push through and work with whatever you got. 

[00:40:26] Ryan: I mean, obviously there was a lot of shit that happened to you and now you're trying to take it to the world with some of these ideas, right? Where do you feel like you need the most help? 

[00:40:38] Eason: Um, these days, I think we're Because we've been building the community and we're also going to, um, uh.

[00:40:48] Mentoring program, just 1 on 1 peer mentoring, because we experienced that I graduated for from the coaching program. They have the need to serve community. They wanted to contribute. So we'll want them to prep other cancer survivors. So they can troubleshoot together and we also offer a platform for cancer survivors to come in to view their dream career.

[00:41:16] Um, basically the message is. You know, when no one's taking a chance on us, we're just going to take a chance on ourselves. Right? So we're going to be all of these things and we're going to let the cancer. So I ever take all of these work out there and find their other dream jobs. And we're focusing on partnerships and funding at this stage.

[00:41:36] We wanted to work with, um, big corporates, um, you know, building more programs because we're talking about the life transitioning the work. Um, transitioning, not just for the, you know, severe disease people, like we talked about moms, veterans, anyone who needs to transition. We can actually offer this service to the corporate.

[00:41:59] We're, we're putting these things into curriculums. We offer these things to. The corporate and they could work with us, you know, um, and we can offer the service to their employee, whoever need the service, um, when we're, when they're figuring out that transition mode, 

[00:42:18] Ryan: what sort of the, do you have a, a BHAG, like, do you have your audacious goal that you're shooting for, or is it just like, you know, Ryan, we're chopping wood here.

[00:42:28] That's okay too. 

[00:42:30] Eason: We are chopping wood here, um, because we have so many goals and myself, I have a lot of goals. I always tell you like the biggest lofty goals first, it's, I wanted to shift this mindset, shift this narrative for all cancer survivors, you know, in the, in our society and in the workplace.

[00:42:52] Because whenever we're talking about cancer these days, people, they tell their habits like, Oh, I'm sorry. No. Don't be sorry. I mean, cancer survivors are badass, right? They stand for resilience, tenacity, the strengths, especially in crisis, right? They have all these superpowers, the lived experience, just the winning experience.

[00:43:15] Who doesn't want a winner on your team? So that's, you know, what I'm celebrating and selling for cancer survivors. I want to make the workplace realize. These are the people, the winners, you actually need on your team. And for the society is, whenever you are talking about cancer survivors, you're going to have to clap because you have to see the other guy, right?

[00:43:41] We're the winners. There's nothing to be said about. So that's the, um, narrative change I'm working on. And for all these tactics and the goals for probably for this year or the next few years, We're going to work with more, um, corporate partner, more cancer centers, we're going to scale our, um, community, we're going to bring in more cancer survivors into, um, our programs, coach them, let them, you know, find their purpose, land on their dream jobs.

[00:44:18] And there, we're going to be a collective voice for all cancer survivors. And at the end of the day, we're a collective voice for everyone who needs this life and work transition. 

[00:44:30] Ryan: So I'm curious if your daughter was listening to this. Okay. She doesn't have to listen to this, but she's seven now, I believe, right?

[00:44:40] Six and a half. right. So I have a spicy seven year old over here on this, this side. So I get it, but I'm curious. When she sees daddy and hears of daddy's story, what does she think? 

[00:44:54] Eason: Um, that's, you know, that's a good question. You know, going back to you asked me like 40 minutes ago. Um, I think that was a question I asked myself when I first met my daughter.

[00:45:07] Because I was, you know, in that fight. I was just thinking like, what kind of person I want my daughter to see, you know, when she's, you know, growing up. And a corporate executive, that's nothing, right? It just means nothing. And... I wanted her to see me as this person that never gives up on anything. That was, you know, the thing I wanted my daughter to understand.

[00:45:40] That's a life lesson, I think, for her to understand. No matter how hard it is, how difficult it is, how much shit's going on, we just don't give up. 

[00:45:54] Ryan: Amen, man. Yeah, I... Look, I... This isn't the first time I've talked about the idea of tough love. You know, tough, you're, you're kind of a jerk, but tough love, right?

[00:46:06] Is, is something else. And, and what I. But I love about Eason is that you're, uh, you're, you are an optimist, even though you've had some tough shit happen. And, um, kind of to take us home here to end, I know you've spoken on like the TEDx stage. I think you've spoken at Creative Mornings. Like when you think about those stages, or let's say this was a stage and you wanted to sort of.

[00:46:35] Address this audience. What do you what are you hoping they extract away from this conversation? 

[00:46:43] Eason: I, you know, I, I think for different stages, they're, you know, different audience, they're looking for different things, you know, some of these stages, they're like, looking for, they just wanted to know how you hack these things, you know, in design process, some people, they just look for a Transcribed by https: otter.

[00:46:56] ai Inspirational, um, story, but I think for your platform, we're talking about, you know, courage. I guess it's really important for, you know, everyone to understand. There are a lot of people who really climb that high mountain, you know, you know, achieving all these things. But what's really hard is when you get really lonely when the downside, you know, actually all these things happen, right?

[00:47:24] You have to do these things on your own because a lot of people. They just leave you from your life and just leave you alone and you have to do all these things again probably from scratch or even lower than whatever scratch means and that takes a lot of courage just to Put yourself together to summon all the powers you have and just to rise Again, and just to fight And just to go back to your life and just to live every day, I think that's really, really difficult when you got everything, you know, you're fine, you know, you don't need the courage, I think, but one thing, everything's like working against you.

[00:48:09] That's when you need it. 

[00:48:11] Ryan: Well, I love the, I love that comment about rising again, right?

[00:48:19] Eason: It's all about the rise, it's all about the rise 

[00:48:24] Ryan: and enjoy the ride, right? I think it's enjoy the ride too. And to me, I, I'm not one for, I'm not great with small talk. I'll do it. Yeah. But I like, I like this. I like hearing. You're enjoying the ride and the rise and, uh, Eason, we root for you and hopefully maybe you can come back in maybe 18 months, uh, knock on wood with, uh, that five year mark first of all.

[00:48:52] But second, I just want to know, like, how Ned is going and just keep us posted on how we can help. Cause we're, we're down to help, man. All right, man. Good for you. Thanks for joining us. See you soon. 

[00:49:05] Eason: Thank you so much, Ryan. 

[00:49:09] Ryan: Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Courageous Podcast. If you enjoy the show, don't forget to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts so more people can find us.

[00:49:18] See you again next week.

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