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 Shelby Stanger

Shelby Stanger – Author of Will to Wild 

Don’t be afraid to take the scenic route. Shelby Stanger treats everything in life like an adventure. Whether it’s writing her latest book, Will to Wild, or hosting her hit podcast Wild Ideas Worth Living, she embraces the peaks, valleys, and everything in between.  

Episode Notes

In her conversation with host Ryan Berman,  Shelby speaks on the transformational power an outdoor adventure can have to build courage and inspire new ideas. The two also touch on the popular concept that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. Spoiler Alert: Shelby shares her “top five.” Finally, They dive into the power of humor to move people and discuss why including detail is essential to eliciting emotion in storytelling.

[00:00:38] Ryan Berman: All right. So first of all, you look great. 

[00:00:41] Shelby Stanger: Stop, stop.

[00:00:42] Ryan Berman: No, you do. Like, let's talk about compliments. 

[00:00:45] Shelby Stanger: I think Zoom has a filter on it. 

[00:00:48] Ryan Berman: Yeah. I'm sorry, everybody. Oh, she, she's got this like pink floral thing going on for dress. 

[00:00:55] Shelby Stanger: Oh, I wore dress. So the cool thing about dresses, Ryan, that women don't tell you is like, it's just like wearing a t shirt.

[00:01:03] It's one thing that you put over your head, but you look good. It's like the most a jumpsuit or a dress that is the woman's trick to like everything and it'd be cool If it was more socially acceptable for men to wear it. That's a whole other topic I got today. 

[00:01:18] Ryan Berman: I'm only wearing a t shirt. That's all I'm wearing.

[00:01:21] Is that too much? No, it's no pants Thursday No, no, that's not we're there Okay, I should have just stuck with the compliment. First of all, I love having you on the show. You got an awesome new book out. It's in the background. Will to Wild. Also in her background is like 27, 000 surfboards. The reason I love you on the show is like I gain energy from you.

[00:01:44] Every time we talk, you're a lot like me. Meaning, what a surprise, oh, um, like filter, like the filter is not there, right? You're going to say what you, what you mean.

[00:01:56] Shelby Stanger: I'm turning as red as my dress. Awesome. Well, thank you, Ryan. You're super cool. I love hanging out with you too. You're often the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.

[00:02:05] That's like a famous Jim Rohn quote. And when Johnny told that to me, I was like, I need to have lunch with Ryan. I need more friends that are like pushing it. 

[00:02:14] Ryan Berman: I think people Do not think about that enough. It's that's, I think it's because the line is so popular now that it gets thrown away. But if I said to you, Hey, you in corporate America, think about your team.

[00:02:29] Is that the five people you're spending the most time with? Cause there's the bar or hey, hey, person at home, are you like stuck alone because we're in pandemic land still for some people and air quoting remote work and therefore you see not enough people, but you do hang out with your kids and like your dog.

[00:02:50] Well, technically that's the five. So. I love how you said, be intentional about who you surround yourself with. And if you don't like your five, go find a new cohort of five. No? 

[00:03:02] Shelby Stanger: That's why I started a podcast. I was like, I actually really like people I surround myself with, but I wanted to play on a different playground, you know?

[00:03:09] And so it's hard to just call up famous adventurers and talk to them. But. Having a podcast gives you entry to talking to certain people that maybe you wouldn't have been able to talk to otherwise. I think a lot of people have found that out. Oh, 

[00:03:23] Ryan Berman: I, I'm, look, I'm like, it's like going to lunch with everyone you want to go to lunch with and there's no bill at the end.

[00:03:28] Shelby Stanger: That's a really good way to think of it. That's so interesting. Someone also told me recently that your bank account... Is often the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And I was like, that's really interesting. Cause I have friends that are like much richer than me and some that are like not as, and I was like, that's really interesting.

[00:03:51] And I just need to pay attention to that. 

[00:03:52] Ryan Berman: We could have a whole podcast about this topic alone. All right. So if you were going to list off your five. Yes. I'm sure you didn't see this coming. You don't have to list. You don't have to list the names. Let's not get anybody in trouble. Okay. But like, Oh no.

[00:04:07] Define the personas of your five right now. Like, is it one I surf with when I gain inspiration for, I'm sure you gain inspiration from all of them, but like, give me a little bit of on each of them 

[00:04:18] Shelby Stanger: this week I decided I needed someone that I could run with and I joined a new running club and they're all really like minded people, and some of them are retired, some of them are scientists. That's just a new, a new group. Another one is just fun. Like fun is her, is like her central part of her system. And she's also a bad ass boss who has brought so many people together. She's the woman who started Surf Diva.

[00:04:44] I could just say her, Izzy from Surf Diva. She's just in my core five. Another is a friend who's a comedian. And then there's Johnny, my partner, who's really grounded and mellow. And then my mom. I've actually spent a lot of time with my mom recently because she moved back from LA. Are we at five? And then I have this group of neighbor kids.

[00:05:03] I live in this great little complex near the beach and there's some babies that were born during COVID and then a seven and nine year old across the way. And it's summer. So they're sometimes not in camp. And as soon as they're out of camp, if they are in camp. My doorbell starts ringing and the door opens.

[00:05:19] So I have a lot of kid energy around me because I'm like one of the kids. We have this condo on the beach that has a giant room of carpet and some surfboards. And so they just have decided that the floor is a dance floor and this is the fun house and we have a medicine ball that they love to play with.

[00:05:38] So I have a lot of kid energy in my life right now.

[00:05:41] Ryan Berman: I love your five. Like, let me attempt to, to extract the breakdown of the five, right? So one, Johnny is obvious. He's your partner and he's probably a cocktail of all the other four, right? There's like a little bit of, he inspires you. He's fun. He could be a kid sometimes.

[00:05:59] By the way, he's making a serious run at influencer category. I've seen some of these Johnny videos online. He's a real, let's give him some love. What's his handle? Like, how do we follow Johnny?

[00:06:09] Shelby Stanger: Johnny has a secret handle and he's on social media. 

[00:06:13] Ryan Berman: I saw you post something about him running and I was like, yes, this is so great.

[00:06:17] That's so funny. Okay. But then comedian, right? Like, or just like your pure fun person and look, it's a stressful time and it's good to have just somebody to put life on pause and go have fun, which is so cool. Then you got mentor, mentor, mom, mentor, right? Like surround yourself with the mentorship. And then on the flip, you've got kid wonder.

[00:06:39] Right? Surround yourself with curious, kid wonder what are they like? What are they like? Let's get into seven to nine year old mode. I'm missing one. Oh, you're a badass surf diva. Who's like super powerful, like power woman in every way and cool. 

[00:06:53] Shelby Stanger: But then I have people that like, I don't really enjoy hanging out with, but I have to because they're in my circle.

[00:06:58] And, and, and some of them can be a little energy vampires and I've just decided to give them love. And so they're the teachers. 

[00:07:05] Ryan Berman: You know, I, I almost think that, I don't know if you remember Google circles, remember that they crashed and burn. Yeah. Like they should relaunch that now. Like it would, it was way too early for its time, but like you do, you have these different.

[00:07:20] I feel like for me, I have these different circles of friends and there's very few moments in my life where I actually want those circles all to collide. Like at my wedding, all I really wanted was my East Coast crew and my West Coast crew to come together. And like, we gave everybody 18 months to get there.

[00:07:37] If you were there, you really wanted to be there. And... You were, we were together for four to five days and by the wedding itself, I just wanted my East coast crew to use the West coast crew nicknames and the West coast crew to use the East coast crew nicknames. And it was like much success. It was one of those moments where I wanted them both to collide.

[00:07:54] Shelby Stanger: Well, I think right now we're in this time where we all just want in person interaction. Like we've spent two years doing so many digital things. Like I also have a digital podcast and then I just wrote a book, which was like kind of lonely. And you're just in front of the screen with you and the, the computer.

[00:08:11] I think that's what was so cool. I've only done a few book events, but people from high school came, people from college reached out, people from my yoga class came like people from, you know, these new people I met at Ted X came like all these new people in my life from all different facets came together.

[00:08:29] And yeah. So if you have a chance to throw a party, that is the message of this podcast. Bring together all of your friends while you're still alive. Now. Don't wait till your funeral. 

[00:08:40] Ryan Berman: All right. That's a wild idea. And it makes sense because you are, you've got your podcast that you're, you've created and you're the host of called Wild Ideas Worth Living, which I think is done with REI, correct?

[00:08:51] Still doing it with REI? 

[00:08:52] Shelby Stanger: Yeah. So REI bought it in, I started in 2016, they purchased it from me in 2020 and we did like a couple of year deal, but we're going to keep, we've kept going and it's awesome. So I'm the host and they actually. Well, most of the guests with me and then they run the production, which is amazing.

[00:09:10] Ryan Berman: I would be a terrible guest for you to have on that show. You'd be awesome. No, you'd be wonderful. This is not a shameless, like, let me like reverse psychology you in. 

[00:09:18] Shelby Stanger: You've had some wild ideas in your life and I actually think you could lean into them and explain why to go about it. And one of the biggest things we talk about on the podcast is fear and how to get over fear.

[00:09:29] And you're one of the people that have taught me about how to get over fear and using courage to do that. 

[00:09:35] Ryan Berman: Okay. Touche. All right. I, I, I was thinking more of like, if you pulled America and then like put us an order of who should live near the ocean as a land shark that doesn't go surfing, I should not be on that list.

[00:09:51] Shelby Stanger: Why do you not go surfing, Ryan? You live in San Diego. 

[00:09:54] Ryan Berman: I've been surfing one time in my whole life, and the board was as big as, like, the whole city. And this was in Hawaii, where they, like, pander you, and they're like, Let's take a picture of the tourist on the big board. Okay? This is a true story. So I do need to figure out why.

[00:10:11] Maybe it's, like, in the spirit of fear, it's like, I'm like, Oh, the water's too cold. I don't want to go in there. I don't know. I gotta figure it out.

[00:10:18] Shelby Stanger: I think you should start with boogie boarding.

[00:10:20] Ryan Berman: Okay, and my son likes boogie boarding. So this is... You should boogie board with your son. Is that one of the chapters in Will to Wild?

[00:10:26] Boogie boarding with your kin? 

[00:10:28] Shelby Stanger: No, but there are a group of women who are mentioned in the book that are between the ages of 56, that's the youngest, the oldest is 96, and they're called the Boogie Board Wave Chasers, and they've started a group that boogie boards three times a week in the Pacific Ocean.

[00:10:43] And they meet at like... 9 o'clock in Encinitas at Moonlight Beach or at Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach, Monday, Wednesday, Fridays. And they are a hoot. If you imagine what a group of surfer girls are like, surfer girls are usually pretty confident. They get a little rowdy. Imagine like the confident soccer girls, but with bikinis on.

[00:11:02] That's what surfer girls are like. Now take these old broads. On boogie boards, you know, they're wearing more clothes. They're not in thongs. They're in wetsuits and they're covered up, but they are talking smack. They're hooting and hollering each other into waves. And it's wild because these women have said that boogie boarding has helped them improve their health.

[00:11:21] It's given them purpose. And it's like, for some of these women, it's totally changed their lives. Now, for those of you who don't know what a boogie board is, it's this giant piece of foam and you kind of jump on it and ride it into the shore. And it's a great workout because you go from standing to lying down and you're flat when you land on the sand, like if you're belly boarding all the way to the sand, then you have to get up, walk against the waves back to where they're breaking and do it all over again.

[00:11:49] And one of the women I interviewed said she did 10, 000 steps in an hour just boogie boarding. Which is pretty radical for, like, an 80 year old.

[00:11:57] Ryan Berman: Sounds terrible. Amazing. No, I mean, it sounds amazing. First of all, I'm nine years away from opting into the group, so I can't wait. Can't wait. Yeah. Thank you. I was like, carry the two.

[00:12:09] Shelby Stanger: Okay. I did it. I joined them and they were like, you're too young to be here. I was like, wow. I just got like told to go home. They were cool. 

[00:12:17] Ryan Berman: I do like a good, I do like a good gossip group though, like the gossip, the gossip that they probably have is gotta be top notch. I'm just like, Oh, my neighbor. And they, they're parking their car here.

[00:12:32] Shelby Stanger: And, you know, I gotta be honest, like boogie board girls, they're not catty. I think, I think these women, because they're, maybe they have like a side corner where they're, they're catty, but they have these group emails. It's reply all like I've been on the emails and it's it's 70 people on an email reply all reply up reply on it's like hey So and so's husband's battling cancer.

[00:12:58] Like let's give him some love and then the next person's like i'll bring them a pie I'll bring this. Hey, the 96 year old wants to come to movie night in solana beach Who can bring her another person's like, I'm an e bike from Del Mar to Encinitas. Does anybody want to come with me? And you're like, dude, this 78 year old wants to e bike 10 miles across town.

[00:13:19] That's pretty awesome. They're not really catty. 

[00:13:21] Ryan Berman: No, I feel instantly regret my guilty that I called them gossip.

[00:13:26] Shelby Stanger: My other friends who are real estate agents in La Jolla, they're catty and they've got some good gossip.

[00:13:31] Ryan Berman: All right. Let's talk about wilt wild. And you'd already mentioned this, that You know, sometimes, you know, pandemic or not pandemic, anytime you're, you're staring at a page and you've got to fill it and there's got to be no less than 55, 000 words and you're like, oh my God, why, why did I say I was going to do this?

[00:13:51] I felt like the process is a rite of passage. I learned. More about myself than I ever thought I would when you were going through Will to Wild and you know, you and I have sat down and we had some sessions ourselves. But like give me it from your perspective like just a little you know Mouse the little blinker looking at you laughing at you as you're trying to fill up a page.

[00:14:16] What was it like for you?

[00:14:17] Shelby Stanger: I think it was like everything an adventure was like there was times where I wanted to like Take my hand and punch it through my computer. There are other times where I was like, yes, this sentence is genius. And then like, I would read it a day later and I'm like, who wrote that?

[00:14:32] That was, that was not me. Like, I'm going to leave the room. I did not write that. And I thought it was like the best thing ever. And I think it was the times where I wasn't actually writing that were the most joyful. I would get this idea. Sometimes my best ideas would come from swimming in the ocean, which is like so inconvenient because you don't have a pen and paper, but that Tended to be where I got my ideas and I'd like run out of the water and like grab a pen wherever I could find it.

[00:15:01] One time I tried to write in the sand. Just like didn't work, but I memorized it enough to get back to my house and write it down. Those were great moments. For me the writing process It was interesting because I've wanted to write a book since I was 20, maybe even younger. And so there was all this pressure to do it.

[00:15:19] And when that little perfectionist voice came in my head, it was awful. Like and I couldn't write. I just felt myself like paralyzed. So what I did was. On the times that I was in a good mood and felt the flow I wrote, I know it sounds cheesy, but I wrote a little mantra to myself and a letter to myself about, I don't even know what it says, but it was something about showing up the page and like trying to enjoy the process and being okay, no matter what, but showing up anyways.

[00:15:48] And I did all sorts of things. Like at one point, I made a commitment to wake up at 6am and write no matter what another time. And I did that for a long time. And I would work at coffee shops. I would just, Get up there because I think sometimes when you suit up and you show up sometimes magic happens Sometimes it doesn't but it gets you into routine other times i'd find bits of inspiration and I just write Other times I just had a deadline and I had to turn something in But for me the hard part wasn't really the writing.

[00:16:16] It was the rewriting it was after I turned it into an editor and they're like Okay, you're not done. And I thought I was done. That was hard. 

[00:16:24] Ryan Berman: See, I'm the other, I think I'm the other way around. Like, the vomit draft, as I like to call it. It's like, giving my, like, get it out. Like, get it out of the system.

[00:16:34] And then, and then build on top of that. I actually, I think this is very much, like you talked about the metaphor for adventure. If I look back at my life, it's like, I just always felt I'm gonna have to outwork people that I'm not actually smart, but I've got a tolerance to be gritty and keep going and like threshold for pain.

[00:16:55] So it's like the first part is the hard part, like, get it out and then make it better. That personal mantra that you talked about. So funny. I, I have, I'm a stickies guy. I'm an apple guy. So I have stickies on my, I. I love my sticky. So I, can I, I actually never, I've never shared this on the pod and in the spirit of, I knew we would just have a real normal flow of a conversation.

[00:17:18] So here's my, here's my manifesto and it's on a sticky. I aspire to be a trusted confidant, a fear fighter, encouraged Sherpa to the willing, a practitioner who helps others get unstuck, a good listener, a problem slayer and a friend when necessary. I'll utilize tough love. Which is still love. An elixir that helps many leaders fade a feeling of loneliness.

[00:17:44] A guide who helps teams make sense of who they are. A raconteur that uses stories to build real belief. Most of all, a purveyor and believer of courage. By instilling courage in the leader, I can create meaningful change. Courage makes us happier and sets many free. 

[00:18:02] Shelby Stanger: I love that. So I'll tell you what I did, because you just told me what You just triggered kind of what I did it.

[00:18:08] So I would actually sit and I would meditate if I was stuck. And I would try to do this every morning, even if I wasn't stuck, cause it was a good habit to be in every morning. I would do this thing that I learned from Teaknot Han, which was like a simple meditation. And I'd say, breathing in, I calm my body, breathing out, I smile.

[00:18:25] And then I would try to listen. First silence, which some days was really easy and some days was really hard. And then I would try to send love to like anybody I thought of, but also to the things or the people that were challenging that day. Maybe it was a customer service agent at AT& T. Maybe it was, you know, a chapter in the book that my editor asked me to write for AT& T.

[00:18:50] Maybe it was like the for AT& T customer service agent, you know, If I could, sometimes it was hard, but if I could send love and realize like, my editor does not have a vendetta against me. She just wants this thing to be better. Most people don't have like vendettas against us. It's, it's usually about them, not you, but I could figure out a way to send love to a project and be in that space of like, love and helping people.

[00:19:16] I could always get into flow.

[00:19:18] Ryan Berman: I love that. Yeah. I think, you know, you brought it up already. I think it's easy to talk about fear, but it's hard to acknowledge if you step outside of yourself and look back at yourself to be like, Oh shit, that's fear and an exercise that I like to do. And I think it's because of the work I came from or I do, it's called body jumping.

[00:19:41] So it's there's no boogie board and body jumping just to make sure people are clear on that. But the idea is you basically jump outside your body and you look back at yourself and you're like, how am I being perceived in this situation or you leap into someone else's body and like, how are they perceiving the situation?

[00:20:02] And the intent is to find, Oh, shoot. If they're looking back at me, they're probably seeing me like this when I thought, I was that or, Oh my God, I'm being so selfish right now. It's not, it's just my, my makeup that the fear is the blocker and I haven't really stepped into the shoes of somebody else.

[00:20:23] Therefore, you can't really have empathy. So I love how you talk about like giving love to someone else. And I think most times we're so afraid, which is our normal standard operating system that we, we don't even get beyond ourselves. It's like, you don't pass go and monopoly, you're just stuck on your own fears and your own shit and your own stuff.

[00:20:42] And if you can extract yourself and then look back at the situation and be like, how am I really serving this other person? How am I helping? Like when you're writing your book, like when they read this paragraph. Are they going to extract out what they need to just nudge a little closer to their version of happiness or progress?

[00:21:00] So I, but it starts with the fear and usually it's like we never get past it. It's just, you're not really connecting. That's my take. 

[00:21:08] Shelby Stanger: I think it's great. I love body jumping. I'm going to use that. And I think you've got something there that you should. expand on body jumping, whether it's book or newsletter.

[00:21:16] But when I wrote this book, I had read a lot of adventure books over my life, but there was no book out there that said how to have an adventure, how to do something that people told you you're crazy for doing that doesn't make sense on paper. Either your mom's going to say that, or your, your sister, or your spouse, or your coworkers.

[00:21:37] If, if it's an idea that you want to do that you think propels your life. forward, but someone tells you you're crazy for doing, you know, there's fear, there's doubt, there's imposter syndrome. And there are parts of my story I wanted to share. But I was also just scared to tell them, but I knew that if I told them, maybe it could help someone else tell their story or feel less alone.

[00:21:59] So one of the stories I share really early on was the time I was super stuck and depressed and I was in this job that was amazing on paper. I was running international marketing with a team of two at Vans shoes at the height of the reset. at the height of the recession and I was flying like business class to Latin America and Australia and New Zealand.

[00:22:16] It was awesome. But I wanted to be a writer and tell these stories. And there was this like wonder if in the back of my head. And I knew that if I didn't ever pursue it, I would just keep moving closer to this corner office and never go see what else was out there. And everybody said I was stupid for quitting my job.

[00:22:31] I was crazy to do so. And I spiraled into like this deep depression and. There was a moment where I was really stuck and just writing that was, like, awful because I kind of went back to that place. But I just remembered, like, hey, if I write this with love and remember a friend of mine who was also once stuck and who I shared this story with said that story helped her after hearing it, I was able to write that story.

[00:22:59] No one, no one has like brought that story up to me since writing the book, and made fun of me for it, or couldn't believe that I, you know, was so stuck at this point, they actually Related to it. 

[00:23:12] Ryan Berman: And I feel like there's something about owning it and like parking it and like, it's odd to say it's, yes, the book is now alive, but it's also a burial, like, it's like, I need to bear, I need to bury this.

[00:23:25] I need to get it out. I want to own it like rest in peace idea. I'm so in a great space for what you do next and what you do after that.

[00:23:32] Shelby Stanger: But then I didn't want it just to be like this heavy book. Like I'm a really big fan of humor as you are. And I think that's why I like you is like, you're able to use humor, humor as a way to convey a bigger message and get people to act.

[00:23:44] And I think, you know, during the pandemic, there's so much like in our world, there's so much canceling each other and hate, and it doesn't propel anybody positively. Like humor moves people to do things. Joy moves people to do. Things. And so I wanted the book to have some inappropriate jokes and some fun and some humor.

[00:24:03] And so I included them. 

[00:24:05] Ryan Berman: Good. You should. I obviously were aligned on this, but like, it seems like everything that's catching has been negative, like quiet, quiet quitting. And like, well, can we please come back to humor? Like even Barbie? All right. So yes. Okay. Hold on. Did you see it? I have not seen it only because my wife wanted to take my daughter.

[00:24:27] And at first, this is like in the spirit of negativity, right? Like, you know, too many things to read, by the way, too many, right? Like, Oh, this is a, there's a feminist approach to it. And she's what the, Oh, it's too sexual for our seven year old. And then it's PG 13. Like everything started out as a red light.

[00:24:48] And then as she started to talk to some of her, this is my wife, started talking to some of her, her friends, she's like, Oh, wait, my friend's going, she's taking her daughter. Maybe I, maybe I will take Mackenzie. It's my daughter's name. Hi Mac. And now they're so glad they did. Like, it was so good. Like mind blowed funny, but like, isn't that so sad that we start.

[00:25:10] Always at like, what might this do to us? This negative, is it safe enough? It's why can't we just get to the humor? 

[00:25:18] Shelby Stanger: Well, I appreciate though, that your wife has a filter on the content that your daughter consumes, because I do believe that we're a product of. What we eat what we consume and that includes the content that we consume and we want to try to consume the best content as Possible, but yeah, I haven't seen the movie when I was a little kid.

[00:25:35] I didn't play with Barbie dolls I like cut their hair if I had to or a friend made me play with Barbie dolls I was like really like can we just go surfing instead? I just didn't get it. I didn't relate to Barbie She was like blonde and had these giant boobs and like tiny little waist and I'm like brown haired and I just didn't see the allure I didn't want to dress her up but it's so funny I have so many friends who just love Barbie and in real life they love to get dressed up and they love to get dolled up and I'm gonna go take my mom next week because Barbie's just Part of our culture and she's funny and I heard that Ryan Gosling does an excellent job as Ken.

[00:26:10] Ryan Berman: Look not only did my Wife and daughter like it. My wife's like I want to go see it again. Cool And so I think that tells you something and yeah huge shout out to my wife who is absolutely a detective Before our kids eat any content as much as our kids wish they lived on screens, you know, we're very disciplined And by we, I mean, she's very disciplined and it's in the spirit of me not getting in trouble or messing with the apple cart.

[00:26:40] Therefore, I also am disciplined. Now the irony, I'd love to like my babysitters growing up. Or whatever season it was a soccer ball, basketball, some sport, my babysitter's was a ball and a television and I watched like, but I learned that you could study TVR for a living television radio for a living. I was probably 13.

[00:27:04] I was like, wait a minute. You can study this for a living. I am an expert in television. What do you want to talk about? You want to talk about what's happening now? I'll tell you what time. Facts of life, wonder years, I'm dating myself. Maybe I will join the boogie board group. They're going to love this story.

[00:27:17] Shelby Stanger: I love the wonder years. I watched them too. And I watched facts and I watched really inappropriate stuff. They probably shouldn't have watched because I had older sisters. So I was watching MTV at a very young age, as soon as it was on. And it's okay. Like good for the imagination. Yes. Good. Great for the imagination.

[00:27:32] We digress. We were talking about courage and fear. 

[00:27:37] Ryan Berman: Oh, is this you getting us back on track? Okay. All right. Let's go back to the book. Shall we? 

[00:27:42] Shelby Stanger: We can, if you want. I do. We can talk about your part in the book. 

[00:27:46] Ryan Berman: Okay, we can get there. But first, I want to know, in the spirit of fear and courage, what were you most terrified on this book?

[00:27:52] Shelby Stanger: I was afraid that people who were in the book would, like, be upset with how they were portrayed. And that was hard for me. And when you're a journalist, you know, that was always the hardest part for me as a journalist. Like, I'm such a I actually care what people think. Everybody's like, you shouldn't care what other people think, but I do.

[00:28:09] I'm like a sensitive person. I want people to like, feel good about their story and the world. Which is why I didn't stick with journalism for a very long time. Because people would tell me these stories about themselves and make themselves sound terrible. And I'd be like, don't say that to me. Like, I'm a journalist.

[00:28:27] Ryan Berman: Do you still see yourself as a journalist now or not? No, no more. 

[00:28:30] Shelby Stanger: I see myself as a storyteller and also a journalist, but I think what I've learned is all journalists are biased. And if it's something that I'm reporting, you know, I worked at CNN as a fact checker. So I was trained as like old school journalists where you weren't allowed to take anything for free or anything of anything if you're writing a story on someone.

[00:28:53] And I just, I think journalists are inherently people and they're biased and they have opinions and everything I read, I'm like, it came filtered through a human and we're biased and we can't help it. But I actually consider myself. A journalistic storyteller. I don't know if that answers your question.

[00:29:10] Ryan Berman: I'm not sure I buy that. I mean, I want to go back to your

[00:29:12] Shelby Stanger: Okay, then I'm a storyteller. I don't, I don't know. I mean, the truth is I'm a storyteller, but I am a big fan of facts. So I'm not going to lie. 

[00:29:22] Ryan Berman: Right. Yeah. Well, I was wondering when you said first, a storyteller and a journalist, was it storyteller Period and a journalist or storyteller and a journalist, because obviously I'm not gonna, I'm, I'm, I'm not here to lie, right?

[00:29:39] Like I see, this is something that I've been fiddling around with for a while. Like I think, and I've struggled with this and I think I'm like, what am I? What am I exactly? And I've, I've landed on something I like that's new, which is I'm a narrative maker and I'm a narrator. And it's something that I'm, I'm playing around with and I'm sure it'll be in a newsletter soon, but like, I think that, especially with companies, like I struggled because I came from advertising and I didn't like that.

[00:30:13] We were telling stories to the outside world, but like, they were inauthentic to the inside world and the person that was hiring me was like, dude, can you please help me tell the world we're sliced bread? I'm like, yeah, but are you like, what's happening on the inside? So the journalist part of you, that detective, I wanted to be honest.

[00:30:32] And, but I'm like, Oh, wow. They, they have a hard time even locking in their narrative at the leadership side. Like, imagine if you actually had a narrative that was working on the inside that you could then take to the outside. Sure. It seems like it's how it should be, but marketing is not asked to do that.

[00:30:51] Marketing is asked to like tell the world where this and isn't working wise and working so well, or the analytics say, I'm like, that's not me anymore. 

[00:30:59] Shelby Stanger: It's funny, you know, journalism kind of turned me off during the pandemic. And so I actually took it off of my resume. I was like, and then when I wrote the book, everybody was like, why aren't you saying you're a journalist?

[00:31:09] Like, that's how the New York Times and everybody will cover you. Journalists want to cover other journalists. And so I think more than anything, I'm a storyteller and I really love telling stories, spark you and make you want to change. Journalism was hard for me because you had to tell this giant story in like 500 words.

[00:31:32] And that's why I like podcasting, because someone's full quote can live. Even the pauses, even the nuances. And you don't always hear that in like a short journalism article. And also, I think we all know that selling stories... you know, causes us to write things that are a little sensationalized. And I don't like that.

[00:31:53] Like, I really like, you know, how all cultures told stories. They just told stories. And obviously we want them to be true. 

[00:32:03] Ryan Berman: True from our point of view. 

[00:32:05] Shelby Stanger: Exactly. But they're only true from your point of view. 

[00:32:08] Ryan Berman: I mean, I, I think courageous is just that, like, I mean, probably if someone doesn't believe in courage or addressing fears, they're probably not listening to this podcast, right?

[00:32:20] So we are building up this faction of people that share a belief system and I'm at peace with. I'm not trying to be all things to all people. I want to be nice to everybody like you. I, I don't know if it's people pleaser anymore, but I have empathy for everyone's point of view in the spirit of, you know, how you feel about journalism.

[00:32:38] I feel about politics. Like I, I was like fiddling around with for a while. Obviously this isn't working. Like let's agree that whatever set up is not working and I'm a little bit of both. Like I'm, I'm not left wing and not right wing. I'm an extremist about being in the middle. I am center wing like I was going to launch center wing because I feel like there's some things I believe in on the liberal side.

[00:33:07] Most things I believe in the liberal side, but I also work my butt off and I don't want to give that much money back to if I could figure it out with opportunity and hard work. Okay. You see where I'm going here. So I think that that's, there's a. There's a thoughtfulness on all sides that journalism does try to cover with less emotion.

[00:33:27] It's like, just the facts bothers me a little bit about journalism. Can you set the record straight with me? Cause I've never been a journalist. Is that what it is?

[00:33:37] Shelby Stanger: I don't know. I, I had journalist teachers that. Really wanted to be getting the emotional side of it. Like I was really lucky. I went to Emory journalism school and they don't have a journalism program sadly anymore, but I had the most radical teachers.

[00:33:50] Like my first teacher was this writer for Esquire and he brought in a guy from the mafia and he had him sit down in class and tell us a story. And he didn't really admit that he was in the mob, but we all later learned that he was like a member of the mob. And he was just a colorful character. And we all had to write a story about him after asking a couple of questions.

[00:34:09] And he's like, you guys all failed. Nobody wrote about his gold chain and the earrings he was wearing and the tattoo on his left arm and dah, dah, dah. And he's like, you need to pay attention. And I think the cool thing about journalists and storytellers, no matter what you are, it's just title. It's to pay attention, pay attention to the details and to tell the story in a way that elicits emotion for someone to act. So when I wrote this book, the goal was just, I want people, whether they're, doesn't matter who they are, whether they're a seasoned adventurer or someone who's never seen a tent, has no desire to ever go camping, just to decide to have a relationship with nature, even if it's small, even if it's just.

[00:34:53] Going outside in their garden, even if it's just watching the sunrise every morning while having coffee or tea or making commitment to watch the sunset or just looking up and seeing stars. Like to me, that was a game changer. Like a lot of people are doing a lot of things to build courage. And, you know, people are taking psychedelics, they're hiring gurus, they're going on retreats.

[00:35:16] And I, I think the best way to build, you know, maybe those are good ways to heal. Depending on where you're at in life, but. Hands down, the best way to build courage, I think, is to have an adventure, especially outside of nature. It does something to your brain in a way that nothing else does that changes you for the rest of your life.

[00:35:35] And then the courage you take from that adventure keeps going and going and going and going.

[00:35:39] Ryan Berman: So you've, you've, you've reminded me of a conversation I've had recently about The reality that courage is a relative thing. So this is a very slight rant and I'll be quick because I want, I want to talk about, I still want to talk about you and your story.

[00:35:55] You go ahead. Courage. It is like in the spirit of, of being outside. It is like skiing to me. It's like there's bunny slope people and there's like, where's the helicopter I'm ready to jump out of this and it's a muscle that you build. So, to your point, I think for some people getting on a boogie board and being a beginner or, you know, go out and go to Mexico tomorrow for a week long rendezvous and figure out what you're gonna eat when you're there, whatever it might be, it's all like.

[00:36:30] Relative to what your tolerance for courage is, they're both courageous if you've never been on a boogie board, that, that, that action is the adventure. If I can't get you to the mountain, that's when the problem begins. Like, if there's not a willingness, if you can't get me in the water on a boogie board, it's like, well, okay, Ryan really isn't as courageous as he said he was, right?

[00:36:51] So that's. That's sort of like, it's funny, I was talking about my mom and my dad and my dad growing up. You know, it really didn't come from money. He had to figure it out and a whole slew of odd jobs on his path. Total clarity, by the way, knew he wanted to get to money, but started on the other side of the train tracks.

[00:37:10] Found a way to basically get himself to law school, become a lawyer, and it was a grind. And then we show up with like a nice house and, you know, he's probably like this little snotty kids. My mom, my mom's grew up in Ohio, went to Ohio state, never left the state, was dating someone who was a few years older than her.

[00:37:29] He moves to Maryland. I mean, she, like her mom didn't even like let her ride a bike basically with a helmet on it. That was too much. But she, then when she graduates, moves to Maryland and then realizes fast. That this isn't the guy for her and she breaks off the engagement courageous now different. Look that way.

[00:37:49] By the way, the sixties were really crazy, both courageous in different ways. And so I'm like, oh, I'm honored to like, my makeup is of those people, which I don't know. For some reason, I feel like that helped me on my path. All right for you. Now I'm going to shift, not just to courage, but on story. I was always taught the story must point forward.

[00:38:11] You must keep the story pointing forward. What is essential to the story? And then let's move, continue to move the story forward. This is, this is the Hollywood version of story. So, I would like to ask you to, to tell us something about you that we do not know yet. Even, and maybe it came from the book.

[00:38:33] Maybe it's something you learned about yourself from like this right of passage or the way you take on adventures or what adventure you'll never go on. And it doesn't have to be courageous. I just want to know if you were like, tell us, like, if you're like having that little quiet conversation with yourself, something about Shelby that.

[00:38:49] People probably don't know about you. I'd love to know what that is. 

[00:38:52] Shelby Stanger: I don't know, Ryan. I like feel like I'm a pretty open book and I've told everybody everything. I can't really think of anything that people don't know about me. I really, I'll keep thinking about it. 

[00:39:03] Ryan Berman: Is there another project you know you want to take on now that you maybe haven't shared?

[00:39:08] Shelby Stanger: Well, I've shared it a little bit. I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I have these like interests. One is to work with kids. I love kids and I don't think I'm going to have a kid, which maybe that's something that people don't know. I'm not sure. And I think a lot of women are like, wow, you don't know.

[00:39:24] And you're like at that age. And I was like, I don't know. Like it's not a hell yes to have kids, but I love kids and I want them in my life and I want to continue to be impactful for kids. I just like kids. I have. Big kid energy. And I just want to keep leaning into it. 

[00:39:39] Ryan Berman: So what might that look like? Is it like you're going to launch the, the wild kids pact?

[00:39:46] Shelby Stanger: I don't know what that looks like. The second thing is I really like comedy and I think it's really healing. So I did combine these passions. and had a podcast called vitamin joy. And I've always been interested in mental health and humor and also the power of adventure and mental health. So one podcast, wild ideas worth living really answers that question.

[00:40:08] How do we use adventure as a catalyst to change and be better people? Vitamin joy talked about how do we use humor and some other tools. besides just adventuring outside. I mean, we could drink all the green juice we want, but it doesn't necessarily make us happier. You know, there's all these like biohacking podcasts.

[00:40:25] And I was like, we just need to like, you can drink all the celery juice you want, but like you also just have to have community and you need to dance and you need to have humor. So those two things are really interesting. And I see a lot of kids. With anxiety that I never saw before. And so these, like these areas, I've always kind of covered the same thing my entire life.

[00:40:49] I can go back and my route might not seem like a straight line, but ever since I was a little kid, I wrote a mission statement at 15. I said, my goal is to inspire others, especially young women to go for it. My podcast, Wild Ideas Worth Living, was inspiring others to go outside, to go for it by going outside.

[00:41:09] Vitamin Joy inspired others to kind of go for it and heal using humor. Kids! I don't know what that looks like yet. So I'm just letting it marinate in the back burner of my mind because I know enough about adventures and from writing this book and maybe Maybe the one thing people don't know about me is I'm really trying to work on not being go go go like my whole life I've been go go go and one of the reasons I wrote will to wild is because a lot of adventure books glorify the finish line and The truth was, I was hearing a lot of feedback from adventurers who would do a grand adventure and afterwards there was some post fatigue or even depression.

[00:41:48] And because I just wrote this huge book and spent like two years writing it and I was with a big publisher and did this little book tour and launch, I have decided that this summer, I'm leaning into like giving myself some space to just enjoy and not be go go go go go. But these three things, kids, humor, mental health, it's marinating in the back burner of my mind. And I have ideas, but they're so unformulated that it's not worth talking about yet, but I know enough about myself that if I give myself a little space and grace and I don't get impatient. It'll come. And, and yeah, a couple of people have approached me about doing some things.

[00:42:30] Yeah, we'll see. 

[00:42:32] Ryan Berman: I ever saw lots of head nods and thank you for sharing all that. You know, I mean, it's funny. I, I kid you not like this weekend I wasn't in the water and wasn't looking around for a pen, but I remember waking up and sort of having an aha moment that I. That go for it idea, like, I want to help people go for it.

[00:42:53] Like I like literally wrote the same, I think it was business leaders. I want to help leaders go for it, help their teams go for it. And it's ironic that you said like, Hey, I'm a go, go, go. And maybe, maybe there are times where you have to actually allow yourself to stop for it and like, breathe for a minute and get your composure and to your point, meditate and go on an adventure.

[00:43:18] And by the way, what we perceive to be a pause on your everyday life is anything, but right? Like, that's where the magic happens and the good stuff happens. Is that. 

[00:43:30] Shelby Stanger: Yeah, for me, my pause doesn't look like, you know, lying out on the beach with a cocktail and like doing nothing or going to an ashram and just meditating in silence.

[00:43:38] I'm really just trying to not take on too much and saying yes to everything. Being really choosy. I'm saying yes to kids. This whole summer, I have a niece and nephews and when they want to hang out, I'm available. When my neighbors knock on my door and doorbell ditch me, which is like every day and they want to come over.

[00:43:54] I let them come in as long as I've wrapped up my podcast and I'm just trying to make space for that but also for spontaneity. Yesterday, I had a meeting in La Jolla and I had like an hour to kill so I went on a run and I was supposed to like have my hair all brushed and kind of look nice but La Jolla Cove looked really inviting.

[00:44:12] And it was just still and like, it's crystal clear, but it looks like Hawaii. La Jolla Cove doesn't always look like Hawaii, but it was beautiful. And I just happened to have a swimsuit and goggles in my car. And I'm not a fast swimmer. There was a grandma entering the water and I like pretty much swam at the same pace.

[00:44:29] She swam 300 yards and all these incredible ideas came to me and it was slow and I still made it back from my meeting. I just had wet hair. The other person didn't care. I had a good story to tell them, but I am leaving a little room this summer for spontaneity and yeah, I mean I still have a job. I still have to show up to work.

[00:44:49] I shall still have to make money, but I'm just trying not to take on that extra and extra and extra and extra and extra because normally I say yes to everything. 

[00:44:57] Ryan Berman: Is seal beach, still seal beach. Is that still happening or not so much? 

[00:45:03] Shelby Stanger: The seals. So, funny thing is, there was a video that went pretty viral the other day about the seals in La Jolla Cove chasing tourists out of the water.

[00:45:11] And I asked the lifeguard, I was like, Hey, is this a problem right now? Are the seals like in heat and like not so stoked on tourists? And they're like, yeah, like if there's a bunch of tourists on the sand crowding around the seals, they don't like it, but they don't mess with the swimmers. And if you're there in the morning, you know, the seals aren't.

[00:45:29] They're not after us. It's very rare that there's like an interaction with a seal and a human, but yeah, there are more seals than there were than when I was a kid in high school. I used to go down to La Jolla Cove at high school and I never saw seals, but now it's their beach. 

[00:45:44] Ryan Berman: Shelby, I love our conversations.

[00:45:46] Like it's just, they're easy. I always learn something from you. I always feel inspired by you. Take us home. Like for the listener. You know, they're in their car right now, or maybe they're getting ready to go grab their goggles and go for a swim. What do you want to, what do you want to leave them with?

[00:46:01] Shelby Stanger: Well, we didn't go in a straight line for this conversation. And life is not linear, like sometimes you have to take the scenic route or the side route to get to that epic Vista or that waterfall. And that's something I haven't really talked about on a lot of podcasts, but it's an important message with the book.

[00:46:17] So I say, you know, if you get a chance, do something in nature that scares you just a little bit, but don't be afraid to take the scenic route. Because I've heard so many stories of people who've taken the scenic route or the side router said yes to swimming the La Jolla Cove spontaneously and something absolutely magical that changes the course of their life happens.

[00:46:40] Ryan Berman: Just add on to that in the spirit of humor, you know, in the scenic route, like if I'm in Hawaii and it's the road to Hane, right? Make sure you're then in the driver's seat, okay? If you're not in the driver's seat, first of all, you might throw up. It's a brutal drive. And second of all, you should be driving your car, people.

[00:46:59] Take, if you're gonna take the scenic route, drive the car. Go on the journey and live the adventure. Shelby, you're a rockstar, Wheel2Wild. Check her out, find her book. Thanks so much. Oh, thanks for having me in the book. I appreciate you. And, you know, I'm probably going to bring it back on in a couple months and hear what's next, what's going on with kids.

[00:47:19] Have you launched KidVentures yet? What's the plan? 

[00:47:22] Shelby Stanger: I don't know. Maybe they're just coming on adventures with me. We'll see. I like it. 

[00:47:26] Ryan Berman: All right, Shelby. Thanks for joining. Ryan, thank you. 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.

[00:47:38] See you again next week.

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