Do you feel like you’ve been dealt a bad hand through your life? In this episode, Tim Storey, an acclaimed author, speaker, and life coach, joins Tanya Memme as they talk about looking at life through the lens of laughter, humour, and enjoyment amidst great hurdles. From a kid living in Compton to one of the world’s best speakers and coaches in the world, get to know Tim and the lessons he learned growing up in a difficult situation. Tim and Tanya discuss the importance of enjoying life even from a young age and how this helped Tim overcome the obstacles life brought upon him. Tune in and be inspired by Tim’s amazing story and start to see your life through the lens of enjoyment.
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Thinking Big In Small Places: Looking At Life Through The Lens Of Laughter And Enjoyment With Tim Storey
We have somebody special to me, Tim Storey. He is an author, a speaker, a life coach, and somebody that I’ve known for a few years now, and we’re friends. You have grown to be and become this incredible human being which is one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to you because I want to know where did this all begin.
I think it began when I was a little kid watching cartoons and enjoying life. I’ve always looked at life through the lens of humor, laughter, and enjoyment. Truly as a kid, even though our situation was difficult where we lived, we had seven people in a two-bedroom apartment.
Where did you grow up?
I was in Compton, California, and but I was still dreaming. I was happy. I enjoyed my life. I will say thinking big in small places. We were in small, tight places, but I was already thinking big while I was young.
You’re there with many people in this smaller home. Did you ever feel like you were lacking in any way?
At that point, I did not write until I got exposed to other people’s homes. It’s funny because I started to play sports. Some of the other players would invite me to their house either to play or maybe for their birthday and then I saw that they had bigger homes.
How old were you at this point?
I’m only seven. I’m seeing that these people are not in a little apartment. They’re in a house and you have choices of what bathroom to go to because we only had one bathroom. To me, I didn’t feel like we were left out or behind. I felt like I got exposed to, “I would like that, too.” It was never negative.
What was it like living with all your brothers and sisters? Was it chaotic? Was it a loving environment? What was your childhood like?
I hear this about the Wayans brothers is they believe that a lot of their comedy came from the fact that they were in a cramped environment as well. It’s the same thing in our family. My father was funny, the same with my mother. Humor runs through the whole family. I think that either we were going to get on each other’s nerves or we were going to enjoy each other. In this case, we enjoyed our lives and we’re funny and enjoyed what was going on.
Was there ever an a-ha moment where you realized that you wanted to be more than this kid from Compton?People learn from education, observation, and conversation. Click To Tweet
100%. That came from my teachers. I can think of my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Sullivan and then Mrs. Cook who used to tell me, “Timmy, the reason I’m tough on you is that I believe in you.” For some reason, Mrs. Cook was extra tough on me and I was a good student. The guy who changed my life was a guy named Mr. Probert. He was like Mr. Rogers. He was even built like him, wore a sweater and was proper. I’ll never forget this where he said, “Timmy, I want you to stay after class today.” He said that in front of the whole class and people went, “Oh.” I stayed after class and it was awesome.
He said, “Timmy, I want to tell you something. I think you are brilliant. Because I think you’re brilliant, I want to see if you want to read some books, not for extra credit, just that will help your life.” I go, “Of course.” I had to take on this whole brilliant thing because I’d never heard that before. The first book he gave me was The Life of Michelangelo. What he saw in me was the artistic side. He saw that I was a good athlete, I was funny in class and happy, but I got good grades. He saw that I was going to be an artist and that’s what I became. Kudos to a great teacher who looked inside me and decided to pull something out of me.
When you read those books and then you have this teacher in your life, you’re progressing along and you’re getting older, how did it begin for you? You’re one of the most influential speakers around. I know that you’ve been on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah and the list goes on. How did this start for you? How did you become somebody who started to speak about their truth?
I’m going to tell you things that you know because you’re a smart person. We learned from education, observation, and conversation. I’ve always had down the education side. I’ve studied for two hours on a subject that I’ve got to speak on then I went and ate with my mother. I love to study. I’ve always been a learner. If I don’t know about something, I’m going to figure it out. What people miss sometimes is that they don’t pay attention to what’s around them.
The observation side of me is I remember watching a movie with Diana Ross in it and a guy named Billy Dee Williams called Mahogany. He was a black man. He was smooth and nice. I saw how he would open up the doors for her in the movie and I was super young. I thought, “I want to be a guy like that someday that opens doors for women,” then observation conversation. One of the reasons that Tim Storey has been able to do what I’m doing is conversations with people who cared about me.
They had the funeral of one of my dear friends, Lee Iacocca, and they did it in Detroit. I watched it online. Iacocca took me under his wing at age 27. Could you imagine a kid that originally came from Compton was hanging out with the Lee Iacocca starting at 27? A person like Quincy Jones took me under his wing at age 28. I think a lot of what I’m about now is even through the conversations that I’ve had with smart people, both male and female.
What was it like when you started educating yourself? How old were you when you started researching, “There’s more to life and I want to become a master at learning how to help other people?” There must have been the first topic and a first something.
Larry King said something great when somebody was interviewing him. He says, “One of the keys to being a good person who interviews is to be curious.” I’m curious at all times. It wasn’t that I wanted to be educated so I didn’t feel left out or not smart, I’m naturally curious. If somebody tells me about an Island that I’d never heard of, I’m not even joking, I’m on it without them even knowing I’m looking or a word that I’ve never heard of. If someone uses it in a sentence, I want to know the synonym and antonym. I’m going back and forth. I want to know all the different ways to use that word. Curiosity has been my strength.
That’s how you started and then that happened. What was your first time speaking and how old were you to when it’s like, “I’m going to be a speaker?” How did it all begin?
I think that in some ways our stories are parallel here because of us knowing each other as friends. When you got into the pageants and you won, your life started to shift. What happens is that it was a series of a break after the break that led to this huge breakthrough. I love how Oprah quotes me on this. She even put me in her new book on this that life is not one big break. It’s a series of little breaks that lead sometimes to a massive breakthrough. What happened is that, becoming educated at inspiring people, it started off at YMCAs, boys’ clubs, inner-city schools, but it’s not like I had these lofty plans to speak to 85,000 people which I have at one time or to get 2,000 invitations a year. That I never saw. I went through the break and then got another break. Then I started getting massive breaks over and over.
Would you say that you let life come to you more than you seeking out for life to happen?
You set me up for something great here. I don’t believe in chasing anything. I don’t chase goals. That’s why I’m this laid back. I believe that all of us have been spoken over. I believe the universe has spoken over our lives. I cooperate with what the universe has already said. I was born to be Tim Storey. I never chased it in this town. People always say like, “How did you become the life coach to many famous people?” I never chased one. In fact, I’ve turned many down because I didn’t want to do it. I feel like we’re simply cooperating with what the universe has already said. In order to do that, we need to slow down to the speed of life so we can listen.
You talk a lot about being still and then allowing life to come your way. I know a lot of people suffer and I’ve had moments in my life too where things might not be going your way or the habits that you had in the past are not working now. You’re seeking and trying. I’m sure that you work with people like this all the time like, “I’m working hard and I’m trying to make this happen. I’m doing everything I can.” Why does it happen for some and not others? What do you think about the whole work thing?
I think that part of it is getting better. If I work with a client, it’s never trying to get you from A to Z. It’s to get you from A to B. I want you to get better. If you weren’t good at relationships, get better in 2019, get better in 2020. If one of your children is having trouble and you want me to work with them, I’m not trying to save the kid overnight. I want them to get better because better is an amazing thing. Better makes you feel better. When you start to feel better, things begin to shift. That’s how I look at life and it’s a saying that I’ve been saying for years that, “You may not be what you want to be, but thank goodness, you’re not what you used to be.” If you look at your life of you in your twenties, look how much growth you’ve had. If I look at my life and where I am now, I’ve grown a lot and I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the process.
What would you say was one of your biggest whether it be spiritual or emotional or whatever it is, obstacles that you’ve had to overcome in your life?
I would 100% say divorce because I waited to get married. I was 25, but because of going to seminary, I lived a different type of life than most people. I was almost like a monk. I was 25 and married into a powerful family. I remember talking to my father-in-law and saying to him, “I want to marry your daughter.” I was having this talk with him saying what an outstanding young man he thought I was. To then have a talk with him years later and say, “We’ve been going to marital counseling for three years and it’s still not working.” What came with that? Shame, guilt, regret, and confusion. It took me a long time to get through that because divorce means divided force. You had the force and now you have divided force. Even if you don’t get along, that divided force hurts. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t do that well through it emotionally.
How does somebody like you who now helps many other people get through these emotional blocks that you deal with because you’re a human?
One of the good things about failing is that it gives you the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. That’s what Henry Ford said. When I realized that I did not have the tools to get up properly from the divorce because I’m private so I didn’t discuss it with people. Even though I had a therapist, I hardly discussed it with my therapist. He would say like, “How are you doing?” I’d say, “Great.”
He knows that you’re there for a reason.
At this stage of my life, I’m realizing that to be vulnerable is okay and to not be okay is okay. To be left when I want to be right is okay. I wish I had known that then, but I know it now. I’ve become a great ex-husband. I talked to her probably 3, 4 times a week. My children are older now, but we co-parent to the children. It was a hard lesson, but a lesson that I learned a lot from.
You talk a lot about your life is going to go left in order to go right. Share that philosophy.
I feel that every morning we wake up, if you were to go to social media first, you’re going to see a lot of things where people are posting that life is right. “I’m in Europe, I’m feeling it.” My hair’s great and everything’s happening right.Life is not one big break. It's a series of little breaks that sometimes lead to a massive breakthrough. Click To Tweet
Those are the ones that have millions of followers, too. It’s never the ones that are like, “My life sucks.”
To be right is to be germane, apropos, in the groove, and in the sink. We are pushed with the right early in life but sometimes life has left, as we both know. Rejected, forsaken and it didn’t work. We got disappointed. I started speaking this message years ago. Sometimes you got to get left before you get right. To be left, sometimes you feel set on the left and you feel like you’ve now settled on the left, but then I threw in another one, but you can learn to get seasoned on your left that will cause you to soar right. I feel that the strength of Tim Storey is that I got seasoned in my pain. I learned how to communicate with people. I’m empathetic more than I’ve ever been.
It’s because you’ve had other tragedies I know happening.
It’s because of the pain and the tragedies and the things that I’ve seen. Those things on the left became a library and a sanctuary. A library of learning and a sanctuary of depth. I’m not going to interview the person interviewing me, but I’ve got that from you in our conversations too, and challenges in your life. It took you deep spiritually where you went into a deeper place and got even a stronger foundation. The left helps you to get right to the library and the sanctuary.
I think it also helps you become more in touch with who you are because you have nothing else to grab onto that’s false. With that philosophy, I know that you had the divorce and you’ve had some tragedies in your life. What is it like during one of those moments for you to finally get out of it? How did you do that? What were some of the tools that you used?
Part of the tools is number one, you have to become awake and some people are not. What they do is they become human doing rather than human beings where they get too busy so that they don’t feel the pain or they get addicted to something so they don’t feel the pain.
They are running away. A lot of people are doing things to say that they’re busy like overworking, doing this and that so they’re out all the time.
I become awakened so now I got to be aware of my surroundings and then the number three is you got to take inventory. You got to get real with what your life is about like, “Tim, you’re a good motivational speaker that’s why everyone’s asking you to speak but you have some intimacy issues because you will not even open up to your therapist.”
What do you do? What are the tools that you use? You’re saying that you become aware.
Be awake and then the inventory and then you now have to partner with people who are stronger than you in that area. That’s where I’ve become a pro. I’m good at this. If I don’t know something in finances, I’m not afraid to ask. If I don’t know anything about insurance, I’m going to ask somebody about that, too. If everybody is a vegan now, I want to know why they’re vegan. I am open to looking for help. What I find is a lot of men are not. I’m open. I need the power of partnership and if I’m in quicksand, I need somebody to help me.
It seems like there’s a lot of people out there that are willing to help, but they either want to be paid or there’s always something attached to it. It’s hard because a lot of people that feel like they’ve hit rock bottom, they don’t have the money. Was it that you hired people to help you or a mixture of both?
You touched something that’s powerful. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine is that when I got into what I do, I see myself first as a humanitarian more than a speaker who makes a lot of money to speak. I gave my life to help change people’s lives in 75 countries of the world. The first time I ever got paid $50 to go speak at some youth retreat, I tried to give the guy the money back. I never ever had a mindset about the surplus and the money. This idea that everything is for hire does wear me out because I think that the motive is important. To coach with me, there is a price but the people that coach with me are usually men who make a lot of money and they should pay because at least I know they’re going to show up on time. When they weren’t paying, they didn’t show up on time.
I know you well enough to know that you also coached enough people back in the day or even once in a while you might take somebody on who’s struggling.
I’d say 30% of my coaching, I still do gratis and I’m constantly making hospital visitations to people that I hardly even know. Someone will say, “Tim, sorry. This is weird but my cousin’s a big fan of yours and he is at Cedars-Sinai.” I go, “That’s wild. I got to go right down the street. I’ll go see him.” This is constant. This is my life.
Where in your life or what time in your life or what makes you want to be a person of service to others?
It’s when I saw somebody that was hurting worse than me. My father passed away when I was ten years of age in a car accident. He was going through a green light, someone runs on a red light and hits my father. He dies. I’d never heard my mother cry. She’s strong. When I heard my mother cry, it was not a good feeling. I then heard her cry again the next night and then the next night and something in me started being open to the cry of hurting people.
I’ve heard it too and it doesn’t leave you.
In many situations, whether I’m going into a 7-Eleven to go get something and there’s somebody hurting and they’re asking for money, but I know there’s something more. I know I can help or the fact that I’m doing many things like with prison reform that I do and helping with the homeless. I’m open to the cry of hurting people because I understand that pain
When people are in that pain often when people come to you, how do you navigate through that? What are some of the first steps to get them out of that pain especially when they’re mourning loss or death?
The thing about life that’s interesting is there was a song by The Byrds back in the ‘60s that became the number one song in England and I think number seven in America. It’s called Turn! Turn! Turn!. It talks about times and seasons in life. There’s a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to be silent and a time to speak. Both you and I understand that this stage of our life, there are seasons in life. Now, I’m riding a big wave.
I also know what to try to ride a miniature wave and stuff doesn’t work. In the midst of my big wave, I still got left all in my wave. There’s stuff left everywhere. I’m going to do the funeral and that was my friend. I got a lot of pain going on even though I’m riding this big wave. Going back to left and right, I think it’s okay if somebody says to you, “How are you doing?” “I’m left, but I’m all right.” I think that life is always going to be left and right. There are times and seasons for everything.
I also like that you’re not dwelling on, “I’m not doing okay and my friend passed away. I’m suffering.” You’re adding in the, “I’m right.”Better is an amazing thing. Better makes you feel better. When you start to feel better, things begin to shift. Click To Tweet
I stopped to ride that wave. To answer your question is how do we get through this pain that we’re in. Number one, we have to understand that when someone or something dies, the average mourning process is two years. That is something that is emotionally in you. To mourn is like an inner groaning. There are great people that are moving around and that are reading to this that are mourning over something. A dream that did not work. A relationship did not work. Know that this is a natural part of life. I call that the recovery zone, but don’t get caught up in the recovery that you miss your discovery.
Give me an example of somebody who is recovering. Do you mean that sometimes there are gifts presented to you and you don’t even know that they’re there?
You are going to miss it because recovery is singular. Meaning, “I have a cold. Feed me chicken noodle soup. I don’t feel good. I can’t go to school.” When somebody is in the recovery zone, usually it’s singular. When you’re happy, we go plural. It’s like, “I’m with my girl.” That’s plural. When you’re in the recovery zone, we usually go singular. When we’re in the discovery zone, we usually go plural. We want to share.
I know you talk a lot about the miracle mindset, which I want to talk to you about, but is it like when you’re in that recovery zone if you can change your thoughts in a way where you’re in the discovery zone, do you force? It’s hard.
I’m going to make this super simple with you because you have an amazing child. If your child got injured and they came home. Their finger was bleeding and they go, “I’m in pain.” “Let me see what you’re in pain.” You’ve now found where the pain is. It’s on the finger. We isolate the problem and we work on that. It’s the same thing in our lives as adults. Most people start thinking about everything is wrong. No, it’s not. Let’s isolate the problem. Is it physical? Is it mental or clarity of mind? Is it in your relationship? Is it in your job? Is it in your finances? Is it in your health? Then we can go from there. Fix the cut in the child, but also play. Realize that life is still good. That’s what we have to do even as adults.
Focus on that.
Go through your recovery zone. If you were to get a cut, it’ll bleed, bleeding stops, you get a scab, you might get a scar and hopefully, the scar goes away. There’s a process. It’s the same thing in the recovery that anybody is going through this reading. Pay attention to the discovery because you’re living in a time that you prayed for a long time ago. The moments that you are having and I’m having in life are the things you dreamt about what happened when you were in Canada.
I also see you differently than you see yourself and you see me differently than I see myself because we all have blind spots. When I know your story, how you were having to be Miss Canada and then that would lead to boom, boom, boom, I think you’ve been good-hearted and life evolved for you and took you to many amazing places. If you were to get caught up in your recovery, you would have missed much of that discovery.
Let’s talk about the miracle mindset because it was on this same theme.
The miracle mindset is a must because you’re going to have a mindset of something. A mindset, this is your mind and you’re going to set it on something. You remember the days of the big, old satellite dishes that you’d see everywhere. You used to see it a lot on people’s houses even in poor neighborhoods. Wherever you would shift that satellite dish, that’s what you would pick up. To me, the miracle mindset is not shifting your satellite dish on the negative things in your life, all the wrongs or how there are many haters. One thing you’ll never hear coming out of my mouth is, “There are haters out there.”
What are we even talking about? I don’t think that way. The miracle mindset is having a supernatural, magical, extraordinary mindset that you feel your mind and your spirit with goodness that comes out of your pores, no matter what’s going on in your life. I do this prayer meditation thing every day. I’ve already read all these positive affirmations. I’ve already meditated and prayed. I have filled myself full of a certain mindset that I promise you that no matter what happens through the day, I’m going to handle it. It’s a mindset. You travel and I travel. You even had a travel show and on that travel show, were there ever delays in your flights?
All the time.
If you don’t have the right mindset, you’re going to go, “This is the last thing I need.”
I was like that at all.
I’m thinking, “It’s going to work out.” I can now call people. I could return calls. I could read this book that I’m reading. I’m going to go hide in the lounge.
It’s seldom when we freak out, there’s something on the other end of that. You weren’t going to be late for something and even if you were at up working out, don’t get caught up.
The miracle mindset I say is your VIP pass to anywhere. I honestly believe that my mindset is one of the things that takes me to all these places that blow me away. I am living way over my head.
You’re enjoying it because I know that there’s also talk about the science behind it too.
There are people that don’t even have faith in God and they’re healed of cancer because of their mindset.
They’re healing their own body.
They see themselves getting better. They see themselves out of a situation. I’m individualization and I see myself in certain places and then when it manifests, it’s almost déjà vu. I saw myself as one of Oprah’s great friends but I saw that that was going to happen. I would watch her on TV and I go, “That’s funny. I can’t wait to talk to her about that.” I had never even met her.
It’s interesting because some of the biggest successes I’ve had winning Miss Canada and being on television for many years is I saw it as too clear as day. There was no plan B. That was the plan. It’s funny how crystal clear you get.Sometimes you got to get left before you get right. Click To Tweet
What that should do is build your confidence in what you see in the future can happen.
Is it becoming crystal clear on that? Is it knowing exactly what you want? What if you don’t know and you’re like, “This could happen or maybe I want that?” What do you do with people that don’t know where their next chapter in life?
Some things you decide, some things you discover. People are tripping too much on the whole decision thing. Life is like a diner and a restaurant where they’ll bring you the menu and then you have to look at what they have and you have to decide. People are trying to rush order their lives like, “Is this relationship going to work, or should I take that job? I’m stressed.” Sometimes you have to wait on it and go, “I’m not ready. You come back to the waiter or waitress and give me a beat, give me a moment. Don’t you like this?” I think your dream has a voice. Silence yourself and let that dream start talking. At this stage of my life, I’m led by right here.
Is it a feeling for you when you know it’s the right decision?
Let’s get back to parenting for a second because I have two kids. The more I got to know my children when they were young, the noises that they made, I knew what was going on. If they were arguing with each other, I knew if it was a big argument or a small argument. If they cried, I knew if it was a serious cry or not serious. I feel like over time even with ourselves, we are learning to manage ourselves and also hear what our heart is trying to tell us.
The confusion behind it sometimes kills me. It’s like, “Is it my heart? Is it not?” How do you know it’s your heart?
Let me tell you what I like you do because I know some things you do. You are willing to get away and go do things like, “I’m going to be away for a week. I’m going to this retreat.” “Who are you going with?” “I’m going by myself.”
I’ve done a lot of that.
This is important because life is like a battleground. You can’t stay on the battleground. You got to go to the holy ground then the battleground. Most people stay on the battleground. It’s hard to hear in the midst of this LA traffic. I’ve got to go to a holy ground whether it’s the mountains, the beach, a quiet place, or whether it’s sleeping in and not feeling guilty. You got to go to that quiet place.
That’s how you become more connected with your heart.
Your dream has a voice and it’s trying to communicate but you keep turning down the volume with all this other stuff that’s going on in your lives. I clearly told a guy, “I will call you back at 5:00 because I am coaching people and all that.” He kept calling me and calling me. I then thought that it must be an emergency. I called him back and I said, “Did you hear the message?” He says, “Yes, but I need to talk to you now.” It wasn’t even an emergency. It’s the way he is. Here’s what I’m learning more and more to quote Stephen Covey, “Somebody else’s urgent is not necessarily ours.” When somebody is crying urgent, it doesn’t mean we always have to answer the phone.
That’s creating boundaries too which I’m sure you talk about too. As for where you are in your life now, what’s one of the things that you’re working on as Tim Storey within yourself?
I want to be even more present and help people that are trying to cope with what they’re going through. I learned that from a lady named Jean Stone. She’s well known in Beverly Hills. Her husband was a writer and she was 72 when she told me this and I was only 28. She said, “Tim, in the midst of all your charisma, pay attention to people that are hurting and they’re coping. Everybody’s coping with something.” I feel like there’s a lot of good people that are hurting. I want to be even more present to pay attention so I can help them.
What do you do to become more present?
I stop, look, and listen that I’m in the moment. When I’m with that person, I’m with that person. If I’m eating lunch with them, I’m not texting somebody else that I’m truly right here. I’m becoming good at this. My sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Probert, he’d be proud of me.
Thank you for everything that you’ve said. You’re a wealth of such positive energy and influence. Let’s tell everybody where they can learn more about you.
This has been great.
People need to read this over and over because there are some nice layers.
Where can we see you speaking next? Where are you going to be?
I speak all over the place, all over the world. On TimStorey.com. I still do my monthly Beverly Hills event that I do.
That’s fun and you have books and you have all kinds of stuff, information and literature and more coming out. Thank you, Tim, for coming on the show. If you want to check more episodes, make sure you check it out on my show on iTunes. Give us a rating. I hope you liked the show.