Everyone goes through a transition in life at some point or another. The key is to not let it take you down. That’s what Jason Goldberg emphasizes in this episode with Tanya Memme. Jason is an international transformational speaker, trainer, and coach who strives to help his clients overcome challenges and develop opportunities through the simplicity of the messages he shares. He has delivered countless inspiring and hilarious talks that empower people to make a difference in their lives and businesses. To learn more about Jason’s message, you can read his book, Prison Break: Vanquish the Victim, Own Your Obstacles, and Lead Your Life or follow The Not-So-Serious Life, the Web TV Show he co-hosts with author Steve Chandler.
Watch the episode here:
Transitioning With Ease With Jason Goldberg
On the show, we have Jason Goldberg. I’m excited to have you on the show. I chased him down on Instagram.
You can’t chase the willing.
Jason, you are many things. You’re an author, a life coach, a business mentor. You change people’s lives and that is what I love so much, and it’s because of the trials and tribulations that you’ve been through in your own life. I have a quote that I saw on your Instagram page. It was the first quote that I ever came across on the Instagram feed and it was, “Create with what you are given.” That’s your quote. Tell me about that. All the quotes on your Instagram feed are all your quotes, and I love that.
It’s funny because, in the beginning, I didn’t do that. I quoted other people. I had somebody tell me like, “I already know what Ellen DeGeneres thinks.” It’s like, “What do you think?” I started sharing my own stuff. I love that you picked up on that quote. A core fundamental shift that’s happened in my life is recognizing that if I am going to be at the whim of circumstance, if my happiness is going to be dictated on who’s in the White House and how the economy is doing and the song on the radio that reminds me of my ex, if that’s what I’m going to create my life from, I have no choice but to try to mold and modify and manipulate everything around me. It’s like, “When do I have time left to live?” Create with what you’re given is saying, like, “Given the conditions of the game that I’m facing, what would I love to create? What role can I take in responsibly creating the world that I want?
You are incredible for people that are going through transition and things like that in their life. I know that you have a bazillion clients that you’re working with. You went from the tech world. You had a massively huge weight loss story too. How did that all happen? You transitioned to this TEDx speaker. You’re speaking all around the world. You’ve written books. How did that transition happen for you? When did your life happen?
I was in tech for about fifteen years and I was successful in that. I was a Director of Engineering for a tech firm in my mid-twenties, making well over six figures and doing all the things that seemed outwardly would make you happy, had the nice home, nice cars, perfect relationship, and all these things that a lot of us have probably had in some way, shape, or form. It felt almost soul-sucking to me because I had such anger and such depression. I had suicidal thoughts from the time I was a teenager into my mid-twenties.
Where do you think that was from? What was your upbringing like? Where did that come from?
I was raised by a single Jewish mother. I love her. She’s great. She’s crazy in all the greatest ways. She’s a hustler. She raised me as a single mother and an only child. We had, in some senses, more of almost an adult peer relationship sometimes, which was great. It forced me to mature a lot earlier. I was 250 pounds when I was fifteen years old and that’s when kids are sweet and loving and would never ever make fun of you because of the way you look. They’re compassionate. It kept getting worse and worse. I believe that the core of my sadness and depression and everything else was my physical weight. When I had this moment, it wasn’t like the moment where everything changed. When you have something going on in your life that’s not working for you, you know. In my book, the first chapter is called The Day the Universe Cut Me Off. It’s all about this day, this moment of time, where I realized I needed to take personal responsibility for what was going on in my life. I was 332 pounds. I was morbidly obese and severely angry and depressed. I needed to take responsibility.
How old were you at this?
I was 29.
You were obese early on?
Around first grade, I was already approaching it.
It’s quite early to all the way when you were in your mid-twenties.
It kept getting worse and worse. I had all the excuses in the world. I was raised in Florida. It was hot so I couldn’t go outside and play. Emotional eating was a big thing. It’s like, “Something bad happened, let’s eat. Something great happened, let’s eat. I’m bored, let’s eat.” Eating was the thing. My mom, being a single mother, there was a lot of fast food and pizza and stuff. My mom makes two things well, eggplant parmesan and reservations. That’s all she can make. I love her to death. It’s not about her. It was all these circumstances that I had made myself believe. That was the reason I was fat.
It’s hard being a single mom. I’m sure you understand that from your mom’s point of view too.If beating yourself up is going to work, it would have worked by now. Click To Tweet
She’s done her best. She has worked her butt off. I never wanted for anything, no matter what challenges we had. The golden thread that was going through my entire life up until this day, the universe cut me off, was that it was never my responsibility. It was always somebody else. I had this mantra until I was in my late-twenties, “The spirituality of mantras. I want to bring the goodness and essence of Mother Earth.” All that stuff is wonderful. My mantra was, “Who can I blame?” That was it. I walked around in my entire life saying, “Who can I blame?” Let’s blame mom, my boss, the clients, the economy, the heat. Let’s blame whatever as long as I don’t have to take personal responsibility for feeling the way I feel.
Do you think that a lot of people go through that when things aren’t going well in their life? The first thing we do is we start blaming everyone else. It can take six months, a month, a year, five years where you’re constantly blaming someone else. You hope that there comes a day, which seems like it did for you, where you realize that nobody is going to be there to save you. It’s up to you. It seems like you went through that.
It’s a huge thing. It can be sobering. It’s one of these things where when you get that you truly are the creator of your experience. It has this weird thing of being both shameful and liberating. This is not meant to be like once you realize this, you go, “Everything’s perfect now.” It’s like, “Why was I stupid? Why did I do this to myself for so long? Why did I do this?” We beat ourselves up. You may have heard this before, if beating yourself up is going to work, it would have worked by now. It doesn’t work and we go to this place of shame.
For me, I was blaming everybody else. I had this moment, it was like, “Now it’s time to blame myself.” Neither of those is helpful. Based on the conditions of the game you’re playing right now, based on what you’ve been presented with, it’s like playing improv with the universe. Robin Williams was one of my idols. I miss him so much. He’s incredible. He had this life spirit about him. Did you ever see him on Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton?
Yes. It was amazing.
It was good. Remember the person in the audience that throws up the pink scarf and he goes and starts creating all these characters.
Yes. It’s natural for him.
He’s like in a Turkish bathhouse. He wraps it around his head. He does all this fun stuff. Imagine behind the scenes, before he went out there, they said, “Mr. Williams, at about seven minutes into the interview, a woman in the front row is going to throw up a scarf. It’s going to be pink.”
It wouldn’t have worked.
He would have been like, “No. I want to create in the moment.” He’s a good scene partner for the universe. I’ll speak for myself. What I do sometimes still and what I did for the first almost 30 years of my life, I was a crappy scene partner. The universe would say, “Here.” I would say, “Nope.” An improv, it’s never no, it’s always, “Yes, and.”
You’re big into, the universe has your back which I am too. The universe is there for you and not against you.
My belief is the universe is kind. My belief is the universe doesn’t try to punish us. When something happens, it’s not a, “You better learn this lesson. We’re punishing you until you get the lesson.” It’s like in movies. Do you ever see in movies before where ghosts and people from the other side, they can’t talk to you, but they would creak a door so you’ll know they’re there? The universe can’t email and say, “What you’re doing is ineffective and there may be a better way for you to live your life so you can be happier, but you need to take personal responsibility.” The universe says, “I’ll toss that out there and maybe they’ll get the point.” The universe is kind. The universe wants us to step into what we’re capable of being, and it puts things in our path that can help us slip into that.
You deal with people a lot since you are an amazing life coach. Let’s say somebody is going through a transition. They’re going through a hard time and are lost. How should they look at the universe? Is it signs that they might see? How do you turn someone around to get them to believe the philosophy that the universe is kind?
I remember working with somebody one time who wanted to work on her abundance mindset. She wanted to get away from scarcity and be more abundant. I was messing with her because I do this a lot. I love to ridicule and joke in coaching. We take this life coaching and personal development stuff way too seriously, entirely too seriously, and it’s not that serious. I remember talking to this woman and I said, “Before we do that, can we work on one other thing first?” She said, “Yeah, of course.” I said, “We’re going to work on your gravity mindset.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “We need you to believe in gravity. If you don’t believe in gravity, you’ll float away.” She says, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Right now, I want you to disavow gravity entirely. Let’s see what happens.”
She got that I was messing with her, that there’s no need to change your relationship with the universe or have a different money mindset or a different abundance mindset. All that stuff is a distraction from you being who you are, the essence of lifeforce and spirit and saying, given whatever is going on in my life, if I was going to step into my creativity, my mantra has gone from, “Who can I blame?” My new mantra is, “Creativity is greater than circumstance.” There is no amount of overwhelming levels of creativity that cannot obliterate any circumstance we’re facing.
For somebody who’s starting to go through this, I don’t want to push them too hard. If you’re hangry, if you haven’t eaten and somebody says to you, “You should be doing something more rationally,” it’s like, “What are you talking about? Get away from me. I can’t hear that right now.” We need to help people raise up into a higher level of consciousness. A big part of that, in my world, is acceptance. I want people to be like, “I get it. I’m going through this right now. It feels like crap. Maybe there’s nothing to do. Maybe I want to look in the mirror and say to myself, ‘I’m sorry, I’m putting you through this. It’s all going to get better. I promise.’” The more that we do that, the more we accept that stuff, there’s nothing for us to push away. There’s nothing for us to get rid of. It leaves us when we don’t take it seriously.
I find sometimes when people are struggling and going through something, and I’ve done this before where you’re looking so you try this or you try that or you do that because time is running out, your bank account is running out, and then you come to a point where sometimes it’s best to be still and let things come to you.
I like to use this snow globe analogy. You take a snow globe and you shake it up, life feels like that sometimes. You’re standing in the middle of a snow globe and you can’t even see your hand in front of your face because the snow is going everywhere. Us as well-meaning human beings who think we have to be in control of everything, we think it’s our job to grab every single piece of snow that’s floating around and put it back on the ground. As we’re frantically running around and doing that, we’re kicking up more snow so we can’t ever get ahead. If you look at a real snow globe, what do you have to do for the snow to settle?
You’ve got to be still.
You put it down and you step away and the snow settles by itself in 30 seconds or a minute without you intervening at all. It’s like when people get cut and they say, “I need to do something to heal that.” You can do things to contribute to it, but the body is made to heal. You don’t need to do anything. It’s going to do it on its own.
Tell me about the transition. What was that one day where you decided, “I’m going to make a difference?” What was that day like for you, “I’m going to change myself?”
This is when I was still in my corporate job and technology and I went to buy some socks on Amazon. I’m a big sock person. I went to buy some $70 socks on Amazon. Don’t judge me. The card got declined. I knew I had enough money in the bank for $70. It’s a credit card. At this time in my life is when I’m angry. Everything sets me off, no matter what it is, if it doesn’t go exactly according to plan for me. It’s a fear thing. It’s not even an anger thing.
It’s all about fear and scarcity, “I’m going to lose everything. I’m not good enough.”
For men, we think that anger is an acceptable form of fear so we’ll go to anger. We’re all afraid. We don’t want to admit it as much. I was afraid and I was angry. I stormed out of my office. I called my bank and I’m mashing the zero button to get a live person. I finally get someone from the bank and I’m yelling at this person saying, “Why is my card being declined? I know there’s money in the bank.” What he tells me is that there was some potentially fraudulent activity on the account. They deactivated my card so they could check it out.
That’s happened to all of us.
That’s the thing. I should have been grateful like, “Thank you so much.” I got extra mad. I go in like, “What do you mean? Did somebody steal my identity? They hacked my account. What are you talking about?” I demanded to know, “What were these charges that you think are fraudulent and that you took my money away from me?” They said, “There were four fast-food transactions in a single day.” They assumed somebody had stolen my card and were testing it with small purchases before going to make a big purchase. Of course, that’s not what happened.
You were emotionally eating.
I had gone to four fast-food restaurants in one day. It took a multibillion-dollar bank to tell me I was out of control, “We’re taking away your money until you make better choices.” They literally cut me off. That was the day where I knew things were going wrong. I had it known for years. This was the first time where I could not blame anybody else.
It’s right there.
It’s fully me. Even then, I started going down the path of personal growth. It would be great to say like, “I read a book and my life changed.” No, it was terrible. I’m reading stuff and it’s not making sense to me. I read Think and Grow Rich.At their core, people do want to contribute and serve. Click To Tweet
You’re in the defense.
I was in such resistance. It takes time. It takes willingness. For me, I’m big on reverse engineering what other people have done. I saw there were people with much more traumatic experiences in their life than me that seemed to be happy. I started looking at those people and reverse engineering it and it always came back to personal growth. It always came back to looking within. I decided to get a coach and to start exploring that and that’s where this transition started.
You made your decision. The bank calls you that day and obviously, it’s clear what the problem was. You hang up the phone, “What do I do now?” How did you get the courage or even think about hiring a coach?
It all comes from willingness. As I’m reading these different books and I’m starting to get little glimpses, it’s not landing with me. Anybody who reads personal growth and is like, “This doesn’t make sense,” good. You’re doing it right. It’s not supposed to make sense in the beginning. It’s like you’ve been raised to speak Spanish your entire life and all of a sudden, they’ve given you a book in French. You’re not stupid. You’re not dumb. You’re not like not a good enough person if you don’t understand it. It’s not a language you’ve been raised with.
You’ll slowly start easing your way into French. You’ll pick up a word or two and you go, “That word in French looks like the word in Spanish. I get what’s going on.” Slowly being open to that stuff, slowly seeing how it felt to take in those insights, slowly practicing this stuff and feeling like something was different, then it’s like anything where you’re getting results, you’re like, “I’m going to do more of that.” That’s a dopamine hit, “I’m going to do more of it.” Eventually, that led to me getting a coach. That transitioned so much of my life having that support.
Did that coach help you lose weight?
No. The weight loss happened before the coaching. I read books for two years where I was diving into personal growth and doing it on my own before I finally decided to get a coach. I wanted to do it. I also had this thing where I don’t need anybody’s help. I’m going to isolate. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this before.
I’ve done that.
We all have.
We isolate when we don’t know what to do. We don’t know what to say to our friends or family if we’re going through a hard time.
You don’t want to be judged. Families mean well but a lot of times they’re much more judgmental than they are helpful. I always say that families want to either project or protect, and that’s beautiful and it’s not your problem. It’s not for us to deal with their projection and their protection. I definitely have had a tendency to isolate as well. Even when my wife and I went through our divorce, I was like, “Nope, I’m going to do it on my own,” and then was like, “No. You can’t do this on your own.” I reached out to four friends and I said, “I’m going to feel like a burden every time I call you. I don’t want to call you. I want to do this on my own. I need you to hold my feet to the fire.”
That’s hard to do.
They were amazing because all of our friends want to support us. You’re probably like me. You want everybody to call you with their stuff.
I’m used to that. I’m used to being the one that they call for advice, and this and that. I had been going through a tough time in the past few years. I’m on the other end now but it was hard. The hardest thing I had was admitting it. Finally, whenever I would meet with my friends, I’d be like, “My life sucks right now and I don’t know what to do. I don’t have any direction. I’m not sure where I’m going. All I know is I want to help people. That’s all I know.” It’s interesting how you know there is one thing that you know you want to do. Do you control life or does life happen to you where you’re at the bottom of your barrel? You’re like, “All I know is I want to help people and I don’t know what to do with that information.” What do you say to people that are in that situation?
The thing is that the majority of people, at their core, they’re focused on growth and contribution. It doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean it’s like going on a cruise or eating cheesecake where you’re like, “I want to go through growth and contribution.” At their core, people do want to contribute. They do want to serve. It’s hardwired in us. A lot of the media will try to tell us otherwise and try to convince us that the world is falling apart. I believe the universe is kind. I believe that people, if not for the thoughts they took seriously about the world, are also extremely kind and want to contribute.
If you get to a point where you say, “I don’t know what I want to do. I know I want to contribute,” then you’re doing it right because it means you’re looking to live as a verb. It’s one thing to be a noun like, “I want to be a host. I want to be a coach. I want to be a CEO.” That noun, that label, it’s not helpful when you’re trying to find your purpose. I want people, and for myself as well, I want to figure out what lights people up. What lights you up? That’s the thing.
My favorite quote in the world is by a guy named Howard Thurman. It’s the guiding force for my life and even for our business. He says, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” The opportunity, at your lowest of lows, is not to focus on yourself. Get rid of your ego and your self-importance. Ask yourself, what levels of compassion and contribution can you use to serve other people? You will skyrocket out of that.
These are interesting questions I’ve always had. For someone like you, I would love to hear what you have to say about it. What do you say to people that are successful businessmen who have an ego that can’t even fit in this room? For whatever reason, they’re calling you but they’re highly successful. They feel like their life is perfect but at the same time, they’re calling you for some reason. What I’m saying is the opposite. They’re not at the bottom of their barrel. They’re at the top of their game. I’m sure you work with people like that too. I don’t even know the right question to ask.
It’s a minimal shift. It’s a small shift. Ninety percent of my clients are women. For whatever reason, I attract more women in my world and that’s fine and I love that. It’s great. For the men that come in, and also for the women, there are plenty of high-powered women that I’ve worked with that have that same level of ego.
How do you tell them, “The reason why you’re being held back is because you’ve got a big ego?”
Here’s how you do it, you speak their language. The language of the high-powered male or female executive, male or female leader, entrepreneur, whatever it is, is effectiveness. They don’t care about soft skills. They don’t care about people liking them. They don’t care about being sweet, loving, and kind. They do at their core, but they don’t realize that at the moment. What they do care about are effectiveness and efficiency.
I don’t resonate that way. That would be hard for me.
A lot of people don’t.
Maybe that’s why I’m not a millionaire.
You’re on your way. You have the essence of a millionaire. It’s the lens of effectiveness. I love that you asked that question because whether you’re high-powered or not, one of the things that personal growth does ineffectively as well is they make things right or wrong. They make things good or bad. It’s an ethical thing. It’s like, “If you do this, then you’re a good person. If you don’t practice this stuff, you’re a bad person.” We’re back in judgment and shame again. It doesn’t motivate us. I like to live in a world, as much as possible of effective versus ineffective, productive versus unproductive. When I’m talking to somebody, “I did this thing. I was going to the gym for a week but then I ate an entire cheesecake in one sitting. I always self-sabotage.”
I do that. I’m the queen of self-sabotage.
It’s a judgment. How did you come back from a judgment of yourself? You’ve set yourself up to lose. I don’t mean you, I mean anybody. Realize and take a step back and say, “Okay, cool.” Given what I want to create in the world, “I want to have this healthy body. I want to have this great business. I want to have this awesome relationship.” The thing that I’m attaching to, “I self-sabotage. I do this. I do that,” whatever the stories that we all have, is that interesting or is it helpful? Interesting versus helpful.
There are plenty of things that I can ruminate on and I do it. Believe me, I am by no way, shape, or form completely immune to any of this stuff. It happens to me constantly. That’s how I know it’s my work to continue doing in the world and on myself so I can help others. I know there are many things that pop in my head that would be interesting to go down the rabbit hole and see where it came from and blame my dad for leaving my mom when she was pregnant. Blame the girl that broke up with me in high school. Blame my ex-wife. It’s like a reality TV show. It’s interesting, but not at all helpful towards where I want to go. That’s the question I ask, interesting or helpful?
I want to talk about your book Prison Break. Tell me a little bit about what that is.
That’s what we’ve been talking about. For me, I like to work in distinctions, this versus that, effective versus ineffective, interesting versus helpful. It’s easier to remember. I don’t want you to pull out a laminated ten-step card to live your life. It should be quick, this versus that. The book is all about this distinction of whether you are a prisoner of circumstance or a self-leader. That’s why it’s called Prison Break, it’s about breaking out of the self-created prison of the mind. We’re all there at some point or another.The language of high-powered male or female executives, leaders, and entrepreneurs is effectiveness. Click To Tweet
The book is all about understanding the small shifts in any given moment. This is a moment-by-moment thing. You don’t become a prisoner and then you’re a prisoner for life. You don’t become a self-leader and you’re a self-leader for life. It is a moment-by-moment decision and to ask myself, “In this moment, given what’s being presented to me, do I want to show up and react as a prisoner of circumstance where everything outside of me dictates my happiness or my sadness or do I want to be a self-leader? Do I want to take real radical personal responsibility for what I’m experiencing and see how my creativity can move me forward?”
What I love is that you’ve walked the walk and talked the talk. This is all based on your experience.
I’m still doing it. I’m not done. I will never be done. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s job security.
You did get yourself out of this situation that you were in through your twenties and probably even your early-30s. You’ve created this whole brand-new life for the way that you see. You’ve probably changed the way that you’ve done everything.
A lot of things.
You’ve made massive choices.
I’ve had to. Here’s the thing, nobody has to. Nobody has to undergo personal growth. It’s not about that. If the life you’re living feels effective, there’s nothing for you to change. I had somebody come to me before and they said they wanted me to coach them because they wanted to stop cheating on their wife.
What do you do with that?
The first question I asked them was, “Do you want to stop cheating on your wife?” They said, “I’m not sure.” I said, “There’s nothing I can do to help you.” There are a lot of people who say they want to change, but they don’t want to do the work. For people who do want to do the work, they’re able to do whatever it is they want to do.
Thank you so much. This is amazing. Where can we learn more about you? Your Instagram page and where else?
Instagram is great, @TheJasonGoldberg. I couldn’t get Jason Goldberg so I got the most pretentious name ever, The Jason Goldberg. I wanted to sound like a regal schmuck.
Your book is on Amazon. It’s one of the top sellers on Amazon. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
It’s my pleasure.
About Jason Goldberg
What does an award-winning entrepreneur, a TEDx Speaker, a bacon-atarian (thats a vegetarian who still eats bacon), a funky sock lover, a former rapper (who opened for the Wu-Tang Clan – YES, really!) and a previously 332lb man (who has since lost over 130lbs despite his affinity for bacon) have in common?
They are all the same guy!
Jason Goldberg (JG for short) is the King of Playful Sales, Success and Self-Leadership. He is a geek, turned entrepreneur, “Edu-tainer”, author of the #1 International Best-Seller “Prison Break” and creator of both the Playful Prosperity AND the Business UNusual System programs.
JG blends his signature mix of simple and transformational wisdom, practical business mentorship, and belly-busting humor to help coaches, speakers and online educators build “Competition-PROOF” businesses full of impact and influence (and that allows them to have a ton of FUN in the process)!
Before shifting his focus to the world of human potential, JG earned his MBA degree, served as the Director of Engineering and Operations for a technology firm, was the co-founder and CEO of a ground-breaking executive transportation company and was also co-founder and CEO of a technology commercialization startup in partnership with NASA to bring innovations from the space shuttle program to the private sector.
As a sought-after international speaker and host, JG has shared the stage with some of the world’s greatest thought-leaders and innovators in human potential and performance including Jason Silva (Host of Nat Geo’s “Brain Games”), Dr. Sean Stephenson (The 3 Foot Giant), Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements), Vishen Lakhiani (CEO of Mindvalley), Steven Kotler (Stealing Fire), Marisa Peer (the UK’s psychotherapist to the stars) and so many others that he hopes will impress you if these other ones don’t!