Nov. 4, 2020

Do you live in the 1st or the 3rd Person? (Pt. 2 of 2) with Justin Bennardo

Do you live in the 1st or the 3rd Person? (Pt. 2 of 2) with Justin Bennardo

In part two of this lively and passionate episode, you'll hear Justin continue his real-life text bombs on:

  1. Differentiating transparency and honesty
  2. Thriving BECAUSE of the hardships you face, not IN SPITE of them, like the Blues musicians of the 1930s
  3. Doing right by your natural talents instead of curating an image of success
  4. Considering both sides to all things and living your life in the balance

We neatly wrap up the episode talking about finality, and how it can give us the perspective we need to give life meaning.

Guest Bio: Described by those who know him as: creative, quick-witted, a character, good-hearted, layered, eclectic, Wide-ranging, "duality of man", exuberant, edgy, counter-culture, uniquely mustachioed, a metaphysical anomaly, bro, hysterical, enterprising, amicable, all-around-good-time

Social Accounts: a_record_of_my_quarantine

Mentioned in this Episode:

Other links to check out:


Bagel: [00:00:00] Welcome back. This is part two of a two-part episode with the J man, Justin Bennardo. If you haven't listened to part one, you'll definitely want to go back and listen to that first, episode 13. As we broke up what was a longer interview into two high octane episodes. 

Throughout this episode, Justin continues to tie in the two main themes from part one, the telescope and the microscope and the yin and yang. As we delve into the rest of his core values. We touch on differentiating transparency and honesty, lessons from the blues musicians of the 1930s, and honoring your natural talents.

Justin emphasizes the importance of considering both sides to all things and living your life in the balance. Then we neatly  wrap up the episode, talking about finality and how it can give us the perspective we need to give life meaning.

Here. It is part two of my conversation with Justin. Are you living in the first or third person?

 Justin: [00:01:05] So then, beyond appreciation and gratitude, the next value and, you know, these are in no particular order. But the other thing that I really like to consider is this idea of transparency and honesty. And the way that I define transparency and honesty is that transparency is a proactive measure. Honesty is a reactive measure. I can't be honest to you unless you have asked me a question and I give you my true thoughts. To be transparent is to let you know my thoughts before you asked the question.

Bagel: [00:01:38] Wow.

Justin: [00:01:38] And lay myself bare and to leave my heart open and to let you know who I am and what I believe and what I am doing before you have the answer, ask the question. And it's a balance between both, but I tend to lean more towards transparency. Just, you know, again, somewhat self serving in that, you know, I never have to put myself in scenarios in which I have to consider being honest or not because people already know where they stand. 

And, and again, you know, this is colored by my childhood. I never felt like I had shore footing. I never felt like I knew where I stood in my place. Not only my family, you know, even with myself and the universe, what have you. And this is something that I think by heading it off, it allows me to give myself shore footing. And allows myself to define myself. Because you know, everyone knows what I'm about. And everyone,  you know, like I said, I lay myself bare. I leave my heart out there. You know, it is enormously difficult because at times you will find yourself, you will be giving of yourself to people that do not deserve it. And that is tough because you will get burned. You will be hurt. But to deny that is,  again, another coping mechanism for yourself. It is you know, another way to, you know, suss through all that. And I almost want to put the burden of who I am on you.  And have you decide, rather than for you to come to me and to me to have to react to you.

Bagel: [00:03:18] It's almost like I'm at a loss for words with every like  new idea you're sharing because  I'm in the moment processing what you're saying and trying to apply it to my own life. So I can only imagine for the people listening to the podcast, like the thoughts that you're throwing out there. And you're doing such a great job of positioning these things and in a way that I think people can really connect and relate to them as like ideas and values.

And so right away, one of the things I thought of  when you framed it this way, in terms of transparency and honesty, being proactive and reactive  respectively. Another word that I thought of here is  authenticity. Does that word connect to this thought that you have or not? Do you feel like that that relates and  I'll tell you why I'm asking that. Is because I know you and what you just shared about the fact that you are, you like to be transparent. More so proactive in just putting yourself out there and letting other people decide. Absolutely a hundred percent, how I see you. And it's one of the reasons I love you so much, man. Is because I know what I'm getting when I'm talking to Justin, whether it's a text bomb or whether it's calling you up or doing this podcast. Or going out to the West coast and then saying, we're going to fly from San Francisco to New Orleans. And then back to Jersey, I know who I'm dealing with. And  that's one of the reasons why I appreciate who you are so much is that you're willing to just kind of put yourself out there and if someone wants to take it, they'll take it. And if they don't, they don't. And at the same time, I could see the downside of that, which is like, you're kind of exposing yourself, right?

You're putting yourself out there in a way. And quite frankly, I'm almost the opposite of this, where I guard myself a lot. I only want to let myself really show when I really get to know someone. And so I'm more guarded in that respect.

Justin: [00:05:07] But are you any less authentic because you are being guarded?

Bagel: [00:05:11] I was just going to say is, I think we're both authentic people. Or at least we try to be right. But we're, but we are inherently a little bit different in how we interact with the world around us. And how, especially how we interact with, with new people in our lives and maybe strangers or new people that we're introduced to. So I love that you just asked me that question cause  maybe, maybe it's not about authenticity at all.

Justin: [00:05:36] I don't think so because authenticity, you know, I see more as being, you know, true to yourself. Transparency is more about like, you know, like I said, laying yourself bare it's about, you know, laying it out there. The problem I do see with transparency is that it requires people to make a snap judgment on who I am, based on what I have provided. Rather than giving me the opportunity to maybe curate my reactions to people as a response. So people right away will either see, you know, what I'm about and either like, or not like it. And either want to interact or not interact. When maybe there's a little bit more depth to that, you know. Maybe, you know, what I am presenting in the moment is not the perfect picture of who I am, or maybe like not like, or of all facets of my life.

But, you know, like you have to make a decision based on it. And it's why, like, you know, again, we were talking about this podcast and you know, why this podcast to me, as someone that, you know, generally doesn't prepare for things is important. Because this is my opportunity to put it out there. And people are either going to respond or not respond and I'm going to be transparent in it.

And they are going to be reactive on the part of myself that I give to them. And, you know, long as can we talk, we're not going to hit on all the parts of that make me "me." And there there's gonna be the parts that I'm not acknowledging for whatever reason. Cause it doesn't fit my narrative or it doesn't fit my, you know, a couple of values or like what have you.

But that, that doesn't preclude the fact that like maybe we will have something, you know, deeper down the line that we will be able to connect on.

Bagel: [00:07:17] Yes. Yes.  I imagine I'm going to go back and listen to this podcast so many times and just try to like extrapolate things more and more things that I think have meaning from this conversation. I think it's just, there's just been so much good meat here.

  So the idea that if people get to see what you are willing to present on the surface, right? So they kind of get the, "this is the transparent you" right. And as you've said, a couple of times, like this is the shit that actually matters to you maybe more so than anything else in your life. So the fact that people are seeing the pinnacle stuff that  you feel like defines who you are and what drives you and motivates you every day.

I think that that's talk about yin and yen again, right? Like people are going to be attracted to certain things that they see in you and how you think and what you value. And that might be enough for someone to say, I want to talk to that guy. Right. I really believe in what he's saying. I want to, I want to see what else he's got going on or what else he's talking about.

And then. Well, they do talk to you and then all of a sudden these layers can start to uncover a little bit more. Like I'm sure I didn't know most of the stuff about you and you and I first met in college, right? Like there's something we bonded over. I don't even remember exactly what it was. I just remember being like, this dude knows what's up, man.

Like he understands that we are deep, complex beings. I think that, that was honestly the first thing I remember just being like, you get it. You're a smart, intelligent guy. And I like the way you think. And then all of a sudden we start to have conversations and of course we go out drinking and have a good time in college. But the friendship kind of deepens because we start to get to know each other and we have some great experiences. And we root for the same terrible football team. So, you know, there's all those things.

Justin: [00:08:58] Yeah. And you know, like, again, this is going to tie into one of my later ideas. It's this idea of contradiction. And it's like, is what I am laying bare and the self that I'm projecting to other people, you know, even that doesn't even, you know I've touched on it. It doesn't encompass like the totality of who I am.

And it's like, there's contradiction between like, you know, these five values that we're going to talk about on this podcast maybe make up like, you know, 75% of who I am. And maybe there are these like other like ancillary values that like, you know, I don't necessarily have written down here for us to discuss. But do on some level makeup who, you know, also who I am. And to deny one for the other is, you know, to not give a full picture of who I am and what I believe in. But this idea of transparency, again, to some extent is a selfish act because it puts it on you. It allows you, you have to make the decision, whether you want to dig deeper. And like, I will be honest, like, you know, I will always react as clearly as possible. But like to make, to put the onus on somebody else to see if like you want to pursue further and see like, you know, what else, you know, maybe beneath the surface. And again, it's, and it's a tough thing because transparency means like, you know, if I'm shit faced drunk and I'm out there talking like nonsense, you know, like that's transparent. But like maybe you don't want to talk to that dude anymore. Do you know what I mean?

Bagel: [00:10:30] Right. Yeah.

I'm intrigued with this difference between transparency and honesty. Do you see yourself as being transparent? Do you always make an attempt to be honest? Does this look different with people, you know, versus a stranger? 

Bagel: [00:10:45] Right. There's a level of what you share and how you share it. That's going to on the surface turn people off potentially, but, and who's to say where that line is. But I think, yeah, there's certain things about the way that you see the world and the way that you express who you are and what matters to you and what you choose to share with people and what you choose to put out there to connect with other people.

Like that is, there's a reality to making a first impression, right?  Especially adult human beings. We all have to be aware to some extent of how we're portraying ourselves or meeting people. Not just the first time, but the first couple of times, especially if it's like a new coworker or a group of people who are moving to a new city, like the way  that you handle yourself and the way that you portray yourself matters early on in building relationships with people.  But it's like when you start to feel like you can let that guard down a bit and sort of get to know and show them the true, true colors. I think that's again where you feel. It seems like what you're sharing is like, you feel a little bit more comfortable, just kind of putting yourself out there a little bit more. I keep using this word, exposing yourself. I don't know if you agree with that word or not. 

Justin: [00:12:05] You're lifting up your armor, your, your, you know. And that, that's what it is. And you know, where this has come very into focus with me, this interplay between honesty and transparency has been in my job. So. I recently started a career in the last couple of years, I'm working in finance at a big corporation in the city and they're, you know, it's a gigantic multibillion dollar, you know, very competitive, corporation. And I'm a little bit out of sorts.  You know, it's not a job in which I pursued a degree in it. It was kind of something that I fell into and this idea of starting out. And dealing with an enormous workload and an enormous stress factor. And letting people know that at times I need help and asking questions, but tempering it with the idea that I am competent and that I am not unable to do things. So it's this like, it's the beginning in the end. Endearing myself to other people by saying, Hey, I don't know X, you know, I really wish, you know, you could give some of your insight and your experience to me so that I can better understand how to help the situation. How do I become a better, you know, employee?

How do I further my career? But at the same time, never letting them see me blink and, and see the absolute, like terror in my life at the times in which I had felt like completely overwhelmed. It's this, it's this. You know, it's this yin in the end, between being transparent at the times, when it will serve you best to build a relationship with someone by saying you need help.

But by also, you know, being a little more guarded and not letting them maybe see the full extent of what is behind, you know, your questioning and, you know, you looking to extract knowledge from them.

Bagel: [00:13:56] Yeah, and I think that's a great lesson in, in a professional sense. And it's,  it's so important. I think for so many people to hear that where you can still be transparent and you can still be yourself in a professional environment and sort of almost break the ice and acknowledge that you might need some, some help, right?

In a certain area, you might need guidance, but I love the use temper that like you temper it with with showing them that you're still intelligent person and that you. Can and that you have the ability and the aptitude to learn those things quickly. You just don't have the, the exact specific piece of knowledge that the other person has or that wisdom or that experience that the other person can share with you.

And so what a skill to have, right? To be able to acknowledge your, the gap that you have in a certain area, and then be able to just ask for it  in a way that doesn't. Peggy down. Yeah. A notch or whatever. I think that, that, that's something a lot of people struggle with. So I just wanted

Justin: [00:14:57] So I have a great story again, tied to my job,  the times in my life, which make me feel the most happy to be me are the times in which I am embodying all of these values simultaneously. And it wasn't something at the time that I necessarily considered, but retroactively looking back. And what speaks perfectly to this transparency in my life is, so I interviewed for my job two years ago. So I didn't go to college for what I'm currently pursuing. I was a, I was in a punk rock band. I was an artist. I was a graphic designer. I was kind of like floundering through life. But along the way, taking from these experiences that all though tangentially related to what I'm doing, or maybe not even related at all, learning lessons about how to be a better person.

So I was able to. Score an interview with this big job, you know, this big company in finance. And I went in there kind of feeling like a charlatan. I kind of had this like imposter syndrome and a lot of successful people talk about this, where you like, you know, you feel like you're going to get figured out.

And what made me love the company that I'm currently working at was I went into my interview and I was, I was honest with them, but I was also transparent with them. And they, they asked me, you know, who are the people that you look up to? What are your heroes? What are the values that, that you seek to define yourself by?

And I said, my biggest hero in this entire world is David Bowie. And I could see you see their eyes get wide. Their minds be completely blown because I guarantee you, there was no one that talked about David Bowie. In an interview on the 50th floor in Midtown Manhattan, you know, in the corner, in the corner conference room.

No, one's talking about David Bowie. So they go, what do you mean by that? And I go, David Bowie was someone that was able to constantly redefine himself. David Bowie was someone that was able to, you know, take these segments of his life and continue to build. And I was like, I'm coming from not a background in this. I'm coming from a background in rock and roll music. I'm coming from, you know, drinking beer and writing songs and rippin' shit up two, three nights a week. But the lessons that I've learned being in that rock and roll band are the same that are worthy to carry me forward, to be successful in this.

And like, although I may not, you know, know the finances and the X's and O's and the numbers so much. I guarantee you that the concepts that made me successful in rock and roll are the same concepts that are going to make me successful here. Being able to get outside of myself, being able to, you know, to fill in gaps in my own knowledge with people that may be more knowledgeable. Being able to, you know, maybe not being an expert in things immediately, but learning the tricks that will be able to get me to that next step until I can fill in that gap in knowledge.

And they appreciated that so much more than if I had gone in there and given them the black and white, "Oh, I went to school for this. And then I got my, you know, a master's and then," and it made me feel so wanted. And so like, I could be so successful at that place because we started on an even playing field where they knew who I was and they appreciated that. And that was what gave them the ability to want to hire me as an individual. It wasn't that I was, you know, the status quo. It wasn't that I was just another person that, you know, they had been interviewing a thousand to me. It was that I was different, but I was able to take those lessons that other people may not have been able to take and connect those dots that like maybe not have been able to being connected,  and that's what made all the difference.

Bagel: [00:18:39] Yeah, that's so awesome. On so many levels, the career counselor in me is like, my, my brain is cranking right now. The wheels are spinning and I won't go too, too far into all of this, but I just want to acknowledge a couple of things  that you shared. And that is A that you own your story. I mean, I think that's the most important lesson from that entire story that I took away from all of that is that you didn't go in there just being like, I'm just going to talk about a musician and see if they like it. That's not, that was not the approach. And I want to make sure that people listening to this are not thinking that like, Oh yeah, just go talk about something I like and, you know, they'll take it or they won't. It's that you are able to own the story of here is my idol. And here's why I think that matters. And here's why I can connect the experiences. 

First of all, connect to why that person that I idolized, what his mantra is and what he was able to do and what that means to me. And also take the experiences that I've had and talk about how the skills that I've learned from those previous experiences that have nothing to do with this industry are transferable skills. And things that I can take and learn and adapt to this situation. Even if I don't know, like you, like, you phrase it the X's and O's of this particular field, whether it's finance or whatever it is. I have the ability to step up. And first of all, like adapt and learn what I need to learn.

Talk to the people that clearly have the experience and the expertise. And learn from them and ask the right questions and own the fact that I don't know everything. And take that willingness and that desire to absorb and learn and grow. And apply that to this context, to this situation, to this industry, to this job, to this role.

And I try to make sure that not all of our episodes, those are our career related. I know you, I think he even joked about that when you came on, like we've had a few of those. But it's just such a great lesson for life too. It's not even just about a job. It's like take the thing that actually matters to you in life and take the experiences that you've had that have actually meant something to you in life and figure out how they apply to  whatever the next thing is that you're doing, because I guarantee you there's a connection.

Justin: [00:20:54] Yes. And there's this idea in art. And I think it, was it Picasso said that, " good artists borrow, great artists steal." And the idea is that there is no new perspective or art that will be created. There's only the ability to take other perspectives that exist and come up with a third perspective. It is this idea that you, it's not that you're going to come up with something absolutely novel that has never been thought of before. But it's the idea that you can take two different dots and make a correlation between them that somebody else hasn't made yet. And that's the important part of it. And that's where, you know, I think it ties into, you know, a lot of, again. Not being too hard on yourself, but taking the time to reflect and to see the things that you're already doing and to see how the lessons that you've learned from the things that you're already doing overarch the action of what you're actually doing and how those can be applied to anything.

If you can be successful in one area. It really is. You can be successful in other areas because it's the same concepts, whether it's hard worker it's grit or it's determination, or it's, you know, like gaining of knowledge or filling in gaps or, you know, being able to  manage your emotions. Or what have you, is what's gonna make you successful across the board and it's acknowledging what you're already doing and not, you know, like beating yourself down for not being Joe Rogan. And you know, but to take, to see the things that Joe Rogan's doing that is being successful how it translates to all the things that he does and all the things that you're doing. And that's really what it is. It's these tangential, you know, abstract connections that allow you to move forward and to make that like new codified third, third perspective. 

Bagel: [00:22:44] Yeah. It's like a, it's like the same idea that there's, there's no new music. Right?  You know, four chords essentially that had been played in all the pop music forever. But really any music it's like, how do you change aspects of the perception of that? You know, that tune that's

Justin: [00:23:00] The Beatles and The Stones were cover bands. The most of the music on the Beatles and The Stones, first couple of albums are covers of blues music. But what made them important was that they took the blues and they redefined it through their own filter and came up with a third thing. And that's what allowed the Beatles and The Stones to become the Beatles and The Stones.

And that's, that's the difference between The Beatles and The Stones and a band that you would go see playing at your local bar. And, but therein lies the importance of The Beatles and The Stones is that they took the blues and they used it, built a base in it and then redefined it and then, and then gave you a different package. 

Bagel: [00:23:42] I love how it works. The squeezing in metaphor is in references throughout this whole thing. And this is a, it's almost like you thought about this already.

How have you created your own third perspective in your own life? Think about the meaningful experiences you've had. What sort of patterns do you see in how you approach new challenges? Can you identify your strengths or any other patterns in terms of transferable skills from one area of life to another?  

Justin: [00:24:15] Let's see, what else do we want to talk about? Let's talk about blues power next.

Bagel: [00:24:20] Alright, let's dig in. We just want it from The Beatles and Stones references. Let's keep, let's keep this relevant with the blues.

Justin: [00:24:26] So let's talk about the reason that The Beatles and The Stones chose blues music in order to cover. Because it's important. Because in choosing the blues music that they covered, The Beatles and The Stones are trying to define themselves by the values that were set forth in that blues music. And we've touched on a little bit, it's this idea that you are not succeeding despite your problems.

It's the idea that you're, you are succeeding because of them. And, you know, for a bunch of rich kids from London, like the Rolling Stones were. They were trying to draw upon that authenticity, that transparency and that idea of grit and determination that was set forth by these blues musicians. These blues musicians came from nothing.

They came from Mississippi, they came from, you know, the Jim Crow South where lynching and oppression were rampant and were, were reality. Through selling their soul to blues and through defining them their self through this is what I have, and this is what I do. I can play guitar. I'm able to elevate myself so far beyond my scenario that I'm almost Bulletproof. That I am not only able to avoid this. I am able to shield myself from it because I am so far beyond  these hardships. And that's everything that grit and that  determination is important. And then, you know, feeding back into this idea in the first and the third it's.

Not only that you can do that for yourself, but that you must be a beacon for other people to learn that they can do that for themselves as well. To show that I am succeeding and there is no secret in this. I am succeeding because my life was hard.  I am writing songs, about the difficulties in my life, but you know what, it's on a record and you're listening to it

Bagel: [00:26:30] Yeah.

Justin: [00:26:31] You can do this yourself. And that's why the threads of blues, punk rock, you know, these things that are meant to be accessible are so important. Because it breaks down the wall between the person presenting and the person taking it in. And it is empowering because you are able to redefine yourself by their example and that's the whole idea. It's this idea of redefinition. It's this idea of, you know, grit and determination, but elevation.

Bagel: [00:27:03] Yeah. What a great word. I, it's just amazing to me that the message there that we already  hit on a little bit about this thriving and breaking through the walls  because of the hardships. Right? Not only that, but the shield thing you talked about where. Because I've been in the mind of a business counselor these days, I'm thinking about like, what are you doing to set yourself apart? How are you differentiating you as a brand? And you  as someone who has something to offer, and by these blues artists saying, I'm going to pick up this guitar, I'm going to learn how to get really good at it. And take a passion and something that I'm skilled at and turning into something that people appreciate and something  that provides something to other people,  and I just, I think that's an awesome message. And the fact that is encouraging, inspiring and educating other people to do the same, to me is the most powerful thing about that that you alluded to. Which is that you can come from these hardships and you can have tough times. And you can, again, going back to something we mentioned earlier, you can wallow about it. Which is what people think the blues is about. Or you can write blues music that it's actually, probably, really lifting up and providing this incredible outlet and this cathartic sort of message to people that says like, "Yes, but we can rise up."

I was one of those people before you brought this up to me  over the last few weeks and said, you know, the blues isn't really about wallowing and your sadness. I always thought that too. And so you've awoken my understanding of that as being more of an inspiring message than it is like we should all be down and depressed.

Justin: [00:28:56] And the idea is even if the music, you know, even if you listen to the old timey, you know,  Robert Johnson song house blues that is very sad. The idea is that you're listening to it on a record. And that person had to get to the point of recording that, you know, that they are elevating themselves and putting enough emphasis on themselves and the music that they're creating, even if it is sad, to make it important enough in the, you know, the 1920s when it was impossible to get on record, to get on record. And it's elevating that message and making it something that needs to be heard by other people and not them sitting on their porch and playing guitar by themselves. Cause it makes them feel better. It's this idea of appreciation and gratitude. It's to be grateful for what you have learned, but to be appreciative of other people, to take what you have learned, to give it to them. And that's where it all ties together. And, you know, to bring this into another idea of my own life. So. Prior to me getting, you know, my job, like I've alluded to I was in this band, like, you know, whatever. We were a good band. I mean, we sounded good. We had good songs. We played a lot of music, but the problem was that we weren't aligned in the same philosophy as a band.

The other people that I was with were much more concerned not with doing right by the music that they were creating and the feelings that they were feeling by creating that music. But much more concerned with the posturing and the costume of being a rock and roller. And bands like the rolling stones.

If you were to just take them on face value, it's very easy to see Keith Richards being a heroin addict. To see, you know, Mick Jagger, you know, up there, strutting his stuff. And to not realize what is behind that. That that facade and that image that they portray to you is specifically curated because they are hiding the secret sauce of what made them famous and what made them famous is hard work and it's progression.

And it's the fact that, you know, Mick Jagger takes ballet lessons for six hours to learn how to dance better on stage. It's the fact that Mick Jagger graduated with a degree in economics from the Queens College of Finance. It's that there is this higher level of thinking beyond just the portrayal of an image. It's the idea that Keith Richard and will sit at home, you know, whether he's doing heroin on Tuesday or whatever, will sit at home and play guitar for eight hours and try to learn every song he hears. And it's much easier to take things at face value and to digest what is being given to you passively, but to actively see what is beyond the success that these people embody.

And I grew tired and I grew stagnant because the other people in the band were much more talented musicians than I was. I was someone that I was able to get by on my smarts. I was able to get by on like a couple of tricks, and make up for things in a short time. But was it, I'm not a musician at heart.

These other people were wasting a gift. And it was almost like watching somebody struggle with like an addiction, because it was like, you know, you are sitting here more concerned with the image that you're putting forward than doing right by the gifts that you are given that other people would kill for. Other people with half of the talent would work their ass off for.

And, you know, again, first in the third, you, you are wasting, you know, what the universe has granted upon you because you are not concerned with taking that seriously. And that, you know, and it was hard to be a part of it.

Bagel: [00:32:30] Man, it's crazy. But it's just, you know, how many of us are, are out there on social. Just trying to look like we have our lives together. Or just trying to make it seem like we have a new skill or that we're really committed or passionate about something. And we're caring more about the curation of that and the image of that than the actual real thing that we're really doing in real life. And I know that there's going to be people out there listening that are like, yeah, I kind of do that. And people out there listening that are like, yeah, that's why I don't call it social media. Because I'm happy with what I'm doing in my life and I don't really care or need to share it with anybody.  And that's fine. And, and then, then there's everybody in between. Yeah. And I think it's just a great reminder to just remember, like, to think for yourself and reflect for yourself. Why are you doing the things that you're doing? Both in terms of the actual things that make you happy, the things that you're passionate about, the things that you're trying to hone your skills on . And are you sharing those things publicly? And if you are, maybe there's a good reason to right? Eventually the Rolling Stones had to become famous, right. They had to figure out how to get their message out to the public, right. They hire managers to do that kind of thing. And then they have this image that like you said, people see on the surface and there's maybe a good reason, right.

That helps them achieve a goal of getting record deals and of selling albums and of making it famous and getting big. And maybe that's what they wanted. But for those people out there who are like doing things just so that they can see  how the public is going to react to it, really asking yourself why. Why do you need that?

Do you just need this external validation? And if that's all it is like, why? Why is that so important to you? Or is there a deeper meaning?  Is it helping you achieve something else?

Not just on social media, but are there, is there a greater reason for why you're pushing the things out.  See, this is why this is getting me thinking so much. Is it altruistic in nature? Is it really trying to help someone else or is it just about solely to make you feel better?

Justin: [00:34:42] That's our segue to our next point, Mike Bagel.

Bagel: [00:34:44] Let's go, let's do this thing.

Justin: [00:34:46] And that is contradiction. The idea of contradiction is important. Because it is in considering both sides of that, that you are able to make a true determination. You must consider both sides. It's not so much in that, are you putting things on social media or whatever.

It's okay, I'm putting things on social media because it makes me feel this way. And it's defining that and it's being cool with that. But the idea of contradiction is that you can have gratitude and appreciation. You can be honest and transparent. You can, you know, feel your struggles, but you know, succeed because of them.

It's this yin in the yen, it's at no point should you so strongly define yourself by any one value that you can't be giving the opposite point. Because it is important to live in that balance, that middle ground, where both sides are considered. It is very easy to like, you know, to say these are the things I believe in, and I'm so rigid with them and this is where I'm going to reside. And it being on one end of the pendulum or the other, because it's very, it's very comforting to be able to define yourself very ruggedly and very outlook outright. But to feel comfortable in that gray area, in that contradiction and to maybe not be successful at all times. But to be able to define that to yourself is where it all lies. And that contradiction to never feel like, you know, I'm Justin Bennardo, these are the things that I do. And this is what defines me to not be able to give myself that outside perspective to like, Hey, you know, I was in a punk rock band. I can't possibly work for a big finance company, but

Bagel: [00:36:29] Concentration,

Justin: [00:36:30] for a big finance company, because I was in a punk rock band. Because of the lessons that I learned and that's what gives you that third perspective, like we were talking about. It's not being afraid to take, you know, the two art forms that have already been created, you know, just because they're, you don't feel like they're original that you can't find a third one. And that's really what it's about. That contradiction is everything.

 Bagel: [00:36:54] And it's like this idea that  our ideas might not be original, right? Like there may be lots of people out there that want to open up a donut shop. There may be lots of people out there who are in a rock band and play guitar. There's lots of people who do very similar things to other people, but the unique combination of skills and interest and passion and experience and values and all the things that make us who we are. That's unique. It's like, I know people are going to make fun of the whole snowflake thing, right? Like we're all snowflakes, whatever. However you want to think about that. But the fact is like, we all are unique in our own way. Like there's not just DNA wise, but like there are like, just in terms of our experiences, that alone just makes us uniquely who we are.

Nobody else has lived through the exact sequence of events that we have lived in our lives. And if you just go based on that, that just shapes our experience and how we think about the world and how we think about the people in our lives and who we associate with. And all of these different things. And if you just use that as your differentiator, you just say, I have a unique way of viewing the world because of all of the things that I've done, that I've seen, and I've learned  and that's led me to this moment. That alone is reason enough for you to say I have a different take on whatever's about to happen next.

And if we, I mean, it's awesome. It's awesome to hear what you're saying and to think that. Again, this it's a very easy way of maybe for people to understand this whole idea, this example use of going from being at a rock band to working for a big finance company in Manhattan. It's this idea that you're able to connect these experiences in the way of things thinking and make them mean something in the context of doing the next thing, whatever that happens to be.

I love the way you're framing this as a contradiction, but almost as a strength. Right. It's something that you can use as a strength.

Justin: [00:38:48] Again, David Bowie. The artists like David Bowie that are most successful are the ones that are continually willing to redefine themselves, but to build upon what has come before. And I actually, I read a very interesting biography of David Bowie recently. And it was based on interviews with people that knew David Bowie at different points of his life.

And what they discussed is that David Bowie, every couple of years would switch his whole, his whole thing up. His music would change. His look would change, and he would cut people out of his life. Because he felt like it was his duty to continue to redefine himself and to build upon what he had learned and not to be afraid of contradicting what he had already built upon.

And what really came through that was interesting in the majority of the interviews is there is no bitterness. These people almost took it as, I was grateful for the time that I had, he was on a trajectory in which this was the only way he could have accomplished what he ended up accomplishing being this like musical alien. Like, you know, like beyond our dimension of like understanding and musicality.

And that it was this love for the time that they had spent with him, but that they understood that they were a block in the pyramid that would then eventually, you know, become who he was in the Pantheon of music. And to not be afraid to switch that shit up. And I feel like a lot of times people get so, pigeonholed within themselves of what they are about and what they believe in, that at no point in time do they feel like they could pull the rip cord and do something different. That's important because at any point in time you could switch everything up if you wanted to. And if you feel like you're getting bogged down in the life that you have led for yourself thus far, and you're straying too far away from these things that truly give you meaning, then you should pull that ripcord.

And no matter how hard and no matter how painful it might be in the immediate times, to know that it is worth it for yourself to power through and, you know, to build upon that. And that's really what it's about. It's, you know, there's plenty of times people will say like, I'm not going to do X because I would look ridiculous.

Or I, you know, I really wish I could do Y because like, you know, it would be cool, but like, you know, that's not me. It is you. You're just not, you're just not allowing yourself to be that.

Bagel: [00:41:23] Oh, well, okay. Hold the phone. Yes. Yes, a hundred percent. Man. I need people to hear that. That's that's, that's such, that was such a.. Okay. It's such an important, important message for people to hear and understand is that this, this thought that you have about yourself and what you can or can't do. That's a unique thought it's coming from your own head. Acknowledge it. Why, what is the story you're telling yourself? Why can't you do that thing? Or why can you do it? That thing, who else is deciding this, but yourself? You're, it's in your head, right? Like you have the power. I know it sounds so simple saying it that way, man. That's awesome.

Can you sense my enthusiasm? Here's why. I've already "pulled the ripcord" a couple of times in my career and life. As hard as these moments that were to wrestle with mentally, I ultimately followed a gut feeling which led me on a new, better path. Has this happened to you? What's the thing you wanted to try, but then brushed it off with, nah, that's just not for me.

Big picture. Are you doing what you want to be doing in your life? If so, what decisions led you there? If not, who's holding you back?

Justin: [00:42:53] So, and again, another perfect segue, my last value and the ultimate contradiction and the ultimate example of the first and the third is the idea of finality. We are alive for as long as we are alive, we are dead for far longer than we were alive. The things that you do now will define you only in the time that you were alive. And then who knows what happens. So, finality is this, it's daunting to think of the fact that you're going to die and you don't know what's on the other side is crippling. If you only think of that. Because you don't know it's the only unknown, but it's one of the only guaranteed. But the beauty of it is the freedom that exists because you know that there is a finality to this and that everything will eventually be washed away in the sands of time, allows you to feel that the most empowerment and the most possessed of the time that you do have, and that is the ultimate contradiction. It's to live inside yourself in the first person, but to understand where you fit in the third person, as a speck of dust in the hourglass of time.

And that is what makes it all worth it. And, you know, I, you know, in my preparation for this, it was funny because I was talking through it with our friend Scott. And I said, if you were writing a book, my first four values, appreciation, gratitude, transparency, honestly, blues power, you know, contradiction would be half the book. Finality is the other half of the book. It's not that all of them are in proportion to each other. Finality is the sum total of all of them, because at the end of the day for the amount of actualization and the amount of time that you spend figuring all these other things out, working through your shit, overcoming your childhood, redefining yourself, it all gets wiped away. At least as far as we know, because we don't know what the Heaven or like, whatever it will exist. So it's, do you have finality this ultimate contradiction. This ultimate, like you know, synthesis that, you know, it allows you to either be as free or as oppressed as you want to feel. And life can either be a sentence or life can be infinity. And that's really what it comes down to.

Bagel: [00:45:21] So powerful. So my job on this podcast, or at least what I see my role is trying to be. Because it's just me and you talking here, but then this goes out to all of the listeners that are, that are tuning in and getting to hear Justin's values and your story. So I can imagine someone might ask, like, okay. If it all just gets wiped clean, and we just, you know, we just wiped it to the sands of time. However you put it. Like, why? What's the point? What are we doing here? Why does it matter? Right. I know, I know we've talked about some of this stuff already and all of the things that have led up to this point in the conversation.

But if you're saying that half of your book is about finality, then why do all of those other things. Why is the other half worth thinking through and doing.

Justin: [00:46:09] It's to achieve that middle ground. It's, you know, like we discussed earlier, you don't want the pendulum to be, you don't want to live in the ego and in the first person so hard that you're not considering that that end. And you're not that, you know, narcissists that believes you're going to live forever and then are shocked by the fact that you're going to die one day.

But it's not, you're not that depressed, you know, depressed person that has no reason to get out of bed. It's it's defining, you know, if all we have is what we're able to know right now. Then then you need to make the most of it, but you need to make the most of it because in context of the bigger picture, because this isn't the end of everything, this is just the end of you, you know, and it's the end of your ego.

You know, I like to think of it as you know, your life is the flame that burns hotter. Existence is the flame that burns longer. 

And that's really what it is. And like, you know, this can be like a depressing or like an unfortunate thing, but I like to think of it as a comforting thing. Because it's like for all of the stress and hard times in my life, all of the things that have, you know, made me consider existence and feel bad, I take a certain amount of comfort in knowing that maybe I won't be remembered.

And knowing that maybe my situation isn't unique and knowing that maybe like for as bad as this is, this too shall pass. And then not only will pass, but will be forgotten. And that's what it's about. Your life is imbued with the meaning in which you give it. And that's the freedom.

Bagel: [00:47:45] It's such a dichotomy there. And I, and I I'm, it's honestly, what you're saying is resonating with me really greatly. And it's, but it's also, it's both, comforting and discomforting to me. And I'm just wondering what other people are thinking when they're hearing this too. This idea that, what we end up doing with our lives, this idea that our flames burning hotter or brighter, but the world's flame is burning longer. It's like, okay. Like, so does it really matter that that are our flame goes up real quick and comes back down? Would the fire still be burning regardless? Probably, right. And so there's a, there is a comforting aspect of that.

That's like, it doesn't really matter. Like it's maybe toast the  marshmallow one little bit more but, you know. Really the end result isn't that different. What I think that helps with is maybe people with anxiety or stress and kind of realize like that all this stuff maybe doesn't quite need to be as heavy as sometimes we make it out to be in our head. And I think that for someone who struggles with those things, I think that that can feel a little bit comforting. It's like, okay, maybe I don't need to worry so much about all of this stuff. Like I am not affecting so much that I maybe I think I am in my, in my head, but then there's this other aspect of that.

I think of it as just the other side of the coin. Which is like, but if it doesn't matter that much, then what does my life really mean? Right. And I know you've talked through this a little bit so far with all of your examples but like, I still kind of come back to this. And I'm not trying to be depressing or morbid about this, but it's like, so why does it matter really? Other than I know you've kind of expressed like, well, there's gotta be this middle ground because you don't want to live your whole life being depressed. 

Justin: [00:49:27] Let me reframe that question for you.  If it doesn't matter, what does it mean? If it doesn't matter, why would you do anything other than what is true to yourself? And that that's really what it's about. It's not the meaning is what is the meaning that you give it. And the meaning is in, you know, learning from your lessons, it's meaning in sharing what you've learned with other people.

The meaning is in feeling comfortable in where you're at and to consider, you know, where you have come from and where you're going. The meaning  isn't in why the meaning is in how. And that that's really what it comes down to. It's not this idea of, you know, why should I get up in the morning? But it's the idea of like, when I get up in the morning, like, what are the things that I'm going to do, knowing that this is all I have.

Bagel: [00:50:23] Yeah.

Justin: [00:50:24] You know, and that's really important.

Bagel: [00:50:25] I like that. That does, that's a good reframe for the thinking. And maybe that actually honestly helps some people think a little bit differently about their situation, maybe about what's going on right now in the world.  But yeah, I think that's a really interesting way of thinking about it. Like this is all I have. So like, how do I want to approach this life? How do I want to approach my day? How do I want to spend my time? Is a really empowering thing. It's a really empowering way to look at your own life and what you do have any semblance of control over. Which we know from conversations we've found with this podcast and probably the way people think and understand, like there's so much that it's out of our control in this world. So it's like, what do you do with the part that you actually have agency and control over in your own life. That's the joy. I mean, that's what I'm taking away from this conversation is like, that's the joy, that's the excitement. That's that's the motivator is like, this is you. Like, you have, like, this is your body. This is the world around you. Like, these are the things that you, that you can actually do.

And so what do you want? I mean, it can be that simple, right? Like what do you actually want to get up and do? Do you want a garden? Do you wanna to play guita? You want to start a podcast? Do you want to go run 10 miles? God help you if that's what you want. I'm just kidding. Yeah, like the world's at your finger tips.

Justin: [00:51:50] And what I want really want your listeners to take from this discussion more than like even these points, this idea of the first and third person, like whatever is the consideration. My ideas are really just a tool in which to consider your own life. Whether you decide to follow them or not, the important part is that you're thinking about it. And that there's a reason that you are doing the things that you're doing. And that there is a personal reason. And I guess that's part of finality too. Is it's not, you know, it's giving a meaning to everything that you were doing. And even like, you know, with my job that may not necessarily, you know, be what I had intended to set out in my life to do. The fact that it allows me to do the other things that I do enjoy doing is my reason for doing it.

So like, I wake up happy to go to work every day. Because even though the work itself might be like, you know, a little bit less than exactly what I want in my day to day. It allows me to do these other things. And that's really what it's about. It's about these considerations and these decisions and weighing options. And never leaving yourself feeling like what you're doing is not a choice because at anytime you could pull the rip cord.

And you can contradict yourself. And at any time the rip cord is going to be pulled for you and you're going to die. Whether you're 85 or you get hit by a car tomorrow, that's it. So like what time are you wasting in not, you know, putting as much effort as you can towards it. Where am I now? Where am I going? What are the things that I'm doing? Why am I doing them? And what does it all mean in the long run?

Bagel: [00:53:37] Yeah. Yeah, it's true, true words spoken by a wise man. I want to know, is there, is there anything and we can kind of wrap things up here, neatly. And I love that we we've gone through so many great segues into kind of like introducing all of these values and obviously all the things that matter to you, but.  What's in it for Justin next? Like, are, is there anything that you're thinking about right now that is like, there's more of this that I want to do in my life. It sounds like you're kind of, you know, not that you're living in bliss right now, but it sounds like you are doing a lot of the things that you really care about. And this time that we're in, in 2020 has given you the opportunity to really refocus your, your time and your effort and your energy on the things that matter to you to the most.

Is there anything more that you see yourself wanting to get into at this point?

Justin: [00:54:27] I mean, listen, I do a lot of, I play up on the things that I am doing that I enjoy. I'm still doing a tremendous amount of things that I don't necessarily enjoy. They just aren't nearly as important as the thing is that I do enjoy. I mean, in terms of like, I mean, I don't want to say like hobbies. I mean, there's like a, you know, X number of hobbies that I would like to get into. But you know, in my life and the reason I've come on your podcast, what I want to do more of is share what I have learned with other people. Because that helps me to define me and where I'm at. And that's all I care about. You know, whether it's like, you know, coming on your podcast and discussing, I mean, you know, I'm getting married, hopefully having children and being able to indoctrinate my children into my own, you know, honestly my own thoughts, but thinking their own thoughts by way of how I feel. And that's, that's what I want to do. I want to help people feel okay, you know, through the things that have worked for me. I mean, listen, I want them to try and learn how to play golf. You know, I want to play more guitar is, you know, unlimited gardening to be done. But like, you know, that it's all secondary to just like trying to let other people know that I care about them and trying to share what little I have figured out, you know, with other people. And that's it. That's what I want. 

Bagel: [00:55:42] It's just on a personal note. I am sure we could both say things like about each other and our growth over the many years that we've known each other. We won't say exactly how long but, it's been really cool to see your growth as a person, as a friend.

Justin: [00:56:01] I appreciate it very much. 

Bagel: [00:56:03] Yeah. Like I said before, like there was always an instant spark of like, man, this guy knows what's up. But to see how things have clarified for you over the years and start to see what things matter to you the most of what's important to you. And also this idea that you're, not your sole thing, but like one of the big things that's driving you is to be able to kind of share your story and share your experiences and hopefully your mindset with other people to help them reflect more deeply. And more, maybe more intimately about like, what really matters to them is, the reason why I brought you on here. So I thank you for that. 

Before we close out and wrap up, is there anything in terms of, you've shared so many lessons I feel like already. So we don't have to believe her them anymore, but is there. Are there any tips and anything, anything that you might want to share with people who are maybe either struggling. Or just thinking about like ways to live a a little bit more of a transparent life,  a appreciative life. Some of these things that you've talked about as being important to you, or just how you might encourage people to think about what matters to them in terms of their own values, their own lives, their own motivations.

Justin: [00:57:14] I think it's important to not be too hard on yourself. Don't judge where you're at, based on what I have said today, but just consider it. Take that step back, view your life through the telescope, instead of through the microscope, seeing what you were doing, what you want to be doing, and try to find that balance a little bit more.

And you know what, sometimes the things that you wanted to be doing are the things that you already are doing. But you're not giving yourself enough credit for it. And I think that's important. Not everyone needs to be Joe Rogan, but you need to be able to live with yourself. And I think what people pick up on with people like him is that he is living himself.

And there is, you know, some like fantasy of, you know, that rubbing off on them. You know, just consider it, you know, consider where you want to be. And you know, try to apply, you know, what little lessons you're learning and the things that you feel successful towards and the things you don't feel successful towards make those abstract connections. And that's it. But I do want to, I do want to end this with sharing something with you that I believe is very important.

Bagel: [00:58:18] Please.

Justin: [00:58:20] Again, going back to the blues. Otis Rush, amazing blues guitarist. He released this album in 1969. It's called Mourning in the Morning, which in and of itself as a contradiction, which is which is beautiful. And, so I recently texted my fiance saying that the back cover of this record is what I want to be my obituary when I die. And I hope I can live up to the ideas that are presented here, because I believe this to be some of the highest praise that you could give to anybody. And I just want people to think of this in the context of, of the ideas that I've shared and, you know, what it really means. 

This is the back cover mourning in the morning, 1969 Cotillion records, and it begins, "This is Otis Rush's very first album. Otis has been cutting single records for over 14 years. His first record being his biggest seller, I Can't Quit You Baby. There's not enough that can be said about Otis. He's been the motivating force for a lot of young blues players for many years. Not only in Chicago, but all over the world. He does his thing in Chicago week after week, keeping a band together, responsible for other people's lives. Getting the gigs, paying the bills. This is a man you can respect. He has a respect for himself and he respects the blues. Blues is a mystical thing. If you view it only as a spectator, you tend to categorize it, put it in into a bag. But if you live inside the blues as Otis Rush does, you reap all the benefits of life through its action. Blues is the most immediate family, transcending all others, and Otis is a ranking member of this blues family. I want to thank Otis Rush. Thank him in the name of all blues family, in England as well as in the USA, for his great musicianship and uncompromising dedication to America's only indigenous music form the blues." And that's it.

Bagel: [01:00:34] Goosebumps man. I got them. Are there any ways that you want people to be able to connect with you in any way, whether it's social or otherwise?

Justin: [01:00:44] Not really. I mean, I have an Instagram that I started called the record of my quarantine, or I go through my vinyl record album. You know, admittedly I haven't been keeping up with it as much as you know, would be expected just because it's summertime and I'm enjoying time my garden. But yeah, feel free to follow me at record of my quarantine. Other than that, like, you know, the greatest service you can do me is not following me on any of the social media platforms. But, you know, listening and thinking a little bit. And hopefully a little bit of what I got will rub off on you and, and, you know, and that's it.

Bagel: [01:01:18] I love the message. I would agree and attest to that. You should follow Justin's Instagram, a record of my quarantine, if you want to actually get it to some blues records. Because I've learned a lot from following and listening to those but more importantly, do what he said next. Which is actually just digest what has been said during this podcast. I have learned, I don't think there has been. To date, I don't think there's been an episode where I've actually had to stop and think so much as in this one. And that it's such a great sign because I can just imagine, I hope, that other people will have done the same.

So, we'll officially wrap this up even though you and I will probably chat a little bit afterwards. I just wanted to say thank you so much, Justin, for being on the show. I was very much looking forward to this one. It's  everything and more that I hoped it could be. So I appreciate you taking time to hang out with us.

Justin: [01:02:10] Well, thank you for giving me the opportunity. I love you very much, and I love all you people out there listening.  

Bagel: [01:02:24] If you like what you heard, please hit subscribe in your podcast app so you get notified about all new episodes of the Live Your Values podcast with me, Bagel. Special, thanks to Emma Peck for logo design, Danielle Gelber for marketing strategy, and Rebecca Kittel and my team at Free Your Time Virtual Assistants for operation support.

 Until next time, get out there and LYV.



Justin: [01:02:47]  Cool. So good? Not like too much too weird. Like no. Good? Cool.

Bagel: [01:03:06] Awesome. Awesome.