06 May #1 Brandon Jenner on Why Empathy is Everything
You don’t have to be disadvantaged to have empathy for people who are. Recognizing the good fortune you’ve been born into and using it to help you see the world through other’s eyes is something to be proud of.
Welcome to The Darin Olien Show.
On this podcast, you’ll hear me, Darin Olien, “the superfood hunter,” have inspiring and enlightening conversations with extraordinary people from all walks of life. Although our ideas and approaches to life may differ, our ultimate goal is the same- to save the planet one conversation at a time.
If you’re interested in expanding your view of the world by learning new perspectives on health, nutrition and healing the planet and want to learn more about society’s Fatal Conveniences™- the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to, even though they may be doing harm- then this is the podcast for you.
In this episode, I chat with one of my best friends, Brandon Jenner.
You probably know Brandon by his last name. That’s ok, he’s used to that. In fact, the bulk of our conversation is about how Brandon has taken his inherited fame and used it to fuel his empathy for people who haven’t had the same good fortune he has.
Not only has Brandon’s signature empathy fueled his personality and the good he does in the world, but it also is the driving force behind his music. In his debut album, Plan on Feelings, Brandon got extremely vulnerable while writing the song “Anybody?”. We discuss the role vulnerability has played in his life and how you can incorporate it into yours.
Brandon is just an all-around great guy. It was fun to get to have a conversation with him about things we don’t usually touch on in our normal weekly hangs. I also got to pick his brain on his down to earth approach to wellness and healthy eating, which I think you’ll enjoy as well.
OTHER GOOD STUFF IN THIS EPISODE:
- How Brandon felt pressured to be an athlete growing up, but turned to music instead
- Why Brandon thinks every single member of his massive family made him who he is today
- How traveling the world at a young age shaped Brandon’s perspective
- How Brandon incorporates empathy into everything he does, especially his music
- Why exercise is so important to him
- How vulnerability plays a role in his life
- Why it’s important to find someone in your life that you can open up to
- The men’s group Brandon and I belong to and the role it plays in both our lives
- The story of writing the song “Anybody?” from Brandon’s first album
- This episode’s Fatal Convenience™ – Drinking Tap Water
Darin: You are listening to the Darin Olien Show. I’m Darin. I spent the last 15 years exploring the planet looking for healthy foods, superfoods, environmental solutions, and I’ve had my mind blown along the way by the people, the far off places I have been, and the life-altering events that have changed my life forever. My goal is to help you dive deep into some of the issues of our modern-day life, society’s fatal conveniences. The things that we do that we’re indoctrinated into thinking we have to, even though those things are negatively affecting us, and in some cases, slowly destroying us and even killing us. Every week, I have honest conversations with people that inspire me. My hope is through their knowledge and unique perspectives they’ll inspire you too. Together, we’ll explore how you can make small tweaks in your life that amount to big changes for you, the people around you and the planet, so let’s do this. This is my show, the Darin Olien Show.
Darin: Hey, everybody. Welcome to my first ever episode of The Darin Olien Show. Thank you for tuning in. I’m excited. I’ve actually been wanting to do this and push it off for about seven years. So many people before podcasts were even I think kept telling me to do this. And I’ve always had so much on my plate or perceived I have and have not done it, but I’ve done it. So I actually have logged about 10 or so podcasts before the pandemic. So I had an intro, but I really felt like, well, that’s crazy. It was before the pandemic, and that makes no sense. I have to at least acknowledge the new world that we’re living in. When I recorded all these things, we weren’t in that, and I did it months ago, in some cases. So I just needed to acknowledge that this is a weird world and long-form thought and discussion and connection is more important than ever. Let me just say that, more important than ever to connect, have long-form unedited discussions and ideas and freedom of speech because we’re absolutely being strangled by big corporations telling us what we can and cannot say and that’s just not going to fly with all of us, the world, and certainly, as Americans. No bueno man. No good. So, that’s a long way of saying, man, I’m stoked. My first launch and my very good friend Brandon Jenner. He’s my first guest. He’s about a decade younger than me. If you don’t know who Brandon is, you kind of probably already do in some way because his father is Bruce Jenner, or now Caitlyn Jenner. So he comes from a pedigree of strong DNA, olympian DNA. His mom, Linda Thompson, who is this beautiful angel of a person, I got to meet her and know her, and she’s a badass herself. One of Elvis Presley’s loves of his life, and then, later on, she met Bruce, had Brody and Brandon. So Brandon has a brother Brody Jenner. And so Linda and Bruce at the time had these two beautiful kids. And so the story goes, they broke up. David Foster became Brandon and Brody’s stepfather, highly influential music producer, and probably help them move into the music scene like they both are. And then Bruce at the time got connected with the Kardashians. And then there you go, the story goes. So Brandon’s step-siblings are Kendall and Kylie Kardashian. And then he’s a step-brother to Courtney, Kim, Chloe and Rob Kardashian. There you go. Wow. I mean, and there are so many more connections, but I don’t want to make it about that. Brandon is one of the sweetest humans, talented. Check out his music. He’s got his mom, by the way, Linda Thompson, one of the great writers of our time. Look her up, from Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers. Tons of hot, top charted music, lyricist, songwriter. Well, Brandon’s right there. Listen to his words, listen to his music. I love his frickin music. And he’s just an amazing soul. So before we recorded this as well, he was about to have twins with his new bride. So now he’s had those twins. So he’s got two fraternal boys. And his whole life is changed and as well stayed the same to in terms of who he is. He is an amazing human. So I’m excited for you guys to get to know this awesome fellow, badass, beautiful human. Enjoy this episode. Enjoy my first episode, subscribe, leave your comments, all of that jazz. I love you. I’m excited to bring this to you.
Brandon: I would hope that by sharing my perspective on the way I see the world and at least the lessons that I’ve learned in my life, hopefully, will give a little bit of insight or inspiration to other people that might also understand how unique of an upbringing I’ve had. And if they don’t, then it’s all good. But I do enjoy talking about my upbringing and part of the reasons why I became who I am today because in hopes that somebody will just find a little bit of inspiration in it. You’re right, my dad, Caitlyn Jenner; my mom, Linda Thompson. My stepdad was David Foster, a music guy, a music producer, very successful, and I ended up actually getting into music rather than athletics. I kind of did both growing up because I was almost always told that with the last name Jenner, you’re supposed to be the best at everything athletic. So as a little kid, I always tried harder because I really had something to prove. But music is what really stole my heart from a young age. And it took me until going to college until I really realized that that was what I wanted to do full time. I had a bad knee injury riding motocross and so that was kind of like, I didn’t really want to spend my life getting beat up like that. So I figured there was a lot more longevity. I think about this when you go to college and you see people that have been sheltered their whole lives and have not been exposed to drugs and alcohol and not let to stay out late and stuff and they’re just a danger to themselves. Like freshman year, they’re just out of control. Whereas the kids that kind of grew up a little bit quicker–
Darin: Have a little bit of exposure to that. It’s not as conservative maybe.
Brandon: Exactly. And I kind of see like my upbringing in that way a little bit where from a very young age, I was exposed to fame and fortune. It was all around me. My parents were well off and we’re famous. And they always had very famous people over and very well-off people over. And I realized from a very young age that one, they were human beings just like the rest of us. They’re no healthier. They don’t have more time. They can’t buy more time than any of us have. They still feel sad. They still bite their tongue in conversations. They still feel all these same feelings. The truth is that a lot of the times the people that have, especially the most fame, also had the darkest energies around them. They just kind of like, it was almost like they were a target. Even in any social situation, it was like, they felt a little bit like everybody was staring at them and they were a target and they were a bit more isolated because you just can’t go out and do the same Bed, Bath and Beyond errands and all that stuff as a normal person can. So, there’s a certain isolation that comes with it. I realized from a young age that pursuing those things wasn’t going to make me any happier. So mostly in my life, I focused on things that are going to bring me true happiness. And the big one for that is friendships, real friendships, family. I have a daughter now and I have twins on the way, so being a good dad saying goodnight to your daughter and kiss her on the forehead as she goes to sleep, and she runs to you the first thing in the morning. There’s nothing better than those things. And so I strive to be a good friend, a good family member, a good dad. And then if I can inspire people with what I do with my music, which has been happening and which does happen, it gives me this real sense of purpose like what I’m doing in this life is worth it. So I really in my life has just been focusing on the things that are going to bring me real happiness, not the things that other people that maybe they pursue later in life and they get a little bit of fame and they get a little bit of fortune, then they realize later in life, oh, this isn’t making me any happier. There was something that I was missing all along. So, I potentially have learned that lesson pretty early in my life.
Darin: Yeah, I mean, it’s easy for you to gloss over the complexity of all of those relationships. So there’s a lot of complexity around that. There was your dad who wasn’t really around. And David became a fairly significant father figure to you and just so happens to be a big significant music producer and I’m sure had a huge impact on you. And for people that don’t know, Linda, your mom, was one of some people even say, Elvis’ love of his life, and has a whole history of that and then became a songwriter herself, and has a list of some of the greatest songs out there. And then your dad, obviously the Kardashian link, and then stepsisters with a couple of the Kardashians, and so then you got mixed up, not mixed up, but lack of a better word, you’ve got connected to that whole thing, which is, on the one hand, everything amplified on that side of fame, so there’s the good, bad, whatever. And again, the cool thing about, and I’m just saying from the outside looking in, none of that shit matters to me. It never has with you. Here’s the thing everyone, Brandon is straight up who he is. And that’s the difference. You show up as that person, as a real person, as a kind, caring, passionate, driven musician that cares and is delivering what it is that you want and that to me is there’s so much a cliche around, so much of that. And also because of your exposure, I’ll potentially a lot more excuses to, oh, of course, well, he was this, he was that. And if he’s not had his life together, well, he’s just another statistic of a son or a sibling or a–
Brandon: Which I also saw a lot growing up. And those were good examples of what not to be. I saw a lot of people, there were a lot of kids that were in similar situations that just went crazy, wild. You really lack a sense of purpose, and you’re kind of living in the shadow of your parents and the privilege that they’ve provided you. And it creates very little sense of identity and stuff. And I’ve watched a lot of people kind of implode on themselves and be really disruptive.
Darin: So I think everyone can relate to that. I think everyone can relate to it. Whatever family dynamic, it’s really easy to get off and do things that are not healthy, can be very disruptive, destructive, and all of these things. What do you think, because it seems to me that in an early age, there was a point where you decided to have some sort of moral compass that was different than that, and you still live that way? You very much are, and that’s who you show up to be, which is why our little friends and gangs, we all kind of support each other and show up and we’re kind to each other and things like that. So what do you think that if you were to dissect the choice, or the consciousness behind it, or the moments that may be presented themselves for you to make a choice and unpack that a little bit?
Brandon: I would say there’s definitely a certain amount of just nature that’s in there where ever since I was a kid, my parents always said that I was just very mild mannered and easygoing, and kind and thoughtful. And I think that that’s kind of turned into now as an adult, I just have a lot of empathy for people. When I see somebody, it doesn’t matter where you are in life, but when I see somebody when I’m out in the world that I don’t know, a stranger, it’s like I don’t just look at them and look at their appearance, I always think in my mind what their family structure is like, what their childhood was like, what they were like growing up. Those things are just constantly rolling through my mind. So I think it’s just the natural way that I look at people. I just have a lot of empathy for them. And I think that a lot of the reasons why they become who they are is because of the experiences that they’ve had. So going to my experiences, honestly, I think some of the biggest stuff was travel. I had the ability to go to really cool places when I was kid. My parents brought me to Japan when I was young. We did a tour over there and went to Africa and Indonesia, on surfing trips in Indonesia. I just never forget being in Africa, for instance, and landing in Nairobi and then going out into the Maasai or the Serengeti and meeting the Maasai warriors and stuff. Just talk about blowing your mind. It really made me realize how different the life that I have. And I didn’t see it as like, wow, these people live so differently. You have to take a mirror to it as well and say, “Well, I live so differently than so much of the world.” And that gets reinforced as you go to other places. You go to Indonesia and you drive across, like you’re in Thailand and you’re driving and you’re going– There are so many more people out there that are living like this than the way that I’m living. So I think that perspective has been huge for me to realize– there’s a lot of things to be grateful for in this life but then there’s also a lot of things in the life that I have that can be sheltering. They can blind you. It’s like having blinders on. And you can go through life thinking that this is the way everybody lives, but it just really isn’t the case. So travel has been a big thing for me in just opening up my mind and realizing that. I do believe I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about being born and life and death, and when I was a kid and writing songs about it.
Darin: Where did that come from?
Brandon: I don’t know. It’s like a mystery. I think I just love mystery. I’m very curious about stuff. It’s that age old question that we really are no closer to solving than we were in Egyptian times like what happens after you die. It’s just–
Darin: I think Johnny and I and you were contemplating that even this morning.
Brandon: Yeah, we have no idea, and that’s beautiful to me. I love the mystery in that and I love that it opens up so many possibilities. I really gravitated in college towards astronomy and cosmology and getting to know our surroundings and trying to understand why we are here in the first place. That question was always very big in my like, what is all of this for? What are we doing?
Darin: I’m in a little speck.
Brandon: What are we even doing here? This is crazy. So that, going back to what I was saying before, I think it really is just luck of the draw of where you were born and who you were born as. You just kind of pull a number. It would have been so easy for me– There’s like a, I think it’s a Bill Clinton quote, “Oftentimes, your life is set determined on your longitude and latitude,” just where you were born. I feel like I have a deeper understanding of that. There’s a lot of things to be really grateful for, but I also really want to use my life and use the number that I was drawn to try to inspire and just try to make the world a little bit of a better place, and you don’t do that by accumulating stuff. You don’t do that by accumulating a bunch of stuff. You do that by the connections that you have with people and of course, it starts at home. It starts with being a great dad and it starts with being a great son and a great brother. Then it trickles into what you have the bandwidth for your community and fortunately, I found a tool, music, that I am using technology that I can create music on my own, and I can release it and inspire people that are even further outside that zone. It’s that saying, “To whom much is given much is expected” and I’ve always really felt that deep to my core. I just want to make people feel good in life. Part of it also is like, I don’t know if it comes from insecurity. I’d have to unpack where it actually comes from, but I never want to make people feel bad. I never want to make somebody– I never want to be the cause of somebody else’s pain or hurt or struggle or their own insecurities and stuff. I don’t want to do that. I just want to make people feel good in my life.
Darin: Well, and it’s also reflective of your lyricism and your music and the vibe of that and the care that because you write your own songs, you arrange them, and that speaks. You speak to, I forget the song with the gun violence. That to me, you own it. And the thing is, it doesn’t come off either as you’re taking on as a burden. You’re taking it on as, hey, this was my number polled. Cool. What can I do to leave the imprint better and to affect people and that joy of doing that is different than the burdensome because I think I would venture to guess it’s not an insecurity. So you don’t need them unpack it because you don’t come off– That’s not the energy imprint. You’re gracious for that number that was drawn. Then like, okay, cool. You were loved. Your dad number one wasn’t around that much. Okay, deal with it. There’s this other guy filling the shoes. We all get those things and you’ve navigated through a lot of that stuff and to be at a point whereas a friend, seeing you and your life unfolding. If anyone hasn’t heard Brandon’s music, you go to check it out because it’s so beautiful and the ability you have to quietly kindly just to have a song that speaks very tenderly and then rip and riff into a jazzy, fun, melodic, can’t-help-yourself-but-to-move-around-to is like a kaleidoscope of invoking different emotion and you can see it.
Brandon: It’s beautiful. You just wrote my bio, I love that.
Darin: But but it’s true and so anyone who haven’t heard Brandon’s music especially, your new stuff that’s coming out, the arrangements and the fun that you’ve unleashed in yourself, I think is just very reflective of you.
Brandon: That’s for sure. The music is definitely evolving. And part of it is just that I’m in a really great place in my life, so it’s like I have given myself the license to just have fun with it also. A lot of the music I’ve been making is just like, I’m just going to have a great time and hopefully make people feel really good in the moment, but the kind of make music that I want to make. It’s an interesting thing. This talk about this number being polled and stuff, in a lot of ways, it’s been a bit of a challenge. I try to put myself in other people’s shoes, especially when I’m thinking about the music business and what my career as a business. I try to put myself in other people’s shoes and I totally can sympathize with the fact that people, they might just see my name pop up on Spotify and not really care just because of the last name. I would do the same thing. If I saw somebody that was tagged with this privilege and fame and fortune kind of upbringing, I would just automatically go, I don’t really care about what this person has to say. The artists that I always appreciate are the ones that struggle, the ones that are dealing with some sort of mental illness and they’re just pouring it into the music or they dealt with some crazy traumatic childhood and they’re pouring it into the music or somebody that just has so much artistic expression in them that they can’t control it and their lives are a turmoil because of it, but they’re just pouring it. Those are the things that the people that typically have always inspired me so I understand when somebody just glosses over and doesn’t give it a chance. But the music that I make comes from a deep place of pain and hurt and a lot of it is for other people. When I see the world or people being treated unfairly in the world, it really does, it just icks me in a way. It cripples me. I’ve been known to watch something on the news and ball and crying feeling so bad for children being bombed in Syria or whatever.
Darin: What’s been your latest, I mean, there’s so much going on and at least we’re being informed of so much. What is leading you right now if you can share creatively because of that being crippled a bit by the immensity or the intensity of what’s going on?
Brandon: I’m always looking for ideas. But the things that I’ve been writing these days is one of the most recent things that came was as somebody I might have even mentioned it to you, but I’m kind of writing about leaving the world early when you’re leaving kids behind. So I’ve talked to some parents recently. I’ve had a couple of different ones come up to me after shows and say that they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I don’t know if it’s cancer, whatever, and within the next months or years, they’ll be gone and they have a four-year-old and a six-year-old. I am struggling with what that looks like, what the memory of them is going to be. So I think when you’re in a position like that, you look at the world very differently. And you look at life very differently. And you look at when you’re healthy, what are the things you would tell your kid to do? Well, go out, get a job and make money and do these things, and we need to succeed, and we need to do this and that. But then, if you were really on your deathbed, especially if it’s early in life, then what would you tell them? You’d give them a whole new set of rules, and not even rules, but just advice. And a lot of it would be hug more deeply, don’t be afraid to throw yourself at love even if you’re willing to get hurt, get hurt, feel that what that feels like. That’s been a big thing for me lately is kind of looking at writing through the eyes of somebody that has a different perspective on the type of advice they would give their kids for life.
Darin: You know the word that comes up around that is almost like because you’re such an empathetic being, it’s almost like your surrogate to that and then using your platform and your music to amplify that which was shared to you. It’s very interesting. If you’re not one of those artists that are putting a gun to their head every other week but yet you’re empathetic to humans who are touched and struggling and sharing with you because I know you feel deeply. As a friend, I know you feel that and for you being a surrogate for that pain because we are not separate but we live as if we are.
Brandon: Yeah, you’re right.
Darin: I don’t know, that just touched me, the way that that can happen from an artistic place.
Brandon: Yeah. It touches me too. You’re right, this is a shared experience and none of us really know. We don’t have answers to those questions. We were talking about earlier, we don’t and we’re just here trying to figure it out and do our best and try to be happy and try to make the people around us happy really is number one. So I know what you mean like when I see anybody else that’s going through something traumatic, sometimes I am proactive about sitting in that emotion, and sometimes it just overwhelms me. When somebody comes up to me after a show, I’m not being proactive about it, but in order to write the song and to really make it, turn it into something, I’ve got to sit down and sit with that, and meditate on what that would feel like and that energy and then just allow the stuff to flow.
Darin: Because that’s music. You have to embody– Well, I guess not all music.
Brandon: You have to let go. Meaningful music is– there’s a certain amount of, for lack of a better word, faith that you just kind of have to have in it. And you don’t want to be writing music through the eyes of the listener. You don’t want to just be writing thinking, oh, well, people like this. And people do that and that’s great. A lot of pop music is like that. We need a beat. Oh, people are going to love that beat. And then we hook, oh, people are going to love that hook. People are going to love this. But for me, it’s more about what did this person or what did these people feel? And then how can I tap into that feeling and then just kind of let go and let the emotion run through. And it’s in the form of tears and words, and musicality, harmony, things like that. That’s typically the way I write music.
Darin: And you’ve said many times that when once something has touched you, you’ll often wake up in that dead zone of awake and asleep, and you’ll either have a melody or you’ll have some words or you’ll have an inspiration, you kind of jot that down. And that zone is almost pre-conscious.
Brandon: Yeah, and totally uninspired by other people’s opinions. When you’re dreaming, your neurons firing and stuff. So that’s why I like flushing out the songs that I write in my sleep because I know that they came from just a super pure place.
Darin: Many of you who follow me know I’ve spent most of my life searching for the healthiest foods on the planet from the Amazon jungle to the Andes of Peru, to the Himalayas and Bhutan, to the deserts of Africa, and everything in between discovering hundreds of plants and herbs and superfoods like this is my passion. Things like sacha inch, an Incan treasure, wild [unintelligible 00:31:41] mushrooms, things like Maya nuts, another Aztec superfood, wild cocoa moringa, many adaptogenic herbs and on and on and on. If you look hard enough, there are a few unknown extraordinary foods around the world that people still don’t know about. And a few years ago, I came across my favorite superfood discovery of all time, barukas nuts. Why is that my favorite? Well, when I first tasted them, my eyes lit up. I was blown away. They’re so delicious with notes of popcorn and cocoa and chocolate with peanut butter, and with this amazing crunch, so the taste alone just absolutely blew me away. But after sending them to the lab, which I do, and getting all the tests, I realized they’re the healthiest nuts on the planet. No other nut even compares. They have an unusually high amount of fiber, which is critical for healthy digestion. We’re all getting way too low of fiber in our diet and it’s good for the healthy bacteria and microbiome. And they’re off the charts in super high antioxidants, and have few calories than any other nut. It’s jam-packed with micronutrients. And what they don’t have is just as important as what they do have because they’re found in the forest in the savanna what’s called the Cerrado biome of Brazil, not grown on a plantation or a farm. They’re untouched by industrial pesticides, larvicides, fertilizers. They’re truly a wild food. But they’re not just good for you, they’re really good for the planet. Most other nuts require millions of gallons of irrigated water, not to mention, using bees and shipping them across the United States and just horrible sustainable practices just to grow certain nuts annually, but Baruka trees require no artificial irrigation. At one time, the Cerrado’s forest were made up of millions of these trees. These trees are incredible. They’re nitrogen fixers. They give back to the other plants in the forest. Their grandfather of sacred trees, but most of them were chopped down to make way for cattle, soy, and corn production. When you’re down in Brazil, it can be absolutely shocking. And actually, I’ve cried several times with miles and miles of deforested land filled with soy farms. This beautiful Savanna filled with soy farms and cattle grazing. Our mission is to reverse that. And the long term goal is to plant 20 million new baruzeiro trees throughout the Cerrado. And if that wasn’t enough, we are also providing highly beneficial and fair jobs for thousands of indigenous people so they can stay on their land and they can thrive with this consistent income every year forging and working with Barukas. Barukas are truly good for you, good for the planet, and good for the world community. It’s a win all the way around. I really think you’ll love them, so I’m giving all of my listeners 15% off by going to barukas.com/darin. That’s B-A-R-U-K-A-S dot com backslash Darin, D-A-R-I-N and using the code “Darin” at the checkout. I know you will enjoy.
Darin: So shifting into like because I would like to understand people’s own balance in their lives because you can’t just write music. You have family, you have lots of family, and we haven’t even scratched the surface, really all the family and the family you’re marrying into. So how as an inspired passionate artist, as an athletic person, as someone with a lot of family with kids, current kids and coming kids, how do you stay balanced and what does that mean to you? Wha does balance mean to you and what does that look like in your life?
Brandon: I love the atomic living way of looking at it. And I think we might have talked about this, but you got to choose what the pillars are in your life that make you happier. And then if anything comes in your life that doesn’t serve to strengthen one of those pillars, then you don’t really have time for it. For me, it really is family. Self Care is a huge one. So family is, if I’m not a good dad, what am I doing in this life if I’m not a good dad? I have to be that. I have to be a good dad. I have to be a good husband. I have to be a good brother. And then self-care is pretty much incorporates anything that makes me operate better as a human being. So you got to exercise. You got to eat well. You got to take breaks. You got to have some fun, a certain amount of it, and do whatever you can. It also encourages your happiness. And then music, and what I’m doing with music, which I would consider work, but that’s my purpose. That’s my output, is what I do with music. And so if something comes into my life that isn’t serving one of those three pillars, I just don’t really do it and I don’t have time for it. And I’ve gotten a lot better at being okay with letting people down even if it means I have to say, “No, I can’t do that,” or “No, I can’t do this.” “No, I can’t do that.” Before, something that was kind of crippling maybe earlier in my life was that ability to not be able to let people down made it so that I was living so many other people’s lives and so many other people’s expressions. And what I’ve gotten a lot better at is being okay with honoring myself, my path, my purpose, even if it doesn’t include all these people around you that want to go have dinner, go have lunch or just hang out or can you do this favor for me and whatever it is. So I’ve gotten a lot better at that.
Darin: So a lot of good boundaries with all that.
Brandon: Yeah, boundaries are super important. And what I’ve learned, which is amazing, which is so cool, this actually came up the first time in a therapy session I had when my first my ex-wife and I were going to therapy and we were doing this separate thing with this husband and wife. And I went into the husband for the first time and sat down with him, and he didn’t say anything in the beginning. He was a very interesting guy, old guy that has had a ton of experience doing this. And the hour went by, and this is where the meat was, he goes, “Okay, so, what’s your schedule look like? Would you like to come back?” I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure.” And he goes, “Okay, how about looks like Tuesday, one would work?” And like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, Tuesday at one would work.” And he goes, “There it is right there.” He goes, “I don’t care if you come back or not, but you’re going out of your way to please me.”
Darin: Who’s done nothing for you yet.
Brandon: Still nothing, you know? Isn’t that amazing? Anyway, it was really just like a very eye opening thing where I was like, wow, it’s amazing how–
Darin: He set you up for the hour.
Brandon: He just set me up just to get that. Well, he listened to me and he talked to me and realized, okay, this guy’s just a total people pleaser. He doesn’t want to bother anybody. He doesn’t want to upset anybody. And so that was a big kind of a realization of like, wow, I really should be able to, if I don’t want to come back– In my mind, I’m thinking like, yeah, I’ll make the appointment now and then tomorrow, I’ll say, oh, that time won’t work, let’s look for another time.
Darin: A lot of extra work.
Brandon: A lot of extra work rather than just saying exactly how you feel in that moment. He’s not going to take offense. So I’ve tried as best I can to apply that in my life these days.
Darin: Sometimes it works. Sometimes you go–
Brandon: Yeah, but it’s always if you’re honoring the way you– it’s another saying that I love, “If you’re do doing what’s right for you, you’re doing what’s right for everybody else.” So it would be so much easier to just say, “No, I got a lot going on next week and that’s not really in my list of priority, so I’m not going to come back from now. I’ll give you a call if I ever feel like I need to come back.” Cool. Conversation done, you walk out, he’s not thinking about it when he goes to sleep that night. It’s all good. So I’ve gotten a lot better at that kind of stuff. Going back to the pillars, music is something though that I really do need to carve out time for and make sure that that is something that I am constantly facilitating because as you can imagine, fatherhood duties take up a lot of time, self care stuff takes up a good amount of time, and I can’t give up on that, otherwise, I feel terrible. So music is something that I don’t treat it like a nine to five but I treat it when I’m in that zone. I have to just block out completely. And I’ll take days or at least hours in the day where I just have no distractions and I just allow myself to sit in the creative space.
Darin: I really like the simplicity of that but the power of that, the pillars, I really like that and if people just take a second to, maybe even more than a second, figure out what those pillars are for you if they’re two, if they’re three, if their four pillars that are main in your life that you– I think it was Caroline Myss, old healer, wrote many books. You’d basically like, hey, you have 10 bucks every day. And where are you spending your– 10 bucks of energy. You’ve given 3 to your wife, you’ve given three today and you gave another to this guy that you don’t even know, and she’s like, and how much is left for you?
Brandon: Right. How much are you saving for the future?
Darin: Oftentimes, nothing or there’s no proactivity.
Darin: Mostly reactive. So most people, probably listening to are going, “That’s a freaking great idea.” What is my priority? What matters to me? And the trip I think that people get caught up in this kind of modern-day world is they perceive that as being selfish because oftentimes, if you take a stand, especially if you haven’t been doing it, and then all of a sudden you take a stand going, you know what? This matters to me, I’m not going to go to lunch with this person or do this thing or whatever because I’d rather spend time with my main pillar over here, my family, I got to play more songs, I got to do whatever. And then you might get pushback from those people that have been used to you blowing your main thing. So it takes a strength and it takes a conviction and it takes frickin practice.
Brandon: Yes, it does.
Darin: And that’s a beautiful example of that counselor kind of setting you up and just going, holy shit. I’m giving $9 away every day to everybody else and I’m trying to now split my energy up and I only have $1. How am I supposed to create my life if I’m not investing?
Brandon: Yeah, I love that way of looking at it too, just so you have a finite amount of energy.
Darin: I’m waking up today. Am I going to turn on my phone and look at all the emails that are people wanting things for me? Am I going to react to social media of people commenting or not commenting and trying to get some sort of validation there, or I’m going to sit my ass down and I’m going to drink some good water, I’m going to drink a good smoothie, I’m going to sit here, get quiet inside myself, maybe journal about what I want my day to be like, what I want to be clear on, what pillars I’m investing in today and what am I going to do to do that? That may seem like it’s a lot but once you start doing that, then it’s like, how would I not do that? Because I’m creating the kind of life that I want. And I do see that in your life, and I’ve seen you exponentially more happy on a consistent daily basis than I’ve ever seen with mounting commitments. You’re playing more musical, infinitely more music than when I first met you. You’re more consistently training with us. You have more people in your family. You’re engaged with two kids, twins on the way. You have more stuff going on and with and which makes the most sense with your clarity, with that business, you are creating more space and you’re actually having more peace and happiness. And that’s just straight up, that’s what I see.
Brandon: Well, I feel it, for sure. And you’re right, even with the mounting commitments, I’m just so damn happy, really. And I’m excited about them. It really is a privilege to be able to worry about the things that we’re worrying about also. I mean, just to worry about being a good dad. And good dad, I mean like, paying attention to your kid because there are so many people that just don’t pay attention. They’re on their own phones or busy with their own stuff. There are people that are worried about feeding their kids or getting their kids a decent education or just some education at all. These are such privileges for us to be even contemplating, to be overwhelmed by your schedule and to make it debilitating when it’s filled up with such wonderful things that we get to do, get to play music, get to hang out with my kid, get to come to the workout.
Darin: So just because it’s in my space, I got to ask because I have a really good sense, but what’s your health pillar? What are the things that matter the most to you and your health pillar and self care? I guess let’s broaden it a little bit.
Brandon: First of all, I’d like to say that the challenge that I have on a daily basis is walking the walk, not just talking the talk. I think we all know what that feels like. We all know that we can be better at certain things. I know what it feels like at 9:30 at night, just go for the big ass bowl of cereal. Do you know what I mean? I do those things. I mess up. I have those things. So I’m constantly working on it. It’s not like I have anything figured out but for me, wow, health. Let’s break it up into parts. I really do believe that from a food standpoint that I really think that like you are a model person to mimic or to be inspired by. I think that at least all the documentaries, the books I’ve read and all that stuff point to just the more plants you eat the better. So I think that a plant-based diet is definitely the way to go. And I do the best I can to eat like that. I’ve also allowed myself to– there’s a great saying, “100% is a breeze, 98% is a pain in the ass.” When you’re 98% vegetarian, every meal, you’re always like, maybe this one I’ll just get the chicken breed or this one I’ll do the thing.” You’re always negotiating with yourself. When you’re in 100%, and you know what it feels like to be in that 100% mode because you just are very black and white and it becomes easy.
Darin: It’s easy.
Brandon: It’s easy because you don’t even think about it. So, for me, I’ve actually been pretty good at being in the 98% thing where if somebody has a dessert after a thing, and I haven’t had dairy in two weeks or whatever–
Darin: You don’t really worry about it.
Brandon: Yeah. I really find a lot of happiness in being most of the way there. And I really don’t eat meat. So I haven’t been eating any meat or anything but just some dairy. It’s like I have sometimes if it’s that kind of situation.
Darin: But you’re not going out of your way, you’re not buying it, you’re not–
Darin: You’re just like every so often, if you’re at a party or get together. You’re not like drilling down the chef to see if they’ve put any butter in it or whatever.
Brandon: Exactly. It’s that kind of thing.
Darin: Which if the whole planet did that, it would be a great thing.
Brandon: Great thing. The environmental impact that that would have would be massive, huge, not to mention health. So for food, that’s at least the way that I think. And then really exercise is so important. It’s so important to feel good, to not be waking up every day. I don’t know if this applies to everybody. I think it must be different for everybody. Some people are okay being not as active and they don’t get their heart rate up and stuff and it doesn’t really affect, at least seemingly it doesn’t affect their happiness. Me, it does. If I’m not moving and I’m not exercising, I sleep so much better at night when I do. I just feel like a better version of myself. I look in the mirror and I feel like I’m a thriving person, like a human being, an organism that’s thriving, that feels good. And one of the best ways you can do that is just through exercise and staying moving. And then lately, the thing that has been the best for emotional health is connectivity with other people. I mean, the men’s group has been massive, like hugely helpful because it’s an environment that you can get this immediate feedback on what’s going on in your life. It’s like having a focus group for your life.
Darin: So Brandon and I have been in a men’s group for over two years now. And it also has a professional counselor in there to kind of keep it really focused and with great feedback. We use it professionally, we use it emotionally, we use it to navigating life, but when you’ve got that kind of longevity with each other, we now know each other’s habits, we know our shortcomings, and so we can, for lack of a better word, we can nail each. And also, of course, correct, effectively, and we’re also getting feedback from everybody.
Brandon: We all have this little voice inside our head where we know that we could be better about something or we know that there’s something in our life that we’re messing upon. And sometimes, the men’s group can help expose that like, this is the thing that you’re messing upon. And then you realize, oh, my God, I have known all along, this would be better if I could change my life. But what it really does, because it’s hard to just cut that voice out of your head completely, what the men’s group really does is it keeps you accountable for the things that you know you should be doing.
Darin: And it’s really a conscious conversation that we’re consistently having. And there’s a lot of different ways that people can go about doing that. Women can have a women’s group if they feel safe within just that. There’s a neighbor project that was started by the Nantucket Project. So they’re creating these conscious communities in the neighborhood. So it’s really speaking to that higher level instead of breezing through life and not connecting, you’ve said that a couple of times, and connecting with people and how important that is, and it’s so easy to distract ourselves. Number one, our workout group that we see each other every day and we know what is going on in each other’s lives. And we’re also using the muse of training as a way of always connecting, and then this men’s group we actually get to dig in layers and layers into that. So I just want to say for people, there’s a lot of different ways you can create conscious conversation and create groups where you’ve got to be willing to not be the victim. You’ve got to be willing to change when things aren’t working. You’ve got to be willing to take responsibility. And people also don’t like that because I don’t know why, because it just creates more freedom in your life, I believe. But anyway, I just wanted to create some context around that because that’s something that we see very powerfully and we experience and I think it’s lacking in society.
Brandon: It is, and I think a lot of the benefit that we get out of the men’s group is just that we’re in a safe environment, and so it gives us the ability for other people to really get to know who we are. And it allows us to be vulnerable.
Darin: It’s all confidential too. So whatever, we can let it rip and nothing goes outside of that circle.
Brandon: I think there’s a lot of people out there that know what that feels like to be carrying something on their shoulders and then all of a sudden just say it out loud to a group of people and be like, oh my god, it feels like a weight lifted. I don’t have to bear this secret or whatever it is. So I think that the more vulnerable you are with other people, whether it’s in a group or if it’s just with your significant other or your brother or your sister, your parents, your children, the more vulnerable you are, maybe not your children. They want to know that you’re kind of like sturgeon. You have to be like a crying mess in front of them all the time. But if we have somebody in life that we feel like really knows us and really sees us for who we are, it’s liberating. And it’s the only way that you can really connect with somebody else. Somebody is only going to really open up to you as much as you open up to them. So if you can just be more vulnerable in your life.
Darin: And scary shit sometimes because it’s hard. You don’t know the outcome. You don’t know what’s going to happen but unless you open up, you can’t– You said it, in order to thrive and get through it, you have to be willing to be vulnerable and expose that in a safe environment and have someone willing to receive that non-judgmental, and that’s a very important thing. I would suggest no one runs around and just be vulnerable to whomever because you can be vulnerable in different ways. You can be kind and caring and because it’s easy to be mad and upset. But make sure that it’s safe and you can be received in a way that’s helpful because oftentimes, you can open up and then someone can’t receive it, doesn’t want to receive it.
Brandon: True and that can be a setback, but I have a little bit of a different– The last full record that I put out, the very first song I put on there was me sitting down and writing something that I would never want anybody to know. And it’s a song and it’s on my thing for everybody to hear. So I understand that I think the reason why the confidential thing within the men’s group, it is like a good reason for us to be more vulnerable. But I think we can be vulnerable out in the world with strangers to the right amount. We’re not going to go and tell the cashier that, you know, a terrible day. We can be logical about what interactions we have, but I think vulnerability can be carried with you, true responsible vulnerability is something that you should be able to share with everybody because that’s how people connect too. Maybe not everybody can relate to the first song that I put on my record talking about how I–
Darin: Which record is it just so people can–
Brandon: Plan on Feelings. And then the first one is called Anybody with a question mark, Anybody? The line of the song is, “Is there anybody out there that feels the way I do,” but it talks about “I live in a life of luxury given to me. All of these things I didn’t earn. My dad didn’t help me to grow up to be who I am. She moved on ran when I was young. I felt so unwanted, abandoned, like a failure. And I’m still dealing with those feelings now. If you look up to me, you’ve been misled. I can guarantee there’s nothing inside me you’ll ever need.” It’s like these feelings of deep insignificance and abandonment and also just that this life that you live. You didn’t earn any of it. You’re not deserving of the things that you have. And part of that also comes through travel. Why did I choose that number? Why me? And that can even be something that’s difficult to struggle with is you never really feel like a man, you never really feel like somebody that has built something himself. You feel like you’re constantly living under this umbrella of somebody else’s successes.
Darin: Alright, so where can people find you? Where can people find–
Brandon: Anywhere. Instagram is a great way to connect with me. I’m very good at connecting with–
Darin: It’s your name Brandon?
Brandon: Yeah, Brandon Jenner, and then Spotify, all that fun stuff if you want to hear the music. YouTube, some cool videos out there.
Darin: And you got a lot coming out this year.
Brandon: That’s true.
Darin: There’s a song every month for a while.
Brandon: Exactly. Yep, doing that this year. So everything’s good. Just making a lot of music, feeling like I’m throwing a lot of things against the wall, see what sticks and that kind of keeps me happy and keeps me satisfied. And then, of course, twins on the way. So a lot going on this year.
Darin: Yeah, a lot going on. Hey, I am proud of you on many levels.
Brandon: Thanks, D. Appreciate it, man.
Darin: I’m stoked for you. Let’s see you flying.
Brandon: You just keep leading the way, man, and I’ll keep getting behind you.
Darin: Sounds good. Thanks, brother.
Darin: Now we’ve reached a part of the show where we address society’s fatal conveniences, and how we can avoid falling into them and being a victim of them. I defined fatal conveniences as the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to, or we’re not even aware that these conveniences are harming us. Even though they may be saving us time, or tricking us into thinking they’re good for us, the truth is, they’re not. In fact, they could be slowly harming us and even killing us.
Darin: Okay, so today’s fatal convenience is probably one of the most obvious but most elusive, and one that can be taken for granted straight away. So this fatal convenience is drinking water. Moreover, tap water. Alright, so here’s the deal. It’s convenient to walk to my sink and turn on the tap. I look at it, it looks fresh, looks clean. It’s on-demand. It’s coming from the city or the water treatment plant, then it’s got to be safe. It has to be. So let’s just think about that for a second and remember back in April 25th of 2014 in Flint, Michigan, when underneath the nose of the whole community, what happened was they did a deal. The city did a deal. Instead of this beautiful aquifer that they’ve been using forever, the city freshwater, they decided to switch the supply to the Flint River to cut costs, and to bring in more money to the city at the expense of, in this case, all the citizens. And what that was is because that Flint River was so contaminated that it had huge and huge amounts of lead as well as many other things, agricultural runoff, and whatnot. So it turns out that people were being led poisoned and they became a national crisis. So the only way they figured that out is because it was so severe that people had such severe reactions. And it was unequivocal because everybody was being affected. So they couldn’t get away with it. And this is going on all over. And you will find many reports and I’m not saying that every single tap water is “contaminated,” but in fact, I kind of am. Because over the long term, there is so many chemicals in that water that being ingested over time is detrimental to our health. So, obviously, the lead levels of Flint, Michigan was a huge shock to everybody but this stuff is going on all the time and the things that they’re allowing in the water and they can’t even control. So let’s just get into that just a little bit. So it’s not just about the lead, but they know now that there was a 2015 study by the NRDC that nearly 77 million Americans were drinking water that were violated by the federal protection, protections that were set up in 2015. So we already know that the things that are being tested, so that basically says millions of Americans are drinking water supplies that were supposed to have clean or failed under their regulations. Now, their regulations, from my point of view, are not ideal by any stretch of the imagination because we’re not just talking these high levels that the NRDC, the EPA, all these people set up. We’re talking about many compounds like atrazine, this endocrine-disrupting chemical that is detected from pesticides, all over the place in water. All throughout the Midwest. Obviously, now we’re talking the airborne and waterborne glyphosate that lives in and around and almost on everything since we’ve been spraying our fields, the mono-cropping fields for the last 50 years with glyphosate. And then we have like I said, this atrazine, which is an endocrine-disrupting chemical. Basically, what that means is that’s messing up your hormones. And also on the deep dives, I got into BPA and the endocrine-disrupting chemical that’s found in plastics as well. And that’s also showing up, by the way, in different chemical matrixes in our waterways. And then not to mention, pathogens. So you have bacteria, viruses, parasites, all of that stuff. And that’s why they’re putting these bigger amounts of chlorine in the water so that they can test the far reaches of where the water is going, that there’s enough chlorine to kill off the bacteria, viruses, and parasites, but that doesn’t often work. I think there was a study in 1993 where there was waterborne disease outbreak in Milwaukee that sickened more than 400,000 people. We never hear about that. So the NRDC and the EPA were supposed to safeguard that and all of those things and of course, they failed again. And the chlorine is usually that thing that kills the bacteria and viruses and all that stuff but that’s also having reactive constituents that it’s reacting to. All these other chemicals that are showing up, the chlorines reacting to, so you’re getting trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, and all of this stuff is cancer-causing. Not to mention a huge amount of arsenic is showing up. In the year 2000, there was nearly 36 million Americans who drank water containing arsenic that was above three parts per billion, and it’s not safe at one part per billion, so it’s three times higher. We shouldn’t have free-floating arsenic in the environment. It’s connected sometimes to seeds and things like that, and that’s naturally occurring, but this is not naturally occurring, the buildup in our waterways. So arsenic virtually has been across the country certainly throughout the 60s and 70s, and things like that, but then showed up again in 2000. And then you have nitrates. So this is a widespread contamination. And this is largely from so much devastation from the factory farming, from the surface, that surface area getting into the groundwater and the aquifers, and that is extremely dangerous. And infants are often very susceptible to that. When an infant is exposed to it, they can develop what’s called Blue Baby Syndrome, and that can kill a baby. So basically, it doesn’t allow for blood to carry oxygen anymore. So that’s just from the nitrates from our factory farming. And now you have also radioactive particulates showing up in the water. We’ve been playing with nuclear weapons forever and any sort of exposure to that, that can cause thyroid cancer, kidney failure, whatnot. Also, some other weird things that I didn’t even think about and these were vinyl chlorides. And these are from the PVC plastics, and of course, they’re using PVC all over the place. So they’re using PVC in piping of all kinds and homes and factories and whatnot. And that’s just a very, very scary thing. And then the other thing that’s extremely scary is pharmaceutical drugs. So you know, those pills that you’re taking and then you’re pooping out or you’re peeing out or you’re flushing down the toilet over decades and decades and decades, that stuff is now at such a small micron that it’s showing up in the water. I’ve talked a lot about water. I have some water on the deep dives as well, talking about water and the sensitivity of water. Water is a blank hard drive. It’s influenced by everything it comes in contact, physical matter, energy-matter, quantum physical matter, it changes. It carries frequency. It delivers information like water is a blank hard drive that has influence. So now, everything I just said and other many other chemicals, imagine that kind of bad experiment that all of those chemicals are interacting with that water, so the water now as a delivery system for these bad chemicals. That’s just potential bad tap water. So it’s the things that you don’t see. It’s the micro chemicals that you’re not seeing. So here’s what you do. You got to filter this stuff out. And Brita, sorry Brita, I haven’t seen you create a very good filter. So those types of countertop filters are just not going to cut it. You have to deconstruct the water to reconstruct it again. So, don’t fall into the fatal convenience of just turning on your tap water, washing your food, bathing in it. Get a shower filter and get out some of these chemicals so you’re not sucking up through your skin and not putting on your children. And then not boiling your vegetables or making your pasta or anything else of your food with these chemicals. You have to filter your water. So under the counter reverse osmosis, so you have to deconstruct your water so that you can reconstruct it again. I’ll say that again, you have to deconstruct this water, this water this tap water, this chemicalized water so that you can reconstruct it again in a healthy way. So, distilled water, which has 0 to 0.5 total dissolved solids, so it’s clean, it’s clear. Also reverse osmosis under the sink is also 0 to 5 total dissolved solids, so that’s clean clear water. So reverse osmosis or distilled water, and then of course, if you’re having that add a pinch of Himalayan Crystal salt, half a teaspoon per gallon, or pinch per glass and electrolyze your water with the right elements. Himalayan salt is what will activate that water. Shake it up a little bit. Let the sun rays hit it outside. There’s a whole lot of stuff we can talk about water. But what I want to explain here is the fatal convenience of turning on your water, it’s a blessing. We’re in a first-world situation. It’s amazing. I’ve been in third world situations where they’re walking for miles to get urinated fecal filled water, if they get water at all. So obviously, we have clear, clean, somewhat clean water coming out of our tap, but we have to take the power into our own hands and complete the cleaning and the reconstruction process. I hope you understand that. I hope you enjoy that. Get a filter, get an RO, get a distiller. We’ll eventually come out with and support water systems. And I can point you in those directions but help yourself, help your family, help your children, help your husband and spouse and wife and be happy, healthy because we need water on many levels. All right, that’s the fatal convenience for the day. Thank you. Have a great day.
Darin: That was a fantastic episode. What was the one thing that you got out of today’s conversation? If today’s episode struck a chord with you, and you want to dive a little deeper on a variety of topics, check out my live deep dives on darinolien.com/deepdive. More episodes are available on darinolien.com as well. Keep diving my friends, keep diving.
Darin: This episode is produced by my team at Must Amplify, an audio marketing company that specializes in giving a voice to a brand and making sure the right people hear it. If you would like or are thinking about doing a podcast or even would like a strategy session to add your voice to your brand in a powerful way, go to www.mustamplify.com/darin. That’s www.mustamplify.com/darin.