This is a full transcript of the episode with Paul Ollinger. You can find the podcast here.
Brody [00:00:08] Hey all, Brody here with a new episode of Titans as Teens, a podcast where I have detailed conversations with interesting people from all walks of life, about their teen experience and the knowledge they have for teens today.
[00:00:20] Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with comedian Paul Ollinger.
Paul 00:00:24 I want to talk about the name of your podcast, Titans as Teens. So, I don’t think Titan quite captures the full grandiosity of my accomplishments in life. Is it in all caps, at least in all caps in the title?
Brody [00:00:38] Paul is a prolific comedian and creator, the author of the book, You Should Totally Get An MBA: A Comedian’s Guide to Top U.S. Business Schools, as well as the host of the incredible podcast Crazy Money. Here’s my conversation with Paul Ollinger.
[00:00:56] [MUSIC END COLD]
Brody [00:00:56] How about you give me, like, a quick and I mean quick, that’s the challenging part, give me like a one-minute summary of your life.
Paul [00:01:02] A one-minute summary of my life?
Brody [00:01:04] Go for it.
Paul [00:01:06] I was born in 1969 to the Ollinger family, one of six kids, 12 years of Catholic school, went to college with the idea that I wanted to make a lot of money. Then didn’t make a lot of money. Then went to business school so I could make a lot of money. Then I told jokes at a talent show one night and was bit by the comedy bug, which is exactly what you don’t want to be bit by if you want to make a lot of money. And then I had 80000 dollars’ worth of student loans, so I went into the digital media business and sales. It went very well and then it didn’t go well and then it went really well. And then I did comedy for two years and then I got engaged. So, I got a real job with a company called Facebook that went very well until it didn’t. And so, I retired and started to become a comedian and a writer. And here we are.
Brody [00:01:48] That was impressive. Only 40 seconds.
Paul [00:01:49] 40 seconds? I’ve got twenty, the twenty is for the future.
Brody [00:01:53] Normally when I ask people that they go like three minutes. So, applause.
Paul [00:01:57] Well we’ll, we’ll get into the, we’ll get into whatever you want to get into of those of those part by all means, you know, dive in and tell me where I can elaborate.
Brody [00:02:06] Yeah. For sure. So now that we have that little thing, I want you to tell me what’s like the one thing that when you meet people you don’t tell them about…
Brody [00:02:14] Is it a fun fact kind of thing? Is it is sort of like ah…? Here’s two truths and a lie or something obscure fact from my past or something like that?
Brody [00:02:22] Yeah, it’s just really something interesting about you to get like someone interested in you.
Paul [00:02:27] All right, so obscure fact about me, I was an altar boy for probably six years of my life.
Brody [00:02:27] What started that?
Paul [00:02:34] Being born into a very religious family. My parents were devout Catholics. I was one of six kids. The church was a very big part of our lives growing up. We went to Catholic school. My mom worked at the church, and Sundays we went to church every week. We often did some kind of social thing there during the week, and we attended vacation Bible school during the summers, which is maybe the worst way you can spend your summer, although there were some very cute girls at vacation Bible school. I will. I will. There are some compensation there.
Brody [00:03:12] Probably not the best place to pick up girls, though. Vacation, Bible school.
Paul [00:03:15] Well, you know, Brody, my game was not evolved when I was ten. So, I mean, I knew that I found them to be very interesting. I didn’t know what to do or say with that knowledge. That took a good bit of time for me to figure out. I think I’ve figured it out. I think I’ve figured it out.
Brody [00:03:35] I mean, if you’ve got a wife, I’d say you don’t really have to worry about it anymore.
Paul [00:03:38] No. Well, I yeah. The game is not something you want when you’ve been married for twelve years. The game…you want to know how to be a good husband and keep her happy. That’s my goal.
Brody [00:03:50] Sure. All right. So, I’m curious if there’s like right now in your life a small thing that if you made that small thing, that small change, it would make your life ten times better?
Paul [00:04:01] Oh boy. What would that be? The small change I could make in my life…you know, I like where I am right now. I’m sure there’s things I could do. I could keep my diet a little better. I could exercise more. I could drink less. I could be more focused with my time. I think that’s something that keeps coming up with me, is that I feel like, if I could manage my day better, like in chunks, that there’s there are myriad projects that I’m working on. And if I sort of, chunked out my day better, I would find that I would be far more productive. I think that’s I think that’s something that that could really help take me to the next level, of productivity.
Brody [00:04:50] Yeah. Yeah. Does that involve and I’m sure like you literally answer this question every time you meet someone, like how you formulate your comedy stand-up routine? Is that part of that you’re needing to schedule out time part of that?
Paul [00:05:06] Well, yeah, writing. Writing is this weird thing. So, I write comedy, I write books, I write articles. Or you can call them essays if you like. I write, did I day standup? I write jokes. So not only do you have to… and writing is one of these things that I understand computer coding is also like. That you get into the zone, if you will, and it takes you maybe 15 minutes of concentration to get into the zone. And having multiple browser windows open and multiple emails open and having your having your, you know, your phone not on “Do not disturb” while you’re writing, tends… What you do is you invite distraction in. And when you get distracted and you say, oh, I’m just going to knock out this, I’m going to reply to this email real quick just so I can get that person what they need. Well, that’s fine, but it takes you out of the flow and it takes, so it’s that time you get out of the flow and then whatever the 10 or 15 minutes, it takes you to get back into the flow. But it’s worse than that because what happens is you answer that email and then you answer four more, and then you go get a donut from the kitchen and then you lose track, and then your wife says, “hey, can you help me with this thing that we’ve got to get done?” And then you realize, and this is something that happens a lot when you work from home, as almost everyone is doing right now, that where you had three hours set aside to write from nine a.m. to noon or whatever, all of a sudden that three hours becomes an hour and fifteen minutes. And so, distraction, when you don’t have somebody else telling you what to do, self-discipline around project-based efficiency is really important. And I think from a productivity standpoint, that’s something I could benefit from a great deal. Because you’ve got all these different balls in the air and you’re trying to get them all done. They’re not all equally important. And sometimes when you are kind of dreading a big project, you’ll go to the one that’s sort of the easiest to do so that you feel productive. Because I am a motivated person that wants to feel productive, but I’m not necessarily working on the thing that’s most important. I’m working on the thing that kind of is easiest to do.
Brody [00:07:25] Yeah, I believe you’re describing procrastination, every student’s secret lover. So,
Paul [00:07:33] You know, OK, check this out. I was just thinking about procrastination because for the three hours before you called, I’ve been working on my business expenses for my accountant for my 2019 taxes. And so business expenses when you’re a comedian are like, I buy plane tickets, I take Ubers from the airport to the hotel. I take Ubers from the hotel to the club. I buy podcasting equipment, I buy whatever. And it’s deductible from my massive compensation. And I’ve been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off. And it’s just like homework. It’s like that. It’s like that big project that you know you have to do, and you hear about it at the beginning of the semester, and you don’t put a plan in place to work on it incrementally. You just wait until the last minute and then you hate yourself for putting yourself in that position. And you don’t do as good a job as you would have done if you would have just done a little bit at a time. It’s exactly like school work. It’s less that way with like comedy or with or with the writing. Some of the writing. I do some of the essays when, you know, like the people from Medium, where I’ve been publishing most of my stuff recently, they’ll say, “hey, I need this by June 22”. And so, I’ll go like, all right, I know I need to have a first.. because I really care about the writing. I don’t give a shit about my taxes. I mean I do give a shit about my taxes, but I hate doing them. I like to write. So, and I know that I’m going to have to do several drafts. So, if it’s going to be due on June 22, I’m going to start on whatever June 5th. I’m going to have a first draft done by June 17th and or June 12th or whatever. And then I know I’m going to need to revisit it. I’m going to I’m going to need to set it aside and think about it. And as I think about it, I’ll be on the treadmill or in an Uber or whatever, and I’ll think of something and I’ll and I’ll write myself a note using Evernote or one of the notepads on the Mac or on the iPhone. And then I’ll go back to the essay the next morning and I’ll pick it up and I’ll put that in there. And generally, that’ll lead to some other idea.
[00:09:34] And so the writing gets better in. Iterations over time. And that’s what you know, if I could go back in time and be the perfect student, I would start all my I would start all my term papers early and, you know, have the time to let them sort of kind of sit there and be, until I thought of ways to make them better. You know, how they say like lasagna left overnight in the refrigerator is better the next day because it all kind of congeals or whatever. And that’s the way ideas are. That’s the way writing is. That is that when you just kind of let it chill and sit, more good stuff comes to you.
Brody [00:10:10] Hmm. That’s the most fascinating little talk I’ve ever had about taxes. Thank you.
Paul 00:10:17 Yeah, man.
Brody [00:10:18] I think I can speak for 90 percent of the student body here. When I say you got a big essay due next week, what do you do? You wait till Monday and then you do it all Monday night if it’s due on Tuesday.
Paul [00:10:29] Sure, why not. That’s why God made coffee, right?
Brody [00:10:31] Exactly.
Paul [00:10:32] Try to start early and decide you’re going to make it awesome and it’ll be so much more fun to do when you’re not sitting there going feeling under the gun and just you got to put something together that’s passable instead of something that’s really insightful and fun.
Brody [00:10:45] Yeah, I think that’s a good transition into your high school.
Paul [00:10:48] Yeah.
Brody [00:10:49] Yeah. What was your high school experience like? If you want to just give me a broad overview.
Paul [00:10:54] High school was very good. I thought. My first year of high school, I went high school from ninth through 12th grade, some high school start earlier. That’s what our’s was. My ninth-grade year was a very big year of adjustment. It took me a lot longer to settle in socially than I then I was excited about. I had an older brother that was very popular and well-known in the school, and I resented him for that because the girls in my homeroom were always talking about how handsome he was. He played basketball and they talked about how good his legs were. And I’m like, good God, he’s a jerk. Stop talking about him. But that, you know, that eventually as freshman year turned into sophomore year socially, it got to be a lot more fun. I was very earnest, I was a very hardworking student because I wanted to be, from an early age, I decided that I wanted to be successful in business and I sort of had this formula in my head. I was like, I’m going to study hard in high school. I’m going to get into a good college, I’ll get a good job, and someday I’ll be the vice president at the bank. And that’s the kind of big dream I had. So, we’ll talk about kind of how that all shook out, if you want to later. But in high school, I was motivated. I was involved in everything. I was the captain of the football team. I was the president of the student council. I had the lead role in the play. And I just wanted to be in everything, and I wanted to be a leader in everything that I did. And I had a lot of fun, a lot of friends. I was friends with a lot of people. And thankfully, I’m still in touch with many of those people on Facebook. And I’d say, I have a good feeling about most of them, and I think most of them have a pretty good feeling about me.
Brody [00:12:33] Hmm. Sounds like you were “that guy” in high school. I mean, one of many “that guys” like the top of the ladder, “that guy”.
Paul [00:12:41] I got involved because I cared. And I think people asked me to be a leader because they knew I cared. I was I was both I was sort of… In eighth grade I was voted both most school spirit and biggest complainer. So, I have got this dichotomy working inside of me that I really do want to make where I am a better place. And at the same time, if something’s broken, I’m going to bitch and moan about it and tell some sarcastic jokes and stuff like that. So, I don’t know. I mean, I kind of was involved in everything and relatively visible person in the high school. But I also I think that was part of the fact that I was one of six kids. And when you’re the fifth child to get to a high school, the teachers know your family and they’re like, oh, you’re one of those kids. And it makes it a little easier. On some level you’ve got your older brother whose shadow you’re living in, the other and the other hand, everybody knows you and you’re going to be safe there. And so, there was a little bit of that going on for me too.
Brody [00:13:46] Ok, like a little bit of cushioning, you know?
Paul [00:13:48] Well, there’s just the social safety net. I mean, and some people might find it to be oppressive, but it just was, it just makes it a little bit easier of a transition.
Brody [00:13:59] OK
Paul [00:13:59] You know, your brother is I had an older sister who is a senior, my brother was a junior. And so, you know, the senior girls would come and pinch my cheek and the other guys would be like, “oh, you know, Diana Brady”. Oh yeah, I know her, she’s she thinks I’m cute or whatever, you know, like I was, you know, I had braces and look gawky and stupid. But, you know, my older sister’s friends would talk to me and that kind of helped me ingratiate myself socially.
Brody [00:14:24] Yeah. Is there a song you can remember that was your anthem at the time?
Paul [00:14:29] Oh, my God, Brody. That’s a good question. Uh. Here’s what’s weird about getting older is that when I was in the in your age. The 50s were like to me what the 80s are to you, maybe even the 40s at this point. But like I, I really loved the postpunk music of, you call it New Wave. Bands like U2 and Duran Duran and Tears for Fears. I mean, really, if you go back and look at the hair, it’s just it’s cliché. I’m going to go with Mothers Talk, by Tears for Fears. That it’s going to be my dark horse of a of an 80s song for you.
Brody [00:15:18] Give me some of a verse.
Paul [00:15:20] Oh, man. Come on.
Brody [00:15:21] You don’t have to sing it. Just say it.
Paul [00:15:22] Hang on a second. I’ve got to pull it up. Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Hang on a second. Oh, my God. These others I’m going to go with Head over Heels,.
Brody [00:15:30] OK
Paul [00:15:30] I’m going to go with head over heels. Actually, “Something happens and I’m head over heels. I never find out until I’m head over heels”. It’s a good song, it’s about teenage love and infatuation, and there was a little bit of that going on for me and let’s call it 1985.
Brody [00:15:49] I would like to thank you for that beautiful piece.
Paul [00:15:52] I’d like to thank you for allowing me to bring it to the to the to the program.
Brody [00:15:56] It will be on the Internet forever. (laughs) Can you remember, like, one time when that song really came to fruition for you, when you were like, totally head over heels, you could say for a girl and it didn’t work out.
Paul [00:16:11] Well, one hundred percent of them didn’t work out until I met and married my wife, so know like that’s just the nature of relationships. And Louis C.K. and I know he’s not necessarily somebody people are fond of, but he’s a brilliant comedian. And he talks about, like dating is such a tragedy because the best thing that could happen, the best outcome when you meet somebody, is that you live together until one of you dies.
[00:16:40] Like, that’s the best-case scenario that’s going to happen in any relationship. So, understand that hopefully you’ll get married once and be very happy. No, it’s no crime if you get married more than once. But, you know, hopefully the goal would be let’s get married, let’s not get divorced, let’s have a family that stays together. But that means that everybody you date up until that point is it’s not going to work out for one reason or another.
[00:17:05] And some hurt a lot more than others. Sometimes you’re the one that’s hurting. Sometimes you’re the one that does the hurting. So, yeah, man, I’ve been head over heels a lot of times and it didn’t pan out. And sometimes it doesn’t pan out and you’re all, you know, hurt for a little while and then, you know, and then a month later you’re like, why was I so broken up about that? I didn’t want to be in that relationship. I’m just my pride was hurt. That’s what was hurt, is the fact that she dumped me. You know. Or that I made a mistake and that I was dumb or, you know, you’re embarrassed about it. But, yeah, head over heels is, you’re going to be head over heels and then you’re not. And it’s that’s just the cycle of life, man.
Brody [00:17:51] Sadly yeah, till you get married and hopefully die together..
Paul [00:17:54] But here’s yeah, that’s right, you all die together. Here’s the thing, though. I am I’m friends with many of my ex-girlfriends. And so, I would say if you want to talk about things that I’m proud of, is that for the most part and I haven’t always been a great guy in a relationship, but for the most part. If you treat each other well, even if somebody is going to get hurt in a year or 10 years or 20 years, and you stay in touch more today than you ever did before because of social media, you can look that person in the eye and be like, hey, you know, we were together for a while, we were we were good to each other and it just didn’t work out. You know, and that’s a good thing to be able to say. I’m very friendly with several ex-girlfriends. So, I would say do your best to just be true to yourself and be true to him or her. And you’ll have you’ll at least have no regrets.
Brody [00:18:50] You heard it first. Here, folks. Don’t be an asshole.
Paul [00:18:53] Don’t be an asshole. I mean, you’re going to be an asshole at some point. That’s what you’re going to learn in life. It’s like I remember thinking one time with this one girl that I really cared a lot about. I made a couple of very big mistakes that aren’t worth going into. But I was like, oh, wow, I just hurt somebody bad, unintentionally. And I don’t want to do that again. That sucks. And so, I don’t want to be that guy. I was not perfect from that point on, but it’s like this feeling isn’t one I want more of in my life. So, don’t do that again.
Brody [00:19:30] That makes sense. At least you learned from it. A lot of people don’t.
Paul [00:19:33] Well, I mean, you’re going to make mistakes and you got to learn from them.
Brody [00:19:38] Is there something that you did in high school that you think pretty much everyone should do, but they don’t?
Paul [00:19:46] What are some things people should do? I think everybody should live in New York City for some period of time or some very…
Brody [00:19:51] Maybe not, maybe not now.
Paul [00:19:53] Maybe not right now, some very large city. My experience growing up in the suburbs and moving in New York was like New York was just so exciting. But one could say the same about Hong Kong or London or San Francisco, you know. In high school, you know, I loved being in the plays. I loved I loved – drama. I love being on stage. And I remember thinking as I was on stage – this is the most fun I’ve ever had. This feeling is so cool, but I don’t, but it’s entirely impractical. But nobody makes a living in the arts, you know, like, I just… And when I went to college, I was I was like, I’m going to get a job. I don’t know what that’s going to be, but I’m going to go get a good job and I’m going to make 31,000 dollars a year, because if I have that much money, I can then pay my bills and be a responsible person, and my dad will be proud of me. And I don’t regret I don’t regret the time I spent in business by any stretch of the imagination. But I do remember being a little bit too timid about trying things that were non-traditional or that didn’t have a traditional past. Still working on that. But being in the plays was pretty fun.
Brody [00:21:08] Mmm. Yeah. There’s a lot of stigma these days. You’re probably not familiar with it – against the theater kid in high school.
Paul [00:21:16] Yeah.
Brody [00:21:16] I mean there’s always everyone has like that little stereotype for every single group, but the theater kid is always the one that’s lowest on the social ladder let’s say.
Paul [00:21:28] Well you know, maybe. The drama teacher loved me and my buddies were football players who came to do theater and she thought that was really cool, maybe because it helped erase some of that stigma about, you know, just a certain type of kid being involved with the theater. Now, I couldn’t sing for Jack, you know, I still can’t, but I don’t know, I think…has that not changing or is sort of diversity of type of person in high school not changing because of more openness to everybody being themselves? Is that is that is that is that is that I like to think because the world has progressed, there are all the high school stereotypes and clichés pretty much the same.
Brody [00:22:14] I mean, I can only speak from my experience. I’m relatively certain that they were worse in the past, but I can definitely confirm that they still exist.
Paul [00:22:24] What about I mean, so like, we didn’t talk when I was in high school, so I graduate from high school in 1987, nobody in my high school, and it was also Catholic. Nobody was out. Right. Nobody talked openly about sex. Certainly, nobody talked about gay versus straight. There was the talk of diversity was, oh, they’re black. There’s a few Hispanics and everybody else is white. But there wasn’t any conversation about what it meant or, you know, privilege or anything like that, that conversation didn’t exist. And that’s been, what, thirty-three years ago?
Brody [00:22:58] Yeah, well, that that’s a different story. I was talking about, just grouping kids with what they like. But diversity as in that’s…
Paul [00:23:09] Well the theater kid was always well, that’s, you know, theater kid was sometimes code for that’s a gay kid. And there’s certainly still I mean, you still look at my kids have just started to watch. My kids are nine and ten. They’ve just started to watch the Disney Channel. And putting sexual orientation completely aside, you look at the kids, the actors on the Disney Channel, and they’re all very talented. But you look at them, you go, oh, that’s a theater kid, right? That’s the kid you meet at the pool. And he’s like, Hello, Mr. Ollinger, how are you today? And they might be a great kid, but they’re kind of over the top. Yeah, I mean, that is still a type of person.
[00:23:45] I don’t I don’t know what it’s like for them today, but it’s like if that if that kid is that way, but also very cool and owns himself, then you go, OK, that’s a cool theater kid. And the other kid over there is like, that’s an affected theater kid. That’s a kid that thinks that, like I’m relatively attractive and relatively well-spoken and here I am. Everything sounds like they’re doing an oratory contest, you know, like so I don’t know. I think I lost your question.
Brody [00:24:10] No worries. I think it’s an interesting point, at least the difference. But I’m glad that it’s a lot more open these days for everyone else who’s not a straight white male, to say the least.
Paul [00:24:23] Yeah, well, I mean, the more everybody gets to be themselves and be respected and valued for who they are, than the better off all of us are. What are you into, what’s your, who are you at high school?
Brody [00:24:41] I used to be, I was the theatre kid in 8th grade.
Paul [00:24:41] Oh really?
Brody [00:24:42] Yeah. And then I had to quit theater because I had to , or I didn’t have to, I had to choose between running and theater, and I chose running. So, I’m the track kid now.
Paul [00:24:50] Your coach made you do that?
Brody [00:24:52] Yeah, pretty much.
Paul [00:24:53] See, I think that’s I think that sucks. That’s something that is that is also different between when I was in school. There were certain coaches. It was sort of like if you played basketball, you couldn’t play football or something like that. And so, specialization was something that was getting started, kind of was there. But today it’s like you got to choose. You got to choose in eighth grade whether you’re going to be a runner or be on stage. Like, that’s not that’s not OK. That’s like you really should be trying as many different things as you can. You should be experiencing like things that are going to be harder to try when you’re 25 and have a job or you’re in school or whatever, like, you know. That’s what that’s what you should be doing in your teens is like reading different shit and, you know, trying, you know, hey, go out for this sport, go out for that sport, try painting. Try I mean, like get into the arts. I mean, you might not be good at everything. You’re not going to like everything, but like you should be trying as many different things as possible.
Brody [00:25:54] Speaking of trying things, did you ever have any experience…
Paul [00:25:57] I didn’t mean like I mean coke or anything like that. I mean,
Brody [00:26:00] I was actually my question.
Paul [00:26:01] Ok go ahead.
Brody [00:26:01] Did you have any experience with, like, contraband items in high school?
Paul [00:26:05] Absolutely I did. Here’s I’ve never done cocaine, and that’s probably.
Brody [00:26:11] For the best.
Paul [00:26:11] Well, it’s definitely for the best, but I think I never tried it because I knew I had an addictive enough personality and that I, that cocaine makes you feel that flatters your sense of self. It makes you feel attractive. And, you know, people think you’re interesting and it brings out the latent narcissistic tendencies that that I that I have. So, I never it wasn’t even a conscious choice. It just wasn’t around. I wasn’t hanging with the with the boarding school set who had a lot of money. So, you know, there was weed around. There is plenty of booze, mostly beer. What’s hard to admit when you’re when you’re a teenager and you feel like a grown up, is that your brain’s not fully formed until you’re like 25 or 26 years old. And so, the more you can put off partying, the better off you’re going to be. It just it’s just true. I’m not being moralistic about it. I’m not being a teetotaler. It’s not the most important part of your day.
Brody [00:27:12] I definitely think a lot of people need to internalize that message these days.
Paul [00:27:17] Being the being the guy who’s most fucked up at a party is never going to make you the cool guy. It’s just, you know, I just think that – get to the party late, leave early. Keep your wits about you. Have a nice time. And this is a lesson I learned too late. But, you know, like, I stopped doing shots when I was, I don’t know, 24 because I woke up one morning, like on a Wednesday and I’m like, why do I feel like hell? And I was like, oh wait a minute. Every time I do shots I feel terrible. And I and I and I regret something I did the night before. And it’s like it’s the stupidest way to drink you can possibly drink. Like you’re it’s not going to lead to anything but trouble. And my life started to get a lot better as a as a as a young adult when I pulled my head out of my ass on that one.
Brody [00:28:06] I mean, it makes sense if you think about it, the point of shots is literally just to get.
Paul [00:28:11] To get fucked up.
Brody [00:28:12] Yeah. To stop thinking about what you actually should be thinking about and just get into a state of mind where you’re not actually caring about anything.
Paul [00:28:20] No. And it doesn’t actually feel better. What feels. Well, I mean, maybe this is just getting older, but what feels good is having a nice little buzz is like feeling like being, being nice and relaxed and not worried about too much, but also not but also being, you know, maintaining your wits about you and being able to have a good time and talk to, talk to your buddies and talk to girls. I mean, like that’s what that’s what it’s about. You know, the more fucked up you get, the worse you’re going to do with whatever sex you’re interested in, because you’re just going to be a moron and you’re not going to be able to be persuasive. You’ll probably be offensive, and you’ll set yourself back months, if not forever.
Brody [00:29:01] Yeah. Is there a story you can remember where you just disappointed your parents in high school?
Paul [00:29:10] Ooooh. Disappointed my parents? You know, I was pretty I was pretty much a rule follower. I still am a rule follower, but especially back then I was… I was a pretty straight kid, I mean, I wasn’t a nerd, but I was a pretty I was a hardworking, earnest kid. I started to lose my way a little bit when I got to college, and I just was a little disappointed about the way college applications went and everything. And so, when I got to college, I wasn’t quite as committed to school and started to party a little bit more and just got my…I got a big head. I got a really big head. And my sophomore year, this happens when you know, my sophomore year I came home and lived at home and I worked two jobs because I wanted to make enough money to have spending money at school. My dad paid for most of college, but he’s like, you’re going to come up with like two grand, which was, you know, more money back then than it is today. And you’re going to pay for your own expenses. He’s like, I’ll pay for your room and board. But if I don’t care if you don’t have beer money for the weekend, that’s your problem, right? And that’s a huge gift for any parent, you know, to cover tuition and all that. But anyway, when I came home from college my sophomore year, my mom was like, oh, my God, you’ve turned into such a dick. I mean, she didn’t put it in those words because she’d never used those words. But she just was like, you are just such a big-headed tool.
[00:30:38] And I was very full of myself. And I think that’s where…That part of my life was the beginning of what was kind of the most difficult part of my life was like maybe from 19 or 22 to like 25, 26, Because you’ve got all these big ideas about who you are and what you’re going to accomplish. And yet you don’t quite have the, I didn’t have the, the real kind of sense of balance and self true self-confidence, to be who I who I was. And so, what you do is you make up for it with bravado and a bunch of, bunch of sarcasm, and you think that’s what’s that’s what it means to be cool, but it’s not. And my mom was you know, your parents know you better than anybody, at least you know, better than most. And when I came home, my mom was like, oh, my God, you’re being such a shithead. She literally said, who are you? So, I think she was disappointed back then and I eventually got back on track.
Brody [00:31:43] How?
Paul [00:31:44] Well, part of it is just growing up, and when I got out of college, my dad did me the favor of saying, “Hey, congratulations on graduation. Here’s a list of all the money you’ve borrowed from me for the last two years. Please commence payment immediately. Good luck”.
[00:32:01] So he basically said you’re on your own and then you. So, I spent a couple of years getting kicked in the teeth by life. And you realize how difficult it is to pay your rent and how expensive it is to maintain a piece of shit car.
[00:32:15] And then I got behind the eight ball because instead of paying to change my oil, I paid last month’s credit card bill or whatever. And then the engine blows up because there’s no oil in it. And then that’s a two-thousand-dollar expense instead of a thirty-five-dollar expense. And then I did, and I just kept digging myself into a hole like with credit cards and stuff. And I realized at a certain point I’m like, man, I know something has to change. I need a plan to go and make something happen with my life because this is harder than I thought it would be. And that’s when I sort of put a plan in place. I said, I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I feel like I need to go to business school. I could have at that point either gotten a job that paid better and started down a road towards an industry with a little bit more of a plan. But I was like, I think I want to go back to business school and figure out what I really want to do. And you don’t need to go to business school to do that. But it was a helpful thing to do. And that’s when I started to say, OK. I want to think long term, not just in terms of good grades as a student, but like how do I how do I succeed as an adult because succeeding as an adult. Is you’re on your own all of a sudden. You have to choose who you’re going to be. Your parents pick your school. Your parents pick your friends. Your parents pick your religion. If you have one. To a large degree, they pick what you’re interested in just because of the house you grew up in. But when you get out of school, if your parents do you the favor of cutting you off, it’s about you figuring it out. And when life will humble you pretty quickly. And, you know, once that happens, you have the opportunity to sort of build yourself up brick by brick and say, OK, this is what I stand for, or this is the kind of person I want to be, and these are the things that I’m interested in and I’m going to go do them.
Brody [00:34:10] It must have been difficult then, being in your position to try and start a life of comedy. Right. Because that’s not exactly the highest paying job when you start.
Paul [00:34:20] It’s not the highest paying job ever. Until you’re one of the top 20 people in the business. So, I told jokes at business school, this is what this is of all these very smart people in my business school, this is what makes me different. This is what makes me special is, I’m funny. And I thought, well, I want to go and be a comedian. Well, like I said, I had 80000 dollars in loans, which today would be like one hundred thirty. And I had no prospects for paying them off other than going to get a relatively traditional corporate job, making a lot of money and working hard to pay them off as quickly as I could. And so, I said, well, there’s a lot of things I want in life. But just because you want them doesn’t mean that they’re either practical or realistic. And I said, well, I want to do it. And if I’m still single and I have the money, someday I will go do it. And so, I got out of business school and I went to work in digital media because in 1997, the Internet was becoming this thing. And I was like, well, I really want to be in TV or film. And I was thinking, someday I’ll be discovered in a marketing meeting. They’ll be like “you should be in front of the camera”. And but I was like, OK, I’ll go work in the digital media biz. Maybe this Internet thing will turn into something.
[00:35:32] And it was the one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, was to… I had these offers for some consulting companies and some other things that that were like good offers. The money was pretty good, but I just wasn’t excited about them. And I was like, I didn’t come here to take a job I’m not excited about. And so, I declined my offers and I started my job search all over again, in March of my second year. I spoke at graduation without a job, but then I found the job that was right for me by being patient and diligent. I found a great job and I and I met some of the greatest people that I still know today through that first company that I went to work with. And it was called Launch.com. It was a monthly CD-ROM. So, I don’t know. You may not even remember CD-ROMs, but it was like it’s a disk that came in the mail and it was like a magazine. And you may not be familiar with magazines, but it was like a CD-ROM, it was a magazine business model. People subscribe to it. There was advertising on it, but all the advertising was video based, and they interviewed bands like Sheryl Crow was on one, just bands from the late 90s. And then so I sold advertising and I thought it was just cool. And that turned into a music website called Launch.com. And we went public and the stock went way up and then the stock crashed with everything else in 2001. And then we got bought by Yahoo! And then I spent four years at Yahoo! And at Yahoo! The stock was really low at first, but then they started to prove that the Internet could be this platform for marketing, and the stock rose really quickly and then and not only paid off all my student loans, I put a lot of money in the bank and I said, well, I’m going to go do comedy because I finally have the opportunity to do that because I had money in the bank. So, you know, I was committed to what I was doing, and I worked my ass off. And when I had the opportunity to empower comedy, I went, and I gave it a full swing.
Brody [00:37:27] So even when you were by all means, not by all means, by money means, successful and succeeding in the moment at Yahoo!
Paul [00:37:36] Mmm hmmm.
Brody [00:37:36] You decided I’m going to quit because this isn’t what I want, and you went into comedy.
Paul [00:37:40] Well, it wasn’t that it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted. It was it was – I didn’t want it as much as I wanted to try to be a comedian. And I turned down a promotion, I’ve turned down a lot of promotions in my life for the sake of comedy. And I moved out to L.A. and I started to host at the improvs out in Orange County every week. And I just happened to have met this guy that runs the improv chain or did run the improv chain of comedy clubs. And he said, move out to L.A., I’ll put you on stage every week and you can learn comedy and you can help me with some digital strategy, and that’s what happened for two years. I performed five or six shows a week in front of great audiences, and I had no idea how great that that opportunity was until many years later when I tried to restart my comedy career, when I did restart my comedy career. And so, I did that for two years. I opened for incredible comedians, Dave Attell, Daniel Tosh, Norm MacDonald, just really top-notch people. And then I got engaged to my wife and I was like, well, I don’t think I’m prepared to be comedy guy as a as my profession. Because I want to have a family and I want to be a responsible husband, a parent. And so, at that time I started thinking about maybe I should go back and get a job. And around that time, a friend of mine that I’d worked with, a Yahoo! Called and said, would you be interested in being a salesperson at this small social network called Facebook? And I said, yeah, that sounds pretty good. Someday it could be as big as MySpace. Literally said that.
Brody [00:39:17] Verbatim.
Paul [00:39:18] I actually said it to my wife, but she was like, could this is this company gonna… And I was like, look, I think it could be as big as MySpace. And that’s how big I thought back then. It was like MySpace and Yahoo! were the two big dogs. And every month I would look at how much Facebook was catching on them. Meanwhile, Facebook, Zuckerberg is like, “No, we’re going to connect humankind. Like we’re literally going to connect the world”. And I’m like, we’re catching up to MySpace, man. This is, we’re on fire. Yeah. So anyway, so I got so I got I was both lucky and fortunate. I got hooked up with a job at Facebook when they were about a two-hundred-and-fifty-person company.
Brody [00:39:54] Yeah, jeez, lucky. I mean, would you call it luck?
Paul [00:39:59] Well, how do you define lucky.
Brody [00:40:02] It depends there’s I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Naval Ravikant, but he defines luck, is putting yourself in the right situation for the right things to happen. And that’s generally how I think of luck. And fortunate is, how most people think of luck.
Paul [00:40:21] Huh. I have that. I have it the other way around. I think of lucky as being coincidence. And I think like winning the lottery, just from a you know, like an odds, a statistical odds perspective. And I think of fortunate as being the residue of design, let’s say. Although the quote is actually “Luck is the residue of design”, meaning the harder you work, the luckier you get. All that goes either way. I’ve been very, very fortunate in life. And part of that fortune has been based on the good relationships that we’ve talked about already. But I’ve been I’ve been very fortunate to work with great people and to go to school with great people. That is a function of privilege. That is a function of having two great parents who made sure I got educated. I’ll acknowledge that. But yeah. So, there’s some combination of luck and fortune that works into how I got to Facebook.
Brody [00:41:11] I think it’s time to move on to your kind of philosophy, because we’ve been talking about your history a lot and I could talk about it for another hour, but sadly, we don’t have that kind of time. So, is there anything that you do daily, monthly, weekly, yearly, anything to make sure you’re growing as a person?
Paul [00:41:30] Hmm. Yeah, I started meditating a couple of years ago, and that’s maybe been the most important thing that I’ve changed in my life in the last 10 years. I also and I don’t want to get into a bashing of religion here, but I decided a few years ago that being Catholic wasn’t for me. And it’s interesting that it happened so late in life, and I think it goes back to me being a rule follower and sort of wanting to maintain traditions that are part of my family that make me comfortable, that are familiar. And when all this stuff has been going down for years about the child abuse scandals and it’s not abuse, it’s rape, and when some of these things just dawned on me, it gave me the opportunity to take a step back and ask myself, what do I really believe? Like if I chose a religion at 47 years old, if the table were clean and I walked in and I and they’d say, you got all the different vendors like Activities Day at high school. Right. There’s the cheerleading squad over there and there’s the volunteer people over there and there’s the habitat people over here and they’re like, hey, come join our club. Which club would I join? And I looked at all of that and I’d be like, it wouldn’t be that one.
[00:42:54] It wouldn’t be the ones that talk about the things that Catholicism preaches. And I and I just decided that I’m not I’m not.. I don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God. I don’t I’m not sure I believe in a God. What I believe in very, very strongly is our opportunity, call it a duty, but it’s an opportunity to live a moral life, to serve other people and to make the most of our time on this planet. That’s what I believe in and that’s what I try to spend my time thinking about, writing about and following through on.
Brody [00:43:34] How does that tie in to meditation.
Paul [00:43:35] Meditation and I’m not an expert on this, but I’ve read a lot about it, you know? Meditation helps you become aware of what’s driving you. When you stop, when you turn off your computer and you stop and you close your eyes for 20 minutes, you have the opportunity to observe what goes on in your brain. And so much of it is completely nonsensical and self-defeating, that you go – why am I thinking that? And that’s not, during meditation, the idea is to just observe and let go. It is not to think about things. It is to observe what’s happening in your head and let go of those things. Afterwards. You can you think back on it and be like. Man, if that’s what’s in my head, why did this guy say that about me? What’s what if I don’t get my what if I don’t get a shot to be on the on Jimmy Kimmel next month or like, fuck that guy. He’s not as funny as I am, whatever it is. And you go, wow, this is all just horribly negative stuff, that all of us fill our brains with either intentionally or unintentionally. And so being aware of that helps you decide how – it helps you first be aware of what’s driving you so that you can catch yourself before you act on those feelings or thoughts. So that you so that the actions you choose are in line with the kind of person that you want to be. That’s what I’ve gotten from meditation.
Brody [00:45:12] That’s a really good description.
Paul [00:45:14] It also, by the way, it also you know what? It’s like exercise to me. It’s like if you didn’t if I didn’t exercise, I’d feel like a big blob of crap all the time. And it’s the same thing. It’s you know, it doesn’t turn off – exercise kind of occupies you. One of the reasons it’s so exhilarating, I think, is because you’re not when you’re hauling ass around a track and can barely breathe, you’re not thinking about petty shit. You’re thinking about how do I survive this? How do I how do I beat the guy next to me? How do I how do I. OK, that sounds a little petty, but how do I how do I just get through this race as opposed to, you know, well, what if this or what if that or what if she doesn’t like me or whatever. I mean, like forget about all that stuff, just run the race. And that’s what meditation does too, is just sort of takes you out of the moment and allows you to let your brain relax and to be aware of what’s going on. It’s also, by the way, very good, I think, for the creative process, because there’s a lot of other things that are good for the creative process also. But it just it frees- ideas just arrive. They arrive. The best stuff I’ve ever written is, or ideas that arrived in my head, not necessarily during meditation, but arrived as fully formed ideas. And all I had to do was to translate them onto the page or onto the stage. And I think the more relaxed your brain is, the more likely those kinds of good things are to happen.
Brody [00:46:44] I mean, I’ve been hearing a lot these days in my circle things like more of the description of meditation as some sort of “woo woo” connect with higher power shit. Right. But I think your description really just brings it back to its roots. You know, like you don’t have to be into believing in we’re all connected by some ulterior motive or spiritual divine shit. Like just on a base level, meditation just helps with being there, being present.
Paul [00:47:17] Well, I do believe we’re all connected.
Brody [00:47:20] Yeah, I’m not trying to shit on that other stuff. I’m just saying,.
Paul [00:47:22] Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, it’s fine. But I. I don’t consider myself to be ‘woo woo” at all. And I think there’s a big difference between tarot cards and meditation, between faux spirituality and slowing down. The connection with other people is important because what meditation allows you to do is – and the word mindfulness gets thrown around a lot. But I but I interviewed this guy for my podcast. He’s a professor at London Business School and he’s been a practicing Buddhist for 30 years. And I’m not saying I’m a Buddhist. I don’t believe in reincarnation. But I but I do believe anyway, I asked him, what does mindfulness mean? Because that word gets thrown around a lot. And he said mindfulness means paying attention.
[00:48:05] And I was like I was a little underwhelmed at the lack of grandiosity and in his answer. But if you think about it, paying attention is a pretty impactful thing. And what meditation does is allows you to understand that all the shit that’s going on in your brain, generally, it’s a story that you make up about you. And you are the center of all that stuff. And when you stop and you slow down, you have the opportunity to see other people better. To think about how they feel, to be aware of what they might be experiencing as opposed to couching it all through the lens of how that affects you. And that’s really that can be very I’m not I’m not a perfect husband by any stretch of the imagination. But when you’re in a relationship, if you’re thinking about yourself all the time, you’re going to be a miserable son of a bitch to be married to. And so, if you can be aware of the stress that somebody else might be under, you’re going to make your life a whole lot better. When you say when you see that stress and you say, how can I help you with your day? As opposed to worrying about how is your stress going to irritate me or affect my day? And so, I think that’s where that’s where meditation is helpful. It doesn’t make again, does not make me perfect. I can be a miserable bastard a lot of the time. But that’s where that’s where you can improve yourself. And it doesn’t have anything to do with whether there’s a God or not. It doesn’t have anything to do with connecting with a higher power, although it may help you find that power within yourself because it removes the chains of what we’re all walking around with, which is self-obsession. And you know why you know why that theater kid gets picked on at school? Is because whoever’s doing the picking on, feels shitty about himself because of whatever’s going on at home or whatever’s going on in his head. And that kid, when he feels better about himself, he’s not going to look to anybody else to try to make them feel small, so he feels bigger. He can be he can just go and feel good about himself and maybe even make that other kids day better by who he is, by how he how he invites him into the bigger picture.
Brody [00:50:21] I think things like this are especially important these days, like where social media, all that shit is making everyone just so egotistical. It encourages nihilism and egotism. Someone have it doesn’t have to be meditation, but like having something to keep you grounded.
Paul [00:50:40] Well, you know, I again, I’m like an amateur meditator. If and if meditation was a track event, it’d be the ten-minute two-mile race or the or the ten-minute mile is what it would be. Right. It don’t have to be you don’t have to be a champion at it to benefit from it. Right. Even somebody that runs a 12-minute mile, or you know, runs a couple of miles a week, get some benefit out of it. Right. And it doesn’t have to be – it’s just it’s just it just helps you get better. And getting better is what we should all be trying to do. Right. To be the best person we can be, to be the best person we can be for other people. And you’re right. I agree with you completely. During a quarantine, during racial tension and trauma, we should all try to be as aware as possible of the things that we are allowing to pull on our attention and to pull on our emotions. You know, social media and news are designed to hook you in. Are designed to bring you back. I don’t believe Facebook is nearly as intentionally manipulative as people believe it is. I do believe it is unintentionally manipulative because it’s designed to show you more of what you’re like, what you like, whether that is news about movies from the 1930s, pictures of cats playing the piano or political stuff, that is far more dangerous. It is one of those things that that guides our thinking, thus all the more reason to be aware of how we’re being pulled in one direction or another and the degree to which we’re allowing that to happen.
Brody [00:52:31] For sure, I mean, with Facebook, too, it’s not just Facebook. Every single platform has an algorithm like that. Where all they want to do is, they want to get you attention, like they want to get you present and they want to show you more of what you like.
Paul [00:52:44] Yeah, basically, I mean, in the news, like at the beginning of the pandemic and I don’t say this to pick on my wife and I do things that that she looks and goes, would you please stop doing that? But during the beginning of the pandemic, she was watching CNN like all day long. And she was freaked out. And I’m like, sweetheart, there’s nothing that you’re going to learn that’s going to affect how you should spend your day by watching the news. Watch in the morning for 30 minutes. Watch in at night for twenty. Let’s understand what’s going on with the virus. And in between, all we can do is be healthy and safe and try to eat right and get some rest. That’s all we can do.
Brody [00:53:20] Yeah, well, I think we should move on from something a bit depressing and go into a bit more not depressing. So, I want to know, and this is like a threefold question, it’s a bit tough. What is your definition of success? What does success mean to you?
Paul [00:53:41] Oh man, I should have a good answer to this one shouldn’t I. I want to. I want to. I want to spend my time doing things that enrich my heart and my soul. And do them on my terms. That’s kind of how I think about success. I’ve made because I was very fortunate or lucky, depending on I took to land at Facebook early, I made a pretty decent amount, a very decent amount of money. And that amount of money is either enough or not enough depending upon how much money we spend. We live in Atlanta, it’s far cheaper than living on the peninsula. We don’t have a second house. We do send our kids to private school, so choosing how to spend our money, and not spending as much as we might like on certain things empowers me to spend my work hours doing the things that I think are interesting and that really get me jazzed up. And that’s, writing, as we’ve discussed, and it’s reading a lot, and it’s talking to people that I find to be very interesting. And there is nothing necessarily more morally upright about what I do versus somebody that wants to go and make a living doing things that are legal and working hard and achieving more financial success. These are just these are just the things that that turn me on: comedy, writing, the podcasting thing has been very interesting to me. So, I feel like a success because I’m doing what’s consistent with the feelings, my internal feelings.
[00:55:28] There’s this concept about external versus internal, intrinsic versus extrinsic reward. Right. So, for a long time, we pursue extrinsic rewards. Even from an early age, we get good grades. The teacher pats you on the head, says you’re a good kid. The coach tells you, you know, he wants you on the team. All these things we get, we you know, we letter in our sophomore year, we win the state champion. All these are extrinsic rewards that may or may not have intrinsic benefits also. But at a certain point in life, especially if you achieve a certain amount of success where you don’t you don’t have money, isn’t the thing paying your rent next month isn’t the thing that’s driving you. Your kids are fed. At a certain point you’re going to go, I want more than this. And that’s where you start looking internally and saying whether you understand what you’re expressing or not is like, I want more intrinsic rewards. And success to me feels like living and doing in in concert with where my intrinsic reward meter points me.
Brody [00:56:33] That’s a good definition. And something I’ve noticed just recently hit me, when whenever I asked this question, everyone I’ve asked, I’d say I’d say they’re successful in the traditional term as in, they make money and they don’t have to worry about money.
Paul [00:56:49] Mmhmmm.
Brody [00:56:49] None of them have said money. No person has said I want to make more money.
Paul [00:56:54] Mmmm.
Brody [00:56:54] They all reference…
Paul [00:56:56] Let me be the first Brody.
Paul [00:56:58] I would like to make more money. I would like I’d like to think that it’s possible that I could make more money in the next 20 years than I made in the last 20 years. But I’m not going to compromise what I want to do in order to achieve that goal. The thing that you know, and you can be the 97th percentile comedian and still make 60 grand a year. The comedy – money in comedy is horrible for almost everybody. But if I if I whether it’s comedy or whether it’s writing, if I make more money, it’s going to be because I have figured out how to translate what’s in my heart into value for a lot of other people. That’s the only way I’ll be able to make more money if I stay on this path. And so, I would like to make more money, not just because I’ll be able to travel in first class as opposed to economy “comfort” which is where we normally fly. It’s because it will be it will be evidence that I’ve figured out some puzzles that are very difficult to figure out. So, I do want to make more money. And by the way, I want to talk about the name of your podcast. It’s Titans As Teens.
Brody [00:58:07] Yes sir.
Paul [00:58:07] So I don’t think Titan quite captures the full grandiosity of my accomplishments in life. All right. So – is it in all caps? At least in all caps in the title?
Brody [00:58:18] I can make it in all caps if you want.
Paul [00:58:19] Ok, All right. It’s not that money is not important, is that it’s one of many things that are important in life. And once you get to a certain point, more of it doesn’t give you the same jazz in your life as, you know, getting more of something else that you might want. And that might be physical fitness. That might be spiritual awareness. That might be time with your kids. And so, it’s about for me anyway. It’s about finding how do I get enough of each of these things? So, I live a rich, balanced life.
Brody [00:58:47] Yeah. And I’d like to punch back on your money that you want more money. I don’t think you actually want more money. What you said is you want more validation that you’re improving in comedy and money may be that indicator, but I don’t think you actually want the money. Prove me wrong.
Paul [00:59:05] Oh, no, I want the money. I totally want the money. I would like to buy a mountain house for my wife. I would like to be able to fly where we’re going to fly, when we want to fly on whatever aircraft we want to fly on. But it’s but that’s not as important as the things I mean, I there are jobs I could go get – or that might not be able to get them anymore, but I could have pursued those paths. But I didn’t. But I mean, what you’re saying is sort of. Six one, half a dozen, you know, it’s like, yeah, I want to I want to improve, I want to be very good at what I do. Mastery is something that actually gives people a lot of satisfaction in their work. And one of the things I found out when I left my job at Facebook was I felt I lost my community at work and I lost a feeling of accomplishment. I lost the feeling of mastery at something I was pretty good at that I’d put 15 years of my life into preparing for. And so even, “hey, I got enough money to go chase my dream”, I thought that it was going to be mostly just a just the money I was giving up to go chase my dream. But it was I had to start over as an entry level comic. And I’m continuing to build that mastery at these new crafts or crafts that are new to me. I’m continuing to rebuild my community because I removed myself from one that was a very high-quality community. And I didn’t I didn’t have recognition that that was one of the things I’d be giving up when that happened.
Brody [01:00:28] OK, so, yeah, you’ve definitely proved me wrong.
Paul [01:00:33] No I don’t mean to prove you wrong.
Brody [01:00:33] No, no, no, no. It’s good. I don’t want to be just sitting here spouting false information, so.
Paul [01:00:40] Ah, a lot of other people behind microphones do it a lot.
Brody [01:00:45] Thankfully, I’m not one. All right. Second, I remember this was a three-pronged question. The second part is, what do you think is a very important character trait for everyone to have in the world?
Paul [01:00:57] Hmm. Excellent hair.
Brody [01:01:02] Thank you.
Paul [01:01:03] You’re doing quite well. I’m not doing so well, what’s a good character trait? I’ll tell you what I really value in other people, it’s knowing where I stand.
Brody [01:01:16] How so?
Paul [01:01:17] Well, I just think that there’s a lot of bullshit artists in the world, who, with whom you will not know where you stand. And sometimes they do it for political reasons, sometimes they do it because they think they’re being nice by not telling you something. If I have a booger hanging out of my – I have a big juicy ass booger hanging out of my nose and you don’t tell me about it, you suck. You’re not my friend. Friends have the confidence in each other. To. To be straight with them. And you know what, if your friend’s fucking up, and you don’t tell him with love and full empathy, just saying, that, you know, you’re not being as good a friend to him or her as you could be. That doesn’t mean you have to get in, you know, nosey with everybody. But if you see a friend going off the rails, man, you know, if your friend’s about to do something really dumb at a party, you should do your best to keep him, you know. Away from the cliff.
Brody [01:02:27] Yeah, sounds like a combination of honesty and a word I can’t exactly place right now, you know, like the honesty part and…
Paul [01:02:36] Courage, I mean, I don’t just, you know, let people I just forthrightness…
Brody [01:02:39] Forthrightness, sure. Let’s go with that.
Paul [01:02:42] There’s plenty of there’s plenty I mean, you know, plenty of two-faced people in the world. You know, it’s the mean girls at school who talk about people behind their back, the guys who are, whatever. But on some level, you know, maybe it’s better that, you know, where you stand with those people. I just I just don’t like people that will smile to your face and then, you know, cut your legs out behind your back.
Brody [01:03:04] All right, well, let’s move on to the hardest part of the question,
Paul [01:03:08] OK.
Brody [01:03:08] Which is I want you to imagine that you are no longer a comedian and your only job, and this is your only goal in life right now, is to teach kids. And what you want to teach kids is you want to teach kids to be successful and forthright. Let’s say.
Paul [01:03:25] Mm hmmm.
Brody [01:03:25] How are you going to do that?
Paul [01:03:30] Grrhmmmmm Teach kids, how do, how do I teach kids. (laughs) Here’s your iPad, son. Go to YouTube and look up how to be forthright. I don’t I don’t know, man, how would I teach kids to be forthright? Maybe by example. You know. There’s so much you don’t know about being a parent, there’s so much I still don’t know about being a parent, but. It’s not like. If you’re trying to teach your kids or trying to you’re trying to guide your kids, off open doors for them, to give them the opportunity to become a certain kind of person or to demonstrate certain kinds of behavior. It’s not like you give them a piece of paper and say, here’s how you are a polite person. Here’s how you become a respectful person. It’s 250 words. It’s all the rules. Just memorize them and act on it.
[01:04:26] That’s not how it works. It’s every day. Myriad instances, circumstances, where they experience new things or old things, and you help them develop habits and behaviors by gently guiding them one way or the other. But mostly by showing them the example. The easiest one, I think to think of is like how to talk to a waiter. How do you speak to a person who’s serving you with respect and good humor and conscientiousness so that they see how to conduct themselves in that circumstance? And that plays itself out over and over and over again in all different circumstances, whether we’re in the room with this teacher or whether we’re at the pool and we’re interacting with other kids. That and I certainly don’t always get it right. But you always want to try to model the behavior that you hope your kids would emulate.
[01:05:34] (theme music up then down for).
Brody [01:05:34] That was Paul Ollinger. If you want to learn more about Paul, you should check out his book. You Should Totally Get an MBA, A Comedian’s Guide Top U.S. business Schools, or check out his podcast, Crazy Money.
[01:05:45] Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Titans as Teens. If you want to learn more about the podcast or other episodes, visit TitansAsTeens.com for tons of information and further reading.