Relationships Podcast Post

Finding Community with Mike Thorne

George Grombacher January 6, 2023

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Finding Community with Mike Thorne

LifeBlood: We talked about finding community, addressing past trauma in service of living a more fulfilled life, how to live with more intention, and how to get started with Mike Thorne, author, speaker, and coach working to transform leaders into human beings by building personal trust communities.

Listen to learn the five elements of wellbeing!

You can learn more about Mike at and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Mike Thorne

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:15
Why put this George G in the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Mike Thorne. Mike, are you ready to do this? Absolutely. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it very much grateful for the opportunity. excited to have you on. Mike is working to transform leaders into human beings by building personal trust communities. He’s a Vistage chair. He’s also the chairman of the National Council for adoption, and he is the author of hustle with heart. Mike, tell us a bit about your personal life smart about your work and why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:46
I grew up in central Massachusetts, and we were living in a town called Sturbridge. But an hour west of Boston, living a split level home on blueberry lane, and my parents asked me to come down to the family room.

Unknown Speaker 1:00
And when I was nine, and when I walked down the family room, which was the old 1970s Typical going on home with a shag carpeting, the wood panel, the woodstove the TV, and we had the tin foil on the TV because we could never get channel 38. And being a big sports family, we had to have the tin foil and play around with it. And they asked me to sit down at my favorite beanbag chair and my parents had the couch and they looked at each other. They looked at me and announced that I should know that I’m adopted. And they love me very much. And it really shattered my sense of self worth, what family was, and so on. And I ended up you know, walking to school the next day thinking to myself who gives up a kid like what did I do wrong. And it shaped me in a lot of ways personally, because I realized that if I wasn’t perfect, I would get abandoned again. And so I was very driven. As a kid. I chose sports as my venue.

Unknown Speaker 1:58
And I was very, very fortunate. I was kept in my high school baseball and basketball teams, played undefeated football team in high school ended up being a college baseball Captain got married to my best friend, wife now 32 plus years, three kids. But at age 40, I was president of Russell athletic, which was my dream job. So I had a great family and got this dream job. And I thought despite these fears, and abandonment issues I had it was quite successful. But I got fired less than 15 months later.

Unknown Speaker 2:33
And I learned a lot of lessons that nine year old boy came all the way back again on my shoulder and I started having those fears of abandonment and what have you. But I met some of the most amazing people, they gave me incredible feedback. And it felt like a two by four get hit over the head with some of the things self awareness might get terrible at it.

Unknown Speaker 2:52
But I also found that, on the personal side, the people in the leadership team and the employees in the company, but 100 Plus that work for me, really, really gravitated to the time I spent with them personally.

Unknown Speaker 3:07
And I didn’t realize how important it was I did it very naturally because it mattered to me so much. And so I transformed myself and went to Yankee Candle at age 42 A totally different industry, and met a lady named Doreen extra to change my life. And she really taught me the power of being intentional. The power of being empathetic, and more importantly, letting people know who I was because I was so afraid I’d get abandoned if I did. And it completely changed my life has led me to the work I do. Because I see too many people in life personally, professionally don’t show up as full selves. And I think there’s something holding them back some live experience they went through. And so that’s why I do the work I do. And I really look forward every day to try to find people that I can help unlock them selves so they can live a full life.

Unknown Speaker 3:57
I appreciate you sharing that at

Unknown Speaker 4:03
do you think that most of us can look back and point to an experience in our childhood? Probably not as profound or traumatic, necessarily, as you experienced? Where it’s had such a profound influence that we’ve carried with and haven’t addressed?

Unknown Speaker 4:22
Yeah, it’s a great question because it Yes, I would say the majority of people do and it can be simple things. And I will do this work. So I’ll give you examples without naming names. Somebody you know, grew up with their dad who they loved and admired then found out their dad cheated on their mother. And so as a leader of a business, they always have these fears as they’re leading the business. They never want to fully express themselves. I have someone who was a successful student and athlete in high school, and they got a college scholarship to a major university, an Ivy League school, and then their dad

Unknown Speaker 5:00
Add, who was a successful businessman lost his job. They ran out of money had to move to a trailer park. She said I she was telling me the story. And she said, Oh my God, I’ve never thought about how that impacts me and my life today raising my daughters, and the work I do and the way I lead people. So yes, I think when everyone takes a few moments to step back, I think I would say the best way to think about is through life, we’re climbing up this mountain, to get to this top where we retire. And we have this wonderful life, and we try to fix things along the way. And I would say, if we just would go back down the mountain and start all over and say, Geez, how did I get to where I am today? How am I why am I here with the way I am today? It might help them unlock this stuff, which then will lead help them lead a better life, I believe.

Unknown Speaker 5:48
Yeah, I think that that makes a lot of sense. We’re conditioned to want to treat the symptoms by taking a pill or hacking something. But if you really actually want to solve problems, unresolved problems, the very nature of unresolved problems, or conflict or trauma, you need to get back to the game. Yeah. And it’s hard. It’s this, listen, this is really, really hard work, because it’s scary.

Unknown Speaker 6:14
I believe if people find that place where they know who they are, and where they want to go, it should be scary, but also exciting, but not dangerous. When you get to that, and everybody has that moment, I think it just takes a little bit of work to get there. But I enjoy the journey of taking people on to get them there. Because it’s super powerful, and people get unlocked. Like that really is cool to watch. And the value, the potential value, the the prize at the end of the rainbow, or at the new mountaintop is is what

Unknown Speaker 6:45
you have a more fulfilled joyful life. And you can start impacting those around you. Because I think a lot of us

Unknown Speaker 6:53
are so busy and so stressed that we end up bringing the rest of ourselves versus the best of us to our love relationships, both at work and home. And by that I mean we’re so worried and so stressed about so many things, and a lot of its internal,

Unknown Speaker 7:12
that we’re not showing up in the best way for the people that we care the most for. And we’re not taking the time to unlock ourselves. So I would say that’s really critical, because then you become a better human being, and then others become better because you’re better and so on. And then society gets the bigger benefit because you’re caring about others and not just stressed out all day long.

Unknown Speaker 7:36
Scary but not dangerous. That’s a great way. Great way to put it.

Unknown Speaker 7:41
Terrifying, right? Especially for you, you achieved at this really, really high level. But carrying with you at all times this terror of abandonment. And that, I mean, imagine all the things that that led to, I know me personally, my folks split up when I was five. And when I looked backwards, it was really scarcity and a lack of control. And that’s influenced so much of looking backwards for me probably around the same age around 40. What’s really going on here, why? Why am I behaving the way that I am in all these different scenarios.

Unknown Speaker 8:25
And so I can certainly speak to

Unknown Speaker 8:28
speak to the value of what you’re talking about. But how do I do it?

Unknown Speaker 8:33
Yeah, it’s interesting. I will do lady Doran asked me a question. She told me a question she was thinking about and I talked to a couple years ago. So I’m 58. So it’s been 1718 years. She said, Mike, when I first met you and you took over as president, I thought to myself, wow, this guy is asking himself a question. If people really knew me, would they even like me?

Unknown Speaker 8:58
And she never told me that back then. But it was so true. Cuz I was so fearful of on, you know, letting people know who I was. So to answer your question, there’s a couple of things I would say is first is you have to be ready. Because it’s not an easy journey, because you’re going to start unlocking things.

Unknown Speaker 9:15
I have a methodology that I have found that has worked for me, I did not put it in writing to a few years ago. It’s it’s a personal trust community, as you mentioned earlier, and it’s a workbook that I have, and you can sort of walk through it all the way I think about it is

Unknown Speaker 9:30
we all have this fear of belonging.

Unknown Speaker 9:35
And until you feel like you belong, you can’t start to build a confidence and ultimately believe in who you are and where you’re going in life. And that’s sort of a journey you have to go on. And the second part of all that is to sit down and really identify call it your Northstar. You can call it whatever you want. But it’s that place where you’re super excited about you’re scared. It’s not dangerous, as I said. And once you

Unknown Speaker 10:00
have done that work, you can do it yourself. Obviously, the workbook is there, you can just do it on a piece of paper. It’s not complicated. But life’s a team sport, you can’t do it on your own. And so to answer your question, the second way is you’ve got to go make sure you got people in your life. And I use the analogy of a trampoline. Like if you got a trampoline, these people all holding up the trampoline, while you’re bouncing up and down. So many of us everyday, you’re gonna fall off that trampoline, and you could get really hurt. But if you’ve got this trampoline, this personal trust unit, people across the five elements of your well being which is physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually, in, they’re holding up this trampoline, if you start to go off towards the edge and having a bad day, they move the trampoline. So you’re always centered.

Unknown Speaker 10:50
And these people will never let you fall. And that’s the critical piece that allows you to go from Yeah, I want to be someone over here. But I’m so scared to do it. If you have this right people around you who drop anything to help you along the way across all your well being aspects. I believe people can unlock themselves and live the life they want to.

Unknown Speaker 11:12
How much if any, is chicken in the egg? Do I need to be doing this work to know me to be able to develop those relationships? Or do I already have some of those relationships? It probably all depends.

Unknown Speaker 11:25
Yeah, it’s fascinating. You know, there’s everybody said, you know, Mike, you got to put this in writing. It’s such a simple, great idea. And that’s in the Vistage community or people in branding or whatever. And I thought you had so simple, why is it so hard to go find people that you care about, they care about you and so on. But it’s not that easy? Because outside of I Love You The three most powerful words in life are I need help. And people are so fearful for asking help, because they’ll feel they get rejected, and they make a lot of excuses. So I would say to answer your question, the majority of people do have a few folks in their life, that they have the kind of relationship I’m describing. In fact, when I showed him that little diagram of those five areas, your well being invariably, people point to one or two and said, Yeah, got someone here. And I’ll give you an example. Someone said, Yeah, my best friend from college, successful business person, known for 40 years, we go out for drinks, we laugh and joke. But I’ve never asked him for business advice. And yet, the biggest challenge in my business, he’s probably the best person to ask about it. And he asked the question, why not? Well, he’s very busy. I don’t know if he’s got time, he’s probably. And then when you really dig in deep and I’m, I have one skill in my life. Other things I don’t is discernment. And what I uncover is people are afraid that if they were to ask that person, that person might think less of them say, Well, why don’t you know the answer this, you you’re a business guy, right? Or they’re afraid that personally, I don’t have time for you, when reality is that person’s more than likely to jump in, and quickly help you. And so that is, yes, people do have a few of those folks in their life. And then they have a few folks they wish they knew better. They just are so afraid of saying I need help.

Unknown Speaker 13:16
And the work I do is say not only you have to ask for help, you gotta be really close to crystal clear what you’re asking help for. I don’t know about you, but it’s very frustrating when someone calls you and ask for help. And they’re all over the place. It’s exhausting, right. So part of the work is not only saying I need some help, saying what exactly you want help for and get that clarity, and then not being afraid to, you know, knock on the door, or reach out in a phone, I need help express what you need help in. And I guarantee those people be more than willing to help you. There’s enough studies out there that say that it will help you tremendously. People are always wanting to help because it lifts them up to

Unknown Speaker 13:56
you. I think that that’s a really powerful thing.

Unknown Speaker 13:59
And, like we talked about, sort of at the beginning, that so many of us do carry around similar feelings and insecurities. And we also have the desire to belong, that we’re all probably feeling something like this. So when somebody does raise their hand and have the courage to say that I need help to go now, hey, I’m in a position to help and I identify with what this person is saying. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I think and having I think the five elements that you’re talking about are really really helpful because if I were just ask you are probably not you but somebody like what, how how’s everything in life going Oh, it’s fine. Well, if you break it down into you know, your intellectual your well being your relationships, whatever those five are, specifically I think you already told me but it helps us to to

Unknown Speaker 14:55
really sort of get get more focused.

Unknown Speaker 14:59
Yes, I think

Unknown Speaker 15:00
people’s wellbeing. Everyone talks about it, you know, the brain house, we got mental all this stuff come out of COVID I think that areas of well being that I have noticed with people is like physically who are those people that are helping you physically. So I did a half Ironman recently. And a lot of people say, Well, I’m sure your mother is and you trust community while she is but she’s not the person I’m going to call when I need support. When I’m struggling, physically getting ready for any event, right? Because she’ll just say, Don’t do it, you’re gonna get hurt. So I have to find somebody who’s got the expertise, who can listen to me, and not judge me. That’s the big thing. These people don’t judge you, they listen to you, and they provide support and resources for you. So it’s, you know, physically intellectually, and by the way, this could be listening to podcasts, it could be reading books, it could be watching documentaries on some of these emotionally, you know, I have someone who is a phenomenal human being.

Unknown Speaker 15:55
Tim, someone if I’m struggling emotionally, I can call them. And what I envision the other end to give your audience the visuals I envision Tim gets my text or call, even if you’re not ready available, that moment, I hear him dropping everything looking at his calendar and say, Yeah, my call me at three o’clock. And he doesn’t give me the answers I need. But he listens to me, I know he’s not judging me, he just is there to provide the resource. So I can lift myself back up and get on that horse. And same with spiritually and socially and having those people around you. But I’ll tell you, it’s frightening how many people don’t have relation, especially men, quite honestly do not have a lot of relationships. And I’ve done work on this in group settings where people break down, and they start choking up and saying, I don’t have these people in my life, they get caught up in their job, or they get caught up in their identification as a leader in there. So it’s it’s deep work. But boy, when somebody does the work, it’s really awesome to watch them get unleashed and live the life they want. It’s phenomenal. So i That’s why I love doing it. Yeah, that that makes a lot of sense.

Unknown Speaker 17:02
And you mentioned attention. And that’s, that’s such an important part of of, of life, just just in general. But we all have communities, whether we’re,

Unknown Speaker 17:15
whether we’re being intentional about them or not. And it’s the people that you’re gravitating towards, if you like video games, where you’re part of the video game community if you’re part of an alumni association, well, that that’s it. And something that I really I respect about Vistage so much is it provides that community and it’s it’s for folks who are business owners, so it’s entrepreneurial minded.

Unknown Speaker 17:38
And my my impression is that it is sort of that built in trust community that we’re talking about.

Unknown Speaker 17:44
Yeah, Vistage show, it’s about getting high integrity, small, mid sized business owners who are growth oriented. So you got to be personally professionally growth oriented. And you really care about the community around you and humanity. Those are the right people for audience of Vistage. And then my role is that shares a crate that safe, confidential environment where people will share things, because let’s face it,

Unknown Speaker 18:07
whether you’re an entrepreneur or a solopreneur, whether you run a company who you talk to who you go to, to get things answered, you don’t have those people. And so the Vistage is a community. And that’s why I enjoyed so much because I get to have impact on 1216 people versus one at a company and then the audience itself. So I have the leaders and then their company’s employees, you can impact 1000s of people versus maybe 20 3050 in one company. So yeah, it’s a great, great way to do the work I do I enjoy that part of it. Mike, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And how can they engage with you? I’m interested in putting this worksheet into people’s hands as well. So give us everything? Yeah, first and foremost, I do most of my communication via LinkedIn I find to be great venue. So I do a lot of blogging and work on LinkedIn would be one. Two, I do have a website. It’s Mike, not, which is where all the work sits and all the podcasts. There’s a TED talk I did there around asking for help, which is interesting for those that are curious about that.

Unknown Speaker 19:15
Those are the places I would say so LinkedIn. And then my website, Mike, would be the two places I would look to. And in that Mike website is the workbook. It’s pretty straightforward. You can download it’s only seven pages. And I do get communicated when someone downloads that if they’d like to have me work with them and help them certainly willing to go do that.

Unknown Speaker 19:36
Because I love just helping people. Excellent. Well, if you enjoy as much as I did, shall make your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas. Find mike on LinkedIn and then go to Mike It’s mi ke T ht h o r n And check out everything Mike is working on check out the TED Talk. Pick up a copy of his book

Unknown Speaker 20:00
and pick up the workbook as well. And

Unknown Speaker 20:04
I think that engaging in this kind of work is what is some of the most important work that we as human beings can do, because there’s something, something under the surface for all of us that if we could address and overcome would transform us more into the human beings that that that we really are. So, thanks again, Mike. Thank you. Take care, George. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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