You might already know this, but this past Saturday (November 2nd) was my 45th birthday!
For the past five years on November 2nd–and, in what’s become a bit of a tradition on my birthday, I wanted to share with you 45 random things about me that you probably don’t know about me.
Don’t get confused though, even though this post might seem like it’s about me–as always, this is about us.
Specifically, it’s about creating an even deeper connection with you by sharing how much we have in common–and I’m willing to bet that it’s more than you thought before reading this post.
So, without further ado, here they are in no particular order. Enjoy!
45 Things About Me
1. (I shared this one last year, but I have to share it again) True Story–My cell phone used to consistently auto-correct my name from “Shola” to “Ebola.”: That’s pretty unfortunate, right? Do you want to know what’s worse? Sending a quick email before I caught a flight (remember, I deliver a lot of keynote speeches for healthcare organizations) about an important upcoming meeting that only said:
“‘I am so pumped to leave a powerful impact on your conference attendees tomorrow morning!’ Best, Ebola”
Yup, true story. I guess if they start handing out precautionary masks at my upcoming speeches, I’ll know why.
2. The streak is reborn: As I mentioned on this page, sadly on Halloween 2017, my lifelong streak of wearing a costume on October 31st was sadly broken, due to a professional obligation. So, to make up for it, three days ago on Halloween 2019, I wore not one, but two Halloween costumes! And if I can suspend humility for a moment, they’re both pretty damn awesome, if I do say so myself. In case you’re wondering (and I know that you are), Costume #2 is a “Ceiling Fan.” Get it?? <rim shot> I can hear your groans through the screen…
3. Super random fact: I love doing laundry. Yep, I bet that you’ve never heard another sane human being utter those words before, huh? I don’t know what it is, but I love taking something that’s dirty and making it clean–I even love folding the clean clothes too! If this author/speaker thing doesn’t work out for me, don’t be surprised if I end up opening a laundromat or something…
4. I hug people and smile A LOT. You’ve been warned. In fact, I hug people and smile so much, that people all over the country have given me the nickname “Brother Teresa.” You can’t make this stuff up, man.
5. The proudest moments of my life (besides the birth of my two daughters, of course) were when my books Making Work Work and Go Together were published: In fact, it’s not even close. For my entire life, I’ve always been really good at starting things, and horrible at finishing them. The fact that I actually stayed the course and finished writing two books is something that has filled me with so much peace and happiness.
6. Do you want to know the secret to writing a book? Good! Here it is: BICHOK. I really wish that I could take credit for this acronym, but it stands for Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard (clever, right?)
Whenever I didn’t feel like writing (which was very often), I would yell “BICHOK!” and then get to work. Seriously, if a chucklehead like me could write two books with nothing more than dream to create a kinder world, then there is no doubt that anyone else reading this could do the same. The key is simply to remember BICHOK, and then do it.
7. Almost eight years ago, I gave up soda, cold turkey: I used to be completely addicted to soda (4-5 cans a day), and then on January 1, 2013 I challenged myself to give it up. By far, the first three weeks without soda were the worst (understatement of the decade), but somehow, I pushed through it. Now, not only do I not crave soda at all, but I replaced soda with green smoothies from my Vitamix blender! Believe me, speaking as a dude with less-than-average willpower–if I can do it, then anyone can.
8. Super random fact–I have never a woman named “Nicole” who I didn’t like: Seriously, every woman I’ve met named Nicole always end up being the nicest person ever (hey, I told you it was random.)
9. Please don’t think that because I write about positivity that I’m somehow immune to being annoyed by things. I’m still human, people. Here is a list of some of the things that drive me nuts:
Anyone who thinks that it’s okay to use the words “retarded,” “gay,” or “ghetto” to describe anything that they don’t like, litterbugs, people who pronounce the word “processes” as “process-eez”, orange juice with pulp, people who constantly interrupt during conversations, racists/sexists/homophobics, people who mistake kindness for weakness, limp handshakes, rude and/or moody people, people who let their dogs poop anywhere and don’t pick it up afterward, bullies of any kind, and grown men who sag their pants beneath their ass and show off their underwear in public (this is a “fashion trend” that needs to die a swift death.)
10. On a more positive note, here are some things that I love, in no particular order: My family, random acts of kindness, mid-90’s hip-hop, the color red, parentheses (they’re great), deep tissue massages, people who can laugh at themselves, good listeners, companies who put their employees first, the very rare date nights with my wife, inspirational podcasts, good huggers, people who believe that they can positively change the world and actually take action to do so, Pai Gow Poker, swype texting (seriously, it’s one of the best tech innovations EVER), warm weather, foreign accents, any type of competition (especially the Summer Olympics), TED talks, daily meditation, the feeling of soreness after a good workout, and emotionally intelligent people.
11. True story: When I was young, I drank gasoline from my parents’ lawn mower gas tank because I liked the smell of it. To say that I “got sick” afterwards would be like saying Beyoncé is “kind of cute.” Fast forward 30 years later, and the smell of gasoline makes me want to vomit uncontrollably. As you can imagine, this makes every gas station on earth my least favorite place to visit (for most people, it’s only about the gas prices), and the process of gassing up my car is like a moderate form of torture for me.
12. I absolutely hate to eat/drink some things that most people love. Okay, if you haven’t thought that I was weird up to this point, I’m thinking that you will now. Here are some things that you will not see me eat/drink: Chocolate, peanut butter, coffee, most cheeses (besides mozzarella–I love that stuff), ketchup/mustard/relish (and pretty much any other condiment besides BBQ sauce and A1 sauce), any type of seafood, and any meat off the bone.
But then again, this is coming from a guy who willingly drank gasoline, so…there’s that.
13. I love to try new things. Two of the strangest…? Cryotherapy and sensory-deprivation chambers. Both sound a little crazy, I know. Cryotherapy is all about standing in a chamber that is -200 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes, while wearing nothing more than your underwear (yep, you read that right). If you’re dealing with constant low energy or chronic inflammation of any kind (and you’re willing to push yourself to your limits), it can be life-changing.
Sensory-deprivation chambers are very different. In this chamber, you’re completely naked and floating on your back in an Epsom salt solution that simulates weightlessness. Also, since you can’t see or hear anything while you’re inside, it feels like you’re in floating in outer space, or that you’re back inside of your mom’s womb–it’s unreal. If you’re looking for an intensely powerful meditative experience, you should check it out.
14. I don’t like horror movies AT ALL. I remember watching The Ring, and when I saw (spoiler alert…?) that creepy little girl crawl out of the damn TV set I was practically scarred for life. My horror movie watching days were a wrap from that point forward. I don’t think that I turned off the lights at night or watched TV for a month afterward.
15. There are some seriously tough people who follow this blog: For real, in the past five years, I’ve had readers share life experiences with me that are so horrific that it boggles my mind how they’re able to be such positive and highly-contributing members of society. Their levels of resilience and mental toughness are near super-human, and I am honored (and surprised, to be honest) that they feel like they have anything to learn from me.
16. Okay, so I changed my mind about #14: Two years ago, I watched the movie Get Out, and it was easily one of the best, creative, and creepy movies that I’ve ever seen. I absolutely loved it.
17. Here are the names of a few people who influence me that you might not know (but you should): Eric Thomas the Hip-Hop Preacher, Liz Gilbert, Brené Brown, Marie Forleo, and Gary Vaynerchuk. I cannot say enough positive things about all of these people. I really hope that I get to meet all of them in person one day so that I can thank them personally for what they’ve done for me.
18. One big influence on me, who you probably have heard of, was the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. I had the honor of meeting him at one of his speaking engagements in Pasadena, California a few years ago, and it was amazing. People say to never meet your heroes because you are guaranteed to be disappointed, but that was not the case at all. He was kind, gracious, and was everything that I hoped he would be.
When he passed away in August 2015, I felt like a family member died. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but I’ve been reading his books for over 15 years and outside of my parents, he played the largest role in leading me down the path of positivity. I owe a great deal to him, and I hope to honor his legacy through my work.
19. I love meditation. It is quite possibly the best free stress reliever ever. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to climb to your nearest mountaintop, purchase a holy tapestry, dress in all silk, and find an uninterrupted two hours in your day to do this.
Just a desire to fully relax, breathe deliberately, and three minutes is all you need to start. Do it consistently and you’ll start feeling the effects before you know it.
20. Over a year later, I still can’t believe that I was able to pull off this epic April Fool’s trick on my readers. Seriously, I still laugh whenever I read it. Good times!
21. I am a huge fan of Oprah’s OWN Network–specifically, Super Soul Sunday. For real, I could sit and watch Super Soul Sunday nonstop for weeks and not even be slightly bored. I seriously cannot get enough of it.
22. Speaking of Oprah, meeting her is on my bucket list. In addition to meeting her (or more specifically, being interviewed by her), my bucket list also includes: doing a TED/TEDx Talk (update: this is one is done!), throwing out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, building a recreational center for kids in my hometown of Amherst, MA, and creating a law that will officially make workplace bullying illegal.
Pretty ambitious bucket list, huh? By the time next year’s list comes out, I’m focused on crossing off one of those items from the list. Stay tuned!
23. I jumped out of an airplane! In 2019, I took the leap (literally), and fulfilled a lifelong dream to go skydiving. Honestly, it was one of the most amazing (and dare I say, spiritual) experiences of my life. There’s something about conquering a major fear that gives you an enormous boost of self-esteem and perspective. Whenever I’m nervous about going into an important business meeting or stepping on stage at a big event, I say to myself, “dude, you jumped out of a plane and survived! What could you possibly be nervous about???”
24. One thing that you might not get by reading my blog posts is that I’m a complete goofball: Some of the topics that I cover here are pretty heavy (workplace toxicity, systemic racism, refusing to be anyone’s doormat, developing resilience, etc.), and I think it’s easy to think that I’m just as serious. Believe me, I’m nowhere close.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I don’t take myself very seriously at all. I’ll break out a stupid dance at a moment’s notice in the middle of the sidewalk, grab the mic at a karaoke bar without hesitation, or pretty much do anything within the limits of the law to make someone laugh.
Life is way too short to be stuck wearing poopy pants all day (yeah, I said poopy pants), so while I’m alive, I’m going to have as much fun as I humanly can.
25. I find at least one typo in every single one of blog posts: It is one of the most annoying things ever, and no matter how many times I proofread my stuff before I hit “Publish,” I always find at least one afterward. If I wasn’t able to update my blog posts after they went public, I’d be screwed.
26. I am the most laid-back dude in the world, but there’s one thing that really annoys me: I can’t stand it when people don’t give their full effort. I don’t care if you’re not good at something, that’s fine as far as I’m concerned. All I care about is this: are you giving your best effort? If so, you’ll always be cool with me.
27. People think that I’m fearless, and that is SO untrue: Besides the obvious fears, like something awful happening to my loved ones, I have lots of other fears too.
I’m scared every time that I hit the “Publish” button on a new blog post. I’m scared that I’ll do/say something that will permanently damage The Positivity Solution brand. I’m scared that someone will abuse my vulnerability and hurt me. I’m scared that I’m not good enough and that people will eventually realize it and stop reading this blog. I’m scared that I’ll run out of ideas for blog posts.
I could keep going, but you get the point. I’ve said it before, and it’s worth saying again–we’re all scared.
The one thing that I’m proud of is that I no longer let my fears stop me.
28. I love (not like–love) the taste of white chocolate. Last year, I shared my love of white chocolatey goodness, and I thought that I was alone in my love. I was SO wrong. I was bombarded by people who shared the same love for white chocolate that I did! White chocolate lovers, unite!
29. I’m a very spiritual guy, but I’m not the slightest bit religious. Confused? Ever since I was young, I have always looked inward to create my own spiritual relationship with God (or the universe, infinite source, or whatever name works for you) and find my own spiritual truths instead of looking outward to find those truths from churches, ministers, etc.
In other words, I’m a Namasté type of guy.
I’ll admit, my way isn’t for everyone, but the spiritual route has worked wonders to bring me a deeper feeling of joy, love and appreciation for others, connection to the world around me, and a soul-nourishing inner peace.
Either way, as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter to me if you’re spiritual, religious, atheist, agnostic, or worship a tree in your backyard named “George,” I’m 100% convinced of one thing:
It’s not your beliefs that make you a good person, it’s your behavior that does.
30. I once had a 30-minute argument with a complete stranger in a doctor’s office waiting room about who would win in a fight between the Justice League and The Avengers: And it was awesome. And of course, the only answer that makes sense is the Avengers. As always, feel free to tell me that I’m right or insane.
31. According to the widely-used Myers Briggs Personality Test, I’m a very proud ENFP. If you want to read more about ENFPs (or if you want to skip the remaining 10 points below) you can pretty much find out what I’m all about simply by clicking here.
Also, if you’re into the Gallup Strengths Finder Assessment, my Top 5 strengths are:
- Positivity (Duh)
32. I’m not a fast writer, at all. I’m secretly envious of the writers who can bang out a 1,500-word blog post in 30-45 minutes. I won’t share how long it takes me to write one of my blog posts, but let’s just say that it’s longer than 45 minutes. The fact that I was able to write my Making Work Work in nine months, and Go Together in only seven months is a minor miracle, as far as I’m concerned.
33. Speaking of writing, there are few things more violating to a writer than having your writing plagiarized. If you’ve been around for a while, then you know that one of my blog posts was plagiarized by an Australian bikini model (yes, seriously.) In the five years that I’ve been writing online, that was one of the strangest episodes that I’ve dealt with.
34. Going viral is a crazy experience. In May 2020 after George Floyd’s death, I wrote an article about Why I’ll Never Walk Alone, and I had my first-ever viral experience. On Facebook, the article has over 81,000 comments and has been shared close to 600,000 times! After that article was posted, there are two things that I know for sure: 1) there are SO many loving and kind people in this world who have been enormously sweet and supportive, and 2) sadly, racism is still alive and well (whether some people want to deny it or not).
35. I am a die-hard morning person: Believe it or not, I haven’t woken up past 7 a.m. in close to 15 years. I’m normally up at 5 a.m., and even if I wanted to sleep in, my body clock wouldn’t even let it happen. I actually love it now–I don’t know what it is, but there is something so peaceful about the early morning that I would never want to miss because I’m asleep.
36. My #1 fear is regret. The thought of looking back on my life and sadly asking myself: “why didn’t I try that sooner?” or “why did I give the naysayers so much power over the decisions in my life?” would be absolutely devastating to me. Life is way too short not to go after my dreams, whether anyone else “gets it” or not. I might not always get it right (in fact, I often don’t), but I’ll never be the guy who refuses to try. We all only get one shot at this life. I’m here to make my one shot count.
37. I love superhero movies. I think that I’ve probably watched every single superhero movie ever made. Needless to say, I don’t think that I have ever been more excited for a movie than I am for Avengers: Endgame. Hurry up, April 2019! (Edit 4/26/2019: OMG…Endgame. Was. Unbelievably. EPICCCCCCC! It exceeded my expectations in every conceivable way.)
38. This year, I need to figure out a way to meet more Solutionists in person: I mean, it’s cool to interact here on the blog and on social media, but I want to reach out and connect with more of you in person (but yeah, with COVID-19, that may be tough). I need to brainstorm ways to make it happen…<rubs chin in deep thought>
39. Random embarrassing story: Years ago, during a hypnotist show in Las Vegas years ago, I volunteered to go on stage with a few other people in the audience to get hypnotized. Ridiculous right?
Well, I thought so too until I walked up on stage fully aware of what was going on, I listened to the hypnotist guy do all of the predictable silliness that you see on TV (“relax yourself, count backward from 30, you’re getting really sleepy, blah, blah, blah…”) and then out of nowhere the hypnotist loudly clapped his hands and I finally “woke up.”
The craziest part was that I looked at my watch, and I noticed that I lost an hour of time! Seriously!
As I walked off the stage and back to my seat, I was completely sweaty, and people were pointing and laughing at me as I walked down the aisle.
This is all that I’ll say about the buffoonery that I unknowingly engaged in while hypnotized: Toni Braxton’s Unbreak My Heart, a lustful attraction to an empty chair, and imaginary turtles. Lots of imaginary turtles.
Yes, I know that previous paragraph makes no sense and it wouldn’t make sense to me either if I didn’t see actual video footage of what I did at that show in front of hundreds of complete strangers. I don’t embarrass easily, but I’ll be damned if I can’t watch two minutes of the video without wanting to curl up into the fetal position and start muttering to myself, “make it stop, please make it stop…”
I can safely say that hypnotism is real–I have the video to prove it.
40. I absolutely LOVE sports. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when my TV is on, you can bet that I’m watching sports. It’s the best unscripted drama in the world. Every sport from football to tennis is completely riveting to me.
Well, every sport with the exception of NASCAR.
Believe me, I know that it takes extreme talent to drive a car that fast, but for the life of me, I don’t get the entertainment value in watching cars drive in a circle for three hours. I’m not mad at you if you’re into that, but like I said, I just don’t get it.
41. One thing that I don’t watch is the news. Not only is the news super depressing, but it also lowers my faith in humanity and makes it harder to be a positive person. Contrary to popular belief, I believe that it is possible to stay informed about what’s going on in the world without consuming a mental junk food diet of political toxicity (which, at the time that I’m typing this is the worst I have ever seen in my 45 years on this earth), death, brutality, and other atrocities every night before going to bed.
42. Every blog post that I have ever written on The Positivity Solution was written for either one of two reasons: 1) to help me work though a problem that I am currently dealing with, or 2) to share a solution to a problem that I was able to successfully overcome. I don’t think that I have ever mentioned that before.
43. The biggest problem facing our world? The growing lack of human compassion.
44. I rescued a puppy! I have never owned a dog before in my life, but due in large part to the encouragement (read: nonstop begging) from my daughters, my wife and I broke down and picked up this little guy who was in need a loving home. His name is Ace, and he’s a Shih-Tzu/Wheaton Terrier mix. I know that everyone thinks that their puppy is the cutest thing in the world, but seriously–look at this guy’s face! I mean, come on!
45. I deeply value each and every one of you: Okay, so I snuck in something that you already know about me. I cannot say it enough–thank you so much for being here and for being a part of the solution. I’m excited for what this year will bring, and I’m thrilled that you’ll be here on this journey with me.
Let’s do this!
Is there an area of your life where courage is needed? Did any of the 44 points above resonate with you? Jump into the comments and make your voice heard!