And Sons & The Young Man’s Soul Episode #168

Aaron McHugh

 
 

Today’s interview is with Blaine and Sam Eldredge with And Son’s Magazine. We talk about their eight-year dream of creating a print magazine, the power of transformation v.s. entertainment, masculinity as a lens by which we can view everything else, in defense of millennials, the joy of words, vulnerability and going first, the temptation to quit, brotherhood and hearing God’s voice.

The And Sons Print

Author:
The And Sons Staff

Six years in the making, and finally.

The first hardcopy edition of And Sons Magazine, a young men’s magazine, with a Christian worldview, that’s actually worth the read. Here it is.

For years we’ve published online, made films, developed a podcast, all to answer one question: how does a young man mature his soul?

We’re rolling out a magazine that demonstrates, in example after example, exactly that. Twice a year and a backissue, all for 30 bucks a year.

Volume 1 starts mountain biking in the desert and moves on to pursuing a woman through adventure. It explores loving the poor and learning to hear the voice of God. Caribou hunting and marksmanship, charcuterie, fly fishing and prayer, even the never-before-released backstory of the A Story Worth Living film. Here’s a straightforward, eminently practical exploration of the young man’s life, written by guys living it.

Want to come along? Go to our store here.

And Sons full color print edition volume 1 is part art, part story, part soul and wrapped in the beauty and the mess of life.
And Sons initiation and the young man’s soul all 112 pages first edition Volume 1 available for subscription order @andsonsmagazine.com.

Transcription of my interview with Blaine and Sam Eldredge

Aaron: Friends, Welcome to work life play. I’m your host, Aaron McHugh. I’m here to help you find work you love, learn to play, live adventurously, become curious and live your life with joy and purpose. Ready, set, go

Aaron: Friends. Welcome to another episode of work life, play and everything in between. Today we’re going to talk about masculinity. The temptation to quit about the defense of millennials, about vulnerability, and going first about brothers, the joy of words and about God. Today my guests are Sam and Blaine Eldridge with And Sons magazine and after their seven or eight-year dream of having a print edition magazine after seven, eight years of online magazine and podcasts they actually have birthed their original dream, which I’m holding in my hand here. This volume one of the print edition of And Son’s magazine. It’s super, super sexy. Super cool. And more importantly, it’s super real and potent. So you’ll want to check it out at andsonsmagazine.com. I know you’re going to enjoy the interview. Here we go. Sam and Blaine Eldridge. Welcome to the work-life play podcast. 

Sam and Blaine: Thank you. 

Aaron: I’m a little disappointed we’re not in your van. 

Sam and Blaine: Oh yeah, we’ll have to do that.

Actually the bus right now is at the shop. Your dad recommended, his Padre recommended that I take to Jeremy and he’s putting a brand new kit on the sunroof so that it actually is operable and is no longer sealed with white duct tape. That’s a game-changer. Did you actually look around? Did you look around Jeremy’s garage when you dropped it off?  I bring friends along. It is legit. Yeah. So right now he has this 1949 VW that he says there’s 61 of in the world and he is restoring the 62nd known version of this. It looks like Adolf Hitler. It’s like a drop-top soft top. And it’s wild. But yeah, he’s legit. So it’s there right now. Wow. So next time. 

Aaron: So we’re going to connect today on this new print edition. So you guys have been at this with And Sons for eight years.

Sam and Blaine: started over a cigar and some bourbon, maybe in the garage, usually bourbon.

Aaron: I’m going to just describe to listeners what I’m holding my hand. So what I have in my hand is this probably, I don’t know, it’s gotta be a nice third of a pound is what it feels like in this big heavy, full-color sexy look in print that you would have this, it looks like a surfing magazine meets Patagonia meets some soulful journey that I want to be part of. And you said that this came together in five weeks but it all started seven, eight years ago. So who wants to take the first crack at starting in the beginning? 

Sam and Blaine: That’s great. The beginning really does feel like a long time ago, say you’re holding the print edition of sons and sons was conceived over a cigar around Christmas time when everybody happened to be in the Springs.

And we simply had this vision of how can we share the life of the masculine soul with young men. And we realized we were all having the same conversations with our friends and in our peer groups that all related to what does it look like to embrace a lifestyle of maturation in your twenties and it looks different and your twenties because you have different limitations and you actually have far fewer limitations. Then you end up having in your thirties and forties what we wanted to do was we wanted to make a magazine for guys and then what we ended up doing was making a website which we ran as a in quotes online magazine, meaning it was just released a collection of articles released monthly for a really long time. The only step that was available to us was to throw something on the internet and then sort of begin circling in a tribe of people that wanted to read articles side by side on picking a backpack and developing a relationship with God in what you could actually hear his voice.

Sam and Blaine: Yeah. We knew we needed to do something that was both possible and sustainable and we were all living in different states and different countries at that point in time. And so the idea of these post-college graduates knowing the first thing about how to create this print that you have now, that it just wasn’t going to happen. Like the dream was there, but it was so far beyond anything in our wheelhouse that setting our sights on something that was more achievable. So to not let go of the dream, but to do something today, this month, and then something that could be sustainable with that distance. And so we did, we committed to this beautiful kind of countercultural thing. Like everything online was short articles, big pictures lists your top 10 traits. What is your spirit animal? Take this quiz. And we were like, I’m going to tell a story and it’s going to be 1200 words and you’re going to have to sit. And I know that people are not gonna like that. But some people are. Yeah. And so, so we’re not for everybody, right? We did that. We did that for a few months and then we shifted that to quarterly so we could do take up other projects. 

Aaron: And then you have here in front of you did happen in five weeks. So while to me and so what, let me just page count here. So it’s 112 pages and I mean full on like graphic design, map layouts brewery coordinates for here in Colorado. And like on the back page, one of my favorites I was reading last night was on virtue, masculinity, and success and actually drilling down and what did these actually mean? And I found these beautiful stories that you guys from mountain biking to climbing peaks to then, you know, really personal stories Sam about your loss pregnancy and your son. I mean, he’s really like, Oh wow, this is another way. And so I guess the thought I was having when we were just even praying before we fired up the mic was really this intersection of art, of life, of imperfection and of holding onto these dreams that were seven years ago. Was this clear? Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if, but that’s a long slog in some ways to hold out to say this is the thing we always envisioned. So I guess I’m just curious now as you may be as we facilitate a look back, what are some of the things that you can see clearly now that you couldn’t in the beginning when you were hitting send on the early posts when it really wasn’t what you intended or wanted it to look like? But that’s what you could foreseeably do today.

Sam and Blaine: It’s really funny looking back one, I see how often we wanted to quit and then personally I tried to take a right in this one. I tried to poke holes in the boat so often. Oh yeah, no, keep going with, and too, I see how And Sons could never be faked. And there was this when I finally say more about that, what do you mean it couldn’t be fixed? Well, what we’re trying to demonstrate is being willing to learn about your own heart. And if we are not doing that, it cannot be written about. And we’re writing a young man whose bullshit detector is dialed to a 10 and so as soon as we sound remotely like, I don’t know, cheerleader, you know, just if it was like remotely not speaking out of our life and if we weren’t speaking out of our pain, it would never land.

Sam and Blaine: But the main thing, and this has always, I guess like the classic lesson is your own transformation in the process. But specifically Jesus made Sam and I figured out how to work together and if you had met high school, Blaine and Sam, you would realize, I remember you guys school. That’s crazy. And but even from us literally getting tricked into sharing an office and working 10 feet apart and it’s true. It happened really. This is the one right below. Yeah. Okay. The workbench style office. John Dale and I worked in that office. John Dale and I built that office. Yeah, right after that he got moved to another project in Sam got moved to there. Sam volunteered to move it there. Yeah, a little introvert me, he was in the side of the building and I found myself one morning sharing an office with my optimistic achieving brother who’d walk in on Monday morning and be like, okay, so new vision, we’re going to do this, this, and this today.

Sam and Blaine: I’m like, okay, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. It’s 8:35 first cup of coffee. This is a lot. I think I would just so regularly ask the question, Jesus, what is your vision for And Sons? Because mine is to be the definitive voice for a particular brand of young man, and he would just never say that. I would be like, Jesus, what is your vision? What is And Sons a goal? And you know, he would say this week it’s your relationship with Sam. And he would say that over and over or he would go like, it’s your ability to live it. And it would be like, that’s really hard to strategize into. But looking back, it would just, it’s just like there’s no other way for And Son’s to exist because it’s really unique artifact and that it’s just the relationship between three brothers representing itself as a magazine. 

Yeah. I think something I would throw in is we had to distill and distill and distill what our goal was. We have a lot of goals. We got a lot of visions, world domination creative things. We wanted it to be beautiful. We wanted to write things that were purely a fiction for the sake of the joy of words. And we kind of ended up with this, this sort of target that was, everyone was like, well this is for young men, but it’s also for their girlfriends or their wives and their moms. And so we kind of want to address the fact that there’s a lot of guys in their forties and fifties reading, so maybe we should write more towards them. And then all of a sudden we ended up with this kind of like washed-out mission statement. They were for me, young men and everybody, anybody and it to like months and months.

Sam and Blaine: We keep coming back to what is the goal, what is the mission? Who is the guy and big picture of the guy, one face. I don’t buy all of that. If it changes one person’s life, it was worth that thing because I think we’d all stop doing what we’re doing cause box checks. But to envision someone’s face with someone like particularly in mind really did help to bring that down and go, okay, yeah. Now this is for the guys in there, this age group that we’ve have, they’re like dial in and even the tagline that we have on their initiation in the young man’s soul is fairly recent. Distillation. We couldn’t have told you that a year ago. I would just add like And Son’s is for young men and it’s for growth and it’s for all these other things. But it was not an elevator statement by a long stretch. 

Aaron: Yeah. I’m going to read that I think will encapsulate since these are your words now spoken, but I’ll, I’ll read what you’ve written. This is from the forward of the And Son’s print edition. We’re brothers, adventure seekers, writers, sons, and young fathers. We love Jesus. We aim to explore what it means to live with authentic masculinity as we step into the complexities of this world at this wild moment. And we’re honest, sometimes a little too honest, but we trust you’ll know if something is genuine or not. And we’d rather spend our time being ourselves than pretending to be something or someone that we’re not. And we hope that you’ll join us in that. So say about what it was like in the temptation to try and be like somebody else along the way. Ooh, I imagine it just looks different. It looks different for the different answers team members. It does, I think. Okay. So individually, what was it like for you, Sam? What was the temptation to pretend to be something you weren’t?

Sam and Blaine: yeah, or someone, things that feel successful are kind of the sort of thing and hold out there as the goal. And so magazine prints online, the things that worked right now were things like kinfolk or things like art of Manliness and they just kind of had this either one on one bare-bones basics or this just aesthetic. I use kinfolk beautiful and also really brief. Like they’re not particularly sensitive. They’re saying I like this lifestyle and yet they were on every coffee table, every millennial everywhere in the United States for a little while there. They may still be in many, but I think I felt those temptation to write about things or say things or put together like we can, we can craft similar messages that we think might strike those chords.

Sam and Blaine: Like, oh, well you guys want the blue tin coffee cup steaming in the woods. Like we can go do that. I’ll go, I’ll go get you that photo. And then like the Wendell Berry poem that goes with it. And that came back to this, this authenticity thing of F if I can get like all of the outside looking right, but you just kind of press it a little bit and you poke a hole through what I’m offering you. I know that I pick up on that particularly quickly and I’m buying his comment of young men these days. Like we’ve have been sold to our whole lives, but the rise of technology, computers, I mean they were our nannies and so marketing has sort of grown-up along with us and we’ve been these little lab rats and so we just, we know, we know we’re being sold to.

Sam and Blaine: And so for me, anything that was going to feel like that and the to choose not just to not do what was going to quote-unquote work or what would sell, but to choose to be almost like the one 80 version of that. If I’m going to invite you into the where like the pain is where the loss is and the story I shared of my wife and I is miscarriage like that in my mind are the things that are worth talking about. And if, if people didn’t particularly connect with that or they’re not interested in that, that’s also, that’s okay. But that’s sort of the material that I can feel like the most confident standing behind rather than these are the best, the five best scotches you can drink out there and you should try these. And I want to know that list too, but that’s not the content that I’m going to be throwing out there. Yeah, that’s good. How about you Blaine?

Sam and Blaine: This is a very difficult moment to be a creative, of any sort.

And when you’re making yourself available on the internet, which happens to be excessively vitriolic and violent, there’s just this temptation to not write about hard things and exactly the sandwich, just saying, you know, you watch what I think is great movie 180 degrees South, except for the fact it’s meaningless. Great movie until you just push and go. And it’s Yvon Chouinard and it’s the ad and he’s waking up in his baby sack and I want to be there so bad. And he gets his, he has this kind of Sage expressions. He looks off in the distance and goes, I guess you gotta do something to save your soul. And it was like, pause, wow, I can’t believe I watched this movie. For you to say that that’s, that’s so acceptable. And versus we’re not talking about being offensive, we’re not talking about trying to be in people’s face, but simply to go out and write and you gestured towards the final article in the print edition, but to go, you know what?

Sam and Blaine: Actually we think that masculinity is a legitimate category. We think that being a man is something that can tell you about your experience and to go, yeah, we are actually young men who look at the conversation around gender and who, man, you should hear this hashed through in the And Son’s office over and over again. Like these are live topics, but go, yeah, we think that the attempts to annihilate gender actually misguided from every like soulful and philosophical direction. And so when it’s, for me the temptation is it’s when it comes time to publish the article, that’s the five agreements millennials are making and I look at the list and go, man, I just don’t want to be attacked. And it’s new. So at throwing things out there, you know, Sam, we keep Frank to this miscarriage article. Sam actually makes some very profound statements about reality in that and it’s a story of the morning with his wife and all through it. It’s this worldview where he’s actually talking to our audience about

Sam and Blaine: And the human soul and it just goes, man, as soon as you are on purpose, putting a stake in the ground, trying to create something that is actually valuable because it’s transformative, it is scary every time. And in my experience it just doesn’t go away. When we have the next publication meeting and somebody throws out a hard topic, we had to turn off the comments. We had a comment section because feedback, feedback, feedback is, you know, talk to him these days, but we have turned off, you have a really hard time to find our email address. It’s impossible until we have a comment on any article and we have somebody else handling our social media, we do get the feedback and have, we do take that to heart. But just that quick, easy, tell me what you think in five seconds man.

Sam and Blaine: That’s a great way. That’s not very helpful to not be, and it’s going to be super negative for them either, right? Yeah. What you’re going to say in five seconds versus if it takes you five minutes to find your email. Like it’s going to be more thoughtful, whether it’s good or bad. So like for blades, comment on the public and to do things to not be attacked. Like we had to turn some of those off so that they wouldn’t be kind of like the decision-makers on whether we do something or not. That’s really good. So, I guess just why, what I see in my mind is the image, Sam, that you mentioned a minute ago about the cup of coffee steaming in the forest and the five best scotches to try. Those are great. They aren’t to your word, they’re not transformative, right?

Aaron: It’s not actually inviting us into deeper realities of, so if I knew the best scotches to drink and I could figure out the best place to make that shot happened in the woods, would it actually helped me on the day that my wife had a miscarriage and probably not. And help you get hammered. Part of that was probably some of the less helpful. Exactly. And yet what you guys are offering is to say that a life with God is actually the way to navigate stories like miscarriages and what does masculinity really mean? And it’s about becoming right, not just acquiring or, and I guess what I’m curious about too is this in defense of millennials I haven’t read the article yet, but the title was really pulling to me and I’d love to just having a conversation about it with you guys is I really have a view that millennials get a bad rap.

Aaron: And a couple of reasons I think is that I, my perception so I’m 46 and my, what I hear a lot of is how millennials are idealistic, how they’re entitled. And I’m not claiming these things. I’m just saying in there what’s said cultural said culturally and when I’m around, you know, at an employer level, you know what you hear and those kinds of things. And so there’s a lot of like, man, they just think they’re going to start on third base. They think they’re going, you know, they don’t have to work for it. There’s all this. And so what I’ve been really fascinated by is, I actually think, and I’ve never heard it said this way, Sam, as you said, is that you’ve been marketed to your whole life. Would you say that the marketing’s your nannies growing up. So you know when you’re being sold to, I actually find it incredibly fascinating that millennials have an opportunity to cast a vote on everything that’s happened culturally, thus far in their view, to be able to look at what their parents have done, the grandparents have done and said, is that for me or not?

Aaron: And be more objective about what’s actually working and not what’s soul corroding and what’s life-giving. And really look at it more objectively than just a hook, line, and sinker. If you’re in whatever band of a age group, you just kind of do what everybody else is doing. But the generation who’s new at up and coming always has a chance to say, is this for me or not? So I’d love to hear just your guys’ perspective of what, going back to these five agreements that millennials make. Two just on this conversation, I’d love just to learn, what’s your view of in defense of millennials?

Sam and Blaine: Well, you did write the article, Sam. Yeah. So things that we might get rid of, things that we might think are so, okay. I had a marketing meeting years ago that I got like super privileged to be a part of these VPs of marketing for a big New York house that I was helping my dad on a project with and I got to be part of this thing. And they were throwing out there these ideas of like, well, you know, millennials don’t buy books and they’re all using E-readers and they’ll just kind of all these things. And I was sitting there going like, I don’t know the last time you guys were in a room with millennials, but I didn’t know a single person that owned any reader. It was like my sister in law who is 37. And what was interesting is like a couple of years later, these stats started coming out of like, actually millennials either can’t afford or don’t buy these e-readers.

Sam and Blaine: And there are, there’s a swing towards prints and I find that we have all of these like social ideas and just slap them on the next generation. For instance, we’re at a dinner on Friday night and the table next to us, there’s a couple who I just kind of casually observed over like 20 minutes while they were clearly waiting for another couple. It was a four person table and the two of them were on their phones the whole time, didn’t look husband, wife weren’t looking at each other and weren’t talking to each other. And I think social media would make you think that they were college grads, but this couple was in their fifties. And they were waiting on the younger couple to show up. So I like, I experienced these things all the time. Like we’re in a moment where all these things I get said about technology, about relationships, about instant gratification.

Sam and Blaine: Like they’re true for all of us. They’re true socially that this age, it’s going on this instant gratification, this distraction, and to just slap it as like, this is something millennials are doing. I see. What you’re saying. It’s kind of a little absurd to me. Like yeah, we’re all in this cultural air so there are things that are happening. And I think that you’re seeing some of the pushback from millennials and we don’t, we don’t know what to do with pushback right away cause we kind of swing too far. I think of like hippies. I think of punk rock. I think like you just, you take it to the extreme. And so if everything is marketing and if everything comes quick and cheap and easy, then like what, what’s the value? Well it’s something you have to like work for or it takes a little bit more time.

Sam and Blaine: Honestly. The first example that comes to mind is what’s been a big boom recently. Third-wave coffee shops, pour-overs. Anybody. Like it’s going to be really cliche but it’s pour-over. Why do you want to pour over? Well it was because you grew up with your mom driving through Starbucks every day and it was like instant coffee available to everyone all the time. Very true. Versus like a slow, methodical app jet to boil the water. Like you can find out the world from there’s tasting notes to it. Like why does that have value? Why is that worth learning about? Well it’s because the easy cheap, it has no value and we don’t have bigger categories as a culture to necessarily apply that towards. So rather than everybody going like, Hey, I realize that like my work and my internal life are the obviously the first places to start.

Sam and Blaine: I think we start with like things like that and companies like Patagonia catch onto that really quickly and they’re like, okay, this is the one jacket you’ll ever need to buy for your life. Like it’s high quality and it’s going to last a long time and it’s more exp. It just, I think that that is going to end up being a trend that lasts a lot longer and that is speaking to this desire that millennials are having of like, I want value and I want good things and I don’t know. What do you think with that third wave thing? You were laughing, you were kind of rocking over their blade.

Sam and Blaine: The interesting thing to me about this in defense of millennials article and what’s unique about even Sam’s take on it and what’s called And Sons, is inoffensive. Millennial’s article does not say millennials are awesome right now. It doesn’t say that it’s more this cried to everybody. Would you please stop misdiagnosing and stopping with the superficial and the sort of in defensive millennials article frames. A lot of what we do in And Son’s, which is we are understood to be an open-minded generation, let’s say, and we look at that and go, is that actually real? If you look at millennials and participation in politics, it’s pretty funny when you have, you actually look at numbers and go, Oh, so you’re not members of political organizations verifiably Oh, so you don’t participate in them. It’s verifiably. And then we look at these other things and go, listen, you can’t look at the last 20 years to understand how a generation gets to the place where it thinks that morality is entirely individual.

Sam and Blaine: And we go, everybody, you literally have to go back to the enlightenment to understand where that idea came from. And what we just want to do is go stop looking at millennials and saying, millennial blank this. Oh, I see. When it’s not helpful at, it’s not helpful to anybody. And if you’re a millennial, it’s not enough to shake your fist and go, you don’t get it. You have to dive in and go, where did this start? And if I want to engage my own heart, you have to look pretty hard at what are the longterm ramifications of a digital world. But at the long term, ramifications of value production in an internet age, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Okay, so how much power does it have when you name something over someone like Aaron, you are bad with money that I have no idea about your financial ability beforehand.

Sam and Blaine: But if I just say that over and over again that has, that has a massive effect. And so it, which isn’t to say that some of these things aren’t true, but some of them are for selling magazines times me, me, me generation, what was there was to sell magazines that was obnoxious and unkind and there are all of these kind of contradictions that get said about millennials of yourself, self centered and you want things quickly, but you’re also very creative and we have seen some really amazing ideas and some self-starting things happen and you’re like, okay, I’ll be talking about this same people group. I know how do those coexisting? So then zooming out then I guess what I hear you saying is with And Son’s, your aim is to always peel back a layer and ask that question of about an and what about your own heart in this?

Aaron: Right? So if it’s coffee or political engagement involvement, if it’s just having things spoken over our lives and what’s the impact of that? Right. So it’s always the, there really is something else. But then seeding it into, I guess a narrative that a young man on his initiation of his own soul would matter to him. Absolutely. That’s super well said. We’ll probably pull that SoundPoint for you somewhere. Good. 

Sam and Blaine: But there just is the thing of, there’s a, we have a joke in the Amazon’s office, which is that the real ensigns motto is too deep, but there’s a kind of sort of a reality and you know, and sons you could make fun of and by going like, Oh man, ask about anything. And the SNC will go well, but that’s part of what you want to do is go exactly it. Look one layer deeper than you would normally look and it will do you incredible amount of good. Yeah. 

Aaron: So one of the things I’ve been learning about in the, in the work that I do in the business world is this idea of leading by example in how, how vulnerable we lead invites others to do the same. And so at Brene Brown, I think has a great quote about something similar about in the place of vulnerability we can all meet. And so I’ve seen it play out a lot. And so for instance, one of the things that we do is we have these workshops during the day and then that evening on, usually on the first night of a workshop and it maybe 20 or 50, we all divide out in this kind of quiet candlelit dinner.

And you might have let’s say six to eight people, coworkers, generally people that work together, but maybe they don’t know each other super well, usually at the below the waterline level for use at iceberg analogy. And so it’s called a storytelling dinner. And we cue it up with tonight we’re going to tell stories and I’ve been using this Rob Lowe actor. He wrote this book. It’s titled stories. I only tell my friends and it turns out the book wasn’t that great, but I love the title. And so I thought, you know, that’s actually probably a good way to frame this to say, I’d love to tell you some stories that I only tell my friends and then move into telling a story. And so what I see happen as at each of these tables, when the stories get queued off with a deeper level of deep, most everyone follows suit.

Aaron: And so then they’re willing. So I’ve even had people around the table through the course of the dinner. So one by one as you’re eating, you’re saying, Oh wow, somebody will say Wolf. Or if we’re going to tell these kinds of stories, then I’m going to change my story. Here’s the story I have to tell. And they’re amazing. And what I’ve watched is if we can, in leading hold the tension of going first basically, which means it’s really uncomfortable because we’re really out there and we’re inviting people into something way deeper and there can be crickets and not a lot of response at first or some gnarly responses that you have turned comments on for. But that the predominant result I’ve seen is that most everybody’s willing to follow. They just need somebody else to go first. So I wonder, even as I’ve read and listened to you guys today, that how much of that is in those deeper questions beyond pour-over coffees and scotches. And latest Instagram rad place took a photo if by you guys helping lead that you’re just inviting by going first and making it easier for somebody to go second. They really want what’s below. It’s just hard to find their own way there. What do you think? 

Sam and Blaine: Can I ask you a question? Yeah, that was awesome. We have the same pause we’re willing to give before things have. We keep pausing with the same amount of time and they go, I gave Sam the I bounce though. They do. I missed it. Go ahead then.

Sam and Blaine: Maybe your listeners already know this, but returning to your candlelight dinners, do you mind saying what is the point of these workshops? 

Aaron: We do these the personalized insight workshops and they’re in a business setting, so it’s household names you’d recognize in terms of companies and they’re oftentimes their top leadership teams and really is a lot about just showing up more human at work and now there’s strategies for how to do that and there’s brain science behind how to do that. But like so a lot of it’s just relational. It’s like how trust is built, how trust is maintained, and how trust is perceived differently. So for instance, in this model that we use about trust is one is about reliability, one’s about accountability, one’s about openness. There’s another one, I can’t remember off the top of my head, but reliability turns out to be the one that I struggled the most with, which is like consistently doing what I say I’ll do when I say I’ll do it every time. And so for years in my 25 year, almost now marriage, I’ve struggled with why is reliability such a big deal to my wife?

Aaron: I now know but it turns out it’s the lens by which she views things. So back to these workshops. So we spend time helping executive leaders understand that, how I define trust, how is how I want to be judged about whether or not I’m trustworthy or received. But other people define trust differently. So we’ll culminate a day long workshop or two day long workshop in this evening. And it’s, it’s very much intentional on trying to get people to connect more humanly about the fact that they’re actually humans when they come to work every day and yeah, they’ve got a bunch of stuff they got to do and they’re a big deal or they’re not a big deal or whatever, but the bottom line is we’re all humans and we’re living a story and everybody has a story that’s worth listening to right now. Let me not use that. The lead into the mix of fast. 

Sam and Blaine: That’s awesome. Tying it in with your question because the language that it stress for me is you cannot do anything with a divided heart and that showing up wholehearted with your whole being into any project, it turns out to be the thing that’s key to flourishing God’s universe. And it’s interesting because you talked about going first. We’re not champions of vulnerability by any stretch of the imagination, I think. But part of the language for us is even Padre reiterating around the end sentence of you have to share your pain. You have to share your pain because it actually becomes this way to show up wholehearted by just going, some of my life looks glamorous. Most of it doesn’t. Yeah. And bringing that all in creates the context for you actually get to live the masculine life.

Sam and Blaine: Well I think people are also really poorly equipped to have those conversations. When we were envisioning this magazine seven, eight years ago we were just wrestling with the fact that there was a lack of content that we would want to read addressing some of these issues. And the pain doesn’t have to always be as brutal as a loss. Sometimes it’s like the frustration with finding work after college and you thought things were going to get lined up and you thought it was X plus Y equals Z and it’s not. And what do you do with your identity in that, in-between time? Like that’s painful and that article isn’t out there. The articles out there are how to give it like a good interview and how to craft a good resume and how to tie a tie. Like those articles and those videos exist in the thousands because we don’t know how to do those things, but there’s no secondary.

Sam and Blaine: And like what do you do when it doesn’t go well? What do you do when your identity is totally tied into your job and you’ve just moved towns because the girl has moved town. It’s like that didn’t exist. And that’s not the kind of thing that shows up on Instagram and that’s not the kind of thing that happens on your Facebook feed. And basic feed is all about the 30 places you got to visit before you’re 30 it’s not, you don’t have the money to go there. And what are you doing in your hometown when you thought your life was going to look differently? And so into that space we offer our experience and it doesn’t touch in every once, but it’s not meant to. It’s meant to invite the next conversation and the next one after that. And then we get this much wider experience that yeah, it’s not the steaming coffee cup in the mountains, but it’s a lot more true and it’s a lot more life-giving. 

Aaron: So one final question, as I’m thinking through these seven, eight years to get to this really cool proof and the byproduct of all these stories that we’re talking about in all this way, what are some things you would do differently? What do you wish you could have done over?

Sam and Blaine: I would just listen earlier to the thing that God was saying with the priority when it did not relate to work. It was very simple. I mean this, this is pretty classic, but I was talking about, I’d ask what the priority was and he says it’s your relationship with your brother or it’s you were living this out in your own life. And then I would spend the day working on a digital strategy. That great advice. Yeah. And so I think that like there was actually in my, now all the, I can think of a million strategic things and tactical things that we would have done differently. But the one that comes up first is like, man, I just would have resisted the priorities of God. Less.

Sam and Blaine: Yeah. I think of a lot of tactical things as well. And yet to make this project even more impressive. It was done by three brothers and a father. So like family pressure dynamics. And it was my job to herd these cats to get them to get me stuff every month so I could put it up online. And that, that was a lot of frustration there. And if the relationships weren’t healthy, the thing wasn’t gonna work. And it wasn’t a project I could have pulled off by myself and I tried sinking the ship several times. And so that piece on relationships is huge. Like if the backbone, if the story going on underneath the scenes isn’t good, then it wouldn’t have been possible. And I think giving that more attention sooner would have been great. And I would, I would do that differently.

Aaron: So would it be fair to say that this represents not only some great content and great stories, but also would it be fair to say that there aren’t any barbs and lots of piles of regrets to go with all these stories then too? You guys have actually lived pretty well to make it this far?

Sam and Blaine: I think we’ve lived throughout some of the time and repented really well. A lot of the restaurants that I read on which is, which is called living well, right. There you go. I’ll take it. It’s sweet. 

Aaron: All right, so where can people find your work? 

Sam and Blaine: andsonsmagazine.com 

Aaron: And if they would like to hold one of these in their hands seven days from now? 

Sam and Blaine: as you said, click on the print in the top menu. 

Aaron: Nice. Just recently live. I love it. Sweet fellas. Thanks for having us on really an honor to be here. Super fun.

Aaron: You’ve been listening to work life play. If you like what you’ve heard, please do us a favor and rate us on iTunes. It really does help. You can get more information about this and other episodes@aaronmacu.com thanks for listening. Thanks for being part of this adventure for being part of braving the pioneering work of discovering sustainable work life, play rhythms, love your work, live your life and play a whole lot more. I’m Aaron McHugh. Keep going.

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