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Jul 02, 2024 | Podcast

Redefining Masculinity: A Conversation on Men's Work and Vulnerability with Bob Conlin & Alex Terranova

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About the episode:

I’m beyond honored to have Bob Conlin and Alex Terranova, co-founders of The Alchemy of Men, on the show today. In their work, they’ve created a community and path to support men in discovering their authentic selves, evolving from boys to men, becoming more self-expressed, and building lives they can be proud of. Alex, Bob, and I used to be leaders together in Accomplishment Coaching, where we all individually trained as coaches together, served in different roles, and partnered in many different ways. We have a lot of experience knowing one another in multiple capacities, and I hope this is evident throughout the episode. I ask them a lot of deep questions about their work as it’s so important and needed in today’s world. In their work, Alex and Bob are cracking the door open for men to show them what is possible if they can tear down their walls. They know that getting men to show up to their retreats is the hardest part – because they have found that once they are there, it’s easy for the facades to fade and allow a new version of masculinity to appear. I can’t wait for you to tune in and find your own favorite takeaways.

 

Topics discussed:

  • Believing that we get to choose who we are and how we see the world, and for men, trusting that the definition of traditional masculinity can be changed and improved upon
  • The transformation that Alex and Bob themselves have gone through, how it’s impacted their own friendship, and the lessons they now take into their work with their clients   
  • How Alex and Bob support their clients in facilitating breakthroughs in their lives, knocking down walls, and opening their hearts during their retreats, especially as it’s brand new territory for most 
  • The power of letting go of your ego and surrendering to what you don’t know, and why it’s probably easier than you believe it is 
  • Letting go of everything you may think about what it means to be a man to create the space for reinvention and undoing to flow through 
  • How we can create safe space in supporting our partners to ask for help, create an equal relationship, and rewrite the norms of power dynamics

 

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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode

 

Catherine A. Wood  10:27

Alex and Bob, welcome to the podcast.

 

Bob Conlin  10:42

Thanks for Thanks for having us. It was

 

Catherine A. Wood  10:44

a little bit like a walk down memory lane, being with the two of you. I haven’t been or spoken with either of you in, gosh, well over a year. I think so for our listeners, Alex and Bob and I used to be leaders together in accomplishment coaching, where we all individually trained as coaches together and served in different roles and partnered in different ways. So we have lots of relationship, lots of experience knowing one another in many different capacities, and just so actually, I feel like a little emotional having you both on the show today. So it’s really an honor and a total delight being with you. And by way of getting us started, I’d love for either or both of you to share your pronouns and a little bit about your story, because I think that we all learn through the power of storytelling.

 

Alex Terranova  11:42

Bob, go first.

 

Bob Conlin  11:43

Yeah, go first. He him. I guess the story I want to tell just because I’m, I’m with you again, cat is one of you know. So my whole, my whole journey, really, has been understanding that I ultimately have a control in how I want to experience life like I get to control the lens in which I get to view not only myself, but others, the people I love, the people I get to impact. And we are at a leadership retreat, and I was totally in my stuff, totally and what I mean by that I was, like, really disempowered, kind of a in a huge walking complaint, a lot of emotions, not that those are bad, but I just wasn’t in my power. And you said something to me that made a huge difference for me, and I just want to share that with you on this podcast. And it was, you know, I shared everything I needed to share. I got all that crap out of me, and you’re like, well, what’s the difference you want to make from where you’re at? And I was just like, it was one of those, like, comments or questions that kind of like resets you and call like calls you forward at the same time. And I share that because I think that’s so much of who I am as a father, you know, who I am as a husband, and who I am as a leader is I have people around me to remind me that I get to step into who I’m committed to being at every turn. And I know that’s like a very privileged like, way of living and experience of life, and it’s one that that like I also created that there’s people that love me enough in my life, you know, Alex, obviously one of them that will call me forth, even in the hardest and most challenging times, into creating not only the experience I want, but the man I want to be while I’m experiencing it. So that’s my story that I will share, by a way of kind of introduction. You know, I’m I live in Chicago with a my beautiful wife. I have a almost four year old son. I just turned 49 and got into the fatherhood game pretty late, and I’m learning a ton, learning a ton about what it means to be a really good father, and I’m doing a great job, and it’s a lot of work, and it’s really hard, but yeah, that’s that’s me. That’s

 

Catherine A. Wood  14:25

awesome. I love that story, and I think the thing that touched me most is just hearing you acknowledge and doing a great job, right? It’s so nice when we can acknowledge our strengths and our gifts and the ground

 

Alex Terranova  14:42

taken. There’s I was sitting here, and I’m like, listening to Bob, and I’m, there’s so many stories running through my head. I’m like, what story to tell? And the thing I do, I do want to tag, like, kind of piggyback Bob and say, you know, when I was building my coaching practice, I probably wouldn’t still be sitting here, like, almost, almost a day. Gate later from when I started, if it hadn’t been for your support cat. So, like, if you and I hadn’t, this is before Bob and I were even friends. Bob hated me at this point. But, like, back then

 

Catherine A. Wood  15:09

you were the hater. Then, no, he Bob hated

 

Alex Terranova  15:13

  1. I didn’t even know I was, like, Bob doesn’t exist, but, but, but, yeah, like, I wouldn’t, I think, you know, during a lot of those early years, like when I remember when we did, like, B school together, and we were doing, we were supporting each other a lot. Those were, those were the, like, early, challenging years of my business, and you were really powerful support structure. And I don’t know if I’d be, you know, I don’t know if I’d be here. I started this journey in 2015 so I don’t know if in 2024 I’d still be here, doing this and having grown it and the life I have and the life I have, if it weren’t for some people like you that really kind of like locked arms and stood by me during those early years. So I’m really grateful. And so cool. It’s cool to now come like full circle. You know, you back when I used to podcast, you were on my podcast. And so the thing I want to share, though, that I that I think like about me, is, for most of my life, I didn’t like myself, and it wasn’t overt. I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t like, self harm in like, a direct way where you’d be like, keen, you know, he needs therapeutic help or something. I just had an internal like, I’m not good enough. I should be different. There’s something wrong with me. I you know, I’ll never, I’ll never live up to what I think I should I’m going to disappoint people. And the wacky way that came out was, I was a jerk. I was like, an I was, I don’t know if I can say that, but I was a jerk. I was egotistical. I used alcohol to, like, dull the pain, and I like, chased women to kind of get a sense of life out of myself and a sense of self worth. Like, if I could win with women, then I could win with myself. And the thing that’s happened recently is I had, I had an experience recently where I’ve never liked my name, and I’ve, like, never liked my name Alex or Alexander, and I’ve, I’ve just always wanted it to be different. And then a few probably, like, six months to a year ago, a year ago, I was in a plant medicine ceremony, and I had this experience where I really got to connect with, like my soul chose this, this suit, this, this meat suit, to come into this avatar. And it showed me all the ways that I chose it on purpose for exactly what I’m here to do. And I was putting this like, just this experience of of for the first time, like deep self love and understanding of like you chose this being to come into and live this experience as on purpose, for all these reasons and whatnot. And in that experience, it also I got this, this reflection of and you chose your name, you, you. You channeled your, your, you. We channel our names like through our parents. And so what they choose is actually by our by like us as souls, is what I believe. And you chose your name, and your relationship to you yourself is reflected in the fact that you don’t like your name. And now I was sitting with Evan, my wife just we’re, like, talking about child names for our future children or our future child, and she looks at me and she goes, Well, I don’t want to say like, that’s still been the biggest challenge I’ve had in my own journey. Is like loving myself. I’ve leaps and bounds in so many areas and completely transformed my life. But loving myself has been like the hardest, the hardest part of my journey. And my wife says to me, do you know what your name means? And I was like, I was something. I was like, something about, like, King or, you know, whatever. And she goes, that your man, your name means man’s defender, Warrior. And I, like, got chills all over my body and got present to at 42 years old. Like, that’s what I’m doing now, right? Like I say I describe myself as I’m here to support men to become the leaders that their families and their businesses or companies can be proud of, and we lead a retreat where I think of myself as a as a sacred guide for men. And it there was something like, oh my god, like you literally chose this name that embodied like who you were going to be before you ever knew you were going to be it. And so I love how Bob was speaking into we get to, like, live into the people we want to be. But I also have it that there’s some there’s some, like, mythical or like, there’s some space out there that’s already kind of the possibility for us has already been chosen by us. Yes, and then it’s up to us to find that and then live into it.

 

Catherine A. Wood  20:06

Wow, that’s amazing.

 

Bob Conlin  20:08

I think, I think I was there at that weekend that you had, you were like, yeah, and, and there was like, three other people in that room named Alex, which is, like, even more hilarious. Do you remember that. I don’t remember that. Yeah, yeah. But,

 

Catherine A. Wood  20:27

well, I I want to share one of my own Alex stories. I have so many, but I actually think this is yeah, right. But I think this is probably a great segue into the conversation. And you know, for our listeners, who we talk about empathic business here a lot and and we also talk about creating the accountability structures sufficient to your level of resistance. And for me, in many of my early years of business, that person was Alex, because we were always calling forth for one another. We had a weekly co working call for several years that I always showed up for on time, because my partner was Alex, and I was his partner, and we were challenges for one another, and so I have a lot of gratitude for you as well, Alex and Alex and I served on a leadership team together for a year and a half. Yeah, probably ish, and I remember one of my favorite reflections I gave you. I wonder if you’ll remember this, but I reflected that you occur like a tank. I remember a super hard exterior and a really soft inside. And I think for me, that’s why I’ve always felt safe and like instant relationship in your presence, because as an empath, I felt like I always sensed that tender heartedness on the inside that just created instant relationship and trust and rapport. And I think in men’s work, a lot of the work the two of you do in the world is probably has a lot to do with connecting men with their open heartedness and intimacy work. And I’m wondering, maybe we start there, like, what’s the journey been like? Helping, helping your your community, open their hearts.

 

Alex Terranova  22:30

It’s so good. Um, it’s so like, resonates for me right now. It’s such a good reflect. I totally remember that. And I’ve had the experience recently where, in like deep meditation, deep practice. Had the experience of, I had to become a tank to create the life that I built, and that’s great, and to support the men that we want to support. And the magic is in the is in the is in the feeling is that we need the strength to, like, hold the container, right? We have 25 men in a space, or we have men that we’re supporting in all in men’s groups or coaching groups, whatever it is, like, we have to create a very sturdy ceiling, walls, ground, right? Like, men need to feel safe. Because I think it’s, it’s kind of an it’s while women, I think, more often, don’t feel safe out in the world, like there’s more physical harm, right? Like that can that you have to be on guard for men are having a different in experience of being unsafe. Men don’t feel safe sharing their truth, sharing their emotions, sharing their actual experience with anyone, because they’ve been been taught that it’s like, not okay, or it’s weak or whatever. And I think Bob and I both like have created ourselves to be very, very strong and but that the the way that we actually get to support men is through, once we’ve created that safety, then it’s all through how soft and gentle and into our feelings we can get to like, model for them that it’s okay for them to get there too. And if we weren’t strong and sturdy, we wouldn’t feel safe enough to go there, regardless of whether they’re going to follow us or not.

 

Bob Conlin  24:19

Yeah, and like, why? You know, why would they, or, you know, Why would, why would I, you know, I think a very similar Alex, like, you know, very early on, a child that I learned that, you know, if I built a big enough wall around me that no one could get in and nothing could come out, and, well, that worked from, you know, a protection standpoint. And it really had me drive a lot of my own self sufficiency and success. It was very limiting. And what was actually available for me in experiencing life like as a man, but as a human being in general, I had a whole spectrum of emotion. And feeling that I did not have access to and or if I did have access to it, I created a judgment around it. So if I was sad, I’d make a judgment around being sad, or if I was angry, it was really easy to project it on to someone else, like take no responsibility for anything. And one of the biggest breakthroughs I had early on in my in my journey was finally giving myself full permission to feel whatever I was feeling and like to feel it, but not be it like I can have anger but not be angry. I can have sadness, but not be sad, right? And actually, the book The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. Like That book changed my life. And, like, one of the first pieces of gold I got from that was like, just be the watch. Like, just watch, just watch what’s going on inside you, so you can actually name it. And I think what we do so well, like at our retreats and in our men’s groups, is we get guys connected to like, what, what is it actually going on for you? What is the truth there? And we’re able to do that because I think Alex and I have done that for ourselves, like we can, we can speak our authentic truth without judgment and without worried about, like, how it impacts others, trusting that whatever that impact is, like, we can clean it up or like, whatever, right? And I feel when, like, when guys give themselves permission to feel, to get back in their bodies, get into their heart, it creates a whole other spectrum and a possibility for life, mainly by the support of other men. Like a community of other men, we’re so, you know, generalized like, I think as men like, we’re so isolated. We’re so taught to be self sufficient, to go it alone, to work harder, faster, stronger, not need help, not any support. Like, are there guys that are killing it doing that, of course, and they’re missing, like, there’s a missing on a whole other experience of depth of intimacy and of success that’s available in a community of other men. So I really think, like Alex said, it’s, it’s like creating a safe container to let men know that it’s okay to open up that way, you know. And it’s, you know, like we’re not like sitting around a fire and like talking about, like our feelings, and, I mean, we are, but it that’s not, it’s, it’s more of like we’re sitting around a fire giving you permission to be you, whatever that is for you. And guys just like crack and break, and for the first time, many in their lives have received full permission and support to be the man that they know themselves to be. And that’s magic.

 

Catherine A. Wood  27:55

I’m like jumping at the bit here with follow up questions. Sorry, no, no, no apologies needed, because clearly, the three of us are advanced coaches. We’ve been in this game for a while. We know the importance of putting down our walls and being authentic. And my sense is that some of your retreats are filled with people who are newer to this work, which is amazing and awesome, and it can take years to bring down some of those walls. So you’ve brought up two themes which I think are really central, Central for some of the male identifying figures in my life and certainly with my clients over the years, like these themes of gosh, like opening the doors to your tank, putting down your walls, sharing your your feelings, your emotional interior. That’s one theme. And then the second theme is around asking for support, like giving up the notion that you have to go it alone, which I think is much more, I mean, at least in my work over the past decade, like a lot more of a theme that comes up for male clients than female identifying. So how do you facilitate breakthroughs with folks who don’t even know what breakthroughs are in some of these in person retreats, right? These like themes that people have probably been avoiding for much of their life. Don’t even know it.

 

Bob Conlin  29:35

I mean, we go in, we we, I mean, we get permission, of course, right, that whole weekend, but, you know, as facilitators and leaders in the work like and the way we’ve been trained and like the work we’ve done ourselves, like we can see stuff that people can’t see, like in their own lives, or see dynamics, right? Yeah. And, you know, I, I was probably agree, but like, day two or three, like, we’re, we’re going in a little bit deeper with guys. And what I mean by going in is like, like we, we’ve seen enough and have heard enough to understand, like, the context or story or limiting belief that’s getting in their way. Right? Like it good. There’s a there’s like showing up in their relationships, their business, their health, whatever it is. And it’s, it’s literally like saying a thing that no one has ever said to them, or being the thing that no one has ever been for them, for them to get a glimpse, even just crack that door open to see what’s possible if they, like, tear down that wall, or, like, blow that tank up, or whatever it is. I there’s the one piece that you didn’t I

 

Alex Terranova  30:56

agree with everything you said, and the only thing that you didn’t say is, I don’t actually think we do anything, and all we had to do is get them to show up. Yes, that’s the hardest part. Getting men to say yes and show up is actually the only hard part, because once they’re there, I don’t care how good they think their poker pan or their poker faces, they literally show us all their cards like, right when they show up, we see it in we see it in their hug, you know, like when, when we walk in the door and we go to give them a hug, if they like, immediately try to pull away or do like a bro II kind of thing. We see it in the way that they either talk or don’t talk, in the way that they share. We see it in the way that there’s the first day some guy, there’s some guy who’s a powder keg waiting to explode the first day every single time, and that guy blasts open the doors for everyone else, right? It’s often also one of the most masculine dudes, like, traditionally masculine, right? The a big guy, muscular like, like, a guy who is kind of boisterous, loud, has a presence, is often one of the first guys to snap and and often we don’t even do anything. We’re just asked, like, tell us who you are, and a guy just starts crying. And we’re not asking for that. We don’t and what? When I say it’s, it’s like, we get to see who everyone else is in that moment, right? Some guys are like, okay, it’s safe. Some guys wall off a little bit more. Some guys are really supportive and nurturing to that guy. But ultimately, we actually don’t care either. If you don’t, if you don’t show emotion in our space, that’s okay. And if you show all the emotion, that’s okay too. It’s really, it’s really about, Hey, who do you want to be in your life and in your marriage and in your job and this place? And Kat, you know this from, like, all our work with training coaches together, right? It’s, it’s just that that place is just like the gymnasium to like, work some stuff out. And we just get to create this really cool, fun experience in this unusually beautiful houses in the mountains or in the desert, or in great spots where all of a sudden, if we just create a safe enough space, like just being there, is all that has to happen. And I don’t think we’ve ever had a man who didn’t like something, didn’t shift. They might not go home and change their whole life, right? That’s a whole different thing. But we have not had in in I don’t know, we’ve had like, maybe 75 men. I’m making that number up. I don’t know, 5075, men. We haven’t had a man who, like, there isn’t something that’s different when he like, he’s there’s something different about him when he leaves them versus when he showed up.

 

Bob Conlin  33:51

Yeah, I think that’s a good point like that. Literally, the hardest part is it’s getting the guys to, like, say yes. I mean, not to the retreat, but I mean, ultimately they’re saying yes themselves. Of course. They’re like seeing us through treat and like the investment and the time and all that. But for me, as a leader going in those experiences, it’s always like, trust, trust the men, trust the container. Trust, trust, trust. Like, I think, one of our last retreats, I was like, Alex, I don’t know if our stuff’s good enough. You know, like, no evidence to that, but, like, just my own insecurities. And, like, I think it might have been the biggest group, and it was the most isolated and the most it was just, like, a lot, right? And, you know, I think it was like that, that second day, and I was like, God, man, all we gotta do is get him here. All we gotta do and like, just get out, get out of the way. Yeah? Like, we’re like, the guides, you know, we’re just like, you know, I would, I wouldn’t say even that, like, we’re just like, like, we’re the pillars holding, like, the container. And the guys do so much work with each other and themselves, and that’s like, where the real magic is.

 

Catherine A. Wood  34:59

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I I appreciate the humility of you both. I think that it speaks to the power of an effective coach and but also acknowledging that, like so much of what we do is our own work, so that we can be the transmission and the clearing for our clients to do theirs. And it actually makes me really curious about some of the work that both of you have done. Because you know, I know some of your journeys. I know you’ve done lots of healing around your relationships with them, male figures in your own lives. So much relationship in the world of intimacy and in both of your worlds. And so I guess I’m curious, like, how do you see that your own work has facilitated you coming into doing men’s work. I mean, when I met both of you, neither of you were doing men’s work, right? So let’s, let’s hear about that transformation. How’d you get here?

 

Alex Terranova  35:53

Oh, I’ll go. I’ll go, first off. You know, I think the first the origins of the journey were like logical or in the very like practical, cerebral sense, right? The work we did in accomplishment coaching, like learning about all our automatic behaviors and automatic responses and whatnot. And I think some of some of the beauty about that work was it really showed us who we were being. It really taught us, to me, that that’s ultimately the foundation of everything we’re doing, is who we’re being and how we’re showing right, and how we’re being in all in all areas of our life. And for me, that work can take you so far, right? There’s I can only go so far in having a conversation in my conscious brain if I can’t get to my subconscious. I think there’s a limitation. I believe this for everyone, but I’m just going to speak for myself. I think after a certain amount of years, I just felt like, Man, I know what I know, but I need to get to the things that I don’t know that. I don’t even know, right, that, like those that that stuff in the back of your mind that we just like, can’t get to. And I think that’s when the real, my real adventure started, because there was always safety in the conscious conversation. But when I got into the unconscious conversations, which for me, started being around, like plant medicines, so ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, Bufo, like those, even even MDM, like MDMA, like those type of but not all these things done in in ceremony being held, like responsibly, not just like Doing these things and like going out on the street and wandering around, but doing these things with intention, with guides, often led by music and often very ritualistic fashion. All of a sudden I was able to get into parts of my brain that I just didn’t even know existed, and parts of my heart were able to open that I couldn’t consciously open up, and that that was just a game changer. That’s taught me how to love my wife, how to communicate with my wife differently. It’s taught me how to accept like, well, I’m still working on it, but accept my parents for who they are and who they’re not. How to love and accept myself. And it’s really showed me this work around men, that it’s not our job to, like, do the work for them, but to kind of, I almost think about it as like, we’re carving like, pathways, you know, in the in and like, being like, hey, you can come down this road with us and see what there is. It’s, it’s not, it’s not the right way, but it’s just not the road that you’ve been going down. And let’s see what’s like down these other roads, and we can try five different ones, but that it’s, it’s taken the ego out. For me that’s been like, a big part most of the time. You’ve known you, you’ve known me. I was like, I just want to be, like, known and famous, and I want to, like, make an impact. And it’s all that, like, I don’t care about any of that anymore, all that I just, I just want to, like, be with men and make a difference for them. And like, at the end of my days, feel like, well, I had a purpose here, and I made a difference, and the world is, like a little bit better than I found it.

 

Catherine A. Wood  39:25

I mean, I really love that Alex, like I hear just so many threads of like, letting go of the ego, right? Like the ego that had you want to be known, the ego that had you want to know, and really surrendering to what you don’t.

 

Alex Terranova  39:48

It’s easy, and it’s easy, it sounds, I think it sounds like scarier, but it’s so much easier. Yeah, I even think about it. You know, when I’m you’re in your. You’re in a pregnancy journey, you’re in a house, right? You’re in all these journeys, like, there’s all our brain wants us to get scared, right? Where are we gonna live? How are we gonna pay for things? And I think that’s actually a way harder, that’s a way harder conversation. That’s the conversation most people are in is like, fear, anxiety, worry, and they’re just, we’ve we’ve actually become believe that that’s normal, that, like the fear conversation is normal, and I think the fear conversation is insane, and the conversation of actually surrendering to I’m going to figure this out. I don’t need the I’m going to trust. I’m going to surrender. I believe in myself, I believe in my partner. I believe in the powers that be bigger than me. Is actually such an easier conversation,

 

Catherine A. Wood  40:49

totally. I mean, Alex, I know that you and Evan are on your own pregnancy journey, and for whatever it’s worth, for me that it was the breakthrough in surrender that allowed us to conceive a more than a year after trying, and that breakthrough and surrender has created ripples of change and beauty and like a complete, distinct experience of life for us ever since. Like, we’re going to be homeless tomorrow, temporarily like, and I’m totally at peace with it. We’re going to live in different states. I’m going with my parents price going with his parents. Like we’re totally empowered. And it’s like, I mean, can you imagine the former version of me being okay with that, and it’s a really cool place to be, and I have complete faith and trust that it’s all going to work out in divine timing. Yeah,

 

Bob Conlin  41:48

I think, I think my, my journey, the men’s work, started when my father died when I was seven. You know, I think that, like, that was the seed that got planted that I tended to until I became a father, 38 years later, right for my father’s death, I learned that men were dangerous, and I learned that I meant that I loved would leave me because I didn’t need them. And when I became a father, I was, I was, like, I was struggling. I was struggling with, like, who, who I was, like, of course, as a father, a husband, but like, as a man and I, I didn’t have a lot of, I didn’t allow, you know, a lot of support like that actually was making a difference for me, that was calling me forward in a way that made a difference. And the big like aha moment, a realization that I had actually came out of a ceremony, and it was that men, like, men have represented a threat to me my whole life. Like, what that threat meant was, like, if you were bigger, stronger, more successful than me, I would like, try to overpower you, or, like, befriend you, and then if I perceived you as weaker or that you couldn’t provide me anything, I would like, energetically bully you, right? It needs you and talk about like stuff in my space that I was just so not present to like and the conscious level like, and that was not there, but subconsciously, the energetics of every male relationship I’ve had for 38 years had that stuff in the space, whether we were like best friends or not, there’s still this like dynamic that was happening there, which limited me being fully present to give and receive in any relationship in general, particularly with men. And when I had and I was doing it to Alex and like, you know, we’re kind of early on in our alchemy and men journey. But I was just like, whoa. And I remember sharing this with him, and it was just such like, uh, like, a moment of clarity and a moment of like, direction and a moment of focus on, like, what’s next for me in my journey. And like, right around that time too, I was like, man, if I’m going to be stepping up into men’s work as a leader. I need to be in men’s work as a participant. That had me look into other resources outside of what I was creating, where I didn’t have to lead and just go and be witnessed as a man and and I remember going to, like my first men’s event that wasn’t my own, with an attitude of, like, I’m a, yeah, teach me something, or I’m going to be there to take or like, like, whatever it was. And after that first event, I was just like, Man, did I need that? I needed that just for me, you know? And it was, um. I, you know, ultimately gonna go back to like I finally felt safe enough to just be fully expressed, not only as like a man, but as a human being. I got to give myself that full, full permission to be expressed, and to allow other men to then make a difference for me and like in in that own work, it’s like had me step up to make even more contribution, to be of more service other guys, to call them forward into the lives and relationships and experiences that they want, you know, and I feel like, like, in so much of my journey, I’m just like, one or two steps ahead of anyone else that’s with me, you know, like, like, as a leader, right? Like, I just got to be doing my own work and trust that the rest is going to follow. And, like, that’s kind of been my journey for the last 10 years. And it’s, you know, going back to that, like, humility piece, it’s just like, I’m still figuring out too, man, you know, here’s what’s worked for me. Might work for you? I don’t know, but I know if you’re willing to figure it out with us, it’s going to be a lot better or easier or more fun or more impactful for all of us. You know, which, which is good. And I think, like my son, you know, becoming a father like my son is, he’s such a catalyst for so much of my growth. He’s only four years old, and he’s like the most part. Most powerful being in my life right now. And it’s, um, you know, like, because there was ways I was showing up that weren’t what I was committed to. And it was like, What is going on? I was like, more work more with other men. More work with men who are fathers, you know, more with men who are fathers to boys, and it was just like, all right, there’s the work. And like, I’m an unconditional yes to growth, always, always, because I, you know, I didn’t used to be something. I used to know everything, and I don’t know any. Yeah, I get slapped real quick on that one. Bob,

 

Catherine A. Wood  47:00

I really appreciate that you like acknowledged the humility piece in your speaking. I also just hear the like, the threads of the security that you create, the security and safety you create by your both of your willingness to acknowledge that you’re only that you’re only like, one or two steps ahead of the conversations that you’re in, that you’ve been there before, and that you’re like, walking this journey. Because I think a lot of, yeah, like, I think there’s a lot of ego in men’s work and in men’s leadership, and I think the willingness to acknowledge and get off your own damn throne, and just like be equals, creates that, that container, that that we were speaking of earlier. So I really appreciate that I’m mindful of the time. And there’s a final topic I really want to jump into. Yeah, so real quick,

 

Alex Terranova  47:57

one quick thing, that thing that you just said about about the men and the leadership and the ego, and Bob was speaking about it too, I think that what, that’s what inspired us to do this together, is that there were so many people telling men how they should or shouldn’t be, Whether it’s families, communities, countries, partners or other men’s work, men are supposed to be like this. This is what the masculine is supposed to be like. This is what the right and they we do it for women too. It’s right. It’s not a just exclusively male thing. And that’s where I got really, like, triggered and and like, in and got, I got triggered, and was like, all this. This is that work is nonsense, that work is for like, messed up, you know, like, either super weenie, like, soft guys, or guys that are like, agro, you know. And I got called out by my wife and one of my best friend’s wives and like, Hey, if you don’t see something, you like, why don’t you create something? And I was like, who am I to create this? But the thing which is kind of the where we started, is there was nothing for us to create except the space for men to step into and decide who they want to be, like, who are the men they want to be, the fathers they want to be, the legacies they want to create, which I think we have to undo. It’s actually more about letting go of all that we know about what it means to be a man, to create the space for what we want to come through, versus what, I think what most people are doing is come here. We’re going to teach you how to be a man, or teach you how to be a leader. It’s like we actually don’t need more of that. Whatever people are teaching is not what we need, because it’s what already exists. And if you look at the state of the world, leadership as it’s going is not working. We need, like, a full reinvention. And I think like what we’re doing is like letting creating that space for the undoing, to allow what’s next to flow through.

 

Catherine A. Wood  49:57

Well, I totally appreciate. That. And I think it’s that same undoing that there is to do in the interrelational dynamics between the masculine and the feminine, and that’s where I want to close on today, because honestly, that’s the topic that had me, like most excited to connect with both of you, and have you on the show is talking about deepening intimacy and romantic partnerships between men and women, those who identify as men, those who identify as women, because I think there are these, you know, there are these intimacy blocks. And I’m curious, if you guys have heard of imogo theory. Are you familiar with imogo theory? By Harville Hendrix, talks about this idea that for those who aren’t familiar, that we attract the perfect partner to help us heal our early wounds at the time, like right like the the perfect, the perfect partner to heal our earliest childhood wounds, given where we are at in our journey right Now, and I’ve seen those wounds bring couples together and tear them apart. And I am curious. You know, I know that both of you have done so much work in your relationships. I’ve done so much in mine, Alex, you’ve supported me through so much of the work I’ve early did in my I did earlier on in my relationship, and probably one of the few I trusted with that part of my journey and process. And you know, I guess I would love for you to speak to our female identifying listeners. Like, how can we support our partners. Like, create that safe space to support our our partners in asking for help, letting us be that partner, like that equal partnership, and really rewrite some of these, these norms about power dynamics. And really like rewriting, yeah, some of these, these stories that remain to be undone. I know this is a huge topic, but we can take it wherever you see.

 

Bob Conlin  52:14

Yeah, I think, I mean, it’s great topic, and it’s like, trust us, which is so dangerous, right? But trust us, acknowledge us, encourage us, call us forward, let us be able to lead. I feel that that’s a big component. My marriage is amazing, and it’s fierce and it’s freaking messy, and it’s feels scary at times. And the thing that is so wonderful about it is that we can go through the mess and know that we are completely devoted to each other no matter what. And so you talk about that, the level of safety, like I love you and I don’t want to see you right now, you know, or like, whatever it is, but you know, I think it’s like. So those those things, like, trust us, acknowledge us, like we have to, in turn, provide back. It’s not like and I think it gets so lopsided, or the our roles get shifted and like, we’re not playing to our strengths, but we’re trying to overcome our weaknesses, and I think that creates a lot of conflict and breakdown in relationships. Is that we don’t know what we’re doing, we don’t know what we’re fighting for, or, like, what we’re surrendering to, and it’s just not understanding some of the core relational dynamics that need to be there, you know, which is like trust, devotion, understanding, caring, leaning back. We need to lean back, leaning in. We need to lean in and finding a partner that can, like, Hold you at your worst and celebrate you at your best, and that and not make my breakdowns or my inadequacies or my insecurities or my challenges, make anything about themselves, that they’re strong enough and know themselves enough, that they can just hold me in that when I look back at all my relationships prior to my marriage, was like two wounded animals trying to fight over who gets the band aid constantly. And it was that’s a losing game, you know? And I think it’s important that, like both people have to be doing their work truly. And I think that’s where men have not towed the line as much as like the like in male female relationships that the females have. Yeah,

 

Alex Terranova  54:56

I’m gonna, I’m gonna, kind of hit a different like angle with the. Yes. And I think this can apply to either, like, gender specific, or if we could actually step out of gender and just go to the the male, sorry, the masculine and feminine energetics. So I think this, I say that because, like you right, as a woman, you could be in the feminine in your relationship more majority of the time, and the man could be in the masculine, but sometimes relationships are flipped. Right? The woman could be in her masculine, especially to be a successful woman in the world, climate and world we live in. Often women have to step really into their masculine, and sometimes men are in their more in their feminine, and sometimes both people are doing both. But the reason I set this up is because I think at our core the feminine is the spark, the inspiration, the desire, it’s the it’s the birthing, the creation of whatever now that occurs inside of men also according occurs inside of women, and it incurs inside of our relationship. And I think where we’ve lost track is even when, when Bob was saying, like, we need to lead and let us lead. We’re we actually both need to lead, but we lead in these different ways. The feminine leads in expressing the desire and expressing the creation and expressing the spark, the inspiration, and the masculine leads by taking that and then building from it. And I think that’s where we’ve totally, like gotten messed up in our in our world, in our society, is women are either doing all of it, men are either doing all of it, or men are just leading and they’re not following. And I think a really powerful relationship operates and again. And we could take again. We can take gender out of it. It could be two men, two women, two people that don’t identify with gender at all, but we all have masculine and feminine energetics running through us, that identifying who’s carrying that like the desire, the desire spark the inspiration, spark the birthing of the energy spark, and then the other person is the I’m going to go build that thing and create that thing. I think we get really burned out when we try to do all of it, right? And we can look at this in a business sense, right? If I’m the one who creates this idea, and then I got to go build it, also, that doesn’t work so well, right? You need, like, the visionary and the builder. And I think that kind of exists inside of relationships, dynamics. So for, for in the traditional masculine men, man, woman relationship and like the, just the the a traditional, not even the right word, right? Just like the, I won’t say, like, ordinary, um, the way you can support your men is, like, express your desire. Like, let your man feel. You let him feel. When Evan shows me and lets me feel what she really wants, I am so inspired to go make that a reality for her. When she’s like, ordering me around, or like complaining, or like, right? That’s not really our relationship, but if she was, I’m not inspired to go create that or do that, but when I can feel her desire, I want to go do all those things. And I’ll go a quick example. When she at first expressed to me not wanting to work and wanting to just be a mom, it came from fear, like, how are we going to do that? But when she then, when later, she expressed her desire of how much she wants to create a home and be a mom, I was like, my furnace got lit, and I was like, How do I provide at another level and build a life where we can have that? And that takes practice on both of our sides, right? So I

 

Catherine A. Wood  58:44

really appreciate that we’re ending on that note. I’ve been doing some work around trauma lately with Thomas Hovell, and he talks about this distinction of like letting people feel you feeling them, and how much safety and vulnerability and willingness that that requires to let me feel you feeling me like oof, so I’m mindful of the time and Bob, I know you got a hop. I really admire the work you’re doing in the world. I cherish you both. I love you both deeply. Thanks for coming on the show today. In closing, maybe you could each just bottom line like, what’s the single thing that’s made the difference in becoming the prosperous empaths you are? I’ll go. There’s two things, cold plunges, swear to God,

 

Alex Terranova  59:48

it’s like cold plunges have me happier and elevate my mood in ways that nothing else ever have, not therapy, not coaching, not anything like cold plunges sustain me at a level. Of like I’m just, I just, my mood is just better every day when I regularly cold plunge. But the other thing is as quiet time and stillness and slowing down, and it’s like a daily meditation practice that could be it’s really like a prayer practice, almost, that could be from 10 minutes to an hour, but that there’s no it’s whatever I need, that I get to reflect and go slow and see what emerges in the nothingness, and that’s where all the best stuff has come from.

 

Bob Conlin  1:00:31

Yeah, yeah, I think I mean everything Alex said, but also, like for me, it’s, it’s spirit, you know, and all the many ways that I get to commune with that, right is, I think it has made the biggest difference for me. It’s like the most perfect mirror back to who I am. And it’s like a remembering that makes sense, and that remembering is where a lot of my understanding and power gets to come from.

 

Catherine A. Wood  1:01:07

Thank you so much, both of you. I thank you so much for the work you’re doing. It’s powerful. Thanks

 

Bob Conlin  1:01:11

for having us. Cat, yeah, thank you. Bye.

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Navigating Neurodivergence: Energy Hacks for Empaths with Regina Carey

Regina Carey joins me on The Prosperous Empath® this week for a truly heart-centered conversation about neurodivergence and how it is often interconnected with being an empath and/or HSP. Regina is a special ed teacher turned Executive Coach who has spent the last three decades educating, empowering, and advocating for those who feel stuck, yet long to take that next great leap. Recently, she returned from an adventurous trip to Machu Picchu and shares her experience of how saying yes to physical challenges has helped her balance intense emotions as an empath. But something I deeply appreciate about this conversation are Regina’s insights on neurodivergence, especially ADHD, and the importance of managing energy and advocating for oneself. Regina reflects on her upbringing and the influence of the women in her life, emphasizing the need to break patterns of burnout and dis-ease to live authentically. This episode is for anyone who is neurodivergent (or loves someone who is) and is seeking energetic balance in their life. Tune in for actionable steps on thriving more as an ambitious empath.

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