PR Ryan Berman | Courage


The future is safe with change, but the fear of the unknown holds us back from change and growth. It takes a lot of courage and resilience to delve into the unknown to grow. In this episode, Ryan Berman, the host of The Courageous Podcast and the author of Return On Courage, joins us today to provide tips to unlock and install courage in our people. He also discusses the value of mentorship to help you become aware of your mental health issues. Ryan emphasizes the difference between resilience and courage and how they work hand in hand with change. Don’t miss this insightful episode with Ryan Berman and learn to harness courage today!


Show Notes

  • 06:26 – The idea of creating space for collisions.
  • 14:11 – Remote work is in emote work is the leader’s goal.
  • 29:03 – 79% of people right now in America are, are, are coping with mental health issues.
  • 22:37 – What we call a mental health issue itself is an issue.
  • 24:36 – Delivering Happiness.
  • 28:35 – Three types of people in the world
  • 33:15 – A remedy for mental health is nothing more or less than clarity.
  • 39:51 – Fear and courage are brothers.
  • 43:32 – Act of resilience

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Unlock And Instill Courage: How You Can Drive Change Into The Future With Ryan Berman

I’ve got an incredible and amazing guest. He’s a dear friend. His name is Ryan Berman. He is like a brother from another mother. We have the same haircut, barber, and all that good stuff. He is also the Founder of Courageous, a think-feel-do change consultancy that’s based in San Diego with many years of working in courageous leadership, ideas, and reinvention. Ryan believes that your future is safe with change. He and I both feel that way.

Ryan is a speaker, practitioner, and authority on the subject who has been featured in Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc., and Forbes. He’s also spoken on the topic all over the country, including for Google, Snapchat, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, Logitech, PNC, and many others. His book, Return On Courage, shares why companies need to unlock courage while providing practical tips on how organizations can install courage in their people. We’re going to have a great conversation and vibe hard. Sit back, buckle up, and enjoy my conversation with Ryan Berman.

Ryan, you and I are brothers from another mother and all that good stuff. We went through some logistical hoops to get our schedules aligned and get this show finally up and running. I’m thrilled about the chance to sit down with you and have a chat. You and I have a lot in common. We’ve known each other a while, traveled similar paths, and all that thing. I’m going to ask you something about your introduction or bio. What is one thing that is not written in your standard introduction that you would love for people to know about you?

The answer is as a guy that has courage or as a brand, I’m still trying to figure it out like everybody else. There are new things I want to create. I’m a creator. One of the things that probably brought me the least joy in my last life is the bigger we got, the further away I got from creating and the more of a manager I became. I became the guy that was solving problems on the way to solving the problems I wanted to solve. What I love about my life is I’m trying to design a life where I could continue to create. It’s all under the lens of courage, whether it’s courageous leadership, ideas, or reinvention.

One thing I hope to add to my bio is starting to bring together a community of people that are courageous and to use your word, resilient, who I want to know each other and create together. That events arena is interesting to me when it’s curated with people that have the same mindset. I’m terrified of it but I know that that’s where my life is going. In the next thousand days, you could ask me, “How successful were you in curating this group?” That’s what’s coming next.

I’m envisioning a Roman Colosseum. Instead of lions, gladiators, and all that things, you bring only other creative entrepreneurial people and crazy and courageous people together to have at it. I don’t know what else it looks like beyond that.

I don’t think it’s a fight club or building. It’s lonely to be the leader. You’ve navigated and gotten where you are. You feel like you finally got there and then at the same time, you’re like, “Who do I trust? Can I go there?” I don’t see it as a fight club. They would benefit from it like, “This is how we do it in this vertical.” Originality sometimes is taking something from a different vertical and bringing it into yours. I want those collisions to happen but it has to be with the right people that want to make the world better and want to use their superpowers for good.

Another C-word that you said was Collision. I met the CEO and Chairman of the Board at WD-40, this amazing guy Garry Ridge. You probably know him. He’s a super wonderful guy based in San Diego. Why the word collision came up for me was I remember going down to their headquarters. I was asked to do a keynote for them, talk about some workshops, and stuff like that. He said, “Come on down. Let’s have lunch.” We had lunch in the boardroom. It was like no boardroom I’ve ever been in the office. They constructed this building where among other things, Garry wanted to have collision zones.

His vision was that people would collide literally and physically. They run into each other for the purposes of conversation and creative expression. The thing that was studied in the early ‘70s, the term is used called Weak Ties to describe this phenomenon, where people that don’t typically run into each other don’t have conversations from all ends of an organization. As a result of that conversation, that unexpected water cooler discussion innovation occurs. 3M and lots of companies accelerated because of that weak tie connection. That idea has legs. You could do a lot with that, like colliding and the Colosseum. Not to wipe people out but to wrestle with the world and the ideas that will change the world for the better.

You and I are a couple of guys that have homes in SoCal, which is where WD-40 is based but I stumbled into the concept of collisions first, rest in peace, Tony Hsieh, I got to tour Zappos, which is in Vegas. I’m sure the last thing you’re thinking is, “We’re going to Vegas. Let’s go tour Zappos.” I get it but you can tour Zappos for $5 or $10. Tony was all about collisions. You couldn’t walk the place without colliding in with a core value or a person that was living that value that created a moment where two minds met, maybe they didn’t agree at first but through the volleying of conversation, the best idea would percolate.

To your point, that is the idea of creating space for collisions. “This is where the best idea comes from.” You and I are having a conversation so it’s not like we’ve got this planned out but this is my other seat, the catastrophic concern of remote work. The big loser here is innovation. The collisions aren’t happening like they could. I’ve never run a 1,000-person company but I’ve run almost a 100-person company. The thing that terrified the most was when someone would come to my door and be like, “Do you have one minute” You’re like, “I lost 45 minutes.”

It’s never one minute. It’s always 45 minutes. That little, “Do you have a minute,” was a collision moment. Ideas and innovation got better. Our schedules are so transactional. Your calendar is 20 or 30-minute Zoom or 15-minute Teams. You’ve got blue all over your calendar. Those, “Do you have one minute,” collisions aren’t happening. The losers are the companies and honestly, the next generation who think that they’ve got it good because they’ve got flexibility. They’re like, “I’m much more productive.”

What’s missing is those moments to collide. When you collide with people that share your logic, they become mentors for you or you build relationships with those people. It’s slow-cooked. 3 or 9 years down the line, those people are the same people that you want to start businesses with. That’s gone away. I don’t know how leaders can bring that back and be like, “This is why we need to be in the office for the greater good of innovation.”

When you collide with people who share your logic, they become mentors for you, or you build relationships with those people. Share on X

I was thinking it and then it came right out of your mouth, which I wasn’t surprised at all to hear but mentorship. The collisions for innovation get that. I also feel that people who have not known mentorship because they entered the workforce while this is happening, and that’s a big group of people, will not know what they’ve missed out on. Not that it’s too late but at some point, when you’re deep into your career, mid-career, 30s and 40s, and you didn’t have that mentorship, there’s a gap that will be palpable.

It’s like if you didn’t learn numbers by wherever you could have learned numbers, whether it was in business school, Math class, or whatever it might be. I’ll keep it in a business context because you’re the CEO or you wouldn’t become the CFO if you weren’t a numbers guy. Let’s say you are in a leadership role of any kind or you’re even up and coming, wanting to grow your career. You don’t understand money, Math, or the way business operates. You wouldn’t know what a balance sheet is from a bouncing ball. You have a gap and that knowledge gap will negatively impact the trajectory of your career.

If by chance you went out on your own and started a venture, you’ll find quickly that it’s an impediment to the growth of your business if you don’t understand those numbers. Mentorship is one of those things as well that down the road, there’s a big price to pay for. You said something that I want to come back to as well. When it comes to the remote workforce, there’s this gap. They’re missing something. I’m going to speak to the part of our audience that is either already business owners themselves, operators, entrepreneurs, or might want to be.

Here’s something we don’t hear a lot of chat about. If you don’t have those collisions happening and you don’t meet people in the office in that way and have those ideas percolating, as you say, it also will impede or impact the number of startup formations down the road. This is my prediction. I don’t know if this is right or wrong. How many guys do you know that are in the middle of a 7, 8, or 9-figure business who met at a company where they cut their teeth, learn stuff, good, bad, ugly, and then went out on their own because they met there first?

That’s what’s at stake. It’s the same thing as mentorship. Maybe this is a show about ships, kinship, friendship, mentorship, and relationships. It doesn’t even have to be like, “This place is messed up.” It’s not that. We share logic but our skills match. “You’re the artist. I’m the operator,” or whatever it might be. The fire is what’s missing. I’ll tell you what I don’t miss. I don’t spend missing $25,000 a month on rent. The price of rent, I miss the collisions.

I don’t miss the commute. I want to put my piece in there. I used to commute 3 hours a day, 1.5 to 2 hours from Manhattan and the suburbs in New Jersey where we were raising a family. I don’t miss a three-hour commute every day.

If I’m honest with myself, deep down in my soul, I learned in New York City from all the crazy Mad Men folks. A major reason why I left is I could not visualize myself living out of the city and doing the community. I tried to see it and I was like, “How much time am I going to be?” As you said with those three hours, it’s the same thing about LA. I couldn’t visualize myself in a car for hours. I understand fully on productivity and how tolerable is that commute. There are ways to do remote work where you can be intentional to make sure collisions happen.

These are two inspirational business leaders walking into a bar. I always say, “If remote work isn’t emote work, that is the goal of the leader.” If it’s just remote work, you have not figured out a way to make remote work emote work, first of all, you’re going to have a loyalty issue but if you can make it emote work where they’re like, “I love this. It’s emotional. I’m going to stick around for the cause,” then you can get intentional. Imagine you put, “Do you have one minute?” It’s a 30-minute session on the calendar.

Make remote work emote work. Share on X

It’s like, “This is an open and open forum. It’s called Do You Have A Minute. It’s 30 minutes. We’re going to do it twice a month.” It’s a safe place for messy conversations or a collision room. You can block this stuff off on your calendar. “No commute. We understand why we’re colliding.” Even if you’re responsible for the calendar, you block it off on your calendar and then invite the right people you need to that room at that time. At least there’s a space for it versus what’s happening, which is like Tetris. You’re trying to fit in the next fifteen in a meeting.

To the stuff that we do and studying resilience, it’s the level of exhaustion, depletion from what you described, that game of Tetris of meeting after meeting. It’s not a healthy thing. I want to pivot for a second here and go back to something you said at the very beginning. You’re talking about some of the emotions of where things stand in life and what a lot of us are dealing with. You use the word lonely. It was a surgeon general that came out with a study about how loneliness is affecting people. I wanted to get your thoughts on that. The remote work situation might be another one of those lenses so you could look at that question about what loneliness is looking like for people through that lens as well.

It’s right there in the name, remote. You’re on your own. You’re alone on an island. Imagine how you felt when you were around other people. Imagine walking by people in an office and still feeling alone. Now, you feel alone. It’s funny. I’ve always done different purpose statements. The one that keeps coming up for me is I want to be the best friend I can be. I blend work with keeping it human and real. What does a good friend do? A good friend is a good listener.

A good friend isn’t afraid to deliver tough love. Tough without love is, “You’re crap.” Tough love comes from intention. I don’t see any difference in our world. When your company is called Courageous, it does give you a little bit of permission to speak the truth if someone is stuck, scared, or playing it safe. I want to be the best friend I could be. If you know me, you know that I’ve always loved people. All it is is trying to be on the hip of people and be there when they need you.

PR Ryan Berman | Courage

Courage: A good friend is a good listener. A good friend isn’t afraid to deliver tough love.


Loneliness is a real thing. It certainly preceded the pandemic and all the changes. Looking at what we’re hearing and what I think is real, there’s anxiety and people feeling more anxious and in a silo. It’s on the upswing. It’s something we have to be aware of. When you think about who’s reading this, there are people that are in leadership roles to be sure.

People are wrestling with this idea of how we get people back in the office where they want to come in. It’s not mandatory. It’s productive and not just checking a box that somebody’s going, “Do you know how much we pay in rent every month to have 30% vacancy places crickets? It’s an echo chamber. We got to get everybody back in.”

There are business reasons for wanting to utilize space and all that stuff. The future of work is here. This is something that was being discussed many years ago. The decentralization and allowing people more autonomy and freedom would be something that was more than just a perk but would become more of a norm. That certainly was accelerated. There’s no turning it back. It’s a question of, “Where do we calibrate from here? What does that look like?”

Let’s go back to the idea of loneliness. Why are people lonely? I read somewhere and this is not my quote. I don’t know where to cite it. “Seventy-nine percent of people in America are coping with mental health issues, 4 out of 5.” Why? What’s going on? Is that loneliness? Is it not feeling like you belong to something and you’re a part of something? I feel like this is a great time.

If you’re a leader reading this, think about your staff. Do they want to belong? Do they want to be part of what you’re doing and what you’re building? Imagine your business is a nation. You have citizens of the nation. Do they want to fly your flag? Are they proud of the flag you’re flying? Do they want to tell their neighbors about what they’re doing? I’m in Patagonia. The citizens of Patagonia know what the national anthem of Patagonia is and they fly that flag proudly. If I’m at SpaceX, I understand that’s a different flag. The citizens are there. They’re passionate about being there.

Part of this is as the leader or president of your citizens, why do people want to be a part of what you’re building? Are they proud to fly that flag? If the answer is yes, you probably have a real culture and attrition is probably lower. Go back to Garry. He is intentional. I have not had a chat with Garry Ridge outside of a coffee conversation when his nephew worked for me years ago. It’s that intentionality. A lot of people talk about do they put their money where their culture is. When you do, you have a shot of losing that loneliness because people feel like they belong.

Things are exacerbating, the kinds of issues and we all have issues. This is not like some people have issues and some people don’t. Let’s call crap on that. Everybody has got mental health issues, frankly, because what we call a mental health issue itself is an issue. It’s not about being cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, clinically depressed, narcissistic, or any of the other terms you used on a pretty regular basis. Everybody is a work in progress, to put it mildly. Everybody is their little brand of crap. By that I mean, we’re all coping. A lot of the ways that we learned how to cope, we learned in childhood. Some of those things we did learn as a result of life and trauma.

We were too young to even be able to process it, even precognitive speaking. Those coping mechanisms are not good in adulthood. They don’t necessarily serve us. My anger as a 14-year-old who needed to deal with bullies that I had since I was 5 years old might have served me in my 18-year stint as a litigation attorney but it was also killing me, which led to my needing to create a midlife pivot instead of a midlife crisis for myself. We have to recognize that we’re all dealing with stuff, processing, and working through things. In these times, a business or an organization where people spend much time can be a catalyst for better health and well-being all around.

PR Ryan Berman | Courage

Courage: Recognize that we’re all dealing with stuff, processing, and working through things.


We can create work cultures of well-being. That’s what our company is committed to doing. That’s an essential element of that. You brought up Garry. I’ll go back to the one you mentioned, which was Tony Hsieh. When I became the CEO of a company, it was about the same size as yours, a little over 100 people. The first book I gave out to the entire company was Delivering Happiness. It’s a killer book and manifesto on culture on having people want to wear the company logo, mantra, colors, and flag around them.

That sense of belonging is a gap filler for sure. If you are still dealing with your life wherever you are, you could be 20 or 60 but you still feel you’re not good enough and your self-esteem isn’t always 100%, you’re not always the most confident person who walks into the room and many other things that are the remnants of our childhood, past and traumas, then be around other people that you can feel, to use a term of art psychologically, safe to speak, be heard, seen, object, and do all those things.

That’s an environment like no other. That’s not like being in fifth grade in a classroom. That’s not the eighth-grade middle school environment. We have an opportunity to create an environment that helps people to process and integrate things in their lives so that they are continuing to grow and be courageous in their lives. That means to deal with fear.

Go back to your Colosseum. The irony here is, “Who needs to go to the Colosseum first but yourself?” Never in the history of life, call me off on this because this is audacious, has there been a time when mental health has been more normalized than now. Growing up, I never said mental health together. I said mental and health.

What this means is although a lot of our kids or next-generation workforce have their crap, mental health is a normalized term for them. Therapy might be a normalized term for them. The real problem is for guys around my age who are probably leading companies who never took themselves to the Colosseum. They put the camera on themselves and figured out how to fix or address the thing that they’ve been suppressing.

Be aware, even.

For the first time, someone introduced me to a possible client to run their offsite. I was on a call with this person and I’m like, “I know. I will not take this person’s money. I can’t help him solve the issue because the issue was him.” It’s the first time in doing this where I was like, “Did I not have the courage to tell him, ‘You are the problem?’”

Did you say that? I’m like, “I’m not calling you. Thank you.” Thanks for being honest about that. I had a conversation and I’m not deflecting this. I’ll say, “I don’t think it’s your job to do that and I don’t even know that it would’ve been appropriate to do that.”

I couldn’t do it. My energy went away like, “Here’s how you know if you’re in the right or wrong place.” There are three types of people in the world, people you gain energy from, people who drain your energy, or people who are energy maintainers. I don’t think energy maintains a great place to be either. I got so small that the air was gone. I knew in my heart why there was a problem. It starts with the leader. For anyone that’s reading this, get that self-awareness. Look in the mirror. What do you need to do to better understand yourself?

We’re full circle on mentorship. When I got to New York City, I’m like, “I will not fail. I’m ready to go. I will live at this office. There’s no way I’m not going to be successful,” and I did. I didn’t have any money to hang out in New York anyway. It was like, “Where’s the free meal at 7:00 PM with a big network in New York City?”

I closed myself off from mentorship until later in my life. Thank God. One of my main mentors is a guy named Steve Light, who was hired by Steve Jobs years ago. The amount of courage and confidence he gives me and his tough love for me is maybe the theme. Mental health gets bigger if you don’t find a mentor or at least acknowledge the mirror on the wall.

Mental health gets bigger if you don't at least acknowledge it. Share on X

You push back if you think this is inaccurate. We’re the worst abusers on the planet of anybody we know we abuse ourselves the worst. Meaning, mentally inside in our thinking. Not only to call you out on yourself but I was so blessed from seventeen to have had a series of mentors, including through my law practice. Some of them would call me out. I won’t digress in this conversation to bring them up but I look back on them and they were hysterical. They were what I needed. I wasn’t making up stories in my head about what this stuff meant.

Mentorship on one level is you’re not alone. Not everybody has ever spoken to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Probably many people have at this point but the first time you ever speak to one, if you have a recollection of it, the first thing I got out of it was there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not unusual. What my head is telling me is, “Why are you so angry?” “Nobody’s as angry as me.” They’re like, “That’s not true.”

To be unaware that you have a tendency to rage, where the rage comes from, or any of that stuff, that’s what’s dangerous. When a mentor is in your life, whether that mentor is a professional that you see and pay and that’s a psychologist, psychiatrist, or someone else, or it’s somebody that takes an interest in you or is assigned to you as to parlay what you said about creating those collision rooms and messy conversations and sessions, that’s a brilliant recommendation.

In that mentorship relationship, you learn that you’re not alone. You’re part of a big club. It’s not a small club. It’s a very big club called Humanity. When we’re born, we’re blessed to enter into that large club. We think we’re separate and somehow we’re different. Other people are different than us. We judge all that but in the end, we’re going to all get the same answer. That’s my view.

Primarily, we’re all afraid. I have a theory. Permission is granted since we’re going to keep it honest. Call me out on this if you disagree. I do think that a remedy for mental health is nothing more or less than clarity. We’re on a path that can be cloudy or when you don’t know what you want. You’re racking your brain trying to find a path on a cloudy day. It’s been a journey to get to my version of clarity but with my mental health, it’s still not like I’m not talking to myself. There’s stuff I’m still navigating but I have clarity about why I was put on this planet. I believe that.

PR Ryan Berman | Courage

Courage: A remedy for mental health is nothing more or less than clarity.


I try to surround myself with people that can help me fulfill that mission. Where it starts is looking at, “What do you truly value?” Every decision I make is through the filter of four values, optimism, creativity, courage, and excellence. That’s the order that they’re in. It’s not even like I’m a robot. These are the filters for where I spend my time. The leader I mentioned on the phone, I didn’t sense optimism or creativity. Maybe you wanted to be excellent. We just had very different ways of going about it. It starts by getting clear on how you happened and why you wired the way that you are.

If you’re running a brand, you probably have values for the company. You’re a brand whether you like it or not. Adam Markel or Ryan Berman is a brand. “What do I value? Have I treated myself like a brand? Why am I wired this way?” One more thing and I’m off the rant. There have been things that growing up pissed you off and you were angry. As an observationalist, my sense is usually when somebody violates your value of yours, even when we couldn’t explain it, anytime you’re angry is a violation of a value.

Your kids lie to you and try to hide something from you. You’re pissed at them or whatever it might be. Anytime you get pissed off, it’s probably a violation of some known or unknown value that you’ve got. Why wouldn’t you get clear on those values so you could understand why your emotions are going the way that they are? I’m like, “I get it. This person’s an ER. As an optimist, that’s going to be hard for me because I see the opportunity. I’m not going to spin for the next three days. What’s the positive?”

For that person, they’re probably like, “Do not call Ryan Berman. He’s going to spin this in a positive, the optimist in him, that he can’t even see it the other way.” The club of humanity is still broken into little clubs. You got to find the thing you’re passionate about. Why you and I work is you recognize the journey you’ve been on and there’s self-awareness. I recognize the journey. I’m on self-awareness. It’s like mutual respect in both directions. Not everybody’s like that. There are a lot of robots out there.

PR Ryan Berman | Courage

Courage: You must find the thing you’re passionate about.


To me, it’s also about energy. You get to a place in your life where what you want to do is be around people who give you energy and that you can give energy to. It’s a wonderful exchange as opposed to an ER. To me, that is a personal choice. You can get to make a personal choice about who you’re spending your time with and what the purpose of that time is. As the saying goes, “We can’t select some people in our lives.” There’s family and folks we have. That’s it and that’s fine but there are a lot of other choices that we get to make.

Why can’t it be a professional choice if I’m a leader of a company?

It can and ought to be. When you’re a leader, you know what it’s like. You’re wanting to create a great team. That’s either something you do consciously or without a lot of consciousness. In large part, everything we’re talking about has a great deal to do with consciousness. That’s something that at least in my experience, happens with time, age, experience, and a lot of things coming apart at the seams.

Maybe in the last section of our talk here, we could talk a little bit about what it looks like when things do come apart at the seams or there’s the feeling that they might even. Part of what’s causing those mental health challenges for a lot of people is this tremendous unknown. There’s so much uncertainty and anxiety about the uncertainty.

I have been around the May poll more times than others. I’ve seen a few things. I’ve watched the economy crater and gone through cycles where it looked like the sky was falling. I’ve watched businesses succeed that I’ve been a part of and I’ve watched them fail. I’ve been a part of those failures and successes like you, Ryan. We’ve been around long enough to have seen some of that stuff. We have gained some level of resiliency from it. I want to ask you about that. I want to find out how you’ve been resilient in your career, reinventions, and life even. We can tackle it from a mental, emotional, physical, spiritual side, or whatever you like.

We’re back to consciousness. There’s a famous Japanese proverb, “Fear and courage are brothers.” You can’t get to the courageous choice without first channeling it through fear. A lot of times when things start to come apart at the seams, we’re so afraid that we suppress the fear versus address the fear. Many leaders think that they’re supposed to have all the answers when sometimes it’s about posing the questions. This is one of those scenarios.

To your point, we’ve both been around the block saying, “I’ve gotten this wrong. I’ve gotten this right. I could get it wrong the next time.” As a leader, what feels like over-communicating is just communicating. If you feel like something is coming apart at the seams at the business, there’s a way to do it with tact and grace. The sky isn’t falling. There’s a way to do it. It’s not hubris or pretend mode. It’s all figured out. It becomes in the sharing economy another thing that’s shared.

Overcommunicating is just communicating. If you feel like something is coming apart at the seams at the business, there's a way to do it wherewith tact and grace that the sky isn't falling. Share on X

Usually, when you surround yourself with the right people, they want to be part of the solution. They don’t want to be told the solution. It’s like, “This is our reality. It’s messy out there.” It’s coming right at it versus burying that fear and the thing that you’re afraid of. It starts there. The more we bury it and the more time that goes by, the harder it is to recover. You think you have to hold onto it. Maybe that’s why we’re lonely. We’re so holding on to the things that we feel are ours.

It’s not about sharing the anxiety but sharing what’s at stake and what we’re dealing and coping with. Normalize it. Don’t make it scarier than it needs to be. To me, part of the leader is acknowledging it can be a shared reality for all. Do it in a way that’s not like, “The sky is falling. It’s your problem. You figure it out.” No, it’s a we problem. That’s how it starts. By no means I am making it sound like a solution is easy. There is a reality to this. Maybe there’s a cutback of people and nobody likes to do that. I would go at it and stay human as you do it versus what a lot of people do is they think they want to own it. They bury it and then it’s too late to address it.

I want to turn it on you in terms of your personal brand and business brand, which is about courage. What’s the connection between resiliency, having made it this far, learning as much as you’ve learned, and all that good stuff? What’s the connection between your brand and resiliency?

The way I’ve tried to articulate this in the past is there are nuanced differences. Let’s agree that we don’t get a say in change. It starts there. Change is happening whether you like it or not. You don’t get a say. Did anyone vote for the pandemic? Probably some biotech or pharmaceutical but realistically, nobody wanted the pandemic. That change happened to us. When change drives us and we have to see what we’re all about, that is an act of resilience.

When you drive change, you’re hitting the gas and you’re proactive about it, that is an act of courage. They’re both great skills that are needed. There are a lot of times when you’re going to have to respond and react to what’s happening in life and resilience shows up like, “Change drives me. How do I respond to that change? Are we going to bury that thing?” “No, we’re going to come together and show our grit.” That to me is resilience. When it’s time to play offense, “We’re going to drive change and be proactive,” that is where courage shows up and that’s it. Change has happened. That’s the primal part. You drive change, change drives you. To me, that’s the difference between the two.

PR Ryan Berman | Courage

Courage: We will be proactive when it’s time to play offense and drive change.


I so appreciate that. I can’t help myself because it’s such a great planned lead into this but the issue with resilience on some levels is for people how you described it. By that, I mean the paradigm of resilience that we use to get through stuff that it’s about grit, grind, perseverance, persistence, tenacity, or any of those kinds of concepts. There’s an element of that that has worked for me in my life. I’m a tenacious person.

Quitting is not on the menu typically unless that’s the only thing left on the menu. All that good stuff and yet that for me was a road to exhaustion where I ended up in the hospital and feeling as though my life was spiraling out of control. Where I was having my mental health challenges was when I continued to play that paradigm represents to me, this grit or grind card over and over again.

The pandemic revealed in so many instances a lot about us, not just even what we’re made of but revealed things that were hidden from view, including to me the fallacy of the idea that we can continue to grind without a cost that we wouldn’t want to negotiate for. To us, resilience work is more about how we recover and that’s where our courage and resilience align well for me and what I love about what you do, what your company does, and what your brand is all about.

It takes courage to take care of yourself, a primal thing because we think that self-care is selfish. People don’t realize that you’ve got to develop resilience before you need it. If you truly want to be able to weather everything you said, which is constant, never-ending plastic change in the environment of your making and most times, not you’re making, then you’ve got to be developing your skills to thrive and be creative in those environments long before the thing hits the fan. That takes a lot of courage to commit.

In the spirit of being courageous, you have a harder sell. You’re in an insurance policy. You need resilience but you don’t know you need resilience until you need resilience.

I don’t think that’s true anymore. It might have been but everybody realizes things, especially with the pandemic, Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, attrition rates, engagement rates, and mental health. People are all kinds of banged up. Don’t we get that already?

I sure hope so from the right leader. I already think courage is a hard sell. You never get 100% of someone’s attention. You get 18% and they’re like, “My wife said this. I got to go pick up my laundry.” They’re like, “Courageous.” “No, we’re fine. Carry on.” What happens if a business is stuck, they’re spinning on something or they feel like, “We’ve been a little too safe and we do probably need to be a little bit braver.” I could see the moment when maybe I get a phone call. You’re right. If you don’t see the power of resilience, wouldn’t you want a resilient workforce? To be honest, you probably know half of your workforce is resilient from the response to the pandemic. I’m making that number up. I’m just

It’s about 64%. That’s based on a data set of about 6,000 leaders. It’s not probably wide enough. You get a lot of people who have made it this far. They are resilient. It’s a question of, “To what extent are you mentally, emotionally, and physically resilient?”

“For what purpose?” The point I was attempting to make on the remedy to mental health could be clarity. “Do I feel like I belong to the cause?” That’s what business is. “Will you go fifteen rounds for something you don’t believe in? Why? You need a paycheck. I get it. I don’t necessarily want that for me.” You don’t know how this boxing match is going to go, especially because I’m not the only one in the ring. Everybody else is in here with me trying to figure this thing out. We will box and fight.

We’re back to, “It’s not the facts. It’s the feels,” as I like to say. When you have the feels and people feel, I will fight. Like you have your spiel, the world needs more courage. If I could be part of that, I could inspire teams to be more courageous and teach them how to do that in a way that’s not a reckless move. That’s a pretty good life. I’m down with fifteen rounds. When you don’t have that clarity of where you’re going, you can see why people are spinning.

But when you don't have clarity of where you're going, you can see why people are spinning. Share on X

When you look backward at things, it’s obvious and that’s why it’s hindsight’s 2020. The world needs more courageous leaders. There are no two ways about it. It’s how you develop your courage and where you can grow it. I had a Navy SEAL on the show a couple of years ago but I still remember him saying, “In the SEALs, courage and fear is contagious. A good or bad attitude is contagious. All these things are contagious. Resilience is contagious.” It’s the way people feel on some level based on where things have netted out in our conversations.

It’s a privilege. When people let you into their organization, look under the hood. You feel the same way but it’s genuinely a privilege. I feel like I’m being brought to the dinner table at someone’s home and I get to watch everything, like the kids fighting and whatever the food that gets served, the whole process. It’s an intimate look. We don’t take any of that lightly. Honestly, it’s an honor. What we understand is that a lot of people don’t feel like it’s a fifteen-round thing. Every day is another round.

If you said, “Can you go fifteen rounds for the cause of the thing you’re passionate about?” You’d go, “Of course.” “Would you not go that distance if it was for something else?” It’s like, “What about the cause that you feel passionate about but every day, there’s no end to the rounds? It’s not fifteen rounds. It could be 1,000 rounds. For whatever that paycheck is, how much do you want from me? My life or soul?”

That backs to energy because if it lights you up, you will go 1,000 rounds. You’re grateful. It’s an honor for them and a privilege. The amount of thought it takes to come to that conclusion is a context because I feel the same way. I’m so grateful when someone reads my stuff. We have a conversation and we connect to the point that they’re like, “I trust you to come in and help me here.” You’re like, “Thank you universe that I’m not crazy. My logic and point of view are landing with others.”

Also, valuable.

PR Ryan Berman | Courage

Courage: If it lights you up, you will go a thousand rounds.


They want to be courageous or resilient. They want their cultures to be courageous. They want to help their people. You get the opportunity to come in, keep it real and be on their hip. It’s not transactional. There’s a relationship there. Part of the journey, even though you don’t know it at the time, is maybe you’re exactly precisely where you’re supposed to be at every phase. When you’re 24, you think you know everything. You’re supposed to be where you are. The most primal way to describe it is everyone remembers their favorite boss and least favorite boss. You have to go through those experiences.

I don’t know if people are reading this thinking we’re saying something like we’re in opposition. I don’t mind being in opposition but this is like a Venn Diagram more than it is anything else because there’s an element, in my view, of resiliency for people where courage has a major component of that. I would imagine that when it comes to being courageous and you’re exhausted, depleted, and anxious, you’ll be less likely to be courageous in that head space or physical space. These things are super compatible.

You have a bit more self-awareness and you are able to look at things, objectively speaking. You go, “I don’t want to run an organization that’s about how I extract. What can I extract from whatever it might be, from the marketplace or employees?” To me, that’s what’s depleting and objected to in the world. To bring it back home to courage, what’s been courageous is people saying, “I’m not going to put up with that. I’ll leave and find someplace else.”

They take themselves with them wherever they go and all that good stuff but they’ll find problems everywhere they go. It takes a lot of courage to push back and go, “I don’t need to feel guilty about going to therapy or attending my kids’ recital instead of being in the office past the point of what makes sense. I don’t need to feel bad that I’m not going to work extra hours even though that might be what is being modeled by some of my leadership.” That takes a great deal of courage.

I have a shameless promotional alert but if we’ve made it to the hour mark, I can go there at this point. Two things. 1) I agree with you. I don’t think we’re on opposite sides of this at all. It’s the school of mentality and they’re two separate courses in the same galaxy. I don’t see how you get to one without the other, frankly. It comes back to awareness and consciousness as a starting point before you get into the rest.

2) This is the shameless plug. I have a weekly dose of courage that goes out every Thursday. I wrote one that we both live but tell me if I’m off. It was about you having to care and not care at the same time. When you deeply care about your purpose, sometimes you have to not care about what other people think.

You don’t have to be crap or you could have grace intact and be thoughtful about what you say and how you say it. What I learned from coming out of story and marketing is that the very best brands on the planet pick a lane. They don’t try to be all things to all people. They’re passionate about what they’re talking about. They’re at peace. I’m not going to be able to help every ER on the planet. It’s an energy drain.

If there’s an optimist with a problem, I’m your guy. I’m trying to direct myself down that path and that’s hard. That’s caring and not caring at the same time. There are 340 million people in America alone. I’m not going to be everybody’s best friend. If I could get 3.4 million or 1% and inspire 3.4 million people to be courageous, I could transfer the light to them and then they can all unlock one person. Now, we’re talking. I try to stay intentional about like, “I can’t save everybody. Let me stay focused on what I’m best in that’s aligned with my values, care and don’t care at the same time.”

I was going to ask you how you maintain your resiliency but I feel like you answered the question. I’ll reflect it to you. Finish it then. I’ll just say managing your own and then tell me.

This sounds good to me.

That’s one of the key ways. People are always asking, “What are the tactical things?” I’m a big believer in something we call a recovery map that creates these zones during the day that are everything from 62nd things to the things that last 30 minutes at most. Tactically speaking, managing your energy is a big deal. In what you described, that’s a big deal. Not setting yourself up for failure by trying to be pleasing to everybody. What a nightmare and hellish experience it is to try to please or be liked by everybody.

I’ve been there.

I’m still recovering from that pleasing nature.

I would challenge you as a reader, “How valuable are your values?” Get to know them and then use those for filters. My gut says your energy levels will be higher if you’re meeting people or working on things that align with those values. The worst word in the dictionary is not moist. That’s up there. It’s tolerable. “I will tolerate that behavior.” That is a violation of who you are. Do the exercise. Figure out your core values and get clear on that. You can’t do it with everybody. You’ve got family but for those you can do it with, I’d be curious to see who aligns with your values and who doesn’t.

Plus that statement, which is, “What are you tolerating?” What a great question to ask yourself on a daily basis, “What am I tolerating? Do I tolerate mediocrity?” It’s a thing you take a walk on, sit in stillness on, prey on, or whatever your thing is. That’s what I do. I get those moments of clarity. The through line for me in our conversation is the word clarity that was brought up. There’s something that is very affirming and regenerates the energy when you have clarity. We could do a lot of things when we have a moment of clarity.

As I heard said once upon a time, “We ask somebody to get married in a moment. We’ll start a war in a moment. We’ll fight in a moment.” A lot of things happen in just a moment. That moment is powerful. If you can create clarity, think about what is possible from that clarity. You don’t do that when you’re going from one matrix event to another, from one meeting to the next. You don’t get a lot of clarity in a day like that. You get wiped out.

To your point, be intentional about creating space to think. Don’t hate to think. Free to think.

Be intentional about creating space to think. Share on X

You’re such a wordsmith and a thoughtful person and leader that I was already knowing. We’d have a great vibe. I love the conversation, every ounce of it, and all the insights you added. If you have questions for Ryan and/or myself, you can go to Leave your question and comment there. I promise as always, it’s not a bot or ChatGPT. It’s going to be one of us that responds to that. Thank you for doing it ahead of time.

If you know somebody that would resonate with some of the things you read here, our request is always to share this show with a friend, a family member, a colleague, or somebody that you think could benefit from it. Lastly, I request that if you feel good about this show, give it a rating. Five stars are always lovely. We love that but whatever rating makes sense to you. That tells the algorithm what to do next. It is the same thing you want. We want it to get out to more people and have more people’s lights turn on, to use Ryan’s lovely words. With that, I will say, chao. Ryan, thank you so much for your time.

Thanks, Adam. It’s good to see you.

I had such a great time speaking with Ryan Berman. I hope you love this episode as well. I’m going to do a little summary here of what I got out of it. I feel like there’s so much rich conversation and shared insights. We wrestled and chewed on a few things together. We talked about loneliness. That is not an easy subject for any of us. We all have bouts of loneliness. We feel it. It’s something we need to pay attention to. It can bring us down. We can feel in need of support. We shouldn’t feel alone.

Even feeling lonely is something we should know, we’re not alone. It’s something we all feel and we feel from time to time. We feel it profoundly at times. In those moments and times, when we do feel it profoundly, we need to have the support of other people around us, people that we feel get us, as Ryan was talking about. Being in an environment where you feel as though you belong is one of those antidotes to that feeling of isolation that is gripping so many people. It’s something that we have to be aware of. We have to look out for ourselves and other people around us when we see it.

We talked about delivering happiness through the concept that the late great Tony Hsieh brought to the table in his formation of a company that many of you have heard of called Zappos. It was a very creative process of creating a culture where people felt as though they belong and they could express themselves. They had psychological safety in the workplace, which was a term that was not in use. It was not a term of art at the time that Tony Hsieh was the Founder and CEO of that company but it has since become the case. It is ultimately very important.

Ryan talked about the collision of ideas. We talked a little bit about WD-40 culture and the collision culture there. We had a wonderful conversation about this Colosseum, not of combat but of collision of messy conversations and opportunities for people to connect, share ideas, innovate, disagree, and all of that, which is what was modeled in my discussion with Ryan.

We know each other. We’re friends and colleagues. It was inspiring for me for him to share his philosophy of business and life experiences around it. We talked about the difference in the distinction, if there is one, even between courage and courage culture in an organization and resilience culture in an organization.

There’s quite a bit of overlap there. Venn Diagram, if you will, things that are not mutually exclusive but collaborate, coordinate, and cooperate quite well in crafting a culture that is effective, that enables people to feel, seen, and heard, have their needs met, be a place where people want to spend time where they will wear the company colors, sing the company anthem, walk the walk, and talk the talk of what that brand is all about.

That’s not an easy thing to create. Its genesis from the highest levels of leadership. I am such a proponent of looking at how we make well-being workplaces and work cultures of well-being, the norm and not the exception to the corporate rule that has existed for so very long. That’s the work that our team is committed to.

When I get out and give keynote presentations on resilience, that’s what I’m talking about, how we debunk this myth that resilience is about endurance and how much you can grind and grit your way through challenges and changes but rather how it is that you ritually recover so that you can go the distance. You always have the capacity to deal with whatever is around the corner, whatever the next wave that’s breaking is, whatever the next uncertainty or unknown is that would create anxiety in the ordinary situation. Stress is not something we shy away from because we have a recovery mechanism to deal with it. As Peter Drucker might have said, “We eat it for breakfast.”

I so enjoyed this conversation. I hope that you did as well and you will share it with a friend, a family member, or a colleague that might need to know some of these things. If you want to take a snapshot or get a snapshot view of your level of resilience in this very moment, there’s no limit to the number of times that you can find this out because it’s different. Hopefully, based on these conversations that we’re curating here and that you’re consuming that your resilience levels are increasing.

Go to In just 2 to 3 minutes, 16 simple questions in 4 specific zones of resilience, you’ll find out how resilient you are mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. I appreciate you being a part of this community. Thank you so much for your support. If you’ve got questions or comments, you’re always welcome to leave them at I’ll be the one to respond to those. For now, I’ll say thank you so much.


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About Ryan Berman

PR Ryan Berman | CourageRyan Berman is the founder of Courageous; a think-feel-do change consultancy based here in San Diego. With more than 20 years working in courageous leadership, courageous ideas and courageous reinvention, Ryan believes your “future is safe with change”. Ryan is a speaker, practitioner and authority on the subject who has been featured in Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc and Forbes. Ryan has spoken on the topic all over the country including at Google, Snapchat, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, Logitech, PNC Bank and charity: water. Ryan also hosts The Courageous Podcast where he talks with thought leaders from around the globe in business, sports and entertainment to uncover what it means to be courageous in today’s world. His book, Return On Courage, shares why companies need to unlock courage now while providing practical tips on how organizations can install courage in their people today.