When Fear Becomes Freedom, with Don Mamone

When Fear Becomes Freedom, with Don Mamone

Dana - 00:00:00:

It's not so much the fear. Fear exists. Fear is a good thing. Fear gets to get welcomed and we get to bring it along with us because fear means that you're pushing yourself past a comfort zone. Fear means that you're striving to do better, greater, more ambitious things than you've ever done.

Don - 00:00:27:

Welcome to Hustle & Gather, a podcast about inspiring the everyday entrepreneur to take the leap. I'm Dana.

Courtney - 00:00:33:

And I'm Courtney.

Don - 00:00:34:

And we are two sisters who have started multiple businesses together. And yes, it is as messy as you think, because we know that starting a business isn't easy.

Courtney - 00:00:41:

I mean, we've done it four times. And on this show, we talk about the ups and downs of the hustle and the reward at the end of the journey.

Don - 00:00:47:

And this year, we're talking to our guests about three important topics in our entrepreneurial journey. Things like team building,

Courtney - 00:00:53:

Work-life balance,

Don - 00:00:54:

And how to recover from tragedy, both in business and in life.

Courtney - 00:00:58:

We're now in this part of the season, we're talking with some incredible guests on how they recovered after tragedy. You know, when you simply can't separate life from business. We'll be talking about how to handle those unexpected moments and how to grow and move forward through those experiences.

Don - 00:01:11:

And today we are speaking with Don Mamone. Don is a speaker, identity coach, and consultant teaching audiences and clients how to reach their maximum potential and impact by discovering and embracing their true identity and supporting companies dedicated to safe spaces that support unapologetic authenticity. Don, welcome to the show.

Dana - 00:01:27:

Hey, thanks so much for having me here.

Courtney - 00:01:29:

You're coming to us from Texas, right?

Dana - 00:01:32:

I am coming at you from Texas. It is really pleasant here right now as we're recording. We have been through the Arctic blast and there is the slightest hint of spring on the horizon. So everything's great. How are you?

Courtney - 00:01:46:

Good. I'd say it's similar. Like we're kind of, it feels a little springy, but we have like, you know, winter, fall, spring, second winter. Maybe spring in North Carolina. So I think it might be in fall, spring. I don't know.

Dana - 00:01:59:

It's just remarkable how you think you're past it and out of nowhere, just get that thing that shows up. And-

Courtney - 00:02:04:

It was 70 last week.

Don - 00:02:07:

Just for a day, though.

Courtney - 00:02:08:

Just for a day. One day. Then it was 30 the next day.

Don - 00:02:10:

Then it was 30.

Courtney - 00:02:11:

Yeah. All right.

Don - 00:02:14:

I know you've been on the show once before. So if you want to hear the full story of Don, go check it out. But just real quick, if you want to kind of dig into a little bit about your background and how you started your first entrepreneurship endeavor.

Dana - 00:02:27:

First of all, to be a repeat guest on a podcast, it's an honor just to be asked first. And then to be welcomed back. I must have done something right. So thank you both so much for having me here. My entrepreneurial journey started in hospitality. As I graduated from college, I took a job in hotels and I loved everything about it. The action, the environment, the camaraderie, the long hours, the late nights, the early mornings. Right up until I didn't. And I was like, you know what? This isn't a lifetime endeavor for me. And I realized I was happiest when I had my camera in my hand. And so I decided that I was going to cross that threshold, take that leap. I became an entrepreneur in 2007. I went full-time in 2009, and my wife and I have been running a successful photography business from Dallas to destinations around the world for about the last 17 years. In the last four or five years, I've found a purpose around being a speaker, an identity coach, consultant to try to help people that are struggling. And I know that one of the topics you're talking about this season is tragedy. And I think, genuinely, I'm not speaking dramatically. That it's tragic when a person doesn't get to fully acknowledge and embrace who they are. And basically, that's the moment when they decide that it's okay to play small and not show up and suffer from imposter syndrome. And that's a tragedy as far as I'm concerned. So I'm on to my newest and greatest adventures.

Courtney - 00:03:52:

And we know a little bit about your backstory, but some audiences may not concerning like kind of like some of those pivotal moments. And it was really surrounding your daughter, Frankie. And you can share a little bit about that with our[inaudible].

Dana - 00:04:04:

Yeah, of course. How much time do you have?

Courtney - 00:04:05:

I mean, unless it's the five-minute version. Yeah.

Dana - 00:04:09:

I don't even think I'll go five minutes. I'm starting to really embrace the art of brevity. So, yeah.

Courtney - 00:04:17:

I wish we'd gone. I've never met you then.

Dana - 00:04:20:

I know. I'm really. I'm really working hard at it. I've always known there was something different about me is kind of one of the ways that I love to lead in. I'm one of those people that when I was a very young person, I was like, wow, this is weird. This is different. This is broken, honestly, is where it sort of ended up. And so I took this thing about me, which I'll tell you about in a minute. This is the cinematic foreshadowing. I buried it real deep. And it wasn't until my wife and I had our beautiful, precious gift of a daughter in 2016 that I started to notice that sort of my anxiety was going up. And I was struggling and suffering from things that I thought were just being a new parent, trying to keep another human alive and my sanity and run a business. And what I realized after about nine months was that it was that I was no longer willing to be the person that would show my daughter. That it's okay to hide who you are. And so in a very warm day in August of 2017, I had a conversation with my wife at a park because I was out of my mind. And I said, let's meet at the park and have a chat. And I told her there was something different about me and that there was part man, part woman, that my gender identity didn't align with my sex assigned at birth. And it took a very long time to fully grasp and understand what that is. And so it was in April of 2021 that I proudly told the world that I was non-binary. And for me, what that means is that there's part man, part woman, part masculine, part feminine, whatever that looks like on a given day inside of me. And I get to 100% acknowledge, accept, embrace, and take ownership of that so that I can change the world.

Don - 00:06:07:

Like I said, so like, so I can change the world. Just matter of fact.

Dana - 00:06:13:

I mean, that's the purpose is to try to help people understand not only more about me, because I think that I'm a very special, wonderful, amazing unicorn that exists. And I think a lot of people don't know what that means yet, specific to gender identity. And the more I talked about it, and I think Dana and Courtney know this because we've had the pleasure of kind of running in the same circles. The more I talked about it, the more people would run up to me and say, oh, my gosh, I see myself in your story. Not specifically because they had a different gender identity, but because they knew what it felt like to say, I'm not allowed to be this thing, share this thing, incorporate this thing into my life and into my business. But now I am. I think the world was looking for permission slips for me to say it's okay. And the irony is that they find that permission slip in themselves. And so that's the purpose. That's the journey.

Courtney - 00:07:07:

I love that. Take us a little bit to like that business part of it. Like, obviously, there's the whole personal aspect of, you know, you coming out to your wife and her accepting you and all of that. Like, that's like one huge, huge aspect. But again, you mentioned and the reason I mentioned for us, you're in Texas, which is, you know, one of the more progressive states out there.

Dana - 00:07:29:

No. Sarcasm.

Don - 00:07:31:

Sarcasm. I'm just saying you didn't have air quotes.

Dana - 00:07:35:

Sarcasm font.

Courtney - 00:07:36:

I know.

Don - 00:07:36:

To be clear, not to confuse anybody.

Courtney - 00:07:38:

Just to be clear.

Dana - 00:07:39:

We're picking up what you're putting down.

Courtney - 00:07:40:

But I think that's what's relevant is that your business is based in Texas and you're like having this huge gender identity that's... You know, like I could imagine

Dana - 00:07:51:


Courtney - 00:07:51:

Different clash of environment and whatnot. So like, what were you going through for that business side of it?

Dana - 00:07:59:

So I think that the mean voices inside of our head that we think are us, that sound like us, and they're in our head that run rampant over us all the time and say the mean things. They say the unfortunate things. They tell you about the awful consequences of what authenticity might bring. We listen to them. Right up until we don't. And I think, it really was the love and the commitment that I had to my daughter to say that I will now relentlessly and forever be the role model I want to be for her. Like I want her to understand and acknowledge that she gets to be, do, love anybody she wants, anything she wants, and that nothing should ever get in the way of that, especially herself. And so, I believed that if I'm going to be this person, it could affect our business. And we're so focused on the fallout. We don't think about the windfall. You know, the immediate thought is, is that I'm going to lose clients. They're going to think this is quote, and I'm going to always say the quotes because I love words like weird and freak and different now, because I think that those are compliments, not otherwise. And so like, this is going to be weird. And so people are going to pull back. They're going to not want to deal. This is an unnecessary complication in their business. And so they're not going to want to hire us. They'll go hire some quote, podcast air quotes, normal photography team. And it sort of beautiful twist of fate, nothing could be further from the truth. And I'll share a quick anecdote with you. As I started to live more authentically, once I came out in April of 2021, and we came out of the pandemic, and we started to see our loyal clients, you know, kind of reach back-out again. Some of them have been following my journey on social media. I'm very unapologetic and very open about my journey so that I can hopefully inspire and motivate others. They routinely validated and shared with me that they saw me. And even if it wasn't like 100%, they understood it all. They wanted to help make sure that I knew that they respected it. And so I showed up for an event. Not necessarily as fabulous as I am right now, but like a little bit more.

Courtney - 00:10:15:


Dana - 00:10:15:

Well, thank you. Full, full blown skincare routine. I was more authentic. So I would say less masculine, more influences on the feminine side. And, you know, the first things they said was, it's so great to see you again. Thank you so much for being here. We're so excited to work with you to include one of our clients or one of our biggest clients, who's a very successful man of faith. And I had this immediate kind of. I guess judgment, like we all get to acknowledge when we feel like something's going to go a certain way and it doesn't, that that might be an issue, right? And again, in this most beautiful moment, they were happy to validate me and say like, I see that you're going through a journey and we're so happy for you and you've never seemed happier and we love working with you and that'll never change. And so I think that the moral of the story is, and if you're listening to the sound of my voice, and I'm pretty sure that you are right now, get a pen and paper out. Because this is one of the things that I like to share people that the intersection of your personal identity and your business growth, is that your brand is an extension of your identity and your marketing is an extension of your voice. And if you ever sever those two things, it means that you're not showing up as authentically as you could. And you're actually creating an opportunity to commodify yourself. And I know that's a big fancy word. All that means is, is that you're just the same as everybody else, right? What you do is the same as everyone else. How you show up is kind of the same as everyone else. And that means that the only variable left is money. And so when we find ourselves in a position where people are like, well, I can get somebody over here to do the same thing you do for less. It's because your brand is not an extension of your identity and your voice is not something that you're using in your marketing. And so they don't see you and they don't hear you. They just, they just want to buy something off a shelf. So, be exactly who you are every day, everywhere you go, no matter who you're with. And that's when you start to find the freedom.

Don - 00:12:15:

So, I mean, I totally agree with that. And I think that especially in our industry, let's just say like the events industry, you kind of, it feels a lot like a dime a dozen. Like you see the same type of photography, you see the same type of words like, hey friends, or, you know, like all the same phrases. And it is hard to start differentiating yourself. But I think that, you know, what you do with your coaching is trying to pull out those things that people maybe have buried really deeply and are afraid to say out loud because of, for whatever reason, like fear of being judged or experiences in the past. How did you talk yourself into getting, because, I'm sure the fear is always there. Like it's never really goes away. So how do you, how do you handle almost like bringing that with you? Like, what did you have to do to get yourself to that point to say, like, this isn't going to control me anymore. I'm just going to do this.

Dana - 00:13:12:

Yeah. Okay. Great question, Dana. And I get the feeling that you asked that question because you've been through some of these processes with me. So number one, I want to acknowledge fear. This is going to be a long journey. So everybody get a beverage, sit down and get comfortable because I'm going to walk you through all this. Number one, we get to acknowledge the fear. I'm working on a book and I was recently reading through some quotes because I was trying to help someone understand that there's an Einstein quote that talks about the idea that if you don't understand something well enough, it means you can't explain it simply. And then he goes on to say that like things should be explained as simply as possible and no simpler. And I think that's amazing because people, I think, are always looking for like a simple solution and it's not always simple. It's the simplest it can be. So this is a little complex. So sit down, get ready and get comfortable. It's totally digestible. Number one, fear. It's not so much the fear. Fear exists. Fear is a good thing. Fear gets to get welcomed and we get to bring it along with us because fear means that you're pushing yourself past a comfort zone. Fear means that you're striving to do better, greater, more ambitious things than you've ever done. Mario Andretti has a famous quote that it says, if you're not a little bit afraid, then you're not driving fast enough. Or if you feel like you're in control, you're not driving fast enough. We get to push the envelope of what we've done. The thing that I tell people that we get to eliminate is the other F word. Not that F word. The other F word is fragility. A lot of people walk through life fragile. They look at the world around them and think, can I do this? Can I do that? Can I say this? Can I say that? Can I, ready for it? Can I be this? Should I be that? That is the moment when we feel like we're allowing the outside dictate who we are. And to answer your question, Dana, one of the things that was really a crystallization for me is, once again, I'm non-binary, proudly so. My pronouns are they, them. I can walk into a room. Express myself visually in alignment with my identity, which means that as a male assigned at birth, I may be rocking the cutest little top knot you've ever seen, really well-applied makeup. Thank you, Emily, for teaching me how to do makeup. And a blouse and jeans and boots with a little heel. And I can be inconvenient for a certain percentage of the people in that room without having said anything or done anything. And that's because our identity affects how we see the world and how the world sees us. And so when I walk into that room, everybody else's experiences and influences that they've been through. They start to form opinions and judgments of me without me saying or doing anything, which means that I have zero charge of that. I'm zero control of that. And so why not be 100% authentic? And allow the people to sort themselves out. Because we all seek belonging and acceptance. When you walk into a room, one of the things that humans seek more than anything is belonging and acceptance. And what I've understood now and what I have 100% decided to be committed to is the fact that I want to belong and accept only in those places and with those people that are going to love me unconditionally without capacity. And if there's anything shy of that, that's a them problem, not a me problem.

Courtney - 00:16:45:

Yeah. I think to be accepted by everybody is to be accepted by nobody.

Dana - 00:16:51:

That's a brilliant quote. And it sort of extends to almost everything from the perspective of if you market to everyone, you market to no one. And I think that, Courtney, you bring up a good point. So many people are so worried about offending or in some way kind of pushing a person away. And in actuality, what I want everybody to understand is, let's walk through it again. If your brand is an extension of your identity and your marketing is an extension of your voice, it operates as a magnet and as a filter. We're going to attract some and repel others. And those that we repel slip through the filter and don't want to be there, and you shouldn't want them there. And so we could use just a really, you know, well-known broad example. If you're the type of venue, like I know the Bradford is, that is 100% committed to inclusivity and therefore host same-sex couples to be married, to be wed, if that's off-putting or in any way an issue for a heterosexual couple that wants to get married there, then I'm confident that your answer is, well, then we're not the right venue for you.

Don - 00:17:57:


Dana - 00:17:58:

That's a broad and bold statement that you get to make that aligns with your identities and therefore your brand. And I think that I went from somebody who was unable and unwilling to even acknowledge who I am to now sort of walking boldly through the world, hoping that the people that have an issue with me make themselves known so that I don't waste my time with them. And my favorite anecdote is this, as I was exploring my gender identity, I would start to do and wear more feminine things. And I went from the person who wouldn't go out and get the male without changing or covering up anything that could be construed as feminine to walking the red carpet in New York City at a gala in the most fabulous asymmetrical sequenced gown, chiffon skirt and heels you've ever seen. And that happened over the course of three or four years. So it takes time. But one of the things I say is it's never easy, but it's always worth it. And when I use absolutes, Dana and Courtney, you got to know that I mean it because an absolute means you're 100% certain that it's accurate every time. And I'm going to tell you that like Dana alluded, it's never easy. It's not like the fear goes away. It's not like, one day you're like, okay, I figured this out. It's not linear. It's very cyclical. And there are times days are harder and certain environments are harder. But I just know on the other side, it's always worth it, both in my personal life and in business.

Courtney - 00:19:22:

Yeah, I feel like as someone who's never been everybody's cup of tea, like I just like came out of the womb that way, that you kind of learn to play small. It's true. I'm not even Dana's ass. But you learn to play small, right? And like and so what you end up doing is kind of losing yourself and then you don't even make those connections with the people that would be your people. And you then you lose it in the middle. You're like, who am I? Like, I was this person. I'm certainly not this person. You kind of get lost in the shuffle. And I think you don't actually, I think this is for business. This is for personal. This is for whatever. When you are playing small to make other people comfortable, it in fact backfires. It makes people even more uncomfortable because they're not experiencing you. They naturally see you as dishonest and inauthentic and they question you, right? So you're just basically missing out on your people by playing small. And I mean, I'm someone who's, I've always had a fairly like big personality and not very PC and whatnot. And I love that about myself. Everybody else doesn't, right? Some people do. Some people absolutely love that about me.

Dana - 00:20:26:

Some people do.

Courtney - 00:20:26:

Yeah. And I find it, I find those people and they're like, wow, this is a great conversation. Or I had no idea you were like this, but it's like, you can't let the fear of what somebody else thinks about you or their opinion affect who you know you are to be. Because ultimately, what's it matter? You're never going to please anybody. And if you're not even pleasing yourself, who are you pleasing? You know?

Dana - 00:20:51:

And it's a learned trait and behavior that starts at, I mean, you know, my definition of identity is that it's like our foundation for personal development and social interaction, which means that it starts, like you said, Courtney, like you come out the womb with certain things that are innate to you, and then you develop things over time. And, you know, one of the things that we develop over time is the tendency to say, okay, well, these caregivers, these people around me, these people whose opinions, podcast air quotes, are important to me. Expect me, want me, need me to be this person. And so I'm going to be this person. And, you know, there's a million examples of it, but one of my favorites is like when somebody is assertive. And stands up and says what they believe in a respectful way and in a way that is in alignment with their truth and their belief. They get kind of pushed down. Why are you being so mean? Why are you being such a B word? Like whatever the case is. And so people learn to lower that down. Or they don't, and they accept and acknowledge that that person has some sort of internalized trauma or baggage, and they don't like people that are direct and assertive. And so the world wants to put us in comfortable containers that we're used to. And the minute you allow someone to shift you and to put you into a container that is not your container, it is a container you don't fit in, is a very sad day. And so I want to encourage everybody that's in the audience right now to remember that this is a hundred percent bidirectional relationship, because we're not only walking through the world and other people are trying to put us into containers, but we are trying to compartmentalize and organize the world. I just wrote, I was writing in the book yesterday, I'm super excited about it. So I'm going to make, I'm going to mention it a lot that, you know, do you ever walk through the world and feel like it's organized chaos? It's because it is right. The world gives you chaos and it's your job to organize it. And so it makes sense that we would have these containers. But the problem is when we limit our containers to only the things that we've got experience and influence with. Then what happens when we meet somebody that we don't align with that shared experiences with or anything like that? We just, we have no place to put them and so we just try to shove them into one of ours and that's not okay. So what we do is we develop compassion and empathy and an open heart and an open mind and emotional maturity and psychological flexibility. Like that's how we grow and that's how our containers become much wider, much broader. And you're going to draw people to you. You're going to have people come to you. And I say with a great deal of humility and pride. You know, I have a lot of people say like, I've never had, like when I talk to you, I feel like you see me and I'm like, that's because I don't have containers anymore. I don't try to put people in places. I just accept them for who they are. And I put them in the container of human.

Don - 00:23:45:

Yeah, I think it's like, I always struggle with like, I mean, you know me very well. I live in a very black and white world. And I think there is definitely like a very blurred line here. And, you know, the many conversations and times I've had with people that I think, yes, we should always say what we... Our truth or whatever the case may be. But I also have developed as I got older, the almost the responsibility to allow somebody to be that person to say what they want to say, right? And maybe I'm the person that got offended by what they said for whatever reason. And it's their truth. It's their it's what they believe. It's what they are going to live and die by. And in the past, I've always just been like, you know what? Like, that's who they are. I'm not going to change them. And it's more now it's like, are you willing to have a conversation about this? Like, I know this is your truth and I know this is what you believe, but like, just so you know, like when you said this, this is kind of how that made me feel like from somebody on the other side. Doesn't mean that you're wrong. It doesn't mean you can't say those things, but I just want you to see a different perspective and a very, very small, like totally. Example is, I'm part of this group and they always made this reference of being a part of the group. So I said, oh, they drank the Kool-Aid. I drank the Kool-Aid. This person drank the Kool-Aid, drank the Kool-Aid, whatever. And I never really thought anything. I used to say, I never thought anything about it. It was just part of like the lingo that we said. And I had someone pull me aside and said, you know, I don't know what this means. I don't know why you guys say this. She said, but it makes me feel very uncomfortable. Like it makes me feel like, like, no, she's like, it makes me feel like I'm entering into a group that I don't understand. Like I'm because she's like, the reference is the people who drank the Kool-Aid all decided to commit mass suicide. That's what they did. And I never looked at it that way. And I was like, oh my gosh, like I didn't even think about it. It wasn't like it offended her. And it wasn't even like, you know what I mean? It wasn't just that anything about it. And so, I think it's so important that we automatically don't write people off, like, just because and we do it often, especially if their truth is so different from our truth, right? Especially if it's not PC, especially if it's not the norm, that we take the time to say, like, can we talk about this? Like, let me understand your perspective a little bit more and understand like, why this is your truth? What is your experience? How can I be a better person, because of that interaction.

Dana - 00:26:17:

You make such a valid, important point. And the way that this plays it out in my world is, you know, I'm very assertive and I'm very public about my journey and about my commitment to the LGBTQIA2+ Community and to basically everyone's ability to be exactly who they are, no matter where they go, no matter who they're with. And what that does is that opens me up to a great deal of criticism, and in all candidness, hatred. And I had somebody say to me, you know, I've seen, I've seen some of your interactions online. Like, how do you protect yourself? How do you deal with the hatred? And here's the irony. I don't see it as hatred. I see it as that person's truth. I see it as that person's lack of experience, knowledge, understanding. And I go back to the unbelievable quote of like, we don't drive out darkness with more darkness or hatred with more hatred. We need love and we need light. And so typically what I do is I look at that person and I say, okay, I don't know what happened to you. I don't know where you came from. And I don't know where you learned this kind of intolerance and this inability to understand who I am or respect who I am, but I hope that you find the joy and the freedom and the love and the light that I found because In that moment, we get to acknowledge that truth is perception, right? So when I meet someone who says to me, listen, I don't need to hear all your snowflake BS. If you've got these parts, you're man. If you've got these parts, you're woman. There's nothing in between. If it's my job in life to prove them wrong, to say that my truth is the truth, then I'm going to basically just go through life fighting everything all the time. And so I don't. What I say is I can certainly see how you might believe that, just like people used to believe that the earth was flat long after, people have sailed around it, and there's actually even pictures of it. So cool. Just do me a favor and do that over there, right? And I just don't allow them to kind of influence the way in which I show up. Because if that were the case, then I wouldn't be able to be who I am. And so, you know, I joke around sometimes and I say, listen, I started a brand called The Unapologetic Rebel. That doesn't mean that you don't ever say, I'm sorry. That doesn't mean that you're always, podcast air quotes, right. What it means is you never apologize for who you are, because who you are is who you are. It doesn't mean it's anarchy. You don't get to say whatever you want free of consequence. I don't walk into rooms and just kind of like blurt things out. But we get to acknowledge that when something aligns with us, when something speaks to our identity, like this person who came up to you that had the courage to say, listen, this is having an impact on me. It's on my heart and in my head to share it with you. You could have been like, well, listen, I'm sorry. You don't like that. And you could have brushed it off, but you clearly didn't because you're emotionally mature and psychologically flexible to say, huh, what a great viewpoint. I get to now look at that. And so when we do that in our business and our personal lives, people will be attracted to us because they'll feel like they can come and talk to us, that they can come and share their opinions and exert their influence on us in a way that will hopefully be the betterment of the organization and us as individuals.

Don - 00:29:42:

Yeah, I think it's so interesting because you came out in 2021, right? So I think it was 2019, 2020. Me and Sam were driving down to the beach. We were just having a good old conversation. We were just talking about anything and everything. And I looked at him and I said, you know what I don't understand? I don't understand, like, transgender. I don't understand non-binary. I don't get it. Like, not from, like, a judgment standpoint, but from, like, I'd never met anybody. I didn't. It was something so out of my ability to understand and grasp it. And, you know, we were just chatting about it. And then a couple years later, we, I mean, I had met you before, but I had met you as a boy, a man, essentially. And not a boy, a man.

Dana - 00:30:22:


Don - 00:30:23:

But I remember the first time I sat in your session and it was like just this overwhelming sense of like, just it wasn't as compassionate as empathy, but it was understanding like, oh, wow, like, okay, I get it. Like, I can have these conversations. And, you know, at this time, we're having conversations with our kids, because our daughter had a non-binary friend, and she was trying to I kept on calling them a her and she was just like, yelling at me, I said, hey, them. And I'm like, I'm trying, I'm trying, you know, like, I just can't remember. I think that that is what's so amazing about it. When we feel empowered to be authentic and to be ourselves. There is so much that compassion, empathy that espouses from so many people, because I really think at the basic level for a majority of humans, they just want to understand each other. They just want. They want to accept another person, they don't want to look at someone with hatred or confusion, they just want to be like, Oh, cool. That's how you work. That's awesome. Like I get you. Let's have a let's talk, let's have a conversation, whatever. And so I feel like it's such a brave thing to do. But I think it's so needed. It's such a, I can only imagine if we all lived our life authentically. What kind of world we actually would have.

Dana - 00:31:33:

Like when I say that I changed the world, that's what I want the world to be. Like, I don't want there to be courage. I don't want there to be bravery. I just want there to be people living their lives as they are. Go ahead, Courtney.

Courtney - 00:31:43:

But I think when you do a hard thing, like, and I think everyone has their thing. And I think oftentimes people are pushed towards hard things because you got back to like the fear of like, how do you deal with the fear going through this? There comes a point like when you're really at a crossroads in your life where you're like, if I don't do this. The personal toll it's going to take is going to be so much worse than if I do do this. Like, I don't have a choice, right? And that's really how I felt like at my point of divorce of, you know, I was married to Mikhail for 21 years where it was like, if I don't do this, like I'm going to suffer. Like I can already feel my body breaking down. My blood work's coming back badly. You're never going to choose me and the kids. Like I had to choose me and the kids and I don't care. And I, and I spoke to the fear. I spoke it out loud. I said, my fear is that you're going to take half of my business. So you don't deserve it. You're going to leave me in a spot where I can't support the kids in the way that I know that I need to. And this is my fear. And, you know, much to his credit, he's like, I won't do that to you. You know, like, that's not where this is going to go. And I spoke it outside and we had a conversation and whatnot. And, you know, and I'm not saying it was easy, but there was just like this point of like, no return. Like, it has to be this way. Like I have to go forward. I'm sure you had that point. Like I'm not, I cannot live my life any longer in this lie. Like I cannot live in this existence. It's taking its toll on me. And I'm not even gonna be able to be the parent, the spouse, the whatever it is I'm supposed to be if I continue on in this way. But I think that oftentimes when you're going through those things and it feels really isolated, like it feels like a lonely, like you have to do the work. You have to take the steps. It's only you. You know, you can be supported by your loved ones, but it's actually you who's taking those moves forward and making those big steps. But people are watching that. And there's just something really confirming about it when you get to share your story with somebody else, somebody else that you admire or somebody else that looks like they're kicking ass and taking names and whatnot. And they're inspired, like, huh, like this is what I'm going through in my life. And like, you're helping me to that next level. You're helping me, like, you did that. I can do that. You know what I mean? I think there's something about just that human existence in general, that we go through these hard things. We go through these tough times. We go through these things that some people look at like are impossible, but it inspires somebody else to then do the impossible in their life too. And we're all getting to our more authentic, true, true and beautiful to put it in Glenn and Doyle's words, right self. You know?

Dana - 00:34:00:

Yeah. So I'm going to largely agree with you and slightly disagree with you. And the only way in which I'm going to do that is like, I do believe that the pressure tends to increase when we're living in authentically.

Courtney - 00:34:14:

For sure.

Dana - 00:34:15:

When we're in a circumstance that doesn't align with our identity, with who we are and with how we want to be, right? The pressure increases, I will say that there's always a choice. And that's kind of the only thing that I would say, like you're saying that like, that yes, the pressure increases. And I just want everybody to know that you get to choose and to use your example. There's lots of people in this world that don't get divorced. There's lots of these people that feel like they can't continue on. So they have an affair.

Courtney - 00:34:47:

Okay, true.

Dana - 00:34:47:

Or if you've ever watched Forensic Files, kill their spouse. Like, I'm not going to lie. There's people out there

Courtney - 00:34:53:


Dana - 00:34:54:

That basically the only choice is that you get to make the choice. And I think that's so important. And I think that, yes, there is no question that when we find the courage to welcome the fear, stop fighting the fear. Welcome the fear and acknowledge it and be like, cool, glad you're here with me showing me that I'm pushing past my comfort zone. Let's do this together. I'm going to do this with the fear. Other people look at it and go, oh my God, I can't believe you're doing that. Now, with that being said, I want to acknowledge something right now. I meet all kinds of people in my life. And I think Dana, you and I have had this conversation because I think it's a really fun moment for me in both a happy and sad way. Because I don't believe in the binary. I believe everything is fluid. Dana and I are working on that. Okay, listen. Two things can be true at the same time. So I'll meet people that largely fall into two categories. Like, don't get me wrong. All walks of life, all kinds of people. I have this, the one that you're talking about, Courtney, that look at me and go, oh my God, you're so brave and courageous. I am now inspired to be brave and courageous as well. I look up to you and I see you as inspirational. I am now going to go out and do my hard thing. And I meet people who aren't ready for that yet. And they get resentful and indignant. And that's typically when I find people saying things like, who do you think you are to dress like that? Who do you think you are to thumb your nose at society? Society's gender-based and you thinking you can just come along and change that is ridiculous. And the funny thing about it is that really encourages me more because I look at them and I say, I'm really, I understand life's hard. And I really understand that you're not there and you're not ready yet. And that I basically represent to you all the ways in which you're insecure and not confident and can't act out in that bold, confident, brave, courageous way to do what it is and be who you are. And that's okay, but you're not going to stop me and you're not going to hold me back. So I think it's important to acknowledge that we meet both the ones that are lifted up and want to be courageous and the ones that look at us and go. You crazy girl.

Don - 00:37:22:

Oh, sure. And it's so, so interesting when you... because social media, it's like, it's such an easy way to judge people so quickly. And you have the people who aren't afraid to like, put that judgment out there by, you know, our keyboard warriors or whatever, and say, whatever. But you know, all of us judge other people all the time. Like you see a picture, you see somebody and there is a thought that pops in your head. And what I have, as I started kind of, you know, putting myself out there a little bit more, my biggest fear is like, just that, right? The constant, like, comments, conversations, whatever. And, and it made me realize that, really, unless you have like those just, you know, you know, crazy trolls or whatever. But people who know you, that know who you are on some level, who think they know you and want to make a comment. A lot of it's just a reflection of what they're feeling. A lot of it is just a feeling of them feeling like maybe, oh, I should be doing this or I want to be doing this. Or they feel judged by whatever is said there that like, oh, well. They had this figured out and I haven't figured it out yet, but you know, you actually have it wrong and I have it right. Like all of these kind of dynamics in it. And it made me now when I'm like, you know, doom scrolling, and I see something and I have that thought, I'm like, why do I think that? Why was that my first thought about this person? Is it because I feel like I should be making homemade bread for my children? Like, because my initial thought is like, what does that person do? How do they have the time, they obviously had the easiest life in the world, like all this stuff. And it's like, no, like I at that moment, I was feeling like I wasn't doing enough for my family, for whatever reason, because I've been super busy and super overwhelmed. And nothing to this person that, you know, likes to make homemade bread and butter or whatever, right? Like-

Dana - 00:39:07:

Yeah. That the world holds up a mirror to us a lot of the times. And instead of looking in that mirror, we're ashamed and we get upset and we turn our eyes and we create a narrative. And I think that the freedom we find as humans is in acknowledging that. And I think that you've done a beautiful job of explaining human nature, human tendency, and the fact that I believe that we foundational don't tend to change, right? So we've talked about this quite a bit, Dana, like who we are from when we developed as a human, as a baby and moving up, there are certain things about us that we just can't change. And ironically, you've pointed out the one that I'm the least proud of, is that I'm a very judgmental human. I know exactly where it comes from. I've unpacked it a million times over. It is something I dislike about myself. Now, again, if you're listening to the sound of my voice, and I'm pretty sure that you are. I want you to understand something. We get to not like things about ourselves, but we still love ourselves unconditionally without capacity. So I don't like that I'm judgmental, but I love myself unconditionally. It's just a part of me. And so what I've done is, like you so beautifully exhibited, Dana, I replaced curiosity with judgment. Excuse me, the other way around. Judgment with curiosity. Like when I feel that judgment, boiling up inside of me. I twist it and I say, okay, why? I'm so curious as to why I looked at this post and thought this thing or heard this story and thought this thing. And what it does is it doesn't make it about the other person. It makes it about me, which I don't know if you know this about humans, they don't oftentimes like to do that. Nobody wants to, or very few people want to actively look inside themselves and be like, what does this say about me? Because when we shine that light in, we oftentimes find all the cobwebs and all the skeletons and then they get to be processed. And that's why the work that I do is some of the hardest work that people will do. But it also means that it's one of the most beautiful and the rewards that they get. And I kind of want to throw this in here because I know the theme of this season. And I know that what y'all are talking about is triumph and tragedy and things like that. And I don't know that we've used the word tragedy. But if you've been on this podcast for the last 30 or 40 some odd minutes, and you're wondering, like, where's the tie? Everyday Battles. Every time we are put in a situation where we're like, am I allowed to be who I am in my work, in my life, in my business, in my marriage, as a parent, as a child. It's tragic. It's tragic to feel like you get to walk into a situation and be like, I don't know that I'm allowed to be this. And so we get to acknowledge that and we get to find ways. Where instead of saying like, am I allowed to be this? You just say, this is me. How do I ensure that everywhere I go and everyone I'm with. Seize me. I want to open the door to another conversation, if that's all right with you, because it's my favorite. It's one of my favorites. When I spoke this summer, and I know I think one of the two of you were in the room with me, I had a beautiful woman at the very end of my talk, which we were talking about purpose. And the reason I bring up this particular question, because I found that it's, I asked it of the person. And I think it's the most tragic question ever. And I'll never ask it again. She said to me, what do you tell people that suffer from crushing imposter syndrome? And my response to her was, do you feel like you're enough? And I went back and I was, I record my talks and I go back and I go, what was I, what was I thinking? Why would you ask that question? That is the single most tragic question that people ask themselves, and they probably ask themselves that every day, or doubt themselves every day. And the reason I'll never ask that question again was after like two seconds, I was like, that's a no. The fact that you thought about it for that long tells me that you are questioning whether you're enough or not. And I went on to, I think, hopefully build her up. But what I realized after the fact, when I watched it is that's not a question that people ever get to ask. Because intrinsically, as humans, we are enough. Broken, damaged, flawed, in progress, we are enough. And so it's a declarative statement. And so, I would say that when we talk about identity, when we talk about our businesses, when we talk about showing up and shining bright and being loud and being clear and taking up massive spaces everywhere we go. The most tragic thing that holds us back is we don't feel like we're enough. And so let's maybe talk about that or how you feel about that or what that means to you, because I want your audience to walk away from this podcast, if nothing else, saying that they'll never ask that question of themselves again and that they are enough. And that is a very empowering declarative statement.

Courtney - 00:44:12:

I feel like it can go two ways. Like, I think there's people who feel like I'm not enough. And there's people who are like, I'm too much. You know?

Dana - 00:44:20:

That's no, that's no better, Courtney, because again, it's like a situation where you're like, I'm not enough or I'm too much, which means you'll never be just be, just be whatever you are is the right amount. And I, in fact, was having a conversation with somebody at a workshop recently. And they were like, somebody told me I'm too much for professional. Like I need to, like I'm bright and bubbly. And I'm, so I always walk into a meetings and I literally think to myself before I walk into the meeting. Now don't be too much. And I'm like, wow, what a sad day when you feel like I just, before I walk in this room, just don't be who you are. And so great, great point, Courtney. Like don't ever ask yourself whether you're enough and don't ever tell yourself you're too much. Just exist. Just be. Dana, you were going to say?

Don - 00:45:04:

Well, I just, I look at it. I actually, when you say that you think that you're too much, you're very much saying that you're not enough because you're not good enough. You're not quiet enough. You're not following the rules enough. You're not doing whatever it is that the box that you're trying to fit into, you're not doing it good enough for them for it to be palatable or whatnot. So I don't think there's ever a point when you can say, if you're saying I'm too much, you are saying you're not enough of whatever that person needs of you. Like it's,

Dana - 00:45:37:

Yeah, you're saying you don't fit. You're not right. And you know, for those of you that are logical and pragmatic, they're on this call and, and, you know, we're talking about really high level strategy. This is emotion. This is, this is identity. This is who we are. I want you to replace the, are you enough question with a quantity of something. So I guess what I'm getting at is you intrinsically as a human in your own identity, there's not a quantity there. You are, and you're beautiful just as you are. You're enough just as you are. And what you can say is, do I have enough confidence to do this? Do I have enough experience to do this? Do I have enough money to do this? You get to start looking at the things in your life that are quantifiable as opposed to qualitative. Qualitative says you're a human. You're human. You're showing up. You're fighting the good fight in this world. You are enough. Now, if I say I've been invited to go on this podcast, do I have enough confidence to do that? Do I have enough experience to do that? Do I have the ability to share knowledge? Then you can start evaluating those things as you make decisions in life. But I think far too often, people walk into circumstances and feel like, I'm either going to do this or not do this, whether I feel like I'm enough or not. And that is a fallacy that they get to stop doing. And to Courtney's point, they also walk into situations are like, well, I don't get to show up how I really am because I'm too much. You know, if that were the case, then I would never show up anywhere ever because I'm a lot. I will say I'm a lot, but I'm not going to say that I'm too much. And you know what? There's a lot of people that are here for it. There's a lot of people that, again, I'm a magnet for, that I attract, that are like, we want more of what you've got. And that's great. And that's who I'm going to be.

Don - 00:47:24:

Yeah, I mean, I think it's a tough question. I think that I'm always curious because I've talked to my grandmother many times about just the kind of world that we live in and how we do so much. And she never struggled with that ever. Like she just didn't struggle with being like, she felt loved enough, you know, by her husband. She felt like she was an amazing mother and caretaker. And she can tell you all the things that she has accomplished in her life. And, you know, and from someone who has a career to my grandmother who didn't really have a career, you know, her career was her home and raising her children. The confidence that she exudes that she was exactly where she was supposed to be doing exactly what she was supposed to do and that it was so fulfilling to her. And it made me look back and say, why is that? Like, why did you not have this crippling feeling of anxiety and not feeling confident and all of these things that we feel, all of us feel every single day. And I think that there is such value in the fact that she once surrounded herself around people that consistently told her that she was great at what she did. And she shut everything else out. And I know it was a different time. Like they didn't have social media, didn't have the internet. They didn't have all those things coming at them. But there is something about living in the real world and getting out of what I consider social media being the fake world, but living in the real world. And when you are in the real world and you are surrounding yourself around all of these people, it's amazing how different you view yourself as opposed to when you live in this fake world of all these other people trying to tell you how you should feel.

Courtney - 00:49:07:

You're constantly told we're not enough, though. Like, you should be doing this. And you should be doing this. And you should be looking like this and you should be dressing like this. And, oh, you need to have that. And if you don't have this, like, there's all of that that was just was given to you in very brief spurts in between, you know, like soap opera during the day or whatnot. Like, but now it's like constantly like barraged at you like that. You're not enough. You're not enough. You're not enough. And I think it takes an immense amount of like strength and willpower and confidence to say, like, I'm not I'm not listening to that. You know, like, I'm turn that out.

Dana - 00:49:38:

It does take a great deal. And so my favorite saying to that is stop shooting all over yourself. Like people should all over themselves all day. Yes. Social media makes it harder, but the world I live in, I said this to Emily yesterday, because part of the book is about representation. It's about seeing ourselves in the world. So right, identity, it affects how we see the world and how we are seen, but it also sort of has this impact on because of my identity. I almost never see myself ever anywhere else. San Francisco, New York, bigger cities like Chicago, but in Dallas and in most environments, I will go out and I will be the only one of me, podcast air quotes of me, meaning like non-binary. That is both sort of this really interesting confluence of like, I'm a unicorn. There's not that many unicorns out there. And I really wish I'd see myself more so that I could kind of like give myself a little peace sign and be like, hey, I see you. Like, it's cool that we're here. And I think the reason that's kind of cool is anecdotally, did y'all know that TSA is gendered? If you go through the TSA scanning machine in general boarding, it basically, they have to say whether you're male or female because it searches your anatomy for hidden things. And so I have TSA pre-check. So I walked through the magnet, but I traveled with my nephew last year and he doesn't have TSA pre-check, which meant I had to go through the general thing. And I was both proud to go through it and whatever happens happens because it's who I am. But I was also dreading a little bit. And as I thought, what happened was they pressed one button and they scanned it and they went, oh, sorry, I pushed the wrong button and they scanned it. And in both situations, there was a podcaster quotes, there was an anomaly. And she looks at me and she just had this kind of like look on her face. And I was like, it's okay, honey, there's no button for me. And she said, oh, okay. And I said, you'll just probably have to have somebody come. Do the wand or do whatever. And she goes, oh, okay. Who would you like to have do that? A man or a woman? I said, it makes no difference to me. And it was in that moment when I said, like, there's no button for me. There's no button for me, which means there's very few opportunities where I should do this or should do that. Does that make sense? So like, like, you know, boys should have short hair. Girls should have long hair. I'll have whatever hair I want because I'm, I'm in this special unicorn style place. And what I want people to hear when I tell this anecdote and tell this story is, as a human, there's no button for them either. There is no, and I've said this before, like if there's 8.6 billion people on this planet, I believe there's 8.6 billion genders. I also believe there's 8.6 billion buttons and that every one of them gets to be a bright star in the sky and them shining bright doesn't have any impact on my ability to shine bright. And so, I guess I've eliminated the idea of should from my life because I just don't accept that anything or anyone outside of myself gets to dictate what I get to do. And Dana has been subjected to this. I don't say have to, I don't say need to, I don't say I should. Everything I do is something I get to do because it's an opportunity for me as opposed to an obligation. So good point about the shoulding. Stop shoulding all over yourselves and just be and do based on your core values and metrics. Again, step into that freedom.

Courtney - 00:53:01:

I totally love this conversation and I feel like it could go on for hours and hours and hours.

Dana - 00:53:07:


Courtney - 00:53:07:

Yes. But I love your perspective of getting back to our topic with tragedy and that businesses, people and businesses need to be able to be their authentic selves. We need that authenticity out there. Your business needs it. You need it. And the real tragedy is when you're questioning. Whether you can be it or not.

Dana - 00:53:28:

And just to step into language again, your businesses get to be authentic -

Courtney - 00:53:35:

Sorry, I haven't gotten the guy.

Dana - 00:53:37:

-to stand out. That's okay. You haven't had as much experience as Dana has had. But that's okay. I, I, and I will say that it seems small, but my favorite example of it was I get to pay my taxes. Very few people would ever say that. Most people would say like, oh God, I can't believe it. I have to write the check today. I have to write the check because I need to pay my taxes. It just sounds like something you dread. And it's sort of an exercise in opportunity and gratitude at the same time, right? Every time I get ready to do it, I tell Emily, well, I get to pay our taxes today because we're entrepreneurs. And because of that, we get to live a life that we love and we get to be present for our daughter. And I don't have to get up at six and leave and come home at six and kiss my daughter right before she goes to bed. That is a get moment. I get to pay my taxes. So it's small. It's small change, but it's beautiful. Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Courtney - 00:54:29:

Yeah. I love that. I love that perspective. Well, tell our listeners where, like, what they can do with you, where they can find out more from you. I'm sure they're going to want to.

Dana - 00:54:39:

I hope so. So the sky's the limit. You can follow me on all the socials, I'm @DonMamone everywhere. I try to share some inspirational things that will hopefully uplift you and help you with your language and your experience. If you want to work with me a little bit more personally, I'm a keynote speaker. I would love to come to speak to your organizations. I also am a coach. And so I do things like authenticity audits that help you both in your personal life and in your business, make sure you're showing up as you are, or as you want to. I do a 90-day coaching program. So if you're really genuinely committed to being the most truest version of yourself and you stop wasting time suppressing and hiding and repressing those things about you. And you get to harness all that to become the most authentic version of yourself. Then you can find me @DonMamone online and you can ask Dana. She can send you all my contact information as well.

Don - 00:55:30:

And you have a book coming out, right? Well, hopefully.

Dana - 00:55:33:

I do

Courtney - 00:55:33:

I didn't hear. I didn't know. Was there a book coming out?

Dana - 00:55:36:


Don - 00:55:37:

End of year, right?

Dana - 00:55:37:


Don - 00:55:38:

Is that what you're hoping for?

Dana - 00:55:39:

Yeah. End of year is what I'm hoping for. So, you know, I have actually, quick anecdote, right? In our identities, we identify with and as things. And so I've always identified with writing. I've always loved to write. And it was in the turn of the year when I was like, you know what? I'm not just a writer. And I hate even saying that. I use the podcast air quotes. We're not just anything. We're amazing in everything we do. But I was like, I'm not just a writer. I'm an author. And in order to really feel like I stepped fully into that, I feel like I get to write a book. And I had written some things and drafted some things. But the commitment change for me was I basically shelled out the money to hire an editor and a coach and a publisher. And so I am I just checked it because the things that we measure and report on progress more than anything. And so I'm tracking I'm 16,000 words in to my first edit. And so I'm hoping that by quarter three, it will be in a final developmental edit. And the working title, which is, as of yet, undetermined, will be hitting bookshelves and your Kindle quarter four of this year. So stay tuned.

Don - 00:56:46:

Well, we can't wait to promote it and send it out and read it ourselves. I'm sure it's going to be amazing.

Dana - 00:56:51:

Well, you guys will both be getting an autographed copy because I have an undying appreciation and love for both of you.

Courtney - 00:56:57:

Ditto. I'm so glad we got to talk to you today.

Dana - 00:57:01:


Courtney - 00:57:11:

To learn more about our hustles, visit us on the gram @C&DEvents, @TheBradford&C, @anthem.house, and @hustleandgather. And if you're interested in learning more about our speaking, training, or venue consulting, head to our website at hustleandgather.com.

Don - 00:57:24:

And if you love us and you love this show, we'd be more than honored if you left a rating and a review.

Courtney - 00:57:29:

This podcast is a production of Earfluence. I'm Courtney.

Don - 00:57:31:

And I'm Dana.

Courtney - 00:57:32:

And we'll talk to you next time on Hustle & Gather.