Man Of The Week – Dean Smith

There are many moments in life where you feel like the rug was pulled from under you, or when someone shares a ground-breaking perspective on life that you’ve never considered. These moments come from the people around us, but also from within. A lot of the time, doing your own personal reflection can also help reshape the way you see the world and how you want to show up by asking yourself the tough questions. For Dean Smith, his tough questions were “What can I create, how can I create it, and how will it serve others?”

Dean is our newest Man Of The Week and boy does he an incredible and powerful story. A man who believes in being of service to others, showing love and support for those around you, and forgiveness being critical to his success. A man who’s weathered his fare share of life’s storms, from having his mother murdered to rekindling his love and bond with his wife Molly, Dean personifies what it means to love and connect with people regardless of their performance. Today he is a speaker, coach and the Director of Executive Coaching for the Og Mandino Leadership Institute. Check out the rest of his story below!

Age: 42 years old

What do you do? (Work)
Keynote Speaker / High-Performance Coach / Minister

Why do you do it?
There’s nothing more fulfilling than helping someone discover a new possibility for their life. For many years I lived “survival focused.” I internally asked, “why me?” My life changed course when I began asking, “What can I create, how can I create it, and how will it serve others?” My purpose, passion, and fulfillment is found in utilizing all my life’s experiences, challenges, and successes to serve others.

How do you make a difference in the world? (Work, business, life, family, self)
I’m grateful to be the Director of Executive Coaching for the Og Mandino Leadership Institute. This fancy title means I get to assist successful professional’s overcome challenges and reach consistently high levels of personal and business performance.

What are 3 defining moments in your life?
– In sixth grade, the day my mom was murdered was a day that changed my life forever. That day birthed my biggest life challenge, but it also was the beginning of the revelation to the deep truth that all things can work together for good.
– 2004 The day that I decided in the inner-most part of my heart that divorce with my wife, Molly would not ever be an option again. I had considered it many times over the first two years of marriage and at one point decided I didn’t love her AT ALL anymore. After taking the divorce option off the table, I was forced to find solutions. I can honestly report that it was the beginning of an intense relational healing process and we’ve never been happier as a couple. We have two beautiful children that are a constant reminder of the rewards of fighting through the tough times in marriage.
– 2009, I stood on a stage in front of hundreds of people, talking about my forgiveness journey. Toward the end of my talk, I invited the man who murdered my mother up on stage (it should be noted that he’d already paid for his crimes with 12 years in prison). That was the day my sister forgave him too. My journey to forgive, reconcile with and help save the life of the man that murdered my mom was made into an award-winning, internationally distributed documentary entitled, ‘Live To Forgive’.

What is your life purpose?
To help other’s know Truth, optimize attitudes, and live in the fullness of their God-given potential.

How did you tap into it?
My journey was founded on a relationship with God.
1) Prayer  2) Listening  3) Make lots of mistakes 4) Repeat steps 1-3

Who is your Role-Model or Mentor?
Pastor Rex Bell. He is my fifth and final dad since age 12. He adopted me after my mom’s death. He mentored me, verbally encouraged me, and helped me to learn about loving people and God. Rex was a very busy pastor but he spent quality time with me daily, imparting wisdom and listening. His love and guidance helped build my character and confidence.

Do you have any daily habits? If so, what are they?
Start my day with lots of intentionally-edifying thoughts, verbal affirmations, prayer, and inspiring music. When I look over all my specific responsibilities, meetings, and to-do’s for the day, I say aloud, “I want to, I get to, and I choose to” rather than “I have to, I should, and I must.” This framing helps keep me inspired and passionate that I am engaging in tasks that are ultimately helping me achieve my goals and live a life of purpose.

When do you know your work/life balance is off?
When my wife looks at me with weary kaleidoscope eyes I know it’s time to refocus from work mode to family mode. I’ve made that mistake so many times that now my inner compass is a bit more developed than a decade ago. For my wife’s sake, I’m always striving to be the “Anti-Kaleidoscope Man.” I’ve interviewed dozens of world-changers and when I ask them what would you do different, a majority expresses regret about not spending more time with family.

Vulnerability is a challenge for most men – share a vulnerable moment from your life with us.
I left a successful sales career to pursue an entrepreneurial dream and after 3 years discovered that I had unintentionally left my wife (Molly) behind (figuratively speaking) and our financial situation became dire.  Molly was embittered and our marriage was struggling. To remedy the situation and bring healing to our relationship, I went back to corporate America (which was initially humiliating and humbling) to provide financial stability. Also, I re-prioritized my marriage. Interestingly, I now help other’s avoid this same pitfall during my keynotes and one-on-coaching clients. It was hard to believe I’d made so many unwise choices while trying so hard to do the right thing. In time, I realized that only productive questions would serve my purpose.

What did you learn from it?
If you’re not in unity with your wife, the foundation of personal and business success will be unstable

If you are or were going to be a mentor for another man, what is one piece of advice you would give him?
Look into your life and discover where you are making the same mistakes repeatedly, find the source of sabotaging thoughts that are keeping you in bondage. Learn to transform/change them to work for you.
Forgive and love when the other person clearly doesn’t deserve it. It may be one of the most manly things you ever do.

How do you be the best partner (Boyfriend/Husband- past or present)
Consciously live in/with Agape love (a heightened sense of awareness). This means I choose to love regardless of performance. I simply love her because I love her. Forgiveness, grace, verbal affirmations are as normal and natural as breathing. It creates an atmosphere of safety and security (for her) and respect (for me).

Do you support any Charities or Not-for-profits? (Which one(s) and why?)
I’m the founder/director of ‘Live To Forgive Ministries’ which helps people unshackle from bitterness, anger, and resentment and experience freedom in their minds and relationships. This freedom usually leads to business breakthrough, too.

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
The Word by The Beatles

Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Spending lots of quality time with my wife and kids—oh and speaking internationally as a Transformational Speaker. Also, making Forgiveness University the premier online resource for all things forgiveness.

What legacy do you want to leave for future generations?
I’ve attended several funerals lately of dear friends and family. As I intently listened to the eulogies, I received a deep impression that the greatest and most influential legacy we can leave is a legacy of love. I want to be remembered as someone who loved hard and helped others experience the freedom and fulfillment of doing the same.

What One book would you recommend for any Man?
‘The Greatest Salesman in the World’ by Og Mandino

Who is one Man you think our readers would love to read about in future ‘Man Of The Week’ features?
DAVE ROWE: who listened and reacted to the messages received during a Near Death Experience and now strives to help men make changes in their lives to be the best version of their authentic selves without needing to come so close to death.

Man Of The Week – JuVan Langford

Here at ManTalks Man Of The Week, we are constantly looking for Men who are challenging the status quo, pushing the boundaries and sparking conversations that are sensitive, but necessary. This week’s Man Of The Week ticks all of those boxes! JuVan Langford is a masterful storyteller, speaker and YouTube influencer. Since discovering his purpose, JuVan has made it his goal to spark conversations for men that help them redefine masculinity, breakthrough limits and help realize potential. JuVan’s legacy is to create a multigenerational cycle of inspiring mentors for young men and with his YouTube Vlog called ‘Thought Life’, which is a digital brotherhood that creates a space for vulnerable, powerful and authentic men to learn and grow from one another, he is well on his way to doing just that!
Age – 27
What do you do?
YouTube Influencer, Digital Storyteller, Speaker
Why do you do it?
Our boys have become broken men.
How do you make a difference in the world? (Work, business, life, family, self)
I create content, conversations and community for men to breakthrough the stories that are holding them back from realizing their potential, passion and purpose.
What are 3 defining moments in your life?
– Accepting my fathers death.
– Being fired for the first time.
– Writing my first book.
What is your life purpose?
To make vulnerability a second language for men. To redefine both manhood and masculinity.
How did you tap into it?
Ownership. The hardest lesson to learn is the one you were born to teach others.
Who is your Role-Model or Mentor?
Maya Angelou. She taught me the power of words and by the same token the impact and influence of my own story.
Do you have any daily habits? If so, what are they?
Prayer, and lots of it.
When do you know your work/life balance is off?
There is an overwhleming and declining shift in momentum.
Vulnerability is a challenge for most men – share a vulnerable moment from your life with us.
A conversation of forgiveness with my mother for giving me for adoption.
What did you learn from it?
We are all a constant work in progress, but it is through that work that we progress.
If you are or were going to be a mentor for another man, what is one piece of advice you would give him?
You don’t need the limelight, you are already well lit.
How do you be the best partner (Boyfriend/Husband- past or present)
By following a very simple personal philosophy, “I take care of me for you and you take care of you for me.”
Do you support any Charities or Not-for-profits? (Which one(s) and why?)
A four year mentor of the Earl Woods Foundation
If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
Bob Marley – Don’t Worry
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Traveling the world speaking, writing and facilitating transformative experiences for boys and men.
What legacy do you want to leave for future generations?
A digital brotherhood that creates a multigenerational and virtuous cycle of mentors for young men.
What one book would you recommend for any Man?
The Book of Proverbs, The Bible.

If you know a Man that is making a positive impact on the world, we would love to hear from you! Contact us at [email protected]

Man Of The Week – Michael Ventura

Michael Ventura is a Man of many talents and gifts, from being an award-winning entrepreneur and creative director, to a healing practitioner forming strategies for Fortune 100 companies, and now currently serving as a Adjunct Professor teaching Empathic Design at Princeton University. In 2004, Michael founded Sub Rosa, a strategy and design studio that focuses on helping brands form creative and strategic practices with empathic design at its core. Bearing a strong connection to community and nature, Michael and his wife, Caroline, also run a shop and gallery in New York, which serves as a place for communal gatherings and human connection. If that wasn’t enough, his desire to leave the world in a better place than he found it has seen him serve on the boards of numerous organizations and non-profits: United Nations Department of Public Information’s Tribal Link, The Burning Man Organization and The Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, to name just a few. It should come as no surprise that Michael is our Man Of The Week, read on to discover what an inspiring role-model Michael is for Men today.
Age: 35
What do you do? (Work)
The short answer is I help solve problems. A longer answer is that the way I do this varies considerably depending on what part of my work we’re talking about. For the past 13 years I’ve run Sub Rosa, a strategy and design studio that works with brands to help them explore, learn, and grow into better businesses. Additionally, my wife Caroline and I run a home interiors shop and gallery in the West Village. The shop is really a community gathering space where so many people we know and love find a way to spend time together and connect. Lastly, I have also spent over a decade studying and then practitioning a variety of alternative and indigenous medicine modalities. I treat about 15 people each week across a spectrum of physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges they are facing.
Why do you do it?
I think I’m genetically wired to do this. My whole life, I’ve always been a pretty empathic person. I feel a lot of stuff and I try my best to harness my own capacity for problem solving to fix the challenges that get presented to me.
How do you make a difference in the world? (Work, business, life, family, self)
Ooof. That’s a big question. I guess for me, making a difference isn’t always about the big, seismic moments. Sometimes it’s the little things. The small, 2 or 3 degree turns you make that end up changing things for the better somewhere down the line. I hope that being intentional, thoughtful, and considerate of those I interact with helps each of them to go through the daily round a little better than the day prior.
What are 3 defining moments in your life?
– Meeting my better-half back in 2005. Caroline is the perfect partner who truly understands all of my strange idiosyncratic ways and helps me to live the life I want to live. I try my best every day to reciprocate.
– Realizing in 2009 that I needed to learn alternative medicine from some of the amazing healers and shamans who were working on me. Their guidance, collaboration, and belief in my work is something I carry every day.
– Bouncing back from tough moments in my own life, my business, and my personal relationships. There isn’t a date for this. These are defining moments that occur all the time. Life is unexpected. It’s challenging. But it’s also amazing and lessons await us around every turn.
What is your life purpose?
To be open to possibilities, work diligently at improving myself and the lives of others, and to embrace and spread kindness.
How did you tap into it?
It wasn’t a thunderclap. It was (and is) a slow boil. Most of my twenties (like a lot of people) were about exploration, failure, and finding a way to chart the course of my life. Constant self-observation mixed with a healthy dose of humility and forgiveness were (and are) a big part of it.
Who is your Role-Model or Mentor?
I don’t really have a “mentor” per se. Lessons come from everywhere. Being involved in fairly diverse types of work and thought, I don’t think I would have been well served with a singular mentor guiding me. My family, my spiritual community, my dog, my plants, and my friends are all teachers – and I hope my lessons will continue to come from such a wide array of participants as my life goes on.
Do you have any daily habits? If so, what are they?
I do a variety of alternative medicine and wellness work every day. This includes meditation, qi gong, tai chi, and a host of other practices depending on what the day calls for. In addition, I try to spend at least a quarter of my day outside whenever I can and I walk as much as possible.
When do you know your work/life balance is off?
I feel it in my bones. My body gets sluggish and my mind moves slowly. It’s usually a sign I need to cut and run for a few days – getting myself to a quiet place in nature – be it the desert, the woods, or the ocean – typically resets my clock.
Vulnerability is a challenge for most men – share a vulnerable moment from your life with us.
My wife and I have been together for 10 years. We’ve been married for 7. We’ve seen great couples come and go through those years and we’ve had a few rough patches ourselves. We got married kinda young and we were still figuring ourselves out, nevermind figuring out each other. As a result, there came a point where we needed to get really raw and open with each other about the people we had become, what we were getting rid of, and what we wanted to grow toward. We both knew that in the discussing of this moment of transition, we might find we had grown apart. But to not discuss it would have been even tougher in the long run. Good news is, we worked through our own evolutions and got to understand each other even better in the process. Had we not been willing to be vulnerable to each other and to the potential outcomes that might result, we may not have made it.
What did you learn from it?
(see above)
If you are or were going to be a mentor for another man, what is one piece of advice you would give him?
If you don’t get into trouble you’ll never get out of it. Challenge yourself but don’t be too hard on yourself either. Take risks and learn from failures. Enjoy successes but only for a moment. No one likes an asshole.
How do you be the best partner (Boyfriend/Husband- past or present)?
Think before you act, listen before you speak, have sex after a fight, tell her you love her in imaginative ways every day.
Do you support any Charities or Not-for-profits? (Which one(s) and why?)
A big part of our work at Sub Rosa is focused on supporting charities and NGOs. I am a formal and informal advisor to a multitude of organizations that I know and love. They include The Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, The United Nations Tribal Link Foundation, The Burning Man Organization, Esalen Institute, and a series of social initiatives being run out of the White House.
If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
“Long as I Can See The Light” by Creedence
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
I’m not really a planner. I’ll be where I need to be.
What legacy do you want to leave for future generations?
I’m less concerned with my own legacy. What I’d like to ensure is that I’ve made a difference in the hearts and minds of those I’ve met, that I helped them to get through this life a little easier, and that maybe I’ve inspired them to do the same for someone else.
What One book would you recommend for any Man?
“Shadows on the Path” by Abdi Assadi

Recapping An Incredible Night! – ManTalks Role Models and Mentors

Well, we did it again… another epic, inspiring and sold out ManTalks Monday at our new event space at HOOTSUITE HQ! 
First off BIG thanks and appreciation to the team at Hootsuite, who opened up their space, helped us set up/take down and stayed off the clock to help make this all happen for our community!
If you missed the evening, read on for a quick recap of the night, and if you were there, we’ve highlighted our favourite moments and would love to hear yours.
9d098739-2cc8-4231-9da5-90a15963c68aManTalks Role Models and Mentors kicked off with a wonderful introduction by our founder Connor Beaton.
This month we brought four local speakers to our stage to share their journeys of mentorship, role models, and the impact fatherhood has had on their ability to lead, inspire and connect to purpose.
It was a night filled with laughter, deep insights and inspiration from each speaker and wonderful engagement from the community.
81feb756-2167-4db6-8699-9b0b46fc0b72Andy Zaremba
The first speaker to take our stage on Monday was Andy Zaremba from Float House.
Our four biggest takeaways from Andy:

  • Before you can become a role model, you have first to take care of yourself, deal with your “stuff” and learn how to become accountable to yourself.
  • Challenges are along your path for you to move THROUGH. It is in the darkest times that you are lead towards and through exactly what you need to face to become your greatest version of yourself.
  • Becoming a father while unexpected and filled with many unanticipated challenges has become Andy’s biggest access to experiencing unconditional love.
  • Being vulnerable takes great courage and strength. By doing so, you create the space for others to follow your lead, drop into their hearts, get real with themselves and have experiences that truly matter.

808f334c-bd48-4c25-9bc3-06266680d15bRicky Shetty
Our second speaker was Ricky Shetty from Daddy Blogger
Our four biggest takeaways from Ricky:

  • The best quality in a mentor is their ability to truly listen.
  • We always run the risk of repeating the patterns of our parents and early childhood role models and the ability to change patterns of dysfunctional behavior reside 100% in your willingness to freely choose to become someone different.
  • One of the keys to healing these past patterns is forgiveness.
  • Mentors have the capacity and responsibility of believing in you. They see things in you that you currently can’t. Their ability to see these qualities in you and remind you regularly leads to a life-changing tipping point where their belief in you helps you to begin believing in yourself.

5f0b240d-3474-4fb7-a644-f7dba8f49e36Horrasias Balabyekkubo
Our third speaker of the night was Horrasias Balabyekkubo Philanthropist and Inspirational Speaker.
Our four biggest takeaways from Horrasias:

  • The role of the masculine is to Protect, Provide and Preserve the love and innocence of the ones who look up to you for your guidance and leadership.
  • Becoming a father is one of the greatest ways in which he could directly give back to the world by loving extraordinarily.
  • We are so fearful of being excellent but you are born for great things and it is up to you to guide your purpose from within and not let anything or anyone take away what you are destined to become. Challenges and hardships have the potential to completely erode your positive life view any by remaining congruent with who you really are in those great times of challenge, you become an example of purpose, love and truth in action.
  • The importance of giving freely. To truly understand the nature of giving and unconditional love you have to be willing to be part of the experience. There is a difference between intellectualizing and experiencing. To become legendary you must be willing to dive into the experience of love fully and completely.

 69510dcb-324b-44b2-b164-801e98caccf7Dai Manual
Our final speaker of the evening was Dai Manual COO of Fitness Town Inc.
Our four biggest takeaways from Dai:

  • Making promises to others has no real significant impact until you learn how to make and keep promises to yourself.
  • Mentors truly want to know who you are and are equipped in asking the right questions to understand who you really are behind all the smoke and mirrors of your life.
  • The pain of living a dual life provides you with the opportunity to become more compassionate and a better listener- two fundamental qualities in role models and mentors who have the potential to make a profound positive difference in the lives of future generations.
  • Nothing is finite or determined. No matter what choices you have made in the past every moment is an opportunity to change something and in his words “become the type of man you would want your daughters to spend the rest of their lives with.”

Our final takeaway of the night was a question posed to the audience from our founder:

“Who do you want to have a deeper relationship with? What is stopping you?”

We want to hear from YOU!
Share your insights, takeaways and breakthroughs with us! Using the hashtag #mantalks on all social media forums will help us find you and keep the inspired conversations going!
Next ManTalks Monday will take place on May 25th at Hootsuite, where we’ll be diving into the theme: Masculinity and Purpose. Tickets go on sale soon so keep an eye on your inbox!
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