You Get What You Deserve

The Movie.

This past weekend, I went to see Todd Phillips’ new movie Joker. I had high hopes for the film after watching the trailer, especially considering that Joaquin Phoenix is one of my favorite actors. While it’s hard for me to gather my thoughts on the film as a whole, there are a few things that I can say. For starters, it was unlike any superhero universe movie I have ever seen before. It was dark, gritty, sad and creepy. There were scenes that made my skin crawl. It had an incredible commentary peering into the lives of marginalized people today. I can’t quite put my finger on what was so gripping about it, but I also can’t stop recommending it to people. The closest thing that I can compare it to, is a modern-day version of Taxi Driver.

But this is not a movie review. This movie provided me with an opportunity to consolidate many of my recurring thoughts into a cohesive post on the internet, using Arthur Fleck’s story as a backdrop.

Joker is a movie about a man named Arthur Fleck who is completely alone and suffering from mental illness. He was raised by a single mother, abused as a child and has never had a steady career. Consequently, he has not developed any serious relationships and has no real direction in the world. Throughout the movie, you watch as every aspect of his life falls apart, while his internal pressures build and build.

As I sat in the theater in awe of Joaquin’s portrayal of this miserable soul, there was a quote that kept echoing through my head. It was a quote that I had heard Dr. Jordan B. Peterson say in an interview a year or two ago. The gist of the quote was essentially, “if you think that strong men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of.” In my humble opinion, this quote could not be more fitting for the character of Arthur Fleck. He was weak in every sense of the term: physically, emotionally, mentally and morally. His character was a perfect depiction of a weak and dangerous man.

Like many weak men who become dangerous, Fleck was downtrodden. He had been dealt an unlucky hand in life, and he could not catch a break. Some of his situation may have been the result of his own actions, but the film also really emphasized a horrible truth: life is a not fair and the world is unforgiving.

While that may be true, strong men are able to push through hardships and find purpose, truth, beauty and direction in the world despite how horrible it can be. However, Arthur Fleck is not a strong man. He shares the same mentality as most high-profile serial killers and school shooters: weakness. People like this may agree with me that the world is horrible and unfair, but they crumble under the pressure of these thoughts. They get lost in the despair and hopelessness of this notion. For some reason, all of these people one day decide that they should take on the role of God, casting judgment and sentencing. They should deliver justice with their own hands. They are responsible for punishing those that caused their despair. They decide that you get what you deserve. What a terrifying thought.

Many of these weak people lack the self-awareness to realize that they have no ground to stand on and judge others, much less to stand on and act on their judgments. They are driven by revenge and blind to themselves, two critical factors that make them so dangerous.

Perhaps the scariest part of this entire movie is the fact that we all know someone that is like Arthur Fleck. Maybe it was someone who was going through a dark time and came out of it, maybe it was someone who you had to separate yourself from because of how far down the hole they went. I had one person in my mind during this movie, and most people that I have spoken to about the film did too. Someone who is beat down emotionally, whether from the world or from their own actions, and can’t deal with it anymore. Someone, I think, that is struggling with their masculinity.

Masculinity.

The aforementioned quote from Dr Peterson rings truth into the culture of today’s men. I see posts daily about “toxic masculinity” and would like to challenge that concept. Obviously, I would never argue that there are men who do unspeakable and horrible things to others. However, what I would offer is that these men are simply not masculine. They are weak. They are pathetic. They are gross. They are an embarrassment to strong men.

I believe that masculinity is good. I believe that femininity is good. I believe that they complement each other perfectly and can work together to create a more perfect world. Each has their own special and equally important virtues.

The virtues of masculinity are regularly debated, and many of them are also applicable to femininity as well; The point of this isn’t to compare and contrast those qualities though. Masculine men are physically strong. They are mentally sharp and morally sound. They are in control of their emotions when they need to be. They are open and honest when the need to be. They value hard work. They protect those that are weaker than themselves. They treat others with respect. They are in pursuit of becoming better men.

That is a masculine man. When you are not aligned with those traits, you are not a masculine man. You are a weak man. Therefore, I believe that the term “toxic masculinity” is inaccurate and nonsensical. Many of the acts described by that term are not guided by masculine virtues at all. They are guided by the selfish traits of weak, pathetic people. Just because someone is a man, doesn’t mean that their actions are masculine. In the same sense as this, horrible acts committed by woman are not “toxic femininity.” They are merely horrible acts.

I believe that young men need to be encouraged to be strong men. They need to be encouraged to be masculine. They need to know the virtues of masculinity. Someone needs to show them what they can offer to this unforgiving world. They need to understand that they can’t be toxic and masculine. They can either be toxic or masculine.

A Way Forward.

Personally, I have always believed that anybody with two eyes and half of a brain can point out problems. Celebrities do it all the time to “raise awareness.” But strong leaders are actually able to present a viable solution. Weak men like Arthur Fleck, or a mass shooter, are unable to offer tenable solutions, so instead they force death and destruction upon the world.

It’s easy to feel hopeless about the world and its future once you identify large-scale problems. There’s so much out there that you are unable to affect. I have spent many nights thinking about this. It can be a bleak thought to resonate on. You can think until your head hurts, but eventually you need to realize that rather than worrying about the world as a whole, each person should worry about two things: themselves and their sphere of influence.

By allowing yourself to be honest and self-reflective, you permit yourself to identify shortfalls within yourself that can be fixed and addressed. This is good for two reasons. The first is that it enables you to seek self-improvement and continue to become a better person than you already are. It shows that you believe in the potential of the person that you could be. And no journey can begin without a starting point. The second point is once you realize how many shortfalls you have, you become much more forgiving of the shortfalls of others. Nobody is perfect. Nobody ever will be. But if you aren’t perfect, you certainly can’t be the one to sentence and deliver mortal justice for someone else’s shortfalls. This lack of self-awareness is something that is lacking in the Arthur Fleck characters of the world. To them, all that matters is that they have been wronged and someone needs to pay.

An interesting historical example of someone who was self-reflective is the 1970 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. As an officer in the Red Army in 1945, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by his own government for writing letters that were critical of the Communist Party’s recent actions. For his crimes, he was imprisoned in the gulag system for 10 years. During his time in prison, his wife divorced him, and he was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than spending his 10 years devastated by the absurd unfairness of his situation, he spent time writing and reflecting on every single thing he had done in his life that led him to that exact moment in time and what he could have done better or differently to change his situation. Even in the most unimaginably unfair state of affairs, Solzhenitsyn was finding some way to take responsibility for his actions.

Similarly, in TS Eliot’s play, The Cocktail Party, a character is speaking with her psychologist and tells him that she hopes that her suffering is all her own fault, and not the world’s. When the baffled psychologist asks why she feels this way, she informs him that if it is a result of her own actions, then there is something she can do about it. But if it is the world’s fault, then she is hopeless.

It takes a strong person to take responsibility for their life and their actions. This first step can be the difference of becoming someone horrible on the front page of the newspaper or becoming someone amazing that you never thought you could become. After this, every step you take moves you in a direction, whether that means forward, backward or in a new direction. Unfortunately, many people believe that they are remaining the same, and this is simply not the case. Because of this, individuals need to adopt thought patterns of responsibility and conscious decision-making.

This new train of thought also enables growth, maturity and forgiveness. Many of us have had people in the past who have wronged us. Some of us look back on old relationships and friendships with anger and bitterness. Once you begin to rethink your past with this new mentality, you will start to realize that the old saying, “it takes two to tango,” has some truth to it. Maybe you were wronged by someone you cared about. However, you may be able to recognize small signs that you ignored, or even opportunities where you could have put your foot down and stood up for yourself, reconciling or even preventing the whole situation. You may be able to identify times that you wrong them too and played a part in the cycle of mutual mistreatment. Once you realize that there was probably something you could have done differently, you can take a deep breath and let go of your anger toward the other person. You have learned from your mistake, grown as a person, and won’t make the same mistake again. After this, there is only one direction to move: forward.

From here, you can start to think about your sphere of influence. This is the piece of the world that you can affect. It might mean encouraging one person who needs it, picking up a piece of trash on the street or making a deliberate effort to not be negative in your daily speech. While this seems small in the grand scheme of the world, it allows for the opportunity of exponential growth as you inspire and encourage others. You don’t have to worry about changing the entire planet because frankly… you never will. But you might be able to change one or two other people’s worlds. And they may be able to do the same for two or four more people and so on, and so on, all because you decided to change yourself.

An Ending.

We need to encourage the next generation of men to be masculine and strong. The world is full of weak people who need help. They need to understand how they can use their virility to help others, rather than believing that their masculinity is toxic. By taking responsibility for your life and your actions, you are showing that you are strong and you are starting a great journey.

In the final scenes of the movie, Arthur takes full form as the Joker. During his triumphant breaking point, he exclaims, “You get what you fucking deserve!” as the punchline to a joke, before shooting someone in the head on live TV. This was his way of playing out what he thought justice should be, from the perspective of a weak and broken man.

While his actions were clearly wrong, his punchline might not have been. The Bible tells us that you reap what you sow. The Buddhists believe in the concept of Karma. There are many books on the law of attraction. We all know that what goes around comes around. The message is the same. By being strong and embodying the masculine virtues, men are able to make the world a better place. More times than not, you get what you deserve. Make sure you deserve something good. Sometimes, unfortunately, you get what you don’t deserve. But you are better now, and you have the strength and virtue to persevere through. Besides… That’s Life!

About the Author

Daniel Rogers is a native of the South Shore of Massachusetts. He attended Norwich University in Vermont and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Economics. After graduating, he commissioned into the Marine Corps and became an Infantry Officer. As a platoon commander, he deployed to Europe and Southeast Asia. He then deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he worked as an advisor with Officers in the Afghan National Army.  He spends his free time practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and exploring the vast catalogs of the Grateful Dead. As a writer, he is interested in discussing the topics of self-development and personal responsibility, while also encouraging conversation about the current and future states of the modern man.

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EP: 29 The Patriot and Pullano Part 2. Are E-Sports the New Chess Club?

On Today’s Episode I bring back my guest from Episode 13 of the podcast. Michael Pullano (@mpullano) former host of the PBR podcast and the Blue Shirt Buds and I cover topics on E-sports, whether or not fitbits can be relied upon to determine a murder trial, and why malls are now the best place to take your kids.

Here are the articles I referenced in the show.

High Schools Need to Embrace E-sports.

A Brutal Murder and a Wearable Fitbit.

Here is the episode Pullano and I recorded at Shared Universe Podcast Network’s studio.

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Errors Of Commission Or Errors of Omission

I have heard people discuss the difference between errors of commission and errors of omission in vastly different ways than I will discuss here. There may be other definitions and connotations of both terms. I respect that they exist but for the basis of this article I am going to write my own story of sorts. If that doesn’t jive with your way of thinking this blog may not be right for you.

My take on the two.

I talk a lot about a specific football coach I had growing up. He’s one of the many mentors I had in high school who really shaped the way I think and act. He provided me countless lessons that I went on to learn again later in life. I shared many of these lessons with my platoon when I was a Marine. They continue to shape my life and I am eager to share them with my son one day. One lesson that really sticks out to me is the concept of making errors of commission versus errors of omission.

My coach used to tell us every day at practice, I don’t ever want to see you “pussy-footing” around and making mistakes. The man had a unique snarl on his face that would wrinkle up the entire left side of his face and almost curl his lip when he was making one of these points. When I saw that lip curl my ears generally perked up to listen. He went on to say, “If you’re going to make a mistake during a play, make it a mistake caused by moving too fast, pushing too hard, or attempting to overexert yourself and ultimately losing control.” He described the errors we make from moving around cautiously as errors of omission. He described those errors we make from going too hard as errors of commission.

He made us agree to remind him if he ever yelled at us for something we did from going too fast, or pushing too hard that it was an error of commission and all would be forgiven. One could argue that this is tied to the thought process of asking for forgiveness instead of asking for permission. This way of thinking was something I modeled my life after. Be it in school, fitness, or the Marine Corps I never wanted to be the guy who got yelled at for dragging ass. I always made it a point to be the one who had to be told to throttle down. To take it down a few pegs and take a deep breath.

Of course, this did back-fire from time to time when I was conducting certain operations in the Marine Corps. One particular memory I have is when my company was being evaluated by a group of Marine instructors on a live-fire range in Twenty-Nine Palms. Because it was a live-fire exercise the enemy we were facing was a set of targets arranged in a Russian Style Defense. Our objective was to destroy their position in order to allow friendly movement ahead to a follow-on objective. My platoon was the weapons platoon for the company and so our responsibility was to suppress the enemy position with indirect mortar fire and direct machine gun fire in order to allow the rest of the company to close with the position and destroy it. Basically, I had to keep the enemy’s heads down while we moved up close enough to engage them.

My platoon had to gain a position on a mountain that overlooked the enemy position so we could direct mortar fire and lay down machine gun suppression. The instructors were painting effects on us so to simulate the actual situation of facing a live enemy. They would tell us if we were pinned down by enemy fire or if we had no ability to move forward and we had to listen. My company commander tasked me with getting on the top of the mountain to the left of the enemy position and I was going to do so, come hell or high water. As I ran up the mountain towards the front of my platoon, one of the instructors told me to slow up so he could talk to me. The man out-ranked me but he wasn’t in my chain of command and slowing down was not a priority of mine. So, I blew past him.

He immediately freaked the out on me and started screaming at me, but I kept sprinting past him, and I really couldn’t hear much from him after the first three or four expletives that had come out of his mouth. He wasn’t happy. My platoon took the machine gun position and we directed mortar fire directly onto the target with first round effects (we hit the target with mortars on our first shot). We allowed the company to close with the target and take the objective. I had done my job and definitely made some errors besides blowing off the instructor but on the whole,  I was pleased with my platoon’s performance.

At the conclusion of the range we did a debrief with all of the instructors who discussed and evaluated our performance. They ripped me a new one. Which I probably deserved. What I didn’t deserve was the evaluation from my battalion commander who had been watching the attack from the ground level about 500 meters away from me. He told me I took too damn long to take the position and I let bullshit paints from the instructors pin me down. It drove me mad to think anyone could consider what I had done as an error of omission. That I failed to take action when it was required of me.

I was fortunate that later on one of the instructors informed my Battalion Commander that I had done quite the opposite and I was actually counseled (chastised) for not listening to the instructor when he told me to slow down. I approach life with this same mindset. When an objective is presented to me, I refuse to allow anyone to tell me to slow down in attempting to achieve it. I think that more of us could benefit from this mind-set. I will say, it is important to consider others and ethics in the course of aggressively pursuing a goal.

Why we should apply this in our lives.

I think that more of us would be pleased with our actions if we forced ourselves to engage only in errors of commission. I talk a lot about the concept of living life drinking from a fire hose. Refusing to allow others to tell us what we can and cannot do. I think these are morals and principles that we should live our life by. The whole world told Roger Bannister he couldn’t run a four minute mile until he actually did it. I had countless people tell me I would never be an officer in the Marine Corps. I’ve seen tons of people telling people they cannot do certain things, or achieve certain goals. Those people all disappear when you finally do. Never to be heard from again. Show me a man or woman who is told they cannot do something and I will show you one of two people. They’re either a person who accepts the limiting beliefs others impose on them. Or they are the person who proves others wrong. No one ever regretted living life at 100 miles an hour. Except Dominic Toretto, he lived his life a quarter mile at a time.

EP 28: Alisha McCarthy On Motherhood and Being Married To A Podcaster.

This week on the podcast instead of my usual short form episodes I interviewed none other than…. My lovely, adoring, wife. Alisha and I veer off a little bit from my usual serious interview and focus more on the past year of our life together. We discuss everything from me leaving the Marine Corps, What it’s like to be new parents, and Alisha even shares some things with my listeners that I usually don’t talk about. Enjoy this insight into the side of my life that I usually wall off from the podcast.

These are the Podcasts Baby-Gurl Recommended on the Show.

Whine Down with Jana Kramer

The Bella Podcast

The Mommies Tell All Podcast

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Podcast Advice From Three Wildly Successful Veterans of the Industry.

I was fortunate enough to be featured as a guest on the Shared Universe Podcast Network this past week. I was able to sit down in their studio and pull out some really worth while advice for new podcasters from Mike Zapcic, Ming Chen, and Michael Pullano. All three of these gentlemen have created content that has been released across major television networks. Mike and Ming, were able to run a tv show featured on AMC for 7 seasons. Mike Pullano ran a podcast that hit hundreds of episodes and had tens of thousands of downloads. Mike and Ming produce almost 10 different podcasts and run the Shared Universe Podcast studio. So if there is a group you want to learn from they are it. Yes Joe Rogan and Tim Ferris have found their niche, but they aren’t experts on the universal rules of podcasting the way these gentlemen are.

Why You Should Start a Podcast

After entering the podcast world you quickly learn that every one and their mother is coming out with podcasts now. It makes you wonder, is it too late? Is the market over-saturated with content. I asked Pullano, Mike, and Ming if it was too late to start a podcast. Their answer across the board was a resounding and emphatic no. Ming took the time to make two important points. First of all the amount of obscure information in the world now is at it’s highest point ever. If you can put out a podcast with that kind of information you are ahead of the game. The more obscure the better. Second, even if the information you can release Is not obscure or you think you have nothing to say you are wrong. Someone else may be out there discussing the same things, but their point of view is different from yours. No one else has your perspective or your voice.

This Shit Doesn’t Happen Over Night

I think this is the hardest concept for members of my generation to grasp. I can speak from my own opinion when I say your supporters will be fleeting. When you start out everyone will pat you on the back and tell you how excited they are about your new show. Many of them will come to listen to your first episode and quickly realize the content is not for them. Others will become your initial core supporters. After that you will have surges of supporters based on content shares and guests you have on the show.

Pullano, Mike, and Ming all pointed out that you do not start a podcast for money. You do not start a podcast to become famous immediately. You start it to open other doors. I’ve landed public speaking gigs, interviewed members of the Forbes 30 under 30, and been asked to provide my expertise to some really worthwhile causes because of this podcast. Pullano works with the impractical jokers who are almost a household name and he frequently points out their favorite comment. “We’re the overnight success that took 18 years to become successful.” Above all you should do this for the passion of spreading your message. The side benefits will come later on.

Consistency is Key

I have noticed it on my own podcast and I have heard it from podcasters all over. If you are not consistent you run the risk of losing listeners. Most independent podcasters will miss an episode or two every once in a while. For the most part the most successful podcasters are consistently releasing one to two podcasts a week. Failing to do so can result in losing listeners. As Pullano pointed out, people come to you because they want to consume content. If you have nothing for them, they will go somewhere else. We want them to build the habit of coming to us for content and not the habit of going to someone else. A part of professionalism is sticking to your word. When you tell your fans you are going to do something like release content every week, you have to stick to it. Failing to do it will make them doubt you.

How do you rise to the Top?

Mike pointed out that you will eventually find your niche. All it takes to get to the top is a little bit of preparation, and work to say what you want as long as you mean what you say. The barriers to entry no longer exist. Capitalize on that. The people who are more consistent are the ones who are more successful. Cross-pollinate as much as possible. Podcasting is one of the most inclusive industries in the world. Do batch recording and ensure your content is timeless and then continue to market these episodes as much as possible.

One of the things that begins to happen after you start a podcast, is people come to you for various forms of advice. Hopefully you have touched on the questions people come to you for consistently in a podcast episode. If so, share your episode with them and tell them the answer is broken down in depth in episode X. If you haven’t yet created an episode that answers that question you now have an idea for future content. Odds are if one person has that question, multiple people do. Get the episode out so you can market it, and other people can share your content.

Note: Don’t be the guy or gal who is relentlessly pitching his or her podcast. People hate that. That being said when some one asks you your opinion on something, they’ve opened the door to hearing your thoughts. Casually mention, “actually I just released a podcast episode on this very concept.”  

Final Thoughts

Something I think has helped me is having a lot of episodes. Netflix and Amazon have conditioned us to exist within a binge culture. People don’t want to show up to a smattering of 3 episodes in your feed. They want to show up to 20 episodes. My opinion is that you need to release content immediately. It is important to note that you should not use development of initial episodes for launch as an excuse to never launch. On average a podcast never makes it past 6-10 episodes. Why not shoot to record 6 episodes prior to launch, and release all six immediately? Now you’re out working the statistics.

You will learn the following three things as you begin to record episodes. First, you will get better on the microphone over time. Last Podcast on the Left is a wildly successful podcast. If you go back and listen to their initial recordings, they’re awful. Now those guys are releasing books and they all get paid to podcast. Everyone has to start somewhere. Second, dead air on the mic is not a bad thing. Silence from your guests while they contemplate an answer demonstrates they are human and adds to the feel of actually being in the room while people are talking. If you really hate dead air you can always edit it out later. Finally, getting guest is the hardest part of podcasting. It takes me on average 5 e-mails to confirm a date and time for a single guest. I show up to the place of work most of my guests find themselves at. It’s even harder locking down a time to get them to come to a studio.

Good audio can save everything, very few things can save bad audio. Especially on the podcasting platform. I have recorded multiple episodes with bad audio and spent hours trying to treat it to make it more appealing. From a time perspective you will be much more successful with a good recording equipment. If you don’t have the funding then buy the cheap stuff and scale up slowly. At worst you’re building your voice and message. All the while building a proof of concept. I feel confident this post will ease some of the pains of sending your message to the world. Let me know what you think in the comments below or send me an email. Let’s leave a legacy!!

About the Author

John McCarthy is the founder of the Post Modern Patriot blog and the host of our podcast. He is a former Marine Infantry Officer, Husband, father, and son. He is obsessed with individual performance in the realms of health, wealth, relationships, and the intersection of all three. He strives to share that with the world so that he can empower others to live boldly. Let’s leave a legacy!!!

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EP 27: The Sober October Challenge

Fall is for more than pumpkin picking, pumpkin beer, pumpkin spice lattes, and apple donuts. It’s also a great time to reset the body with a focus on health and wellness both mentally and physically. Alright so we may have ripped off Joe Rogan with this idea, but it’s a great move and more of us need to do this every once in a while.

Fortunately for me my friends Chris Romero, and Rodney Coursey are taking this Sober October Journey with me. You may remember Rodney from episode 5 of the podcast and this was actually his idea to do. We started this challenge a week early due to some outside commitments I have at the end of October that I prefer not to be restricted for. The rules of Sober October are below are below and I intend on breaking this down for my listenership as much as possible. By the time you hear this episode, Rodney, Chris, and Myself will all have completed a week of the Sober October challenge.

Want to know what the loser has to do? Tune into this episode where we cover a series of topics including; what is was like for Chris to work for the WWE. What Rodney thought of the See, Hear, Now festival in Asbury Park NJ. What we think about the comeback of Asbury Park NJ. Most importantly the rules for sober October.

Sober October Rules

1. No alcohol (DUH).

2. No tobacco.

3. Conduct an exercise every day from a predetermined list of exercises and reps. No repeating exercises allowed.

4. No Masturbating (more on that in the show).

5. Each of us chose our own requirement that cannot disqualify us from Sober October if we cannot maintain.

a.) Chris chose no social media and deleted his apps from his phone.

b.) Rodney chose to follow a daily affirmation app on his phone every day.

c.) I chose to meditate every day.

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Two Concepts That Will Make You Want To Take Action in Life.

Society today is filled with individuals looking to consume as much as possible. We lament frequently about how social media is taking over our lives. Some of us are angered when we look upon the time wasted from binge-watching the latest series on Netflix. Now pair this with the “foodie” phenomena that has swept through our nation. We are constantly looking for the next entertaining story and the next five-star restaurant. I too have fallen victim to the rush of endorphins I receive from Knowing I can immediately watch the next episode of the new show I have discovered. My taste buds and my brain are stimulated by the thought of all of the potential restaurants filled with stunning menu items I can try.  

Like any indulgence, I wonder what is the cost of a lack of moderation? After all, I do believe in many situations moderation is for cowards. Life is meant to be lived and when you slow down you die. I agree that you should end life like a base runner belly-sliding into home to beat out a tag at the plate, standing up, brushing off and saying “WHOA WHAT A RIDE.” The question I constantly return to though is whether these indulgences distract us from what is truly important in life.

Panem et Circenses

I am not the first person to contemplate this concept. In fact, two people much smarter than I brought up this concept. One as a reflection of the failure of a nation and the other as a warning of the potential cliff top, we are all racing towards like buffalo. The Roman poet Juvenal was the first to address this concept when he authored the latin term “panem et circenses” meaning bread and circuses. He described them as the two things only the people anxiously desire. This term became commonly known by the people of Rome to describe the willingness of their people to trade in a democratic Roman Republic for the autocratic Roman Empire it became.

Dominant Ideology

Karl Marx described a similar concept when he coined the term Dominant Ideology. He used this term to describe the fact that a disadvantaged class (the proletariat)  will accept that it is their fate to be unable to gain upward mobility. Or in laymen’s terms that the working middle class will forever accept that they are the working middle class. It makes sense if these concepts are confusing to those of us who do not have a background in sociology. Fortunately the Hunger Games series puts these theories into a more modern view of the dystopian society we can potentially fall into.

Putting Concepts In Perspective

In the Hunger Games series, characters who live in the capitol have willingly traded in their freedoms to allow the government to make any and all decisions. They do so in order to ensure their life centers around food and entertainment. Characters from the Capitol were noted for going to extreme lengths to appear as fashionable and indulge as much as possible. They were always tattooing new makeup on their faces, having plastic surgery, and changing their hair color. They openly served a drink at parties that would force guests to vomit in order to consume more of the “splendid food” being served. They would watch and cheer as the lower class members of their society killed each other in a gladiator like arena.

We should point out that these two concepts were brought up by a poet from hundreds of years ago and are exemplified by a series of novels that exist in a mythical dystopian society.  Yet, I often wonder if we are in the middle of falling off of that same cliff that trades in freedoms in order to focus on the two things we anxiously seek. Food and entertainment (panem et circenses). Is our willingness to trade in our data privacy rights to corporations across the world for increased ease of life a step in the direction of trading in our freedoms? At what cost do we engage in such actions? I think we need to consider the potential demise of our nation when we trade in such freedoms and information about ourselves. I recently heard a quote on the Tim Ferris Show that provides a great take on our current situation in society.

Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.

Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby

This is the issue we face when we only concern ourselves with finding the next show or meal we can drool over. The time spent on such an endeavor forces us to turn a blind eye to the world around us. Our country is engaged in the longest international conflict in our history. The Speaker of the House of Representatives in our country has made her intentions clear to launch a Presidential impeachment inquiry. I don’t bring up these points to be negative or to say that one side is right or wrong. I bring them up to ask the question, are we as a people failing to take action?

Why We Must Take Action

The ability to gain upward mobility in society, the need for an appropriately elected democracy, and the success of our nation all depend on one thing. The actions of individuals. It is the individual citizen who is responsible for taking actions to achieve objectives they believe are best for our town, state, and nation. If we put as much effort into the episodes we stream and the restaurants we try, America will forever remain the world’s super-power. If we continue to allow ourselves to be distracted by bread and entertainment, our elite status will surely perish.

American’s are not willing to be sheep marched off to the slaughter. The history of our nation, the actions of our ancestors, and the willingness to do right in the world are a legacy we should be proud of. It is not easy or comfortable to obtain upward mobility or take actions that will benefit the group at the sacrifice of ourselves. As a people we must find strength in the history of those citizens who have gone before us. We must take actions to create the world we want to exist for our children and grand children. No one else will do it for us. If they do it will not be the world we desire.  

About the Author

John McCarthy is the founder of the Post Modern Patriot blog and the host of our podcast. He is a former Marine Infantry Officer, Husband, father, and son. He is obsessed with individual performance in the realms of health, wealth, relationships, and the intersection of all three. He strives to share that with the world so that he can empower others to live boldly. Let’s leave a legacy!!!

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Why You Need an Elevator Speech.

When I was getting my MBA at George Washington University I was also using that time to network with people as much as possible. I learned early on that the lessons and skills you pick up in an MBA are important. However, they are nowhere near as important as the network you can develop. I made it my mission to get to know people and what they did as much as possible. At the same time, because I was transitioning out of the military, I had limited knowledge on what life was like in the civilian world. So I used my “networking time” as a time to gain insight on different fields in the business world, such as accounting, finance, marketing, consulting, and the like. The one tool I always fell back on to open up these kinds of conversations was my elevator speech.

I will never forget the day I was literally in the elevator on the fifth floor of the business school of GW when a professor stepped in with a student, and a guest speaker for his class. As the three men stepped into the elevator the professor turned to his pupil and said, “Ok now’s your chance. Give the man your elevator speech.”

At which point there was an awkward silence and the student stared at his professor blankly and said nothing. His professor was pissed, and the guest speaker was embarrassed for the young man. I was so equally embarrassed that in order to stifle the awkward silence I stepped in and gave my elevator speech to the gentleman.

My Elevator Speech

“Good afternoon, My name is John McCarthy, I just finished a 6 and ½ year career in the Marine Corps as an Infantry Officer and a compliance manager. I was fortunate that during that time I was able to develop unmatched leadership skills and knowledge of strategy development. I am confident that the skills I learned in the military paired with the business acumen I am gaining through my MBA and internships make me an integral member of any organization I will find myself a part of in the future.”

Of note: I usually made sure the last sentence said “make me an integral member of (insert job I was interviewing for, or name of the organization the person I was pitching belonged to if I knew it ahead of time).”

 The guy had a look of surprise, relief, and awe wash over his face in a matter of seconds. The professor looked up and said, “now that’s an elevator speech.” The doors opened, we walked out of the elevator and the gentlemen handed me his business card and said he would really like it if I got in touch with him. They walked off and I sent the man an email a week later. He turned out to be an executive at Deloitte. I later determined I had no interested in the type of “back of the house” accounting he was in charge of. While I admired and respected the man’s career I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps.

Here is the thing though. By giving him that speech I placed the ball in my court. I gave myself the opportunity to decide if this was a path I wanted to pursue. Of course he could have always decided I wasn’t a good fit. Fortunately for him and me, I learned early on that balancing spreadsheets was not in my forte. Nothing ventured nothing gained. What we aren’t considering though is that poor young man who had nothing prepped when the opportunity presented itself. If the military taught me anything it is to prepare for all eventual outcomes.

How I Crafted My Pitch

Once I developed an elevator speech I honed it and tweaked it until I got things perfect. I was constantly watching for people’s reactions to what I said. In preparing to do so I would practice in the mirror. I repeated it to myself on the subway and I can to this day recite it off of the top of my head. If you’re pitching people you need to have candid responses to their questions. It’s a tactic that politicians and salespeople use with much success.

After my speech was near perfect, I could see the success I was having. As Americans we naturally begin conversation anywhere by asking people what they do for a living. I would drop my elevator speech at weddings, family gatherings, you name it. I wanted a job, so I didn’t care if people thought it odd. No one ever did. In the end I made sure it didn’t sound salesy. Instead I delivered it as though I was stating something I was proud of. After all my experience is something I am proud to share with people. Moreover, I genuinely believe I am an asset to any organization I find myself a part of.

Feel free to rip off my elevator speech and make it your own. Tweak it to what ever you want, but most importantly, memorize it and practice your delivery. These are the things that make the difference between successfully building a network and getting a piece of paper when you go back to school. I wanted both.

EP 26: Keep Moving Forward, That’s How Winning Is Done!

On Episode 26 of the podcast I pull out a concept Jim DeCicco brought to mind for me in last week’s episode. For the most part I believe many of us have the same opportunities. We receive the same external stimulus from society. The way in which we perceive that stimulus and respond, can make the difference in our own success or failure in life. I have found that at those times in my own life where I am barely holding it together. The moments when I am sure everything is about to burst at the seams are the most important times to keep pushing forward. Whenever I have, it has resulted in the greatest outcome. We all fight our own battles in life. We face our own struggles. For others our personal struggles may seem small. To us they can seem like mountains. We all have the ability to scale said mountain and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.

Quotes from Today’s Episode

In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten. Then he who continues the attack wins.

Ulysses S. Grant

The Spartans say that any army may win while it still has its legs under it; the real test comes when all strength is fled and the men must produce victory on will alone.

Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire

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The World We Have Made For Our Children Since 9/11.

Much Like Pearl Harbor, The day President Kennedy was assassinated, or any other day we have heard shocking news; Americans who were alive will never forget the day the twin towers were attacked by Al Qaeda.  I was in 6th grade in Mrs. Fogler’s homeroom class. The principal came over the intercom and made an announcement that a grave situation had occurred in our country and did not give much more news. By day’s end very few students remained in my classroom. On the bus-ride home a girl I knew looked at me and said she knew what happened and it was really bad. I asked her if the president was dead and she said no. I got off of the bus and walked into my house to find my father with tears in his eyes.

He looked at me and said, “those bastards attacked us.” He pointed toward the television and I didn’t really understand what I was watching. The replays of plane 1 and plane 2 slamming into the towers seemed unreal to me. The attack hit home where I grew up because there were families in my county who had family members who died in the towers. My family and I drove to Sandy Hook a few days later and I will never forget being able to see the smoke in the sky drifting up from the blank space in the Manhattan skyline. Even today, 18 years after the event, tears come to my eyes thinking about the horror that followed that day.

I wonder if anyone could foresee what has happened since 9/11. We have been engaged in the longest conflict in the history of our nation since that day. I saw a stat (which I’m somewhat skeptical of) that this is the first year it is possible for children born of men and women in uniform after 9/11/01 to serve in that very same conflict. It is almost as though the perpetual war from 1984 by George Orewell, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It makes me wonder if any of this will end. It makes us all wonder what kind of world our children will grow up in.

I worry about this now after the birth of my first child. He will of no doubt grow to look at the awards on my wall, The K-bars on plaques, the officer’s sword my father bought me when I commissioned. He will see the proud history of men in our family who signed up to serve during a time of war. Whether he decides to carry on that legacy is his decision alone. As a father, I pray he is not faced with such a choice. The horrors of the world since 9/11 force me to be weary of the world my son will grow up in.

The same memories that bring tears to my eyes when I think of the horror of this day, are accompanied by memories that send chills down my spine. After 9/11 I watched my entire town meet in the park at our town center. We held a candlelight vigil, and said the pledge of allegiance. People were crying and hugging each other. People wrapped yellow ribbons around their trees and we hoisted flags up in front of our homes. I watched a man named Pat tillman turn down a million dollar salary to bring our fight to the enemy’s door step. I signed up because of 9/11.

In the years since 9/11 everyone seems to have developed a crystal ball and become the John Madden of armchair quarterbacking international policy.  To this day people seem to think that because I served in the military I must have a political point of view about what has happened in the middle east. Of course I do, but as a member of the military that didn’t matter to me. I understand where people are coming from when they point out that we seemed to go after Iraq for no reason in the years that followed 9/11. I understand why people are tired of the fact that we have been in conflict for so many years. I also understand that our nation needs men and women to be willing to project our power on an international scale in order to take a proactive approach to terrorism. You can’t argue with the fact that the Taliban and Al Qaeda have been deposed from power. Granted, the power vacuum this created allowed for ISIS to develop and begin wreaking havoc on the middle east. Yet American force projection has toppled their stronghold as well.

My fears about the world my son will grow up in are silenced by my hope for the nation he will grow up in. This is a nation that banded together in response to an attack. We have since removed two terrorist organizations and a dictator from power in the middle east. We work to continue to depose a horrible dictator in Syria as well.  I have served with great men and women from all over this nation. I have seen the best we have to offer. My experiences with those beautiful bastards who wore the EGA on their uniform and had it burned into their soul, make me proud of the country my son gets to be a citizen of. It is hard for so many of us to pull the positive out of a day like today and the conflict that has raged on ever since. It was a horrible day, but our response demonstrated the capabilities of a beautiful nation. A nation I am absolutely proud of and will continue to stand behind. God willing, we will leave it a nation our children will want to stand behind as well. Whether or not we do, is up to us as a people in how we view the actions of our past and the decisions we make for our future.


About the Author

John McCarthy is the founder of the Post Modern Patriot blog and the host of our podcast. He is a former Marine Infantry Officer, Husband, father, and son. He is obsessed with individual performance in the realms of health, wealth, relationships, and the intersection of all three. He strives to share that with the world so that he can empower others to live boldly. Let’s leave a legacy!!!

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