Transcripts > The Tim Ferriss Show > Terry Crews — How to Have, Do, and Be All You Want
Boys and girls, ladies and gents, this is Tim Ferriss and thank you for joining me once again. As always, it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers from every field imaginable, to tease out the habits, routines and so on that you can use. This episode is a very special one, it was such a treat and you will realize why once we get into it. It was recorded live at the Aratani Theater in Los Angeles in front of a sold-out crowd. Thank you to everyone who came. This was for Live Talks LA, and the guest was from within the pages of Tribe of Mentors, Terry Crews.
You may have heard of Terry Crews before. Twitter, Instagram @TerryCrews; Facebook, @RealTerryCrews; Terrycrews.com. Terry Crews is an actor and former NFL player, Los Angles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. His wide-ranging credits include the original viral Old Spice commercials, television series such as The Newsroom, Arrested Development, and Everybody Hates Chris, films including White Chicks, very underrated film, I think it’s fantastic, The Expendables, Franchise, Bridesmaids and The Longest Yard. He now stars on the Golden Globe award-winning Fox sitcom, Brooklyn 99.
In 2014, Terry released his autobio, Manhood, subtitled ‘how to be a better man or just live with one’. We start in some really unusual places in this conversation. It takes us a little bit of time to warm up as it very, very often does, but stick around because this conversation really, really delivered. With Terry, you just have to give him the ball and let him run with it, and that applies metaphorically in so many different capacities. I really hope you enjoy this conversation. If you enjoy it even half as much as I did, you will love it, it was that much fun.
I remember for hours afterwards, I went out to have wine and dinner with a few friends and I just said, “God. Man, Terry really, really hit a home run with this evening. He just killed it.” I think you get a feeling for why that’s the case. A lot of these stories you have never heard before, a lot of the tips, the tools, favorite books and so on, the elaborations, you have never heard before. Terry is a true original. Here we go, without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Terry Crews.
Wow. You all, what’s up?
Man, it’s so good. How are you all doing? This is awesome. I love Tim Ferriss.
This has been so surreal for me. First greeting you, this is the first time we’ve met in person and clapping him on the trap and feeling like I was trying to move a steer. I realized you are, in fact, as big as you look on television.
First and foremost, I really just wanted to thank you for, and I mentioned this backstage, but being so deliberate and thoughtful in your responses because I do know how busy you are, and we’re going to talk about that schedule. You really took the time to put intention into your answers and people have just gone berserk. It’s been a very powerful impact, so thank you for that.
I thought we’d start somewhere that perhaps people wouldn’t associate you with, if that’s even English, but you guys get my drift, and that is art. I went onto your Instagram profile, not too long ago, and I saw a number of different profiles. Then I started digging, and I didn’t want to tease out too much because I wanted to talk about it. Could you tell us a little bit about your background with art?
Wow. First of all, I grew up in Flint, Michigan, very popular place right now. [laughs] I drank the water, I did. I’m a little crazy. The deal was, is that I’ve always been left handed, right brained and very visual about everything in my life. I remember it was a – I have a older and a younger sister. When my brother was off to school, I was about four, five years old, I hadn’t gone to kindergarten yet. I used to just sit and draw all day long.
It was something where I remember being inside of a painting or a picture, or a drawing and time would stop. I would be there for almost – I remember starting a drawing or whatever and it would turn into night, it would be eight hours that have gone by and it felt like, literally, 20 minutes.
I got better and better. But this is the deal too, is that I was always, always disappointed as an artist because it never looked the way I wanted it to look. So every drawing, every painting became this effort to make what was in my head match what was on the paper. I’m still doing that. In regards to performances, in regards to drawing, in regards to my furniture, in regards to all the things that I’ve ever tried to do, it’s still not as good as it is in my head.
That’s crazy. It is this weird, but I think my whole life has been trying to match up with this thing and this vision that I have in my head. I don’t think I’d ever get there, but it’s fun to try.
I want to dig into a few details of this, because you’re a very understated guy. You used to paint portraits of football players as a means of making money, not only that, you had an art scholarship before you had a football scholarship. Is that right?
So this isn’t just me as a professional courtesy trying to paint wholistic picture of somebody bigger than what you see on screen. This guy is a real artist. Speaking of someone, that I want to be a penciller for about 15 years. So throughout college and everything else, an illustrator trying to pay some of the bills, I was a very, very bad bouncer, I’m not built for it, and I suppose a mediocre illustrator, but I really, really appreciate that. How did art serve you through these 17 to 20 lives that you seem to have led?
Man, you’ve got to know. Growing up in Flint, there were a number of obstacles, crazy, crazy obstacles because I grew up at the height of the crack epidemic and also the demise of the auto industry. There were two things happening at once. They were both horribly bad. Probably late ’70s all the way through the ’80s and to the ’90s was literally The Walking Dead. It was real. You had people who were cracked out. I had friends, family who one day were a good people. The next day, they were stealing everything you had. All the way to everyone you knew were losing their jobs. It was a panic.
I remember there were two ways out. One was through music and performing. Another way was athletics, but you couldn’t get paid doing art. [laughs] You know what I mean? It was kind of everybody, “That’s a wonderful picture,” but you’re a starving artist, that’s the whole term. I remember just saying, “Okay, I’m going to do this art thing, but I had to do the football thing too.” These are my ways out.
Now, I didn’t believe that I was actually going to get any life as an artist, but I had one teacher, one man, Mr. Eickelberg. I’ll never forget this. He was like, He said, “Terry, you are an amazing artist.” He was like, “I’m the art teacher. You’re better than me.” He said, “You can go somewhere with this.” I was like, “Okay, but nobody’s going to pay me to do this. Nobody. It’s good but I’ve got to use football.” He filled out all the applications for me. I didn’t even know. This is crazy. He took my pictures and my paintings and everything that I did. He took them, he got them photographed, did all these stuff, sent them to Interlochen Arts Academy. Interlochen is this world-famous -
Big, big deal arts camp up in northern Michigan near Traverse City. You study with people from all over the world. He literally came to me and told me he’d already filled out everything and he said, “Terry, you have a scholarship from Chrysler for a right to go to Interlochen Arts Academy.” I was like, “What are you talking about?”
First of all, I didn’t think it was possible. This is the deal. There’s a lot of things – It’s weird because you’ve got to let people believe in you, but I didn’t believe in myself. When I got a chance to go to Interlochen and study with people from Europe and from Brazil, and this was mainly music students and they didn’t have art students, it was just this, like – Coming from Flint, coming from the hood.
And then – This changed my life. Once I remember we had – and it was really big on competition, very, very big on competition. It was like, if you were a violinist, you had to be the first chair and second chair. I remember all these kids were disappointed because they kept moving down and they would just feel like they were crushed.
The same thing with art, they gave us two paint – We had to do two drawings. We had the whole class doing these drawings, they said, “Put your drawings on the wall and don’t put your name on them. We have this guy coming from the Cleveland Institute of Art, he’s going to judge each painting. We want to see who’s the best.” I was like, “Oh, man.” And so, I did my deal and I put all – It was a wall full of art, and the art guy pointed at mine and he said, “That one’s the best one.” Then he went all the way across the room and he said, “That one.” And they were both mine.
I was like, “Now, life is a confidence game.” Because then, you couldn’t tell me nothing. [laughs] I was like, “Damn it, I’m good.” I got too arrogant and then I got arrogant. “I’m the best one here.” And then you have to be humble some other way. That let me know, I was like, “Wow. I can do it, I can do it. I’m really as good as these people – this is all over the world.” Then I got a scholarship to Western Michigan University in art, but it was small, it wasn’t full ride, but it was a small deal. I got an art scholarship and walked on to the football team.
My mom passed away about almost three years ago, and she always would tell me, she was like, “Whatever you do – I know you’re doing all this football stuff, you’re doing all these other things, but never forget, you’re an artist babe, you’re an artist.” [sobbing] I’m telling you, when I see what I’m doing right now, I get to do so many things that so many people never got to see. I get to go so many places and do so many things that none of the people who wanted to were able to. I feel like there is a responsibility, but also if I don’t do it, everything they’ve gone through is nothing.
The way I approached things is really, it’s kind of, for everyone else. I have to try it, I have to go for it. I knew, even as I was doing football and I was doing all this stuff, I remember once – Because football was hard. Football was a very, very, again, another competitive deal. You would get on the team, and then I would get cut. I was like, “I have to depend on this art thing because this is what got me here.” And so, I would go back in the locker room, and this is – I was married, I had two kids at the time. I would go back in the locker room and go to the players and I would ask them if they wanted their portraits painted.
The weird thing is, they were like, “Oh, come on man. You can’t it.” I would show them my portfolio and they were like, “Damn, dude. All right.” And I was like, “Look, man. I want to paint you over this big – I’m going to put you and you can be a giant over the city, and you can have wings.”
And let me tell you, football players are the most egotistical people in the world, they were like, “Oh damn. Yes, man I want the wings. How much for them wings, man?” And I was like, “Oh, yes.” I would do these masterpieces.
I have to tell you this too, I did have a scam. I had a scam. This is a scam in college. What happened is, I was playing football but when you play football, you don’t get money for supplies, you only get book loans. See, scholarship is a jip, I’m telling you, the NCAA is a jip, dude, the whole deal. You are not a student-athlete, you are semi-pro. That’s all it is, there’s no student in it. I’m just putting it right down. What was crazy is that I was like, “Hey, but I wanted to study art.” They were like, “Why don’t you just study business or something so it’s easier to get by.” Because the whole thing is just getting by, take a class so you can go to football practice. I was like, “I’m an artist.” They were like, “Okay, whatever.”
I will go to these labs and I would make. This is what I had it planned. In the summer, I would make probably 10 paintings and then I would make four of them really suck, they would be really, really bad. I’ll bring those in the beginning of each these labs and I’ll go to the teacher. I was like, “Man, what’s wrong with this?”
“Help me out here.” He was, “Oh Terry, oh my God. Look, okay we’re going to work on your perspective and we’re going to do this.” I was like, “Yes, I know. Help me.” Then I’d go home and then I go to practice for a month and never do anything else because I had the paintings done, then I’d bring another one in that was a little bit better.
Let me tell you, I did this the whole semester and then I would bring out the masterpieces.
Later I’d say, “Look how much you helped me.”
“You took me from here to there, sir.” He was like, “You get an A. You are awesome.” Again, the whole thing was a scam, but I had to survive. I had to find a way to stay in school because this is the thing, a lot of people don’t know is that they could take your scholarship. It was crazy. It was one of those things where you are there as a body and if you don’t perform, they’ll find a way to get rid of you. So upset, I’m out. That’s a whole another subject.
You mentioned surviving. You strike me as a really well-adapted survivor. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve experienced a lot in your life. You mentioned very briefly backstage and I said, “No, I want to talk about this in front of everybody,” a vow that you and was it your brother or your friend made?
Say that again.
A vow that you made. Could you explain that? Give the story of that from your childhood.
Well, first of all, this is the deal, I love to de-mystify. When I was a kid, no one would tell us anything. Anything. You got to think, growing up in Flint, Michigan which is a factory town, it’s literally crabs in a bucket. I said this before but people will say, “You know, you can do anything you want to do, Terry Crews. You can do it. You tell them what you want to do.”… “What the hell makes you think you can do that?”
Later, “Man, you’d just said we could do anything we want to do. You just said that.” And I will call them on it but it was wild is because again, at a factory town, everybody drove the same car. You had the same house. Everything were the same. You went the same stores. There was this one place called Myers 50 Acres everybody would go. You will find all the same food. It was the same clothing. Everything was the same. I didn’t want any of it.
I remember just asking people, “How do you get from here to there? What’s the secret to this? What’s ….” “One you’re going to find out. You’ve just got to tough it out.” “Come on, man.”
“I’m nine, all right?” I didn’t want – What I did, me and my best friend made a vow. We made a vow that, “Whatever you learn something that I don’t know, you are going to have to tell me. If I learn something you don’t know, I promise to tell you.” This is how I got through my whole teenage years. Let me tell you, my father was a drunk, he was abusive. My earliest memory is him hitting my mother in the face as hard as he could and her to get knocked out. I knew for a long time that I had to do something to get out. What that does to a five-year-old child is that you realize, “First of all, he says he loves her. He just knocked her out, so what he’s going to do to me?” I remember trying to be very, very strong as a young kid. I remember I would lift up couches, make muscles. The whole thing was I was obsessed with becoming strong. What was wild is that right along with that, you had to be smart because this is another thing that’s crazy.
In masculinity, we always say, “Hey man, we never negotiate with a terrorist. Never.” but if you talk to a real negotiator, you always negotiate with a terrorist. Now stop. First of all, I had to negotiate with my father. When he got mad, I was like, “Hey man, you want another beer? What do you need?” and then I’ll turn on the TV. “Okay… Okay, everybody be quiet. Everybody be quiet because he’s here.” I spent all my young days negotiating with that. Then you go outside, you got the drug dealer, you got the bully, you got the gang member.
I was like, “Hey man.” I walk on this side of the street, other side of the street. Are we cool? Okay. You didn’t want me to go over there? All right. Cool. All right. I didn’t talk to you girl. I didn’t talk to your sister. I didn’t. I didn’t. Dude, so you negotiating now? All right, go to football. That world and you’re negotiating with coaches. I had a coach who was like, “Hey man. I like Tyrone.” This is a white guy. “I’m going to call you Tyrone.” I said, “My name is Terry coach.” He said, “I like Tyrone. Your name is Tyrone.” He called me freaking Tyrone. Do you know how abusive that is? How demeaning that is, but I had to negotiate with this guy, because he had my dream in his hand.
I was like, “What am I going to do? Okay, this is my way to make money. This is my way out of Flint. This is my way out of doing whatever I got to do.” You’re Tyrone. Okay. I will be Tyrone right now. That’s what I have to do. It’s so wild because you realize this negotiation thing keeps playing and it plays out in different ways. You know what I mean? I’m going to have to bring it up because I want to bring up what’s happening in Hollywood right now. Because you have a lot of people who are negotiating with terrorists. You’re negotiating with people who are holding your dreams in their hands. It’s kind of wild because I’ve been through all this. I mean all the way from my dad. All the way up to Hollywood. You spend 20 years building this career and freaking have to negotiate with a terrorist for my own dream.
I’m sitting here like, “Wait a minute, man. I don’t have to put up with that. I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to put up with it.” It’s kind of wild because you have to get to a point in every job and everything when you just had enough. There was times in the hood when I said I had enough and I fought back. There was a time with my dad I said I had enough and I beat his ass. There was a time now when I’ve had enough with this shit and I said, “No more. No more. This, I’m not going for.” It’s wild because you give people a shot. You give people a shot. You give people a chance to make things right. To say, “Hey man you’re not doing me right.” This is the deal. I’ve learned too – I’m sorry. I know there’s probably some questions, but I’m going all.
I’m tired of hearing myself talk. No no.
My wife said, “He damn near interviews himself.” That’s the deal.
That’s why she’s not here tonight.
That’s the lazy man’s interview.
[laughs] I know.
The monologue. Lazy man interview.
Damn it. Damn it. I hate it. I’ve got so much to say. I’m sorry. It’s just trying to get it off my chest, man. I’m getting it off my chest. First of all, it’s so wild because once you reach certain spots and you have to negotiate with these guys long enough to get what you need, to get what you have to have and then you can move on. When I look at what art has done for me – Right now I have a furniture collection. Bernhardt gave me a collection of furniture. I segwayed into that. I still do art, I still paint and I still draw. I plan on literally having art shows… Later in my life, just really becoming full pledged with painting and drawing and the whole thing. One thing is that, it’s really been something that no one can take from me.
It’s something that I can do, all on my own. I don’t care. You don’t have to like it. If I like it, it’s okay. It’s become one of the things that in my life, that’s what art is. It’s literally subjective. It’s what you want to see. Again, it’s all about can I get this vision that it’s in my head on this piece of paper? Now, it’s almost like my life has turned into art. I want the vision of who I am and who I want to be out in real life. I like to call myself a motivational doer. I hate talking so much. I’m a big talker, as you can tell, but the big thing is, I want to back everything up with action. I want to be an action figure. Always, always back it up with movement. Don’t talk about working out. You can do that all day, but do it.
That was the big, big distinction I’ve seen especially growing up in the hood so many people, “Man, I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that,” And men, I said, “Man, why haven’t you? Why aren’t you?” Everything you see me doing, I just said I’m going, I’m trying, I’m going for it, I don’t care, and we’ll see what happens. Okay, questions.
I think the time is up.
We’ll be here all week.
All right, I have two questions related to everything you just said. It’s going to take 10 minutes for me to get him out. The first one is related to how you responded to all of those challenges, you had an abusive father, you have an abusive coach you’ve all these various challenges, and there a lot of people who I suspect and I know some of them who respond to those environmental factors by becoming bitter, and not doing. Where did you develop your optimism or that ability to be proactive, because a lot of people just opt out, they feel like the deck is stacked against them, and they choose not to even attempt.
This is real man. I learned it from my wife. For me – listen, I’ve been a part of the supermasculine, the toxic masculine world for so long, and I had a come to Jesus meeting, so to speak. Literally everything was ending. I was a narcissist totally, still I’m a little bit, definitely, but I’m working on it.
How old are you just to -
I would say it’s an ongoing process. I would say over the last 17 years, literally from 17 years ago to now, it was like whoo, especially after football. Once football ended and the entertainment thing kind of happened I started – I had to learn you can’t fight your way out of things. You have to think your way out of things, and I noticed how my wife behaved, and I noticed how – actually how women behave. Because women have to think their way out of all kinds of situations, whereas guys we can muscle our way through, and do our stuff and whatever. But I realized that that was not getting me anywhere, and my wife really taught me that vulnerability is not weakness, that I had to be vulnerable, but I had to be authentic at the same time, and she would always, always talk to me and tell me that, “Terry, you have to” – and she would always tell me the truth. There’s nothing more vulnerable than somebody whose going to speak the truth into your life, and she would constantly tell me, “This is wrong. The way you’re acting right now is awful”, and I’m just like, “What? I’m like all these other guys”, because that’s what guys do, you compare yourself to all the other guys.
And you say, “Compared to them, I”m good, right?” She’s like, “I’m done.” I’ll never forget the first time I had a big job, I remember I got a big movie or whatever and I remember I was walking around this party, and I had a cigar and I was walking around, and I was – man, I had the swag, I had the all things, she was like, “Okay, you can stay over there, I’m going to be over here”, and I was like, “What are you talking about? What? I’m winning, I’m winning.” She was like, “No baby, uh, uh. No, no.” I was like, “Whoo.” And I realized, just in those little ways, I was losing her.
I had to put the cigar down, come back over there, and she said, “Now, that’s my Terry.” I was like, “Oh wow.” Then I had to be the same way with my kids. I have two grown kids, actually three now. My oldest daughter is 30, I have another one is 27, and they were the football kids who went through the whole toxic masculine phase, I have to tell you, I tell the kids all the time, those two, I’m like, “Look, you want cash, credit, whatever, you get it because I messed you all up really bad.”
“I did. I messed you up bad.” I’m like, “I’m so sorry.” I constantly apologize, constantly trying to make amends because I was too tough, I was too hard, I was way – Now, they look at the other ones, and they look, “You treat them so good.” I’m like, “I know. I’m so sorry. What can I say?” But again, my wife has been the example for me, and I remember when I had one of the biggest fights that I ever had in my life, was an addiction to pornography, and I put it in my book, but the whole thing was, once I realized that I, Terry Crews, thought that I was more valuable than my wife and kids simply because I was a man, and that allowed the pornography to exist in my life. Because they were objects.
Let me tell you man, I’ll never forget my wife was like, “I’m done. I’m out. I’ve had enough.” In the first I was like, “Okay go. Bye. I’ll just find another girl, it’ll be all good.”, and all of a sudden, there was a little voice and it said, “Maybe it’s me.” I was like, “No, it couldn’t be me. It couldn’t be.” I’m like, “Come on. She’s not understanding.” Everything was looking out like this. Everything was blaming everybody else for what I was going through.
That voice came back again, it’s like a cracked egg. Once that egg cracks, you can’t close it up, you can’t seal it again. I was like, “It is me. It is me.” Let me tell you, it was like one day thinking that the sun revolves around the earth and then somebody going no, no, no, no, no, no, we go around the sun, dude. I was like, oh shit. It’s a whole another deal and I went to rehab. This is another thing in black culture, you don’t get therapy. It’s viewed as very, very weak. You’re a punk, you’re sorry. I broke through all of that. That’s when it all started for me. Then the next goal was to start talking, because even now, right now, this right here is therapy for me. It’s therapy. Talking about things, sharing my heart. It helps me to line up what’s right in my life.
I have to give this man props too. I remember when I told you about looking for the answers and looking for the question, getting questions and trying to find the answers, I would go to these books because it was all about finding answers, asking questions, questions, question. I still have a thing on my social media called the hard questions, where I just ask questions. If we can’t ask questions, we’re doomed, we’re doomed. Okay, I’m done.
I can’t stop talking.
When I was looking at your history and your book and your backstory, one thing that I paid attention… there was a pattern– an uncommon degree of self reflection. I want to rewind the clock a little bit back to high school. One of stories that you put in Tribe of Mentors is related to my question, related to favorite failures or a failure that set you up for later success. Could you tell us a little bit about that please?
Yes. 1986, that was my senior year in high school. I went to Flint Academy, it was a classy school but we were highly ranked in the state. I used to be a basketball player, that’s hard to believe now. Basketball, it was a big sport for me, but I was the starting center on this team. What was wild is we were picked to go all the way in the state. We had a superstar on our team and we had a really, really good team. We played against the school who decided not to play with the district championship. It was right the beginning of a playoff and these guys would take the ball down the court and pass the ball to each other at the top of the court and wouldn’t play.
We had a coach who was like, “You know what, I’m going to beat you at your own game.”, so we stayed in the zone. We sitting there the whole time and it is the most boring game of all time. We just sat there with our hands up and they passed the ball, and if anything happens, somebody went and got it. You scored two. It was just a mess. So the score was really, really low. They were up 47 to 45. It was literally under a minute. I’m freaking out because now is evident we’re going to lose. I’m going, “Man, this is a dumb like defense of strategy.”
Anyway, we should’ve been going after it, but what happened is a guy threw the ball, their guy threw the ball crosscourt. I intercepted it and that would literally 5 seconds left to go.
I take the ball all the way down the court. You’ve got to understand, I had visions of, “Oh my God. This is the day. I’m the hero.” My heart is pounding. I’m already at the party. I go with this lay up, and I bring it up there, and I totally, it gets around the rim and it rolls off. Let me tell you, that place goes nuts because it was the upset of the year. I collapse in a heap. I know my life is over. This is another thing, shame among men. It’s like, “Oh, how could you do that?” Other players were yelling at me, the coach. I was in the locker room, he was like, “You had no business taking that shot.”
I stole a ball. We didn’t have a shot anyway. He was like, “You had no business taking that shot. You should have passed it. Man, it’s your fault.” Everybody in the room was like, “Yes.” They didn’t let me off. I remember just going, “Oh my god.” I went in the paper and the paper the next day was like, “Terry Crews had a shot and he missed.” It was the most dark – When you’re 16 years old, I was – beyond cries. One guy was taunting me. I got into a fight after the school and the whole thing and I was just like, “This is horrible.” It was a couple of days went by and I was in the deepest funk.
I’m sitting on my bed and I shared my room with my brother, but for some reason, he wasn’t there because I always remember being there. It was great. I don’t ever remember being alone except that time. I remember being alone and just thinking about, “I should’ve passed it. I should’ve passed it. Maybe I messed up. What else could I have done?” Then another little voice, it said, “I took the shot. I took the shot.” I was saying, “I did. I did.” I kept thinking, I was like, “Man, look, when you had the chance, when everything was on the line, you took your shot, man. You did that. You did that. All of a sudden I was like, “That’s right. That’s right. I took it.” I learned from then on.
I said, “Wait a minute. If I win or if I fail, is going to be on my terms. It’s going to be up to me. If I have the opportunity, I have to go for it.” Then I felt really good about losing the game. You can call it re-framing. A lot of people have scientific ways or psychological ways to do things, but I learned always to re-frame things so that it’s to your advantage. You look at these things like, “Wait a minute, you took the shot man.” This is another thing because what’s so crazy is that no one ever remembers that game. It is one of the least important things in my life, but the lesson I learned is still guiding me today.
The fact that, go for it, take your shot, take your time. When you get that thing, you have the opportunity, don’t mess it up. This is another thing, and I want to tell you, Tim, the scariest thought ever is one thing that blew me away, is that, you really do get what you want. Let me tell you what I mean, there have been times when you can be self-destructive. You think it’s something else. I discovered for a long time, if I show up late or something twice, I don’t want it. You get what you desire. Everything about you, you get what you want. Now, the way your life is truthfully the way you want it.
That’s hard, that’s hard to say because other people are like, “No way, there’s so many other things out there. There’s this and this and this and this.” The truth is, is that if you wanted something different, you change it. That hit me. It’s scary because if I failed or if I showed up wrong or messed up on something, I was like, “I didn’t really do what it took to get it.”
Again, that comes from taking that shot way back in high school, but now I realize, okay, get rid of any, what I call, self-sabotage and you can achieve whatever you need.
This is such a pattern that I’ve seen across interviews that I’ve done… We talked about Jamie Foxx backstage. But it goes all the way across the spectrum, say Debbie Millman, who’s a well known graphic designer and she realized at one point and then made her matra at one point, “Busy is a decision.” You can’t… you’re disallowed from complaining, responding to someone when they say, “How are you?” with the complaint that you are busy because that’s a consequence of your decisions.
When did it, for you, books enter the picture as a force that begin to mold you or guide you? Do you remember? Because there were, for instance, there’s a book that you mentioned when I asked in the book about those books you’ve gifted most to other people. The Master Key System.
The Master Key System, okay.
All right. That’s one example, but I’d love to hear you talk about that certainly. So maybe we can start with that. When did that show up for you?
Wow. Again, I’m a self-help book nut. I therapize all the time, I have audio books going nonstop, and I have been doing that for almost 25 years, literally. I probably read everything. That is why I’m a big fan of yours. But -
You’re like there are only these Tim Ferriss books left. Damn it. Have been avoiding this guy for months.
But when I got this book called The Master Key System and what was wild to me, it broke down some things in ways that I could understand because you hear certain things but you have to hear things in a different way so that you can grasp it. One of the concepts in the book is that in order to have, you have to do. In order to do, you have to be. I sat and I would contemplate this thing a lot. I was like, “What does this mean?” What does this mean? It sounded like jibberish, it sounded a little bit like what is is, what was will be, that kind of stuff. What will be was, what will be again. I’m like, “Okay.” But once you really examined it, is that, and I’ll bring fitness into this.
With fitness, you are fit before your body ever gets in shape. You have to be fitness. Every person who lost 200 pounds can tell you the moment way back then when they knew they were going to be their ideal weight. That’s the moment it was big. “It was my ideal way, I’m going to be that.” Then your body just goes right into it. I heard a great quote the other day like follow your heart and your body will catch up. I think that that’s the way it is with everything. The Master Key System book broke it down where I had to say I always had a dream that one day I may have money, one day and I say, “Wait a minute. I’m rich. I’m rich now.”
This is the thing, I didn’t have a penny. But when you do things and you say, “Okay, now that I’m rich, what would a rich man do?”
This is really important.
You see? What would a rich man do? I started doing things that rich people did, and once I did it, I had it. How to be. I was like, “Oh, my God, this works” I studied. I bought 20 copies. I handed it out to everybody. Every family member, they were like, “Come on, what is it? Thank you, Merry Christmas. All right, I want some money.”
But it was so funny because I was like, “Guys, you’ve got to understand this. You are what you are now. There is only now. This is all you have.” It’s like if someone, I had to break ti down where if you were trying to get to LA and you didn’t know you were already here, you just keep walking, you keep going. You’d be all over the place until finally you realize, wait a minute, I’m here. But that’s the way fitness, success, any goal, any aspiration, you must be it now.
That book… That thing you want to accomplish, you have to be it now. You are an author. Now what do authors do? Authors write. When authors write, they have a book. I’m telling you, it sounds really, really, really simple, but once you get it, forever you will never think of anything the same way again.
This is a something I want to underscore, and I give a close cousin example that’s really helped me out. For instance, historically I’ve been really impatient, and for a while, that aggression and impatience was an aid and a help in certain places, but it very quickly in excess became a huge handicap and a big problem. I would surround myself with people who were more patient, more tempered, calmer, like one friend of mine named Matt Mullenweg. He’s a technologist, incredible guy. I started asking myself when I was going into situations that I thought might trigger me, what would Matt Mullenweg do.
How would Matt respond to this email before I freak out and start throwing hay makers and have to do clean up for a week, but that’s an example. If I were Matt right now in this instance, even though I haven’t magically turned to Matt, but if I were and I acted like him, what I do and I started making better decisions, then lone behold over time started to then develop those characteristics. I think it’s a really important point you’re making.
There’s another question that I’ve been dying to ask you, and it relates to a juxtaposition that I hope you can explain the subtleties of a little bit. You are and have been called the hardest working man in Hollywood. That sounds like a cliche, but you have so many different projects and have lived so many different lives. You’re incredibly productive. Going along with that, when I asked you, and this was one of my favorite parts of what you wrote, bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise and the quote was, “Work hard to beat the competition.” This is what you said which actually is very close to what people like Peter Thiel and other people say, it’s very, very similar, “The truth is that competition is the opposite of creativity. If I’m working hard to beat the competition, it actually prevents me from thinking creatively to make all concepts of competition obsolete.”
I’d love you to expand on that or give any examples of how that has helped you in your career, in entertainment, because a lot of people, for instance, like out of the NFL, they don’t make the transition to other things well at all. Could you expand on that?
Wow. Everything that I decided I wanted to do in life was very competitive. I mean sports, entertainment, it’s always been about – It’s funny because this whole thing is a dog eat dog world, but dogs don’t eat other dogs.
They don’t. Have you ever seen a dog eat another dog? I’ve never seen it. It doesn’t happen. I was like, wait a minute, you’ve got to start questioning yourself. We take that like,” Yeah, man. We got to fight to do that.” What happened was, I bought in. I bought in. This is how I know it doesn’t work. I bought in. I was hooked line and sinker about being competitive. I was all to beat everybody. I would look at people, I will look at you and smile and want to destroy you.
That was my whole m.o. and I became a very fake person, very duplicitous, very sly, very cunning, very clever, but there were no real substance because it was all about beating the other person. The NFL teaches you. It was a while that you have players that are on the same team and they will play one against the other and they would plant things in your head and say you’re a little old or you’re too young, you don’t know what’s going on.
I’ll never forget one guy who’s an older player, I was like, I said, “What we do on cover two?”, he was like, “Go left. Go left.” I went left and they were like, Terry, what are you doing?” I looked over at him, he was like [clears throat], and I knew he set me up. I said, “Wow. This competitive shit is hard.” Then it was about, it’s literally scorched earth. What happens is when you compete, you’re just trying to beat you, this guy next to me, this guy, we are on top, I’m trying to be the best. All of a sudden, you focus all your attention on beating that guy.
But, when you’re running, you really can’t look at the other guy and really run an effective race. It’s like, life is a race and the whole thing so you say, “Okay, I’m going just look straight ahead”. But life is not a race, it’s not even a race, it’s a marathon. Then you realize it’s not even a marathon, it’s a trail run. What’s crazy is that there people who are out here running on this track to beat each other.
When all the gold and everything you are supposed to get, is way over here on this mountain and you just walk over and get it, that is creativity. In creativity there is no running, you just do you. The idea you have – I am going to give you a great example. When I was approached to do a furniture line for Bernhardt, I didn’t know what I was doing, I had no clue. But I did, I did know this, do not compete. Don’t try to beat whatever is out there already. I created this whole thing.
I was sitting in my room, I have an office and I was sitting in this office. I was thinking like, man, what would happen if Egypt was a culture that existed today? What would furniture look like in Egypt? Then I just started drawing, I just started creating and I started making. Let me tell you, it went for days and days. I came with so much stuff because I wasn’t thinking about anything. I threw away the book. I was like just – what would I do? Let me tell you, when I got done, I created this thing called the Lilypad, it was funny, the chairman of the company said, “Terry, no one has ever created anything like this before.”
I was like, “Yo, come on.” I really thought he was joking with me. Then I had all these other designers commenting. They said this Lilypad thing. It’s a chair on a table, combined. No one has ever done that. You’re kidding me, right? Let me tell you something, I literally did Fallon just the other day. We were doing interviews on Jimmy Fallon in my Lilypad chair. He was like, no one did this. It’s winning awards, it’s just doing all the stuff and I’m sitting here flipping out because the creativity is where is at. If I’d even tried to do a better chair than you, it would have looked like a chair. It would have been something that everybody has done. But maybe a little tweak over here, a little tweak aware there.
But when you are creative, it takes you to a whole another place. There are musicians, artists, businessmen, who have decided, wait a minute. Because you’re looking what Steve’s job has done. If he tried to make better records, he would have never come up with MP3, and never come up with iPod. It’s like, you have to be so far in your own self. This is the greatest thing, is that there is no one else is like you. There were never ever be, the world will never ever see another you, ever. No one will even have the temper of your voice. That’s what’s so crazy. And no one can ever do anything like you.
Everything you really want to do is original, that’s just the truth. And once I was able to see that and know and also it’s a confidence game. Because you have to know that your viewpoint is just as viable. For one, I have to say, sometime as a woman or sometime as a person of color or where you’re from and where you got, you feel like, I don’t measure up. You feel like, they’re not going to see me. I had to fight that, I had to fight all that. I am creative, I’m not competing with you. In another comparison, I like to say Is Fifth Avenue. You go to Fifth Avenue, if Gucci was every store in Fifth Avenue and Gucci won, Gucci won Fifth Avenue, no one would go.
You need the success of Gucci, Parada, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, for your thing to be successful. You need other successful restaurants because some night, they’re not going to feel like that. They want yours. But if everybody ate the same thing, we would all hate it. This is why now, and as an actor, I used to get very, very jealous. You see a billboard of something you auditioned for, you’re like, “Man, I hate that dude. He is not that good.” [laughter] Wait. Now, let me tell you, once I got it, I look at the Billboard and I say, “Man, his success is my success, because the bigger he gets, the more opportunities for me.” That’s the truth. That’s not even mambo-jumbo, it’s not a joke. If everyone here is successful, it makes you more successful. Once I knew that and realized it, there was no going back.
Terry Crews, category of one. It’s easier to create a new category than to compete.
[laughs] That’s it.
I love it. I want to ask one or two more questions and then we’ll go to audience Q&A. But what I’d love to know is, as a father, you have five kids, is that right? Also a grandfather with better skin than Tim Ferriss. I need to learn your secrets of moisturizing, but didn’t have time to get to the gym. I’ll be hitting you up later for those questions as well. But what advice would you give to a new parent or someone planning on having their first child? Father, mother or both.
First of all, it’s not that big a deal.
This is because you overdo it. You’re going to overdo it. Everything. It’s got to be the right school and… Let me tell you something, my oldest daughter had a whole another life I didn’t know about. I’m not kidding. I did it right. I am like, “Wait, what? What was that? You had a whole another what?” and you go, “Okay.” All your preparation, all you have to do is never shame them, ever. Never shame them, and literally love them till they can’t stand it anymore. I’m telling you this because I’ve made those mistakes.
I remember shaming my kids when – the thing is, shame is horrible because it tells you, you are bad. Guilt is good because you said you did something wrong. But shame. This is what I say when I messed up my first two. It feels good to shame, you feel like, “Hey, I’m doing a good thing. You know what? Shame on you. You should – how could you do something like that?” You say something like that to your kids, it’s bad because then they’re internalizing it. What I also realized is that it’s not every – they’re going to be fine, but you spend so much extraneous energy and time trying to do things and figure it all out for them when you have to let their consequences teach them.
Perfect example, this is a perfect example, I love this example. I have a TV at home, and what would happen is, I would be gone and I would come home and I would find the kids had watched TV for eight hours. I would be like, “What are you doing? This is crazy. I left you were watching TV and I come back, you’re still watching TV. This is nuts. When I turn it off, they were like, “Oh, hey you.” It was wild and I was like, “Man, I will turn it off.” What I did, I got this thing called a Bob. Bob is a little box you attach to your TV and it plugs in through the TV and every kid gets a code. You could set it for a half hour, hour, two hours, whatever.
I was like, “Okay, you kids are only going to watch TV for an hour.” I set it to one hour and the whole thing and they come in with their code and I would leave, they’re watching TV and I come back, they are sitting there like. I am like, “What? What happened?” They are like, “Bob.”
But see, this is the deal. I am like, “Did you watch your TV?” They go, “Yes.” I say, “Okay, well, you did good” They go, “Okay.” But they weren’t mad at me. You understand what I mean? It wasn’t, “Dad did it.” *t was their consequences. They did what they were supposed to do, they played it all out and now they are feeling the effects of their consequences. They are feeling their own discipline as opposed to me always behind them, “Pick up your stuff!… Why aren’t you doing this? Why aren’t doing that?” And all of a sudden the kids just are like, “He’s going to do it.”
Now, this is the great thing about being a grandparent. You are like, “They are going to be fine, dude. Send them home, bye bye.” But just don’t be that into it and let them feel their own consequences, it’s a beautiful thing, man, and it’s hard. I promise you, your first child is going to be hard.
One of the things I really appreciate about you and that led me to want to reach out to you is how forthcoming you’ve been about your difficulties and some of the challenges you faced, because I think a lot of folks we see on magazine covers and so on unfortunately give people the impression that they’re flawless. They have it all figured out and then people feel uniquely flawed in some way, that they’re damaged because they’re not that person. That’s unachievable. Could you share with us a story of any dark period in your life and how you found your way out of it? Things that helped you to navigate your way out of it.
I have a lot of dark times. You know what? I’m going to share this story which changed my life. First, I literally just got my first job in entertainment. I was on a TV show called Battle Dome where they literally put me in a cage and I fought my way out. It was so entertaining, but it was pre-MMA. You know I mean? People hadn’t seen blood on TV yet. We were the first. It was really nuts. People were bleeding, going to hospital, it was called real warriors, real pain and I played this character called T-money and that’s actually my wife’s pet name for me now. She’s like, “Hey, T-money”
We call this the Christmas from hell, because here I wanted to come home, I went home to Flint, Michigan with my family. Now, you’ve got to understand, my kids, at the time I had three. I have five total now, but I had three kids at the time and the girls were, and they were all girls, they were very small. They had never grown up with violence in the house. They’d never seen it. I told my father before I came, I say, “Hey man, don’t act up. Do not act up” and he said, “I ain’t going do nothing” I am like, “Okay, I’m bringing the family, I know it’s Christmas time, so just relax, man, and we’re going to be out of here. It will be fine.”
We get there, we are having a good time. My wife and I are going out. We actually are driving to Detroit to hang with friends, and I get this call. It was panic, my aunt called me, he said, “Terry, your daddy hit your mother in front of the kids. He got mad, he knocked her tooth sideways.” I am going, “I told him, I told him.” Now, we literally, I stopped the car, we turn it around, I tell my wife, “Okay, we’re going to go over my aunt’s house and you take the kids, go to aunt’s house, the whole thing. I’m done. I’m dealing with this.”
First, I went in his house, he had the nerve to still be there. I said, “Dude, what are you doing?” He was like, “Shut up, leave me alone. I could do what the hell I want” Boom. Let me tell you something, I beat this guy for about an hour. He was pleading for his life. I was like, “I’m not a child anymore. I’m a grown ass man. How does it feel? You are about to get what my mother has felt.” I laid it on him. He was hurt, bleeding, laid out. I’m surprised I didn’t kill him. I felt not one ounce better. I remember falling on the ground crying in tears. It didn’t make me feel one bit better. Not one. Now I was just down there with him.
I said, “This is the revenge I’ve dreamed about my whole life, and now nothing? Now I’m just like you?” I remember just feeling empty, cold, just, I don’t know what – it was the dark… it’s probably the darkest place I’ve ever been because this is the man, it was the reason I’m here. I put him in his place, so to speak. I’ll never forget, it was just the most hollow, hollow feeling I’ve ever had. We got out of there, it took me years to overcome that.
We got out of there, I got the kids out, we never came back. We were like we get the hell out of there, we are not doing this. But after years of therapy, and this was literally about six, no, six or seven years ago. What I what I’m talking about happened like ‘99, okay? I go back and I say, I go back to my father and I have been listening to things and trying to do this thing correctly.
I remember, I just said I have to find one thing that I can tell him that he did good. I said – we call him Big Terry because his name is Terry too. I say, “Big Terry, man, I want to thank you because if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here, and if I had to choose my parents, I’d choose you.” Because the truth is, he’s the reason I am here. If it was another person, I’d be another person. I said, “If I had to choose my parents, I’d choose you.” Let me tell you something. He just broke down. He said, “Terry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for beating your Mom, I’m sorry for everything I did.” Listen, man, I’ve never – those words broke him down.
He cried in my arms for about the same time as I was beating him years earlier. I was like, “This is not hollow. This feels good. This is healing” I said, “Man, I have to use my strength for good because everybody can knock somebody out, but to give a hug with muscles is a whole another matter.” I said, “That is how, that’s the vulnerability, that’s the authenticity. That’s where real healing takes place because shame wants punishment. It just wants to get back, boom boom, and it’s temporary. But guilt develops discipline when you admit I was wrong, because shame is when secrets and you don’t say anything, but guilt says, “I did it. I’m sorry”
Then you develop the discipline to change. Man, that again, it was one of the darkest periods in my life, but totally reversed and I decided that’s going to be my life. This is who I am. Some people got their ass whooped, I’m trying to say in between that though. I am trying to tell you it is one thing that some people try to take that and you are like… Get out of the way.
But what I want to say is that the big thing was that I knew that would never be the only way I would ever use that is to protect, not to get back. Not for revenge. There’s a time but I’m telling you, man, that was a period that I learned forever. Now again, my father, I wish I could say he changed, he went back to his old ways, but I’m healed. And I did the things I needed to do, and that’s it.
I have been looking forward to this interview for a long time. Thank you for that as well. I’m going to ask one more question and I we’ll go to audience for Q&A. It’s related to a question that I posed to you in the book, because whether it’s looking at some of your early decisions as a child or the toughness that you showed in athletics or doing what other people might consider risky by trying to create your own category in many different worlds or having that second conversation with your dad, I think there’s a quote that really exemplifies you and it’s actually a quote that you gave me in the book. It was in answering the question, if you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why. It begins with, “God will not.” Could you give us that quote please and explain its importance?
“God will not have His work made manifest by cowards.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s my favorite quote. I literally have it in my dressing room, put on the wall in giant letters, because fear begets more fear, but courage just begets more courage. You don’t even get to be born unless your mother has the courage to have you.
Any great thing, any… Literary creating a business to making art, it takes this courage. It takes this willingness to be looked at, to be judged, you have to face down your fears. You have to step outside and go. It helped me to just lay out what I was afraid of, because that’s the big thing. You have to ask yourself, what are you scared of, and then you have to attack. You have to literary lay out. I remember you talked about your swimming experience. I was always, when you grow up in the ghetto, they kick you into the pool and it’s not a very good experience.
We didn’t grow on a nice pool and the beach and the whole thing. It was in the hood and it was like, “Oh, man. It’s not good.” My first experience was horrifying. I almost drowned. One of my fears was swimming and I remember when I had a house with a pool and I remember going in the backyard and just diving into the deep end over and over again to get rid of the fear. It’s weird because you get near the edge and you go, “Oh man, here I am.” I have to beat it, and so I would just jump in and just keep jumping in, and keep jumping in, until you’re not afraid anymore. Because remember, it’s a confidence game.
That quote just when you think about anything that’s made, anything that’s created, anything that you see, that you admire takes so much courage. Because people are going to judge it and people are going to say, “Ah, that sucks.” Especially in the age of the internet, everybody is coming in and chipping in with whatever they have to say and you have to be willing and you have to be vulnerable in order – This is why vulnerability is actually strange, because the vulnerability is part of courage. You have to be willing to let people judge your stuff, willing to let people hear your song, willing to let people hear you sing.
It’s so wild because I’ll never forget. I got a story for that, is that, the first time I ever got a movie, it was a big movie. It was with Arnold Schwarzenegger, it was called The 6th Day. I’ll never forget. I thought it was going to be a quick roll. It turned out to be a big job that works six months in Vancouver. I’m like oh my God. The first day I was on set, I had to say this line, “Adam Gibson, come with us. Please come with us.”
I remember it and they said action and I walked up to Arnold and I was like, “Adam Gibson, we need you to come with us.” He turned and looked at me. I was like, “Oh, that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.” And wait, I mean lightning first. Everything went through my head like you don’t deserve to be here. You’re just a dump football player. You’re a farce, these people are going to figure you out. You’re a fake, you’re a phony, you fool everybody, it’s a wrap. They’re going to find out and they’re going to kick you out of here.
That was lightning first. Then something was wrong with the camera. They went, “Oh, you know what, we’ve got a problem with the lights. Give us five minutes”, and this was in a split second.
I remember because I froze. I know I froze. I remember and I just went to the side and I was like, “Terry, you survived NFL. Do you want” – and after I left NFL, I was sweeping floors, I was doing security, and then I went to do acting. I said, “Do you want to go back to sweeping floors? Do you want to go back to security? Going in there and say this lines, man.” I was literary cursing myself out. I was like, “Yo, get some guts dude.”
I walked back in there and they were like, “Action.” I said, “Adam Gibson.”
Arnold was like, “This guy, I like his energy. He’s got a lot of – he’s amazing I like him. He’s really” – Let me tell you, after that, I learned, go in, rush in. There has never been a time, it’s been almost 20 years and it has never been a time –and that’s why I want to demystify this thing. There has never been a time that I don’t have those bubbles right before action. Never, ever. It’s always there. Don’t let anybody trick you and act like oh man, I’m good. No. If they’re that good, they don’t care. I’m trying to tell you. If you care, you’re going to always be nervous. You’re going to always have to face it.
But when you walk in, it turns into a mirage and it just starts to disappear. I remember on the set of White Chicks, it disappeared. I remember I was rolling and I remember Keenan and Marlon Wayans. I was like, “You got any notes, Keenan?” He was like, “Man, do what you do man.” I remember just blowing and everything. People who know and there are a lot of people here who understand it. If you’ve ever been in a flow, it’s amazing.
There’s a time when all the writing just comes, the lines just come. The job is smooth. You’re like, “Man, I can do this all day” that’s by practicing, facing that fear. Fear just going in, going in, going in until you hit that zone. Man, it’s the high you will never, ever, ever experience. I encourage everyone. I’m here to demystify it. You will be nervous, always, but go anyway. It’s beautiful.
Terry Crews. All right.
I talk too much. [laughs]
I can listen for hours.
My wife has had enough of this. She will be like, “Oh My God, can we get out of here?”
We have like a number of audience questions, I think we’ll just jump right into it. Then if they’re directed at one or both of us, we will just play some improv-jazz here. This one is from Anonymous, my favorite person especially on the internet. But this is a good question. I’ll pose this one to you. Imagine your 95-year-old self-time traveling and came to you right now. What advice would he give you?
My 95 year old son?
Myself, self. Okay. Yes, I was like, “Okay, that’s a deep one.” That’s a movie.
Back to the future question.
That’s a movie right there. Okay. What would he tell me?
Yes. If your very old self came back to this moment and were to give you advice, what would it be?
I would like to think. He would tell me, “You’re doing the right thing.” Because actually and then be honest more so now than ever you start to wonder. I’m doing it, I’m going through this whole – I’m part of this whole sexual harassment thing that’s going on in Hollywood and you start to doubt like should I have come forward? Should I have said anything? I don’t know because I don’t even know and I’ll be straight honest, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career. That’s just real. The people I’m talking about are very, very powerful, they run everything, I’m just me and they’re very angry.
Retaliation is one thing that happens in this, but this is the truth. This has been happening to women for centuries. Centuries. They’ve been trying to do their thing, just trying to go to work. They rebuff some guy and he’s going to fire them and get his revenge. They end up getting their dreams messed up. But I want my 95-year-old self to say, “You did the right thing. Everything worked out.” It is dark because you just don’t know, but I also at the same time, I like it here. I like the adventure. I like not having everything planned.
I told you even coming out here, I don’t want to know the questions. I usually want to go off the beaten path because this is where the excitement is. I’ve never wanted to be safe and comfortable. It’s exciting here. Another thing is, is that with every person that comes out after and says, “You adding to the story helped me.” Courage begets courage. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’m with it.
You are doing the right thing.
What was that?
You are doing the right thing.
This is the question that changes, and this one is directed at me. But I’m going to also ask you. Since you’ve turned 40 years old recently, what lifestyle changes have you made, if any? Mostly it depends… That’s not true, I decided to turn my head upside and put my hair on my face so I can’t get on top. Life’s honestly, the lifestyle changes are not changing what’s worked. Does that make sense?
I’ve heard at every, what people would consider milestones, whether it’s 25, 30, 40, “It’s all done hill from here.” I’m like, “Yes, you seem like you stop doing everything you are supposed to be doing” I’m like, “I’m just going to keep doing the very simple approach that I have that’s regimented. It’s certainly, your warm-up would kill me. It would send me to the ER probably. But I have my simple approach that seems to work and it’s really not using excuses to stop doing those things because they seem to keep me strong. Not many lifestyle changes.
The only major change that has become very important to me at least in the last six to 12 months, in particular, is paying tremendous attention to trying to fix a lifelong habit of berating and brutally attacking myself with my inner voice. I have been extremely unkind to myself most of my life and I wish we have enough time to unpack that right now but yes, bad things happened to me really early and that made me very angry. I use that anger as a tool but as it’s been said the anger is the the acid in the vessel, it damages the vessel more than anything it’s poured on.
I really realized that in the last six to twelve months that if you want, this is my conclusion at least, that if you want to love people fully, if you want to share your gifts with the world, you cannot do it if you just tolerate yourself. You cannot do it if you don’t love yourself. Sounds like an indulgence, did to me for a long time, it’s not. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a must-have. That’s psychologically emotionally the biggest change that I’m trying to make. Now you are, even though you look 23, are about to turn the big 50.
I will be 50. Yes.
What lifestyle changes have you made or what are the most important habits that keep you looking 23?
Well, I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for about five and a half years and man, that was the most valuable lifestyle change for me. I found out, now again I see people who are much younger than me. I wouldn’t even recommend it for 20-year-olds because you can eat four pizzas and be fine. But as you get older and I grew up in the bro-science era where it’s like seven meals a day… oat meal.. blah, blah, blah.
A lot of that. It blew me away. I read this book called a Man 2.0 - Engineering the Alpha, and I was like, “This is crazy” It was unthinkable that my God, you are only eight hours in a day in a 16-hour pattern. I do it every day. Now, some people have seen the benefits of one day a week, the whole thing but for me, I do it every day.
What does your schedule look like?
I eat from 2:00 to 10:00 and what’s wild is that, I have an amino acid drink, tea, water when I’m fasting and then my first meal is at 2:00, and sometimes it goes beyond because sometimes I’m not even hungry until like 3:30. And even today I had just one meal. I don’t feel bad at all. I learned to get by with less food, I feel more energetic. To be honest with you, I think more so than physically, it’s a spiritual thing. I think for me, everything that is within your grasp is not meant to be in your hands. Learning and teaching yourself to say no and you tell your body what to do.
You say no because what happens is, if your body will always lead you up. If you listen to it, you’re going to have a problem. There were years when I listened to it and it got me in all kinds of trouble. Now I’m like, “No, you’re going to do what I tell you to do. You’re going to eat when I tell you to eat.” It’s really, really… it’s an amazing thing and there are lots of scientific ways to prove that it does well, but for me, it is a spiritual thing.
What is your – I can’t help myself but ask a couple of follow-up questions here. Do you have a default or go to first meal? A go to meal that is your first meal of the day.
Yes. Omelette and salad.
What is in the omelette?
It’s usually bacon, a little cheese -
Look at all the bacon supporters in the house.
Bacon is a gift from God, man. God would not have his work made manifest without bacon. That’s Terry Crew… No man, they know the healthy fats and the whole thing, but cheese, bacon in an omelette along with a great salad or some vegetables right there, that’s my go to meal. I can eat that any time. That’s the first thing I usually have. Anytime when I break my fast, that’s it. It’s light enough and doesn’t feel heavy. I have tried grabbing a big Brady sandwich before and it’s just, “Oh my God”, you are going to go to sleep immediately. It’s so nuts. But that’s the kind of meal that I love.
All right, omelette for me tomorrow, see if I make it to three o’clock. All right, this question is very hyper-specific, I’ll take a stab at this, seems to be addressed to me. This is from Tia Carera. Is she here? Amazing. Hi? Thanks for coming.
Hey Tia, I’m a fan.
Thank you for coming. This is a really specific question, what are your thoughts and cryptocurrency and could you maybe interview Mike Novogratz on your podcast? Mike Novogratz, a well-known investor, has recently made the statement that he has 5% or 10% of his net worth in cryptocurrency and blockchain. A fascinating guy, I actually know Mike. I’ve gotten into some scuffles– not in a bad way– with Mike because we both have wrestling background. He’s a much better wrestling. He supported the USA wrestling program and we met actually in the several places, but in Iowa when I first met Dan Gable who was a hero of mine, a legendary coach who ended up in this book.
Yes, I’d like to have Mike on and he’s actually the brother– which I didn’t put together until Jacqueline was already going to be in the book– with Jacqueline Novogratz is also just an incredible, incredible woman. They have an amazing family. Yes, I’d like to have him on the podcast and I’m sure he’ll bust my balls half the time. He’s a very tough dude which I invite. That’s perfect.
My thoughts on cryptocurrency are, there will be dragons on the map. I would say be very, very careful, I’m not a cryptocurrency expert, I do know a lot of experts. Even though I own a little bit of cryptocurrency, I am very, very cautious to not take the DIY approach because there are a lot of bear traps.
I will say that I think most ICOs are going to endup giving people nothing. I think many of them will be regulated out of existence and the technology is very sophisticated and they’re also very sophisticated technologists who can trick most people into giving up their money for something that will end up poof, just being vaporware. I think that cryptocurrency and blockchain have the potential to be as important as what we consider the Internet.
I’m really borrowing from some of my smarter friends in saying that having spent 17 years before moving to Texas in Silicon Valley, I really know some very very smart people and actually like Vitalik, the creator of Ethereum, and Zooko, the creator of Zcash. Many of those folks, because I’m so interested in it, are all in Tribe of Mentors. I want to come and get them all in one place to see what patterns came out of it. Did that with poker players too. I tell you, shouldn’t take all of my investing advice. But I would say much like picking stocks, you’re up against professionals.
You wouldn’t bet on yourself if you’re playing golf against Tiger Woods, I would hope not unless someone in the audience think could happen here is actually that caliber. Similarly, if you’re playing on Wall Street or playing in the world of crypto, you dealing with people who do this all day every day and know all of the nuances. Just to be very cautious. If you have an informational advantage and you’re playing with chips you can afford to lose then I think it’s something that’s very interesting to explore just as a way of learning about the technology and implications it might have. It is endlessly fascinating and endlessly terrifying I suppose in short.
Is that a cough or an incredible laugh? I couldn’t tell. All right. Here’s a question from John and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. When you decide to mentor someone? What attributes do they manifest to become mentorable? Then there’s a bonus old Buddhist proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” How do you decide who to, not necessarily mentor it implies full time unpaid extra job but to help someone, to invest in really helping someone? You’ve had, as I understand some people have really helped you along the way, whether the art teacher you mentioned, Sylvester Stallone I believe that is another. When you have the opportunity, how do you choose? You’ve limited time, limited energy, how do you choose who to invest in?
To me, it’s a little bit about – not a little bit. It’s a lot about desire. I’ve come its why because I’ve come across. I’ve had people who were in my circle who said they wanted things. When once they realize what it took, they were out. I would – anyone that I’ll be willing to mentor or whatever would have to–I would send them on little tests.
I mean really it’s like you really have to really want what you’re going for and my wife with–because I made the mistake before. I was making it too accessible. It’s again it’s kind of–people have to–you have to desire. You get what you want. There’s a lot of people who are just trying it out and you hear people who say they want it. There’s so many… so many things like me as the key. When I wanted something, I always would go out of my way to show that person who I wanted as a mentor that I’m willing to… I show up early. I’m there.
But I’ve had guys who, man, you’re like, “Okay be here at this time.” And it’s funny. I’m waiting on them and immediately it’s like it’s over. And everybody gets a shot. For me, everybody gets a shot because you don’t know until you get that time. You show up late a couple times. I had one assistant who just forgot a whole bunch of stuff that I’d desperately needed and you’re like, this is just not important enough for you. Then you have to let them go.
What’s so wild is that every time I let somebody go though, we have a conversation because I want to make sure that it wasn’t me. I’ll say, you tell me you’re fired so don’t even have to worry. I was like, “There’s no hope of you getting your job back.”
Tell me what I did wrong and tell me what offended you? I get really honest answers that way. It’s helped me become a better employer or a better mentor. There’s been other times when they were like dude, I messed up. I messed up. And I realized that I had an opportunity and I pissed it away. I was like, “Well, you won’t do that again on your next job”. I usually don’t go back. That’s another thing that I always have to do. I even wrote that in a book about letting people go. It’s part of the process.
You mentioned letting people go, not just in terms of employees, but people in your circle. Maybe people you grew up with. How do you break up with a friend or how do you have that conversation? Can you give us an example? You don’t have to name names of course. This is something a lot of people and myself included struggle with like you realize. This is someone who was a great apple and they’ve turned into bad apple. They’re starting to poison this the entire group effectively or have some negative impact but you’ve known them for so long. How do you navigate that? Could you give us an example?
Well, first of all, we have a lot of talks as we go to say that, “Hey man, we have to do this. We have to be held to this standard.” I have an example. There was a one person I told him. He’s a single man, but I also said hey man, you have to understand that I’m a married man, and if I hear any drama about women in this your circle, that’s going to be a no-go for me. You have to treat everyone with respect. I don’t want any of that coming to me. I said, you’ve got to understand because if it is and if it happens once, I’m gone. He was like, “Oh, man, I would never do that. I understand. I know man. I’ve got your thing man. I understand what you’re talking about.” Until it happened. I went, “Dude, what I – I remember what I told you? You know what I have to do, right?”
He just said, “Yes, I get it. You’re right.” I said, “Okay. Hey man, I love you. I love you like a brother. I wish it could’ve worked out.” He was a very close friend, and I mean super close. I say, “Man, but I’ve got to go on without you.” It’s weird because Hollywood is one of those things that’s built on this camaraderie entourage, whatever, I don’t have that because for one, I found out that the entourage has you. They know all your things and they start telling you what you’re going to do.
It’s like, “What?” I said, “Never me. I’d rather go alone and I’d rather walk alone.” But it’s hard because sometimes you do feel lonely, you do feel like the higher up you go, the more is at stake, man. It’s good that you can be, everybody can be down there and you may hang in there and everybody’s good, but let me tell you, as soon as you get something and as soon as it becomes bigger than you, it is even more important than you, you got to let– some of these people have to go. They have to. It’s not personal and I tell them I love you, but we just can’t hang anymore. I’ll be brutally honest but not mean, is that… you don’t have to be mean. Some people feel like you’ve got to… but I have always, I love you man but it just we just can’t hang.
What do you do if you’ve made that decision and then they reach out to you or you feel the impulse to reach out to them because you’ve just known them, they’ve been a part of your pattern for so long? How do you respond in either this cases?
I’ve blocked people. You put your phone block on, I’ve changed my number. I do that a lot. I have talked to family members. Family members I’m like man I have people who call me up and angry because they felt I should be paying for this and I should be doing that and all of sudden I just disappear. Do you know what’s amazing? When the phone rings, you don’t have to answer it. That’s the trick. It’s a trick if you think like, no it’s still– I was like, “Block” All of a sudden it was quiet. Wow, this is peaceful. It got scary because I was like, “Is anybody calling?” I don’t know. I blocked so many people and I was like, “Man, this phone isn’t working.” But they get it after a while.
But now I will tell you, every relationship in my life must be voluntary. It must be voluntary. If I had my wife tied up in a basement, is it love? No. I make all my relationships in my life love based meaning you want to be here. If you’re here, you want to be with me. If you’re my, even my managers, people in my circle, you are free to go at any time, even my wife.
If my wife was like, “I’m done” I will be like, “Oh no, don’t leave please” and she was like, “I’ve got to go” I will be like, “Damn” I would be her but I couldn’t hold her because it has to be voluntary. But that works the same way for me too. If I want to go, you’ve got to let me go. If I say, “I’ve got to go” you’ve got to say, “Okay. I respect that. I understand” In this way, all your relationships are really good ones because everybody wants to be there. It’s a beautiful thing.
Thank you. Take a few more. I know we are running out of time, everybody cool? I’m having fun, you guys have fun?
All right. I didn’t ask Terry, Terry are you okay?
I’m good, I’m having fun.
[laughs] Felt those traps, I don’t want those inflicted on me. All right. Few more questions, what advice do you have for an introvert who wants to be an entrepreneur but does not like socializing? This is from Rossa. I’d love to hear your take on this, I’ll give my quick piece because I definitely view you as an entrepreneur first and foremost. I should say first and foremost but see entrepreneur, let me just not rant but I’m going to get my words out for a second.
Entrepreneur, if you look at the root of the word is from, and I will just used the Spanish because it is easier, “emprender” to undertake, right? It’s someone who is effectively creating something from nothing. An artist is doing that. There are many different forms of being an entrepreneur. You do not have to be extroverted. All you have to do to realize that is to watch, for example, early interviews with any people you view as tech luminaries now. It’s the most awkward footage you will ever see in your life.
Then they get media training and they’ll sit there like and you’re like, “Oh my God, it’s the clown from It. That’s really creepy.” That is what you think normal humans do, okay. You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. You can be shy, you can be introverted. I do think that it is very valuable perhaps as an experiment to do with say what Warren Buffet did who was very introverted at one point.
He trained himself in public speaking by going to Toastmasters and so on. Do you think that’s useful as an experiment? Do not just assume that you are in some way cursed by being introverted, you may, in fact, have the capacity to do other things. But to be a successful entrepreneur on almost every level, you do not have to be an expert at networking, you do not have to be an expert at socializing, you just don’t need it. You can definitely do you and still succeed. I don’t know if you have -
That was really amazing advice. I think that people have views, boldness with being an extrovert, but I’ve seen very amazingly bold introverts who just know who they are and what they want. You don’t have to be loud, you don’t have to be brash. It’s really really a cool thing when you see– it’s funny when you see a little old lady who runs this gigantic business and she’s got her thing together, she’s just walking there with a quiet voice and everybody shakes because they know she means business. That’s that kind of boldness that it doesn’t take a lot loudness, [etc.]… She just knows who she is and she knows what she wants and that’s, man, that’s all you need. I am with you.
Yes, if you’re good at what you do and I mean so good and I’m totally stealing this from other people, but so being if you are so good that people cannot ignore you, you will not be denied. You could, look at some of the people out there in the world, they are weird as fucking all hell. Yet if they’re good it’s just like what are we going to do?
The best person out there. Embrace your weird self as my friend Chris Sacca would say. All right, we’re going to do last question from the audience and I have one closing question for you. What are your recommendations for coping, I’m abbreviating a little here, recommendations for coping with self-induced anxiety? I’ll just give few thoughts really quickly because in some families, you have baseball families. Everyone’s good at baseball. Other families, everyone’s really good at basketball. I feel like my family– not everybody– but like 89% professional worriers.
This is just their specialty. I’ve developed a whole repertoire of different ways to induce anxiety in myself. It has proven not to be fruitful, I will say in retrospect but a few quick recommendations. Number One is there’s a book, and there are a lot of books like this that have terrible titles and actual good content, some that sound like infomercials maybe. It has come to mind. But the one I’m thinking of is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. This book is surprisingly sophisticated, it offers an entire toolkit for exactly this. It’s very very powerful.
Then I say last just for my piece is some form of the exercise that I call fear setting, which is completely borrowed from 2,000 plus-year-old philosophy called Stoicism, and I am quoting from Seneca and others who have done this practice. But if you guys simply search the word fear setting, that is something I do probably every month, certainly every quarter for diffusing the anxiety. Those are my two pieces of advice.
Actually, the new one which is in the last year is something I added to what I normally do in the morning, which is journaling. That is if I’m feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed, and the very closely related, I will ask myself, what might this look like if it were easy? This could be a project, it could be a decision, it could be a contract, it could be a relationship, it could be breaking up. Asking someone out doesn’t matter and simply asking that question in writing longhand. It does a lot to take the nebulous monsters in my head and to trap them on paper and to see that they’re actually just shadows. I’m terrified by nothing in fact. Those are a few thoughts, but anxiety, do you have recommendations for people for coping with anxiety?
I believe, I can’t be certain on this but there’s a quote in that, that Dale Carnegie book about living life in day tight compartments.
Man, you do know your self help.
I’ll tell you I don’t know how much. I know. Let me tell you man. That right there, I take those nuggets and I go -
That is a fine book, it is a good book.
Again, we have the same issues. It’s all one. Again those bubbles, that anxiety, the whole thing and when you’re just living, they are like just today done. Today. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about yesterday. Just today. Man, it feels like all the shackles, you start to feel peaceful. It’s a beautiful thing but that’s such a great book man.
It really is.
It is so right.
That’s one of the books that I have in my living room on the bookshelf covered out which isn’t a great way to put books on a bookshelf but because I want to see the covers of certain books so that I’m reminded of them. If I’m feeling like I’m going into a tailspin or beginning to get lost in some way, I know that I can pull that off and go through the highlights. It’s a fantastic fantastic book. All right. Last question which I think I said 75 questions ago. Terry, what would you like to say or ask as just a parting words? It could be and ask of everybody who’s here who might be listening on the podcast, could be a suggestion, anything at all that you want to ask of people or simply say.
I guess the big ask that I have for everyone is that – this is one quote that really, really gave me a big perspective is that, “People are not objects to be used, they are people to be loved.” And my big ask is that you see everyone as people to be loved because one thing I see now in America especially with the partisan, everybody is democratic or republican or this or that or black or white but were people to be loved. It sounds very cliche or whatever, but when you get down to the heart of it, when you look at another person, see them as a child. We’re all like kids and that all of a sudden you can see it much more differently because you can instantly love a child.
You can feel the love for a child. A child doesn’t know. A child is figuring it all out. The truth is we don’t know and we’re all figuring it out. Just please, please, please, before you call somebody an asshole on internet, or before you can push send on that tweet that’s going to tell everybody off, just know that this is a person that needs to be loved. There are a lot of people who are getting off on what you don’t know and they want to treat you like an object and treat you like property and treat you like people who, things that are bought and sold or whatever and whatever, but man, I just ask that if you ever get into that, stop and think of them as people to be loved.
Ladies and gentlemen, Terry Crews.
Love you guys.