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Stu is considered one of the top thought-leaders in the non-profit sector. He is also the Director of Thought Leadership and Advocacy for Omatic Software, a data-integration software for non-profits that allows them a complete view of their donors, promoting data-driven decision making.

Founded in 2002, Omatic Software has also made the ‘Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500 | 5000-America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies list’ for 5 years! 

We have a great conversation around the power of technology and data for doing good, and how a personal mission can become a career.

Check out Omatic Software at https://omaticsoftware.com

Connect with Stu on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stumanewith/ 

Transcript powered by Happy Scribe

Just imagine being able to say that you literally do good. And someone says, how are you doing? I do good. This is somebody who does good. Stu Manewith is the guest on today’s DiscoPosse Podcast. Had a really fantastic conversation with Stu, we’re going to dive into why he and the team in Omatic Software are doing really cool things. But in the meantime, speaking of doing really cool things and people that do good.

Good stuff is doing things like protecting your data. So shout out to our sponsors and supporters of the podcast, including the amazing people over at Veeam Software. I can implore you that this is the place you need to go to get everything you need for your data protection needs, whether it’s On-premises, whether it’s in the Cloud, whether it’s Cloud-Native, protect yourself from ransomware, protect yourself from just day-to-day making mistakes on the keyboard, accidentally hitting delete, maybe Microsoft teams, maybe Office 365. Look, we’re losing data all over the place. Don’t do it. Just go to vee.am/DiscoPosse and you can make yourself completely protected for just such an occasion. Don’t be a victim. That’s something I’ve learned the hard way.

I lost some data here and there, then I got Veeam and I got good. So speaking of good, also what’s really good, not just protecting your data, whether it’s at rest, but delivering it in transit safely using a good VPN. I say this because I use a VPN all the time, especially when I’m traveling or when I’m moving around. I’m using other people’s Wi-Fi. There’s a lot of weird stuff that goes on on Wi-Fis when they’re not yours. Heck, even when they’re yours. Let’s protect your data, protect your identity.

And if you want to use a great VPN, you can head over and try out ExpressVPN. I’m a fan. I’m a user. So if you go to tryexpressvpn.com/DiscoPosse, you can get set up. And it is absolutely a must have in this day and age. It also helps you to cut down on some of the spam, the noise and the adjunct. Very, very cool. I also use it for web testing. All right, one more thing.

You like coffee? I like coffee. I like it so much that I have a coffee company. Go to diabolicalcoffee.com. I got some really cool merch there, and I got some fantastic coffee that’s roasted fresh every day. Go to diabolicalcoffee.com and you can grab it.

All right, let’s get to the good stuff. This is Stu Manewith from Omatic Software. He’s a thought leader and advocate. Those aren’t titles he gave himself. Those are what the world gives him. He’s a great person. This is a great conversation. Enjoy this.

This is Stu Manewith from Omatic Software, and you’re listening to the DiscoPosse Podcast.

Stu Manewith, thank you very much for joining. I love when I get a guest submission, and it takes me all of, not even hitting below the fold before I think, it’s an absolute yes. You are among a list of the type of people that I have a real respect and adoration for in what you’re doing both directly. We’ll talk about Omatic software. We’ll talk about what you’re doing today, but beyond what you do in your day-to-day, I’m a big fan already. I loved your other podcast. I got to listen to some of the other stuff you’ve done, so I’m excited to be able to share some time with you.

But for folks that are new to used you Stu, if you want to give a quick bio and an introduction, and we’ll dive into your world at Omatic and beyond.

Great. Thanks so much, Eric. I’m Stu Manewith. I work at Omatic Software. My title is Director Of Thought Leadership And Advocacy, but that means a lot of different things. And I think we’ll talk more about those things as we talk for the next little while. I have been in the field for 30 years. I’m a man of a certain age. I started out working in the nonprofit sector the first half of my career. My very first job actually was in the performing arts. I worked at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis producing children’s theater.

But in doing that, I learned that you had to raise funds and you had to engage granters, etc. And I was mentored, thankfully, by a brilliant director of fundraising who showed me how grabbing funds from funders and then putting them to work is the best way to show how those funds are used. And so I learned a lot about the fundraising field. And I went to work for a small educational foundation, and then in 1996, I’m aging myself. I’m getting myself. I found myself working in healthcare. I was living at a big hospital foundation, a big part of a big medical center.

And I really learned a lot more about constituent relationship management and how to deal with donors and supporters and decidedly how to use data. How nonprofits use data really as the nourishment, as the lifeblood of their organization, to interact with people, to raise money from people to find what makes someone tick and then kind of hone in on it in a really good way, not in an exploitive way, but in a very positive way to help them meet their philanthropic goals and philanthropic challenges.

So I worked there for about seven years, and then I was called some might say to the dark side. I thought it was a great experience. I went to work on the technology side of the nonprofit sector. So I went to work at a company called Blackboard, which is at least one of the world leaders in technology for nonprofit organizations. Fundraising, CRMs, accounting, educational, education system management exclusively for nonprofit organizations. I worked there for 13 years from the beginning of 2003 to the end of 2015. And then at the end of 2015, I moved to Omatic software, which was actually started by an employee of Blackboard to build a better mousetrap in terms of donation and I’ve been here in Omatic for the past six years.

I just celebrated my 6th anniversary, the end of last month.

Wow. Very cool. The thing that I really like is this progression and the interesting realization now. I get into this often in the tech side of the world. So I came from the customer side of technology, working in financial services and designing systems, and then moved over to the vendor side of the world. And I like you described sort of like the dark side of one side of the business to another. And what was interesting is the more that I worked in the technology. I realized the business was intrinsic in how I would do technology because I understood the business side, and it led me to make technology decisions based on the business.

And then when I work for a technology vendor, I made decisions on how I did technology marketing based on the business usage, and then the sales team. The connection started to move together, and I started to realize, oh, I think I’m in sales, like, in a way, there is sort of a general acceptance. But the difference is I’m understanding the story. I’m using data to drive decisions. I’m working with the relationship sellers, and it became a simple thing of understanding, what is the funnel? How does the buyer’s journey work?

So now I’m a nerd, right? I look at nerd technology, but the first thing I think of is like, kind of what’s the buyer’s journey, what’s the adoption curve? What are all these things? So I look at your progression as well, career wise. Lived experience that then you bring towards attaching a business wrapped around it. So it’s a beautiful and natural transition to them running or going it alone, so to speak. So you’re clearly not alone. Omatic is growing well. And congratulations on all the work that you’re doing there. But now it’s this thing of combining those things together and realizing that there are systematic things that you can do in philanthropy that will help to promote giving power and value to those, like philanthropic investments, which is people have trouble understanding, where does my money go? Like, what does my money actually do?

It’s so important that donors and supporters and volunteers, anyone who is engaged with an organization that they feel that their time, their money, their input is that it matters. And what we want to do is we want to help organizations use their data to do all of that, to benefit them from the bottom- up, from the top-down, from the sides in every possible way. But the point that you make about how we engage, how we engage supporters, how we engage. People generally don’t start out with an organization giving money to them immediately. They need to have some connection. Was I cured? Was I educated? Was I fed? Was I given a basketball to play with as a kid when I couldn’t afford one? Was I given food during the pandemic, when I lost my job? And now I’m back working and I can give back. So people need to have, generally, have some emotional tie. And then that’s where organizations that are technologically savvy start collecting and using data to engage people. And one of the things that has changed over the past 20 years. And let’s be honest about the time frame is how many different platforms and systems organizations have used.

When I worked at Barnes Jewish Hospital Foundation in St. Louis, we had one system. We used one database system. There wasn’t online given in 1996. Not very much. There wasn’t email journeys or email marketing. We just had a single system. Fast forward 20 years, and organizations are using one or very often multiple online giving systems, email marketing, peer to peer fundraising, special events, volunteer management. There may be a separate system for membership or for ticketing or for any of the different things that are needed. And those all lead to multiple data repositories. And so organizations that 20 years ago had a single system where all the data was stored now are facing. It’s not unusual for the organizations that we work with to have at least four and often up to eight or nine different places where their data comes from. And that doesn’t even count all the spreadsheets that people keep. Right. So it’s a challenge.

No, seriously, it’s a challenge to amalgamate all of that data and keep it clean and keep it from getting stale and keep it from being siloed.

People always they ask me, what would you name as the top used software in the world? And I would say it’s Microsoft Excel.

Unquestionably. What we find is, and I’m digressing a little bit. But what we find is people have shadow systems. It works for them. They are successful at their job using this spreadsheet. But what they don’t realize is they don’t have the benefit of data collected. Let’s say you’ve got a major gift officer, and she’s working with her list of 150 people, and she knows what their gifts are, what their giving history has been. But she doesn’t know what emails they may have opened based on some newsletter that they received from the marketing team that talks about a specific program. And so she doesn’t know to talk about that program the next time she calls them. And so she’s got a blind spot. Does that make sense?

Absolutely. Yeah.

And this is where people would look at, especially sort of large giving philanthropy. And they often think it’s purely a relationship and a life position type of opportunity. And obviously, that’s a big player right there. Where there’s sort of like friends of the school, friends of the university, friends of the hospital. They are generally people who are at a particular financial level in life, and they’re familiar with the brand. But what we don’t realize is that’s almost like Pareto’s principle, but that’s a big portion of it. However, the other gap is hundreds, potentially thousands of donors, of participants in philanthropy where you don’t have a direct relationship. And look, the truth is that relationship seller has learned over time that, hey, I may have some key contributors, donors, whatever they want to talk about as discussion point or how we call them. But how do we acquire new faces and introduce people to this organization to this brand and then excite them about stuff? And so long gone are the Rolodexes where it’s like, Jenny has a good friend and he likes to support the university. Okay, great. But what happens when Jenny’s friends suddenly doesn’t give money?

Jenny’s friends actually has a friend who came to the newsletter. And like you said, they clicked on the link because they saw something about a school program and like, oh, you can start to then use that data.

Absolutely. 100%. I mean, you’re hitting the nail on the head there. It’s very tactical. It’s not sexy and exciting. It’s very tactical, but it’s collecting as much data on these touchpoints coming from various sources. These days, most are different systems, like email opens, email click throughs, what people are clicking on, or volunteer opportunities that people even express interest in and they may not follow through. But it’s all of these data points that you can amalgamate and then leverage by using other data about these people that you’ve collected and then figure out a story or a journey that makes sense for them.

And in the perfect world, there’d be a very personalized journey for each $25 donor. That’s not practical. But with data, organizations can at least group people reasonably into reasonable sized groups, depending on how big their staff is and what their resources are and then build relationships back up based on that. And I am always surprised at really how well that works when people feel that you care about them enough to talk about something that’s important to them or on the flip side. And this happens to me by personal experience. And this is again, I’ll kind of weave in some of what Omatic does, but I made a gift.

I guess it was the beginning of 2020 pandemic. So early 2020 to a large, well known organization. Everyone. I’m not going to say the name because I don’t have their permission to, but everyone would know the organization. Very well known, does great work. I made a gift. And not surprisingly, a few weeks later I got a solicitation for another gift, but I got two emails, two separate emails. And then I got two direct mail pieces. It may have been that one was addressed to Stu Manewith and the other Stewart Manewith, and they may have had my name in their database from a long time ago. And then I made a gift in March or April of 2020 that they didn’t realize was the same guy. And so I started getting two of everything. I’m in the business. So I take it with a grain of salt, maybe. But people who aren’t thinking, what the heck? Don’t these people know that I’m only one person? Or what kind of systems do they use? They’re mailing me two letters. That’s twice the postage they need to pay. So it works both ways. It can bring people closer to you.

And it can also push people away if you’re not careful with how you’re using data. And again, to weave in what Omatic software does, when we move data from, say, online giving to your main CRM, we check that we prevent duplicates. We will pop up and say, oh, and it doesn’t work exactly the way I’m telling you, which is on screen with a user interface, but it’s saying, oh, this guy, there’s an 80% chance that these are the same people. Do you want to merge them? Do you want to investigate further, or are they really, maybe the senior and the junior, and they are, in fact, two different people. But at least it gives you. We give database professionals the opportunity to make those decisions so that they are really ultimately treating their constituents, their donors and their supporters as best as possible.

Yeah. And that really is the thing that we experience, and we get it all the time. So I’ve got my little trick that I use when I go to, like, events, and I have to sign up. So I signed up in my name. I put it E-R-I-C, but I put the E and the R capitalized, so that when I get an email.

You know, it’s yours.

I can tell automatically whether this was me actually signing up for something. Or it was just an auto sign up from me just showing up at an event.

You know what that also does. It also tells you who’s selling their lists to whom. I’m serious.

It does. So this is the funny thing. Suddenly you get an email from a company. I’m like, I didn’t go to their booth. And you’re like, wait a second. How did this happen? And you realize, like, oh, wow. So they’ve probably done. We call them list swaps, right? Or contact swaps, which in fact, is illegal. I’m old school. We touched before we record because I’m Canadian. For people that know me and my odd voice and things I say. But we introduced something called CASL, Canadian anti spam legislation.

I’m familiar with it.

Yeah, it was onerous to deal with this. I worked for a major financial services institution. So we suddenly went to the point where every system has to be able to recognize CASL, and it was opt-in required. It wasn’t automatic. So there was like, if you have an existing business relationship, that was one thing. But there is no way that someone could even. If they go to your booth, they had to actually opt in, and it sort of switched the industry around. So it was funny. But like I said in that experience, if I’d get something from a company and I know how the systems work. So I’m like, sometimes just curious of, like, now it makes sense to me, but I know how the machine works, and I see past it like you said, but most people would be like, what the heck? I didn’t go to this company, and now they go through their personal list of, like, I’m not giving to anybody because this is what happens to my data. And it affects the whole industry when bad practice, unfortunate practices, even. Like you said, just a simple thing of like, we accidentally sent a thank you, and it included somebody’s name when it shouldn’t have or whatever.

Even like my dad, bless his heart, will key in all uppercase. And then he’ll get a letter that comes back to him in all upper case. And he’ll think, what the hell, what the heck? What are they doing with my data? Not realizing that he’s the culprit. But there are tools like Omatics, for example, that will fix that. It’ll clean it up along the way. So that data are pristine. And so people really feel like they are important to the organization. There’s two pieces. There’s that piece. And then to your point, a little bit ago, it is then reflecting back to people that their money was used wisely, what their money was used for, that the organization is being good stewards, that they are making nobody individually, but that together they are helping the organization make its mission impact, make the impact that is consistent with the mission that it’s trying to propagate.

Yeah. I was lucky. I had Emily Jillette, who also for people that know the name, she happens to also be the wife of Penn Jilette of Penn & Teller, but I had Emily on. She’s strong in the world of philanthropy, and I have a huge respect for her. Through a friend, we got connected. And that was this whole thing of like finding an organization that you believe in their mission, and you believe in their ability to do good with what you give them.

And every little interaction you have can influence your belief in the actual output of good and understanding the breakdown of the dollar I give to what the recipient will actually get. We hear for years about this, the difficulty of the cost of management. You hear about charities that have issues with overpaying staff, underpaying the actual people that should be receiving the money by doing what you’re doing, you get rid of the need for that to occur, right? Like, by giving good practices, giving good data management, we don’t have to throw high dollars at administrative stuff because it allows us to be more effective and efficient.

Yeah, it’s both. And you’ve made me think of two things that I wanted to talk about, and I’m happy to be given the opportunity. There’s efficiency, there’s reducing expenses. That’s very tactical. And then there’s using better data to be more effective in driving revenue. And both of those things, directly and indirectly, they generate more funding for an organization to use towards submission, whether it’s money that is saved from being more efficient or more money that is raised, not necessarily through fundraising, but maybe through programmatic fees as well, or whatever the direct program in revenue. But let me dig into that just a little bit more. On the expense side, if you can make your data management activities more efficient to use a very broad example, if it used to take you, I’m making this up 8 hours a week to key in data by hand. Philanthropic data or accounting data or what have you. And now through technology, it takes 1 hour. That’s 7 hours that saved. That where people can be redeployed and you’re spending this end as an executive team looking at it, you’re spending the same amount of money on someone’s salary or on someone’s job, but now you’re getting them not to be doing data entry for 8 hours, but doing data management work for 1 hour, and you can redeploy them to do other things that need to be done for seven more hours.

And so that is you’re driving mission impact because you’re redeploying people to do work that wasn’t. Otherwise you had to pay extra for or that just didn’t get done. That’s a on the flip side, if your data is processed faster and it’s better quality and it’s no longer siloed and it’s all amalgamated and consolidated and it can be used effectively, then you are better able to be strategic about being able to get people to renew their donations, being able to convert people who were involved with the organization but not donors to become donors. You may even be able to get them to increase giving or for organizations. My first job I told you was at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis. When I think of revenue, non fundraising revenue, I automatically go to ticketing. But if you can use data to get somebody who’s a single ticket buyer to buy a subscription or someone who has bought a subscription to buy a second subscription or anything like that, you are increasing earned revenue, and then you can similarly use data to improve fundraising activity by again having it faster, having more of it so that you can segment better.

You can talk to people more personally. You can communicate with them at the right time, and all of that is going to grow revenue. So by using technology to save money and by using technology to drive revenue more strategically, all of that is more funding for your mission. I know that’s a mouthful, and I get kind of passionate about it.

That’s Perfect.

It’s 100% true. And we see that every day with the customers that we work with that were paper everywhere or that were spending hours keying data in and now they can or putting stuff in spreadsheets that someone else had been keyed in. It’s funny, we work with accounting systems as well. We have a big piece of our business is transmitting fundraising and other revenue data to account to general ledgers so that it doesn’t have to be rekeyed. And I said to somebody, I said, you know what? When the term double entry accounting was coined, it didn’t mean enter here and then reenter it here. That’s not what it meant. A big piece of that time savings is we help organizations take that those revenue transactions and transmit them directly to the general ledger perfectly without having to be rekeyed and also easily reconcilable. So there’s not that hunting and pecking for a missing transaction or something that got delayed in transit to the bank or etc.

It’s a very important thing, too, when you think of. These are organizations that may not even realize that this kind of data flow, this kind of analytics can drive things. Like you think about a regional church. I had this joke with somebody that said, Imagine you’re starting a brand new church. You don’t sort of think of like, okay, who is our prospect audience? And I got four potential prospect parishioners. I got three moving into strong upside this week. Like, in the end, the sort of funnel dynamics are always there. We just don’t use the name. We talk about new contacts and their leads, their contacts, their prospects. They’re in stages of funnel.

But all that really is that there are signals within the data that we understand about them in their journey, whether it’s the buyer’s journey, the givers journey, whatever it’s going to be, that if you look at the signals, you can better guide a positive experience towards the ultimate goal, which is to acquire, get funding for donations, get funding to drive good, and then the bonuses, then you can spend the time showing them the value they’re getting from that money going in which then leads to, oh, right. If I send an email with a response, it gets more reintroduction, they will be more likely to give a second time.


Status reports.

Absolutely. In the fundraising field, we refer to that as stewardship. Similarly, stewardship is the way the term is used in faith based organizations, but it’s absolutely a cycle. And there’s been some studies that have shown that for a new donor to an organization, if they receive proper stewardship meaning, thank them for their gift, tell them how their gift is being used or how similar gifts have been used and then re-solicitation within three months. They are four times as more likely to make a second gift than without those things. And that kind of retention and being able to leverage that kind of statistic is imperative but it’s all based on that cycle, and again, using data to properly tell people what they’re interested in knowing about and then re-engaging with them at the right time. But, Eric, you said something else about when you mentioned a church, something about technology that wouldn’t have happened other than when the pandemic started is really interesting, both in the faith-based subsector and also in the arts. The visual arts sub sector, even performing arts to some extent. And that is, organizations were able to broaden their reach to audiences that they never imagined that they would with online technology.

Museums can offer exhibits across the country, around the world. Churches. People can attend church services whatever time they want, whatever church they want. And nobody has to know. If you’re Catholic, you can go to a Protestant church if you want to test it out and from the comfort of your own living room. But what that has done is it has opened. It has expanded the reach of organizations the way they never imagined. I know of a woman who lived in Maine that sent her daughter to drama camp in Florida because she could.


Or we looked at an exhibit in Boston Museum of Art from the comfort of our living room in St. Louis. And that kind of reach is something that technology has afforded because it’s driven by the pandemic. But obviously it will continue well after. And it gives organizations the opportunity to reach audiences, prospective donors, even possibly prospective volunteers and supporters in a way that would never have been thought of, even with the technology the pandemic made it, you know, necessity is the mother of invention. It made people think about different ways to leverage technology in order to be able to stay alive, to stay in business.

Well, the thing that I always look back and said, what are the positive impacts of what’s the most difficult thing that in my lifetime we’ve experienced, right? And it’s tough to even say it because how could you think this put something positive like, well, think about it. We’ve democratized access to systems and services that prior to being forced into having to do this, right? How many organizations struggled with work from home like, well, it would really break up the dynamic of the company. There’s no way we can operate, like in November 2019. There’s a lot of companies that you’re like, hey, you can’t get a job there because you’d have to come into an office and it would be a massive impact on your life. Well, all of a sudden, especially for Canadians, too. Back when I was getting into technology, you had to work for a Canadian tech company. There was no option to cross the border to work remotely. You had to live near the financial center. You had to live near mark of Ontario. You had to live near a tech center or drive to it.

Right or so. Same difference.

Yeah. So now in everything, in every sector. We suddenly, as you said, the invention has had to occur because of a real adverse situation. But goodness, we really have learned great things from it so that if we do go back to a more location centric existence, we will really value why we do it more so than you’re forced to do it. It’s not a good time to be in real estate, investment trusts and such.

Right. Commercial real estate? Yeah, I know.

I saw a commercial the other day, and it was one of the things like investing. You’ve got people that are selling gold and silver and all. God bless Bill Davey. He certainly must own a lot of silver and gold. But there was somebody that was pitching some kind of an REIT. And at the end, of course, it’s like past performance is not indicative of future results. I would not be putting money into REIT right now because those are going to be vacant spots. Sadly, I really feel for the folks that are in that sector because it’s going to be a struggle for quite a while.


But the other thing that really hits me, too is when you can connect what you do with the real outcome. And sort of the joke I always say to people when someone says, how are you doing? I’m doing good. Like, no, Superman does good. You’re doing well. So grammatically. We have to correct that all the time. But then I tell people and I use this story at work, and I showed people I like to use strong imagery when I’m presenting I’m working for a tech company right now. I talk about what we do with software automation, and I show like, a picture of a rocket. I’m a big fan of rocketry. Like what does SpaceX do? And how do they get to do that right? And ultimately tying the business outcome to what the technology does. And like, my thing that I close with often. You’ve probably seen the video of it. A little two year old girl who receives a cochlear implant, and the video is her hearing her mother’s voice for the first time in her life. And like, if that doesn’t stop you in your tracks when you see that stuff. So here I am like an audience full of people who are like a bunch of tech nerds, and they’re just like, you really inbring this thing forward.

And they said, this is what we do. The Salesforce system you built. This is what happens because of what you do. And I tell them we do amazing things with technology, and it’s beautiful to be able to tie it to that.

It’s interesting. It’s actually something I’ve not thought of, but that our technology, which again, I know I’ve probably said this three times already, which provides very tactical solutions for organizations. If they leverage it properly, it allows them to leverage other technology. Like, you’re talking about right now that really can solve big problems, like big medical problems or climate problems or animal welfare problems or medical research. All of the things that vaccine research. I mean, all of the things that we think of when we think of technology for good, we don’t necessarily think of importing data faster or transmitting revenue transactions to an accounting system, but that’s really kind of at the basis of it, because if we can figure out a way to streamline that kind of stuff and to make data more accessible to organizations to use, they can go ahead and make more money, frankly, raise more money, build more revenue to support that really cool tech that will help the little girl with the cochlear implants or put a fast track on fixing our environments or building a new wheelchair. I’m making it up doing and doing those kind of high tech things that people really do think of when they think of tech for good.

Our tech for good is kind of the bottom of the pyramid. But I guess, in my opinion, it’s the most fundamental. It is making sure the systems are working effectively and efficiently so that organizations can drive the big stuff.

It’s the perception, even in the way that we describe some of the things which is tough. Imagine if you got a friend who’s, like, I’ve got a friend of mine. He’s a plumber. He makes a disturbing amount of money doing it. And he’s like, so people talk about, like, oh, it’s just the plumbing. He’s like, I’m right here, dude, I’m in the room. Yeah, I drive a Mercedes. That’s just the plumbing. Like, pardon me, but guess what goes through a toilet. I deal with your stuff so that you don’t have to.


We have difficulty sometimes in seeing the importance of those tactical things. But really, this is the opportunity for us to create a connection of turning data into insight and then turning insight into actionability and whether it’s empowering your sales force or your donor outreach force and whatever it’s going to be empowering them to do more with what they’ve got today and to find more signals inside the potential noise of the amount of data that’s out there. This is massive, right? This is effectively almost a Gutenberg revolution in the fact that we can take what was seemingly an intractable problem of just like, hey, this is just the way the systems work.

People talk to people and they give money. You’re like, no, no. What if we find out why? What if we actually use, like, Kahneman and Tversky taught us more about economics and their behavioral psychologists. They won a Nobel Prize for economics as behavioral psychologists because they taught us about the heuristics that drive prospect theory. And then how did they do it? Well, they took research and data and anecdotal information. They combined it. So when it came to this stuff, where whether it’s giving back, whether it’s local and regional churches, whether it’s global giving organizations. If you can take that data and turn it into true insight, you find something incredible in the same way that Kahneman and Tversky figured out that if you tell somebody they’re going to lose money instead of they’re going to get money, their risk profile alters.

Yeah. Changes. Yeah. What we want to do is we want the organizations that we work with. I think I mentioned it. We work only with nonprofits, exclusively with nonprofits. We want the nonprofits that we work with to understand that we can make it possible for them to amalgamate data from as many sources as they have, as many sources as they need, whatever engagement tools they find best to engage with their constituencies. We want to help them amalgamate that and then use it exactly as you say, to build insights to drive the next strategic thing they do, to continue to engage existing supporters, new supporters, people who have been with them for a long time and are looking for something new to leverage those connections, leverage those relationships, and it becomes unstoppable. It becomes a ever growing concentric ring. That’s the image that comes to my mind of data relationship stewardship. And then using that data again to drive the cycle. Does that make sense?

Yeah. Absolutely. It’s fantastic.

So looking in your own personal stories throughout your career, you stayed close to this ecosystem. And so I would tend to think from there that there’s something meaningful to you in being in an area to help with giving. What drew you to this as a choice, even when given a business, you talked about sort of going to the business and going to the tech. But it was always in an area where you’re working with people in this ecosystem, in this opportunity to be able to give and create giving.

Well, I’m glad you asked it. It’s a good question because I think that nonprofits are underserved. They are under something I’m trying to think of the right word. People don’t give non profits in general in the US anyway, the credit they deserve. And when I was in the trenches when I was a fundraiser and a non profit finance director, I was focused on my thing. And I was focused on my organization and on success for that organization. When I went to work with Black for Blackboard, and I saw how many different organizations we worked with at the time. Back in 2003, Blackboard had about 20,000 customers. Now they’ve got twice that. What that helped me understand was all of the different organizations that need help that do things poorly, not because the staff aren’t intelligent or not professional, but because they’re spread so thin and they don’t have resources. We could help Blackboard and Omatic, for sure. We can help organizations just do better. And that just is to say a turn on. Is that a bad thing to say? That’s just a turn on for me is to know that we can help organizations be better, do better, be more effective in how they, now in formatic, use data.

But when I worked for Blackboard, we use systems to just be better at what they do so they can get more basket balls to poor kids or get more meals to families, or get the next vaccine developed or educate people. Give them scholarships, give them a rewarding, faith based experience, give them a great show to watch and exhibit to see. I’m trying to look at all the different sub sectors that we work with, but just to make them be able to deliver their mission better just is very rewarding for me. And what I learned was, I can do it more and better working for a company that serves the sector broadly than for any individual nonprofit. There’s plenty of great fundraisers and nonprofit executives out there. There are less of us who work in companies that are committed to serving the sector and bring the best technology to them. And I’m proud to be able to do that kind of work.

And it is the beautiful combination of your personal giving to the world through what you do and that you can have a greater impact both directly and indirectly, with this. And this is why I really enjoy. In fact, your progression is like I said, it feels like that true natural progression of number one. I can directly give back, right? I’m on the ground, boots on the ground, day to day, making sure that my organization is able to thrive and our community can thrive so we can give back to them. Then you move to understanding the systems approach of things at a larger scale. And then from there, you say, well, I know how it works directly. I know how these systems are built in order to support this industry and this ecosystem. But I see the problem, right? So now you ultimately have gotten to the problem statement because of the scale at which you could work. And then you make an active choice to say, I’m going to go and solve this, and I can’t do it here because my role mission would not allow me to sort of step out and say, like, hey, folks, I think we got a problem here.

They’re like, “Sorry, Stu, you got a day to day gig here. This is neat that you’re doing this stuff”, but you do have to go out and say, okay, true. Sort of first principle startup methodology. Let’s go solve this problem. And in the end, young Stu benefits, middle career Stu benefits. And now you are able to benefit because you can.

New me Stu benefits, right?

That’s right. Yeah.

And it’s a beautiful thing to be able to find opportunity to do something that can have a greater effect than the hours you put in your day.

Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I’ll say that our team at Omatic generally is aligned with the nonprofit sector. These are people who are talented engineers, developers, and even the people that work in our sales and marketing team. These are people that could easily work for companies that serve the insurance industry or the manufacturing industry or anything else. And they are equally as passionate. They have chosen to work for a company that serves the nonprofit sector because it’s just so important. It’s so important to provide tools and technology that will help them make the processes better.

Now, I like your role and your title. That’s one that as a technology evangelist. Before there was advocacy, it was evangelism. And so I always sort of joke, one day I’ll change my title to map to the rest of the world. I’ll become a developer advocate, which is sort of in the tech world a similar thing. But the idea of advocacy and thought leadership is important in that you’re representing the larger sort of system through words, writing, communication and ways to engage with the broader community and introduce people through thought leadership is always a funny thing because there’s a lot of people that they usually say I’m a thought leader. Like, if you say you’re a thought leader.

No, you’re absolutely right. Someone is a thought leader when others say they’re a thought leader, and I have no idea this whole thought leadership thing is I’ve been doing it only for about two years, two and a half years, when I joined Omatic, I was in implementations. I ran the implementations team. I’ve graduated to this role and we had a little bit of a struggle coming up with my title. We knew what we wanted me to do, which was to advocate for the sector, whether they were customers of ours or not. We wanted to know what their challenges were and build our products and deliver services that address those challenges. So I really very firmly consider myself an advocate for organizations in nonprofit sector, and I would encourage anyone who’s watching or listening if you’re in the sector and you want to talk to me, I love talking to the sector and finding out what makes you tick, what you’re especially in the area of data quality and integration, what your needs are, because that’s what a big part of my job is know, is trying to get a handle on that so that we can build better products.

But thought leadership, Eric, to your point, is kind of the evolved advocacy. It’s taking all of that information that interaction with the sector with your market and then building thought provoking questions and answers around it. I want to say more than dabbling. I’m getting a handle on that. I get a handle better and better as each month progresses.

Well, if I were to put somebody at the front, there are two personalities. There’s the self proclaimed thought leader, somebody who’s very good at public speaking and storytelling. That’s fantastic. Right? There are people that are great stage presence or the real person that I want to carry the title that you carry and the responsibility that you do, is somebody like you who’s doing everything you describe yourself. You never describe you at the front of anything. You talk about advocacy and graduating into your role and being given opportunity as magical, right? It’s actually rare to have somebody who has put yourself into opportunity, but do not take credit for it. You are absolutely in the right world, and I need the world to contain more Stu Manewith’s.

Well, thank you. I appreciate that very much. You know, I don’t like to be the center of attention, and so I tend to focus on the customer or the process and kind of extract me from the situation. But I certainly appreciate your words. Thank you.

I always tell people the greatest thing I will ever achieve will be helping somebody else achieve their greatest thing they’ve ever achieved. And it’s a great thing when you can do good, you can bring something to the world where you can empower people to achieve more. Now on the data side, this is the interesting thing, too. Obviously, you’ve got a strong technical background. You led the services and professional and services and engagement side and implementations. So this is probably a fun, real career positioning where you can take all that experience and now take those progressions and then bring them back in stories and in connecting to the world, it probably does feel exciting. Did you think five years ago that you’d be where you are today in your career?

No, I didn’t. You know what? I’ll give a plug to our CEO, who’s Canadian, he’s from Toronto. Who, Daniel Kim, who about two and a half years ago took me aside and said, I need someone like you to be our company advocate to advocate for the sector, and we’ve never had a position like this. So we’re not exactly sure what it’s going to look like, but let’s partner in building used to being our domain expert and subject matter expert and being kind of out in front going to conferences, writing blogs, writing white papers. The irony was, so that was summer of 2019, and of course, conferences kind of went the way of all things during the pandemic. But again, we’ve had an opportunity to do virtual conferences and to kind of promulgate our message to again, a broader spectrum of people than would have ever come to an in-person conference. So there’s the benefits of that, too. I was just going to say, sorry, but I have loved that progression that you’ve reminded me of, is kind of being in the field and working directly with customers on a one to one basis for so long and then amalgamating all of that experience to be able to tell stories, to figure out how to help organizations that are the organizations that have yet to come.

Well, this is the important thing is never disconnecting from that. And this is often what happens when folks I work in tech and the tech evangelist was that one that funny title that everybody’s like, I want to be a tech evangelist. So they end up working in technical marketing for a while. I left right from working for the customer world to going and becoming a technology evangelist for a vendor. And it was like as if I bypassed working as a sales engineer and working in technical market. I just, rocking it right through that. But I’d been a blogger. I’d been doing a lot of stuff and understanding how to connect value and storytelling and such and every step of the way. I always make sure that never forget how you got here and never forget who you helped get from their morning to their evening. Right? And that’s the customer stories and sitting with customers and listening to them is such an important part. Advocacy is, in fact, a two way, much more inbound than outbound.


And it’s something that people don’t realize. So they see this with like, oh, yeah, Stu, you just see a professional speaker. Stu is grounded out in the trenches for a long time, so he bloody well deserves where he’s at and first of all, and it’s earned. And then I guarantee. How much of your time do you spend still directly connecting to the people that are doing the thing? I guess.

One of my most fun parts of my job is I get to write case studies, so I interview. We call them customer success stories. I interview customers who, first of all, are willing interested in having their story told. It surprised me, actually, how many are circumspect and I get it. Non profits, and I worked at three before I went to the dark side. As I said, there’s a level of privacy, and I understand it. But I also expected organizations to also want to gush about how happy they are, not with our product necessarily, but just in general when something’s working. And so there’s not as many as I would have thought, but it’s so rewarding and exciting to interview customers and then write their story up and then send it back to them and say, this is what we want to use to help others do what you’re doing. And that’s one of the most fun parts of my job, is writing our customer success stories. And also, I do get pulled in to one part of my job. I would say kind of is the universal translator. So if there are people, whether it’s in our products team or our sales team or whomever marketing and they need someone who really deeply understands the sector who can help be an intermediary so that everyone’s communicating on the same wavelength.

I was a fundraiser for so many years that when some fundraising function comes up in discussion and there’s a lack of clarity how I may get pulled into a conversation. So I love those conversations because then I can let the prospect or the customer know that we get it. There are people at Omatic that have walked in their shoes. We know what their challenges are, and we can describe solving it in a way that makes sense to them.

It’s funny. I hate to make it a thing of sales and psychology, but it truly does work. And I do it all the time myself, directly, because I know I can say I’ve lived your experience. I’ve walked in your shoes. I’ve been on the other side of the computer, running a data center at scale, doing whatever it gives the credibility to your thing you’re attached to. So ultimately Omatic benefits because the people that you’re talking to say, look, I literally know what you do because I did it for years.


And it builds a comfort with them because they’re more likely at that point to be sort of disarmed. They’re more open to discussing things because you have a peer relationship with them, and it helps.

And we speak the language. I can use terminology and experiences if I need to. That just build a level of confidence and trust. And again, not that I want to talk to people that don’t get it or that are argumentative or that are circumspect. But I love the opportunity for people to understand. Yes, we really do have your best interests at heart. We really have walked in your shoes, and our technology solutions will help solve your problems because we know what those problems are. And we’ve designed our solutions through a nonprofit lens from the bottom up.

Yeah. The converted are often the most exciting parts of it. Right. When somebody comes to you and says, Stu, I saw what you guys do. Where do I buy it? Okay. That’s neat. But I want someone to go like, I don’t know if I see a fit you’re like, no, trust me.

When I was doing this. I kind of know what it was like. And this is an example of where I wish I had it. And also they’re like, okay, I’m interested. Let’s go further. And you’re like, all right. I feel excited now.

That’s exactly right. And it’s like something as simple as, now do you have to add a bunch of columns to your spreadsheets in order to get them to import? Yeah, that takes me so much time. That’s what I used to have to do. And it just becomes an easy conversation with a lot of confidence and a lot of trust built because of our background in the sector and just knowing what our customers are living through.

Nowadays, especially that we’ve moved to a dominantly digital experience. Every organization struggles, the ability to pair up with in person events and be able to have a presence there, gave you visibility. Well, now we are using mailing lists, and we are using digital outreach. This is the new door-to-door. This is the new in person relationship is we have to begin with digital, survive and thrive in digital. And then when an in person opportunity comes, it’s actually further in the engagement. Right?

Exactly. I was just thinking the same thing. The relationship has already been established and even built upon in a digital way, so that when you do talk to somebody, you’ve already had email conversations with them, you already know about them bluntly, you can look them up on LinkedIn or Facebook and learn about them and vice versa. It’s a two way street. And so the relationship has been established already.

It’s a beautiful familiarity. And when you connect the face to the name, when you get to break bread and press the flesh in real life as. What used to be the first stage was we’d begin there and then move through the digital journey and then hopefully meet again on the other side as a customer. Now it is a great thing for us to leverage the tools that we have available do more good with the data we have and then see that little girl, that little boy, that person that’s given a home where they didn’t have it, somebody who has a shelter tonight because they didn’t have one last night when we can connect and really impact the world in small, positive ways every day and use what we have, the tools we have, Stu, of data and storytelling and connecting it together.

And ensuring that the tools that you, if you’re a nonprofit and you’re listening, the tools that you’re using are going to ensure that your data are right so that the processes that use them do what you want them to do or better, and you can engage more people and raise more money and have that available to do more calculator implant research. Or I always go back to buying more basketballs for the underserved so that they can enjoy their after school time where they wouldn’t otherwise, or any of the non profit missions that all of us are familiar with or the things that are most important to us.

That statement right there should be in the front of your website. It’s beautifully said.

Thank you.

So, Stu, thank you very much. It was a great discussion and it’s been a pleasure and an honor to share time with you. If folks want to connect with you, what’s the best way they can do that?

Thanks, Eric. It’s been a great conversation. Thank you so much for having me. omaticsoftware.com. Info at omaticsoftware.com. You can also email me directly at stu.manewith@omaticsoftware.com. Thank you.

Excellent. So this has been great. So definitely folks, however, you can get connected, and if nothing, you can at least be inspired by what any of us can do in some way of connecting the end to the day to day. The tactical stuff. It seems unsexy. Sounds like plumbing, but we can work some pretty good magic with it. And when you can see a real worldly impact, it’s one of my favorite things to be able to do so. Thank you very much for all that you do, Stu.

Thank you so much. Eric. Nice to talk to you.

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Emily Jillette is a mom of two, wife, producer, and philanthropist. She has been involved in philanthropic work from her home in Las Vegas and continues to be an active local voice and contributor to many important charities and groups.

When she’s not busy with producing great film and TV work, she’s also heavily involved in the continued success of her family which includes her husband Penn Jillette whom folks may know from the longest running magic show in Las Vegas, Penn and Teller.

We discuss the power of doing good, how to choose where you can be effective with both time and money for charitable giving, and how she and her family have maintained a busy and happy life while balancing a very busy public schedule and still staying involved.

Emily is also a marathon finisher and puzzle afficianado. It was a real pleasure to share time and I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

Here are the charitable organizations that were mentioned in the podcast:

Tyler Robinson Foundation

Opportunity Village

My Possibilities

Connect with Emily on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/emilyjillette

Drop a comment below if you want to be connected via email to Emily

Transcript powered by Happy Scribe

Hey, everybody, this is Emily Jillette. I am coming to you from Las Vegas, where I am a philanthropist, a mom and a seven handicap. But I dress like a scratch player. And you’re listening to the Disco Posse podcast.

You’re listening to. Today’s Capozzi. All right, so I love professional broadcasters and creators, is that, you know, how to do this stuff on a dime and producer and mom and golfer and everything and philanthropist Emily Jillette. Thank you very much for joining us today. This is going to be one of the most fun ones I’ve had in a while, because, number one, I’m super interested in the stuff you’re doing. And I’ve got a as they would says the young folks would say, mad respect for for what you do in the world.

And also, it’s just going to be fun because you’re such a fantastic conversationalist. So go on. We’re in for a good time or everything. So thank you for joining. If anybody, for whatever reason, is new to you, if you want to do a quick intro and tell us about yourself, and then we’ll get into what I describe as, interestingly, quiet philanthropy. And we’ve I know we’ve talked about the fact that quiet maybe doesn’t belong in the way you do it.

But I’ll explain a little context when we get to that.

OK, well, I did mention my passion for golf, which comes up very early in most conversations, only, only outshining the fact that I ran the New York City Marathon twice. But other than that, I am a mom and a wife and I’ll just say it right out. My husband’s name is Penn Jillette and he is the latter half of Penn and Teller, a long standing magic duo, longest running show in Vegas. Anyway, so I have two kids, teenagers who have survived the pandemic and born and raised in Las Vegas, where I moved 18 years ago.

I have my husband. I met my husband on a job I used to produce golf commercials. And Vegas is the greatest place to shoot golf commercials because clients love to come here. And we never have rainy days which are so expensive in production it never rains here. And so, yeah, I met him here. I can tell you later. Now if you care how and and we got married and had kids within like two or three years and have been here for 18 years.

And I love Vegas. I think I would love Vegas even if I weren’t married and had kids here. But because I love shows and community and restaurants and golf. But add to it my incredible husband and family and friends and I’m where I’m supposed to be.

It’s it’s a perfect place when it’s funny because you also spend a lot of time in another place well known for food and theater. Of course, you you do spend time in New York as well, but attitudinally different than Las Vegas as far as just the way that people walk in the sidewalk. Well, the fact that when one side they’re usually carrying four foot tall glasses with giant straws made of palm trees in them and on the other side, they’re probably shoving you out of the way because they’re trying to get to work faster for whatever reason.

Yeah, yeah.

But the the interesting thing, when I look and for people to try and look at this as funny as I as a researcher and like, let me find out, make sure I know all I can about Emily before we get in. You also go by your Emily Zoltán on your production credits, which is always interesting because then I’ve got to do a double search. You’re surprisingly light on outside information, you know, especially given that you have a fairly public life.

You are very good about keeping this beautiful balance of, like, showing the stuff that you want to and not getting dragged into other areas, which is probably not easy given that you’ve got a fairly public facing life.

Well, I can honestly say that was not a concerted effort. I consider myself a rather vocal on social media and a little less so over the past few months as I detox from the Trump. Well, we lived through, but he could have taken to edit that out.

The I don’t normally vote for you. I can if we really want.

Oh, no, I’m loud and proud on that. But I didn’t know if you didn’t want to alienate your viewers. I don’t mind. I mean, I could I can say like three good things about Trump if you want about it anyway. So as far as my credits go, you know, I’m in a thing called the DGA, the Directors Guild, and most of my credits that are creditable, like on IMDB or before I joined, so.

I don’t I don’t know why there are no I mean, nothing’s on my TV, I don’t populate it, but I actually work on 17 features and tons of TV shows and commercials and whatever. As far as other things out there, I’m sure there is. Did you find stuff like participation in charity, events like that?

That is one thing. And of course, this is why I mean, I’ve I’ve sort of followed your story via a lot of Penn interviews, actually, on various themes on law and Howard Stern. And so I I’m an avid listener to talk radio, even though as a Canadian, I would be like basically like underground radio, like listening to these like syndicated replays of all these long form talk shows. Yeah. And I was always interested in, you know, when he talked about his philanthropic work.

And then that led me to do sort of strange amounts of research about that. And it led me to you. And I realized that you have a lot that you’re doing. And then I also got found out that we have a common friend, Missy Young, who is such an amazing human. I can’t talk enough about how great Missy is. It is so, so cool. And when I talked to Missy, I was like she mentioned that she was on on a board of directors for one of the charities with you.

And I thought, all right, if I can ask that favor, can I can I get can you phone a friend for me? And here we are, which is kind of cool.

I’m honored because, I mean, in a in a town full of incredible women, I’m lucky just to know them. I’m really not top of the list. I’m going to pass on to some good ones after me. But yeah, I mean, the cool thing is, is that I got into philanthropy, which is something you’re really interested in talking about. Right. I don’t want to go off on a tangent.

Yeah, no, that was the big thing because that’s the if I’ll say and I talked about this this idea, this theme of like quiet philanthropy and interestingly quiet in that you’re very involved, but you’re not like most I’ll say this is a I want to be careful how I say this. I’m not saying most of you what a lot of people who have public faces tend to have way more selfies about their charities than the people that the charities are arguing to.

And I don’t want to detract from people that are doing work. And that’s maybe that’s just the way that they know how to bring attention to it. But when I look at what you do, all I see is the people you affect, not you doing it. You immediately pass through the all the cheers to the people that are doing it, like when it comes to Opportunity Village and all these things, it’s always like, these are the amazing people.

I’m just here beside them. It’s it’s such a rarity in people that are have an opportunity to really bring themselves as the center. And the first thing you do is you slide out of the camera and say, no, no, they’re they’re the cool people.

Well, I really appreciate that. I assure you, it hasn’t been a concert ever a concerted effort. And I actually don’t mind being on camera and talking. I’m thrilled to be here. I mean, like you might be pretending my jokes are funny and my family doesn’t do that. I’ll be great. But thank you. That’s really nice. I hope it I hope it stays that way. But so I originally got into philanthropy more than just the casual donation along my lifeline because of Penn.

And that’s because twofold, when I moved here and became his wife, it took a couple years to I mean, I am a very confident, strong minded person, but it took a couple of years to adjust to being Mrs. Jack. Yeah. Yeah. Because very much up figuratively and literally, literally in the shadows of such a large personality. And after a couple of years of you know that and a little bit of a princess life, I sort of stopped working for a minute and and just enjoyed our newfound love and marriage.

I was like, all right, I gotta to get back to something. But I’m probably not going back to full on six day a week production. So Barbara Molaskey and Robin Greenspun, who are the most incredible women of Las Vegas, I mean, there’s a list of them, but those two almost make you tear up. They’re so amazing. They invited me to an event at Robin’s house for Opportunity Village where I was blown away. I think there I think I wasn’t even aware that there were that these underground communities that just power force powerhouse, which is it powerhouse and help all these charities, that it can’t be done without it.

And it’s kind of odd that I didn’t know about it because I’ve been a libertarian for long before that actual meeting and espouse this idea that private citizens would replace things and help those who are now being helped so much by government programs. And I just didn’t realize it. But it might have been an indication of where I was living, which was central Florida. And I was a civilian, for lack of a better word. I’m a civilian now, but you know what I mean for.

Yeah. And so I was enthralled and I just went at it full speed. And then Pen, who is in his heart the most generous person on the planet, isn’t actually very social. And that’s because he gets a lot of a lot of attention. And if he opens his heart and his energy all day to everybody, there’ll be nothing left for him or his family or even his work. So he’s a little guarded with all that. So I was able to work so well with him, for lack of a better term, capitalize on his presence and sort of be the tap dancer next to him, you know?

So we’ll go to something and and and somebody to talk to us for like 15 minutes and they’ll walk away and can only talk for 15 minutes. It’s so amazing. But if you watch if you TiVo the scene, you would see that I talked to 14 of them like that. So it was a really, really good teamwork. And then once I got into it, it just, you know, charity begets charity and people start calling you and say, hey, do you want to do this or this?

And I used to say yes to everything, almost everything, everything that aligned with my my objectives and morals. But now I limit it to about four main charities a year with the occasional donation or appearance at something else. But because each of the charities has an event, the events take up a lot of time and and preparation. And so I just stick to four, which I can name or that name at any point that you like.

We’ll tell you what I’d love to er any, any advertisement I can, you know, and bring attention to, to what you’re working on. So definitely I’d love to hear you know who, who are you’re for that you’re really active with right now.

Well let’s sprinkle it throughout our time so it does commercial right now. So the first and foremost is Tyler Robinson Foundation and hashtags like Cancer Drag that’s happening.

I love that shirt. That is the best for people that it’s funny because this goes back to format’s. We’ve got the audio that goes out for people to get the video. So I get a definitely a snapshot that because that is a fantastic shirt. And I say this is a guy who’s wearing a fantastic shirt because I, I got my own shirt joint. I got it. I love it. Slay cancer with dragons.

Let’s pretend that there’s a reason for that. And this is the Imagine Dragons charity, and they are a big US based band, world famous worldwide. Now, if you don’t know the Imagine Dragons where you’ve been and so briefly, they were doing the concert as the Imagine Dragons and they got a like a Facebook message back early when people used to read their messages. And it was from a brother who was like, my brother’s dying of cancer. All it does is listen to your music is going to be at the he’s going to be at your concert tonight, which was like two hundred people in a dove bar, you know, and and Dan Reynolds, the lead singer, you read the message and during the show, he called them out and they, like, sang a song together.

And it became very emotional, like you should look for the video and it it inspired them to start the Tyler Robinson Foundation that was named of. And he went into remission and then he actually eventually passed. And so they started it in his name. And it is become an incredible organization which helps families with the out-of-pocket expenses that none of us even realize exist. You know, if I have two children and one of them has cancer, I’m so glad that they don’t.

But I would rather lose myself as an example, the amount of money it takes to go to the appointments, go to the specialist, get child care for the other kid, customize the room if they need, you know, disability help. All these things that pop up, those aren’t covered by insurance and they will deplete a family’s bank account, morale and energy. And Tyler Robinson Foundation raises money to offset those costs.

Wow. That’s yeah, that’s the incredible thing. It’s like it’s not even the first order effect of of what’s happening. It’s that the stuff that’s just a family fighting. Together, especially, you’ve got multiple kids. I mean, goodness gracious. Especially the last 18 months where the world is vastly different than we’d ever imagined it could be, and people can barely keep their day jobs up because they have kids at home and all this stuff. So it’s I’ve got I got four kids, so I know the deal on what it takes to do that.

And if anything is thrown off for a day, most people are like, I’m out. I said, I can’t do this. It’s really, really hard to shift the schedule. And if you suddenly have to put attention as much needed to a child or of an elderly relative, your wife, your husband, partner, anybody, and, you know, you do it right. And that like, we would throw ourselves at it if we could.

But then we’re stuck making this choice of how do I pay the mortgage or rent or do I spend time with my loved one? Yep. It’s a choice we shouldn’t have to make.

Yeah. And that’s what they do. And I’m not correcting you. But I will clarify that Tyler Robinson helps families with pediatric patients. Right.

Very specific. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

And they and they really help. We have an annual event and we have some of the families come and talk about their experiences. And I mean, everybody says this, but literally not a dry eye in the house. You just you’re so grateful that you can help them and. Grateful that you are not experiencing it personally, I don’t at that point.

That’s that’s it. You know, it’s that that that’s I mean, even when when I do like nerd tech presentations, the first thing I do is like infuse a real story. And it’s like the best thing in the world when someone like you see them, they’re like. Chris, there’s a lot of air coming in here, you know, like like it’s like this is stuff that actually matters, you know, like, oh, you by the way, we do this other thing and it’s neat and whatever, but like, why the hell are we doing all the stuff we do, you know?

Oh yeah. Because humans matter and let’s let’s do some amazing stuff together.

And so I will add, because this is a this is like I don’t know, I always feel this and people don’t talk about it that much, but I think they talk about it. I’m not trying to be special. I try to help as much as I can. It’s kind of talking about how, but just because I hope someday someone helps me that way if I’m right.

Yeah, no, no. And that’s that’s really the thing of it. And it’s unfortunately rare, right? It’s hard to it’s hard for people to see that chance to be able to go outside. I mean, my one of the most amazing stories is for folks that as a marathoner, you may know is from the triathlon world, Dick and Ricky Hoyt, who are a famous father son duo, and they’ve run Ironman. And the stories that Dacoit was they had their son had a challenging birth cord, got wrapped around the neck, ended up with cerebral palsy.

And they said, what do you do? So they go to the doctor. And this is years ago. And they said, well, your best bet is to put him in continuous care and then hope that he can have, you know, a somewhat decent life there. And he says he’s like, no, no, no, that’s not what we’re going to do. It’s not how we do things. Right. So he was a military man.

He says we’ll work our life around this. And they did these things. And and he said, like the first words that he spoke because he they got this the computer that they could actually, like, use the letters on the computer. And, you know, what are the first things he’s going to spell out on this computer? And they put all this everything they could into this. And this is going to be dad is going be mom, whatever.

And it was go Bruins. Yeah. And he goes a Boston guy does this classic like Boston guy. I’ll tell you about my son Ricky. And and it was amazing. He says then he he went and he took them in like he would run with them. And he’s like, we would take him for a walk and take him for a run. And he says, what do you do? You like that? And he says, Dad, when I run with you, it feels like I’m running.

And so he became he started running like five K’s and ten k’s and marathons. And next thing you know, they’re doing Ironman triathlons together. And he had an adapted bike and he would pull them on a raft for the swim. And it’s just it’s incredible. And I tell people, like, if you watch this video of him, like introducing this story, you aren’t crying at the end. You don’t have a soul because. Oh, but it’s like as a parent, you know, you’re like, I’d throw anything away for your kids and and then to do it for your peer group, like for somebody who you’re not even directly connected.

Like, it’s it’s incredible. So, yeah, that’s the stuff that I really get. I get I love it. Right.

Yes. You have set up the perfect Segway. So I will just tell you that another foundation that I work for at Penn and I have done a lot that is called Opportunity Village and has a similar provenance, if you will, of its creation, which was Linda Smith had a severely handicapped son and I believe they were Canadian, forgive me, or anybody else if I get his details wrong. But I believe words like throwaway child were used and they just wanted to, you know, put them in an institution and walk away like they didn’t even talk about.

An integrated life with that that level of care. But anyway, Linda was like, nope, not going to happen. His name’s Christopher and he recently passed away, but after, like, 35 years. And so I don’t think she actually started Opportunity Village. I think she found them and created the the incredible foundation that it is today, although she has also moved on. I just want to make sure I don’t say something to people that’s not right.

Emily, let the opportunity village is. Akin to the Go Bruins statement, which is to say, it takes Handey, it takes intellectually and physically disabled people and teaches them whatever their level of capability is, what I call life or vocational skills. So from the simple list, like, here’s how you pour a glass of water if you have that capability to. Here’s how you take a bus. Here’s how you go to the bathroom. Here’s how you go grocery shopping and here’s how you get a job.

And it is a it’s a paradoxical goal, which is to teach them independence that’s integrated into the real world. And it’s fabulous. Everybody there is called a VIP and everybody has a job and everybody has a paycheck. So everybody feels self-worth and value. And the amazing thing is that they have been so embraced by the biggest hospitality community. So tasks as simple as they have like assembly line up there at their two facilities where they might just be putting like a plastic silverware, napkins into one of those world things or collating papers for a conference or they found it was an incredible opportunity to have a huge shredding business because what’s the whatever is shredding business.

But also at the community, they are working in the hotels, working in the restaurants, working everywhere. And it’s an amazing thing that we love working template for it on Celebrity Apprentice. And I would like to say to help balance my other comment that Trump was ten years ago a wonderful host and a fantastic game show host. And I support his career in game shows.

Anyway, I hope that was that was one of my first introductions to Opportunity Village was through through that show. And and yeah, that was the whole thing of like, how can we give people literally an opportunity, right. To actually have something that they they can do and they feel the contribution they get results from. And it’s not exploitative or exploitative. Exploitative. I don’t know. I’m not sure what the word is. I’m not perfect, but I’m Canadian, so it’s a weird word.

You got to have a small list of words and read and write, but don’t pronounce.

And that’s one of them. Yeah, I if I do the weirdest and this is my nerd bits coming in for a second, I say the word infrastructure about 11 times a day at a minimum, and I write it all the time and I spell it and say it poorly every time I for whatever reason it’s my kryptonite of of words. It’s yeah. Thank goodness for auto. Correct.

But well, I also want to add because as I mentioned, Barbara and and Robin, but there was a guy there named Michael Thomas who also became a very close friend. And if you happen to be in Texas, he moved and started his own new and improved opportunities called My Possibilities. And Wow is doing is magical. So check it out. My possibilities.

Now, this is the the the very interesting thing about this, when you put yourself towards this stuff in more than just. A donation. It’s a real investment in the people behind it. How do you how do you find the ones that you know, that your contribution is going to have a meaningful impact? Because that’s what I find a lot of people don’t get involved with in much more than, you know, maybe small charitable giving because they’re unsure that what they’re doing actually impacts something.

Yeah, I am not sure I have a delineated process. I think that certainly I read about it right away and find out what they do. And I might go to a meeting or two. Typically when I’m invited to help a charity or work with a charity, it starts out with an event, you know, like, oh, we’re putting together a committee for this event. Can you be on the committee? And I’ll do that. And there’s a lot of gut feeling that goes into it, you know, and the people who are associated with it, for example, Mr.

Young’s a gold star. If Missy’s on the board, I don’t have to do any of the work because she wouldn’t be here if it weren’t. Yeah, a small aside, but I like to mention it because of my personal position, which is I generally don’t do anything that’s religious related only because I’m not I’m not against religion helping people. But I, I really like to walk the walk that it’s people who help people. And I just want to show that that’s important to me.

There’s enough that I can choose from my parameters that I can be extremely philanthropic with and be inclusive. So there’s that. I look for fun. I mean, we could set way right into the Shriners Hospitals for Children. There you go. I work on a PGA event, which is golf and philanthropy together.

It’s like the is the absolute culmination of everything you did in my whole life, that inside the ropes, that is the help that I can’t even hide how much I appreciate the fun and benefit I get from it. That being said, Shriners Hospitals for Children has been around most people’s whole life. They are amazing. They make, you know, the neuro skeletal diseases and burn victims, children, I believe mostly, but zero dollars medically to a family.

And they educate physicians and do research. And they are just I mean, the most in my heart, the most generous organization I work with. I mean, they have nothing on their mind except people. I guess the other ones do, too. That didn’t come out right.

But know but it’s it if you think of it as well, it’s one of those it’s very rare that you find a group that really survived decades of evolution and in the world in themselves, like when we walk when you drive into towns, at least I’m fairly sure US towns are the same way. I’m a fresh new resident of the United States, but driving a little Canadian towns, you’d come in and there’d be the like, welcome to Bradford and it would have like the Lions Club and all these different things.

And that was the what the heck do those people do? Like the Optimist club like, oh, that sounds like a happy bunch. I don’t know what they actually did. They were, in effect, a lot of these things. And then the Shriners, we knew them from the little goofy in town parades, and they were the big guys driving little tiny cars with a fez hat on, which I didn’t know. They’re the only place I’ve ever understood what a fez that is.

I don’t even know why it’s called a fez head. But, hey, that was that was my Schriner experience. And I find out that they’re doing this incredible stuff behind the scenes and now ultimately is is has given an incredible amount to so many families across North America.

It’s amazing. It truly is. And then, you know, they have like golfers come out at the tournament who are handicapped, but handi capable, like, it’s amazing. So I’ve been with them for maybe five or six years. And that and to to go back to how did I get involved with them? Well, that was a layup for golf, but coincidentally at my golf club. So it’s a perfect fit and its presence is felt there all year.

There’s other events all the time, but that’s their big golf event. And I don’t know, I encourage everybody to to come out to the golf tournament. We have we have one of the best spectator viewing tournaments on tour right now.

The thing comes up is people even just go over what we’ve just talked about and they will start to look in their own personal schedule and not find a lot of time where they feel like they can squeeze it in. So I’m. Curious both is I mean, you’ve got an incredible, you know, history in what you do with your production work and like just keeping those cats herded is one thing. You’ve obviously you’ve got your own family. You’ve got everything that’s going on with except with boys Penn and his work and then this incredible community of magicians and performers that you’re always you know, it’s it’s so neat to see how this comes.

Right. Like, I’ve got my nerd people and like, we’ve got our little like, you know, like sort of cliques of like little pods of people that you’re like, oh, that’s like Scott Lowe. And they’re like famous people, Kelsey Hightower. And people have no idea outside of my circle who these people are. But the same way they’d be like, oh, my God, like this is I’m going to see Puff the Magic Dragon.

And, you know, I know these people. And so it’s kind of it’s tough to fit it in. So how do you like doing so much? Just keep the wheels on the bus.

Well. I thrive on being busy, like relaxing is not a thing that I do and not much anyway, a jigsaw puzzle. You know, I do a competitive jigsaw puzzle and that’s that’s my relaxation of my minute.

OK, OK, guys, second, we’re going to puzzle that with the second. OK, so I didn’t even know there was a thing called competitive jigsaw puzzle. Tell me about I don’t mean to take you off your your thought process, but that’s like this is I think we’ve got a new podcast on our hands alone here.

Well, I think that’s such a thing. I just dropped out actually the world championships because they’re in Spain in September and I’m just not ready to do all that right now. Travel. But and I’ve never been to the world championships. This is only the second one. But it’s it’s it’s not a qualifying type sport. If you want to play, you can play so that. But I’m just obsessed with puzzles like I have to go in right now.

And I’m not speaking in hyperbole when I tell you I’m never not working on a puzzle. There is always a puzzle going. And I’ve always loved jigsaw puzzles. And it even ramped up to obsession before before pandemic. But Pandemic set it like like a bad habit.

I would say this is like being trapped in a store for cigarets and deciding that maybe I’ll pick up smoking again.

Yeah. And there was quite the shortage of jigsaw puzzles during. Oh, endemic.

I mean, there was a run on puzzles, apparently on puzzles.

So my favorite puzzles are called Liberty. And they’re they’re they’re laser cut wooden puzzles, very high end and gorgeous and artistic and, you know, used just log on and buy one. It got up to like a sixty five day wait for the right to order one. Wow. I know I gamed the system a little and I was ordered under different names, but I started a Liberty puzzle group and we would just ship them around to everybody and do that so that we all got all buying and sharing and everything.

But the competition stuff is done, at least the ones I meant with Robin’s Burgers, which are a high end cardboard jigsaw puzzle, which are super fun. And I love them and I’ve done almost everyone they’ve ever made. But once you move on to the wood once, they’re not as great. So don’t touch the wood puzzles till you’re ready to eat.

It will break you from that point forward. You’re like, no, it’s wooder wood or nothing.

Yeah, but but part of that is just to talk about my business and like that’s not even my favorite kind of puzzle, my favorite and puzzles of cryptic and it’s a sort of Wordplay type crossword puzzle. And I probably do those two hours a day, but I do with a partner on the phone because each puzzle takes so much brainpower to solve. So we just work on it together. But that’s my favorite cryptics. But anyway, back to the busy, you know, as a former producer.

And so everything I do is very scheduled and and and thought out ahead because I used to say that if I’m a good producer, I’ll do nothing the day of the shoot. That means I’ve foreseen every problem and that’s never happened. It’s a pipe dream, but fine. But that’s the goal. So like when I’m thinking about how things are going, I am planning it out and I’m solving the problem, setting up alternatives and backups and everything. And that keeps you busy.

And then whenever there is a problem, I love it. It’s a challenge for me to solve. So I guess that’s part of how I keep busy.

I’m like, I’ve got a similar mental style where like every time that I, I feel I’m constantly overwhelmed with things to do and a backlog of stuff. And then the moment all of a sudden like three meetings cancel and you like I have this whole afternoon with nothing scheduled. The first thing I find is nine hours of work to cram into the three hour block that I had. Like, it’s but I the moment that I stop. I become free to explore my own thought and like so when I cycle, I, I would do moderate distance cycling and and and I run because I used to go to I traveled a lot.

So it’s hard to carry a bike everywhere you go. So I started running all over the place. So every time I go to a show, I do morning run groups every morning so that it also keeps people from going out and drinking until 4:00 in the morning because they know they got to get their ass up and go for a run with me in the morning in the Vegas heat, which is super fun. Right. So I’d be, you know, camped out at the Bellagio Fountain every morning at six thirty, you know, waiting.

And the next thing I was like 30, 40 people that are coming up. And we would go up the strip, go to the sign, come back, like, just make it a big thing. And it was fun. But the moment that I’m disconnected, forcibly disconnected, it’s the most creative time. And and then I get back and I’m like, got to write this stuff down. I got to like, got to capture this. But it’s hard when you’re doing these continuous sort of frenetic, always fitting other things in to get that freedom of thought time.

How do you. That’s my policy. Is that right? That’s my personal time. Yeah. The puzzle time is it’s meditative. I am paying attention. You have to pay attention to the puzzle. But there’s there is some autopilot to it particularly. Everybody hates turning over and sorting. And that’s that’s my jam. You know, I just lost the best part.


I used to be the guy that would always count the cash every time when when I worked at a retail store, I’m like, I got this in this, like certain coins hang hold my beer back.

Like now I know my my my mom said that I joined production because I like spreadsheets, lists, sharpies and highlighters. And so I just made plans and lists and organized. Have you ever tried a floatation tank sensory deprivation.

No. And it’s funny, I’ve thought about this just because I think it would be incredible. But I’m also like weirdly claustrophobic. I did like tough mudders and stuff. I’m one of the things that drove me nuts. But I did it. It scared the hell out of me was going into like an underwater tube where you have literally, like, just your mouth and your like your cheeks are above water as you’re, like crawling backwards through, like a gutter tube.

I would. And you do that for like fifteen feet. And all you have is these like four spots where they’re basically like blow holes thing. It’s horrifying, so horrifying.

And a little more out of your control. I think if you got in one of these pods and convinced yourself eleven times that you can open it or you can press the button or a person you trust the most is sitting outside and be able to allay that fear because it’s truly amazing when you take away the sound, the site smells, what will I find? There is a little bit of smell, but also the water is like a few degrees cooler than your body.

So the heat you give off mitigates it and you stop feeling the difference between your skin in the water. Well, I mean, I can’t quote studies on this, but your mind refuses to be so on to be so idle. And there’s visual hallucinations if you sort of allow them to close your eyes. But but the creativity is insane and you might love it. And I started doing it. I don’t know if you found in your Google stock, I mean, research that I studied dolphin communication in Hawaii and and so floatation tanks were sort of made popular and developed a lot by John Lilly Johnson, who was my idol, albeit a bit.

But those are the best idols to have. I think the only because I was a youth, because I grew up in the time and the only early introduction to these sensory deprivation tanks was like my fear, which was it was a William Hurt movie and one that he he was in as a not ultra, I think altered states, I think was not it.

That is that is about Gellatly and his work. I mean that. Oh wow. OK, yeah, yeah, yeah.

There you go. So this is the the oddities of connective tissue of the world. This is like Dirk Gently’s holistic detective agency played it in real life, that everything is the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

Did you ever watch that British show connections?

No. No. Oh, no. I’ve got no. I got stuff to watch.

Write this one down because this is this show was like thirty years old and I still watch on YouTube sometimes. And it’s like this British guy and. He’ll take a Sharpie and then he’ll take a steam engine and he’ll show not only are they connected, but they wouldn’t it one wouldn’t exist without the other. Like they were showing like an integral connection between their development. And your mind is blown because it’s justified. Like you, you know, just take his word for it.

Fascinating show. Fascinating.

So that’s the stuff that I dig into. My biggest thing lately is I really struggle with finding, like nutritional content to take in. It’s so easy to get, like, pulled into the infinite scroll of of things. And I know I just feel my brain just going in bad directions because I and I realize why. I just I just say, like, that’s it. I claim to do list bankruptcy, email bankruptcy. I just like, shut it, delete it all.

And I’m like, I’m going to do something. I find an amazing documentary and I tell you, well, here you go. Another fundamental interconnectedness thing, one of my my favorite ones that I watch, not too much not too long ago, harder to find now. It’s for whatever reason, I love streaming, except that stuff goes away on streaming with gamblers.

Ballard, thank you.

Beautifully done. And Johnny Thompson is somebody who people really have no idea how much he gave to the world into the magic community and and to an incredible a terrible loss, of course, in twenty nineteen. It’s been two years over two years now.

But but let me interject that his incredible partner, wife and yes. That broad wife, Pam. Yeah. Passed away last week also.

Oh, no. Oh my.

Yes. Was that super sad. She’s wonderful. She had her friends, family and dogs around her and and she did say she was ready to go. Wow. So I told Penn that they’re editing the season right now, fulness, and they should just do a single card in the beginning that announces the Tomassoni and Company reunion tour, you know, but no, that was fun. And I think you’re thanking me because I was a producer on that, but I was really just a facilitator to the the idea and the talent and the passion was from my husband.

And I just helped because of my experience and access.

Well, and that’s but that really, truly is the story of the importance of what we through philanthropy, through work, through what we give to our families, the unseen, like what people like they if they look in in Johnny’s his own public history of what he did for as a as a performer, not realizing how much he did as a creator for other magicians. And obviously he was very close to to Penn and Teller. And in designing with them and and being a consultant and, you know, being a producer, you know, you’re trying to sort of like push away of like, no, no, no.

Is there me like, well, no, this is this is what makes it incredible. Is that the the name or the face on the box of the movie back when there were boxes for movies at least, is often not the one that really you know, they’re the ones that sell the story, I guess. But the story’s created and told like Tim’s Vermeer was another fantastic example that was Teller’s work. And oh, God, I could I could watch that weekly.

Yeah. It’s such an amazing story.

That’s a roller coaster mystery. It’s I love that movie so much. I, I it’s I have like three favorite documentaries in the world and that’s one of them.

All right. Now I got to hear the other two I will give was valid, but the documentary I love so much that I always tell people to watch super hard to find. You might find a pound VHS, but it does happen to be on YouTube. And I just lie to myself and say that the creator said it was OK. So I watched it. Yeah, but it’s called the other final and it. You’ve seen it.

I have not. So now I am done. This is why writing this down here, I’m writing this down.

Watch tonight and then text me what you think. But in the way that. Gemas valid is not just about magic, and non magicians can enjoy it, and Tim’s Vermeer is definitely not just for artists or historians. This movie takes place in the world of soccer. And I hate soccer, so I know. Well, it’s a guy that decided to create a final on the day of the World Cup for the two lowest ranked teams in FIFA. And so it was a competition between Monserrat and Butan at the time.

Oh, and the the the hard work and willpower and humanity to bring together a, you know, Hurricane Island with a mountainside village that doesn’t talk to people and get them to play soccer together to find that crossover of humanity. I just loved it so much. I can’t stand it.

That is wild. Yeah. That’s what I what I enjoy about these. And even like the stories we’ve talked about, you know, like when you when you unlock the real like what’s behind all that stuff, like it just sort of pulls you in. That’s why these things are fantastic to watch and share, you know, in in even what we do in in business. You know, I always say to people like they’re like, I’m not in I’m not in sales.

I’m like, well, everybody’s in sales. Like, we’re we’re ultimately all responsible for for some kind of impact on what we do. And, you know, while I may not be the guy that’s going to go into town footing the bill and telling the story and chasing down the CEOs, doing whatever. The fact that you can be a part of it and help people throughout this whole group, it’s that’s what I love is the impact of it.

And then when you see somebody else tell these stories in beautiful ways, it’s such a such a magical feeling when you go through storytelling, watching somebody else’s storytelling, that must be. So as an EP and as a producer like you’ve got an interesting split of the like just keeping the wheels on the bus, but also ensuring that the story ultimately is being parlayed and told in the way that’s. To the core of why the project had started.

Yes, and that would hold more true for an MP who originated the project at two to realize their vision, but most projects, if not all, that have been brought on to have been to help others. So I’m really fighting for them to get their vision and not inserting mine. So I don’t always agree with everything that’s done. But that’s that’s not my job. And and I’ve been proven nearly unanimously that they were right anyway. So I don’t.

Except for Werner Herzog. Yeah, I, I, I just don’t get it. I, I love incredible filmmakers and like he’s, he is amazing in his ability to do his thing. Yeah. Every time I’m halfway through one of them I’m just like I’m not quite sure what I’m what I’m enjoying here. It’s interesting, it’s an interesting character.

But can I return to two points because I wrote. Yes, I would. To forget to follow up on them, which is early on in our discussion, you talked about like people who take selfies and maybe, ah, have other reasons, additional reasons for why they do work. I have absolutely no problem with that and I encourage everyone to do it. If we all did things the same way, we wouldn’t get it all done. I am so fine with people who they want to add a gold star to their Facebook page or they want to be seen with a celebrity or they want a tax deduction.

If you are, you know, what was his name? Sheldon Adelson. I’m not a huge fan.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

And there’s so much money because you want that kind of accolade. Bravo. I’ll take your money. I’ll take your time. I’ll take your notoriety. And I think that if you’re going to shame that spectrum or let’s not say shame, but minimize it or write, rewrite the narrative, then then then you could do it to the guy who just, you know, gives five dollars a month out of his paycheck and say, you’re not doing enough or whatever.

We have to accept all charity for what somebody has to give because it’s not mandatory. It’s what we do because we want to. So I applaud anybody in any way who gives to any charity.

It is an interesting conundrum right now, especially, you know, especially we get say like. So obviously, Sheldon Adelson is a polarizing figure as far as, you know, some of the you know, some of the history and what he’s done in business. But like you said, then, he had this sort of philanthropic side of of himself. We talked obviously about forty five and we and pre and post right where where people fit in. And this is what really I struggle with of, you know, we have to look for we can’t let the one portion of somebodies existence define the rest of their existence because we have to be able to either surpass or forgive or, you know, and and maybe not maybe just say like, OK, you know, or compartmentalize.

Right. Or just I mean, of course, is exception exceptions. We’re not we’re not interested in, like, supporting murderers doing charity. You know what. But but everybody’s got things that do not appeal to everybody else. And, you know, I am very vocal about this council culture stuff lately. I’m sensitive. I try to be politically correct. But it’s it’s to me we’re in this, like, overreaction period where you can say or do one thing.

Seventeen years ago and all of a sudden all the work you’re doing now means nothing. It’s it’s right to me. And I’m hoping that that rubber bands back and leaves a legacy of sensitivity and a calmer place for us to all treat each other. But we have to stop canceling people from the states that are mistakes. I’m not talking about egregious crimes. I’m not saying let’s let Harvey back in. You know, I’m talking about the of it is it is tough.

And you even like the first thing before you even begin the statement is like you got to make sure you’re getting the right guardrails on how you say it, because it is their tough subjects to talk about. But it’s like I mean, I tell people I know it’s a bit of a deep topic, but like read Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago and you’ll learn about when when good wasn’t good enough. And, you know, they just kept taking away the edges and by taking away the edges, meaning affected because causing genocide, like they they said, yeah, you’re rich.

So we can’t let that happen. Yeah. Like your principles. Cool. OK, but then once they’re gone. Now, the top earners are now rich and those are the farmers and OK, let’s stop doing that one. And then suddenly millions die in the Ukraine because there’s no food for a decade. I mean, look, obviously, that’s an extreme case, but it it played out. And that’s why I always, like you said, let’s not let the egregious stuff be accepted.

But there’s people that make mistakes and let’s let’s try and put the right context. And context can be timing. It can be especially just what’s wrapped around it. Like if you take out one single sentence out of this podcast, I’m going down for, I’m sure for some reason something I said somewhere it’s troublesome. The fact that I mentioned the Gulag Archipelago is probably going to be the one that takes me out. But I, I said it’s a historical thing that, you know, we I often look like we have to look at history so that we don’t make the mistakes of it again by suddenly taking an Etch A Sketch and shaking off everything that’s twenty two years and older.

I mean, I could get with get around maybe getting some of the 80s music off my my memory list. It’s all good, but hey, that’s just me.

I get it agreed of course on all of that. And then the other point I want to hit because I don’t know when you’re going to cut me off is when you talk about, you know, getting started, how do you find what works for you and everything? Right. And then I sort of got off on a tangent that people have approached me, so I’m not out actively seeking. So I’m in, like, letting a. You know, marinate in my mind when I think about it, and I think that two things that I want to say about it.

One is. Unless you are the only person in this world, you know, somebody who has a disease or is maybe has been homeless or has an alcohol problem or something that is connected with the charity, and if you can tap into your compassion and love for that person, you might want to work with something in that area, because that way it’ll feel more personal to you. It’ll feel let it’ll feel connected. So it’s just a suggestion that isn’t something I’ve actually done, except one would argue nothing.

But I would look for something that hits closer to home so that you can feel like you’re making a difference in the world and maybe your own life also. But what I also want to say is that, you know, like if you’re having a shitty day and you go for a run that you do not want to go on, you just feel better after nobody ever regretted exercising or running. We’re all coming out of this like, incredible time of solitude.

And I just think that helping others is going to help the giver more than it ever has before. And coming back to the world and life is hard for you. And you’re like, I have less time than ever. I have to work two jobs now just to make sure you need the feel good of giving more than anybody. And you’ve got to if you find that time, you know, we all we all know how to make time for the things that are most important to us.

You’ll find the time because it’s so rewarding.

It’s beautiful, you know, it’s something that I hope that we take what we just experienced and find lessons in it. Yeah, nobody would like to experience what we’ve gone through and continue to go through, nor would we want to go through what we talked about with, know families who have children who you face, medical challenges that you’d never imagine until you experience it. And if you can do something as we go back to the world where we open up and we get to hug again, we get to do these things.

It’s it’s going to feel special and I want people to like, don’t forget that I just grab that moment.

Yeah. And I think about back again about Barbara and Robin, who took me by the hand and let me in. You can give out my email to somebody in Vegas and they want to do charity work of any level a week, an hour, a year or full time or whatever. You give them my email. I will help them.

That’s amazing. Now, the the interesting thing, of course, is when we look at we sort of you touched on it before this sensation that you’re not giving enough. And like, how do you how do you coach people through, you know, like I said, just the small things, even if they’re not directly doing it. Fine, somebody else is doing it and give them the day off. Like, give your workers an opportunity to spend time.

It doesn’t even need to be like a company giving money. You can be like empower your your your community to say like, who wants to do something? Let’s all pool together and make sure that that can happen, right? Yeah.

Yeah. I mean, examples. You could come be a be quiet person at the golf tournament for a day and you’ll just stand there and you know, the learning curve is three minutes to play. You know, when the golf score, you hold it up in a play and then you’re helping. You’re absolutely I, I mean, more than help. And I can’t even overstate I can’t even overstate how volunteer, like physical work manning all these events is is everything.

They don’t happen without it. Yeah. The big checks come, but there’s no checks to give to it. There’s no better write another order. So you could do that or you could you could find out which homeless shelters except food and bake some cakes. You can you know, you can do the lay up, which is helping on Thanksgiving or Christmas. And I don’t roll my eyes at that. That’s just that’s a good starting point. But there tends to be more than enough people on those days.

Right. So do it on a different day. I don’t know what else. Probably manning the phones. It’s something you can do.

Yeah. That was remember, that was like the whole thing was like the you know, the telephone banks would be lit up and you’d have these sort of like I grew up of course, through the seventies and eighties and it was like watching like, oh yeah, there’s Burt Reynolds and you know, and Lonnie Anderson on the phones taking calls. But truthfully, they’re they’re just holding the phone to their ears and hundreds of people in another room that are actually taking the calls.

So I know another one. That’s great. It’s a smaller a smaller organization that I’ve worked with. But if you can take it on to tutor or mentor underprivileged children, that is something that is is almost an exponential speed, because as you create create sounds so manhandled, as you help people develop and become educated, then you are really helping them become meaningful members of the community and having children who they teach the importance of education, who become in the workforce.

And it’s just a cascading benefit. And so if you have a very busy job and you have no time for charity work, maybe you could mentor a child and teach him how to we develop this product or whatever, and it’ll make all the difference in the world. You that’s the thing. You don’t know what’s going to be the turning point when it comes to education. You just have to spark somebody into understanding, loving education. And you don’t know if that comes from your bus driver or teacher, your uncle.

No, and that and that’s it, right, and I can say that charity happens in small ways every day, even just by the way that we behave in our community and the way that we embrace people’s differences and look for I remembered I was sitting on a bus on the way to work one day and there was a guy who was sitting in the in the bus. And this is like pre phone days. You literally like this. People were in books and like looking around the room.

I’ve always been a bit of a people watcher and I saw this guy and he had a metal arm like his it was a prosthetic arm. And it was like sort of the three claw, like basic sort of prosthetic arm. And I watched the way people reacted to him and he was just sitting there quietly looking one hand and wearing an Iron Man jacket, sitting with this metal arm and everybody on the bus that got on or off. The first thing they stared at was his arm.

And it’s funny. And I thought then I saw one guy get on and he did what I did. And the first thing he did was he stared at his jacket and he didn’t think that this guy has a really tough life because he has to get through every day with one arm. He looked at him and he said. That motherfucker ran an Iron Man. What’s your excuse?

Yeah, exactly, and in small ways, right? So an hour a day thing, we can give a small check just encouraging other people to partake you proselytizing. Anything we can do, I think is a powerful opportunity.

You want to hear a simple little charitable thing that I do that has turned out to be so fine, which is you could download an app called Be My Eyes and your entered into a pool of people who get face time, random face time calls from blind people. And they’re and they’re like, I can’t see what this says. And they face time and show you. And you read to them what I’ve got. I’ve done like two hours of going through a blind guy’s mail with him and figuring out what bills need to be paid.

And you inevitably just talk to them and make human connection and and you really feel that you help them. And in the beginning, I have to tell you, it’s like, how do I know they’re really blind? And I was like, well, why don’t you pretend they’re blind just to have a face time? I don’t know why I thought that, but I’m just admitting it here publicly. So but they are because I talk to them forever and that’s charity that’s helping.

And it’s such a small commitment that you could do like sitting on your patio, feed my eyes, and then it’s fun and meeting people all over the world that, you know, I love. I think it’s all over the country. You would never end doing crazy little tests for them. I love it.

That’s incredible. Yeah. And that’s that’s what I love, where we can take take technology and do stuff with it, you know, I mean, I suppose goodness to all the folks that do other things, you know that. And what’s interesting to it, like I said, just to go back to we talked about obviously Sheldon Adelson was a name we picked, but there are many folks that are you know, it’s a tough world right now. When people make a lot of money, they like the word billionaire gets thrown at them, like as if it’s a it’s a bad word right now.

Because we may disagree with some of the statements they made, so therefore now it’s a pejorative, you know, like, oh, that darn billionaire hit. But if I do look at the positive, what they do is they’ve created opportunity for a lot of folks, wealth, employment, whether they’re directly giving to charity. So there are there are things that people do and that say that’s just like it doesn’t always show. It’s not something we wear as a badge that says, yep, I gave X hours a week.

It’s the quiet stuff that happens behind. And it happens, like you said, pick up your phone. You can be someone’s eyes. That’s pretty important.

Yeah, it’s really nice. No, you’re right. I know billionaires get a bad rap. You can imagine I don’t have a problem with billionaires. You know, everybody tries to pay as little tax as possible. So you might have a problem with tax laws, but you don’t actually have a problem with what they’re doing, if you’re honest.

Yeah, well, the the this is the the thing that we have now is that I think people will come out of everything that we got through in the last while we come together and we’ll hopefully be appreciative. I know I’m appreciative that you spent your time with me today. This is this really cool. I could do this all day long, but I would I would steal your very valuable time from somewhere else. That very much deserves it. Emily.

Oh, you’re very kind to me. And I appreciate it so much. I, I think you’ve made me out to be a little better than I am. But thanks to you and my oldest daughter’s name is Emily as well. So it’s it was kismet that we we pulled this together.

So does she have a middle name, Jordan.

So not as exciting as your kids names. So this is always a funny one, I’m sure. I also wanted to try not to have the same, like nine questions that everybody asks you at the start of everything. So your kids are funny names like, no, no.

Is there nobody? OK, OK, but ask your nine questions.

I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you what. Here’s the one that will test you in the closing. What’s the thing, the worst thing that’s ever happened to you that you’re the most thankful for?

Wow. We should given me time to study on that on. That is so tough, I feel like I’ve been very fortunate when it comes to like health issues and life issues, so. You know, it’s a little cliche, but I think it’s true, I’m not going to pinpoint one exact thing, but I will tell you that any job I didn’t get, I was a freelance full time or even the worst breakup’s I ever had that feel like I could never be happy again.

Absolutely. Just allowed the space for the next best thing to have the next thing to happen, which was clearly better. And you look back and go, what what was. What was I so upset about? But and it makes me feel especially fortunate when I really can’t even come up with a horrible thing that happened to me. Yeah.

I don’t think that’s that’s actually really kind of one of the the joys of the reaction is because you’re your first thought is whatever it is, I’m going to I’m going to be in the optimist club around this thing. Right. Like it’s getting through. It is difficult. Yeah. Especially when you look back retrospectively, I think of all those times and you’re just like. I’ve always had the ability to see that there’s something else that’s out there that’s keeping you keeping your feet on these on the ground and keeping the heart pumping.

And it’s hard, you know, when you’re in the midst of some experience, you know, years like this is it? You know, I can’t I can’t take this anymore.

Exactly. Exactly. But you actually learn because those times used to break me and now, you know, not almost break me. And now if I’m, like, having the worst time with something, I can just go, like, I felt this bad before and it just passes. You make it better.

You know, one thing that and I apologize. I’m stealing your overtime on this one here.

I’m fine.

I’m I’m one of the things that a friend of mine I’ve always had sort of a stoic approach to things, which apparently is kind of people get really frustrated by stoicism in the idea that you kind of like you look at things that are out of your control and you realize that you can’t affect them and you have to embrace that they’re out of your control and thus they occur, good or bad. And I always think of my lifestyle. I don’t like to be praised because it immediately raises my level of normalcy to the point where now everything is a trough.

And so I don’t like the lows and I don’t like the highs. I kind of like to shave off the edges. If I were to look at it as a as a sine wave, that’s my my my way of dealing with it. I remembered sitting as like I was like 18 and I had an acoustic guitar. We were playing with a friend of mine and we’re at a party and this is like the morning. It’s like 7:00 in the morning.

We’re still going right. And we’re just sitting around the table and the dog runs by and hits the edge of the guitar. It turns around, drops on its back, the neck snaps right off of it. And like, this is the guitar that I spent three paychecks on. And like this is I love this guitar and I just turn. And I was like, oh, man, I picked it up. And I was like. It’s going to be hard to fix, and I sat down and continued on the conversation and the guy beside me was like.

Aren’t you going to freak out right now? And I was like, nothing I could have done other than put it in a different spot. Could it change the moment that just happened? Yeah, I said so. Yeah, I’ll figure that out later. Yeah. And it really was a weird thing that but then other times I will like be carrying a plate with a cup on it and I’ll say to myself, I shouldn’t do this because I might drop the cup and the cup falls off and all that goes through my head is of course it did you nothing.

I’m like you’re just like immediately take it to the darkest place. Like, how does that same person drop an eight hundred dollar guitar and go, huh. That kind of sucks. I’m, I’m torn. It’s the the mind still takes you in in difficult places sometimes even the smallest chance I get it. Well, I don’t know what else to tell you I. I want to tell you how I met Penn and I’ll kind of finish up with that one because I’m channeling if my mother were in the room, she’s not dead.

She’s out there. That when I was in Vegas and I was working on a commercial and I had a free night and I I was like, oh, I’ll go see Penn and Teller because I saw them off Broadway in the 80s. They’re fun. Like, it was not a dedicated fan, but I’ve always liked puzzles and magic and that kind of thing. And I had recently, prior to that moment, seen the pilot show bullshit, if you’re familiar with it.



And and I was like, oh, that’s so great. I’m going to get in. I’m going to get in line to talk to him because, you know, I’ve never really seen pro science, biased entertainment. You know, like, it was it was incredible that she made the show for me. So I have to go talk to him and thank him. And by the time I get to the front of the line, I asked him out and he said yes.

And that was eighteen and a half years ago. And many people marvel at that story. And my mother would tell you that’s how Emily’s been our whole life. She’s not afraid of No. And so I’m proud of that. I think that’s what I do, is I embrace, embrace experience and just give it a try.

That’s amazing. Yeah, since the earthquakes are the classic, if you’re always my favorite story of people who are like all this exciting news of like, how did you choose the three of clubs to be this? Like, is it especially meaningful like that? It’s just it looks easy to find on camera back, but it’s such a I still laugh when I see a magician use that as their classic forrest card. I’m like, all right, that’s a there’s the throw back a little bit of a I don’t know how to to Penn and Teller.

Have you ever seen or done the the Senate trick? Is it set up? Is that the word. Yeah. With the cemetery. No. Talking about no. Tell me about this a little. You’ll I’ll send you a link or you can do it but there’s a it didn’t like live on Saturday Night Live or some show but it still exists. Now you you do have to learn how to force the three clubs, but you you do a trick and then at night.

Yes. And of course the three clubs look at the card in the back and the dinner and then you find the card and it’s the wrong card and you didn’t get it right. Not all right. Whatever I got to keep practicing is only works if you happen to be going to Forest Hills or whatever cemetery it is in L.A. But you go there and you’re walking along when you’re talking. And there’s a I believe the word is Senate rap. I just can’t remember it as a tenet.

It’s not centigrams, etc.. And there’s two of them. There’s one of four cells and there’s one in my backyard. And it says Penn and Teller. It’s and it’s like it’s like raised Brauns. And it has a picture of a three of clubs and it says, is this your card? You’ve done the trick to somebody, bring them there. And then you’re like, there come.

It’s really fun. That is awesome. Well, Emily Jillette, for folks that want to find you and they should wear and I’ll have links as well to all the charities that we talked about. And I’ll encourage people to go. And I’ll tell you what my my I ask everybody to find somebody who would love to come on. And I it would be neat. I would love one day to have have have Penn on and share his some of his story.

But I know he’s got the show is back on. You’re traveling, you got a lot going on so but I make sure that I would, I’m going to do it without it. But you know, we’ll make sure that money gets to Opportunity Village to support them anyways. And I’m going to make sure that I I donate a couple of months of my revenue from here to to them just because they they do fantastic stuff. And so if I’ve got a bounty of luck, I should use that in a way that can help others.

Thank you so much.

Thank you. But most importantly, how do we find you? Because you’re the. Well, he may be the louder, taller one. You are an incredible person. And yeah, you deserve the attention that you maybe don’t get enough of.

I get so much attention. I don’t know what you want me to give. Like I. Is it stupid to give people my email or give them an alternate email. I mean I’m on Facebook but I don’t generally like just random except why isn’t my computer working. My my I think about out of batteries. I can’t find my other. I mean do you want me to say an email.

I don’t know what to do. You could just give it. You will only tell you what we’ll put it in the show notes. Just make sure for folks that they want to find it. Of course they can follow you on Twitter as one spot.

Twitter. Yes.

And and of course, keep track your heading to do some new production work. You got stuff in post-production. You are you are busy. So we’ll make sure that we follow the projects that you’re working on.

Oh, thank you so much. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. Any time. And I was certainly connect you with other philanthropic women.

Yeah. You you mentioned some fantastic names. I would love to to feature them and share their stories. It’s it’s been a very real joy to spend time with you. Emily Jillette, thank you very much.

And that was the Disco Posse podcast.