NW 28 | Connection To Nature

 

Food is so much more than just about our appetite and desire to eat. When you look closely, you’ll find a spiritual connection to what we put inside our body. Richard Pauwels of Rich Nuts, LLC has found that realization and passion about food and what our connection to nature is through our food source. Having been born inside a prison, Richard sets out in life to move beyond labels and cages, inspiring him to create conscious shifts and transformations when it comes to perceiving things. For him, it is in that connection to nature through what we eat that he helps people cultivate that connection back and reimagine what it means to be rich. A fireman himself, Richard is also no stranger with the warrior spirit and he tells us how he used that to build a fire within him that turned his curiosity about food to interest and then to passion, which ultimately advocates for a better world.

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How To Remain Calm Under Fire with Richard Pauwels

I’m excited to have my friend, Rich, with me here on the show. We met at Burning Man. We came together at Camp Mystic and we also sat in the ceremony together. Right away, I felt an internal draw towards his presence because something that I truly admire in people is his ability to be fully present and to be playful under any circumstances including difficult ones like Burning Man. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.

Thanks for having me. It’s an honor to be here.

You have a compelling story of how you came to this world. Can you share with us a little bit?

Most people don’t know this about me. It’s uncommon knowledge. I was born in jail and since that point, I’ve been on a path to liberation. Maybe being born in a cage has inspired me to move beyond that cage to grow into a different existence.

Have you always been this playful and this present or were there some turning points where you had a woe is me moments to where you are right now full of joy and playfulness?

There have been several different turning points in life for me. Being born in jail was my first entry into the world. I was a child born into the world as this playful new being in the discovery of a new planet, a new place and a new body. Everything is new and exciting and inspiring. I’m in this period of discovery. I don’t know if it’s fortunate and unfortunate for me, but it was my path. I don’t want to put any judgment on it about whether it was or was not. I learned to read and do math at a very young age. Sometimes those things structure our brain in a way because we start to know things and label things. “This is number four. This is number five. This is six. This is math.” Once we start to put all those labels in and start to cage our being into knowing these different things, we start to restrict ourselves and we start to build our own prison of our own making, but also of different people’s making. Our society, our friends, our family and mostly our family in school at a young age put, “This is how you’re supposed to be. This is what a good person is. You want to be a good person, don’t you?” It starts to be all this pressure.

Once we start to form those patterns and relationships with the world and with ourselves, we start to restrict who we are because we’re no longer in the discovery of who we are. We have to be a certain way. We have to act a certain way. We have to do certain things. That’s when we started to grow up, which means we have all these preconceived notions that are fully loaded with different concepts that mean X, Y and Z. We’re no longer in discovery, we’re no longer playful and we’re no longer in the moment or thinking about what we have to do or be. It’s fascinating to think of things in that way.

Was there a turning moment for your life to realize that, “I’ve been deeply programmed to think about the outcome-driven life like, “When I have this, then I’ll be happy?” You say, “I win. Life is happening right now. Let me deprogram myself.”

There have been several points in my life where that has come about. As a child, I learned to read and write early. When I started kindergarten, I could already write and read and do the math. They moved me immediately to the first grade after the first couple of weeks. I skipped into the first grade and I got in a fight once a week because the first graders used to make fun of me. They tease me because I was smaller. They used to sing this song like, “Kindergarten baby born in the navy,” and some stuff like that. My response was always to punch the bully in the face. I got in a fight all the time once a week. At the end of first grade, they decided to hold me back in first grade again because I had “social problems.”

That was one of the first lessons in life that taught me that if you stand out, if you’re exceptional, if you excel, people are going to be afraid or they’re going to make fun of you. They’re going to pick on you and they’re going to try to bring you down to their level. My response at that time was to react violently because I didn’t know any better or maybe because that was the example I had at home. What I learned there was that it would be better for me and easier for me to dim my light and to get along being more normal or being more acceptable in society. I dimmed my light a bit. As far as schooling went, I did what I needed to do to pass and I stopped trying to excel because of my experience. That pattern ran subconsciously because I was five years old. That’s before I even start to think of things consciously. That pattern ran in my life until I was about sixteen. It was my year between sophomore and junior year of high school.

I had always been an athlete. I played football and I wrestled and I did track and all that stuff. I was good at it. I threw my energy and my effort into that because that was more of competition so you wanted to excel, you wanted to exceed and you wanted to be great. I did well there and it was always working for me. I only kept the grades I needed to be on the sports team. I kept a C or C plus or 2.2-grade point average in my first year of high school but then something clicked in me and I decided, “I think I want to go to college.” I told my parents that in the summer between sophomore and junior year and they were like, “Yeah and you’ve got 2.2.” I’m like, “We’ll see.” I clicked into high gear.

During school, even though I was smart and I would just pass all the tests very well, I wouldn’t do any homework because I was always interested in sports or playing or something. That’s why my grades would be a C because my homework would be an F and my test would be an A. At that point, I decided I want to go to college. I kicked it into high gear and during my first semester, I got a 3.9 or something. My parents are like, “What?” I had been sandbagging my whole life. That was the first time I realized that I could shift these patterns that have been running me as a child or that had formed me as a child and I can do something different with them.

That if you put in the effort, the results could be different?

Yeah and it wasn’t so much about the effort. I guess it was an effort because I did have to do my homework. That was the main shift and once I started engaging there, then my grades did well. The problem is it was a little bit late to pour on the gas. I ended up going to junior college and then transfer into UCLA after that. It’s interesting because you can look at those subtle but profound changes like dimming your light or hiding and that leads to a mediocre existence. My teachers always saw that too because I would always get that little check on the report card does not live up to full potential. It’s not meeting my full potential. They’ll have lots of examples of that.

There are some small ones. For instance, when I was about five years old, I tried avocado for the first time. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the taste, I didn’t like the smell, the texture and the whole thing. I made up my mind at five that I don’t like avocados. It was not until I was 35 that I realize, “Avocados are healthy for you. Everyone loves it. They say they taste good. Why don’t I just keep trying?” It took me a whole year. I started with guacamole and eventually, I worked my way up to eating avocados and now I love them. For 30 years, I made up this decision. I made up this subconscious programming, “This tastes gross. It smells bad.” It literally took me all that time to get past it.

That’s interesting programming you put yourself on. You put yourself on avocado adaptation program. Even though you didn’t like it, most people would stop at 35 or whatever, but you kept going. What was the commitment underneath that allowed you to overcome the natural repulse of the taste?

I don’t believe anything is impossible. Click To Tweet

I came to this point in my life where I was like, “I’m not going to let a five-year-old make decisions for me. I’m 35 years old.” It’s not as if I’m going to start smoking or something that was unhealthy for me or start doing cocaine or something. It was like, “This is a healthy thing for me. Everyone else says it tastes great. Why can’t I integrate it?” It’s because I made this decision when I was five years old.

You made a decision, “I want to integrate avocado into my daily nutritional ritual consciously. Even though I don’t like it, I’m going to spend a year to get to the point where I can like it and love it.”

When I saw that I could do that with that one small thing, I’m like, “I can change all the programming. It’s a matter of effort.” You have to try it. Sometimes it takes time and sometimes it’s instant. As soon as you see it, you can change it. Other times, it’s more of a process. The guacamole and avocado are more of a process.

Let’s jump around a bit. What are some of the other shifts that you have consciously made? Are there other examples of transformation or taste?

I call them subtle yet profound changes that you can make in your life that won’t cost you anything, but it can be liberating to you. If you think of your work or your job as something you have to do like, “I have to go to work,” as opposed to you get to go to work, there’s a little subtle change in the energy around that. One of them has an obligation and the other one is something that you get to do. Meaning you’re chasing your passion. What I would suggest to people is if you’re not necessarily chasing your passion, if your work feels like a chore, maybe you ought to try and reexamine that and see if there’s something else that you can do that will feel like you’re in your passion and it’s something that you get to do. When you’re doing that, you’re going to excel at that because you’re not even working. You’re out having fun. You’re doing your passion.

I spent many years as a firefighter and paramedic. I was great at it and it was easy for me. I felt good about doing it. At some point, my body started to break down because I was putting myself in harm for other people. I had some injuries that started wearing down on me, my knee and my back. I’m going to work and felt like a chore. I started to dread it. I started having this feeling of dread because I didn’t feel that I could show up for it physically anymore. I always had this since I was an athlete. I had a strong physical presence. I could walk in the room and people can see my presence and then I could also feel confident about that. I retired with a couple of injuries on my knee and back. I had been struggling in the past few years physically. It’s brought some emotional turmoil also. If your ego or your vision of yourself is tied up in one aspect of yourself, your physical prowess and you’ve done so well with that throughout life, at 45 years old or 44 years old, that’s going away from you. You have to rethink and reimagine who you are.

As that started to come through, it was challenging for me and I started to have to ask people for help, which I was never comfortable with. I was always like, “I can do it myself. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” That was something that my dad always pushed into me. That leads to a one-man show, which leads to breakdown, stress, frustration, anger and all these different emotions. As my body started to break down and I realize I couldn’t do it myself, it was fascinating because, at the same time, my business started to emerge. Rich Nuts is a sprouted organic nut company. Some people make jokes about getting my nuts in their mouth, but I just laugh at that. What we decided to do as a company instead of making a bunch of nut jokes is leave it open for other people to do, which has been beautiful. Sometimes if you make jokes like that, you can feel creepy or whatever and now I don’t have the energy because people make the jokes and then they have the same experience. They laugh about it and it’s fun. I allow them to make the jokes for me. That’s one way they can participate in our business model. We don’t have to do it. The whole concept of reimagining richness is exactly what I’m talking about. It was about these subtle and profound changes you have to get to.

As my body started to break down, work became an obligation. I have to do this because I need to make money to survive. Even though it’s not good for me physically, emotionally, I’m broken down and I can’t do it, I had to push myself for a long time. When the doctor is like, “I’m going to retire you on injuries,” I felt relieved in a way. I cried in the doctor’s office. It was a very emotional moment for me because, to be honest, being a firefighter is one of the last respectable jobs. Kids look up to you and everyone honors you for what you do and your integrity and all the stuff. It’s a bit of an ego-boosting. You’re a superhero. In a time of need, who do people call? They call the fire department. You come and you make things better. As that started to fade away, I developed this sprouting nut process, which I use in my product. I developed that for working as a firefighter because we can be out there six or eight hours fighting a fire, carrying hose up and down a hill, you have your brush pack on and you get tired.

NW 28 | Connection To Nature
Connection To Nature: When you’re chasing your passion, you’re going to excel because you’re not even working; you’re out having fun.

 

I was eating a lot of trail mix at the time and what I realized was that it was giving me digestive issues. With some research online, I found that sprouting activates the nuts. Nuts and seeds have evolved over time to survive our digestive track. What we do when we sprout them is we mimic the natural process of germination. They go into a growth phase, they drop their defenses, they become more digestible and they are far more nutritious. I started doing that for myself and I found that some of my digestive issues are going away. The only problem was after you soak them, they were moist and they get moldy very fast and the texture sucks. You have to put it in the refrigerator so now they’re cold and mushy. I’m like, “Who wants to eat this?” I started to dehydrate them and season them and that’s how we came up with our final product. What I realized was I was becoming more and more passionate about food and about what we’re eating and about our connection to nature through our food source.

When I say reimagine richness, what I mean is the nature is all around us and it’s ready to receive us. It’s ready to teach us and we’re not paying attention to it, in general. We’re running around and doing our own thing trying to make money, trying to pay the bills and trying to compete with each other. When I talk about reimagining richness, if we can reimagine what it means to be rich in relationships, in friendships, rich in connection with nature, rich in being present and having everything you need through a network as opposed to, “I’ve got to buy this. I’ve to got to out-compete my neighbors. I’ve got to do.” You can just be comfortable with what you have and who you’re with and who you know. Spend your energy cultivating those relationships and growing and building from there.

One of the things that helped set up this paradigm of competition has been the way we play games, for instance Monopoly. This is one of the biggest games in the whole world. The goal of Monopoly is to raise the rent on your friends, your neighbors, the kids on your street, bankrupt them and that’s how you win. That fundamental paradigm setting concept of competition is built in from a very young age. We’d go out and we live our lives and we pushed that competition into the game of life and we have the world we see now.

If you look at the game of economics, what did the companies pay attention to? Revenue and profitability. What do the countries look at? GDP. Ultimately, it comes down to whoever has the biggest bank account and that is the metrics that we’ve been programmed in our whole life.

I’m into gaming and being creative. For instance, I created this game called Get Rich Nuts. It’s like an interactive Where’s Waldo. I played it at Lightning in a Bottle. I noticed there was this phenomenon of totems. Each group will make a stick and it has some light on top or something on the top that’s unique to that group. If you go to the bathroom and you want to come back and find your friends, you look for their totem. It could be a jellyfish or a rabbit or a carrot or whatever. I noticed that phenomenon and I was like, “What if there’s something we can create that will interact with that.” What I did was I created a totem that was a dream catcher and at the end of it says, “Get Rich Nuts.” I talked about it at my talk I gave at The Learning Kitchen on how to sprout and making nut milk. I also put it on my Instagram channel. When I do sampling at the event, I tell people about it.

If people run into me with it and I’m talking to them, I tell them, “Do you want to play a game?” they find me with the totem. It’s a win-win game. It’s a paradigm-shifting game. If they find me with the totem, they win a free bag of nuts. That’s what they win and what I win is I get to catch their wish for peace and hang it in my dream catcher. The way I do that is I have these laser-cut wooden feathers. They write on there their wish for peace and then we tie it up in the dream catcher. At the end of Burning Man, I put them all in the temple and they get ceremoniously burned and released into the ethers. The brand wins the content for all that. That’s a win for the brand, the win for the contest is the bag of nuts and the win for me is they sit down with these kids and get them the rightful pitch. I wish for peace and they usually have this authentic moment. It’s inspiring to me to see them connect with someone in their family and what they know about love or peace and share that. It’s beautiful. It’s very special.

Let’s talk a little bit about courage. You had quite a life. You were a high school athlete and you chose to be a firefighter. While most people will run the other way, you’ve run into the fire. One may say that’s extraordinary. What was the internal journey that you had to go through to fight the survival instinct? How did you cultivate it? How did you develop it? I call my readers the Noble Warrior. How do you cultivate that warrior spirit? Can you cultivate it? Is it birth and gift and natural? Is it either you have it or you don’t or you can cultivate it?”

My parents were heroin addicts and that’s how I ended up being born in jail. They separated after they got out. My mother couldn’t quit the habit so my father ended up taking care of me. I spent a lot of time with my grandmothers and my aunts and stuff, but my father was the main parent in my life. He was always like, “This is what we’re doing.” There’s no like, “I’m not doing this.” There’s no whining and no complaining. When I was five or six years old, we would go fishing in the Sierra’s and it was very simple. We’d wake up at 4:30 and get dressed. It’s freezing cold in our little tent. We’d blow it up with as much stuff as we can carry fishing gear and we’d walk two miles before the sun got up. It wasn’t like, “I’ll carry everything for you.” It’s like, “You’re carrying your fishing pole and you’re carrying your stuff.” I wasn’t loaded down like a mule or anything, but it was enough for me that it was a challenge.

Once we start to put all those labels, we start to restrict ourselves and build our own prison. Click To Tweet

It reminds me of Conan the Barbarian. When he first started, he was pushing that wheel and then he got super strong because he was working out with it. It was the way of being and there was no question that you’re doing this. It came up and it didn’t have that mothering balance. My stepmom didn’t come into the picture until I was around seven or something. That’s why it led to me being an athlete. I joined the Navy Reserve and then I was a fireman. It’s all very masculine stuff. That’s the way I’ve shown up in the world. I didn’t know anything different. There was no softening or babying or any of that stuff for me. I never remember being babied. I existed that way and no asking for help or any of that. Those were all being babied or something.

As I went into the fire service, there’s a lot of training involved when you go into the practice on these different fire scenarios and stuff. To me, it was exciting. It was more of doing sports. You have the right protective gear, you have the right training and you knew what to do. It never felt very scary to me even in the very beginning. This is where it got fascinating for me. As I was transitioning out of the fire department and into being an entrepreneur, that was scary to me because I had no experience in that. I felt like I was completely without a team. I was jumping into this realm of creating a business and trying to make a living from selling this product. I had no experience. I was more afraid of that than going into a fire, to be honest. Most people were like, “You do X, Y and Z.” I’m like, “It’s a totally different experience.” My masculine prowess was diminishing and I had to learn to come into balance with my feminine side, which is more about collaboration, building a team and not be in competition but like, “How can I find partners that will want to build this with me or want to build something special, something different and something unique?”

My whole take on business is to bring in more than just the bottom line. It’s the people, planet and profit to bring in balance and to bring in mindfulness with our business. What is the impact of our product on the world? How does it affect the people that make it? How does it affect the people that grow it? To bring all of those things in, it makes it a lot more difficult than just the bottom line because you’re accounting for all those externalities that most businesses don’t like pollution, carbon footprint, and all of those things. We’re working to reimagine a world where businesses think that way. We’re inspired by some businesses that are showing up that way and we’d like to continue that effort and grow that effort.

I’m going a little bit more on the journey from down packing that internal shift. From my point of view, I was raised by Pagan parents. They’re super masculine. If you don’t have an A, you’re nothing. This is not what they said, but that’s my interpretation of what they say. In hindsight looking back, I understand why I developed this very cynical and bitter view on life. If I don’t have the results, I’m not worth the love. That’s my internal viewpoint of life, in general. That turned me bitterer, that turned me more brittle as well because then I have to achieve this outcome, otherwise, I’m worth nothing. I’m very fragile in that way. I’m curious to know your point of view with your experience, how did you go from the very masculine environment and now more harmonized with the feminine, the collaboration and asking for help? That I’m sure is a journey in itself. It wasn’t natural, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t what you were trained to do. How were you able to do that and how were you able to do that successfully?

That’s been a process for sure.

Entrepreneurship to me is one of the ultimate transformational processes if you want it to be a transformational process.

It’s a path of personal discovery. It’s all perfect. It happened at the right time as my body was breaking down. The way it happened was I had no choice. Sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed and my back hurts so bad. Turning over and going to the bathroom was a challenge so I had to start learning to ask for help. With the business, what I realized is there’s so much stuff going on and it was some of the stuff I’m not good at and I don’t need to do so I had to ask people that were better at that to take that part on. Being physically incapable of doing some of that made it where it was completely necessary for me to ask people to help me. I cried a bunch. I did a lot of ayahuasca ceremonies.

Here’s a good realization that came out of an ayahuasca ceremony. Since I had never done any type of entrepreneurial work or sales, I didn’t know where to start. When I was first trying to sell, I was getting unnatural and I would try to force it. In the ceremony, the very clear insight came through to me. When I think of sales, my concept of sales is a used car salesperson. When I think of that, my body shuts down. I didn’t want to be that but that’s the concept that I had in my head of making sales. The guidance I received from the medicine was like, “Let’s look at this in a different way. What’s something that you love to do or something that you’re passionate about?” For me that was educating, informing and sharing. When I’m doing those things, I feel alive and I feel passionate. I feel like this is what I’m born to do. I was able to make that internal shift.

NW 28 | Connection To Nature
Connection To Nature: Entrepreneurship is one of the ultimate transformational processes.

 

As soon as I made that internal shift and made it fun, then it became fun. The fun couldn’t help but happen because I was in my passion. I didn’t even have to make it fun. It became fun and then that reflects in work. Otherwise, I would get very robotic when I’m trying to sell to you and then people would sense that and be like, “No, I’m good,” and not buy. Once I made that shift, it was powerful. That was Friday night of the ceremony. On Saturday night, a friend of mine came to the ceremony and she was like, “Would you like to give a talk at the Do Lab? I run The Learning Kitchen and if you want to put on a presentation about sprouting nuts, it would be great.” I made the shift in my mind and I’m like, “I’m going to start educating more,” and the opportunity arose. I said yes. I gave a talk at The Learning Kitchen. I created that game, Get Rich Nuts. I had eleven winners and it’s eleven beautiful authentic real moments with people. Those to me are the gems of life and the gifts of life. You can’t ever have those unless you’re present in the moment. That was a big part of the transition for me. This is about education and information.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Toastmasters. About a few years ago, I was working as a firefighter and I had no reason to go to Toastmasters other than I thought it sounded interesting. I had some discomfort around speaking publicly or sharing my thoughts with people. I randomly went into Toastmasters. I loved it and I had a great time. I had no purpose of doing it. I wasn’t like, “I’m doing this for work because I have to make sales.” Some people go in there for a reason. The only thing that ever happened was a friend of mine at the fire department had told me about it. He had done it before. He got hired to practice for interviews and it sounded intriguing to me. I went and tried it and I loved it. I went for a few years with no plan on doing any talking or anything. It just came to me that I should go and I found it interesting. I was passionate about it and now it turns out that I’m doing public speaking and I’m doing your show. All those things that I was learning were for a reason. I had no idea why I was going there. There’s always a divine plan in place that starts to click in. By doing public speaking and putting on workshops, as far as my role in the brand, that’s going to be my role moving forward.

My goal is to connect people back to nature because we’ve lost that connection. With each of our products, I want to break down like, “These are the ingredients.” I don’t make this into a large commercial, but it’s important because it shows a lot about my concepts and my view of the world and how we can make this a better place for all of us and a better experience. Reconnecting people with nature through teaching and showing, not only just talking about or reading, but creating video content. I went to the maple syrup farm in Jackson Maine, which is about ten miles from Canada. It was super snowy and covered in snow by four feet deep. I learned how to get the sap out of the sugar bush and then they distill it down into maple syrup and it’s a whole process.

I went through that whole process because I think it’s important for people to know that and to have the transparency to where their food comes from. It’s not just the store, but there’s a whole story behind it and the transportation and the whole thing. What I want to do is be mindful of that and share that with people. For each ingredient, for each part of our process, for each product, there’s a whole rich story for me to tell there. Learning to speak and to communicate and to be articulate about these messages that have been coming into my sphere is part of what I’m here to do and I feel very passionate about it. That’s where it becomes fun.

Did you answer the question about cultivating a warrior spirit?

I felt like it was a choice for me. My dad instilled it in me at a very young age. He would let me cry when I had to cry or whatever. It wasn’t like, “Don’t cry,” or anything like that. It was always like, “Do or do not and no BS. This is what we’re doing. Get up and let’s go.”

It’s a very masculine way of caring. You also touch a few points that you just follow your curiosity and they, later on, turned to be helpful. The skills of public speaking, the sprouting, the tapping in and allowing yourself to cry and all these things. I’m going to use the word flow because you’re someone who seems based on your story arc and your narrative. It seems you tap into flow in a very natural way. Is it cultivated? Is it intentional or you just follow your curiosity and things happen effortlessly?

It’s all of the above. Sometimes I do it with intention. I do make an effort to make certain things happen. It is about the play and how important play is. The play is what we did as children. We went out and play. We didn’t have a goal or maybe we’re just hammering or play down the street with my friends. That’s what I used to say. That’s what I would tell my parents. When we’re in that state of play and discovery and we don’t have an agenda or a goal in mind, we’re able to be present with each other and cultivate relationships. I do have that sense of curiosity. That’s what keeps me childlike and that is what attracts people to me. I do have this strange magnetism and people tell me that all the time. They’re like, “I don’t know what it is about you, but I need to know you.” It happens to me all the time and I’m like, “I’m just a regular guy getting along. I’m not anything special.”

If you're exceptional, people are either going to be afraid of you or make fun of you. Click To Tweet

What people find that special part is that I am curious and when I find something interesting and intriguing, I’ll share it with you. I’m not going to like, “You can’t have this. This is mine.” I’m not in a competitive state. I did compete a lot when I was doing sports and being very mad at my very masculine side, but I let all that side go. Even when I went into the fire department, I had already cut back from a lot of the competition. That environment is a very competitive masculine environment. The fire academy guys were always trying to compete with me. I was built at the time. I was muscular and strong. I’m shriveled up from them but on top of that, I was also fast. I could run well. The guys were always trying to compete me with running and there was only one guy that was faster than me. I always thought it was funny. A lot of times people are competing with me and I don’t even realize it. They come up to me and try to start some drama around competition. I was like, “I’m sorry, I came in second. Where did you come in?” They’d be like, “I came in tenth.” I was like, “Do you have something else to say?”

I’ve always had people competing with me on some level and I think that’s the masculine side of people and that underlying program of competition that’s been ingrained into most of us with the society that we’re living in. Un-programming that has been challenging. Anytime there’s a challenge, there’s an opportunity. I look at it like that. I love challenges. I love the opportunity. I love when someone says, “You can’t do that. That’s impossible.” I go, “You stay right there and watch.” That to me is like, “I’ll show you something cool.” I don’t believe that anything is impossible. If we stay in a state of curiosity and discovery and inflow, we can follow the natural currents, we can follow if we’re allowed to be in touch with that intuitive nature of ourselves and we can connect and find the answers to that. It may take some time and maybe you have to do something a certain way.

This is something that’s powerful that I’ve learned with people. Sometimes we have something we want to communicate with someone or behavior we’d like to see them change. We try to push and push our way and like, “This is the way you should do it.” Usually, it’s as if banging our head against a brick wall. What I found is if you can be a little bit more subtle and drop behind the ego, because if you tried to tell someone how to do something or what they should do to change, you usually inflame their ego. They get defensive and then you’re just talking to a wall. Everything shuts down and they’re not listening.

I learned that lesson many times from personal experience. Don’t do that. It’s not effective.

You may have to change your way of being or your messaging to find another way so that they can discover it themselves. You plant the seed or you bend yourself where you make yourself like water and then you sneak in under the ego and you can get your point across without having to be right and without making them wrong. Right and wrong are other dynamics. If I’m right, then that means you’re wrong and that is also a competition. That blocks the energy around growth. If you can make that a win-win or you can find another way to change your message or your way of presenting it so that they can hear it, they may have an opportunity to make that change and to integrate that change into their existence.

One of the ways that I reframe the whole idea of right and wrong is everyone has their internal frame of reference. They want to achieve something and whatever I say can enable power, advocate or what they want. They’ll be like, “Please help me,” versus someone who’s coming in with a very egotistical, “I’m smarter than you,” attitude and that, “Whatever you’re doing is wrong, do it my way,” kind of a thing. It’s the opposition rather than enabling. That’s my new mental model.

Building a team we both can win and collaborate.

You’re in the middle of your entrepreneurial journey. How are you attracting the right partner to join your team? For those people who are reading this who may be looking and they’re into getting to their next venture, how can they emulate what you’re doing?

NW 28 | Connection To Nature
Connection To Nature: Build a team we both can win and collaborate.

 

Drop into what you think your role is in and where your passion lies and whatever business you want to create or whatever product or service you’re putting out. Focus on what you want to do and what you see your role in the future and what’s coming to you. For me, it was very intuitive. My role is going to be the brand and the voice. I envisioned myself when I create this content. I like to wear kilts and dressing in a military style theme because I believe in myself as a peace warrior. My message is a message of peace. If I’m a noble warrior, I’m a noble warrior for peace and I want to imbue that into our brand and into the culture of our business and into the culture of what we’re trying to create in reimagining richness.

My own take on it is like Steve Irwin. He used to share a lot about animals. I want to share about plants and about the beautiful properties of turmeric and what it can do for your body or maca or bee pollen. These are all the ingredients that we use and I don’t know everything about them. I’m not a botanist. I don’t have all this knowledge. It’s a curiosity in me and as I go and discover these processes of how they’re built, I want to share that with his world, with whoever wants to listen and whoever wants to know about their food. The role I envision is creating this content, traveling the world and getting down to the farmer’s levels. Not only having them relay their story for us, but also adding more value to their life by helping you create co-ops so that we can sit and listen to what they want or what they need to improve their life. I don’t want to feel as I’m an outsider or westerner and it’s like, “You guys all need water or shoes or education.” I want to sit there and create an opportunity for true listening where I can hear what they have to say and we have enough capital to make donations or to help to bring new things in. We can do that based on what we’ve heard from them. It’s as if building and cultivating a relationship and not just telling them what they want.

Here’s why you need modern technology.

Truly listening is going to take years to develop, but that’s exciting to me. Knowing what my role is, I felt like that’s my role. We’re big on supporting regenerative agriculture, which doesn’t have a commercial existence at this point, but it’s starting to come on. It’s a new movement. It’s based on the fact that it is sustainable. We’ve done so much damage to the ecosphere already, we’ve killed off so many species, acidified the ocean and put too much carbon into the air. I started working with this advocacy group called Kiss the Ground. It is all about regenerating the health of the soil. That means regenerating the microbes, the organic matter and the mycorrhiza fungi. Those things work in harmony with the roots to create more nutritious food for us. It’s more of a wild system and it’s not a monoculture. It doesn’t have toxins or poisons right into it and doesn’t till the land.

What happens is the plants put more carbon in the form of sugar into the ground three to seven times more per acre than traditional conventional agriculture. The reason is they bring that sugar down to feed the microbes and the mycorrhizal fungi. The mycorrhiza fungi and the bacteria bring in more nutrients, which go up into the food. It’s a win-win. It’s a collaboration, which I love. Part of my thing is to spread that message. Knowing clearly what my role is when I get right into my passion. I talk about that all the time. People are magnetized like, “How can I help you build this? This sounds interesting. It’s very different from what everyone else is doing. You’re not talking about the bottom line, you’re talking about people, planet, profit. You’re talking about balance and harmony.” People are naturally gravitated to that.

I have people come to me all the time wanting to get involved in my business. I haven’t been seeking out anyone. People have just been gravitating towards it. When you’re in your passion, when you’re in your flow, then those things just come into your world. I’m always like, “Everyone is on board.” That wasn’t part of something that I had to work on because I didn’t have enough discernment. I was happy that someone saw my idea and thought it was great. The first partner I had in the business, we weren’t in alignment with values, especially in integrity. It took me some time, but I realized that and I had to separate from him. Now I’m more mindful of that. When I bring a partner in or someone that’s going to collaborate with us, I suss out a little bit better, “Is this person in line with our values?” because that’s the first part.

How do you do that? What are some of the key questions or some criteria that you check box?

I ask a lot of questions about them like what experiences they’ve had in the past. I also maybe do some research on who they are and talk to some of the people that they’ve worked with before and enter the relationship more slowly like, “This is tentative. Let’s see what this looks like,” then do a lot of observation. Sometimes if you ask too many questions or point out to me things and you tip people off, then they’ll start acting in a different way.

If you’re putting the effort, results could be different. Click To Tweet

They know what you’re seeking. They behave according to who you’re looking for.

They may try to please you or to try and make it seem they’re a certain way. I figure if you let people do their thing and observe them, it’d be like, “I like the way they’re doing this.” You can bring some attention to it and you have to think holistically because we all have our flaws and our weaknesses. It’s not like if they make one mistake, they’re fired or something. It’s not that way. You have to evaluate over time and then you can give them some guidance and see how they deal with it. There’s still more coming around. You have to know when it’s time to separate because, for me, this is a personal thing. I felt super vulnerable when I was first bringing it into the world because I made a product and I was like, “Is anyone going to like it?” That comes down to love. Are they going to like it? If they don’t like it, does that mean they don’t like me? Does that I mean it’s not a good product? Do I feel validated? Do I feel loved?

All those questions started coming up because it’s creative. It’s as if I’m an artist and I’m creating food as my gift. Chefs are artists and musicians are artists. There are all different types of artists in creation. If you have a creation and you’re putting it out into the world, it’s a very vulnerable process. It could fail. Someone could not like it. Going through that vulnerable process and cultivating like, “Who else is connected with this and how do they reflect into the world and what are they showing about my business and about me?” I’ve been more mindful about who I’m bringing in and how we bring them in.

That’s what I call the cognitive dissonance, meaning that there is no evidence supporting this vision and this idea yet. The reality of life is catching up, the evidence and support. In the beginning, naturally you are going to hear nothing. When the idea, the birth, the story, the narrative, the technology, the product or whatever it may be that you’re birthing into the world. In the beginning aspect of it, there is nothing but through iteration and positive feedback, then you can generate that momentum. It sounds like you are generating momentum. If you can talk a little bit about that cognitive dissonance where you had that idea and even the prototype of sprouting nuts that was helping you, how did you navigate that space from nothing to one person? That’s the outer game aspect of it, but also the inner game. I don’t know if people are like this yet. I hope they do. If they turned down, the first person turning down give me any kind of criticism, natural reaction, trimmed back. It’s too hard. Whatever their rationalization is, it’s a survival instinct. Tell us a little bit more about that part.

That part was also very easy for me because when I first started making the first flavor, which is sage and rosemary, I didn’t intend to make a business or anything. I just sprouted the nuts, seasoned them and then dehydrated them. I was in flow in a point of discovery like, “I wonder what it would taste like if I dehydrate it.” That was my first a-ha moment. I’m like, “These are crunchy. These are not that tasty because they don’t have any flavor on them, but I liked the crunch. It’s different than anything else I’ve experienced.” That was my first a-ha moment. I was like, “Let me try putting some Bragg Liquid Amino on my first batch to give it a little bit of a salty flavor.” I put some sage and rosemary from the garden. I lived in Topanga at the time. I was in the flow and in curiosity. That first flavor, sage and rosemary, came out tasty.

I shared it with some friends and some family and they loved it. They kept asking me for more so I kept making more and more. After a while, I realized people were asking me for more all the time. I’m like, “You are going to have to start paying me because nuts are expensive. I’m making hundreds of pounds of nuts here and just giving them away for free.” They were like, “How much do you want?” I was like, “Maybe I have something here.” It was at that point that I said, “Maybe I have a business here.” I went to India on a trip with my ex and we went to the spice market. We found all these great curries and paprika. I came back and I created a curry flavored cashew, then a maple pecan and then a trail mix. As I started developing the flavors, I was doing a lot of experiments and in flow and curiosity and see what would come to me again.

I don’t feel that I forced anything or have this intentional path. I stayed open to that curiosity and that divine spark and where it was guiding me. I’m intuitively discovering what I find interesting and that’s exactly what I’m doing with our content creation. I’m like, I’m going to share what I find interesting.” Sometimes it’s mushrooms. I don’t have any mushroom products, but I find that mushrooms are intriguing and the medicinal properties and the food properties and all that stuff.

Let me recap a little bit. What you said is you didn’t have a divine plan from A to Z. Everything is figured out. I’m going to form a business. This is step one, two, three, four, five. You followed your curiosity. You generously share with your friends and family and they kept wanting it. You now say, “Help me make it sustainable. Pay me.” You followed the momentum and you kept going. You continued to follow your curiosity. I hear between the lines. You’re building that fire. You’re turning from curiosity to interest to now passion. Is that accurate from what I hear between the lines?

NW 28 | Connection To Nature
Connection To Nature: Staying in that state of play and childlike curiosity is where we’re staying in touch with our divinity.

 

That’s accurate. It’s staying in the flow. Staying in that state of play of childlike curiosity is where we’re staying in touch with our divinity. I believe that each one of us has a piece of God in us. If we can stay in touch with that, what does that look like? How does that show up in the world? Usually, it shows up in the world as children because we are in the flow because we are present at the moment. We do not think like, “We’ve got to go to work, we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do that.” We’re like, “What is this? Look at this caterpillar,” and you take five minutes to look at a caterpillar. I still do stuff like that. I take pictures of flowers all the time. Half of my Instagram is flowers and mushrooms and all this crazy caterpillars and bugs and nature. I’m fascinated with nature.

One of the things too that I used to post a lot about is all these different flowers. I’d get right up in there and take these close shots. I would put #ProofOfGod. Someone goes, “That’s not proof of God.” They called me out on it one time on Instagram, which I thought was interesting. I was like, “I think this is proof of God.” They made me make some inquiry. It pushed me into introspection and into discovery and I was like, “Why does this feel like proof of God to me?” What I came to with that was that a flower is an aspect of God coming into the world manifest into form. It’s an expression of God and what is it doing? It wants to attract other aspects of God to itself so that it can continue to create life. A flower is an aspect of God, attracting God to itself so that life can continue. I was like, “It is a proof God to me.” When you look at it from that sense, I was able to go through that so I was happy that that person made that a little bit of a snide remark because it made me delve into it. The universe pushes you in that way if you’re open to listening instead of being, “Screw you,” or something like that.

Have you always been this spiritual? One may look at how you birth into the world and say, “God screwed me so I’m going to be focusing on anything of that sort.” Tell us a little bit of your spiritual journey.

I wouldn’t say that I was spiritual. My parents sometimes went to Christian churches and stuff, but they weren’t super religious. There were periods where my stepmother went through stuff like that. I always went to a Christian school after my kindergarten and first-grade experience. When they were going to hold me back into first grade, my dad took me out and put me into a private school, which was Christian and they practiced corporal punishment there so you would get swats and stuff like that if you misbehave. I always thought that was cool as a full-grown man giving a swat to a little kid. Being raised with all the Christian dogma and understanding it, there was so much hypocrisy in Christianity. The Catholic church and all the other churches are saying one thing and then they’re behaving in another way. Love is the answer but if you don’t believe in our God, we’re going to kill you. That never sat with me very well. Murder is wrong, but we’re going to kill you still because you don’t believe in our God. I was like, “You didn’t even follow your own rules. How can I believe what you’re saying?” They’re like, “This is the word of God.” I was like, “It was written by men.”

I never had that deep connection to it. I did go through periods or went to chapel and church and all that stuff. There was always something there and my spirituality started to develop after college. Not knowing my mother, I didn’t know that it affected me yet. When I went to college, I started drinking a lot and I was suppressing something. When I would get drunk, I would maybe get angry and get in a fight or something. I started to realize that maybe there was something there. I tried to start looking for my mother and I found out she had passed when I was eighteen. I felt some guilt around not looking for her earlier. I also felt some sadness and some anger towards her because I was like, “She couldn’t give up drugs to have a relationship with me.” In the end and through the ceremony and a lot of meditation, I found that I was able to come to the point of compassion for her. I know she was doing the best she could where she was and she had all this damage in her life that caused her to live that life and to struggle her whole life with drug addiction.

Having that relationship and having that suppressed anger and I am drinking a bunch and partying and my relationship with women. I was always very physically fit and attractive so girls were always coming to me. It was very easy for me to get sex. I never had a problem with that, but I never felt super connected. It felt like, “I’m just going to have sex. It’s fun and it’s exciting.” It’s physical but there wasn’t any deeper connection. I had this set mindset of when I get married, I’m going to date the girl for a certain amount of time. We were going to be engaged for a certain amount of time and then we’re going to have kids. It was this whole programming. I got married and it didn’t work out. I got divorced and that was a huge breakthrough for me. That helped me come into contact with my spiritual side. First, I let loose and traveled in Europe and party and that’s when the pink money came out.

I started partying a lot and then I went to Burning Man. That changed something for me. The two biggest things in that period of my life that brought change into the world is I learned Kriya Yoga, which is a type of meditation that Paramahansa Yogananda brought on. It’s interesting because we’re sitting at Lake Shrine, which was one of the first places he built in the US. It’s this beautiful sanctuary in Los Angeles. What I learned with meditation was sitting still and watching the thoughts that come up and then observing them and they keep flowing in. I’m like, “Where are these thoughts coming from? What is the basis of this thought? Taking the time to observe that, then you can start to see, “This is what my dad used to do. This is what my mom used to do. Is this serving me anymore? Do I need to keep doing this because it doesn’t feel right to me?”

Sitting and taking time to see those things and see where they come from and then root out the ones that are no longer serving you, that process has been super transformational for my existence. The last few years is when I got in touch with my spiritual side. It was through meditation and breath work. I also practiced the Wim Hof technique, which is a hyperventilation technique and cold water plunges. It’s very profound. You can have DMT visions from breathwork. It’s incredible. There’s holotropic breathwork. There are all these different types of practices that you can do to clear out emotional and physical trauma in your body. Another one is emotional freedom technique. All of these practices are spiritual, but they’re not dogmatic. No one is in control of them and no one is like, “You have to do it this way and you have to follow us.” There are certain sects of these things. For instance, we’re at the self-realization fellowship and they’re a little bit dogmatic in the way they teach their stuff. I use the technique outside of the self-realization fellowship and I have my own realizations and no one is in control of it and how it comes through.

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You are your own master. You are your own guru.

It’s a technique and you’re getting in touch with your own godlike energy within and how does that come forward. For me, it comes forward with the curiosity, with the passion and all of that stuff. That and then getting into the festival culture but it sounds a little weird or esoteric festival culture. One of the things about Burning Man that’s so great is that it’s an experiment in how we can create a new reality or a new way of being with each other that’s not based on competition. It’s based on inspiration so that when we see these art pieces that people create, were inspired to do our own artistic creation and we are able to share our own gift. Whether that’s food or art or music or talking, whatever that is and whatever comes through, you can get in touch with that and channel that and bring that into the world. That is a way of getting in touch with your spiritual side because you are getting in touch with spiritualities. You’re getting in touch with your own spirit and bringing that into the world.

Being inspired to bring your light, to have the courage to break the conventions, to not think about competition and not think about profit. Burning Man is not profit-motivated. People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more to build some of these art cars and these projects and what are they getting off it? They’re getting to have this incredible thing that is inspiring. I encourage people to continue to do that stuff and that’s the culture of festivals. There’s a lot of unconsciousness there too such as life. That’s how my spiritual connection was awoken from Burning Man and from meditation breathwork. That’s where I started getting in touch with my spirituality as opposed to a dogmatic religious type of experience.

Do you feel like your spiritual belief, your point of view around your place in the universe, your relationship with your own divine, your divinity helps you navigate the uncertainty of reinventing yourself from fireman to entrepreneur? From having this cool widget and sprouted nuts to forming which nuts to now wanting to provide a platform for all of the plants. Do you feel that having that spiritual belief is helpful?

Yes, I do because it’s fundamental to the way I show up. Now that I’m awake to it or at some degree, we’re all in the process of waking up to our divinity. I don’t feel that it’s a competition like, “I’m more awake than you or something like that.” Some people get caught up in that whole thing. It’s true. I’m more spiritual. There are this spiritual bypass and spiritual ego and all that stuff. I feel more awake to have been in this life because I continue to explore my consciousness curiously. I choose to dive deeper all the time and push myself in those ways. I do think that it reflects in my business. Whenever I eat, I say a prayer. I don’t speak it to any certain God or any specific source or anything. I say, “I give gratitude and love for this meal I’m about to receive. I’m so thankful for all that it took to get here from the fossil fuels, the people power, the water, the sunshine, the minerals, the vitamins of the Earth, the gases in the air, the wind, the things seen and unseen and the animal that gave its life. If I’m eating the plants, the microbes and all of it. I’m so grateful that it’s here and may it bless my mind, my body and my soul.”

Bringing that mindfulness into my product is only a reflection of who I am as a being and where I am in my development. I want to bring all of those aspects into it. I do give gratitude for fossil fuels because I do acknowledge that most of our food that comes from the store, it has fossil fuels all over it. Everything that we eat is dipped in fossil fuels. Maybe not literally, but transportation. We have to think about that. If we start to put that into our consciousness, then we’re going to start to think of ways to solve that problem. Maybe we need to start creating drone ships that are solar and wind power that can travel across the oceans. They don’t need people on them. We can redesign the whole thing. We can reimagine how that ship looks like if it doesn’t need people on it, it doesn’t need a huge fuel tank. It just needs solar power and wind. We can travel across the ocean without any fossil fuel. If you’re not thinking about that, if you’re just transporting without that mindset behind you, then you don’t ever think to address that issue.

My spirituality is directly reflected in the way of my business shows up. It has to be for me, otherwise I don’t want to do it so be mindful of that. My impact on these farming communities is another version of extractive capitalism. Right now, we’re such a small business and we’re not large enough to have an impact. Once we start to have the capital to make an impact, to start moving markets and to start changing markets, then it has to be about regenerative agriculture. I’m actively seeking out partners that are interested in building regenerative agriculture. There is a study that I read about regenerative agriculture that said that within three to seven times more carbon sequestered per acre depending on the crop if you’re using regenerative agriculture. They said that if the entire world shifted over to regenerative agriculture in a few years, we could avert the climate crisis and we’d get enough carbon in the ground to avert the crisis. That was the first thing that I had read that gave me any hope for the future of humanity. The reason Rich Nuts exists as a business is that we believe that the children of this generation and future generations deserve better Earth, greener Earth, cleaner Earth and a more just Earth. We stand behind all the change-makers and the rabble-rousers that are here to disrupt the paradigm and to create a new planet that’s better for all of us.

Is there anything else that you wanted to share with the audience who is being inspired by your story, by your vision and by the way you think about creating businesses?

NW 28 | Connection To Nature
Connection To Nature: If the entire world shifted over to regenerative agriculture in five years, we can avert the climate crisis and get enough carbon in the ground.

 

I’m continuing to discover and to tell the story. Anyone that wants to follow my story and learn more about us, you can follow us on the Instagram channel. Follow me in general because I plan to really bust this thing. I was waiting for the retirement to be finalized with the fire department before I come out in a big way with all this stuff. I am ready to step out in the world in a bigger way and to build this story. I don’t have all the pieces of this story and I’m willing to admit that and I understand that I don’t. As I bring my parts forward, then I’m open to collaborating with people that are willing to help me build the rest of it that I don’t know about yet. It will be continuously a path of discovery and of learning and of growth for me personally, but also for our business and for other businesses. Bringing consciousness into capitalism because the businesses were driving our existence or the economy is driving the way people live and the way people show up. If we can shift that and we can get a different experience for all of us, that’s what I’m all about. Anyone that wants to collaborate with that, feel free to contact me.

One of the debates that I have with entrepreneurs is who operates from their principles and their purpose is that, on the one hand, your primary job as entrepreneurs, you made sure that the business succeed. Without lifeblood and revenue, the business dies and you don’t fulfill however beautiful the mission is. The other who also operates from purpose and core values so you don’t become money-chasing solos business like everyone else. Generally speaking, if entrepreneurs are too principle-driven, you’re putting a lot of blocks to navigate within that realm and that realm only. If you don’t put principles at all, you’ll end up chasing. How do you navigate that?

We realize that some of the stuff that we have to do now to get our business up and running is not necessarily in alignment with our values. We’re using plastic bags to pack it and we’re buying it from external suppliers. We don’t have the relationships that I’d like to build with the farmers and all that stuff. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get things going. Once you have the capacity and the capital and the presence to do those things and integrate them, then you start integrating them.

It’s not top of mind, but it’s still in your radar and then you make ends meet or whatever. When things are better, then you can lean towards the other.

I’m starting to integrate those things. Even on our website, we put sustainability meters. We put it on our website and we’re like, “These are the things we’ve accomplished so far. These are the goals we’d like to get. We’d like to someday be carbon-neutral instead of carbon sink.” We’re not there. We don’t even know how are we going to get to that point yet, but that’s the vision and that’s what we want to do. We put it on our website. This is the end goal. This is where we want to get to. This is where we are now. What’s our next step? Compostable packaging. In that way, we can be transparent with our customers.

We’re like, “This is what we want to do, this is where we’re going, and this is where we are.” Overpromising and under delivering, we don’t want to do that either. We want to be honest with where we are and we want to be clear about what we’d like to go. That way, you can inspire collaboration and maybe someone will be like, “I have an idea to help you get to point X.” When you get there, you can tell a story about that. This is how we became carbon neutral. We have a solar factory now. All of our goods are delivered by electric trucks and powered sailboats across the ocean or whatever. Transparency is key because it helps to go to the brand’s integrity. It’s coming on strong. I don’t watch the Super Bowl anymore, but I could see the commercials. One of the commercials was Ultra announced they have the first organic beer, which I was like, “Beer drinkers now are on organic beer.”

You were saying about training yourself to stay calm when the buildings are coming down. Say a little bit more about that.

Working as a fireman, one of the skills you learn is to remain completely laser-focused. Even though you have an awareness at all times about what’s going on around you, because conditions can be changing and getting more dangerous. You also have to stay super laser-focused on the job that you’re doing at hand so that you don’t make any mistakes. If you make a mistake, it can be costly. It may cost you your life or it may cost someone else’s life or an injury. Oftentimes, as a paramedic, it’s the same thing. Someone is dying and family members are freaking out. Cars are swerving by you on the highway and you have to stay laser focused on your job, but also being aware that conditions could be changing. You have to be aware of distractions but not let them affect your performance. What I find helpful are certain techniques like box breathing, which is slow controlled breathing.

When we're in the state of play and discovery without an agenda, we're able to be present with each other and cultivate relationships. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t matter what number you use, but say you breathe in and count to five and then you hold it there at five and then you breathe out for five. It’s a square breath inhale and exhales or the same amount of time as the hold at the top and the bottom. Certain techniques like that are what Navy SEALs use. It was in the book, Stealing Fire, which is a great book. I highly recommend it. Being able to be aware consciously of the conditions you’re in is super critical as a fireman. You could be in a building that’s getting ready to collapse. There are certain signs that you can see like the walls are starting to bow or you hear some creaking noises of the roof starting to crack. You have to be hyper-aware of those, but you also need to be focused. You don’t want to trip and fall on something sharp and stab yourself on a piece of furniture.

You have to be hyper-aware of what you’re doing. You also have to be aware and conscious of what’s going on around you. Laser-focused while also accounting for all the distractions. It is a skill that you learn and staying calm. If you move into a point of fear, you might rush or make a mistake. When you rush, then you happen to make mistakes because you’re in a hurry and then you have to repeat that process either again or you may get hurt and possibly die or someone else could die. It is a skill set to stay calm in the face of all hell breaking loose.

I started boxing and it’s a similar situation. How do I remain calm so I don’t make mistakes, otherwise I get punched in the face? It’s a beautiful journey because it’s one thing to have a lot of knowledge theoretically in my head, it’s another to get punched in the face like, “Don’t do that again.” Nonetheless, part of the learning process is getting punched in the face so they internalize their lessons. I also know that you hunt. That’s one conversation that we have. Would you say that would be a similar process where you had to remain calm no matter what’s going on in your surroundings? Say a little bit more about that.

It’s funny that you said that about boxing. It brings up one of the only quotes I know from Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face,” and then you’re not so tough anymore. With hunting, it’s a lot of buildups, a lot of excitement and a lot of planning goes into it. You can put a lot of pressure on yourself to make the shot and sometimes that rush of adrenaline comes through. The first time I was hunting a deer and I’m a pretty good shot, but I couldn’t hit the side of a barn. I shot seven or eight times and I didn’t hit the thing. I was bouncing around so much. There’s a name for it. It’s called deer fever or buck fever. It often happens because adrenaline comes into your body and you’re so excited that you can’t stop shaking. It doesn’t happen to me as much anymore because I’ve learned to control that.

Through the skill that I talked about as being a fireman to breathing through taking a second and not rushing your shot and waiting for the right shot with a rifle or a bow, you want to have a clean one shot kill that’s ideal. It doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s what your goal is. That might mean waiting or passing on an animal because it’s in the bushes or because of a tree between you. You have to have the patience and the knowledge to know that this may not be the ideal time. It does happen. You do get nervous because so much is building up for months to that point, all the preparation and the planning. Breathing slowly and deeply will help affect your state.

Do you feel that’s transferrable? If I meditate every day for hours and that cultivates my ability to fight boredom and does that translate you hunting or firefighting or boxing or one must go through that process of being too excited? You miss your shot and you get punched in the face. Hopefully, you don’t get stabbed, but you get stabbed or you’re doing firefighting or whatever to earn that calmness and peace of mind?

I definitely think it’s something you can cultivate. The more you access that place, the more it becomes accessible to you. You’ve been there before and you know how to get there, whether it’s breathwork or whether it’s mental practices. The more times you access that space, the more easily you can access it. It’s a state and the more you get there, the more you practice it and it does translate into different aspects of life because it’s about controlling your emotional state. If you’re getting too excited, then your body dumps a bunch of adrenaline and then you start to lose control of your function because you’re in the fight or flight mode. If you can learn to cultivate that through breath work, I find it to be the easiest way. Through mental practices or other ways, visualization techniques or even visualizing the hunt before where I’m like, “You’re going to have this shot and you’re going to wait for it. It’s going to be perfect and you’re going to take your time. You’re going to breathe and you’re going to shoot. The animal is going to drop right away and there’s not going to be any struggle and all that.”

You don’t visualize the naked team. They call it the anti-examples. It’s like, “What do you do when the deer is not in the perfect condition? What do you do when you’re being punched?” You don’t visualize that. You visualize the ideal situations.

I always idealize an ideal situation and I’ve done that with sports throughout my life and different scenarios. If you visualize the wrong scenario, then you might end up getting that. There have been times where I was like, “This thing is going to happen and it’s not going to be the way I wanted to.” Sure enough, it happens that way and I’m like, “I knew it.” It’s always a self-fulfilling prophecy so you want to visualize what you want to see. You want to see the thing you want to see and you want to bring that forth and visualizing is a good way to do that.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you.

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About Richard Pauwels

NW 28 | Connection To Nature

I started Rich Nuts because as a firefighter, I needed a protein-rich snack that could sustain me through my long shifts. I was determined to find a better option for myself and my crew. So I set out to create it with four goals in mind: it had to be nutritious, sustaining, delicious, and good for planet.

After I discovered that sprouting nuts made them more nutrient-dense and easier to digest, I started soaking nuts in water. However, this only made them soggy and unappetizing. So I worked to bring back their flavor and crunch by seasoning them with savory spices and dehydrating them at a low temperature. It was magic! The sprouted nuts were exceptionally crunchy and full of flavor.

During my breaks at the firehouse, I would make batch after batch, experimenting with different spice and nut combinations, and letting my fellow firefighters taste-test along the way. Soon I was getting orders from friends, family, and co-workers. It was then I decided I had to share them with the world and Rich Nuts was born.

To me, food is about more than nourishing the body, It’s about nourishing the land and farmers who grow it. From seed to shelf, my goal is to work closely to ensure every ingredient and every person along the supply chain is thought of and cared for. I hope you enjoy my sprouted snacks, and that my story inspires you to leave your own mark on the world.

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