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Kathryn Dyer

In this powerful episode of our Deep Dive series, Chris talks with guest Kathryn Dyer about the power and importance of real, human connection.

Deep Dive: Vulnerability and Human Connection
Deep Dive: Vulnerability and Human Connection

Deep Dive: Vulnerability and Human Connection

Ep
75
Mar
23
With
Kathryn Dyer
Or Listen On:

The power of human connection.

In this powerful episode of our Deep Dive series, Chris talks with guest Kathryn Dyer about the power and importance of real, human connection. Kathryn shares the story of her fight for a cancer diagnosis and how that experience redefined her purpose in life. The two open up and go deep into one of the most genuine and vulnerable conversations The Futur has ever shared.

Chris first met Kathryn just a few years ago at Epicurrence, a conference for creatives held in Breckenridge, Colorado. It was at this conference that Kathryn delivered a deeply touching, raw, and real personal story about her battle with cancer that left everyone in the room without a dry eye.

If the title of this episode doesn’t give it away, Kathryn is an immensely vulnerable person. She’s keen to connect with other people beyond the surface level. She’s open about her life experiences and the value she’s gained from sharing her stories with others. Her innate desire to really connect with others is what makes her a breath of fresh air to speak with.

As a cancer survivor, she openly shares her struggle with breast cancer, how she overcame it, and how she lives every day with gratitude and love in her heart.

According to Kathryn, “you can’t go wrong with being kind.” And it’s proven to work well for her. Her pursuit for pure, honest human connection has led her to random gifts from supermarket employees, 10-minute grocery aisle conversations with strangers, and opportunities to deliver speeches at one of the more popular creative conferences in the nation.

If we can learn anything from Kathryn, it’s that kindness is never, ever wasted, and it can take you so much farther than you think.

When we think about being rich, we think about monetary wealth. But by the end of this episode, we hope you’ll associate richness with human connection.

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Episode Transcript

Greg:
Hey. It's Greg. And welcome back to another Deep Dive episode of The Futur podcast. In this one, Chris talks with our delightful guest, Kathryn Dyer about the power and importance of real human connection. Now, this episode is really special and will probably give you some feels, which is a good thing. I think it's one of the most genuine and vulnerable discussions we've ever had on here. So, buckle up, and please enjoy our conversation with Kathyrn Dyer.

Chris:
You and I met at Epicurrence, and, um, this, this story that you shared on stage was so touching and emotional and honest and re- revealing and vulnerable. I think everybody was like either crying inside or the outside, one of those.

Kathyrn:
Yeah!

Chris:
And, uh, I, I, I, I know that, uh, the- there wasn't a lot of notification for you to prepare, and so that made your talk even more remarkable, and the courage that you had to come up on stage and share your story. You and I have been doing this dance for a number of months, maybe a two-

Kathyrn:
Years.

Chris:
... two years, I don't know. It's been a little time.

Kathyrn:
Years, maybe. I don't know.

Chris:
Uh, and I, I'm not counting. But you and I are having lunch. And I'm like, "You know, I w- I wish these were recorded, so somehow I convince you to like, let's just, let's just try. And I think-

Kathyrn:
You're, you're a wizard there because, uh, it was a fight or flight moment (laughing). And you won me over.

Chris:
(Laughs) I'm glad I did, uh, because I think the way that you look at the world and the things that you have to share are worth sharing. You know TED Talk, their, their motto is ideas worth sharing. And I watch so many of them, like, that's not worth sharing. But you on the other hand I think you have something, a message that's so different that cuts through all the superficiality, and you get right to the core and story after story. I'm thinking we need to share this with the world. And so let's get right into it. Okay.

Kathyrn:
Okay. So, should we talk about how Epicurrence came about?

Chris:
We can. You wanna start there?

Kathyrn:
Well, because you brought it up and you said I had such a short time.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
I think that was an advantage for me.

Chris:
Okay.

Kathyrn:
Because I can get in my head, we can all get in our head. And I felt that it was so authentic, and it was so organic the way it happened.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
Um, Dann Petty, who I just happened to see a tweet from, was not following him, we weren't following each other. I thought it looked... I, I commented something like awesome. And next thing I know, I'm going to Epicurrence.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
Then, um, Trav- Travis and Los-

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
... asked, you know, they sent out kind of a directive. Has anyone had a struggle in their life? Has anyone had a really hard time you have to overcome? I- it was like eight points, if you've had any one of these eight points. Well, all eight points applied to my story.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
And I knew if I thought on it, I wouldn't send my story. So, I immediately type up the story of the year I spent trying to get diagnosed with cancer. I had found a lump in my breast, and, um, it was an ordeal. It was a lot to go through, and then my treatment, sent it to him. And, as you said (laughs), I wrote the speech on the way, driving from Southern California to somebody.

Kathyrn:
I was nervous beforehand. And once I started talking, it just felt authentic. And the thing I got out of it were the people that came up to me and said, "I've been a cancer caregiver. I've been tested for cancer." Um, it really touches us all at some point. Um, and you. You were real with me, and I came to your open house, and I recorded a snippet then. And I said, "Through tears on that video at that time, and it was just a real reaction, you saw something in me, I could not see in myself."

Chris:
Let's take a deep just a breath for, for a second there to process what you were saying. You and I were sharing this, um, earlier today about, like, our wish for all creative people, people who are suffering from imposter syndrome or low-self esteem, or any one of these anxieties that we have, in that if we could just see the world through the eyes of the people who love us, who care about us, or even sometimes total strangers-

Kathyrn:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... to look at the world through their eyes versus the, the normal lens in which we look at ourselves, which is usually super hyper critical. And there's a good reason why you may or may not have a very self-critical eye on yourself. And I wanna get into all this stuff, but if... the, the, the thing that is so cool and attractive about you is that, I think, it's so genuine that you just wanna help people, and it's so pure. Like you told me, "I don't wanna get famous. I don't wanna do any of this stuff. It's not for money or anything else. I don't wanna get anything out of this. I just wanna be able to help somebody." Uh, and I think that's, that's noble. It's cool, and it's so rare these days.

Kathyrn:
But that is the payment I get. See, if I think that you're struggling with something, or might not even know you're struggling with something, and somehow I happened to talk to you about a struggle I had. And in turn, you say, "That helps me because I'm going through this." It touches me. I mean that, that's what g- gives me the power to keep going to talk to other people. And I do not care if it is a gentleman in the freezer section that I start out trying to help find an item because he looks lost, and then we end up talking about his cancer, who knows what. I don't know how the talks developed from "Hi! Can I help you find something in this area?" It takes me two minutes to help someone find something, it turns into a 10-minute talk, where I feel we both get something out of it, and I feel as humans. What else are we if we're not here for that?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
W- what else do we have?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
You know, if you have a struggle, and I can relate to that in a way that's helpful to you through my own experience, you might be at the start of that struggle, and I can say there's light, because I've been through that struggle, and I've come out the other end. And, and I'm okay, and you're gonna be okay. I'm real, you know? It doesn't mean your struggle won't be tough. It doesn't mean it couldn't go bad, but I can give you my experience. I can tell you that for me I made it.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
And that's valuable.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
You telling me that you saw something in me, that was valuable to me because I couldn't see that at the time.

Chris:
When you said like you're real, there's a lot of ways to interpret that. And I think I interpreted it a certain way once you said a little bit more. You kind of have expanded on it. I think when you said real, and correct me if I'm wrong here is that you're, you're, you're op- you know, I don't know if you're optimistic or positive, but you're not gonna sugarcoat anything like you're, you're not gonna pretend to see something that you don't see. Is that what you mean when you say you're real?

Kathyrn:
That, and I don't go into it with expectation. You asked me, two years ago maybe, to come here. I, I just kind of sat with it for two years. I'm not here because I want to impress you, you know? I mean, I, I appreciate it if you like what I'm saying. But I'm here for that human connection. I, I'm, I'm gonna say what I would say whether we're at the restaurant, whether I run into in the freezer section, and you need help with something. I mean, uh, I don't change based on the circumstances.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
Of course, if it's a job interview I, you know, I, I do my research. But, uh, I'm still me, because then, at the end of the day that's who they're getting. And that's really all, all we have is who we are. That's what we put forward, you know?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love you to share a story about, uh, I, I don't know the exact location, but you were talking about these conversations as you get in to with people, strangers-

Kathyrn:
Yes.

Chris:
... at a supermarket or something like that. Can you share that story?

Kathyrn:
Yes. Well, I... My son had a medical emergency, recently. And I've been driving back and forth, Southern California, Northern California. It's just... It's a lot. And literally, the store was closing within 30 minutes, and (laughs) my husband's gonna think I'm crazy, I just wanted something sweet that night. I thought, "You know what? We've been driving all day. We're doing all this."

Chris:
It's really tough, you know? Yeah.

Kathyrn:
"I want some apple pie or something. Give me apple pie, you know?" So I went... I got to the store in time and got my stuff. I thought I'm coming here for the sweets. It's kind of embarrassing (laughs) when you're checking out, but I'm checking out. And that, that customer service rep was so nice, just so kind, as she's ringing me up, like genuine, and it touched me. And I told her, I said, "I came here for the sweets. But the real treat was meeting you, and just how kind you were, and, and just talking to me, you know, as if we're friends. And she said, "I wanna give you something. I wanna give you a gift."

Kathyrn:
And we went over where these succulents, where these little succulents and the terracotta pots, and she's looking and t- you know, I could tell she was taking time into what to give me. And on the floor below that shelf, there was a larger succulent in this metal pot. And she picks it up and she says, "This is meant to be. It's by itself here, and it's meant for you." And she gave it to me. And I just thought that gave me joy, all the way home. That, that kind of broke the stress I had been going through. And it's such a small thing.

Kathyrn:
It really wasn't about the value. It wasn't about that... Her giving me a hug would have been enough. Her kindness at the register would have been enough. But she went above that and gave me something else, "And I just feel that if we can live that way. We don't know. What if I brought a joy into your life at some point today that you wouldn't had otherwise? What if I broke your stress for that moment, and it gave you something to carry forward? And then you can do that for someone else in turn." You know what I mean?

Chris:
Absolutely. So this is kind of like your ethos, your, your way of living. This is not an effort or an affect. This is just how you are because story after story, it's the same through line over and over again. But there's a couple of things I wanna ask you about this and maybe the potential downfall of some of this, this kind of life, this philosophy that you have.

Kathyrn:
Okay.

Chris:
So you're there, you're, you're, you're tired, you're stressed. There's lots that's on your mind. And so you, you just kind of... you have a moment. You, you need something sweet to just cheer you up to make you forget about a few things, just a little pick me up.

Kathyrn:
I know.

Chris:
And then, this person is probably just acting like the way they always act, but then you saw something, and you made a point to comment on it.

Kathyrn:
And I don't know if they were acting like they always act because I think what it started with...

Chris:
You, you think she sensed something in you?

Kathyrn:
... I complimented her necklace.

Chris:
Okay. Started there, you complimented the necklace.

Kathyrn:
I believe.

Chris:
Okay.

Kathyrn:
I noticed it, it was different.

Chris:
Okay.

Kathyrn:
It was a, um, like a, um, stone. And then, she told me the meaning of it and, and about the mercury rising this month, and she told me what it meant to her.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
And I was genuinely interested in what it meant to her, not because it was gonna mean the same thing to me, but because she was passionate about it, you know? So I listened to her story, and then I shared with her something personal about me.

Chris:
Now, how many apple, uh, pies did you buy, because ho- how long can a story happened while you're in line?

Kathyrn:
Well, I was the only one in her line.

Chris:
Okay.

Kathyrn:
So, there's no rush. And then if... I had forgotten my bag and I said, "Oh, I don't even have a bag." "Oh," she said, "Don't worry." And she gave me two extra bags because I had another store I had to stop at, too. I mean, it's just these, these like seeds we can plant, as we go along. And if it doesn't take anything away from you to plant that seed, if you start doing it, you'll find that it actually... it's like planting an actual plant, as it grows. And, and then it blooms, it brings you joy. These things bring me joy to see someone else happy or to connect. I- it's, it's not on purpose. I don't seek it out, but I enjoy it.

Chris:
Do you have a name for these seeds?

Kathyrn:
(Laughs) No.

Chris:
Okay. Maybe after a while, you'll have a name for these seeds.

Kathyrn:
Yeah.

Chris:
So here's the other thing. As, as Carlos, your husband, was sitting next to us. We're just having this conversation. Sometimes your desire to help people can then put you in a place where people either take advantage of you, or you, you kind of put yourself in a disadvantageous position, where you can't work on the things that you're supposed to be working on. How do you manage that? Or do you, or you just give so freely without expectations that it doesn't even matter for you if you have to sacrifice your own goals?

Kathyrn:
Well, I definitely have developed boundaries. Um, and y- you know, I initiate these contacts (laughs) I guess. Um, I just truly enjoy talking to people. I enjoy the human experience. I, I, I lost my mother-in-law last year, and I was in the grocery store after that. It is, I guess, a grocery stores like my, my place.

Chris:
That's your go-to place.

Kathyrn:
That's my Zen.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
Um, I was in the grocery store. And it just so happened the person in line. And again, I must have initiated conversation, it's so natural. I don't know. The person in line next to me was also named Kathy. And we started talking about that. She had just lost someone in her life. So, then I shared, you know, what happened in my life. And we ended up hugging. She said it was meant to be. It just made her feel better that she knew she wasn't alone in the, the same type of a situation. And, and to be honest, I felt better, too. Anything that's what it comes down to maybe is we feel less alone.

Kathyrn:
If a stranger can make you feel less alone, how valuable is that in this world? I was reading a sign in you- in your restroom here. And it said something like the automatic lights will turn off after five seconds. And I thought, "How apropos?" because that's our brains nowadays. That's why things on social media are, are just, you know, blips and fast. And, um, it's not... that's not life, though, you know? We're deeper people. I think we have deeper meanings inside. And I think we have a lot to share with each other. But if you go through life with that five-second philosophy, you might miss those moments.

Chris:
If I'm listening to this, and I'm really connecting with your message, and I, too, wanna share a little joy and make the world a little less lonely. But I have a hard time connecting with people. What, what, what is it about you that draws these things out of people that you guys can share deaths, cancer, struggles, uh, because sometimes the circles in which we run in especially in the professional arena, people are very guarded, they actually distort-

Kathyrn:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
... their troubles into like victories and it's like so fake.

Kathyrn:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
So, let's start with you, like, what is it about you that within seconds or minutes of meeting somebody, that you guys are just emptying your soul in front of... burying your soul in front of each other? What is it about you?

Kathyrn:
Well, I'm very shy. And that's a tough question, you know? I've never wondered, it's an automatic thing. I have never really wondered. Um, I've definitely had my struggles, you know? I had my first surgery at six months old. And it was a major open surgery. It was a kidney surgery. Um, I had epilepsy when I was in college. Um, you know there are struggles, I went through cancer recently, breast cancer. And that's what I talked about at Epicurrence was my breast cancer. Um, and I think through those things, you can feel alone. And oftentimes, it's strangers. You know when I was l- had lost my hair, and I'm going through surgeries. And you can s- I didn't see that many people, but I did go to the grocery store. So, maybe that's my home connection there.

Kathyrn:
But, uh, y- you know, I maybe seek it out, that human connection, that contact, that... And I don't know how it works out with the right people. I have to say, it's not like I've ever gone up to someone and started to talk, and they just shut me down. Your listeners are probably saying, I would." No (laughs), but, uh, I've never gone through that. Um, and maybe it's because I share something deep I'm not afraid to share something deep. I've been through deep things. And I know what it's like to be going through those things where you feel like you're alone. You're not. We might not, not all be going through the same deep things, but through struggle, there is a overlap, where we can help each other.

Chris:
Yeah. Well, I could point out a few things looking at you from the outside, that you may or may not recognize, but-

Kathyrn:
Professor (laughing).

Chris:
Uh, I think you have, like, a physical energy that you put out into the world. And, and some people walk with their chest forward, shoulders back and step back or "I'm gonna hurt you," and you have the exact opposite physical energy where you're a fairly thin s- woman and then you're, you're like, shoulders are relaxed, and your arms are down. And it just feels safe to talk.

Kathyrn:
Darn it. I was going for that intimidating factor. No, I'm just teasing (laughs).

Chris:
Right. And then that you have-

Kathyrn:
Thank you.

Chris:
... a vulnerability that probably menis- manifests from the inside, and it is... it just coming out through you, that you also... And you said this, right? You don't really care that much about what people think. And so you're ready to go into the deep end of the pool, uh, on the job.

Kathyrn:
Well reality is reality, we can't escape it, you know? I'm not afraid of it because it's real. I, it happened to me, it could happen to you. And if I share it, if at some point you or someone you know has something that they feel that is similar or I could help them, or they could share it with me, they might.

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
And then they'll feel less alone.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
And there were people that did that for me through cancer. Dann Petty's one of them, you were one of them. You don't know that. But the after cancer was a struggle, too, you know, and you made me feel valuable during that time. And that was a complete fluke (laughs) that I went to that event, but that's the thing. I think sometimes, there's these flukes in life and maybe there things that were meant to happen, for whatever reason. I, I think you can't go wrong by being kind. And that sounds cheesy, and I just realized that, but I really mean it. Um, I can be naive. I still wanna believe. I still wanna believe in the goodness of people. I wanna believe that in the end, everybody is good. They may just be afraid to show it, they may have coping mechanisms, they've learned where they hide it. And that makes me even more wanna get to the good in them. It really does. If you're a tough nut to crack, I'm probably gonna crack it.

Chris:
You're the nutcracker.

Kathyrn:
Yes (laughs).

Chris:
That's not exactly the metaphor we're looking for-

Kathyrn:
Yeah.

Chris:
... because there's this kind of energy that we, like, nutcracker-

Kathyrn:
Yes.

Chris:
... comes in.

Kathyrn:
Yes.

Chris:
Okay, that's fine.

Chris:
Uh, I, I think that probably within seconds of somebody meeting you, a total stranger in the supermarket. Let's say, that you are kind of setting the tone immediately by, like, going super deep, being very vulnerable. And that's very admirable, but I think that's just the way that you exist in the natural world, that's not something that... It's just you, right because for someone like me, maybe I'm a tough nut to crack because my wife accuses me all the time, "Let me in, emotionally. Like, what is going on your brain?" I'm like, "It is, or it isn't. I don't think about that." That messes her up because she wants the robot to feel. And so you and I were like coming out this, like, "Hmm, two people. We, we want to practice random acts of kindness to help people. We just express it very, very, differently." And that's what intrigues me about you.

Kathyrn:
Well, I've always had opportunities to help people, too.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
I've been a mentor. Um, my husband and I worked with at-risk kids. We would take kids bike riding, who had never been bike riding. We'd take kids hiking, who had never been hiking. And that was, you know, during college, right out of college. Um, so think I've just always had this sense that if you help people, it helps you in the long run.

Chris:
Yeah. I have the same philosophy.

Kathyrn:
You know, I went to Disneyland and everybody was on a ride. And this is family, and they're all asking me, "Can you hold my bag? Can you he"- you know, so I've got all this stuff. and I'm thinking, "I can't really, it was Disney World." And then, "I can't really walk around, you know? I've got all this stuff. However, there was a gentleman working nearby. And this was like a college intern from another country, but I didn't know all this, of course, until I talked to him. He say, "Went up," and I said, "Because nobody"... right, he was showing photos nobody was kind of there. And they said, "What? You know, what are you doing? What is your thing?" He showed me, "This is my home country," and he, he was showing me all these photos. "These are my friends, and this is this." And we just talked, and we talked. And I, I was genuinely interested. It wasn't just a thing of, "Oh, that's cool," you know?

Chris:
Right.

Kathyrn:
W- I asked a lot of follow-up questions, and then I'd say, "Yeah, you know, where I grew up, we do this and we're sharing knowledge, and we're connecting through that." And, you know, as a fluke at the end he said, "Is there any ride you wanna go on? And there's a new ride that had just opened. And actually my brother-in-law and my niece wanted to go on it, and they couldn't get on the... All the fast passes were gone and they were gonna show." He said, "I'll give you tickets. We can give out so many tickets a day so you can go to the front of the line." And so when they got off the ride, I gave those to them. My brother-in-law is a psychiatrist, he said, "Kathy, I have no clue how you do it."

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathyrn:
But he said, "Thank you anyway because we appreciate the tickets."

Chris:
Right.

Kathyrn:
You know. So, I don't know. I just think... And I didn't care about the ride, you know?

Chris:
Right.

Kathyrn:
I didn't wanna go on the ride.

Chris:
Right.

Kathyrn:
I didn't care about the tickets.

Chris:
You were holding the bags.

Kathyrn:
I cared about that. That guy's story and his photos, I've carried that with me.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
And when you talk to people like that, it informs your story, and you carry those with you at some point. I- it's like all the books you read, Chris, like all the books you read. And as you're talking or as you're doing something at some point, you access that information because you're storing it here somewhere. I'm doing that but with interactions. And then, you know, when I'm talking to you at lunch today, something came up, and then I told you the story of being at the store and that girl gave me a succulent. Um, uh, it's stored, and you can access it later. Yeah.

Chris:
Yeah. You lost your grandmother, and she was a really important person in your life.

Kathyrn:
Yes.

Chris:
Can you share us a little bit what, what it was like to be with her in the last couple of days? And what, what she said to you that you needed to hear?

Kathyrn:
She was the best. She was 97 years old, and she had been on a five-year-plan, since her 80s (laughs), meaning if she would go to buy a tree, she'd asked the, um, people at the nursery, "How tall will this get in five years because that's the longest I'm gonna be here?"

Chris:
Hmm.

Kathyrn:
Wonderful person. She never, uh, really had health problems. Um, but I cared for her for about 10 days. And we had just, we always shared everything with each other. Maybe that's where I got it from. She was very shy, v- very kind. She said to me, and she said, "Kathy, you need to know you're worthy of being loved." And, uh, I was just completely crying. I didn't expect it, you know? We... I knew she loved me. We talked about love. But she knew I needed to hear that, I think, and, um, that will always mean the world to me.

Chris:
Why was that so powerful for you to hear that? Do you feel unworthy of being loved?

Kathyrn:
No, but I feel that her opinion, and her, um, I would like to be like her, you know? And hearing that from her, I lost my father when I was young. And unfortunately, he wasn't the type to share his feelings. And I remember the hardest part of grieving for me was wondering if he had loved me.

Chris:
I see.

Kathyrn:
You know, um, I think, you know, as a child, like you think, "Yeah, I think he did." But we weren't that family of I love you, you know. And, um, with my grandmother, it's invaluable to me to be left with something like that. If she thought I was worthy of being loved, that meant a world to me. Yes. So I think I'm worthy of being loved. I think for me, it's always been easier to give love than to get it.

Chris:
Okay, it's easier for you to give love. When you think it, it, meaning, you're not ready to accept it or something else?

Kathyrn:
I accept that someone could say that. I'm not completely understanding why they would feel that way.

Chris:
Ooh! Let's see how much time we have there because I think this is gonna be the (laughing) rabbit hole that we're gonna go down now. So, what I'm hearing from you is that in one minute, because I asked you pretty directly, do you feel like you're worthy of being loved, and you're like, "Yes." But the same token when somebody says I love you, you're like, "Hmm." I know you think you mean that, but I'm not sure that it's warranted or... so that... there's some cognitive dissonance that I'm hearing.

Kathyrn:
It depends on the per- the person. It depends on the relationship, it depends on where it's coming from. And I think we all have collective experiences in life that, again, you know, that we use to inform us and, and some people are more cautious. Um, I'm, you know, with my family. There's a lot of love. Um, but like my speech, when I did my speech at Epicurrence is an example. Like I said, you saw something in me that I couldn't see myself. I stood up there and I gave a whole speech. Number one, I didn't know if I was standing or sitting by the time I got done. I kind of thought I was standing because (laughs) I'm going back and forth. But, uh, I didn't know if that was gonna be valuable to people, or like radio silence, I really didn't know.

Kathyrn:
And keep in mind, I, I don't public s- I mean, that was the first time I had ton of speech and, I wrote it on the way there. But what I realized through that speech is that's what I do in the grocery store, but on a grander s- scale, you know? It's, uh, it's literally putting out there something that if somebody can take, just the smallest thing from it, and use that for themself with whatever they're dealing with, that brings me joy. I guess that's where I feel love.

Chris:
A, as an introvert myself, some of the things you say are, are just wonderful for me to hear and to feel. And then I think my old self would be like, "I can't go up to strangers and do what you do."

Kathyrn:
But you do it. You do it. I've seen you do it.

Chris:
The.. My old self would not be able to do it.

Kathyrn:
And maybe we develop that.

Chris:
Hmm.

Kathyrn:
You know, I don't know if I could say, well, I guess I could. Because the thing (laughs) that happened at Disney World was a long time ago.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
Um, I've always enjoyed learning about different people's ways of life, learning what drives people, you know, it interests me. I'm a very analytical person. Um, it interests me. I'll like that. But again, that... At the end of the day, that's all we have. When I went through cancer, that was all I had. The human connection. I was basically bare. I mean, it's a lot to go through. And one carrying contact with someone, whether it be someone just randomly over the phone that called you about your appointment, but they... it ends up turning into a different conversation. It... I think that, that is just a ma- uh, just a powerful force in our world that's often overlooked because everything's technical, and the lights are off in five seconds, and the videos are going like this, and our attention span is so quick now.

Kathyrn:
Uh, we don't always take the time to notice things about each other on a human level. We text. I can text you, "Hey, Chris!" That's not the same as us meeting for lunch today. You and I have been messaging online for quite some time. That's not the same as meeting today in person. You only got me here because we met in person (laughs). You know, it's a different thing.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
You... We're looking at each other. We can feel each other's energy. It's completely different in person. And it doesn't just have to be for things like this, and you never know where it will lead. You don't know who those people are your meeting, you know? And I don't have that expectation. I don't think, "Oh, I'm only gonna talk to this guy." I went to an event a while ago. As the vice president of the company was checking people in. I didn't know that, you know? I didn't know, but I treat everybody the same. That can, you know, some people might see that as a bad thing (laughs), but some people might not want to be treated like they're on a pedestal all the time, or like they're untouchable. I will talk to you the same I talk to the person in the grocery store, and that's not a put down to you. S- it's, not meaning they're better, it means we're all human.

Chris:
I think there's a outlook that you have that there's this dignity to every person regardless, regardless of their status in life, that I think is, is really wonderful. I know some, some executives who play the role of the usher at the door or something, to see how the true nature of a person is. So the person comes in is very dismissive and rude to them, like, "Okay that's probably not a person I'm gonna hire in the future." And they do do that, just as a test, like, "How do you treat me? Is it because you want to get something from me or not, or you're putting on a, a mask, a layer to pretend to be somebody that you're not?" And so when you catch people off guard, you reveal your true self.

Chris:
I know Tony Hsieh, uh, the founder of Zappos.

Kathyrn:
Yes.

Chris:
Um, he does this all the time. One of their tests when they're interviewing people is they have somebody go and pick you up at the airport. And then they take you back to the airport when your interview is done. The person who drives the car is an employee of Zappos.

Kathyrn:
Really?

Chris:
So, they're like, "How was your interview? How did you... how... how did it go?" And you're like, "Oh, yeah. I want this job, but I hate that thing. And I, I can't stand shoes. And that person's a total, blank, blank."

Kathyrn:
Oh, no!

Chris:
And then they write in the report, like, (laughs) "Yep, we got to pass on this person."

Kathyrn:
Oh, no!

Chris:
Well, I think oh, yes, because-

Kathyrn:
Well, no, yes, I get that. I just, uh-

Chris:
Because, you know?

Kathyrn:
... my heart goes out to the young p- like people that are applying and they... uh, but no, I, I see from it from [crosstalk 00:35:51] business.

Chris:
But that was in the heart. No-

Kathyrn:
See, you are the business person, and I'm the, I'm like, the emotional-

Chris:
(Laughs), yeah. Are you the, uh, interviewee (laughs)?

Kathyrn:
Yes. Well, I mean, like-

Chris:
So, but there's no.

Kathyrn:
Yeah.

Chris:
Y- uh, to me, this is not even about a business thing because I think it's important to be true to who you are. So, if you don't like shoes and you didn't like that boss that you're probably gonna work for-

Kathyrn:
Right.

Chris:
... you're lying to yourself, you're going to show up to the job that you hate to work for somebody that you don't like.

Kathyrn:
Right.

Chris:
And so eventually that relationship falls apart, and then you're back on the street again looking for your next thing. I think not hiring that person is the best thing you can do for that person because, like, I try to teach people.

Kathyrn:
Right.

Chris:
There are bad clients. And for bad clients, there are bad designers, and they belong together. So, just get out of the way of that relationship and allow them to find the perfect person for them. Same thing. So, I would-

Kathyrn:
No, no. And I... that's a good way to look at it, and that does make sense, and I get that.

Chris:
Yeah. Does it sound too, like, businessy?

Kathyrn:
No.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
It sounds very logical, and I get that.

Chris:
(Laughs) I've been accused of force [inaudible 00:36:48 so I'll take that.

Kathyrn:
No, no. And, uh, I'm a very... asked my husband it drives them nuts. I'm a very analytical person.

Chris:
Hmm.

Kathyrn:
I love it when things make sense. Um, and at the same time, it's kind of odd that I'll just go up and talk to people because you'd think, "Well, that doesn't always make sense." Um, I know what it's like to need help. I know what it's like to not have help, you know? I know what that's like. I'm the one where you're like, in the wheelchair at the store, and you look like you might wanna reach for something. You think, like, "Oh, man! Is that, like, am I gonna bother them if I ask/" And I just kind of will look for a long time? It does. It, it's hard for me, too. It's hard for me. It is. But I'll end up, I'll end up taking a chance because the worst that could happen if they're having a bad day or they don't want help, they'll. they'll feel.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
But I will offer, I'll say, "You know, is there's something you can't reach?" And, and a lot of times, even if they're saying no, it ends up turning into a different conversation.

Chris:
Right. I think part of your l- and I'm trying to be mindful of time here because I know you have to be somewhere, part of your l- your, your, your charisma and your magnetic power, I think, and I know you wouldn't use those words to describe yourself is, how transparent you are, that what you see is what you get, what you hear is what you believe, that kind of thing. And there's a vulnerability that, that just sets the stage for people to like, m- do, do you need this, or, or don't you, and you're there for them, and that you do something that I think is really wonderful and something I aspire to do as well, is that, uh, y- there's just a general love and respect for human beings, and this idea of what it means to be human, that, that everybody's visible to you.

Chris:
And that in that moment you never know, you just don't know, and this is the, the crazy power of, of human interaction and the power we all should take some responsibility for is that somebody could be on that breaking point. They lost their job. They, they lost a loved one. They, they're out of a relationship, and they're, they're having some dark moments. And, and they're lost in that forest, and they just don't know their way out, and they're in that fog. And you, at the supermarket, leaning across to grab whatever it is that you're gonna grab see somebody. And something inside of you sparks and like, "I need to talk to that person." And then you say something to them to recognize who they are as human beings. And then that's the end of it, right? You guys go your separate ways. It's not like you'd become pen pals. That moment changes their life. Or you'd be (laughs) [crosstalk 00:39:22]-

Kathyrn:
No, we, we do go separate ways. No, no, no, we'd go separate ways.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
Sometimes they'll tell me, you know, "Oh, I, I attend church here." And I go-

Chris:
Right, right.

Kathyrn:
... you know? But no, like I told you I have boundaries.

Chris:
Oh, go with the point. Y-

Kathyrn:
But, um, no, I've been in those hard places. I really think that's a lot of it. And I've been in very vulnerable places. When, you know, and part of this is, is if I... If you told me you found a lump, I would... And/or my husband told me, "I would say we need to get this checked immediately." You know, I found a lump in my breast, and it took me a year with my general doctor to get it checked. Oh, three different visits for different things, but, of saying you're just complaining, you're just complaining.

Kathyrn:
And, uh, you know, I don't wanna complain, (laughs) I get that. Um, and then I was told through my radiologists when I finally got a test, they were 99.9% sure it was benign. I'm not the type to fight for myself, but something in my head told me, "You need to be 100%." That's insane. That's 0.1% that it would be. And, uh, and it's a long story. My labs were wrong. Some things went wrong. And I ended up having invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast.

Kathyrn:
Um, there are things I can laugh about now. I was at a teaching hospital (laughs). So I went for my surgery. And I wasn't told ahead of time, and my doctor comes in with like, you know, maybe 15 interns or residents, and they're gonna be drawing on me, you know? And, uh, uh, I realized like they have to learn. You have to adapt. Like, and I'm not good at that, believe it or not. Um, I've been there. I just know what a kind word means. I know what a kind gesture means. And I just... It's such a small way to give back. It's so s- We should have an assignment.

Kathyrn:
Do you ever go to the grocery store by yourself? Probably not.

Chris:
I do, not that often, but I do.

Kathyrn:
Well, wherever is your, like, place where you don't generally know all the people, I would love to have a follow-up to this talk and have you go to one of those places. Try sharing something semi-personal. It doesn't have to be deeply personal. It can be, you know... Um, sometimes I share things about a past job or, you know, as a... whatever. I don't know it. It's generally they will lead it. Just like your talks. You can do this. But it's more intimate.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
You can be real. You're most likely not gonna see them again, however you're planting a seed. I would love to follow up with you if you did that.

Chris:
Okay. I'm making a note right now.

Kathyrn:
So, I believe you have it in you.

Chris:
Thank you (laughs). Uh, the thing I wanted to say is what's going on that, like, little monologue was that you touch somebody's life. And in that moment, they needed you, and they didn't know they needed you. And their, their life could have gone down one dark path and said it kind of veers into this, into the light for a little bit. And, and who knows what happens, but that's the power that we have as just human beings and how we relate to each other. And I do get this, too, because I, I create videos that people are gonna watch and listen to.

Kathyrn:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
And they send me messages back saying, "Man, you just don't know how this video helped me do this or how I was able to get the most amount of money for doing something I would have never had the self confidence." And so we need to be mindful that we do all, individually and collectively, have this kind of power. And instead of finding things to be divisive about and to tear people apart and tell people how they're wrong, to flip that script, to share, to plant that seed, as you will. And there's something, like I said you've, you've had a complex life with many challenges from, from birth to now, and you still continue to have challenges today. And you have a, a w- I mean for better or for worse, you have a well of stories that are deeply personal, and that are struggles that you've had, and the- and things that you've overcome and things are still going through.

Kathyrn:
Hmm.

Chris:
Then, people say to me, and this is the accusation I get quite a bit," You're not very relatable, Chris. You're not relatable." So I try to find those stories. Like where are my stories of struggle and hardship and pain and suffering? I, I only, as far as I can remember, I only have a few. So, your challenge to me to share something semi-personal I'm like, "I don't know what that is."

Kathyrn:
But it doesn't have to be a struggle. It really doesn't. It can be a success.

Chris:
Oh, really?

Kathyrn:
Well, I mean if you're not bragging.

Chris:
(Laughs) yeah.

Kathyrn:
But, you know, something that you think someone else could [inaudible 00:44:13] online. Something you can [crosstalk 00:44:15].

Chris:
I do. I didn't do this in person.

Kathyrn:
But personal, this is more intimate, it's one on one.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
You talked great with me at lunch today. I- it's the same thing, but it's a stranger because really, there are no strangers. They can all be your friends.

Chris:
Yeah. Okay.

Kathyrn:
We're, we're all, we're all living the same thing together.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
We're all doing the same thing. I-

Chris:
I think I, I, I do try. And, and it has been an effort at the beginning, and now, it's quite easy to find something to relate to people. But the things I relate to people aren't on the level in which you're talking about, so that's a good challenge for me to think about what I can do. So challenge accepted.

Kathyrn:
Hmm. Well, it has to because I c- I f- I didn't wanna come in here, and I did it.

Chris:
Yes, you did.

Kathyrn:
So high five (laughing).

Chris:
Across the podcast, yes.

Kathyrn:
But, yes. But you can do it, too, you know?

Chris:
Okay, I will try. I'd like to challenge you.

Kathyrn:
Okay, I'm, I'm ready. What is it? (laughs)

Chris:
Okay. You, you've taken a very critical first step. And that you have a power, you have a story to share with people, that, that your power is in the one-to-one intimate, which is amazing. But now, to them to be able to share that was more people so I can scale. I know that's like very businessy for me to say, So, I know you and Carl have the equipment, that you have a plan. And I always like screw the plan, just head in the direction of what you want to do. So my challenge for you now is to produce a couple episodes on your own podcast.

Kathyrn:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
The response is challenge accepted.

Kathyrn:
Oh, is that (laughing)... I forgot what your response was. See, I'm all in my head.

Chris:
You, you were thinking about it. Yeah.

Kathyrn:
In my head. Can I, can I hook it to the cart at the grocery store (laughs)? No, I'm just kidding.

Chris:
However you want, yes. That would be amazing.

Kathyrn:
I'm... Really?

Chris:
Yeah. How about the shopping cart podcast? It'd be amazing.

Kathyrn:
Yeah.

Chris:
Or in the produce. Something that... I mean that's a, that's a pretty interesting hook. Some, some podcasts and things like that-

Kathyrn:
Clean up on Aisle Nine (laughs).

Chris:
Something like that, right?

Kathyrn:
Right.

Chris:
Restocking the emotional shelf with Kathyrn Dyer.

Kathyrn:
Oh! Look at you.

Chris:
I don't know.

Kathyrn:
Look at you.

Chris:
Maybe, we can try something like that. We were talking about personal branding. And I think there's something magical for you in supermarkets, something. Okay?

Kathyrn:
People. There's such a variety of people there. You can find-

Chris:
Yes, I see. Yes, you're right.

Kathyrn:
Right. There's all different people.

Chris:
Fairly safe. There's-

Kathyrn:
Fairly, I mean, and everyone has to go there.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
You have to get food, so you're gonna find someone that's in, in, you know, someone invariably is gonna be struggling with something.

Chris:
Yeah. Right.

Kathyrn:
There's so many of us in the world. At this moment, somebody is going through a struggle. And to that person I say, "It will get better." I've been through my struggles. And when you're in the middle of it, you might not feel like it's gonna get better.

Chris:
Yeah.

Kathyrn:
It might seem dark. And that's what happened to me with cancer. I'm meeting people like you and Dann. And, uh, it changed things, you know? It brings you that joy. But you can also get that joy by giving it, and that's the biggest thing, I guess, I would tell people.

Kathyrn:
My name is Kathryn Dyer. And you are listening to The Futur.

Greg:
Thanks so much for joining us in this episode. If you're new to The Futur and want to know more about our educational mission, visit thefutur.com. You'll find way more podcast episodes, hundreds of YouTube videos, and a growing collection of online courses and tools covering design and business. Oh, and we spell the Futur with no E.

Greg:
The Futur podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. This episode was edited and mixed by Stewart Schuster with Intro Music by Adam Sandborne. If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by giving us a rating and a comment on iTunes. It's a big help in getting The Futur message out there and makes us feel good, too. Thanks again for listening, and we will see you next time.

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