When Justin Schenck was in high school, he would have been a contender for the “least likely to succeed” superlative. He had a 1.7 GPA; his mom was in the middle of her 20-year battle with opioids and his dad was in jail. So how did he become a successful entrepreneur and podcaster and a coveted speaker? Between ages 19 and 30, when Justin was chasing all the things society told him he “should,” what he was really chasing was happiness. Then he realized that the version of happiness that he was chasing wasn’t real. The real lesson was that everything we’re searching for is internal but most of us are searching for it externally.

Guest Bio 

Justin Schenck is an entrepreneur, speaker and the host of the top rated podcast the Growth Now Movement. He has been named a Top 8 Podcaster to follow by INC Magazine, featured in Thrive Global and chosen as an ‘Icon of Influence’ in the new media space. 

Justin’s podcast is currently played in more than 100 countries every week and he has gone on to help countless people grow their brands and business with his company PodBrand.io. He is also the host and creator of one of the go to events for entrepreneurs and forward thinkers: Growth Now Summit LIVE!

Learning How to Love Yourself Before Turning 40

In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, Stephanie talks to Justin Schenck, a successful entrepreneur and longtime podcaster. Justin shares his personal journey, from a difficult upbringing to finding success and happiness in his thirties. He talks about how he overcame limiting beliefs and adversities, and the importance of self-awareness in his transformation. Justin also talks about the societal pressures he faced in his twenties and how he realized that true happiness comes from within. He shares his daily practices for self-care and growth, as well as his perspective on turning 40 and embracing the next phase of life. 

Highlights from this episode include:

  • Justin’s challenging upbringing and how he overcame the odds to become a successful entrepreneur
  • The role of self-awareness in Justin’s journey and how it shaped his mindset and actions
  • The realization that external achievements and societal ideals don’t guarantee happiness
  • Justin’s four daily practices for self-care and personal growth
  • The importance of getting uncomfortable, surrounding yourself with the right people, and taking action to overcome limiting beliefs and challenges

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Podfest: An annual podcasting conference that Justin and Stephanie both attend
  • Andy Frisella, Real AF Podcast

If you enjoyed this episode, please rate, follow, and review the podcast.

After listening to today’s episode, you might be wondering, what’s self awareness?

Self awareness is being conscious of both our own behaviors and how we are perceived by others. In the context of the discussions on The Forty Drinks Podcast, self-awareness is what many people come to during their midlife transition. Like Justin, they realize that what they’ve been doing isn’t working and isn’t making them happy. Just knowing that you’re not happy is a sign of self-awareness. Serban realized that his life was fine – no better, no worse – and that he wanted more than that. Tara followed a path of shoulds straight through college and to a career that, while it may have been stable, dependable and well paying (just like her parents said), left her broken into a million pieces. Figuring out what it was that she wanted and what aligned with her heart and soul, was part of her journey of building self awareness.

Guest Resources

Find Justin on Facebook

Find Justin on Instagram

Growth Now Movement podcast on Apple

Do you have the Midlife Ick? 

Download Stephanie’s guide to the Ick to diagnose whether you or someone you love is suffering from this insidious midlife malaise. www.fortydrinks.com/ick

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The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications


Stephanie: Hey Justin. Thanks for being here today

Justin: Stephanie, I'm so excited to be here. It's taken a while for us to finally sit down and do this - my fault. I'm taking all the blame, but I'm really excited to dive into this conversation.

Stephanie: I am too. I am too. You and I were talking just a moment ago. I know you a little bit more than you know me because I've gone to a couple of Podfests andI've gone to some of your sessions and I've followed you on the socials and stuff. I know you from the podcasting world, so that's one of the reasons I'm really interested to have you here and to dig into your personal story beyond what I know of you in the podcasting and business world. So, yeah. So why don't you talk a little bit about how you came to your early to mid thirties? Who were you and what forces shaped you?

Justin: So there's a lot there, right? There's a lot unpack, but before I get into any of it, I always like to kind of highlight the fact that everybody has their own journey, right? And when people go through hardships, we almost tend to discredit the things we've done or the things we've overcome. Um, but this is just my story. It's one of many, and I always go back to high school, its kind of where I like to start, and then we'll very quickly fast forward to 30. But when I was in high school, I always jokingly say that if there was a senior superlative for least likely to succeed, it would have been me. I had a 1. 7 GPA, my mom was in the middle of a 20 year battle with opioids and my dad was in jail. And so if you look at that, like all signs pointed to you've got no shot. As a matter of fact, they say, if your parent's an addict, you have 50 percent chance of being an addict. And if your parents in jail, you have 50 percent chance of ending up in jail. Like I'm a hundred percent screwed if you do the math, right? Like there's really no hope. Uh, but for me, I was lucky enough at the age of 19 to get into direct sales. Cause if you have a 1. 7 GPA at one point in high school, you don't g o to college. So I got into direct sales and I had a mentor within the organization that handed me a book called who Moved My Cheese and this book changed my life. It spoke to me at the core of who I was. It really talked about how things are going to change around you that you have no control over, but what you have control over is how you react to that change. And so at the age of 19, I had this little seed planted in my brain that said, well, I have complete control, and I'm going to create the life that I want. So I started to chase what society told me to chase, as a male in the United States, which is money, cars, girls, admiration, people telling me I'm great. And I began to chase that. I always had this dream of being an entrepreneur, and had multiple failed businesses throughout my twenties. Some had glimmers of hope and success and they would crumble. Um, and then when I was creeping up onto 30, I decided that I was going to start a podcast. This is seven and a half years ago, eight, now nine years ago, the idea came when I was 30 originally. And I was like, I want to interview entrepreneurs so I can figure out how to be a better entrepreneur. Right. So, nine years ago, you would tell people you had a podcast and we'd go, what's a podcast, you know, now fast forward today, they roll their eyes and go, Oh, you have one too? But that was the idea behind the podcast and when I was 30 creeping up to 31, planning process, and then when I was 31, we were going to launch the show. And I say we, because I had a co host for the first year of the podcast. But what happened was, six months before I launched the show, my mom lost her battle to opioids. And it was in that moment that I had massive shifts and realizations of what life is really all about. And I started to really dive into rock bottom moments and overcoming limiting beliefs and adversities. And that's what happened in the podcast. It was not really about business at first, it was very much about life and self love and all these things that I've noticed my mom lacked. And then also I lacked because of how I was raised. And so it became a lesson me. So that was me from high school to thirty. And I really believe the work for me started at 30, the real realization of life and trying to figure out how to piece together a life I love, which I can happily say at this moment in this day that I love my life. And it's because of the work that I did in my thirties.

Stephanie: Yeah. So let me jump back to a couple of things. One, where did you get the vision of yourself as an entrepreneur? Where'd that come from?

Justin: That's a really good question. I was not necessarily that kid who was doing the lemonade stands and hustling and finding ways to make money when I was a teenager. My dad owned a business, he owned a construction business and being his own boss was an intriguing thing, cause I saw the transition when I was a kid, I saw him go from employee to leaving his job voluntarily. You know, this is back in the day of pension, so he left his pension to go start business, and so there was a desire there. And then my uncle was an entrepreneur in his own right, but I honestly think it was that direct sales job when I was 19 that was the true aha moment, right? You had the glimmers of things when you're a kid, but then at 19, when you're promised in this job, you know, your income is based off of your work ethic, you can create your own schedule, nobody's going to tell you, you need to be at a certain place at a certain time. And honestly, like if you look at my characteristics, I have to be an entrepreneur. Like the reason I was bad at school was because they made me get there at a certain time, check in, sit there for an X amount of time and then leave at a certain time and then go home and do your homework. Right. And so I think innately I was an entrepreneur, but the realization or the introduction to it was in that direct sales job.

Stephanie: Interesting. I never knew I was an entrepreneur until I lost a job in my mid thirties and was working with a career coach. At the time I had just bought a condo and I said, Oh, I have a couple of bills that I need to pay, so I'm just going to do some freelance work while we work together to find the next J O B. And she kind of went, okay. So for six or seven months, we were working together and I was doing great with freelance work, had a great network and friends who were hiring me and it was going really well and one day we were working together in a session and I sort of looked up and said, what, what, what if I did this? And, she almost chuckled at me and basically said, welcome to your future. And it turns out that in my entire life I was the only person who was surprised that I was going to start my own business. I tell this story quite often, there was a guy that I used to work with, I was his boss, and a few months later ran up to him at an event and I was like, Matt, guess what, Matt, I'm going to start my own business. And he was like, Yeah, and, and I told him this story recently and he goes, I didn't mean to be a jerk. I didn't mean to be a jerk. And I was like, no, no, no, I knew exactly what you meant. Like it was not a surprise to him. So it's always interesting to me to talk to people about what made them an entrepreneur, because I am more of an accidental entrepreneur or a no other option entrepreneur. But when you talk about why you weren't good at school, that's how I felt at all my jobs school, I always felt as a kid, it was a game that I knew how to play, I was good at it, it was no big deal. But once I started working for different people it was exactly what you said, it was like, show up at this time because I said, so, and do it this way, because I said, so, and stay here this long, because if you don't, I'm going to think less of you. I was like, Oh, god, you

Justin: As a matter of fact, stay longer, right? So the funny thing is, I actually did really well in my jobs. Like, one of my last jobs, I was an area manager for a medical sales company. I always climbed the corporate ladder. I was getting jobs said you needed a bachelor's degree for, and all these things. And it was interesting, this is a fun fact, the last job I ever had, I was trying to truly build a business. The podcast had taken off Inc. Magazine listed me as a top eight podcast, all these huge wins were happening from the outside perspective, but the business I was trying to build was not happening, like I was making a tiny bit. So I had a job and I was like, you know, once I make a little bit more on the business side, I'll leave and I'll focus more on it. And I ended up getting fired from my last job. Long story short, uh, found out the CEO was intimidated by me, which I'm not an intimidating person, which is funny, but this I found out later. And years after I got fired from that job, they hired me to come talk to all their senior executives and they paid me more per minute to speak to them than they used to pay me per hour. And I realized that when you fall into the person you're meant to be, people will finally recognize that, right? Like you realize like this, they literally fired me, and I think within two years, they had brought me back to speak to the organization, and they paid me more per minute than they used to pay me per hour. It was kind of a big win for me, but also a nod to like, okay, you're on the right track. You know what I mean?

Stephanie: Yeah. Oh, for sure.That's awesome. That's awesome. In that period of 19 to 30, one of the other keywords that I heard you say is that you were chasing a lot of the things that you quote unquote should tell me a little bit about that. Where did the shoulds come from and what were you chasing?

Justin: Yeah. I mean, the end of the day I was chasing happiness, right? Let's start there. I wasn't happy, like growing up the way that I grew up, it created a lot of limiting beliefs in my life about not being enough and not being lovable and never being who I was meant to be, all those things. So I thought that if I got the money and the cars and all the things and the house, then all of a sudden people will be like, you're worthy, you figured it out. And then I can say to myself, Oh, I love myself too. Oh, I'm finally happy, and that's what I was doing. I was chasing it cause society said, Hey, go chase these things because that's when you can be happy. And when my mom passed away, I actually went on a three month bender where I was blackout drunk six nights a week. And like self awareness was huge, growing up the way that I did, I learned self awareness at a very, very young age. So I knew I was numbing the pain. I wasn't spiraling down in a sense where I was going to end up a junkie and whatever, I knew what I was doing. But I had a coach at the time who called me one day and she said, Hey, what are you doing tonight? And I said, Oh, I'm going out with some buddies. And she goes, No, you're not. She's like, It's time for you to sit and feel this stuff. And so that night I didn't go out. And I felt all the emotions. And it was a horrible evening. And a lot of crying by myself and all the things. I woke up the next day and I had this weight lifted off of my shoulder and I realized two things. The first thing was my mom didn't die cause she was an addict, my mom died cause she didn't love herself. The second thing was I didn't love myself either. And the funny thing is I tried to then fix that, again with what society said, and I was like, great, I'm going to start this podcast now, I got the fire lit under me again. We're going to start this podcast. It's going to blow up. Everybody's going to listen everywhere, all these things. For a long time it didn't and then all of a sudden it did. People started listening and Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur and Buzzfeed. My face started popping up all over the internet and the business started to grow and I was like, Oh my gosh, people are paying me a lot of money per hour to just talk to them. Like, this is crazy. Um, and I then went, I still don't love myself. I still don't love myself. And I don't know if the lesson is you have to chase these things and get them and then figure it out on your own. Or maybe, Hey, you can listen to this story, but the reality was none of that was my happiness. And I had to begin how to learn how to love myself without any of the outside accolades, without any of those things. And I think really, for me, that was when the work really began, that was when I started to really work on myself and everything else has been a win since then.

Stephanie: Hmm. So another thing you, again, just by talking you're, , uncovering some of the things that I love to dig into and talk about, because one of the things that I have learned from my own journey and from the 75 people I've interviewed so far is that one of the first things that you need to do to get through this transitional phase in your mid to late thirties, early forties, whenever it hits you, is become aware of even just feeling the malaise, the ick, the something's not right, the whatever, but you just talked about being self aware as a teenager and I want to understand how you got to be that way as a teenager. Where did that come from?

Justin: Yeah. I think just the environment, right? So I always say, look, my parents had their own stuff. They were great parents. They love me. They supported me. I always said my mom was my biggest cheerleader in my life, all of those things. But also on the other hand, subconsciously, I knew my parents were making choices over who I was and I had to be, I had no other choice, other than to make sure that I was taking care of myself, because the biggest thing that I had was I didn't know what I wanted in life when I was a kid, but I knew what I didn't want in life, right? I knew I didn't want to end up where they ended up. And so I had to be aware of not only every single action I made, but also what are the actions of other people, right? And when I really became 18, 19, 20 years old, my mom's addiction was probably at its peak at that point, and I didn't know who I'd walk into, right? I didn't know who I was walking into when I'd walk into her house or whatever. So I think when you are unsure of your environment, you have to be self aware in order to protect yourself. And it almost came from a defense more than anything else. Um, I've never really dissected it, so I'm glad you asked that question, but it's more of it was bred out of a self defense because who else was going to be there for me?

Stephanie: Interesting. Yeah. I very much had what you might consider a fairy tale, middle class, two parent, dad worked, mom stayed home with us until my youngest brother was in first grade. And then she went back to college. It was very stable, predictable, and I definitely did not have that kind of self awareness, really until probably into my thirties. So that's why I'm so curious about, and when I was preparing for the interview and reading some of the notes and your bio, I was wondering if, the chaos of that home place is what brings that out in somebody, because it sounds like you got to the bridge earlier than many of us. It sounds like you went through this transition in your early thirties, versus some of us go through it, you know, 35, 40, 45. So that's a really interesting piece of information there to sort of fold into my thesis or my theories.

Justin: You were talking about how you grew up in that picture perfect household, right? I have a friend, his name's Dov Baron. He is in my opinion, a genius like studies neuroscience, but from the emotional standpoint, like all these things. He works with billionaire clients and helps them through trauma that they don't even know exist. Right. And so he had a client come in and he came and sat down and he was like, what was wrong with your childhood? The guy was like, nothing! My parents are great, they took care of me, I didn't have to worry about anything, they were married forever. He goes, I didn't say they weren't great, I didn't say they didn't love you, I said, what was wrong with your childhood? So we all have our own traumas from what we went through. Right. And I think that's something super important to point out as people listen to this, because a lot of times people hear my story and they go, well, I can't relate. Well, yes, you can, because we all have traumas or things we went through. I say to my stepkids all the time, just so you know, you're gonna end up in therapy, and you're gonna talk about me, and that's perfectly fine. Therapy is a healthy thing. And it's not that I'm a bad stepdad, it's just I'm not a perfect human. And it's funny that we don't look at our parents sometimes as humans, you know?

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. I was having a conversation with a girlfriend over the summer and she was talking about her family and her upbringing. Her mom was young, was a teen mom, and she said, I know she did her best, but just because it was her best doesn't mean it didn't cause traumas. It didn't leave marks. It didn't have impacts. So I know exactly what you're saying there are some things about the picture perfect,picket fence, kind of middle class upbringing that had some repercussions later on. So I, don't disagree with you at all, but I'm wondering if that less stable, less predictable place in childhood and teenager hood is what got you to self-awareness sooner. But 1 of the other things I was wondering is through your 20s when you were chasing societal ideals, did you know, in words, I am not happy and I think this will make me happy? Or were you just chasing the money, the car, the achievement, the whatever, because you thought it'll scratch an itch or it'll, you know what I mean? Was it that overt as well? Did you know I'm not happy?

Justin: Um, I think I knew I wasn't happy, it came out in different ways. You know, it's funny, so a couple of things I'll say here, right? Number one, I didn't think I was happy, but I thought the majority of the world wasn't happy. Like I thought it was normal to not be happy, I thought it was a normal to be miserable. But the people who weren't miserable were the people who had the things that society said you need in order to be happy. Right? So I was like, I just gotta keep fighting, I just gotta keep getting there. So that's one thing, but I will also say this: there was a time where my traumas were affecting my life and my relationships. And so I ended up hiring a relationship coach and a therapist because I was like, look, I clearly am the common denominator behind all these relationships that I've had so I need to do something and I didn't know what that was. And that's when I found out like I had abandonment issues and all those things that led to the worthiness stuff. So, I was speaking with my relationship coach at a certain time and I was dating a girl at the time, and we were talking about a situation and she's like, well, how does that make you feel? I was like angry. She's like great, you're allowed to be angry, you just can't be an asshole This was the first time in my life that I was ever given permission to be anything other than happy on the outside

Stephanie: Right.

Justin: I realized that the chasing of what happiness was, was a facade in the first place. I thought happiness was joy. To me, joy is like, you know, skipping through the forest, always with a smile on your face. That's not what I look at happiness as. I believe happiness is just being okay with wherever you're at at any given time, no matter how you're feeling, right? It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be angry. And I think that was kind of the lesson in the sense, was more of like, Oh, this thing that I was chasing actually isn't real. And that's when I had to really kind of dive in and realize that everything that we're searching for is internal, but most of us are searching for it externally. Whether that be in a partner, whether that be in finances, whether that be in acceptance of others, like whatever, um, we're chasing the external when it's all internal of what we need to figure out.

Stephanie: Yeah. Oh God. That is so true. I had,now, I'll say this before I say the word that I'm gonna say, um, through the years, I have gotten into some of the sort of woo woo kind of out there stuff. And a psychic said to me at one point, he said, um, the way that I'm built, the way that I'm made up, if there's something that you think you want to make you feel better, you can't have it until you feel better. Which was kind of mind blowing. It was like, Oh, I want the, any of those things, person, job, money, you know, anything, clothes, even, you know, weight loss, it's like, you know, you can't have it until you feel better about yourself, who you are, then it will come to you or it will come into your life. And so it's a little twist on what you were saying that its an inside job.

Justin: Yeah.


Justin: By the way, I've gotten into the woo woo spiritual stuff too for a number of years now, so I get that. But I think the one thing I heard actually, which totally makes sense, have you ever heard of Andy Frisella?

He's a pretty aggressive podcaster. He owns a massive company called First Form. And he's a polarizing figure, but he says some things that really make sense a lot of times. And he said, if you want wealth in your life, if you want to be healthy, if you want to be in a loving relationship, right? He goes, you have to act as if you're already that person and accept that you're already that person. And then he was like, look, you want to be wealthy, start doing the things wealthy people do. You want to be fit, you start acting like you're already fit. If you want to remain fit, how would you act? And then this was the one that really hit the nail on the head for me. He goes, sleeping's even really weird. In order to fall asleep, you have to pretend you're asleep before you're actually asleep.

Stephanie: Oh

Justin: Right. And I was like, wow. So you have to pretend, not portray, but pretend like you're already that person, and then the world will present that to you, right? You want to be happy, you have to begin to actually be happy. And then the external happens. Like I always say now, like once I figured a lot of this out, like money chases me now, like I have a lot more people that come to me and say, Hey, let me pay you money. Then I say to people, Hey, pay me money. Um, just happens, right? Like when I started to love myself, I found an amazing partner who's now my wife. The things I thought I was going to become afterwards happened before. Like I thought once I found a partner who loved me for who I was, then I would love me for who I was. No, I loved me for who I was first and then I had the partner, right? I started to put in the work ethic of somebody who made good money, and then all of a sudden the money happened and now it goes on kind of repeat, right? It's just like this eye opening kind of moment of like it's really that simple. It's not easy. But it really is that simple to really begin to put success into your life is just to take action in the way that you want it to be. And again, it is a lot of work. It took me a long time, years, to figure out how to begin to love myself. And it's still a work in progress. There's no perfection there, there's still the moments and doubt of like, Oh, you're not enough creeping up in the back of my head, but I know, and I now have some tools that I can really begin to overcome them quicker every single time that happens, if that makes sense.

Stephanie: It does. It does. That's another one of the things that we talk about a lot, people talk about the tools they used to get through this transitional phase andthe tools that helped them get through or get beyond. What are some of the tools that you rely on?

Justin: Yeah.So a couple things. I have four things I do every single day to make sure I'm filling my cup. So somebody who's in the self development space, I realized that my story can impact lives and from that standpoint, I realized, Hey, I want to speak and I want to pour into people, I want to help people through their stuff. The problem is when you're that person, you'll continue to pour and pour and pour until you're empty and then you'll find a way to pour even more. I ask a question on my podcast, every single episode, it's a two part question. The first part is: what is your definition of success? The second part is, what are three things you do every single day to ensure that success for yourself? And I realize that every single person I've interviewed, and I've interviewed people from all walks of life, from world renowned comedians, to movie producers, to athletes, to WWE superstars, like, all of them, right? I realized the common thread were the three things they did every single day were for themselves, to fill their own cup in some way, shape or form. So four things I do every single day to help me through any transition in my life, whether that's getting into my forties, which does scare me a little bit if I had to be honest with you, but also okay. Cause my wife's five years older than me and I realized that not much changes. So the first thing is I move my body in some way, shape or form, whether that's a walk or lifting weights or whatever, I move my body. Second thing is, I do a visualization practice, it's pretty deep, every day, five to 10 minutes, just to visualize where I'm going to understand that there's more, right? There's more coming that's exciting and all those things. The third thing is I learned something new every single day. I do believe what's not growing is dead and so I want to constantly fill my brain with information and knowledge. And the fourth thing is I reach out to somebody I care about every single day and just let them know that I'm thinking about them and that solidifies my relationship. So if we're talking about the transition into 40 and beyond, into my forties, I realized that if I do those four things every single day, my life becomes more fruitful, even as I age. Relationships get better, my health gets better, all those things. And so those are my four non negotiables that I do every single day. And then as I go through the thoughts of those limiting beliefs, those things that overcome, I have a three step process that I do to help me through those harder times when it's really kind of... attacking me in some way, shape, or form. So the first thing is I get uncomfortable, right? You talk about how you just, you're a little woo woo now, right? We're all energy, right? At the end of the day, we're all energy. And so, the part of getting uncomfortable is we have to disrupt the energy that's being stuck in our body right now, in order to move through it. And so, I do something uncomfortable to make sure that I'm getting out of that, whether it's pushing my body in a workout, or, committing to something bigger than myself, or whatever. I do something... big, in order to start to disrupt that energy that's inside of my body. The second thing is I always make sure that I have the right people around me. So I surround myself with the right people to support me through that process because getting uncomfortable is very uncomfortable. And so how do I make sure that I can continue to move through it? And the third thing is I take action. When we take action, everything changes, right? Like nothing works unless we do. And so if we take action through things that we're nervous about, through things that we're scared about, whether it's the next transition of life or whatever, um, we realize that the things that are stuck in our brain, those thoughts, those worries, they're not as bad as we thought, action really disrupts a lot of that discomfort. So those are the couple of things that I do to help me through it. But if I had to be honest with you, I'm not afraid of my forties, I'm afraid of dying. And that's a whole nother conversation. I'm not afraid of dying. Like I, like I'm not, like, I'm not afraid of what happens next. I'm afraid of, I got too much shit to do here. And so I really hope that I can live to a hundred and beyond. I know 40 is not the end, but it's that next threshold of like, Oh, I'm getting closer. I gotta keep putting in the work. You know what I mean?

Stephanie: Yeah. Well, so when I did my 40 drinks project on the year of my 40th birthday, at the end of the year, I was a completely different person than I was at the beginning. I thought like, Whoa, that, that was crazy. And, you know, who knew? And it turns out I wasn't the only one, I'm not the only one, that's kind of what brings me to the podcast and what I'm doing here is, you know, from zero to like 18, there's all kinds of books and resources and anything you'd want to know about developmental stages and what to expect and all this stuff. But once you're an adult, it's like, you're on your own by everything's just adult from here on out. And the fact of the matter is that there are actually developmental stages we continue to face as we age. And so I happened upon this book that sort of underlines that my thesis, the book is called Passages by Gail Sheehy, it was written in the late seventies and she basically says there are these developmental stages. And the 1 that I'm really focused on is the 35 to 45, because most of us face some sort of transition during this period and we go from the what she calls first adulthood, which is where we're just like you were saying, we're doing all the things we should. We're following all the advice of people who are smarter than us and older than us and whose authority we respect. And we're doing all this stuff until we get to a point where we realize. You know, that, which is, that's the place where I, I start calling it the ick, right? It's like that something's not right. What's, you know, and, then we have to start relying on ourselves and our own authority and our own experience and expertise. And that's when we move into that period of what she called second adulthood. Right? The first adulthood is the adult that other people raised and to me, the second adulthood is the adult that you raised, the one that you wanted to become. And I'm just so, intrigued by your story because it sounds very much like if I'm putting you in line with 75 other stories, it sounds like you got to that bridge at 30, 31, 32, and, and really did a lot of that same work that I'm hearing that people did at, 35, 38, 42, 46, you know, that I started at 40 and, continue to do 12 years later. So one there are two questions that are still in my brain for you. The first is you met your now wife four years ago, you're 39, so you met her in your mid thirties.

Justin: Yeah.

Stephanie: If you had met her earlier, would it have worked?

Justin: No, for either of us.

Stephanie: Why not?

Justin: So I had to go and do the work that I talked about, right? With the relationship coach and, the therapist and all those things. And so I did an exercise with my relationship coach where she had me write down, and this goes back to self awareness, by the way, but she had me write down like everything I wanted in a woman. You know, what does she do for a type of career? Like meaning her financial status, what does she look like? Does she support you or is she independent? Is she all the things? And I made this list. She was great. Now, are you the man that deserves that woman? And the answer was very much a resounding no. Like I had to become the man that deserved a woman like that. And so I did the work. Uh, it wasn't about me lowering my standards. It wasn't about me accepting somebody just because that's who I could get. It was about doing the work to get the woman I felt like I wanted to support me and be part of my life going forward. And so I had to do that work. And so if I met her before, she'd been like, you're a joke, bro. Now She was married for 10 years, had two kids, got a divorce, was divorced for a number of years before she met me. I think 4 or five years before she met me. And she did the work too, right? Like we both were able to kind of individually put the work in. So now we're together and we can do the work together. So no, and I think it's funny, you were talking about like, the adult your parents raised and the adult that you've raised. Right,the two transitions, mine was very much like the bachelor forever Justin, and then the family man Justin and that was my transition. Because I've lived on my own since I was 18, so for me, the transition of adulthood for me was like, probably my early twenties was the adult my parents raised and then mid to late twenties was the one I was trying to figure out. Um, but I think the big transition of my thirties was from, I'm a bachelor forever and love that. It wasn't about misogyny or like, I don't need anybody. It was very much like I like my life, like I'm with this and then meeting my wife and going, Oh God, I guess I'm getting married one day. So that was the big transition for me. And so there's a different focus now in my adult life compared to where it was four years ago, five years ago, for sure. Because your focus is just different when there's a family involved, right? There's kids, uh, who I look at as my own, there's a wife that I want to support and protect and do those things. And by the way, she's a baller. Like she'd be fine on her own, but I want to be that person, you know? And so that's the transition for me now.

Stephanie: Yeah. One of the things in my 40th year that happened during, during my 40 Drinks Project that demonstrated to me from an external point of view that I was changing as a human being and I was different at the end of the year than I was at the beginning was that I had met the man who would become my husband and that I was the person who he would be attracted to and engaged by, where I know even two or three years earlier, I was still in my wild party girl phase and he would have been amused by that for a month or two then would have been like, you know, okay. All right, see yah,, it's too much for me. so I asked the question out of out of curiosity because that's certainly how I was as I was going through that transition. It's so funny too, because last night on the couch, I forget, we were watching something and somebody is like, are they getting divorced? And he looked up some celebrity couple. Oh, I know it was Sofia Vergara and her husband, Joe, whatever, M

who was in Magic Mike, and they just got divorced. And he was looking it up and he said, Oh, they were married for seven years. And the official thing was they grew apart. And I looked at him and I was like, babe, we've been married for seven years and I feel like we're just getting started, like we're just like, Oh, it was, it was such an interesting compare/contrast that in seven years, somebody could be in a different place than we were. But well, first of all, we're not in Hollywood, so I'm sure that's its own twist into everything. But, okay. So now, the last thing I want to wander through with you is you will be 40 a year from now. You just turned 39. And so, tell me what 40 is doing in your brain. Tell me what it feels like, tell me what you're thinking about it, tell me what you think it means? I want to hear more about it.

Justin: So it's interesting. I think it changes every day. it just changes every single day. The number 40 for me is not ultimately scary. Like I kind of look at birthdays, like everybody celebrates when I'm a year old. Well, no, you're a day older than you were yesterday. A year doesn't happen overnight. So with that being said, I jokingly say to my wife and people that, Oh my God, I'm going to be 40. But I don't, I don't think 40 is the end of it. And I, and this is something that's really weird. I don't know if anybody's ever said this to you, but even when I was a kid, I couldn't wait until I was 50.

Stephanie: Oh

Justin: Um, and don't know I don't have an answer as to why. But like 50 seems like that's the number for me. Like, it doesn't mean there aren't moments of worry or whatever. And I feel like 50 to me has always been that year that like, oh, good. Now I don't have to worry about anything, like, there's zero stress with any of these things, right? So let me stress through my 40s and figure out how I'm gonna make that happen by 50. But yeah, it's weird, I'm not overly worried about it. But it solidifies, I think, like, you know, getting married at 38, almost 39, I think everything's really becoming solidified in my life now. So maybe more positive thinking into 40 of like, wow, like, yes, I've got plenty of time left. I'm making sure I'm taking certain supplements that will make me live a long time, anti aging and all this stuff. And I don't think I look, coming up on 40. I don't think I'm quite looking that way. Um, the gray hairs are coming in though, big time, my barber reminds me. But yeah, I think I'm excited for this next phase.

40 now is not what 40 was 20 years ago, You know? I look at my grandparents when they were 60, they looked like they were 110. Actually, this is crazy, when I was 34, I found a home video. Somehow it was like on the internet. I don't know if my dad uploaded it. You couldn't Google it, but it was like sent to me in my email and I'm watching this video and I'm there as a little kid and my dad's there and I'm doing the math and I was 34 when I was watching it, I was doing the math and my dad was 34 in the video. I'm like why do you look like you're 55 years old? I said this to him, like, why? He was like, it was the style. I'm like, it's more than a style. It was crazy. So I'm excited. Longest answer to that question ever, but I'm excited for 40, clearly even more excited for 50, and to see what's beyond that for sure.

Stephanie: Yeah, you're exactly right about the concept of the numbers has changed over time. Here's one, I think a year or two ago that really made it crazy for me: If you think of the Golden Girls, that show back in the eighties, fabulous show, right? The Golden Girls in the first episode of their show were younger than the Sex and the City girls were when they came back for their reboot two years ago.

Justin: Yeah, I've, I've seen that. It's crazy, crazy.

Stephanie: Okay, so this is what 53 looks like in 1989 and in you know, 2020. I mean, yeah, it blows your mind. That's the other interesting thing about exploring the number 40 is like, for a lot of people, forty's not even halfway anymore. Just this morning, it's interesting that it came to me today. So I, at the beginning of August turned 52 and I just realized I easily have 40 years left. My grandmother on my dad's side died when she was 92. And on my mom's side, my grandmother was killed by a drunk driver, much younger than she should have been, but her sister lived until she was 99 and a half. So, you know, the ladies on both sides of my families have some pretty significant longevity. It just struck me, I'm like, I have 40 years left. I have 40 years left, you know, and so when you start thinking about the number 40, it's not as terrifying as it was in the nineties and the eighties and the seventies and the sixties, right. It meant something different back then.

Justin: But this is why you having these conversations is so important though, right? Because I think so many people are still in that sticker shock of 40. And I think more than anything, I would encourage people who feel stuck in their forties of it's over or whatever, it's really just beginning. It's really just beginning and they're probably like, Oh, this young whipper snapper at 39 years old telling me what's up. But it's true because I mean, I didn't get married till I was 38. That's pretty late, right? That's pretty late for most people. And so it's just beginning. And also by the way, to speak to the living a lot longer, my grandmother's currently 94. She's still alive. my mom's mom. Uh, and my great grandmother lived to be 97. I knew my great grandmother for the first 13 years of my life and there's not people that can say that. Right. So I hope that I can, I can outlast plus with all the technology they're going to have over the next 40 or 50 years. Like, are you kidding me? Like, come on, give me 200. if I'm a healthy 200, I'll go 200. Like I'll go 200.

Stephanie: I heard something recently that the kids that are being born today have a very significant likelihood of living to like 125 because of all the advances.

Justin: So that'll be like the new 80.

Stephanie: Exactly. Right. And 40 you'll be practically a teenager by then.

Justin: Yeah. The unfortunate part is they don't move out now until they're thirties. Like Oh my goodness.

Stephanie: Good point. Good point. Well, Justin, I just want to thank you so much for joining me and for really sharing your story. I've really enjoyed getting to know you and I want to thank you for being with me.

Justin: Yeah, Stephanie.. Thank you so much for having me. This was a lot of fun. I appreciate it. And hopefully I'll see you at Podfest. Just throwing it out there.

Stephanie: Hopefully I will. Yeah.

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