Before becoming a champion for the podcasting industry, Larry Roberts had dreams of becoming a martial arts champion. A child of the ’80s and a fan of “The Karate Kid,” ninjas and the movies of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Segal, he vigorously pursued karate and, later, mixed martial arts. That dream was crushed by limitations from a birth defect that should have killed him by age 4 but didn’t. He replaced his pursuit of sports glory with a vigorous pursuit of drinking and partying. By the time he turned 40, he was stuck in a dead end job and deep in alcoholism and felt like life was pointless. But at 41, he reached out for help and went to rehab. Today, he works as hard as he ever did, but now it’s to elevate podcasters instead of crushing opponents.
After burning out in the corporate world, Red Hat Media founder Larry Roberts took a dive into a new realm of opportunities. His goal was simple: to find excitement in what he was doing every day.
He found it in droves.
Since 2014, Larry has been making himself a household name within the podcasting industry, speaking on stages of national and global trade events including Podfest Multimedia Expo and Podcast Movement, hosting shows that reached the top 1.5% of podcasts, and being named to Podcast Magazine’s 40 Over 40 in Podcasting.
With technology and media changing faster than many can hit play, Larry and his team have committed themselves to staying at the forefront of the industry. Larry is aptly seen as a thought leader in the AI space, teaching workshops and hosting speaking engagements to help creators utilize new technology, and will continue to push business owners out of their comfort zone and into a chapter of innovation and growth.
Turning 40 and Outgrowing Cobra Kai Energy 🐍
Larry Roberts was born with an inverted sternum that would have suffocated him before age 5 if he hadn’t had reconstructive surgery. Because of this, his childhood was pretty sheltered. He went to private school for most of his life, except for two semesters – one in eighth grade and one in high school, both of which ended up in fights and drove him back to private school.
Admittedly, Larry has always had a mouth on him (which is what makes him a great podcaster) and it got him in trouble almost everywhere he went.
It being the early 1980s, a teenage boy would have been influenced by the Karate Kid, the emergence of ninjas in Western popular culture and the movies of Claude Van Damme and Steven Segal. Larry thought, if he could only fight, then he’d be able to solve all his problems. So he started studying karate and has experience with a wide variety of martial arts. Through his teens and twenties he studied and taught karate.
When the UFC debuted in 1993, Larry knew he wanted to go to the “big show.” He wanted to be a professional fighter so he trained with the best coaches he could find and fought in a handful of low-level professional fights.
He was on his way to a professional fight, the biggest fight of his career, and the night before the match he was training with his coach when another coach walked by and said seven words that changed his life, “your cardio is a bit suspect, bro.”
Larry was crushed because he had invested everything into being ready for this competition. Because of his birth defect, his lungs had not developed normally, which left him with about 60% lung capacity.
Larry ended up pulling out of that fight. But he went home and told everyone he had won because he couldn’t face the prospect of letting people down or not meeting expectations. Fighting had become his whole identity for about 20 years and it was ripped away that night.
He went through an extreme identity crisis, which led him to start partying. He became the guy who hosted the big parties for every pay-per-view UFC event. He was still involved tangentially, doing some coaching and cornering for friends.
Professionally, he transitioned from just having a job that would allow for him to train to having a corporate career that included the 9 to 5 and then happy hour with the gang afterwards. They had a local spot that they’d get to by 5:15 and stay until it closed every night of the week. He and his crowd got to the point where they’d go through 4 handles of booze every week plus a couple cases of cold beer – on top of what they drank when they were out at the bars. He kept this up for a couple years.
The first time he thought he might have a problem, he was in a meeting at work and hadn’t had a drink in about six hours and started sweating profusely from the DT’s – or withdrawal. But instead of getting help, he doubled down. It got to the point where he was only going three to four hours at a time without having alcohol.
Then one day, he had an epiphany and knew that if he didn’t get help, he’d be dead soon so he called his best friend. Within hours he was checked into an inpatient rehab facility, where he spent seven weeks and he’s been sober ever since. He was 41. He had done so much nerve damage during his drinking days that he was in pain almost constantly and walked with a cane for several years until his body healed.
The year before, when he turned 40 he cried because he thought life was all over. He thought all his opportunities were gone. He felt like he was in a dead end job. He was at the peak of his alcoholism. He felt like his life was in shambles.
Shortly after he got out of rehab, though, he found podcasting. His first taste was Joe Rogan’s podcast, since Joe Rogan has been the commentator for UFC since its inception. He started a comedy podcast with a friend, found success with that and went on to start another podcast. He made his way into the network of people talking, coaching and presenting about the business of podcasting. In 2021, he left his corporate job and now works in the podcasting industry full time.
Today, he finds the same sense of fulfillment from speaking on stage at an event that he used to get from fighting in a ring. Now he’s known as a subject matter expert instead of a kicking and punching expert. In his fighting days, his goal was to crush his opponents and make them feel less than. Today, his goal is still to perform at a very high level, but now he works to elevate others instead of breaking them down.
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
Do you have the Ick?
Download Stephanie’s guide to the Ick to diagnose whether you or someone you love is suffering from the Ick. www.fortydrinks.com/ick
Listen, Rate & Subscribe
Stephanie: Hey Larry, thanks for being here with me today.
Larry: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here. I've been looking forward to this one.
Stephanie: Oh, thank you so much. I've been looking forward to having you as well. We originally met at Podfest. Interestingly, we're recording this about a week before my one year anniversary as a podcaster, so I'm very excited to have made it this far.
Larry: Yeah. Congrats.
Stephanie: Thanks. It's funny, I used Podfest as sort of an instigating factor for me to start the podcast because I spent six or seven or eight months doing like, ready, aim, ready, aim, ready, aim, lots of aiming. And then, I finally registered for Podfest and I thought, well, if I'm gonna go, I better have something to show for it. So I launched my podcast like four or five weeks before
the 2022 Podfest and took one of your sessions then and was very impressed. I was actually first a little prickled by you cuz you're very real. My experience of you was you gave me a couple of insights around the podcast, which was so new at the time, I didn't really have any great messaging down and you really pushed me on that. And then we met again this year and
Larry: Now I'm embarrassed. I'm like, oh my gosh, what did I say?
Stephanie: You said great stuff. Well, come on. Anybody tells you your stuff is not great, you're gonna get flustered.
Larry: It hurts a little bit, sure
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. But it was all it was. You were, you were right on. So then we met again this year, and I told you I was a little clearer on what I was doing, and when I told you about my podcast is about turning 40, you said to me, I cried when I turned 40.
Larry: Yeah. Yeah.
Stephanie: And I was like, all right, that's it. Let's go. But before we get there, let's back up a little bit. Why don't we start in North Texas, railroad town, early 1970s.
Larry: Yeah, that's where I come from. I'm from a little town in north Texas called Denison. It sits right on the border of Texas and Oklahoma. It's probably best known because it was a railroad town. I don't know if you watched like 1923 or Yellowstone or any of those shows that are out right now. Not 19 23, 18 83. Sorry,
Yeah, the 1880 one, whichever 82, 83, whatever the series is. But they mentioned that they're going up through Denison and they pit stop there for supplies and whatnot. So, it was definitely one of the hotspots as Texas evolved and as Texas grew and expanded. It's also known for the Denison Dam. It's one of the largest manmade dams built in the country. And it's also, it was featured on Jeopardy not too long ago, for the largest manmade lake, Lake Texoma. Because it goes right there along Texas and Oklahoma, somebody creatively said, well, let's call it Texoma. That's where I'm from. Spent a lot of time on the lake growing up. I'm still in Texas to this day. Growing up, bounced back and forth between Denison and Stockton, California.
Stephanie: Okay. All right. You were born with a birth defect.
Larry: Yeah. I don't know if that's the politically correct term these days, but that's what we called it growing up, so it's all good.That's what I
Stephanie: call it.
What what's, What's the political correct term?
Larry: You know, I don't know, it's probably maybe an anomaly, not a defect. We can't say defect, but I was very defective, in the fact that I was born with an inverted sternum. So instead of my sternum being convex, it was concave. And as I continued to grow, my sternum was growing inward. My lungs and my heart and everything was growing outward. So I was literally being suffocated by my own body. Uh, and, uh, they had said that I would've made it to age five. I would've grown myself to death, literally. Uh, so they went in and I had to have complete reconstructive surgery on my chest. They broke my sternum in multiple places and reshaped it took some ribs off and put 'em back. I mean, all kinds of crazy stuff. But apparently it worked. So,
cuz here I am today.
Stephanie: That sounds terrible. Yeah.
Larry: It probably wasn't a great time. I don't remember a whole lot about it, but I'm pretty thankful that I don't remember a whole lot about it. I remember waking up one night in extreme pain and being rushed to the hospital after the surgery. I don't know exactly what the situation was, but that's really the only memory that I have from the whole ordeal. But you know, it saved my life, but it left me in a very, very fragile state and it kind of set the tone for how my childhood would proceed. So that was interesting.
Stephanie: So fragile. You said you were sheltered. Your parents probably tried to keep you away from a whole lot of bumping and bouncing and pointy things.
Larry: Yeah, I mean, that was the goal. And I went to private school essentially my entire life. There was a couple of times, I think in eighth grade where I tried public school for a semester went, eh, I'm gonna go on back to private school. And then I tried the same thing. Uh, I believe it was my sophomore year in high school that didn't work out either. So we went back to our private school. So I, I don't count those couple of semesters that I ventured out. So yeah, we were in private school our whole life. So, But it was interesting because I come from a really poor background. At one point I specifically remember living in the back of a trailer park. Interestingly, I don't remember the surgery, but I remember living in what we called the cracker box because what it was was essentially the maintenance shed slash house of the trailer park that we lived in. It was just a one room shelter essentially, and everything built out of cinder blocks and two by sixes. Those big wooden spools that cables come on, that was like our dinner table. Plastic milk crates reused to make shelves and bookcases. Yeah. So it was interesting to be in that environment, yet still go to a private school. And, uh, that dichotomy existed pretty much through my entire life. My grandmother paid for all the tuition to private schools, so that's why I was even able to go there. But my mom and my stepdad who raised me, they were never extremely well off, um, until, uh, I mean, I was probably 17, 18 before we even lived in a house. I grew up in a trailer, you know, so, uh, yeah, it was, it was, uh, it was interesting.
Stephanie: Wow. When you say you tried public school, what was it about public school that didn't work for you?
Larry: Uh, the whoopings that I took, cuz my mouth got me in trouble. Yeah. Yeah. I got in fights both times. Uh, now the second time the high school gig was not my fault. The eighth grade was probably my fault. Yeah. I probably mouthed off back to the guy and he proceeded to show me what was going on. Uh, but the high school thing, I literally got jumped by three dudes in the hallway in between classes. They accused me of it was, we were old enough to be taking driver's ed and the, the school had offered simulators. So they had a trailer out in the parking lot that had simulators. And I don't know if you've ever experienced this, but the simulators, they had keys and it's almost like a video game. And, you know, so many of us have come in this trailer. We'd sit at these video game terminals and we would learn to drive. Uh, but someone stole all the keys to the simulators. And the instructor said that they were gonna fail the whole class if the keys weren't returned. And for some reason, the finger was pointed at me for stealing the keys. I did not steal the keys. Had nothing to do with it whatsoever and three of the guys from the football team decided they were going to salvage their time in driver's ed by beating the keys out of me. Didn't work. I I didn't have 'em. Um, so, uh, and up until recently, cause I just bought these teeth, uh, my, I, I went my whole life with a chipped tooth. One of these front teeth down the bottom was chipped because of that situation there in my sophomore year and my attempt to go back to public school. So after that whooping, uh, I said, you know what, I'm gonna go back to my school was called Glad Tidings. I graduated from Glad Tidings Christian School in Sherman, Texas, which is just right next door to Denison where I was born. Uh, so yeah, I said, I'm gonna go back to Glad Tidings, where I was the class president. I started on the basketball team. All my friends were there. It just did not make sense for me to stay in this public school setting where I knew no one, and I was just the outcast. So I, packed my bags and went back home.
Stephanie: So it was your choice to go back to private school. It wasn't your mom saying, this is dangerous for you.
Larry: No, cuz I tended to, you know, as a podcaster, I have a mouth and I've always had a mouth on me. And that mouth always got me in trouble. It was interesting cuz growing up I was always because of the fragile state and always because of the protection, I always wanted to be that tough guy. I always wanted to be the fighter. Of course, what was it, 84, I think maybe 84, 82 Karate Kid came out. And Daniel san getting whooped on and he learns a little wax on, wax off and he is whooping everybody. So of course I'm thinking that could be the thing. Ninjas emerged on the scene in the early eighties as well. So I was watching all the Ninja movies thinking, oh my, these are like real superheroes. I wanna be a ninja.
Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. Jean-Claude Van Damme
Larry: Yeah, the Van Damme movies and Stephen Segal movies, all those were being fed to us. And I'm thinking, man, if I just knew how to fight, uh, I could solve all my problems. Again, I had a mouth on me. I was very, um, uh, I was very prickly growing up and it got me in a lot of trouble at home, at school, on the playground, in the trailer park. It got me in trouble everywhere. So fighting was a pretty common occurrence growing up for me. So getting whooped on at school wasn't really the biggest surprise. On the flip side, I'm also a super emotional guy. I told you I cried when I turned 40, and we'll get into that. But I'm a bit of a crier and I'm super emotional and even though fighting was always part of what I did, the physical part of it really wasn't what hurt the most. It was losing that hurt the most. In this situation in my sophomore year was being falsely accused. It was not being believed, it was, uh, just being targeted. So I didn't know necessarily how to digest that from an emotional or mental perspective.
Larry: because, and I don't know how, how deep we'll get into it, but, karate became a way of life. I mean, I literally started training in karate and I learned how to fight. And, uh, back then, especially Texas Black Belts had a reputation for being some of the toughest black belts in the entire country. And although I had a black belt, I ended up going to another school and I realized I had no idea how to fight and they taught me how to fight and turned me into a real Texas black belt, so I was very thankful for that.
Stephanie: Well wait. Let's jump there. When did you start karate?
Larry: I started karate in my mid-teens officially, I don't remember exactly how old I was, but, did manage to start some karate there. Got my black belt in TaeKwonDo. I also have black belts in American karate, and I'm a second degree black belt in American Kenpo karate, trained boxing, kickboxing. Pretty much anything that's a martial arts, I've at least dabbled in it to some degree. I was a kickboxer. I did manage to have a couple of very low level professional fights. I went nine and 0 as a kickboxer, so standing on my feet and kicking and punching was always pretty good at that. But when mixed martial arts hit the scene, or UFC hit the scene back in 1993, that just reshaped everyone's perspective on what fighting was and I got into mixed martial arts and that was really my goal was I wanted to go to the big show. I wanted to fight in the UFC. Sounds cheesy as can be, but my teammate, he went to the big show. The guys that I was training with, I trained with several UFC fighters over the years, back in the nineties.
Stephanie: So through your teens and your twenties, you were really focused on karate martial arts.
Larry: That was it. Yeah. There were years where I made maybe a thousand, $2,000 because all I did was teach karate, but I didn't care. I didn't care about making money. I only cared about being the best fighter that I could be. It sounds so cheesy, but it's so true. That's, that was it. It was life. Everything was karate.
Stephanie: And tell me, did you ultimately end up feeling like the tough guy? Did you ever accomplish that?
Larry: Uh, almost, well, not almost, but to, to the worst degree because already mentioned I had a mouth. So now to follow along with the mouth, I had an ego.
Stephanie: So now you turned into Johnny, not Daniel.
Larry: I definitely turned into Johnny. I was just not a good person in my late twenties. It was good at all. No. Um, so much so that the karate school I mentioned earlier, that literally turned me into a real karate Texas black belt. Uh, I got kicked outta the school
Larry: because my ego got so big and I acted so horrifically and didn't really follow any of the rules of the karate school. We weren't supposed to date karate moms, but Ol' Larry was dating karate moms and meaning that we taught their kids karate and we couldn't date the moms of our karate students. But I broke that rule. I broke every rule you could possibly break because I just felt I was so untouchable and I thought I was just the cat daddy at the time.
Stephanie: How very Cobra Kai of you.
Larry: It was very Cobra kai. Yeah, was terrible. But, one fateful day I got the call from the owner of the school, Rick Arnold is his name, mr. Arnold, call me up and he goes, here's the scene: you can either go to the karate school and leave the key under the mat of the back door, or I'll be there about 5:30 and I'll take it from you. Which do you prefer? So I promptly hung up the phone, got it in my car, drove over to the karate school and just tucked the key under the mat. Cuz I mean, obviously he was gonna give me a pretty solid whooping.
Larry: So years and years and years passed, but Rick and I, we finally made up, and we are still friends to this day. I've actually done some work with him just over the last few months, worked with him to get certified as an official kickboxing referee at the national level. So I got back involved to a certain degree, but yeah, that was a lesson learned.
Stephanie: So you're training like a madman. This is your only passion and interest in life, and your goal was to be a professional fighter. You told me earlier that you trained with one of the best trainers in the world. Was that Mr. Arnold?
Larry: No. Well, no disrespect to Mr. Arnold, but it was someone else.
I was at Rick's school primarily. But up in Sherman and Denison at the time, we didn't have a lot of jiu-jitsu coaches - Jiu-jitsu's ground game, you know, wrestling and rolling around and choking each other out and submission holds and all that. It was still so new to the United States and it hadn't made it to some of the smaller towns. It was only available in big Metroplexes like Dallas and Houston, that sort of thing. And we would regularly fly to Houston once a month and we would train down there in jiu-jitsu. We did manage to develop, ah, some ground game, all of my losses come from submissions, chokes to be specific. So, uh, never really got it all that well honed, I did okay, but not great. But I was training, actually, was wrapping training and we were on our way to Louisiana for a fight. It was a big pro fight, on a significant card, uh, at least at the time. And we went down to Houston and we were training with who at the time, he was the uncrowned 155 pound champion of the UFC. They didn't title at the time for that division, they had the division, but they hadn't introduced the belt yet. But Yves Edwards at the time was considered the lightweight champion, even though it wasn't official. So I was down there training with Yves Edwards and his coach, who was Saul Soliz. And Saul Soliz has since passed. So, uh, that's a very tragic, he passed to Covid. Uh, but I was rolling with Eve, uh, rolling just means wrestling doing ju-jitsu, and, Saul walked by and he just looked at me and he said seven words that just changed everything. And he, uh, looked at me and he goes, your cardio's a bit suspect, bro. And I had a fight the next day, like the biggest fight of my career. And Saul Soliz at the time he trained Rico Rodriguez and Tito Ortiz, and a lot of people who don't even watch the UFC know who Tito Ortiz is. And this guy was his coach at the time, and he was on top of the mixed martial arts world, literally globally. Uh, and for him to say that to me at the time, it just crushed me because I knew I had invested everything in being ready for this step up in competition. I had coaches at every level. I had cardio coaches. I had strength and conditioning coaches, I had jiu-jitsu coaches, I had kickboxing, I had coaches for everything. I knew I'd worked my backside off getting ready for this fight. And for him to say that, I was like, wow.
Stephanie: And that hit though, because, and this goes all the way back to childhood, right?
Larry: Yeah, yeah. It hits because it does go back to childhood because the birth defect that I had, although they were able to save my life, my lungs are extremely deformed to this day, I'm very narrow. I mean, I'm a big guy. I'm about 230 pounds, but my shoulders, they're not very wide. I don't have those big, wide shoulders that the manly men have - very, very narrow. And a lot of that is because of my birth defect. If you see a x-ray of my chest, my lungs go up to about my clavicle and they go down to almost my hips. They're very long and tubular - very weird looking lungs. Just because they weren't able to grow and develop the way that they were supposed to as a child. And it left me with about 60% lung capacity and I found that out cuz I was trying to get certified for scuba. I was taking the lung capacity test. And actually it wasn't scuba, it was SCBA because I was on a hazmat team at a big company that I worked for. And in order to pass the test, you had to take a lung capacity test to wear a scuba or without underwater part, just SCBA and honestly, I didn't pass the test, but little girl, I was able to sweet talk her a little bit and I blew really, really, really, really hard. And she passed me. So it worked out. But that's how I found out that my lung capacity was what it was. And then I did some further testing after learning that to try to maximize my opportunities as a potential professional fighter. Yeah, so I only had 60% lung capacity and I knew this going in, but as a karate guy or a tough guy or whatever, you're not allowed to say that kind of stuff in the gym, you know? I couldn't look back up at Saul go, yeah, but Saul, I only have 60% lung capacity,
Stephanie: Right. Aren't I doing great for what I got?
Larry: Yeah. Yeah. Cause they don't care. They're not there to care. They're there to train. So I couldn't say that, but in my head I just, I knew it, it clicked right then, that moment. And, I ended up actually pulling outta that fight. I got quote unquote sick.
Stephanie: Oh, you didn't even fight.
Larry: No. We went to the fights cuz my teammate, Pete Spratt who did make it to the UFC, he was fighting for his first world title that night on this card as well. But I ended up pulling out because I, I mean, it just completely crushed my confidence. It crushed everything. Uh, and I was too sick to fight, but I wasn't too sick to corner Pete for his world championship fight. So I'm right there, cage side yelling my head off, telling him what to do. So, anybody that was there knew I wasn't sick. They knew I just punked out. But one of the worst things is I went back home and I carried this lie for years. I told everybody I won. I said, cuz it wasn't te Yeah, exactly. Yeah. The ego was still so big and everybody had all these expectations built in and I didn't wanna let anybody down. I didn't wanna look like a punk. I didn't wanna look like I wasn't the tough guy.
Stephanie: You didn't wanna look like a failure.
Larry: Well that too, that's the biggest thing, yeah. And that goes back to what I was saying earlier, you know, the fighting part, don't get me wrong, getting punched in the face sucks. There's no ifs ands or buts about it, but that doesn't hurt nearly as much as the pain of losing or the pain of failing or the pain of rejection or the pain of not living up to expectations. And that's what all of this was, that's what the whole fight thing was for me. It was to be a winner, to be accepted. And if you didn't accept me, we can talk about it. We're not gonna talk verbally, you know I
Stephanie: Yeah, I do.
Larry: That was my whole identity. And that identity was ripped away when that realization happened right there, down in Houston, Texas.
Stephanie: So you're doing all of this processing externally. You were doing it all via the fighting, via the tough guy stuff you were trying to prove and process health and worthiness and all of that sort of outside of you. And then once that got taken away, man.
Larry: Oh, what do I do now? What do I do now? My entire life, I mean, 20 years, you know, ish of my life was dedicated to fighting, whether it was trained or not. Whether it was throwing ninja stars in the front yard or the trailer park or whatever it was, you know, everything revolved around martial arts, everything.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah, I went through an extreme identity crisis and that led me to start really partying and I kind of had started partying a little bit even before the realization, cuz again, the ego was way outta control. So, and when you're the tough guy and you're running around, you know, we may or may not have went to clubs and hoped something would happen. I'm not saying we ever instigated, but you know, were out there doing our thing. And so you're late twenties at this point. You're, Okay. Yep.
So if you told people that you fought and won, how did you then communicate or message that you were giving it all up?
Larry: Slowly. I slowly started to just back away from it cuz I stayed involved to a certain degree. I started cornering fighters and started doing a little bit of coaching you know, I was still involved and still on the fringe living vicariously through all my friends that were still competing, whether it be on the, the lower professional levels or all the way up to the UFC. And it was great cuz I was the guy that everybody come to my house for the fights. Even to this day, I've never missed a UFC Pay-Per-View. And we're up to like, I think tomorrow night is UFC 282, that's just of the numbered ones. There's so many in between that aren't even numbered. I was the guy's house that everybody, I mean, people would drive from Dallas to Sherman to come to my house for these massive UFC parties. Cause back then you only had the UFC about every three months, wasn't every freaking weekend like it is now. And it was a massive event. So I still had all those connections and all of that. Everybody was still coming to Larry's house for the show and, you know, we would still do the whole hangout.
Stephanie: It's almost like you were changing sides, right? Instead of you being the fighter now, you were gonna be the support guy, the coach, the corner guy.You were just sort of transitioning your identity a little bit with regards to you being the champ versus you supporting all the champs.
Larry: Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent. And like I say, living vicariously through them. It's kind of cool when you see your best friend sitting there on Pay-Per-View, you know. You're like, oh my God, that's insane. And of course there's a little envy and a little jealousy in there too, that I couldn't be the one that was there with him or be there in the ring, you know, uh, octagon or whatever back in the day. It was a very difficult time and everything started transitioning for me to just being the party guy. I fell deep into corporate, I started going, well, okay, now I can, cuz used to, I just had a job so that I could train. You know, cause I, I wasn't sponsorship and, and whatnot back then, at least not on a high level. And definitely not for the guy that can't make it to the big show. I had my job and whatever and I'd go to work and my whole goal was to get five o'clock so I could go straight to the gym, you know? Um, but then I started going, okay, how can I get more involved in the office and blah, blah, blah. And then in the corporate life, it's very typical to you do your nine to five and then you go over to the happy hour afterwards. And, at the time there was a place called Fox and the Hound, which was two blocks from the office and Fox and the Hound it was a nice little, almost cigar esque type place with four or five pool tables and nice seating and we turned it into our very own Cheers. I mean, everybody knew our name. We knew every, all the wait staff, we knew all the bartenders. And we'd get there at 5:15 and we'd close the place down literally every night.
Larry: And that was just life for a couple years, honestly. Then I met my wife, who I'm still married to today, we've been married 21 years. But I met her at work, so, uh, that was interesting. I met her there and she gave me some sob story, like she didn't wanna go out with me. And we went to Fox and the Hound one night and she comes walking around the corner with like, my best friend. And I looked at my other friend that I'm already there with. I'm like, what's she doing with that dude? Because I, my understanding is, you know, this is her situation. So she sat down and I went right up to her. I said, look, you told me this story, but now you're walking in with this cat. What's up? So, uh, again, the mouth, right? Um, so anyways, we set a date. We went out on a date and, uh, been together ever since. just kind of how that worked out.
Stephanie: sometimes the mouth comes in handy.
Larry: The mouth has gotten me everywhere I am, whether that's good or bad. The mouth has been the key to my success across the board.
Stephanie: All right. All right, fair enough. So you're deep into corporate. You are drinking and partying every night, man, that's lot.
Larry: It got crazy. I mean, it got to the point where, uh, well, I don't remember what, what are they, 750 milliliters. The big ones like, look almost like a gallon,
Stephanie: A handle.
Larry: Yeah, the handle, we'd go through four handles a week, not to mention couple cases of cold beer on top of that. So,
Stephanie: oh God.
Larry: Yeah, I mean, could have bought a house for what I was spending in alcohol by the time it reached its peak.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And were you still fully functional at work? Were you still able to do all the things?
Larry: I dunno if we call it fully functional. I was up until probably the last two years before it all came to a head. Maybe even not that long. Maybe by the last year and a half. I remember the very first time I started seeing effects of uh-oh. This is outta control. As I got called into a meeting and for whatever reason, I know what the reason was. I mean, I was, it was like the first time I was ever starting to go through deets or detox I hadn't had a drink in, I don't know, six hours, you know. Uh, so I got into that meeting and for some reason my body just starts to just sweat profusely so bad that my khakis looked camouflaged. I mean, it was just because the sweat was, it was just the most insane sweat. It was like I was in a sauna, but I was in the freaking corporate meeting room there. So that was the first time I went, Hmm, I think I got a problem.
Larry: But from that point forward, instead of fixing the problem, I just made it worse. So I started drinking more and more and more and more and more and more. And, before it all came to a head, I got to where I was, and my wife, she got caught up too. She was a heavy drinker as well. She's sober as well. She managed to do it without going to rehab. So, massive congratulations to her, super, super powerful in making that happen. But, we would literally get off work and we'd come straight to the house and we kept the gin in the fridge cuz the gin was our choice. And we would literally have a side-by-side sink. And I don't know if you may wanna blur this or something, or bleep it, but we would stand side by side and do that first shot after work. And we would do it over the sink because we knew it was coming back up
Stephanie: Oh. Really.
Larry: Our body would cuz reject it and go, Nope. So we would do that first one over the sink. Do the second one. Oh. Okay, that's a little bit better. Three shots back to back to back. Boom, boom, boom. Knowing the first one was coming back. And I had gotten that bad because even before we got that bad, I started to where we'd drink pretty much till we passed out every night. Did this for eight, 10 years, something that like that. But then I got to where, I would wake up at one, two o'clock and I'd do three or four more shots till I passed back out. Then I got to where I would get up in the morning, go, God, I just really, I need a little something, something. And I'd wait for her to turn her hair dryer on getting ready for work and I'd do three or four more while she was doing her hair. She didn't know, right. Then cuz we both worked together. So we drove to work together, we commuted together. We only worked 10 minutes from the house. So I got to where I would've to run errands at lunch and I wouldn't go to lunch with the guys cuz I had, uh, and I'd run home at lunch and do three or four shots and then run back. So it got to where I was, you know, maybe going three to four hours at the most without having alcohol on my body. And then I'd go home and just do it all over again. And I did this for quite a while. And then the very last year before I went into rehab, about July of that year, I actually ended up in the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Uh, we were doing our regular nightly gig, whatever, and my body just caught fire. Not literally, but it felt like it. Every square centimeter of my skin just felt like it was on fire and I was just literally writhing in pain and we couldn't make it stop. So she ended up having to call ambulance and I went to the hospital and, uh, did three days in the hospital while they rehydrated me, and then went back to work. I worked in IT at the time, the vice president of our IT department pulled me into his office, and he's one of my best friends. And that's the only reason that I even got to keep my job throughout all this nonsense is because he's a huge mentor to me and a great friend. And he pulled me and he goes, look, I know we're talking that you got food poisoning or some nonsense, but we both know exactly what the problem is and if it happens again, you can either pack your stuff or you can go get help. And I said, dude, no, no, I'm done. I'm done. I learned my lesson, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Right? So I go sober for about two months, and the problem with two people in the same household drinking excessively is that it makes it extremely difficult for anybody to stop.
Larry: It's even exacerbated when you work at the same office, you know all the same people, you know all the same BS that takes place during the day. You're driving home together and you go, you know what? Today just really sucked because this and this, and this happened. I go, I know it did, didn't it? You know what? Why don't we just go get a little bottle? We'll just go get a little one and do a few shots and it'll be fine. And that little bottle turns into a bigger bottle and a bigger bottle, and then the full size bottle and then multiple bottles. And you're right back in the same mix. Right? And that's where I found myself November 14th, 2013. I had sat out of work for a couple of weeks now and everybody at work knew that I had a massive problem. I was calling in sick, I'm just sick or, but what I was doing was just drinking myself literally to death. And I sat there for two weeks. And on that last day, I just knew I wasn't gonna make it. I just knew it was done. Something I had an epiphany, I shouldn't have cuz I'd probably gone days and days with nothing but gin and special K, pre-mixed drink breakfast shakes, right? So I'm drinking gin and special K shakes. Those don't mix. I don't recommend that at all. I had this epiphany and I just, something said, get help or you're not gonna be here tomorrow. It's just that simple. And, I picked up the phone, called my best friend, same friend by the way, that walked around the corner at Fox in the Hound with my future wife. And I said, Kenny, I need help. And immediately, Kenny, he worked there with us as well, Kenny hangs up his phone in his office, goes straight to Tracy, they go to the vice president, and they all come up with this plan. And before you know it, within a couple of hours, Kenny and Tracy are at the house. The vice president had already arranged for me to go to this facility here in Texas called Enterhealth. He just happened to live next door to the son of one of the doctors who was the owner of the entire practice. Uh, so they arranged for some payment, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And off I went. Uh, so ended up doing, uh, six weeks there at Enterhealth and at the end of that six weeks, I was supposed to go home, but Tracy came and got me and we went to a little cafe to kind of reintegrate me into society from a sober perspective. And I sat there in that cafe and I just wasn't ready. It was pretty scary. I didn't really know how to react. I didn't know how to take any of this in. So I ended up doing another week at the facility. I said I need to stay another the week. I stayed one more week and completed a full seven weeks there and went home and been sober since.
Stephanie: Wow. Uh, I like say no, it's, yeah. Wow. Yeah, you get, I'm sure you get that a lot when you tell this story. So you and I are contemporaries and we grew up in the same time period. And, I was a huge party girl and I remember being in college and I went to the Northeastern, which has the co-op program. So you work and you go to school. So I was in a co-op period where I was working at the Boston Globe, which was what I wanted to do, but I remember I was partying so much with my friends that, you'd go out thursday night, you'd come in hungover on Friday and people would kind of be like, well sure, of course. And then, you'd go out Friday night and you'd go out Saturday night. Well then you'd go out Sunday night and come in hungover on Monday. And for me, I actually, I did have a lot of health issues like bronchitis and pneumonia and like, all kinds of stuff. So, you know, I could very often get away with, oh, I think I'm coming down with something. And then you'd go out again Monday night cuz whoever thinks you're gonna come in hungover on a Tuesday, you know? So, a lot of what you're talking about, I did as well and my drug of choice. I always said, I did one thing and I did it well, and that was hard alcohol. I never even drank beer.
Larry: cuz I mentioned the cold beer, but we didn't drink It was more of just, we'd go through two cases, but we'd get up in the morning and it'd just be full cans all over the house cuz we wouldn't drink it. It was more of like a security blanket or something. I don't know. You know, you might take a sip, we would wake up and pour out a dozen beer cans in the morning that were full. We didn't even really drink the beer. It was the weirdest thing, had to have it.
Stephanie: yeah, that is bizarre.
Stephanie: I'm relating a lot to some of your drinking. And I remember at that point in time wondering if I had a problem, you know, oh, do I have a problem? is this a problem? Because I have always been somebody who loves to get away with stuff. And I've always been an overachiever and like great at school and all those things. So I could still pull off my editorial assistant job even if I was hungover or coming in an hour late or whatever. And I thought I was quite clever with myself for coming in hungover on Mondays and Tuesdays because, again, who's gonna think, especially for a girl who's had bronchitis three times in the last three months. So I thought, do I have a problem? And I remember slowing down or stopping for a period in time to go like, do I need this? Or is it just fun? Do I just like it? And I, I sort of got to the point where I was like, nah, nah, I just like it. These are the people I hang out with. This is the crowd I'm in. This is the pattern we're in. I love it all. And then years later,actually I was 30 at this point, I met a guy who I dated for five years. I met him in Cleveland and we dated long distance for a year, year and a half. And then he moved to New Hampshire and I mean, he was no doubt an alcoholic and I did a lot of enabling, which I didn't know at the time, but, a lot of covering up for him. And a lot of people don't quite know how bad it is. But, I also remember, I got a job at that period in time that was kind of a big deal job. And so I had to kind of tone it down and, and you know, I'm 31 and whatever, I'm 32. It was like, yeah, I'm a grownup. I have this big job. And I remember him, he used to say to me, cuz he'd go out every night of the week and I might go out on Fridays and Saturdays and he would say to me, I remember he would spit this at me like, where did my fun girlfriend go?
Stephanie: And that kind of speaks to what you were saying about like, when you're two people and you're in the same routine, pattern, everything, when one person pulls away, but the other one's still living that life. It's a lot of tension in all directions. The really interesting thing was, and I don't think I've told this story on the podcast yet. I think we met when I was 30 and we dated till I was about 35. Then we broke up, I sent him on his way, and about a year ago, my mother said, Hey, whatever happened to him? And he's not a guy who's on social media, never really was. I think we were driving to Boston or something and I went looking for him, I got my phone and I'm Googling and for some reason I had known that his mother had died, I don't know, maybe a couple of years before I had done the same Google search. So his mom had died. So I thought, oh, I wonder if his dad died, after he lost his mom, cuz they were really peas in a pod. And my boyfriend was a junior, so I Google his name, his father's name, and find an obituary and I thought, oh, his poor dad. And then I looked at the obituary, oh no, it was the boyfriend. And he died like six or nine months prior to when I was looking. He died like two days after his 53rd birthday. And now both my mother and I are like, ugh. So I go looking for some of his friends. Finally, I connect on Facebook with a woman who was one of his dear, dear friends. And I connect with her on Facebook and almost immediately, she messages me, she said, so you heard, huh? And I said, what happened? And wouldn't you believe it? He died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Stephanie: He died of alcoholism. He died cuz he couldn't stop, wouldn't stop. You know, he worked in the entertainment industry. So it wasn't just after work that he was drinking. It was during work. It was before work. It was all around it. So it oh, it's just so heartbreaking because, you know, I mean he had some trauma as a young adult and, you know, this is the way I think it presented itself. And, and he just, he couldn't get free.
Larry: It definitely happens. It happens often.
It's interesting because like I said, when I was gone, my wife, she got sober while I was gone. Uh, and while this isn't for everyone, this for me personally, this is just my story and what worked for me. Even after getting home, I didn't do AA or anything along those lines. Once it was done, it was done and we walked away. Now, I backed that off just a little bit because I had done so much damage to my body that for years, uh, a couple years I was almost immobile. Um, so much nerve damage. I walked with a cane. Uh, I was in pain 24 7. Every joint of my body was in pain and it was extreme. So I did end up on a ton of medication. And that was very difficult to deal with because obviously they're not gonna gimme opioids cuz I'm an addict. And they would send me to pain specialists, but many times I got ran outta the pain clinics in tears cuz they wouldn't give me anything. And they really just sat there and insulted me the whole time because they're like, you're not in pain. I'm like, yes I am. No, you're just an addict. No, I am not. I didn't do drugs. I was an alcoholic. I'm in pain. And I couldn't get help. There was a time for several years, quite a few years after, as a matter of fact, where I was on like 31 pills a day, just to function. Some of those were mood balancers and this and that and blah, blah, blah. Some of it was gabapentin, which is supposed to be great for pain, and I was on a maximum dosage of that. So I think it was four pills just in gabapentin, but I was also having to take massive amounts of ibuprofen and Tylenol, just to function. And, I ended up blowing up and by blowing up, I mean I got up to 326 pounds at one point. Now I'm running around about 240 these days, between 235, 240. But when I left corporate, January 4th of 21, right, we were in 23. It's been two years. There we go. I dropped all the pills too. I quit everything. So, took myself completely off all the medications, everything, and dropped 90 pounds right out of the gate. I say right outta the gate took me about eight or nine months to drop that 90 pounds. But everything, everything changed. And today I don't take any, I take a small dosage of atenolol just cuz my heart has some palpitations cause I'm kind of old. So I little dose of atenolol, but that's it. I don't take any of the other nonsense and I don't do the ibuprofen or the Tylenol every freaking day like I used to or anything like that.
Stephanie: Are you still in pain though?
Larry: No, No, the pain's gone
Larry: I think it just took years to heal. The pain was the most extreme for the first couple of years after coming outta rehab. And it got really bad probably kind of hard to put that timeline in place. But just probably a few months after getting home, the pain started setting in. And as far as affecting my job, my job was worse off after I got outta rehab than it was going in because the medication pretty much just kept me in a state of just being, you know, really just sitting there
Stephanie: Zoned out.
Larry: And I would fall asleep at my desk all the time. It was horrible. And of course, I'm sitting there just literally inflating. I competed at 155 pounds. I was 165 coming outta rehab. And then to double in weight, it was insane to watch.
Stephanie: I'm just gonna add some context here because we've just been digging into the story, but you went to rehab and you were 41. So this entire time, this transition is precisely the kind of stuff that I like to dig into here. But let's go back a year before you went into rehab and you said when you turned 40, you said, I cried. Do you remember why?
Larry: Well, yeah, I thought it was all over. All the excuses are gone. All the opportunities are gone. Everything's gone. And, you know, at that time, I'm at the peak of my alcoholism. I've got a dead end, and don't get me wrong, very appreciative of the company that I worked for and them sticking with me.. I mean, they were there for everything. And even after the fact they were there. I mean, they were so much love to them for everything that they did there, but it was a dead end spot. You know, I was never going to be the top dog. I was never gonna advance at the company. And that was all my fault. You know, I'd shot myself in the foot, but I just felt like it was essentially over. It just felt helpless. It felt pointless. And you know, you had your twenties to be the cat daddy. You had your thirties to get your shit together and really progress. And now you're in your forties, you've done neither one, and here you are, you're an alcoholic and you're just in shambles, bro. It's over. It's over. And you wasted it all. You blew it all.
Stephanie: Did you know you were an alcoholic? Were you self-identifying as an alcoholic?
Larry: By then I knew I was,
Stephanie: You knew you had a problem?
Larry: Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, it was probably a good year and a half or so that I was doing the whole, you know, well even before then, it was every night drinking until we pass out, you know, and probably around that time we were already day drinking on the weekends you know, that sort of thing. So, yeah, I mean, I knew I had a big problem, but didn't necessarily at the time see a way to solve it. Since we were both in that position. It was difficult. So I, you know, often I look back and go back in 13, were you just drinking to end it?
Stephanie: Right. Were you trying?
Larry: Did I just go, eh, f it, I'm out. You know, let's just call it. But then when it came down to the wire and we're really right there, it's like, okay, well this is what you've been working towards. You're about to accomplish that goal. Is that really what you want? I went, nah, no, that's really not what I want. So get some help. Let's fix this. Whatever it takes.
Stephanie: So now you're outta rehab andyour wife is sober. Tell me about lifestyle changes because what'd you fill 5:00 PM to the next day with every day? Right. Because cuz you have to change your whole lifestyle. Lifestyle, friends, socializing. Tell me about how your life changed when you guys got sober.
Larry: You know, it's interesting cause friends then were just people we worked with. And so friends completely understood, and they're still the same friends I have today. Regrettably, we don't hang out much. They weren't hardcore partiers. I mean, they party just like average people. They could go to happy hour and have a couple of drinks and then go home and everything be cool. They didn't continue the party till they passed out every night. So,friends were the same. It was a little empty, a little awkward coming out. After we broke that pattern, which I think that was the biggest factor that allowed us to maintain the sobriety and move forward was breaking that pattern and having that separation of my wife and I. Cause when I was in there, we threw down pretty hardcore while I was in there couple times. And I was in there over the holidays. I was in there over Thanksgiving and they're over Christmas and she didn't even come see me over those times, so it wasn't the easiest time. Right. Um, but when I got home, things got better and they got easier and they got more straightforward and yeah, there was a definite void. I didn't know what to do. I had no idea with this all this time because I didn't really have a social life outside of drinking. Right. And even to even then, the point was we, we, we didn't drink socially ever. We didn't go out and drink at that point. We just went home and drank and passed out. So, uh, it wasn't like we had to change things there. We were already home. But now we had to figure out ways to occupy this time. And like you're asking, uh, I know one of the first things we did was we got a dog, we got another dog, we got a new puppy. Uh, and, uh, she's in there in the other room right now. She's still with us, so it's amazing. That was one of the first things we did. But shortly after that, I found podcasting probably around May, April, May, June, somewhere in that neighborhood
Stephanie: So really shortly thereafter you
Larry: I came of rehab in January of 14 and then found podcasting a few months later. I was still a massive fight fan again, U UFC guy, and Joe Rogan, obviously, if you say podcasting, you know Joe Rogan, uh, he's also the commentator and has been for the UFC for decades and decades now. So a buddy that I worked with, he goes, dude, you, you gotta listen to this podcast. You gotta listen to the Joe Rogan podcast. You already know who he is cause he calls the fights. You'll love his podcast. And, I finally gave in, I was like, okay, whatever. So I, I, I tuned into the podcast and there were two comedians on this particular episode. Joey Diaz and Tony Hinchcliffe. And they were telling jokes like I grew up on, cuz again, grew up in the eighties. We had all the greats. We had Carlin, we had Robin Williams, we had Andrew Dice Clay, and my all time favorite Sam Kinison. We had all these. Very, uh, yeah, Eddie Murphy. One of my best memories of growing up was my mom and my stepdad and me, we went to the movies one night. They went and saw Overboard Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, and they bought me a ticket to Eddie Murphy Raw.
Larry: I couldn't believe they bought me ticket, this was like so outta character for them. But it was the greatest night of my life, to see Eddie Murphy Raw, by myself, and they bought the ticket. I was like, you guys are the coolest now. You know, but yay. Uh, but that's, that was always my escape was comedy. I always wanted to do comedy and, but I was never brave enough to get up on stage and tell jokes. I was always telling jokes in class and always the clown and blah, blah, blah. But, when I heard Tony Hinchcliffe and Joey Diaz tell similar jokes to what I grew up on, I was like, oh my God, you can do this on a podcast and not get in trouble? Not go to HR? This is kind of cool. So, I went out and bought the worst possible mic you can buy. I bought a Yeti Snowball, and started my first podcast and it was a comedy podcast. I got a friend of mine who was an open micr, comedian here in Dallas Fort Worth, and we started our comedy podcast and that was how I got started. We grew the show. It was fairly successful at the time. We took it to a live stage show. We took it to internet radio, did some good things there. The live stage show was still in effect up until about three or four months ago when the club that was hosting it went outta business. So the show stayed there up until just a few months ago, which was pretty amazing. The show evolved over a couple years and became an open mic for comedians here in Dallas Fort Worth. And it was literally for years and years, the largest open mic outside of a comedy club in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, and we all started it from our podcast. So, it was pretty amazing.
Stephanie: Wow. I'm just sort of digesting that. That's so cool.
Larry: Yeah, it was fun. And then I ended up doing a little bit of comedy. I got to perform at the Addison Improv here in North Dallas and did couple of sets at some other places. And ironically enough, Tony Hinchcliffe, he is the host of a show called Kill Tony, which is a show for comedians by comedians. You get to put your name in the hat and if they draw your name out, you get to go up on stage cuz this is a live podcast as well that they just moved it to Joe Rogan's new club in Austin. But if you got your name drawn, you go up on stage and you do your best 60 seconds. I managed to make it on the show twice. So that was kind of cool. So not only I was inspired by Tony Hinchcliffe to start podcasting, I ended up being on his show twice, so that was kind of cool.
Stephanie: and you found the guts to perform.
Larry: I found the guts to perform, not necessarily well, but I found guts to perform. But my co-host, Jamie Gravitt, he went on to do, and he's still doing massive things in the comedy space. He ended up with a gig at the New Sahara in Las Vegas, opening for Eddie Griffin. Eddie Griffin did movies like Undercover Brother. He's done several movies, pretty big time comedian and Jamie's spent the time on the road opening for Eddie over the years and now he's doing big things down in Austin as well. Cause Austin has become the hotbed of comedy for everybody now.
Stephanie: I didn't know any of this about your podcasting background.
Larry: Yeah, all came from that silly podcast and I ended up having to change the podcast because I was still in corporate and some of our jokes weren't necessarily, none of our jokes were necessarily corporate friendly. And, I had some fans in the office and they were wearing our merch to work and even the name of the podcast was a bit of an innuendo
Stephanie: What is it?
Larry: it was called Accidentally The Whole Tip. And yeah
Stephanie: I just have to say what a boy name. That is such a boy name.
Larry: A hundred percent. But the response you just gave me was the exact same response that everybody gave when they heard the name of the show. It just worked, man, but you can't have people wearing Accidentally The Whole Tip, merch, t-shirts, hoodies to the office. So inevitably I got called into HR. And, it was either leave the show or we were gonna have to take some other action. So I had to step away from that particular show. Uh, but I wanted to keep podcasting and at the time I didn't understand the podcast business or the industry or anything. I started a podcast called Readily Random, uh, just because I had a blog by the same name back in the MySpace days, and I thought, well, I don't know what to call it, but I just wanna talk to random people.
Larry: Right. So, it seemed like an appropriate name at the time, but growing that show proved to be much more difficult than the other show, just because it didn't have a audience, it didn't have a focus, it didn't have a direction or a niche or anything, and nobody knew what it was about. Nobody cared. I got to have some great conversations. It was amazing. I talked to just a ton of people that I never would've had the chance to talk to otherwise, actors, and I'm a big origami fan. A lot of people don't know, but I love origami. You know, Japanese paper folding, and I talked to the premier origami artist, one of the premier ones in the world, and he's a professor at MIT and I had him on the show, so that was kind of cool. Most boring conversation you will ever have, but, it was still kind of cool, I'm like, oh, this is cool. But then as I continued that show, I started getting kind of into the podcast industry. Some friends here that I met in Dallas, they were doing very small virtual events, and with my facilitator type background, because that's how I ended up in corporate, was a trainer initially and then evolved into an IT role. We won't go down that path, but as a facilitator, I was used to getting in front of people and talking and speaking and teaching and facilitating. So these virtual events started turning into live events, live events gave me these small stages to start speaking on. Podfest opened up with their big virtual event, managed to finagle my way onto that. From there ended up getting to meet Chris Krimitsos, who's the founder of Podfest and we became friends. And now part of the Pod Fest team now. I'm the editor in chief of the Podfest Messenger, speak on the main stage there at Podfest from time to time as well. And that's just kind of where it all came from, was Accidentally The Whole Tip.
Stephanie: Yeah. And that's how I know you as sort of a, a podcast mentor. A podcast trainer, a podcast, somebody who's been around a long time and is sharing experience on how to do it well and easily and better and all of those things.
Larry: All the above. Yes, ma'am. It just made sense. And then in '17 I turned Readily Random, not just from a podcast, but I formed an L L C, started a company, started doing some, some low end consulting and coaching and then that grew and evolved. And then January 4th of 21, I walked away from my corporate career. And this is what I do full-time now.
Stephanie: yeah, yeah. And, but it's a different company now. You just shifted, right?
Larry: I did, I just changed the name. Actually I'm still kinda going through the process. All the pieces are still being put in place. My website looks like nonsense right now, terrible. No offense to Sarah who's building my so if you do watch this, no offense to you. you're doing a great job. It's just not
We're just not there. We're in the middle.
Larry: Yes, we are right there in middle. it was interesting back in Tampa, about 18 months ago, it was late '21. I was speaking at Podfest Origins in Tampa. And you know, I'm 50, right? So I'm trying to relate to some of the younger generation, the younger podcasters out there. So when you see me in person, I'm typically wearing a hoodie, a flat billed hat. I'll probably have on some Jordans, some Rock Revival jeans. And at the time, the hat was a Supreme hat. Supreme is just a brand that all those wacky kids are wearing these days, or they were at least two years ago. I don't think it's in favor anymore, but it was, it's a red hat and it just has Supreme in white letters. And Alex Sanfilippo, who's the owner of PodMatch and founder of PodMatch great friend of mine and we tease each other, give each other a hard time each time we speak, just kind of make fun of each other. Just, you know, guy talk, at each other. I came in off stage and he insulted me like he should. And then he goes, but for real, dude, I gotta ask, what are you wearing the Supreme hat for? And I explained it to him and he goes, look, I think the red's really, really good, but unless they're paying you, you shouldn't be up there repping somebody else's brand. You need to be repping you. And again, I think the red's great. You're tall, you're six foot three, you're a big guy, you really stand out in a crowd. And that red hat's kinda like a beacon in the night. It just attracts people to you. And, with that lesson learned, I went home and I tossed that expensive Supreme ball cap to the side, jumped on Amazon, bought a $6 unbranded red hat, and it became my identity.
Stephanie: Yeah, it's your signature for sure.
Larry: Yeah, it's insane. Honestly, it's one of the biggest lessons that I've ever learned in personal branding. I get speaking gigs just because of the red hat, just because I'm the Red Hat guy. I mean real big time speaking gigs just because of the hat. It really was driven home when I went to Bitcoin Miami last year. I'd only been wearing the hat maybe six months at that time. And it's a sea of 35,000 people at Bitcoin Miami. It was a three day event, and over the course of that event, I had multiple people that found me in that sea of people that knew me as the podcast guy because of the Red Hat. They didn't necessarily know my name, but they knew I was the Red Hat guy and they knew the Red Hat guy was all about podcasting. So once I started seeing that kind of interaction take place, and once I started seeing the impact of just that personal branding taking place, it only made sense that I had to embrace it wholeheartedly. And, that became the new company name. It's Red Hat Media is what we are now. And it's just been an amazing transformation and just to see it, it's just next level.
Stephanie: Yeah. You're a cool dude. Again, I've only met you at a couple of events and you command a room and all the rest. But let me ask you this, how does this guy relate to the guy who wanted to be a tough guy? Why don't you wanna be a tough guy anymore?
Larry: Man, it's kind of interesting because I almost want just the opposite. And it's really interesting cause I tend to work with women more so than men. And I find that it's intentional and I don't really want anything to do with the whole tough guy thing. I'm still very in tune with masculinity, you know, and I know that's a bad word these days in 2023, but I mean, I still love to shoot my guns. I still love to do guy things, right? But I don't need the, and I'm trying to find a polite way to say this without being vulgar, I don't need the measuring contests.
Larry: Okay. I have no room for that. I don't wanna mess with it. I just don't have the patience for it. It's not productive. It doesn't help anyone. It's not beneficial from any perspective whatsoever. And in wanting to avoid that, I think is why I end up working with women more so than anything, because typically we're just working towards together to achieve a goal. And that's really all I want. I'm operating from a more positive space over the last several years. It is kind of funny though cuz the tough guy came out the other day and my wife goes, wow, hadn't seen that guy in years. but I'm gonna tell you, he was a little sexy. So I like, oh, well don't tell me that, honey, you know, we'll pull it out more often
Stephanie: I'll pull him out on Friday nights.
Larry: Yeah. make it a special weekend. But it was a social interaction, honestly, it was at Whataburger in the drive-through. Uh, It
Stephanie: it was what?
Larry: Yeah, it was at Whataburger in the drive-through. It was the worst man.
thankfully nothing happened. But yeah, that had been the first time that I really tapped into that tough guy side. And I didn't necessarily like it, but she did. So I'm like, well, maybe. So anyways, um, yeah, it's just not something, it's not the lifestyle that I dig. Now, don't get me wrong. I do keep my black belt right beside me. It's still a major part of my identity cause it was a massive accomplishment, a massive part of my life. but it doesn't drive me like it did. It's a part of the story. It's not the story.
Stephanie: Yeah. I guess I'm just so curious to figure out it used to be external, right? The tough guy thing. The black belt, the fighting and then you had to leave it behind and you went through this massive period of partying and probably a reaction to having to leave those dreams behind.
Larry: A hundred percent. Yeah.
Stephanie: And now here you are on the other side of that, and what is it that you've got inside now that makes you feel comfortable, confident, competent, fulfilled that you don't have to be that guy unless somebody's gonna be an asshole in the drive-through. Right. Because trust me, I can turn it on too. But you don't have to anymore. It's not your default. So what's different?
Larry: Well, A, I know I can if I need to. and,
B I've overcome so much that a lot of lessons were learned, right? I mean, I should have died at four. Uh, I should have died at 41. Uh, I, I should have died a couple of times. So when you start looking at that and you start analyzing that, you go, okay, uh, maybe we need to start giving, maybe we need to start helping others. Maybe we need to start letting others learn from our mistakes. And that's what drives me now. I have a three mentees, you young mentors that I work with. They're in their mid twenties, two dudes and one young lady, and they're my fulfillment now. You know, Maddie, she just got back from Oxford. She literally just spoke at Oxford over the weekend. And she's my mentee. She's competing for Miss Texas in July. And she's looking to me for that guidance. She's looking to me for that experience, she's looking to me for those life lessons. And as soon as we hang up, I'm driving over to Fort Worth cuz another one of my mentees, his rock band is touring and they're playing over in Fort Worth tonight. So I'm gonna get off this call, I'm gonna go over there and I'm gonna say, what's going on brother? And I'm gonna touch base with him. We're gonna take some cool pictures and hang out together for a little bit. And then once they start playing all their heavy metal music, and I'm gonna take my old ass back home. Uh, but, I'm still gonna go over there and support him and uplift him and, give back, right? So that's part of it. The other part is I get the same sense of fulfillment speaking on stage that I used to get from fighting in a ring. I prepare pretty much the same way. If you were to see me before I go up on stage, I'm probably off camera or off stage, just a little bit jumping up and down, breathing, getting excited. One of my speaking coaches was at Podfest actually, and I don't know if you saw my Thursday talk on when I was talking about Chat GPT. The room was slam packed, several hundred people in the room. I went out in the hallway and I looked to my left and the line to get in the room was infinite. And I was like, oh my gosh, I can't do this. And I literally had a panic attack and I started crying. I had to run back in the room. Yeah, people don't know this, but some people saw because I ran right by them. I went back in the room and people were trying to talk to me and I'm just having to ignore everybody. Cause I'm literally welling up and I'm on the verge of just collapsing. And I go straight up to Bert Oliva, he's one of my speaking coaches, I go, Bert, I can't do this. He's like, oh, shut up brother. You got this. It's all good. I'm like, no, look at me.
Larry: And he could see the tear. I'm like, I can't do this. He goes, oh, okay. All right, come here. And he took me over behind the curtain. And, it was really no different than getting in the ring. I mean, he just looked me in the eye, called me a lot of bad names and reset my mentality. And then I went back up on stage and did a fairly decent job. Um, but that's the same type of mentality that I used to experience getting in the ring.
Larry: And, it's the same fear. I love to talk. I think I do it fairly well. I've put a lot of money, time, and effort into learning how to do it well but it's the fear of failure that hurts more than anything. It was the same way when I fought. It wasn't the fear of getting punched or kicked or choked or whatever, it was the fear of losing, it was the fear of getting outta that ring and having my friends make fun of me for being a loser. And it's the same thing when I get on stage. I don't wanna get up on stage and flub something up and come off and people say how bad a job I did or let somebody down.
Here's a prime example, nobody really knows this other than a few select people, Chris Krimitsos and Mark Katz, which is Chris's business coach and my business coach, as well. Friday, I did the same presentation, did the same presentation on Thursday and Friday, but Thursday night we made some changes to the presentation. So we removed some slides, we added some topics, we changed the entire approach. I was gonna do a slightly different, similar, same topic, everything but just a slight twist, on Friday. And I got up on stage and I plugged in my jump drive ready to do my presentation before it started, about 15 minutes before it started, got everything all set up and I get on stage and I start my gig and I am hitting my clicker. And I'm like, here's what we're gonna talk about today. And as I got to the third bullet point of what we're going to cover,
Stephanie: It's the old presentation.
Larry: It's the old slides
Stephanie: Mm-hmm. I knew where this was going.
Larry: it loaded the old slides
Larry: So I look back to the back of the room where Mark was sitting and I went, just let him know that I know that this is a mistake. Nobody else knew.
Larry: Uh, so I, I'm like, what do I do? I stood there, what do I do in my head? And for what seemed like, you know, 30 minutes, it was really probably three seconds I went, do I stop the presentation and go, oh, these are the wrong slides. Or do I take it like a pro and just go
Stephanie: The show must go on.
Larry: the show must go on? So I continued to go through it and some of the slides that we took out, they were still there, obviously, the last few slides were the ones that we really changed. So I had to stop the presentation before I even got into those slides, cause they weren't there. The old slides were there. And, uh, it was insane. But that was a massive mistake. And, it really shook me to the core standing there on stage. Some people said they couldn't see it. A couple people said they could see the mistakes. I felt like it was horrible, so that still happens. We still have those mistakes, but they're massive, massive growth opportunities. Since Podfest over the last couple of months, I've had some even bigger speaking opportunities. And in my personal opinion, not trying to sound egotistical, I think I crushed 'em. So it'sa development process, and it's that same level of fulfillment again that I felt back then, and the same level of acceptance. Now I'm seen as a subject matter expert as compared to a kicking and punching expert, but it's still the same level of fulfillment, but at the same time, I get to watch others grow. Nobody grew from what I did back then.
Larry: You know, I was out to crush egos and I was out to crush people and make them feel less than me. That was my entire goal, was to stand above people and make them feel less. That's not the goal now. The goal now is to still perform at a very, very high level, but help elevate others and let them perform at high levels as well. So that's the evolution, that's the growth, that's the wisdom that's taken place, and that's the biggest motivating factor behind why I don't need all the other stuff. Again, still a massive fan. I don't miss a UFC I'm pretty stoked about tomorrow night's card. It's gonna be awesome. But me personally, I don't need to be involved in it. I don't need that mentality. This is another testament to it, although I still love watching the fights, I don't watch the hype.
Larry: Yeah, I don't listen to the fighters talk their smack. I don't listen, you know, if there's a cool quirk, I mean, if Conor McGregor says something crazy, of course I'm like, oh, that's hilarious. But I don't waste, I almost said waste, and I will say it, I don't waste my time watching all the pre-fight hype videos watching the crap talk. I don't watch any of that. Cause I'm like, oh my God. It's almost nauseating.
You like the art of it. You like the actual thing.
Larry: Exactly. I love the technique. I go, oh my God, that was insane. Did you see that transition from there to there to there? That was crazy. Yeah. I love seeing the evolution of the sport because it's evolved tremendously from when I was involved. I mean, it's not even the same sport. Uh, so it, yeah, that's what I appreciate. The technique and the, the, the mastery and the artistry behind it. You know, to me it's like a ballet dance. You that loves ballet, they look at it and they go, oh, that's so beautiful.
Larry: When I see somebody transition to a submission and maybe choke somebody out or get a leg bar or whatever you might wanna call it, I go, man, that's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
Larry: You know, so that's, that's the difference.
Stephanie: Well, and here's something I have been thinking about as you've been talking. I don't know if you've ever thought this, so I'm just gonna throw it at you, but I think it's pretty clear that you've proven that you're a tough guy because you've survived a birth defect and the incredible surgery to repair it and the childhood that went with it. And then you survived alcoholism and going through the extraction from that. I think that, whether you actively are aware of it or not, I think you've proven a couple of times that you are a goddamn tough guy because you've survived some pretty amazing things and come out of them better, stronger. That's what's sort of appearing to me.
Larry: Yeah, I mean that's definitely there. I look back and I see that, I see that experience and I see that growth that came out of all of these challenges, and overcoming some of the things. There was a lot there. It's funny cuz I was talking to another podcaster, I dunno, it's been a couple years now, maybe about a year and a half. And I was telling her some of my other life stories that led to some of these feelings because the feelings didn't just come from the birth defect. There was variety of other factors that led into wanting to be the tough guy
Stephanie: I can imagine just being poor and going to a private school gives you 12 years of less than that you gotta overcome, so,
Larry: A hundred percent. You know, violent stepdad, beatings on the reg, beating my mom on the reg, all kinds of fun stuff. All those fun things. And when I was telling her these stories, she was like, oh my God, she was just blown away at some of these other life experiences. She's like, oh my God. And I'm like, what? That's not, I mean, everybody doesn't go through that. Everybody doesn't experience that. She's like, no, dude, no. She's like, I had a perfect life compared to what you're telling me. I didn't have violence in the home, we didn't do the whole food stamp thing. We didn't have a mom that wrote a hot check for a brand new 1981 Chevy Citation, cuz she wrote it in the name of the Lord and she had faith that he would provide! But he didn't provide for that check. So, there's some experiences there that others haven't really, haven't even come close to having. It's been an interesting 50 years for sure. Almost 51 now.
Stephanie: It sure has. Well, and this has been a real interesting story that you've shared with us. I appreciate you coming here today and being so generous with your story. I truly appreciate that.
Larry: Thank you so very much for having me. It's been a lot of fun. Uh, a lot of smiles here, a lot of memories. And, I've had a great time sharing, so thank you once again for having me on.
Stephanie: My pleasure.