Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
Doing these interviews has been so much fun, and meeting new people (especially during the pandemic) is very nourishing. Getting to meet Dan Faill was no exception. Dan is exuberant, funny, has a lot of wisdom to share, and isn’t afraid to be real about it.
For years Dan’s directed Greek programs for colleges and you can tell he has a direct connection with young people (and he’s still pretty young himself). Serendipitously, Dan was invited to speak to a large audience and something clicked. He quickly switched over to inspirational and motivational speaking full time. And he has a gift for winning an audience. But more than that, Dan drills down pretty deep to the things that we don’t always like to talk about. One of his famous talks is “A night to forget, the intersection of blackouts and sex’ and he is very gentle, yet candid, when discussing difficult issues. You can find that talk, and others, here:
More generally, all of Dan Faill’s brilliance are housed at https://www.danfaill.com and you are sure to find something inspiring or interesting to peruse. You will not be disappointed. At the very least, Dan is going to make you laugh because, well, you’ll see:)
Dan also appears to be modest given his outgoing personality. He embraces his last name in what he calls ‘Failing Forward’ and makes a solid argument about why failure is necessary and not something to avoid.
He is also a pro with respect to one of my favorite topics, Imposter Syndrome (also, least favorite).
In short, Dan is a storyteller. His delivery is vulnerable and trustworthy. He has a special way of humbling himself to the listener, and then clearly linking how his story is relevant to you.
And luckily, Dan also offers his uber-charismatic life lessons through coaching, which you can also find out about on his website.
I hope you enjoy listening to or watching the interview as much as I enjoyed recording it. Do yourself a favor and visit
I can’t wait for you to watch or listen to this weeks’ Curiosity interview. Dan Faill is one of those guys we can all learn from AND you’ll have a blast while you learn. After a successful career helping college students navigate greek life, Dan has transitioned to full time keynote speaker. He shares his knowledge, experience, and wisdom with us to help improve our lives.
Dan is not afraid of the tough topics, rather he EMBRACES them in ways that make us comfortable with the uncomfortable.
You will find links to all of Dan’s work here, and he has a glorious social media presence.
After reading James Clears’ ‘Atomic Habits’, I wanted to try and add a new habit and get rid of an ‘bad’ one. Reading the book inspired me to apply Clears’ teachings and I knew I needed to choose some easy habits, or low hanging fruit, if you will.
I had been thinking about quitting drinking beer before reading the book, so that seemed like an obvious ‘bad’ habit to change. And although I consider my drinking habit ‘not unhealthy’, I just wanted to see if I could do it. I had been having 2-3 beers pretty much every day for years and decided to try not having any beer for at least two weeks – just to see if I could break the habit.
Similarly, I wanted to try adding a new habit and gratitude seemed like an easy one. Though I easily stopped drinking beer (for the record, I still have maybe one beer once or twice a week now), adding gratitude was harder, but I continue to try. And, really, the experience of struggling to be practice gratitude every day is teaching me more about myself and habits because it’s hard.
So building a gratitude habit is challenging – and why is that?
To me, it’s because 1) it’s hard to notice the immediate results, and 2) I have been trying to practice gratitude during moments of duress, as if to provide a solution to a bad mood.
To address (1), there are immediate results but they may not be what we expect. It is our error to assume what the benefits of gratitude will be. What I have observed is that gratitude is coupled with mindfulness, or ideally, meditation – even briefly. And one small benefit of meditation/mindfulness/gratitude is slowing your heart rate and becoming more calm. But if we are looking for some sort of epiphany, it is easy to miss the fact that practicing gratitude calmed us down!
As for (2), the problem with starting new habits is the belief that there will be some overwhelming immediate result – and this just isn’t true. Additionally, the building of the habit needs to happen from a place of calmness initially. We can’t build habits to solve a problem ‘in the moment’, or at least I can’t. So I realized I had to practice gratitude when I was in a decent mood, or at least not in a bad mood. Once the habit is built from that attitude, THEN it can be used to benefit us during duress or stress. Hopefully that makes sense. It would be like expecting to see weight loss results after running our first mile. The benefits come later.
You have to trust the process. And a process that works for me is to take 2-3 minutes at least once a day, at a time when you are not feeling particularly stressed or distracted, to breathe deeply, appreciate your breath, and pick one thing you are grateful for in that moment.
In Episode 32: Work/Life Balance I shared my thoughts about how to find time to meet all the various needs we have. In this episode I want to focus specifically on balancing time spent working toward our careers with time spent with our families. And for those of you without spouses or kids, your family can be your parents, siblings, friends, coworkers or any other people you value and spend time with.
The main career/family issue I see in nearly all of the Americans I know is the stress associated with spending too much time ‘working’ and not enough time with ‘family’. Now these categories are pretty broad and can be broken down into the values associated with each. ‘Career’ generally means earning enough money to ‘be happy’ or to pay our bills, not have to worry about having food on the table, and making sure all family members have most of what they need within reason. The ‘Family’ category usually means being able to spend time with loved ones so that we don’t miss out on important moments (first steps, birthdays, sunsets) nor feel guilty about missing these moments. So work is really full of other values like safety, protection, health, wealth, and feeling valued. Similar, family is comprised of things like love, safety, comfort, and joy.
I think the problem arises from two basic issues: 1) work, or career, demands too much of our time, and 2) we feel guilty, sad, or devalued when we feel like we don’t have enough time for love. I have talked at length about both of these issues in other episodes, but in short the American career ideal does, indeed, demand too much of our time which I think is most of the problem. Couple that with the idea that, the higher your salary the higher the expectations of time dedicated to work then we have a huge problem for those earning a comfortable living. The wealthier you are, the more likely that the working member of the household will miss out on family time.
The good news is, by identifying your values – especially those associated with career and family – you can identify mechanisms for adjustment. Something as simple as reexamining your budget can reveal how much money your family really needs to be content. And maybe you don’t need to earn $200k a year and work 70 hours a week. Maybe changing careers is a viable solution.Similarly, maybe your spouse feels unsafe without a large retirement savings. Maybe you agree to work as hard as possible for a few years and THEN make a change.
The hardest thing to change with respect to all of these values (money, safety, time spent with family, love, etc.) is your job. Your employer will almost always dictate how much time you will spend working both in the office and at home on your phone or computer. This is hard to change because you could lose your job. BUT, you could become an entrepreneur and work for yourself (although sometimes this is worse with respect to time). You could change careers. You could split time with your spouse and both work part time, though sometimes insurance is difficult in this situation. The point is, your employer will largely dictate your work situation, though there is some flexibility if you are willing to take risks.
The rest of the values can be manipulated. If you work too much and are missing family time, you can develop and schedule time to spend together and make this a CRITICAL secondary priority. You can learn to accept your career time commitments and ‘work with what you have’. You can thoroughly examine the time you spend working at home and think about creative ways to minimize this. Do you really need to answer emails at 9 PM? Can some things wait until the morning or office time?
I don’t think we spend enough time micro-managing our time and looking at the small ways to shift career time to family time. We believe we are helpless victims of our employers. I believe career constraints can be boiled down to a list of absolutes, maybes, and potential nos. This processes can free up small bits of time that add up to being able to have lunch with your spouse once a week to check in, to take your kids to school, or other opportunities. We just forget we have more control than we think.
I hope this episode reminds you of the power you have to control your time and to find small ways to improve your career/family balance. Please share your ideas below.
Many of us struggle with the amount of time we spend working on our career vs. time we spend with our family. For those pursuing demanding careers we fear we are missing out at home, and some of us who spend most of our time at home long to have a purpose beyond our families. Whether are assumptions are accurate, or our guilt is warranted remains largely unseen because career demands seem to trump our other needs (see Episode 32 Work/Life Balance for more general information about this topic). Regardless, MANY of us wish we could spend less time at work to free up more time to spend with the people that we love. And NOT being able to do this creates a lot of stress.
Careers are extremely demanding, and it seems like the higher the salary, the higher the demands on our time. We believe we have to earn these high salaries to provide for our families and many of us have the best intentions when choosing to work more than we’d like. But we question whether it is all ‘worth it’ in the end. As we age the value of all the work and all the money often comes into question and we miss more and more life events in the pursuit of wealth.
But what do we do? How do we ‘balance’ career/money with family/happiness?
This week I ponder that specific subset of the work/life balance question.
I used to think being doubtful protected me from disappointment. It’s that whole, ‘expect the worse but hope for the best’ thing. Unfortunately, this attitude quickly became ‘assuming the worst case scenario’ and was crippling for me. Doubt can be a useful tool to protect us from doing dangerous things, but when it becomes a habit it causes us to be pessimistic and cynical.
As someone who has struggled with this, I wanted to share how I identified this belief and the strategies I use to try and minimize doubt and be less cynical and optimistic. I am starting to believe it when people tell me we can change our minds and that our viewpoint and mindset can control our feelings.
Would you rather be doubtful and less disappointed, or hopeful and more positive?
I hope you are enjoying this interview series as much as I am. Dana reached out to me because talking about curiosity sounded interesting to her. And she has some new and interesting points to make about the importance of curiosity in our lives. It’s so much fun to listen to other peoples thoughts about how being curious is important to them. We are all unique, and even a simple topic like curiosity can be very diverse.
Danas’ specialty is helping people realize their self worth and to learn better self love practices. She offers several coaching and learning programs to help you move away from imposter syndrome or feeling ‘not good enough’ toward a happier and more relaxed life. She embodies creativity and has some really cool stories about her interests in art and magic. I can totally picture her leading a self love meditation at burning man.
What I find fascinating about Dana is she is leaving behind a successful pet business to follow her purpose. In helping people understand their relationships with their pets (you can find her book, EmBARKing Down the Lease of Codependency here) she realized her role was much bigger. Now she provides guidance and leadership to help us find peace and contentment in all aspects of our lives.
As someone who struggled with codependency, I appreciate Danas’ elegant approach. As she says, we don’t really need much to exist in this world as humans, but without believing in ourselves our lives are not as full. And, moreover, by accepting ourselves for who we are we can reach the highest level of contentment and joy.
You can find out about Danas’ programs and background on her website, but this interview gives you a real look into who she is, how she operates, and what she finds to be most important with respect to self love. I found myself terrifically relaxed listening to her talk. She is not rushed and you can almost see her calmness – and it’s contagious. It is obvious she is good at what she does and I have no doubt a person can find great wisdom in her teachings.
I was extremely fortunate to have our paths cross and know you will learn something from our chat.
Dana Humphrey (www.danahumphrey.com) can help you transform from being codependent to being independent. Already a successful entrepreneur, Dana has shifted to coaching others to live their best lives by realizing their self worth and focusing on loving ourselves more. She’s an amazing woman and shares with us a simple approach to living a better life.
One of Danas’ central tenets is loving ourselves and focusing on self care. She shares her wisdom of her struggles and how she has realized, and come to embody, a routine of love and awareness. We can all do better at not beating ourselves up and there is a lot to learn in this interview.
Full audio and video episodes this Friday right here at K+E=W.
After WWII Americans made some major advances in the pursuit of happiness. The 40-hour workweek. Worker protections via unions. Inexpensive plastic goods and TVs in every room. We purchased homes, went to college, and earned pensions for healthy retirements. We had picket fences, 2.3 kids, and stayed married (but not always happily). Our grandparents passed these ideals on to their children, and to each successive generation, changing very little with respect to goals and ideals. Depending on your age, you are the second, third, or fourth generation to come after that era that started nearly 80 years ago.
That dream worked out well for our ancestors, and maybe for their kids. But things have changed. Guaranteed pensions became incredibly volatile 401ks. Health care became more expensive and less helpful. College expenses multiplied by a factor of 10 or more, far outpacing inflation. We had kids later, and though we spent more time with them, they learned less about life because we protected them from it. The jobs our parents had changed dramatically for the worse, and by the time we got our degrees the jobs we wanted looked nothing like what we expected.
In short, living our ancestors’ dreams didn’t work out so well.
When we are born we make these and other silent agreements with our families, societies, religions, peers, employers, and other people and groups we may never meet. We obey the rules, norms, and laws of the countries we live in. We accept our familial beliefs. We learn the rules from the schools we attend. A lot of these rules are good. They keep us safe and peaceful. But some of these rules are just plain dumb, and it’s time we pushed back on the things that aren’t working out for most of us. It’s time for a NEW dream.
I am currently working on a larger project that will connect my background in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with personal growth, psychology, and finding more joy and fulfillment in our lives. In Episode 43 I introduce some evolutionary evidence that every individual human is born to discover their uniqueness (despite how ‘woo woo’ that sounds), and how NOT doing so goes against evolutionary theory.
I didn’t coin the term Unnatural Selection. People have used it, generally, to describe forces that affect evolution but are not necessarily a part of ‘regular life’. These forces become selection pressures when they influence the ability for a species to persist. For example, invasive species can be physically moved to new areas where they did not evolve and wreak havoc on the species living in that area. These selection pressures are some feature of the invasive organism that gives it an advantage and with which local species did not co-evolve. These forces often include predation, habitat use, aggression, or other forces that negatively impair local species.
The point of the term unnatural selection is that this novel selection force did not co evolve with the species it is affecting. Most of the time this disconnect is about time or space. In the invasive species example, the organisms didn’t occur in the same physical space (like a continent, island, or area) and so the issue is simply about relocation. Other times the unnatural condition is about time, and the obvious example is climate change. Many argue that human activities are a natural part of our evolution, but the key difference is the amount of time it has taken for these changes to occur. Sure, if human induced global changes occurred over millennia, the earth and its inhabitants may, indeed, have plenty of time to coevolve. But the sudden nature of temperature and CO2 changes over the past 100 years did not allow for such a response. Hence, the selection forces are unnatural.
That’s a long way to go to explain the basis for my argument, but well worth it I hope.
So the main argument I am making in this episode is that humans have imposed a few other unnatural selection forces upon ourselves. If you watched Episode 43, you will know that the main force I consider unnatural is that of conformity. Despite the evidence (which I find compelling, obviously, though you may not) that our DNA, by its very nature, demands that every human fully realize our uniqueness, yet human societies impose the opposite.
Societal norms, religions, laws, politics, and even the popular arts impose forces that encourage conformity. Because it is our nature to NOT conform, but to be UNIQUE, these forces are unnatural. Sure, norms and laws are important. Driving on one side of the road, wearing clothes, not punching people in the face. These are good things. Here I’m talking about mechanisms that discourage people from being different or to behave ‘like everyone else’. On the obvious end, ‘white people are better’ is an unnatural selection force. On the more obscure end, publishers requiring all books to be written according to a set of approved literary rules may result in really, really great books never being published.
The essence of unnatural selection is the intention to make everyone the same, and to make life difficult for those who insist on expressing their individuality. You probably won’t have to think very long to find examples of this in your own life. I have experience mdany examples in my life, and maybe that’s why it’s such a big deal to me.
Therefore, the ultimate travesty of unnatural selection is that the ideas, thoughts, and creativity humans need to survive the future may never come to light because they will be discouraged and effectively ‘weeded out’ of society. As the world becomes more crowded and less hospitable to humans, it becomes increasingly necessary to find unique ideas and approaches that will alter that path. Solving human problems, or any problem, REQUIRES unique viewpoints. As many as possible.
I hope you enjoy the episode. Your comments and thoughts are welcome and encouraged as I develop this idea further.