Today, we’re interviewing the master of interviews, Cal Fussman, an acclaimed writer for Esquire and speaker around the globe. If you haven’t heard his story before, be sure to check out his two interviews on The Tim Ferriss Show.
Born in Brooklyn, Cal spent ten straight years traveling the world, swimming over 18-foot tiger sharks, rolling around with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and searching for gold in the Amazon. He boxed against then-undefeated world champion Julio Cesar Chavez, won a James Beard award and served as sommelier atop the World Trade Center. He now lives with his wife—whom he met while on his quest to discover the world’s most beautiful beach—and his three children in Los Angeles, where he spends every morning eating breakfast with Larry King.
He tells us about his life-long commitment to adventure, how to approach every day as an opportunity to embrace the unknown and how to make the office a more serenflipitous place.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The greatest gift that we get is waking up. So, I get up looking for the gift!
What does adventure mean to you and why do you think it’s important?
Adventure means waking up in the morning and not knowing what’s going to happen. When I traveled for 10 years, that was my choice - I’d wake up not knowing who I was going to meet, where I’d be sleeping that night, what I’d be eating that day, or which situation I’d be stumbling into.
And, after ten years of that, I ended up meeting the love of my life, which meant the end of that trip, and the start of a whole new adventure. After I married, had 3 kids, got a cat, a dog, and so on, I still didn’t feel like the adventuring was over.
No matter whether you’re at home or living on the road, adventure is about new experiences, and when you have kids, you come to rely on the growth of your children for new experiences. You get to relive something spectacular and truly enjoy it - even just watching your 3 year old eat an ice cream for the first time.
As the kids have grown up, I go on to create new adventures, like training under the world’s top sommelier. And now, I’m speaking all over the world...and that’s a whole new career for me. There’s really no sameness to my life.
I’ve gotten to come back to myself in a way...I can feel my 20’s reawakening all over again and I can’t wait!
Do you think that people have to learn to be adventurous or are some people just born that way?
Well, as I just recently learned at a Tony Robbins conference, there are two types of people: those who need certainty and those that don’t. If you’re the kind of person that has to be in an office every day at a specific time, then you have to figure out a way to bring the element of uncertainty into your life.
But then, for someone like me, I have to actively look for certainty in order to be able to put three kids through college!
What’s your go-to way to get unstuck?
I visualize the other side. I look beyond, I look up, I repeat a mantra: “If you can separate yourself from the perceived pain, you won’t feel the pain!” If you can see challenges as opportunities...then you’re looking positively at that situation, and you’re probably going to get that positivity right back.
What advice would you have for people who have a tough time getting out of their comfort zone?
Simply visualize where you want to go beyond your comfort zone; identify the fears that are holding you back, what it would be like without them...and then go there!
How do you Serenflip?
I’ve started doing corporate keynotes on the power of curiosity, and I invented a “corporate poker game” using Serenflipity cards as a group exercise to help employees step outside of their comfort zones.
It works like this:
After sharing stories of people I’ve interviewed over the years, and tales of how they’ve pushed themselves or society in their own unique, positive ways, I pair up the attendees.
I ask them to discuss two questions with each other: “What was a time where you had to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and what was accomplished by it?” and “What would you do if fear wasn’t in the way?”
Now that they have a better understanding of each other, I ask everyone to take out their deck of Serenflipity cards. Each person has to pick 3 cards for their partner to help them get out of their comfort zone and overcome what holds them back. It’s wonderful to see how invested everyone is in this -- almost agonizing over which cards to give his or her partner.
What the employees don’t know is that their executive team has pre-ranked each of the cards based on perceived difficulty. We reveal the ranking to the audience, and have them score their hand based on which 3 cards were given to them.
Out of a total pool of 30 points, we had two winners clock in with 27 points each. And they get extra points if they actually complete the adventures after the conference.
Everyone walks out of the room learning a bit more about how to interview, how to share themselves, how to take in information to push them to higher ground, and how to make strategic decisions for someone else in a very purposeful, connected way.
Learn some more and follow Cal’s adventures here!