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No Barriers Podcast Episode 68: Joseph Gray: Breaking Ground

Around the time when lockdowns were becoming a reality for most of the U.S., our hosts had the opportunity to slow down and catch up with world-renowned athlete and long-distance runner, Joseph Gray. Living in Colorado, Joseph was enjoying time with his family and took some time out of his training schedule to chat with our No Barriers Team. As part of our Alchemy Series (sponsored by Wells Fargo and Prudential),  we are excited to share his episode and story. It is definitely one to inspire.

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#ProjectInspireDiversity #journeyofjoegeezi 


His achievements are far too numerous to list out but to name a few: he is a 2-time World Mountain Running Champion (most recently won in 2019), he is the first African American to win the USA Mountain Running National Championship and also the first African American to make the USA World Mountain Running Team. Additionally, he is the first athlete to win the North American, Central American, and Caribbean Championships in Cross Country and Mountain Running. 




 “I try my hardest to do my part by being an example of what hard work can do in terms of the opportunities this sport has given me and the notion that no matter your upbringing you too can be a National or even World Champion if you work for it.”




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Episode Transcript

Joseph : You haven't really touched the surface. You haven't even started competing until you get to those moments where you are challenged and so I feel like I'm looking forward to that. I want to get to that point so that I know am I doing what I can do? Am I reaching my abilities?

Eric : It's easy to talk about the successes but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Eric Weihenmayer. I've gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon and I happen to be blind.

Eric : It's been a struggle to live what I call a no barriers life, to define it, to push the parameters of what it means and part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. That unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in and the summit, exists a map. That map, that way forward, is what we call no barriers.

Jeff : Welcome to another installment of our No Barriers Alchemy Podcast series where we explore this extraordinary moment in our lives. Special thanks to Wells Fargo and Prudential for their generous support of this series. Joseph Gray is a 36 year old American world champion runner who competes mostly in trail, mountain and snowshoe races. A 31-time USA national team member hails from the Pacific Northwest and now splits his time training in Colorado Springs as well as Tacoma, Washington.

Jeff : His achievements are far too numerous to list but to name a few, he's a two-time world mountain running champion, most recently in 2019. He's the first African American to win the USA Mountain Running National Championship and also the first African American to make the USA World Mountain Running team.

Jeff : Additionally, he's the first athlete to win the North American, Central American, and Caribbean championships in cross country mountain running. A few notable Colorado achievements include completing the [inaudible 00:02:19] Incline in 17 minutes and 45 seconds, which is just absurd, and being a three-time winner of the Pike's Peak ascent.

Jeff : Joseph continues to be a mainstay atop the podium worldwide and strives to see and inspire more diversity in the running world and actively mentors young Black runners in his community.

Eric :

Joseph :, thank you so much for being on the No Barriers Podcast. Man, it's so cool to have you with us and you're a local Coloradan and you have done tons of things. You're a champion in so many ways. I think it's cool. I want to kick right into the Pike's Peak ascent, man. I've hiked Pike's Peak and hiked the incline. The incline, by the way, why don't you describe it for folks? That's like the ultimate pain. You take any sport and the hell part of any sport is totally hammering uphill and that's what you specialize in.

Joseph : Thank you for having me first of all. Really honored to be here. Yeah. In terms of talking about the incline, yeah, man, there's really no way to put it. It's so steep and ...

Eric : It's on Pike's Peak, which is in Colorado Springs, right? How much ascent is that incline? Like a couple thousand feet?

Joseph : It's like 2000 feet. A little less than a mile.

Eric : It's all railroad tie stairs, right?

Joseph : Yeah. Yeah. Varying steepness. I think the average is like almost 40% but there's some sections where if you're not paying attention you could fall backwards pretty easily.

Jeff : All right. Hold on. Let me get some reference here. When I was in ... I would say probably 15 years ago, I was in really good mountaineering shape and considered myself to be a pretty studly uphill guy. I went in there, I had no idea what the time was, I timed myself. I walked out with 32 minutes, right? I got 32 minutes [inaudible 00:04:21]. I was crushing it. I'm like that's got to be some sort of record, man. That being said,

Joseph : did it in 18.

Eric : Very impressive. [crosstalk 00:04:33].

Jeff : Wait, you did what? You did 17?

Joseph : 17:45.

Jeff : 17:45. [crosstalk 00:04:43]. That's a huge 15 seconds. That's like an entirety. That's the last 15 seconds is the one that hurts the most. That's impressive, dude. That is an indicator of just how strong you really are and I think also how willing you are to go deep into that pain cave and let it hurt a little bit.

Joseph : Yeah. You definitely got to hurt for that one. It's not easy, even if you don't plan on running fast and you just plan on doing it easy. It still gets you worked up pretty good.

Eric : How do you deal with that hurt, though? When lungs are crushing and you feel like you're suffocating, most people, as I said, would call that the worst thing ever. Do you excel at that or do you have to fight through it or do you have some strategies for your brain or how do you do it?

Joseph : You know, I think it's very natural for me. When it gets to that point where you're struggling, for me, that's where mentally I've always felt I've thrived, even in other sports. When it gets to the tough parts in a race or where you're just suffering and you feel like, "Man, I don't know if I can go any further at this pace" that's when I'm like, "Let's see what I can do. I want to push it to my limits. I want to see what I can do." I've got one body and one life and let's see what we can push to.

Jeff : Were you always like that? As a kid were you like that?

Joseph : Yeah. I think I've always been just a curious ... They used to call me Curious George, man. I'm just curious to see ... If I see a trail, I want to know where it goes or if I'm trying some new sport I want to see how good can I get?

Jeff : All right. Well, that's one thing. That's a competitive nature in you. That's one thing. Clearly, you've got that. You also have this hunger to hurt, to see where you can go physically.

Eric : Yeah. I'm curious about that too, how you tolerate or how you manage that kind of suffering when you have to go so deep.

Joseph : Yeah. I think from a young age, my father I would say is very much like that, my mother is very much like that. Yeah. I think when you get those tough moments I feel like you haven't really touched the surface, you haven't even started competing until you get to those moments and that's when you really prove to yourself your worth and your ability is when you get to those moments, when you are challenged, and so I feel like I'm looking forward to that.

Joseph : I want to get to that point so that I know what good is and if I'm challenging myself. I'm thinking about it from a personal perspective. Am I doing what I can do? Am I reaching my abilities? I feel like you have to get to that point of where it's hard and you're suffering. I look forward to it. I think it's more of a mental thing for me.

Eric : You obviously don't get there off the couch, right? I mean, like I've heard you talk about your work ethic, your hard work.

Joseph : Well, you just suffer quicker [inaudible 00:07:37]. You know? Yeah. I mean, no matter what I'm doing that's kind of the goal is like I'm not doing this for fun, per se. For me, fun is reaching those goals and seeing what you can do. That's fun to me.

Jeff : All right. In the same spirit of that then, do you find yourself some days taking completely off and sitting around on the couch and eating a bag of Cheetos and drinking a beer? Has that happened to you or that's just the antithesis of who you are?

Joseph : No. I think that's very important for longevity ... If you look at the top, top guys and I'm not tooting my own horn but I feel like I've been in the sport for a while and I'm one of the top guys too, you have to be able to step away from the sport and take breaks and take your mind away from it. When you see somebody who is super OCD about training, you don't see those guys at an elite level for very long because they're too compulsive. They just don't understand that you do have to rest, you do have to have a mental break sometimes.

Joseph : I think it's important. Minus the beer, I probably would have some whiskey or some bourbon but I'm not a beer dude. My wife likes beer so I'll have a beer with her on occasion but she won't do the whiskey and bourbon with me, though.

Eric : You've got to ebb and flow a little bit. That's what you're saying, right? I mean, life's ebb and flow, right? I mean, you can't always be peaked out.

Joseph : No. I mean, you definitely can't. You can't be in peak shape for too long anyway. No matter what anyone says.

Jeff : All right. How does a Black kid in Lakewood, Washington get into running? I mean, this is a whole other conversation but I just need to understand that. My guess is maybe that wasn't in your spectrum at first or maybe it was. I don't know. You tell me.

Joseph : No. You know, especially in my community where I was coming up, that's not something that Black kids really did. You saw a lot of Black kids who sprint, who did sprinting but it was because maybe they were a football player, baseball or basketball and they just needed something to do during track season.

Joseph : Ironically, it was a white guy ... [inaudible 00:09:53] right now. I've talked about this many times but he's family to me. We were a predominantly Black school when I was in middle school and nobody was really running. We had PE and he was a PE teacher. Everybody knew him. Cool dude. He grew up in Tacoma so he grew up around a lot of Black kids so he could relate to us and he knew how to talk to us and stuff.

Joseph : He was very positive. He knew how to get you to do something that maybe you didn't want to do. [inaudible 00:10:21] sports or PE or whatever, he could challenge you. He knew how to talk to you and get you going in a sense. He talked me into coming out for the track team and eventually it was like, "Man, I don't want to wear those short shorts [inaudible 00:10:37] make fun of me when they see me in these shorts." I wore baggy shorts I think for a while. Actually probably all through middle school I think I wore the baggy racing shorts just because that wasn't hot back then. It wasn't what was in.

Joseph : Yeah. I mean, I was getting into a lot of trouble. Just fights and doing stupid stuff when I was young, hanging out with the wrong people and I think he could see a little bit of that. Then also another big thing that I would say God placed into my life just because he was working with the special needs students as well.

Joseph : There was a class, some kind of leadership class or something like that and you could do different ... There was different things you could do in the school for those credits. He talked me into doing that. It was an eye-opener for me because it gave me a whole different outlook on life and just a whole different appreciation for life in general because you see kids who are battling with things that you can't even imagine.

Joseph : You're this young kid, complaining about life, complaining about these disadvantages and how someone treated you or maybe you didn't get the breakfast you wanted that morning or something like that and you see these kids going through real issues and their family going through real issues that are costly both mentally and financially.

Joseph : I remember just having a whole different appreciation after that experience and understanding that [inaudible 00:12:15] I should definitely appreciate my gifts and my blessings and life more rather than [crosstalk 00:12:20].

Jeff : What is this guy's name? He obviously was a big impact for you. What's his name?

Joseph : Mark Brinkhouse.

Eric : What kind of challenges were you going through when you were growing up?

Joseph : Most of my issues were just being around the wrong kids. My parents were great parents to me. I always had the love that I needed but I was the kind of kid that if I wasn't being stimulated, I was going to get in trouble and getting in trouble makes your life harder. You got to deal with the ramifications of your actions and you're fighting people, you're stealing. You know, we used to do all kind of dumb stuff.

Joseph : My parents were the kind of people who would maybe not give you what you wanted all the time so I felt like, "Oh, well, you keep saying no. I'm going to go get it. I'm going to find a way to get it. I'm going to find a way to get some money" and stuff like that.

Joseph : A lot of times it was being impatient that made my life tough because my parents were good. They showed me love. Even if I got a whooping or if I did something bad and they had to discipline me, I always knew they loved me no matter what. Even when we were doing kind of the gang life thing when we were young and some kids go to gangs because they want family and it's like I'm hanging out with these guys because I want to fight, I want to do stupid stuff. You know what I'm saying?

Joseph : It was different. It was different. I'm not the kind of kid who could say my parents didn't love me or they abandoned me. That was never the thing. My dad was always there for me if I wanted to go do something. My mom was always there.

Eric : You joined track. Did you start channeling your energy?

Joseph : It was different from my other sports where if you lose in basketball, you can blame it on someone else. You might not say it out loud but you know you lose a game it's like these factors led to that loss and maybe they didn't have anything to do with you but in running, someone beats you by a few seconds and you can see them right there, nobody else, no one hit you, you didn't trip over nothing, you [crosstalk 00:14:27].

Jeff : He athlete-d you.

Joseph : Just beat me.

Jeff : Eric and I both wrestled in junior high and high school at a pretty high level and it's the same thing, right? That's one of the reasons why wrestling is the same, it gives you the same mentality. I think that a lot of tough people come from wrestling and running and it's simply because of what you're saying right now. It is you, man. You're the one out there on that trail or on that track. You're the only one on that mat. You look inward.

Eric : I remember in wrestling there was a sign on the ceiling that said, "If you can see this, you're a fish" and that means you're on your back flopping around. Thank God I was blind so I couldn't see it.

Joseph : Ironically, Brinkhouse, my coach, he was also a wrestling coach. He taught me how to wrestle too.

Jeff : All right. Take me through the timeline because then I think you ended up somehow down in Oklahoma.

Joseph : I was kind of intrigued by living somewhere that was so different than where I had ever been. I don't know, man. It just seemed cool. The weather was different, everything about Oklahoma was so different. I thought it would be cool to just go to college far away from home. Man, I thought it was cool, man.

Eric : It seemed like a huge leap,

Joseph :, just to get into cross country from traditional track to cross country. How did you discover cross country? That seems like the first step, right?

Joseph : I've always liked the outdoors and exploring and stuff like that and so cross country was right up my alley. I loved it, man. It was like a very natural transition and I started that in ninth grade so right when I went to high school.

Jeff : Had you felt like you'd been embraced or embraced yourself as being a guy of color who is racing in a predominantly or competing in a predominantly white sport? Do you feel like there's a little bit of a Jackie Robinson thing? Is there like, "I'm going to do this, not just for me but because of who I represent" or is there any feeling about that or is it just basically washed away and you're just a straight up competitor?

Joseph : No, no. Definitely. That's part of why I created that Inspire Diversity [inaudible 00:16:42] because I know that kids are inspired by people who do well and in a sport where there's not many of us, not many Black Americans doing it, it's important that I be that face that other kids can be inspired by.

Joseph : That's why I brought up issues about [inaudible 00:17:00] not sponsorships not being given to Black Americans or media not covering Black Americans or articles in magazines not relating to Black culture, especially when it comes to the outdoor sector. It's like how can you get that next generation of kids to be inspired or intrigued about this sport when nothing about it looks like them? There's nothing that they can relate to. It's difficult. It's scary.

Joseph : I look at my experiences and, like I said, I didn't realize ... I shouldn't say the word scary. That's probably a bad way to put it. Like I said, we weren't scared of nothing when I was a kid. It's not intriguing. Why would I want to try that? When a coach tries to talk you into trying something like cross country or mountain running, like say you graduated college and you're a Black kid and it's like, "You should try this", it's like, well, you look at all the magazines and stuff and you look at who is getting sponsored in that sector and you're like, "Well, no one is getting sponsored, no one is making money who looks like me, there's nobody being marketed" so it looks kind of like a daunting task. How do I go about that?

Joseph : Honestly, I do feel like [inaudible 00:18:16] because you can look at my blueprint. How do you get started in that is you have to win a lot before you get contracts that guys you're going against who aren't black, they're getting that for very little. They can accomplish much less than you and get similar contracts.

Joseph : You know, it's kind of a blueprint. I want to improve that for that next generation of kids that they can be judged equally and get sponsorships equally based on merit rather than being discriminated against.

Eric : Inspire Diversity, you're doing a lot of work bringing attention on social media but also you're in person meeting people and mentoring kids, which is really cool, right? Tell us about that.

Joseph : Yeah.

Eric : How you built that idea and how you carried it out.

Joseph : Yeah. You know, the big thing, for me, was when I was getting started I remember someone gave me something for free, like some shoes. You get shirts and stuff like that and it gets you so pumped and you get so excited about the sport, even at a moment where maybe you just experienced something that you didn't like about the sport but then someone gives you something free, some gear, you don't have to pay for it. To me, it was very motivating.

Joseph : I wanted to be able to give that same blessing to other kids that I feel like are in my shoes when I was that age where they're in a sport where maybe they don't have a lot of support because their friends aren't doing it. You know? It's new to their family, it's new to people around them because a lot of Black people don't do distance running and stuff like that.

Joseph : You know, I created it to kind of use a blessing to give a blessing. I've been blessed with sponsorships and I'm very proud about that and very thankful and so I want to be able to help other people and my sponsors have backed me and given me products so that I can give to these kids. I want to keep doing it.

Eric : That's so smart because it's like totally psychological, right? When you're a young kid and you're trying to think about a pathway forward and somebody gives you a free pair of shoes you're like, "That's cool." Pretty simple idea but it's so smart because who doesn't love free shit?

Joseph : Oh, yeah. For sure. Especially if you don't have that much money.

Eric : Exactly.

Joseph : I tell people all the time, my running career, I started running in Bobos. I was running in Payless shoes, shoes that break on you like five miles, break on you in PE class and they got holes in them and people [inaudible 00:20:43] you for them. I know a lot of kids in that same boat. If you can give something free to somebody, it inspires them and, obviously, it can be a benefit too because they have now quality shoes or quality sports nutrition products and it opens the door for them.

Eric : By the way, though, I did the Havana marathon.

Jeff : and I actually both did it back a long time ago.

Jeff : and I were running along and we've got our nice running shoes and some guy goes flying past us, some local guy and

Jeff : goes, "Just FYI, he's barefoot." I'm like, "Oh, man."

Joseph : [inaudible 00:21:20].

Eric : I've always heard with endurance sports people actually ... Their longevity is a lot longer than sprinting and stuff so you actually keep getting stronger through your thirties and maybe even forties. Is that true, you think?

Joseph : You know, I've been one to say I don't know if age matters as much as your life, like what's going on in life allows you to be able to train. Do you have things that are stressing you out? Things that are pulling you one way or another? It's really about your lifestyle. You could see guys like [inaudible 00:21:52]. He's got to be almost in his mid-forties now and he's still crushing it. It's because he has a lifestyle that allows him to do that kind of thing.

Joseph : When it comes to sprinting, obviously, you need that muscle mass. Your body is not going to be able to hang onto that muscle mass when you're like forties so you typically see people not do as well in their forties when they're running the 100 meters because it's a totally different sport.

Eric : What do you mean when ... I've heard you say you've got to bring your own truth to these things. What does that mean? Explain that to me.

Joseph : Just being genuine, letting people know my story, being the first Black American to win the mountain running championships and make the world team, bringing that truth to the sport and showing that it can be done. You don't have to come from the mountains to be a great mountain runner. You can develop those skills and those abilities with hard work. Just try to inspire that next generation of minority kids and try something that's very different to their culture.

Jeff : If a kid of color comes to you, which I'm sure happens all the time, and reaches out to you, whether it's through social media or online, in some fashion. Maybe you meet them at an event. They say, "You've inspired me,

Joseph :. I want to do what you're doing." What is your next step? What do you tell them to take as far as the next step to be able to follow in your footsteps? No pun intended.

Joseph : If they're serious there is a time and a place for us to talk about that kind of stuff but, typically, I'm not going to try to give them advice right off the jump, just meeting them because I know when I was young sometimes you don't want an old head trying to tell you, "You should do this, man. You should do that." It's like I didn't come here for you to preach at me, man.

Eric : Maybe you try to inspire them the way your coach did. You know what I mean? Kind of just some humor and positivity and just a little push, right?

Joseph : I'm not the same guy as my friend Brinkhouse. I'm more of a straight and narrow kind of guy. I like things to be straight and narrow. I'm not super comedic when it comes to sport because I don't feel like that's the way to attain top level goals.

Joseph : There are some people who know how to get that message across with comedy. I just don't know ... That's not what I do. It's not something I've done. My father was the same way. No BS. Stick to the plan, stay motivated, stay focused and so when I'm coaching youth that's the path I take. I don't have to put on a show for you to get you interested or motivated and if I do then this ain't for you. If I've got to do all this to get you excited then you don't want to do it.

Joseph : There's a lot of kids out there dying to get a chance so if I need to do all that and put on a show for you then you don't want to be here. Stop wasting my time and I'm going to stop wasting yours.

Jeff : Yeah. You know, that's a good discussion about leadership in general, leadership in coaching because there's so many different styles of leadership in coaching and there's a lot of different ways to receive it and what hit you was your dad and your Oklahoma state coach and you're like, "That's what's going to make me go." But then there's other kids you probably engage with that probably, obviously, resonated with you and then maybe some softer, more humorous approach and, thank goodness, we've all got different styles, right? You know what works for you. You've got to be you.

Eric : What about with your own kid? Do you have a son? Is that right?

Joseph : I got a son and a daughter.

Eric : And a daughter? Oh, okay. You have a daughter too. Okay. Does that translate to parenting too or how does that work?

Joseph : I'm never going to be too hard on my kids unless I see that they have a knack for that. They have the ability or they have a skillset ... It could be anything. My son and my daughter they're a math genius. They're just amazing at math. I could tell they're serious about it. I'm going to push them because that's what they need.

Joseph : You need to be pushed. You're not here to waste time in life and be mediocre and if they're not serious about something then I'm not going to push them to be serious in that. I'll find out what they're serious about. I'm not going to push them to do what I did. If they don't like the sports that mom and dad did then whatever. What you want to do? You want to ride a bike? You want to box? Whatever.

Joseph : I just want to make sure I'm there for them to push them when they need to be pushed and if they don't need to be pushed and they just want to have fun and they're not the kind of kid that wants to be great then it's like, well, you got to let them find what they want to be great at and help them pursue those goals.

Eric : That's really good perspective because, yeah, a lot of kids aren't going to be champions. They're doing it because it's social and it's fun and it keeps them fit or whatever it is. [crosstalk 00:26:34].

Jeff : To

Joseph :'s point, it's okay if you're not a champion but [inaudible 00:26:40] into it and not come out half-assed with it. You better bring it every day. Right?

Joseph : I have so many stories like that where I'll see a dude 500 pounds outside. I mean, he wasn't 500 pounds but there was this big dude in my neighborhood. I see him outside and he's running. I'm like, "Man, he's moving. He's really trying to get out there." I love seeing that. I love seeing that passion. It's just so motivational. To see somebody pushing, like whether you're good or bad. Just try to be good at something. Don't just be complacent. I love seeing the passion in people. Yeah, man. I hope my kids are passionate like me.

Eric :

Joseph :, I told you when I first met you that you inspired me because I knew I was going to interview you so I went out with my fifth guide dog, she's still two years old, I trained her in the last month how to run so we've been running like four, five miles everyday on the river path and I run with the handle of the guide dog harness on one hand and then my cane up like this and I just run. I'm just telling people, "Get out of my way here."

Jeff : At this point in all of our lives, we'd be remiss in not asking you how you're handling this? How has it affected you? Maybe even throw us a little pearl out there for still training and staying fit and staying sharp in the midst of all of this chaos?

Eric : Yeah. Athletes are getting crushed, right? Events. All of the dreams that you're training for, things are getting canceled. I mean, this must be really hard on athletes right now.

Joseph : Yeah. It is tough, man. I think when this pandemic hit and everything started getting canceled and I started getting the emails and everything about this race and that race and this and that is canceled. A little piece of you starts to break away because you're like, "Oh, man. I just lost a chance to challenge myself" and it's very difficult.

Joseph : Yeah. I mean, it's important to stay active during this time just to give you an outlet. For some people, I think like myself, who are used to racing and putting in a lot of work all the time it's a good time to try new things. I've tried some new workouts and things that I haven't done in a while. It's been cool.

Joseph : Most of all, I think the silver lining is the spending time with family. I've spent, and I think we all have, I'm not even bragging here but I've spent so much time with my kids and my wife and I'm learning things about them that ... I feel like even in marriage, I've known my wife since we were 17 so we've known each other for a long time. You always learn new things about each other. I think even if you're friends with someone you've known for 20 years, you learn something new every so many days about them.

Joseph : To me, that's been really cool is just my kids are young so they're learning new stuff all the time. It's kind of a time where it's like when will I ever get to spend this amount of time with my family?

Jeff : There's dozens of things that I think all of us have been required to reflect on that we used to take for granted that now is very, very pure and right there and mandatory and right in your face and if you walk away from this entire experience and you haven't evolved as a human being in some fashion, you're missing the point. I think it's a mistake if we have not evolved individually and as a society through it all. You know what I mean?

Joseph : Yeah. No, that's well said, man. That's well said.

Eric : Thank you so much,

Joseph :. It's been great. I'm really processing and soaking it all in. It's really nice to hear you and your story and your message and your truth as [crosstalk 00:30:26].

Jeff : You're an extraordinary guy,

Joseph :. You really are. It's clear that I think you had something in you from the beginning and maybe just like all of us, we're all given something. It's a matter of whether we tap into it or not. You tapped into it. You found it. It is you. It's your essence. We are fortunate to have had some time to talk to you because I feel like more people could find that thing that lives in them, like you did, and then harness it and go with it. I commend you, man. Keep fighting a good fight.

Eric : Thanks,

Joseph :.

Jeff : Yeah. Thanks, by the way.

Joseph : I appreciate the words, man. Thank you guys for having me here.

Eric : There's this movie that I loved when I was a kid. It was in like the '70s and it was Buffalo Bill. It was Clint Eastwood. He's like this amazing shooter and he could throw a coin up and shoot a hole through it and everything. Then at the end of the movie they're like, "Well, how did you become Buffalo Bill?" It turns out he was a shoe salesman in New Jersey and he decided to make a career move.

Eric : I love that because it's like there's no blueprint, right? There's no ... You don't have to grow up in the mountains. You don't have to be this guy that grows up in the Rocky Mountains. You can grow up in Washington, you can grow up in a tough neighborhood. You make your own blueprint and you make your own path forward. It's really cool when it's not like the traditional story, right? When you really have to use that intrinsic motivation to find your way forward and do something totally out of the box. Thanks,

Joseph :. Thanks,

Jeff :. No barriers.

Jeff : See you next time.

Jeff : The production team behind this podcast includes senior producer Pauline Shaffer, executive producer Diedrich Jonk, sound design, editing and mixing by Tyler Cottman, graphics by Sam Davis, and marketing support by Megan Lee and Carly Sandsmark. Special thanks to the Dan Ryan Band for our intro song Guidance.

Jeff : Thanks to all of you for listening. We know that you've got a lot of choices about how you can spend your time and we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at No Barriers Podcast dot com.

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