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Taking Off The Mask

Taking Off The Mask

By Ashanti Branch

Taking Off The Mask is an experience of getting real. Providing young men and men a space to have real conversations about life, challenges, joys, heartbreak, dreams, failures, and whatever is ready to be revealed.
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Currently playing episode

E32. Updates and Good News - with Ashanti Branch and Sam R.

Taking Off The Mask

1x
E90. Tilling The Soil In Your Heart - with Brandon Clift, Champion For Men's Mental Health, Podcast Host: The ManKind Podcast
“More often than not the mask is a survival mechanism for me. It’s serving a purpose to allow me to get through this interaction, this engagement, this party, this wedding that we’re a part of… It’s just enough to get me through, so long as I have a ritual and a way to take it off when I’m around the ones that matter.” - Brandon Clift Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Brandon Clift. After reaching a supposed level of “success”, Brandon reached a point in life where he needed to leave everything he owned behind. He left Australia and found the power of men's work through the ManKind Project. And through his travels, he has helped grow and establish men's circles all over the world. He now hosts the ManKind Podcast, which “breaks the old molds of modern manhood to prove there is more than one way to be a man.” We hope you enjoy learning about how Brandon seeks to break the molds of his own masks! (2:10) Ashanti’s introduction. (8:10) Ashanti and Brandon reflect on how they first met and all of the memories they’ve shared, which include film screenings, trips to Australia, and encounters with the Gold Coast police. (15:20) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - funny, serious, hard-working, caring - and why he wants to start leading with care. (20:10) Brandon shares the front of his mask - confidence, grounded, engaged. (28:40) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - pain, fear, doubt - and reflects on why he’s been avoiding making a doctor’s appointment. (32:20) Brandon shares the back of his mask - doubt, numbing, disengaged/lazy - and explores how each item on the back of his mask conflicts with an item on the front. (39:10) Brandon and Ashanti analyze why men are constantly being pressured to project strength and to prioritize thinking over feeling. (49:40) Brandon shares some final thoughts on encountering discomfort in conversations and doing the work. Then, he shares some information on the Mankind Podcast. --- Connect with Brandon Clift: Website: brandonclift.com Podcast: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mankind-podcast/id1555955858 Facebook: facebook.com/thebrandonclift Twitter: twitter.com/inthezone_365 --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
57:27
May 24, 2022
E89. Real Superheroes Go To Therapy - with Nicholas Domingo, Author & Creator - Captain Encouragement, Happy Hive Studios & Productions
“I’ve kind of worn the front of the mask so much that it’s become attached… Even when I’m with myself, like, the ability to take it off has basically been diminished… It doesn’t help that one of my titles is Captain Encouragement. ‘Wait, you’re going through depression? Wait aren’t you Captain Encouragement?’” - Nicholas Domingo Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Nicholas Domingo. Nicholas is the creator and Executive Director of Captain Encouragement, a superhero (yes) and organization that promotes children’s wellness. He also runs Happy Hive Studios, which helped create “Ever Forward Club: The Adventure.” On this podcast, we usually don’t dive into our guest’s career journey. But all the moments that led up to the creation of Captain Encouragement were so compelling - they led to a bountiful discussion on identity, validation, and societal constructs. (2:00) Ashanti's introduction. (8:30) Nicholas introduces himself, his work, and how he’s dedicated his life to positive impact and service. (14:15) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - caring, funny, dedicated - and how the front of his mask can be misunderstood. (16:10) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - overload, worried, my brother. (20:00) Nicholas shares his mask. On the front is unshaken, strong, happy, and calm. On the back us vulnerable, tired, and afraid. Nicholas feels like he’s worn the front of his mask for so long that it’s become fixed to his face to the point where he may not even know the back of his mask. As Nicholas grows more in touch with the back of his mask, he and Ashanti celebrate the fact that they can only be fully loved if they are fully known. (28:55) Nicholas tells the origin story of Captain Encouragement and how he responded to being bullied as a child. Then, he and Ashanti take the time to appreciate following your heart and taking a leap of faith. (46:55) Nicholas and Ashanti discuss the human need for validation, and how an ethereal pursuit can be sidetracked by societal constructs. Then, Nicholas shares his thoughts on how social media and our need to capture everything on video perpetuates harmful behavior. (53:40) Nicholas started seeing a therapist. He shares how he has grown throughout the process. Then, Ashanti looks at all the ways that comic book superheroes receive therapy. (1:08:55) Nicholas shares where you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Nicholas Domingo: Facebook: facebook.com/happyhivesp Instagram: instagram.com/smilewithnic Instagram: instagram.com/happyhivesp --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
01:12:21
May 17, 2022
E88. TOTM Face to Face #6: The Lasting Effects - with Mohandas D. & Gabriel B.
This TOTM Face to Face conversation is between Mohandas and Gabriel. Mohandas is the Ever Forward Club’s Youth Host, whom you can get to know more about in episode 83. Gabriel is Mohandas’s cousin and a high school senior. By playing the card game "Ever Forward Club: The Adventure", Mohandas and Gabriel have a chance to discuss trust, friendships, life’s challenges, and more. (2:25) Ashanti’s introduction. (6:25) Mohandas and Gabriel check-in and discuss Gabriel’s college search. (8:30) Mohandas gives a breakdown of “Ever Forward: The Adventure” card game. (10:40) They begin playing the card game by answering the question, “Is trust something offered by the giver or earned by the receiver?” And then answer, “What is something you need to start doing?” (13:30) “What is the worst phone call you have ever received?” In response to this question, Gabriel shares some of the more intense text messages he’s received over the years. (17:45) “What was the hardest day of your life?” Mohandas shares how he has dealt with migraines. Then, Gabriel shares his experience playing high school basketball in a toxic team environment. (25:20) “Tell us about a time when someone earned your trust.” Mohandas and Gabriel explain why they tend to be trusting individuals. (30:10) “Share a project that you’ve recently ended.” (31:30) “If you could have one superpower what would it be and why.” --- Connect with Mohandas D.: Instagram: instagram.com/moduewa --- Connect with Gabriel B.: Instagram: instagram.com/wherezgabe --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
34:54
May 10, 2022
E87. The Divine Masculine And Feminine - with John Okhiulu, Creative Community Organizer & Healer
“In this society today, in this culture today that we live in… You have to have it all figured out before you can talk about it, or before you can speak on it. And we forget the school of life, we forget that we’re constantly learning and evolving. And so you might need to express yourself to be able to receive that feedback and get those answers and be able to move and shake…” - John Okhiulu Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by John Okhiulu. A recent Stanford graduate, with degrees in African & African American Studies and Human Biology, John currently serves as a Tom Ford Philanthropic Fellow at the Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital. Whether it is through his work or his art, John is all about promoting unity and liberation within individuals and amongst communities. John carries himself with a distinct focus and wisdom, and this can only come from his desire to generate self-reflection from honest dialogue - from taking off his mask. (1:50) Ashanti’s introduction. (7:15) John introduces himself, his heritage, his professional work in the nonprofit world, his work in the arts, and his underlying goal to restore and heal. (13:35) John shares the front of his mask - humor, kindness, strength, zen. (16:20) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, funny, hard-working. Then, John and Ashanti find common ground in their relationship to humor and self-talk. (22:20) John shares the back of his mask - sadness, worry, deep down anger and frustration, confidence - and then Ashanti relates to how John hides his confidence behind the mask. (27:35) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of…, worry, stress. Then, John and Ashanti discuss the value in speaking up for the sake of dialogue, especially when you may not be completely informed. (31:05) Ashanti and John explore how they are trying to shift what traits they value in themselves, and they take the time to celebrate rest and relaxation as a radical act. (43:35) John looks back on his upbringing, and how he found a version of masculinity and femininity that best suited him and went beyond these gender categories. (52:35) Ashanti explains the importance of modeling the behavior he is teaching in his workshops. And John takes these explanations and applies them to building understanding across generations. (1:02:05) John expresses some final thoughts with the audience and calls for love and prayer. --- Connect with John Okhiulu: Twitter: twitter.com/souliberationar Instagram: instagram.com/souliberationary --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
01:06:36
May 03, 2022
E86. You Can Laugh Or You Can Cry - with Arturo Aviña, Theatre Teacher & Content Creator
“It’s been a very challenging time and my way of coping with this adversity has been through humor. I think a lot of people have been using humor as a coping mechanism because it’s a hard time, and you need to be able to laugh about it or see the absurdity in it.” - Arturo Aviña Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Arturo Aviña. As a Los Angeles-based theatre teacher, Arturo found his calling within education by first experimenting with incorporating film and theatre into his lessons. Now, he also uses his skills to create satirical content on social media to chronicle what it's like working in education today. Arturo is a testament to the fact that humor has the power to get us through hard times and advocate change in our world for the better, and we hope you enjoy learning about his masks! (1:50) Ashanti’s introduction. (7:55) Arturo introduces himself and his journey in education - specifically, how he arrived at teaching theatre. (12:55) Arturo and Ashanti discuss how the masks of acting apply to the masks of real life. (17:25) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - funny, serious, hard-working, caring - and how opposing characteristics occupy the front of his mask. (22:10) Arturo shares the front of his mask - funny, friendly, creative, serious. (24:30) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - self-doubt, fear of failure, my brother’s mental health/my sadness about it - and some of the self-evaluation that he has been doing around sharing his voice with the world and supporting his brother. (30:55) Arturo shares the back of his mask - anxiety, doubt, fear - and gives some advice to Ashanti along the way. (39:25) Arturo shares his perspective on humor in the classroom, education-based humor, and humor as a form of coping. (47:25) Ashanti and Arturo take time to appreciate teachers and analyze how the public has viewed teachers. (51:55) Arturo shares how you can get in touch with him, and shares his final message for the audience. --- Connect with Arturo Aviña: Instagram: instagram.com/schooledbyarturo Tik Tok: tiktok.com/discover/schoolbyarturo Twitter: twitter.com/schooledbyart --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
55:05
April 26, 2022
E85. Youth, Heard - with Ashanti Branch
“I don’t come to education as just a teacher. I come to education as a teacher, as an administrator, as a former really bad student, as a former really good student, as a community person, as a man in a body that I identify with - but knew how hard it was to be my full self at school.” - Ashanti Branch In this special episode of Taking Off The Mask, Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch reflects on the organization’s trip to Austin, Texas, to attend South by Southwest. Also, while on the trip, he received some incredible news that he hasn’t been able to share until now… (0:00) Ashanti reflects on his personal attitude towards taking the time to celebrate himself. He explores this attitude as it relates to his childhood. (4:30) Then, Ashanti introduces the video “Youth, Heard” and shares some thoughts on the Ever Forward Club’s trip to South by Southwest, and what it meant for the youth that attended. (6:30) We play the video, “Youth, Heard”. (10:00) Ashanti shares some masks from a recent visit to an elementary school. From the front of their masks - sleepy, cool, annoying; my attitude, personality, look away; fun, happy, super happy; who I am, what I like. From the back of their masks - sad about my dad, missing my mom; my nice self, my heart, who I really am; depression, mad, thinking nothing, sad, mean; my real emotions, the loved ones I’ve lost, my family. (15:30) Ashanti shares the big news and what it means for the Ever Forward Club. (18:00) Then, he shares a reaction video from when he first heard the big news. (21:30) Ashanti takes the time to thank all of the supporters of the Ever Forward Club. (24:00) Then, he tells a story about schools and their priorities, before concluding the episode. --- Watch "Youth, Heard": youtu.be/Exb7gqgG0EY Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
33:46
April 19, 2022
E84. A Battery In Your Back - with Amil Cook, Hip-Hop Technologist & Educator
“When we can look young people in the eye, and see who they are, and tell them that they matter, and show them a book, and spark their imagination, and be right there… That’s the thing. Going through the experience with them, build up their confidence… Put a battery in their back. They need that. Everybody needs that. That little bird that’s about to jump off the nest, I’m sure the little bird needs a little bit of encouragement from big momma bird, like, ‘You got this, baby.’” - Amil Cook Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Amil Cook. As a Hip-Hop educator and technologist, Amil teaches students and educators how to use their personal and historical narratives to increase self-efficacy, well-being, and capacity through the use of new media and technology. Amil is passionate about unlocking the unlimited potential of youth. He is able to see this potential, in part, because he is aware of his own emotions and, specifically, resentments that he is harboring and processing. We hope you enjoy this episode and enjoy learning how Amil’s masks apply to his talents as an educator. (1:30) Ashanti’s introduction. (8:00) Amil and Ashanti look back on their South by Southwest experience. Then, Amil introduces himself, his work, and his mission. (13:30) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - dedicated, determined, caring - and how he manages the big expectations he has for himself. (16:30) Amil shares the front of his mask - thoughtful, optimistic, caring - and how positivity moves him into action. (22:45) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - worry, getting old, fear. (25:50) Amil shares the back of his mask - resentful, mistrustful, scared - and how he is learning to let go of some of his resentments. (32:00) Amil and Ashanti observe and analyze certain resentments that can build up in the youth. And they discuss the flip side - all the different types of encouragement we can give kids. (39:00) Amil shares the level of emotional intelligence he’s observing in the youth in Pittsburgh. (45:00) Amil looks back on his youth and how he was motivated to enter the world of education. And he shares a story about his work in South Africa. (51:15) Amil delivers a final message to the youth. --- Connect with Amil Cook: Social Media and Podcast: linktr.ee/amilcook BootUp PGH: instagram.com/bootuppgh Hip Hop Ed: instagram.com/hiphoped --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
56:48
April 12, 2022
E83. Young People, Deep Connections - with Mohandas D., High School Student & EFC Youth Host
“Why do I want this? Why do I react like that? Why do I do this? I think that’s something that more people need to be asking themselves. I think that people need to explore themselves a bit more, understand why they do what they do.” - Mohandas D. Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Mohandas D. This week’s episode will feel a little bit different. Mohandas is a High School student, and he will soon be hosting conversations on behalf of the Ever Forward Club - on the EFC’s social media and podcast platforms. But before you get to know Mohandas as a host, we’d like for you to learn about his mask, his friendships, and how he carries himself in the hallways and classrooms of Latitude High. Enjoy the show! (0:20) Ashanti’s introduction. (4:00) Mohandas and Ashanti reflect on their first meeting. Then, Mohandas introduces himself and shares some of his hobbies and interests. (7:30) Ashanti and Mohandas make their masks together. Ashanti guides him through the process. (16:50) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, caring, funny. (18:20) Mohandas shares the front of his mask - confidence, work ethic, friendliness. (20:50) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - overthinking, fear of failure, childhood trauma. (23:20) Mohandas shares the back of his mask - lonely, unsure, hard on myself - and how the front and back of his masks are at war with each other. (28:20) Mohandas and Ashanti discuss how Mohandas’s generation of youth relates to one another and how much his friends really know about him. (34:50) Ashanti and Mohandas look forward and anticipate what it will be like for Mohandas to host other youth on his show. (41:50) Mohandas reflects on the experience of making a mask. --- Connect with Mohandas D.: Instagram: instagram.com/moduewa --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
49:19
April 05, 2022
E82. A Tree with Onion Roots - with Leo Mercer, Creative, Thought Leader, & Raptivist
“I was raised in a violent environment, so, as much as I want to be positive, it’s just satisfying to do some of that petty stuff. As much as I don’t want to, as much as I’m like, ‘I can’t- that’s ratchet- whoo wham,’ like, that’s me. That’s how I grew up... There is a lot of pressure to be a positive person.” Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Leo Mercer. As an Oakland native, Leo has been running creative campaigns and executing community organizing work in Oakland since 2009. Leo has a full, empathetic heart, and he’s always thinking intensely about what is best for his community. And in this work, as he’s discovered contradictions and Catch-22’s over the years, Leo has consistently re-assessed his craft, how he carries himself, and what it means to be “a tree with onion roots.” We know you’ll enjoy getting to know Leo in this week’s episode. (1:30) Ashanti's introduction. (10:55) Leo introduces himself, his work as a musical artist, and his drive to do good community work in Oakland. Then, he and Ashanti reflect on Leo’s on-stage appearance with President Obama. (16:15) Leo shares the front of his mask - blind strength, creative abilities, a tree with onion roots. (18:00) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - caring, dedicated, intense - and how ignorance is not actually bliss. (24:45) Leo shares the back of his mask - numbness, pressure, always talking to myself. He reflects on all of the Catch-22’s and conflicts of interests he sees within his community and within himself. (30:50) Ashanti shares a drawing created by students during his visit to Yuma, Arizona. Check out the video podcast on the Branch Speaks Youtube Channel. (37:40) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - not enough, worry, my brother’s mental health. (45:20) Ashanti and Leo sit with the phrase, “I am not the enemy,” and how this phrase has particular significance as it relates to their gender and the color of their skin. (57:30) Leo shares his current projects and how you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Leo Mercer: Personal Instagram: instagram.com/leo_mercer Business Instagram: instagram.com/mercerbrotherhood --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
01:00:17
March 29, 2022
E81. An Ally, A Better Man, A Better Person - with Ray Arata, Founder - Better Man Conference; Author, Coach, & Facilitator
“For people like myself, who have a lot of privilege, I try to become aware of other people’s experiences. And then I can make a conscious choice: ‘How do I want people to experience me? What choices can I make to level the playing field?’ And the only way that that really works is when I take off my mask.” - Ray Arata Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Ray Arata. Ray is the author of SHOWING UP: How Men Can Become Effective Allies in the Workplace. He’s also a coach, master facilitator, and co-founder of Better Man Leadership, but Ray prides himself most in being an ally. We hope you enjoy learning why Ray has dedicated his life to creating a more inclusive, heart-centric world, and how Ray’s masks play a role in this journey. (2:10) Ashanti's introduction. (5:55) Ray Introduces himself, why he is a heart-centered man, and why he has dedicated himself to men’s work. (10:00) Ray shares the front of his mask - happy, grounded, calm, present. Then, he shares the back of his mask - afraid, not enough, alone. (11:35) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, dedicated, hard-working, caring. Then, he shares the back of his mask - overloaded, worrier vs. warrior, my brother in jail. (15:50) Ray and Ashanti find common ground in their experiences as older brothers. (19:40) Ray and Ashanti discuss why some youth choose not to make themselves emotionally vulnerable. Then, Ashanti tells a story about an experience from Yuma, Arizona. (28:30) Ray shares what he has seen in his work helping reshape the behavior of men in corporate America. (36:55) Ray and Ashanti discuss The Better Man Conference, how the conference is open and beneficial to all gender identities, and the importance of guiding the next generation of men away from the old playbook. (42:40) Ray shares how you can get in touch with him, the titles of his books, and his last words. --- Connect with Ray Arata: Ray’s newest book: showingupbook.com The Better Man Conference: bettermanconference.com Website: rayarata.com Social Media: rayarata.com/contact --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
47:01
March 22, 2022
E80. “I’m Here And Care” - with Rohit Tigga, Human Being and Founder of I’m Here And Care
WARNING: SUICIDAL IDEATIONS DISCUSSED “I’ve come to learn and understand that, whether it’s depression or - something more serious - dealing with suicidal thoughts or anger or just the overall emptiness with everything… That they are just parts of the human experience and human condition. I’ve definitely built compassion for myself in dealing with those things.” - Rohit Tigga Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Rohit Tigga. As the Founder of I’m Here And Care, it’s Rohit’s mission to create a world where everyone is loved and cared for. But before he was able to launch his powerful, modern, and effective wellness community, Rohit had to learn how to reframe, understand, and build compassion for his own struggles with depression. And in addition to saving his own life, he just so happened to save someone else’s… (2:10) Ashanti's introduction. (6:20) Rohit, or Ro, introduces himself, his passions, and his platform “I’m Here And Care”. (10:20) Ro shares the front of his mask - emotional, sensitive, creative, artistic - and how it aligns with his positive and optimistic vision for the world. (11:50) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, hard-working, dedicated - and how he often wears his heart on his sleeve in his work. Then, they discuss the relationship between being fully loved and fully known. (16:20) Ro shares the back of his mask - depression, suicidal thoughts, anger, emptiness, feeling alone - and how what people associate as negative emotions are actually very healthy and human. (20:20) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - intense worry, fear of failure, self-doubt - and how his morning routine tends to get disrupted. (26:20) Ro tells the origin story of “I’m Here And Care” - what he describes as a life or death situation, and a lifelong bond with a young woman named Simona. (45:20) Rohit shares where you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Rohit Tigga All Social Media and Podcast Links (@imhereandcare): beacons.ai/imhereandcare Text Rohit: 408-539-8459 --- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 --- The NAMI Helpline: 800-950-NAMI --- Create your own mask anonymously at millionmask.org If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
52:49
March 15, 2022
E79. This Chip On My Shoulder - with Alfredo Mathew III, Co-Founder & Partner, ESO Ventures
“Life is impermanent. And that doesn’t mean that we’re not important or what we contribute to life is not important. The institutions we create are not going to live forever. But the energy, the way we live - this will live on forever.” - Alfredo Mathew III Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Alfredo Mathew III. Alfredo is the co-founder of ESO Ventures, an entrepreneurial support organization focused on providing the confidence, competence, and capital for any Black and Brown person to become an entrepreneur. With over 20 years of experience in New York City and California public schools, Alfredo has followed in his father's footsteps, but found a path within his family's journey that allowed him to be his best self. We hope you enjoy this episode and learn more about how family heritage and legacy have shaped Alfredo's mask. (2:00) Ashanti’s introduction. (6:30) Alfredo introduces himself and his heritage, and shares the best thing he’s ever written in his entire life. Then, he and Ashanti discuss fathers, the idea of a father, and how these things played a role in their lives. (19:00) Alfredo and Ashanti look back on how they met and their teaching careers. (32:20) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, caring, dedicated. (39:00) Alfredo shares the front of his mask - hustler, dreamer, competent. (42:20) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of failure, sadness, not enough. (48:00) Alfredo shares the back of his mask - undervalued, fear of failure, chip on my shoulder. (55:00) Alfredo shares how you can reach him, and talks more about ESO Ventures. --- Connect with Alfredo Mathew III: Website: eso-ventures.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/alfredomathew Email: Alfredo@eso-ventures.com --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
01:00:23
March 09, 2022
E78. Better Boys, Better Men - with Andrew Reiner, Author, Father, Professor, & Speaker
“It literally starts when [boys] come out of the womb, before they’ve even got their language. Because they’re already being talked to by their parents… in ways that they didn’t ask for… What they’re being told, what they’re not being told, are both equally powerful.” - Andrew Reiner Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Andrew Reiner. Andrew has written about contemporary and healthy masculinity extensively for the New York Times, and he published the book "Better Boys, Better Men" in 2020. Then, it came to be that the path to publishing this book and the path to becoming a father intersected at around the same time, and it pushed him to fully understand his relationship with masculinity. In other words, Andrew is the type of man who both writes and lives his work. We hope you enjoy the episode! (2:10) Ashanti's introduction. (5:45) Andrew introduces himself, his writings, his teachings, and how becoming a father and writing a book continued to push him to examine his masculinity. Then, he and Ashanti discuss how we are imprinting a certain masculinity upon boys “straight out of the womb.” (16:30) Andrew and Ashanti discuss how the conversation around “toxic masculinity” is losing context. Then, they ponder how we can get men and boys to acknowledge their emotional truth more often. (35:30) Andrew shares the front of his mask - positive, hopeful, patient. Then, Ashanti shares the front of his mask - dedicated, passionate, serious - and they compare what it is like caring for young teenagers versus caring for college students. (41:00) Andrew shares the back of his mask - sad, frustrated, scared. (43:00) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - anger, justice-driven, self-doubt. (45:15) Ashanti and Andrew had this conversation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They reflect on Dr. King and the self-doubt he must have overcome. (50:05) Andrew shares some final thoughts and how you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Andrew Reiner: Instagram: instagram.com/andrew.reiner.author Twitter: twitter.com/AndrewTReiner Website & Book, "Better Boys, Better Men": andrewreinerauthor.com --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
56:53
March 02, 2022
E77. Emotional Sobriety - with Ceasar F. Barajas, Wellness Mentor, Performer, & Activist
“What I’m most proud of is… I realized after my divorce that I needed some help, and so I found therapy - 11-plus years ago. So I like to share with people that I’ve been emotionally sober for 11 years. And with all sobriety you’ve got waves to ride, and sometimes the wave crashes you into a shore. [But] sometimes you ride it - and you’re in this place where you get to step onto the shore. Because the board carried you” - Ceasar F. Barajas Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Ceasar F. Barajas. As a wellness mentor, mental health advocate, performer, and activist, Ceasar is an incredibly accomplished individual. His career has spanned 30+ years, and he's done everything from yoga instruction to fight and dance choreography, teaching at Columbia University to working with fellow veterans on their mental health and wellness. Importantly, amongst all of the accolades, he openly shares how he still presently copes and attempts to manage the anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress injuries that have plagued him his entire life. We hope you enjoy getting to know Ceasar in this week's episode. (1:15) Ashanti’s introduction. (5:15) Ceasar and Ashanti discuss their favorite book, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. (7:15) Ceasar introduces himself. He shares the many lives he’s already lived and masks he’s already worn, and he shares what pushed him to seek “emotional sobriety.” (18:45) Even after 11 years of therapy, Ceasar didn’t discover men’s groups until June of 2020. He shares all the things that led up to a major breakdown in June 2020, and the men’s group that changed his life. (29:15) Ceasar and Ashanti discuss what it’s like staying in touch their college fraternity brothers. (37:15) Ceasar and Ashanti return to an incident of racism Ashanti experienced. Ceasar applies his learnings and teachings to this incident, and he shares the different ways he’s been healing since March 2021. (48:15) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - funny, dedicated, determined. Then Ceasar shares the front of his mask - vulnerability, artistry, fortitude. (54:45) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - deep sadness, worrier vs. warrior, no rest. (58:15) Ceasar shares the back of his mask - self-sabotage, remorse/guilt, self-doubt. (1:04:15) Ceasar shares how you can connect with him. --- Connect with Ceasar F. Barajas: Instagram: instagram.com/ceasarfbarajas Twitter: twitter.com/ceasarfbarajas Website: thejourneywithceasar.com --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
01:08:45
February 23, 2022
E76. Coming of Age - with Preston Lee, Filmmaker & Senior at Marin Catholic High School
“I’ve just gone through this process of realizing who I am, what I want to be interested in, and not having to really care about the inputs that other people have on things that I enjoy doing… I love to dress how the way I dress now - I don’t care if I get a look here or there. I love talking about the subject of mental health. I love being friends with people that genuinely care about me - and not just friends with them because they have status… In my past self, I was extremely self-conscious. I was the person that always tried to fit in.” - Preston Lee Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Preston Lee. As a Senior at Marin Catholic High School and a future NYU student, Preston has really been coming into his own of late. He’s been refining his artistic voice, releasing short films, and finding traction in local government while promoting mental health awareness. But Preston would be the first one to tell you - before he could progress to such impressive highs for a young man of his age, he had to be honest with his own mental health journey. Listen in as he and Ashanti explore that journey, and we hope you enjoy today’s episode! (1:20) Ashanti's introduction. (7:00) Preston introduces himself and how he combines his two passions - filmmaking and mental health awareness. (11:00) Preston shares the front of his mask - optimistic, driven, courageous, introspective - and how mental health and emotions play a huge part in how he interacts at school and in the community. (15:30) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, funny, caring - and shares a mentoring relationship that is on the top of his mind. Then, Preston tells Ashanti about a family friend whom he found to be very inspirational. (23:30) Preston shares the back of his mask - burnt out, self-conscious, self-doubt, fearful - how it relates to the front of his mask, and how he has developed and discovered himself over the past two years. 30:50 Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of failure, sadness, trust issues. (36:15) Preston and Ashanti reflect on the similarities on their masks - how intricate differences often distract from the "common ground" at the most fundamental level. (38:30) Preston had a moment of self-realization that pushed him to explore mental health topics. He reflects on the moments that lead to this realization and the ideas for his films. (48:00) Preston gives a message to his peers and gives them something new to try. (51:30) Preston shares how you can connect with him. --- Connect with Preston Lee: Instagram: instagram.com/shotbyleeofficial Youtube: youtu.be/wrhwFPKfURw The Perspective Project: theperspectiveproject.co.uk/post/alone-preston-lee --- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Or, text "NAMI" to 741-741 --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
56:10
February 16, 2022
E75. The Spectrum of Aliveness - with Shems Heartwell, Life & Relationship Guide
“I think of it as simply more ‘spectrum of aliveness’…  What happens is if our spectrum of aliveness is narrow because we’re not feeling much - we feel numb, we don’t have sexual energy on tap, we don’t feel joy - it’s usually because there’s some stuff that’s bottled up in us that’s taking up bandwidth or real estate in our system.” - Shems Heartwell. Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Shems Heartwell. As a Life and Relationship Guide, Shems has been honing his craft for 20 years. And what’s resulted is a unique way of coaching and mentoring that is on the leading edge of the human potential movement. But like all of our episodes, this conversation doesn’t just focus on the major successes - it goes back to a time when Shems’s “spectrum of aliveness” was closed up, and how he still searches to broaden that spectrum today. We hope you enjoy learning more about Shems, his life, and his masks! (2:15) Ashanti's introduction. (7:30) Shems introduces himself, how he met Ashanti, and how he helps men, groups, and couples show up for themselves and each other. (12:50) Shems shares the front of his mask - bright, intelligent, kind (14:50) Shems shares the back of his mask - fearful, sensitive, judgmental. (17:10) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, hard-working, funny. (19:50) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear, childhood wounds, I cry - and how acknowledging these things allows him to push himself to show the world his true value. (24:50) Ashanti shares what he told himself - and what he let go - when looking into a mirror in the woods. (28:50) Shems and Ashanti discuss the importance of allowing feelings to move through our system and be expressed. (38:10) Shems shares how he believes we can open up our “Spectrum of Aliveness.” Then, he shares what it was like growing up with his father, and the mixed bag of emotions, environments, and experiences it created. Ashanti relates by sharing his unhealthy relationship with sugar. (45:10) Whether it’s food, alcohol, entertainment,  etc., we can all use these things to “check out”. Shems and Ashanti discuss the need to identify when we have reached an unhealthy threshold, and the need for a community to help support us when we try to numb those who have retreated into a certain numbness. (51:50) Shems shares where you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Shems Heartwell: Website: shemsheartwell.com Navigator Project: navigatorproject.org Instagram: instagram.com/shemsheart --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
54:19
February 09, 2022
E74. Prioritizing Resonance in Schools - with Roni Habib, Speaker & Founder of EQ Schools
“It turns out the fastest way to experience resonance is through laughter… One of the things that I show in my workshops with teachers is let’s invest in moments of resonance, invest in moments of play… These games put us in a mindful state right away, in a state where we’re aware of the other person. And so right away it’s an entry point into joy, positive emotions, and awareness - and attunement with other people.” - Roni Habib Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Roni Habib. As the founder of EQ Schools, Roni is an expert in helping leaders, educators, and parents become happier, more resilient, and more playful. This expertise was jumpstarted after, early in his career, Roni struggled with the high stresses and demands of teaching, and he then discovered the power of integrating mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and positive psychology into his own life as well as in his classroom. We’re excited for you to learn about Roni’s mask, how he works with schools, and how he continues to work on himself. (1:30) Ashanti's introduction. (8:30) Roni introduces himself. He shares how he and his company seek to bring mindfulness to schools around the world. Then, he tells the story of a tragedy that took place at the high school he taught at. (16:10) Ashanti and Roni reflect on the importance of adults and teachers that are truly aware - that truly build relationships with students. Then, Roni shares his RAMP model. (24:40) Then, they discuss what can be done to transition out of the global pandemic, and they discuss the evolution of the student experience. (32:40) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - funny, serious, passion - and how it shows up as an educator and as an operator in the world of education. (36:40) Roni shares the front of his mask - my ability to give and receive love, my playful side, my fun side. (40:40) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - worry, doubt, aging - and goes into why he wrote “aging” for the first time. (43:20) Roni shares the back of his mask - financial worry, fear of being alone, my physical limitations - and, among many things, an epiphany he had during the Santa Cruz fires. (49:55) Ashanti relates to Roni's story by reflecting on what he was going through when the whole world shut down in March. (55:40) Ashanti and Roni share closing thoughts, and Roni shares how you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Roni Habib: Twitter: twitter.com/Roni_Habib Website: eqschools.com Facebook: facebook.com/eqschools Instagram: instagram.com/roni_habib81 Watch The Edge of Success --- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
01:00:18
February 02, 2022
E73. One Heartbeat at a Time - with Zev Grossman, Student at Montana State University
“I can’t change the fact that I’m vulnerable and that I’m open. Like, as much as I want to act all tough and stuff and throw up more masks, I can’t. And so even if me being more sensitive and just, like, soft is preventing me from making some connections - whether they be deep connections or surface connections - it’s more important to me to be who I am than it is to change who I am for other people.” - Zev Grossman Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Zev Grossman. Zev was raised in the Bay Area and is now studying philosophy at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. College is a huge transition for young people - now add that to the fact that Zev is now 1,000 miles away, learning a new culture. With the ground shifting beneath him, Zev has approached things with empathy, humility, and an open mind. We hope you enjoy the episode as you learn more about Zev and the college students of 2021. (1:40) Ashanti's introduction. (7:00) Zev introduces himself and how the Ever Forward Club’s work around gender and emotions aligns with his college studies. He shares how college life in Bozeman, Montana, has pushed him out of his comfort zone. (12:15) Zev shares the front of his mask - kindness, wisdom, funny. (14:00) Zev shares the back of his mask - lonely, insecure, uncertain. (16:30) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, dedicated, passionate - and explores the etymology of passion. (20:45) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of failure, anger, family stuff. (23:00) Zev and Ashanti find common ground in the insecurities that exist on the back of their masks. (27:00) Zev shares some of the masks he’s seen while in college in Montana - for example, a specific section of a wall that frustrated young men like to punch. (34:50) Ashanti and Zev discuss the rarity of adults saying “that hurt my feelings.” (38:45) Ashanti tells the story of how he encountered a salesman at Costco, who was put off by the term “toxic masculinity.” (43:00) Ashanti and Zev share their thoughts on the phrase “toxic masculinity.” (48:45) Zev and Ashanti give their closing thoughts. --- Connect with Zev Grossman: Instagram: instagram.com/imzevg Facebook: facebook.com/zev.grossman.31 --- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
51:32
January 26, 2022
E72. The Soul That Lives Within - with Devan Sandiford, Writer, Storyteller, & Workshop Facilitator
“First time we ever had this conversation, we talked for three and a half hours. First time I heard about my uncle's life, first time I heard about the actual incident of his death, first time I’ve seen my mom cry in my entire life - really powerful moment. And that all came not from me being a hero, not from me being fine, but me just being honest… And, as a result of admitting I was not in a good place, it actually led me to some deep connections that I had been missing.” - Devan Sandiford Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Devan Sandiford. Devan spent his childhood and young adult years keeping his personal stories hidden from almost everyone. But there came a point for Devan when it was time to stop hiding. And when the stories came out, they erupted across major shows like the Moth Radio Hour and publications like the New York Times. In fact, that’s how Ashanti first discovered him - in the car, listening to Devan’s story on the radio, delaying a workout in the gym he was not looking forward to. And because of this moment, Ashanti and Devan can have another moment together on this podcast, discussing what makes them the men they are today. (1:10) Ashanti's introduction. (5:15) Devan introduces himself, how his storytelling journey started at six years old, and how having a child helped him break his silence as a storyteller. Then he and Ashanti share their experiences with loss.  (18:00) Devan shares the front of his mask - informed, unshakeable, confident - and how these traits connect to where he perceives his own worthiness.  (22:00) Devan shares the back of his mask - overwhelmed, tender, confident - and how confidence on the back of his mask is different from the confidence on the front.  (24:30) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - dedicated, serious, caring - and how he is working on prioritizing himself more often.  (28:30) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear, rage, sadness - and why he wants to speak his mind more often, to avoid “the dark side of the light chasers.”  (33:30) Ashanti and Devan find coming ground in writing books, leaving engineering, and finding wealth in unconventional ways.  (39:30) Devan talks about his book and the power of acknowledging the hurt that we feel inside. He shares how going up on stage allowed for the “truth” of his book to come to light.  (47:00) Ashanti and Devan discuss the “inner-hero” that we all have.  (50:30) Devan shares how you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Devan Sandiford: Website: devansandiford.com The Moth: themoth.org/storytellers/devan-sandiford Instagram: instagram.com/devansandiford --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
54:23
January 19, 2022
E71. Achieving Structured Love - with Louka Parry, Education Futurist & Social Entrepreneur
“When I’m careful it’s also making myself slightly smaller… The care is around approval and not upsetting anyone. When, really, the greatest contribution we can make is just being more of ourselves. Because when we do that, we’re not clenching, we’re not competing, we’re just serving and contributing.” - Louka Parry Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Louka Parry. As a learning strategist, education futurist, and social entrepreneur, Louka allows his insatiable curiosity to lead the charge as he helps schools and organizations adapt for the future. A school principal at age 27, a teacher of the year in South Australia, a founding executive of multiple organizations, and a speaker of five languages, we could go on and on about Louka’s accomplishments and merits. But instead, Ashanti and Louka look within - Why do we let approval overtake authenticity? What happens when we see the world “not as it is, but as we are”? (1:15) Ashanti’s introduction. (6:30) Louka introduces himself, his heritage, why he values education so much, and the critical moments in life that have shaped his identity. Ashanti and Louka also discuss the difference between “small talk” and “deep talk”, and getting to know (22:10) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, careful, passionate - and how it relates to a recent workshop he conducted. (26:30) Louka shares the front of his mask - confidence, warmth, intelligence - and why these characteristics serve as his natural equilibrium around others. (32:00) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - worry, people pleaser/shadow, my brother’s mental health - and how each of the words on the back of his mask connects to the “people pleaser” in him. (39:30) Louka shares the back of his mask - uncertain, alone, different - and explores the difference between clarity and certainty. (45:00) Louka and Ashanti continue to explore the idea that when we are too careful our presence shrinks - for better or for worse. (56:00) Louka shares how you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Louka Parry: LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/loukaparry Twitter: twitter.com/loukaparry --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
58:18
January 12, 2022
E70. Sticks and Stones - with Ashanti Branch (SPECIAL EPISODE)
“I cannot be shackled by words. Whatever caused that man to believe that that was the words that he needed to use against me, I can’t stop him from believing that. But I cannot let him have power over me by making me react how he thinks I should react. That’s the freedom that I’m going to have. That’s the freedom that I’m taking back.” In this special first episode of 2022, Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch reflects on a racist incident that occurred over one year ago. 0:44 Ashanti’s introduction. 1:15 Ashanti recorded a video reflection on the incident, and we share it here. It covers what happened and why it took so long for him to share the video of the incident. 13:18 We play the entire video/sound of the incident. 18:05 Ashanti’s video reflection continues. He shares how failing to share what happened and failing to process what happened has had detrimental effects on his health. He also explains what he wants young people to learn from this incident and how he wants to speak up and stand up for his beliefs more often. 26:05 In Ashanti’s conclusion, he shares what freedom means to him. --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
32:05
January 05, 2022
E69. Justin Baldoni (re-release) - on Human Beings and “Human Doings”
"People are like, "You are a machine." And I’m like "yeah I am." And there’s a part of me that’s like, "oh yeah, I’m a machine. I’m a machine." And it’s so backwards how as men we can have our egos inflated when we’re compared to non-human things. Why do I want to be a machine? I don’t want to be a machine. Machines don’t have empathy or compassion or sensitivity. Machines can’t enjoy sex. Machines don’t laugh. Why does that inflate my ego and make me puff out my chest? What am I comparing myself to? What is the basis for which we are judging, and the standard that we have set for each other?" - Justin Baldoni In a re-release of episode 53, Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Justin Baldoni. As an actor, director, producer, and founder of Wayfarer Studios, you may recognize Justin from shows like “Jane the Virgin” or the film “Clouds”, on Disney+. On top of success on the screen, Justin is a compassionate author and changemaker, seeking to “undefine” masculinity and foster a more loving society. Justin’s debut book is now out: “Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity”. We hope you enjoy the episode, as you listen and learn about what Justin has on the front and back of his mask. (3:15) Ashanti’s introduction. (9:35) Ashanti and Justin take off the mask of this very podcast production. Then, they discuss our urge to maintain control, and the difference between “human beings” and “human doings.” (20:00) Ashanti and Justin continue to discuss how capitalism and the toxicity of “comparison mode” are pervasive in all aspects of our culture. (22:05) Justin shares what his experience was like making a mask, and where he did and didn’t experience internal resistance to the mask-making process. (25:30) Justin shares the front of his mask - hard-working, creative, loving, sensitive. He reflects on how traits on the front of the mask have deeper, sometimes darker, intentions. (28:55) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - passionate, dedicated, caring - and he and Justin break down why our culture glorifies fatigue and busyness (through the lens of The Nap Ministry). (34:25) Justin shares the back of his mask - anxiety, self-doubt, shame. He traces these feelings back to his upbringing, what Bell Hooks calls the “psychic act of self-mutilation.” (41:25) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - worry, fear, doubt - and they discuss the pitfalls of when service and capitalism converge. (43:05) Justin shares where you can find him and get in touch. --- Connect with Justin Baldoni: Justin’s book, “Man Enough”: manenough.com/books Podcast: manenough.com/podcast Instagram: instagram.com/justinbaldoni Linktree: linktr.ee/justinbaldoni --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com
46:16
December 29, 2021
E68. J Meast - on Old School Men, and Keeping an Open Mind
“Keep an open mind… When people come through with advice or some good game, listen to it. Listen. You ain’t gotta do it or live by it but listen. Keep an open mind. I wish I would’ve kept an open mind when I was younger. I didn’t have no open mind; I did not care; I was on my own thing, and bumped my head so many times.” - J Meast Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by J Meast. As a rapper based in Bend, Oregon, by way of North Oakland, California, J Meast enjoys mentoring and bringing along younger rappers, as well as taking care of his two-year-old son. Ashanti and J Meast reflect on their respective upbringings in Oakland, look back on the strengths of their respective parents, and discuss different ways that young men can let out their feelings. Have a Happy Holiday and enjoy the show! (1:10) Ashanti's introduction. (7:00) J Meast introduces himself, his origins, and his work. He and Ashanti reflect on their childhood and adolescence in Oakland. (11:30) They discuss why it can be hard for young people to open up for one another, and the consequences that come from this. (16:15) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, careful, passionate. (17:35) J Meast and Ashanti discuss some characteristics that could be on the front of his mask, specifically his desire to mentor younger musicians and rappers. (22:20) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - worry, people pleaser/shadow, my brother’s mental health - and J Meast relates some of his own experiences. (25:40) J Meast shares how he independently deals with the heavier things in life. Then, he and Ashanti compare their parents and their respective upbringings. (31:30) J Meast shares his words of advice to young people. (35:30) J Meast shares how you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with J Meast: Instagram: instagram.com/jmeast2solid Facebook: facebook.com/jmeast.meast Youtube: youtube.com/channel/UCDaQGSR4NdhglKKBVmhAGXA --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message --- Connect with Ever Forward Club: Instagram: instagram.com/everforward Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club
38:33
December 22, 2021
E67. Seeking Help - with Ed Frauenheim, Writer, Speaker, & Consultant
“That tough-guy veneer just melted away, and I started crying. I barely got out the words, 'Thank you.' I just felt afraid of dying; I felt afraid for my family, for my friends… But then, once I got over that masculine mask stuff, I was like, ‘Ok, I’ll take the help!’ And it allowed me to heal like crazy. It’s not been perfect, but I have had so much rich support.” Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Ed Frauenheim. As a writer, speaker, and consultant, Ed is about reinventing masculinity, organizations, and society - and connecting the dots among these three concepts. In addition to discussing what it’s like to publish books and gain a footing and following after leaving a steady job, Ed and Ashanti explore some of the more challenging, grounding things in life - like how men can be more honest with their physical health, and how to get over the embarrassment of asking for help in these instances. Happy Holidays, and enjoy the show. 7:30 Ed introduces himself, his writing, his work, and his passion for issues around masculinity. 10:55 Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, creative, funny - and how his definition of creativity has expanded. 15:15 Ed shares the front of his mask - positive, smart, caring. 19:00 Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear, confined, anger (brother) - and how his brother recently brought some unhealthy responses out of him. 27:15 Ed shares the back of his mask - pessimistic, unsure, self-absorbed - and how each item on the back connects to one on the front. 29:15 Ed and Ashanti continue to explore the friction amongst care, self-interest, patience, and growth. 36:35 Then, they discuss writer’s block, some of the ways we can get around it, and how it can have emotional roots. 43:45 Ashanti and Ed discuss why it is so hard for men to be open and honest and to ask for help when it comes to health issues. 49:45 Ed shares how you can get in touch with him. --- Connect with Ed Frauenheim: Website: edfrauenheim.com Book: edfrauenheim.com/masculinity-at-work LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ed-frauenheim-685294 Facebook: facebook.com/ed.frauenheim Twitter: https://twitter.com/edfrauenheim --- Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com --- Connect with Ashanti Branch: Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch Website: branchspeaks.com --- Send in a voice message: anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message
52:26
December 15, 2021