This is our 20th episode for No Ordinary Life. Hard to believe, but when you think about it we did start way back in Dec 2018 which seems like a world away now.
We have had great guests over the past 8 months or so and if you haven’t listened to some of the earlier ones please go back in the catalog and take a listen. Keep in mind when listening to those early sessions I was still trying to figure this all out so have some grace with the level of quality from an audio perspective.
Not that I have it all together today, but I’ve certainly come along way (at least I’d like to think so).
I am coming to you right now from Muskoka – cottage country here in Ontario. Cottages are kind of a big deal here in Ontario and some other parts of the country too. For the Americans out there – I think it would be called a summer home or lake house. Regardless it’s basically a place where we take off to in the summer weeks or on the weekends to have some fun in the sun and water.
We're picking up where we left off with Joe Slota. This is part 2 of 2. As a refresh Joe is a ruptured brain AVM survivor with an ambitious goal to dedicate his life and his story to helping others to be resilient. He resides in New Jersey, where he has lived his entire life. At twenty-six years old, his brain AVM ruptured, resulting in a fight for his life. While working through his rehabilitation, Joe identified his passion and purpose in life, which is to help others overcome challenging life obstacles. Before the rupture, he had a successful career in professional services and technology companies. After his rupture, he set out on a journey to use his story for the good of others while continuing his career.
Web: https://www.josephanthonyslota.com Buy his book on Amazon: Can’t? Just Did!: Win the Fight for Your Life with Resilience, Faith, and Family
Hey everyone, welcome back!
We’ve had a bit of time off since the last podcast with Natalie James – which by the way if you haven’t listened to yet, you should because it’s awesome.
We’ve had some challenges the past couple weeks, which quite honestly all rest on me – totally my fault.
I had some work travel come up so I was in Chicago for a bit which delayed things and then when trying to get an interview going with today’s guest we had a bunch of technical difficulties that never really got solved but they did go away to a degree I guess.
My guest today is Joe Slota from Jersey. For all intents a purpose a pretty normal 20 something who has definitely lived no ordinary life the past 6 years. I was introduced to Joe through his childhood friend Leo – you may recall my interview with Leo a month or so back – which is a great listen by the way (whom I kidding I think all the episodes are awesome)
But here is Joe’s bio to start off with…
Joseph Anthony Slota III is a ruptured brain AVM survivor with an ambitious goal to dedicate his life and his story to helping others to be resilient. He resides in New Jersey, where he has lived his entire life. At twenty-six years old, his brain AVM ruptured, resulting in a fight for his life. While working through his rehabilitation, Joe identified his passion and purpose in life, which is to help others overcome challenging life obstacles. Before the rupture, he had a successful career in professional services and technology companies. After his rupture, he set out on a journey to use his story for the good of others while continuing his career.
What he’s been through is something else and hes even wrote a book about the experience, which you can easily find on amazon and I will also include the link to in the show notes. But I read the book in an evening and really found it compelling and inspirational and it so much great content on perseverance and stick-to-itiveness as well the importance of a positive mindset.
Web: https://www.josephanthonyslota.com Buy his book on Amazon: Can’t? Just Did!: Win the Fight for Your Life with Resilience, Faith, and Family
When I first was trying to figure out who to have on the podcast Natalie James was always on the top of my list. I knew she had a story to tell but I didn't exactly know the details.
Her sister-in-law, Dallas James was one my first podcast guests and when I asked Dallas what she thought about having Natalie on the show I received a very enthusiastic "Yes!"
Now that I had the opportunity to sit down with Natalie and hear her story first hand. I feel like she blew away my pre-conceived notions of who she was. Of course that's mainly because I didn't know her all that well, but it's amazing how you formulate a profile of who someone is in your mind when you're not that close... Maybe its BECAUSE you're not that close that you do that.
Now my own perceptions of Natalie were never negative - she's super nice, funny and outgoing. I just didn't know that under the covers there was this type A go getter, who's focused and has a never say die attitude. Natalie has definitely had to overcome some difficult times in her life at a young age. I have no doubt in my mind that certainly contributed to her mental toughness. She's been in the rough and tumble arena of politics, she's also spent time in the non-profit world. She's a mom of 3 kids and wife to a husband in the police service. She's also an entrepreneur who started her own business fairly recently and now she's experiencing the ups and downs of business as only the self employed can.
As Natalie was approaching 40, she found herself evaluating her life. For more than 20 years Natalie had gained valuable experience throughout her long career in politics and not-for-profit, and was fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel and meet various people all across the province and country. Throughout this time, she felt most inspired by the stories of female entrepreneurs, for their sense of adventure and willingness to take risks. They were women from all walks of life who had a vision and were deeply driven by that vision to achieve great things.
Feeling unfulfilled by the predictability of her life path, Natalie set out to take a detour and leave the security of a good job to risk everything she and her husband had achieved for their family. She was determined to succeed and motivated to set an example for her two sons and daughter. Natalie’s desire for meaningful work and her desire to make an impact fuelled her drive to change her life and find ways to help other women along the way.
In July of 2017, Vent Blow Dry Bar opened its first location in Liberty Village, Toronto. Vent quickly gained momentum and has welcomed thousands of clients from the GTA and visitors from all across the world. Clients who have experienced Vent’s unique approach to affordable luxury and exceptional customer service.
Web: http://ventblowdrybar.com/ IG: @im.nataliejames or @ventblowdrybar FB: @nataliejames or @ventblowdrybar
This is the second part of a 2 part series with Tom Miller founder of Lifelight Fitness. So if you if you haven’t downloaded part 1, you need to stop what you’re doing and listen to the first half of my conversation with Tom. His story is incredible!
Tom has a crazy and amazing story that is definitely filled with heartache and challenges, but it also is a story of overcoming. Overcoming addiction to drugs, overcoming addiction to alcohol and also overcoming a propensity to self-sabotage.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed speaking with Tom. He gives us all a lot to think about. His story puts our own obstacles, into perspective. I love that he’s figured out that in order to make sure he isn’t susceptible to falling into bad habits when things are going smooth, he’s always pushing himself to grow. Therefore, he honestly lives his life in growth mode.
To be frank I could probably be more cognizant of the fact that I need to be in growth mode a lot more than I am these days. We also should be in growth mode, pushing out boundaries.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
IG: @lightsharetom or @lifelightfit FB: @LIFELIGHTfit or @Pleasantom
I was introduced to today’s podcast guest, Tom Miller, through a former No Ordinary Life guest, Rob Grupe – who incidentally you should check out it’s a great episode.
After my podcast with Rob he said to me: "You have got to meet up with my friend Tom, he has an amazing story and one your listeners will really get a lot out of." Fast forward a month and I now have Tom on the show. And an amazing story it is! I think you’re going to love it.
Here is his official bio:
Coach Tom Miller has over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry and is a bonafide physiology nerd with a degree from UC Davis and over 10 fitness and nutrition certifications to prove it - including Nutrition Expert - level 3.
Coach Tom developed the CrossFUNction workout system designed for those with a busy-schedule!
His attention to detail and science has resulted in a 45-minute workout experience that gives more metabolic benefits than 90 minutes of normal working out.
Tom’s “Form Over Everything” approach to every session ensures that you start and stay safe.
But Tom was also a drug addict which also included cooking GHB and selling drugs. Alcohol addiction was next along with jail time and then finally freedom from all of it.
Listen in on Part 1 of my excellent conversation with Tom Miller – who is living No Ordinary Life.
IG: @lightsharetom or @lifelightfit FB: @LIFELIGHTfit or @Pleasantom
Leo and I met because the social media software company I worked for had acquired his company. I only confessed to him recently (actually on this podcast) that when he came in, I was immediately insecure about my job at the company. Only natural... Leo has a charismatic personality; people are drawn to him and, as you will hear on the podcast he’s got a ton of industry experience (that I didn’t have).
That fact of the matter was I should never have feared for my job because as I discovered, he’s extremely collaborative, is interested in the people he works with as people and is absolutely a team player.
We got along famously. While we no longer work together and he’s now based out of Colorado, we still communicate frequently and have maintained a friendship that I appreciate. Leo is also one of the classic cases of having no real straight lines in his path to where he is now.
Official Bio: Leo Morejon is an award-winning marketer, social media motivational speaker, content creator, and educator. Well-known for his work as a pioneer in real-time social media as well as sales leadership positions at well-established SaaS enterprise and technology companies. Leo attributes his success to always valuing people, relationships and focusing on being a trusted advisor above all else.
Leo will be the first to tell you that he’s living… No Ordinary Life
IG: @buildandinspire or @moreleo FB: @buildandinspire Linkedin: https://linkedin.com/in/LeonardoM Twitter: @MoreLeo Web: www.buildandinspire.com or www.leonardom.com
I first heard Rob Grupe’s story on Matt Del Negro’s podcast 10,000 No’s (which you all should be listening to as well) and was amazed by his story and what he has been able to overcome.
Frankly, Rob’s story is a direct result of his own decisions as you will hear in the podcast. But through those mistakes Rob as taken ownership of them and has made a decision to learn from them and at the same time help others from what he’s learned.
Rob and I get into his life documenting his drug addiction and jailhouse stories but also what he’s been able to achieve since his release from prison. Here is his official bio…
Rob Grupe overcame several drug addictions and spent 7 years 6 months and 18 days in prison. After several near-death experiences while being over 300 pounds, health and fitness helped him turn his life around.
He started his journey as a personal trainer and worked his way up to now owning his own gym, Twice Bitten CrossFit.
Twice Bitten CrossFit is now the largest CrossFit gym in Oklahoma City, which happens to be one of the unhealthiest cities in America. Rob has already been able to help over 1000 people achieve health and fitness success through his gym, but he wants to do more.
Rob’s mission is to continually search for learning opportunities and experiences that positively change people's ways of thinking, inspire strength, desire, perseverance and motivation to have physical, emotional and spiritual breakthroughs.
Since being released from prison he has taken full advantage of his second opportunity at freedom…
To date Rob has helped his clients lose over 1000 inches and 4000 pounds and become the strongest healthiest version of themselves with each training session. He also has set a goal of impacting over 10,000 people's lives through health and fitness within the next year.
Rob Grupe spent 7 years in jail, learned from his mistakes and is now living, No Ordinary Life.
IG: @robgrupe FB: @robgrupe Web: twicebittencrossfit.com
I first met Cliff Prang about 7 years ago I think. My family and I were on a cross country adventure in our van from Toronto, Ontario to British Columbia. When we finally arrived at our first BC stop in Chilliwack we were introduced to Cliff and his wife. My impression is that Cliff and I hit off right away because of our mutual love of being silly and making people laugh. Not only does Cliff make me laugh he makes a lot of other people laugh too.
Here is his official bio.
Cliff Prang is a professional actor, comedian and amateur stay at home dad. His commercials can be seen on pretty much every major TV network and his season 4 appearance on the CW’s Supergirl finally shattered his typecast of ‘aspirational dad' by playing the role of 'alien... dad'. You can also see him on NBC's the INBETWEEN as a fancy lawyer/corpse and on the season 14 finale of SUPERNATURAL as MAN#3. Cliff has been in love with making people laugh since birth and has a full menu of comedy options including stand up, improv, speaking, emceeing, auctioneering, etc. He delivers those services to a broad spectrum of audiences at Bars, Clubs, Schools, Churches, Fundraisers, Corporate Events, etc. Additionally he has over 22 years of improv experience with Vancouver TheatreSports, The Panic Squad Improv & now Funny Brothers Improv. As a stand up he has shared the stage with powerhouses, Sunee Dhaliwal, Debra DiGiovanni, Ivan Decker, the late great Canadian Legend Mike MacDonald as well as *Saturday Night Live's Chris Kattan. Cliff has been featured at Just For Laughs Northwest, the Fraser Valley Comedy Festival, and within the hallowed pages of Reader's Digest (the pinnacle of Canadian Comedy fame... but not really).
Where to reach him:
His TEDx Talk: https://youtu.be/S4C9Eore9hQ
Website: www.cliffprang.com IG: @cliffprang Twitter: @cliffprang FB: @cliffprang
Clearly with Cliff having reached the heights of notoriety in Readers Digest he is living No Ordinary Life.
Connect with me:
Welcome everyone to the 12th anniversary of No Ordinary life. For those downloading for the first time you should know that this is not exactly the 12th anniversary but really the 12th episode.
I have been interviewing people that are probably no different than you and me. They definitely all have their own situations or circumstances. Sometimes it’s occupations, but what I’m what I’m learning with talking to these folks is that it’s what they’ve decided or the choices that they’ve made within those situations or circumstances that seems to set them apart.
None of them, so far, have had a conventional path to where they are now. Some have had multiple jobs, careers and some have multiple instances of adversity to overcome. It’s been super interesting to talk to all of them and I’m looking forward to many more conversations moving forward.
It definitely been a learning experience doing this. And even though I’ve only done 12 of these things so far, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Join me as I muse about the mechanics of learning how to make a podcast as well as some of what I've taken away from the interviews I've done over the past view months!
Dion was one of the first people I had ever met that worked with street people and the homeless and had a passion for it.
That passion for the homeless and downtrodden led to a career of helping. Dion was the Mission Strategist for The Salvation Army’s 5 homeless shelters in Toronto, called Housing and Homeless Supports. He was also the founding director of the Salvation Army Gateway; a shelter for men experiencing homelessness. He has spent more than 25 years working among folks who are living on or close to the streets of Toronto.
Dion also lives with Multiple Sclerosis and uses a walker or mobility scooter to get around. I talk with Dion about living with the disease and the thing he said that I was so impressed with was, and I’m paraphrasing here… I may have MS but MS does not have me.
Dion’s wife Erinn is no slouch either as the Executive Director and Pastor of the Dale Ministries in Parkdale she also cares for those in need in the city.
He is an advocate on behalf of people in the margins of society and is an accomplished public speaker on the topic of housing, homelessness and disabilities. Dion and Erinn believe the solution to homelessness is taking the 2 great commandments of loving God and loving our neighbour seriously.
Where you can find him:
With over 20 years in in the music business, Doug Romanow has got a healthy list of credits to his name. On top being a Record Producer, Mixer and Songwriter he’s also the Musical Director at the Canadian Country Music Awards.
He’s worked with Justin Bieber, Johnny Reid, Chantal Kreviazuk, Divine Brown and Tyga just to name drop a few artists.
You don’t survive being in the music business for 20 years by not being good at what you do. Doug is an in demand panelist at music conferences, including Canadian Music Week, the Western Canadian Music Awards and Canadian Country Music Week.
I know him to be a really intelligent guy with a dry sense of humour who isn’t afraid to discuss the meaning of life. He proudly lives in Toronto, Ontario, with his wife and two daughters. Doug lives No Ordinary Life.
Where you can find him:
When I first started this podcast my goal wasn’t to be an advertisement for Muskoka Woods. My goal was to find people who were living interesting lives and making interesting decisions. Naturally the low hanging fruit for me was to reach out to my friends. As I made my list of people I wanted to interview, there was a large number of friends from Muskoka Woods over the years who just happened to be living really interesting lives.
I figured I would start with them and like anything you have in common with friends the subject of the camp came up – every time. Leading me to start calling this the Muskoka Woods Series.
I thought it would be great to cap off the Muskoka woods series with the CEO of Muskoka woods John McAuley and have him speak to his own story but also the stories of the former staff members making an impact outside of camp.
I’ve known Johnny for over 30 years now, he was my counsellor as well as an occasional adversary to my desire to “bend” the rules at camp. But he saw something in me and eventually became a mentor of sorts for me over the years.
Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, John McAuley began his career as a Counter-Terrorism police officer in the Royal Ulster Constabulary before moving to Canada in 1987. For over 25 years, John has served as the President & CEO of Muskoka Woods, a Christian youth development organization that operates a in the Muskoka region of Canada.
John’s passion is the mentoring, coaching and spiritual direction of those in the throes of leadership. He has been married to Lori for over 25 years and they are the proud parents of Jake and Kasi, as well Tux the Wonder Dog.
Jeff Roach is a global brand consultant and strategic planner specializing in brand management, digital marketing, and marketing strategy. With over 20 years in advertising and marketing communications, Jeff has touched hundreds of brands. A veritable who’s who of big companies… with work for 3M, Alcatel, BlackBerry, Boost Mobile (Sprint), Blizzard Entertainment, Bubblicious (Cadbury), Coca-Cola, Coors, Coty, DC Comics, Durex, Energizer and the list goes on and on
And while that’s all very impressive to say the least I know Jeff more as the skater kid who played guitar all the time at camp during the summers.
Jeff is also is a 20 year veteran of the marriage game – married to his wife Priscilla and a father of 3 teenage girls.
Jeff started in a small town, moved to the big city of Toronto and eventually landed in the even bigger city of Los Angeles.
I hope you enjoy my latest guest Jeff Roach and his No Ordinary Life!
Where you can find him:
I had the privilege of sitting down with Andrea Jacka at her kitchen table this week to talk about her life and the decisions she made to achieve no ordinary life. I discovered that she’s a genuine bad ass! I had no idea she had been in the military and then off course she hitch-hiked from BC to Alberta as a teenager! Seriously the things you learn about people!
Andrea really is the energizer bunny. Honestly, I have never met anyone like her and her husband Rick. They are the most encouraging people I’ve ever met, and they’re support and belief in me and my wife Michelle is humbling to say the least.
From army boot camp, to dental hygienist, owing her own business, to real estate agent. Andrea proves that she can tackle it all.
You can find her at:
Tad Munnings is an entrepreneur that has focused most of his life and career on filmmaking and telling stories through visual means.
Living in Africa at young age was definitely fundamental in shaping his worldview and how he told stories to others.
Starting off as a young filmmaker with dreams of making an impact on the world he quickly met the realities of what it means to be an artist and filmmaker but also a husband and father of 5 kids.
Eventually he was able to not only combine his artistic sensibilities with his monetary needs but at the same time tell the stories that were important to him with Africa in particular coming back to him as an adult and now experienced filmmaker.
From Toronto to Chicago – where he had a stint as a taxi driver – to Africa and then back to Toronto. Tad is now able to manage both his career and life on his own terms.
Tad Munnings is wearing Black t-shirts and living No Ordinary Life.
You can find him at:
Julie is a busy mother of 4, a doula, pre-natal educator, counsellor for young moms as well as a wife.
If anyone I know has had ups and downs in their life it has been Julie. From overcoming drugs to surviving a suicide attempt along with watching her first born daughter endure 25 surgeries before 18 years old!
She's an inspiring and charismatic woman who gives hope and encouragement to others and we hope this podcast will do the same for you!
Mark Dowds is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Trov Inc, one of the world's fastest growing Insurtech companies and co-founder of tech hub, Ormeau Baths in Belfast Northern Ireland. Mark is as a serial entrepreneur as well as a super connector.
I wanted to dig in to Mark’s mindset over the years after initially leaving Ireland to move to Canada for ministry, to San Francisco for business and most recently moving back home to Belfast.
He’s made money, lost money, started companies and shuttered them. He’s won a California Amateur Ultra- Marathon.
If you think that Mark Dowds sounds like an interesting cat – I’d say you're right. Listen in and you will see that Mark has No Ordinary Life.
Iain Lovatt is the newly elected mayor of Stouffville, a small town about 50 km’s north of Toronto, Ontario. He has also been a friend of mine for over 30 years. I’ve always known him to be not only an entrepreneur but also a creative. Ian is a charismatic leader with a great sense of humour and an energy to get things done! He and his wife Mary and their 3 children have lived in Stouffville, , since 2007.
He has over 25-years of experience in youth work, charity and business management. While he grew up in Ontario, his career began in British Columbia, where co-founded a number of technology companies that focused on youth marketing, internet radio and entertainment. Including an amazing idea that is remarkably similar a little thing called social media.
Iain returned to his Ontario roots in 2002 when he joined the Muskoka Woods management team as Director of Marketing and the Director of Business Development... And true to his entrepreneurial roots, with some friends also started a bakery in Stouffville, the Main Street Bakehouse. Which is a very popular spot with my family.
Iain first ran for office in 2010 and was elected as Ward 5 Councillor in 2014 where he served as an active member of council and sat on 6 town committees. In 2018, Iain was successful in being elected Mayor.
There are lots of twists and turns in Iain’s story, proving once again my opinion that are no straight lines to get to where you are.
I hope you enjoy my conversation with my friend and Stouffville’s new mayor, Mayor Iain Lovatt.
I speak with my good friend Dallas James from James Family Farms. Dallas has been a singer, traveler, mom, business woman a sailor and now entrepreneur. Join me for my interview with Dallas to see how she and her family are living @no_ordinarylyfe.
Welcome to the debut podcast of No Ordinary Life.
NOL explores the success stories that we don’t actually get to hear about but should! Especially because it isn't a straight line between where you were, where you are and where you're going to be.
Stories about ordinary people living extraordinary lives. People you may know but had no idea about the types of choices they’ve made in order to get to where they are. The risks that that they have taken and the decisions that they have made, so that they could live No Ordinary Life.