Artist to Artist- In the Moment with Professor Peña!

Dear Readers!

Gabriel Marcelo Peña is my dear friend, an actor of great talent, and we studied the Meisner method together under Richard Robichaux.  I met him when I was stage manager on his first big show in Austin “The 21 Would Be Lives of Phineas Hamm”


written, directed and produced, by Rachel McGinnis Meissner and we became fast friends.  


Recently he took some time out of his very busy schedule to talk with me about all things art, theatre and life!

To see more about Gab and his many talents- Check out his website-


Without further ado, Let’s get to the interview!

Professor Haston-Who are you named for?

Professor Peña – My full name is Gabriel Marcelo Peña- My mother was going back and forth between two names.- “Damian” (like “The Omen”) and “Gabriel” and Pops said they should hedge their bets and go with the angel- so Gabriel it was. I love words and the origin of things so I looked it up and the name has Hebrew origins – Gabriel the Angel appears in Islam, Christianity and Judaism which appeals to my sense of a mixed and multicultural heritage. Additionally, in all those stories- Gabriel is a communicator– I am a communicator and even my nickname (Gab) means to talk.  Marcelo- comes from the Italian actor, Marcelo Mastrioanni –my pops was a big fan of him, so they went with that for the middle name. Also, my father was very close to, and really loved his grandfather who was an Italian immigrant to Mexico so the name is perhaps a bit of an homage to him, Rodolfo DiCapelo. I’m guessing at the spelling of his name, family legend is that he changed the spelling and/or pronunciation of his name when he entered the US and then AGAIN when he migrated to Mexico. I come from nomads.

Professor Haston- How did you come to be an actor?

Professor Peña- The origins of it – I was in middle school and I felt very isolated and very “other”, in large part due to being a Latino in a Black and White Southern town, and due to a lottery system program I got thrown into a different school. I thought, great I already don’t have friends, now I go to another school where I will have still have NO friends. I got a chance to do the morning announcements, which I thought were boring and stale, and so when I got picked to do them I presented them with a point of view and some enthusiasm and people started to acknowledge me. This was a cool new experience at the time. Then after that, I copied my sister, Paula (thanks P!) and followed her to an acting camp and loved it. From then on, it developed into, “Oh, now I get to do things that I don’t get to do in my real life” Like my first kiss, was a stage kiss – Or on stage, you get to yell at someone or beat someone up- you get to do this because it’s written down and it’s the job. I really fell in love with it then, I realized it was a license to do and experience things fully or freely in a way that I don’t always get to in my daily life.

Professor Haston- Can you talk about the hard parts of being an actor or times that it hasn’t been so great?

Professor Peña- I remember intentionally distancing myself from it once. I was studying theatre in college when I went abroad for a semester in Argentina. I was not fully dedicated to the idea of performance as a profession. In fact,  at the time, I was very deliberate about not doing any theatre, not seeing any plays. Yet, while abroad, a guy at school reached out about doing “True West” I kept finding myself jotting down ideas and thinking about the role. So even when I wasn’t trying to do theatre, it followed me anyway. Fast forwarding to now, I moved to New York a year ago, and it’s been an adventure. New York is no joke, although I have found a slice of it that I absolutely love. I have a B.A. in Theatre and I have an MFA in Acting and I will say it’s been a big adjustment going from acting and artistry EVERY day at school to not having a guarantee of when the next role will be. To give you an idea of the importance of the drive required out here, last year, on one of the casting sites I use for auditions, I self-submitted 141 times and heard back less than 3% of the time. But, overall, I find it is best to forget about each door knock and move on to the next one. 

Professor Haston- In addition to being a writer, singer, actor and musician and you are a producer of multilingual plays- How do you choose just one to focus on when you are talented in so many things?

Professor Peña – My identity as an artist is ever-changing and evolving. For a long time, I thought of myself as a music person, then as an actor. Then as an actor who played the rebel, or outcast. Also, my Latinidad, or relationship to being Latino, is something that has developed a lot and that’s a big influence as well on my art. I once heard that an actor is always working, though not always employed. It’s the idea, the notion, that you are not always getting paid to do it, but you can work on your craft no matter what. To measure that “work” I started using an app called “Toggl”  (because it’s what we do in the 21st century) to track how much time I was putting into my part-time job (because I have to eat) and track how much time I was devoting to my acting career. I decided to challenge myself and see if I could spend as much time on my acting as I was spending on my part time job. I think “Toggl” is meant to keep track of business projects, however, I use the free version of the app for what I need and I love it. I have it on my computer, iPad, and phone and I’m able to retroactively add events if I don’t use/have one of those devices to record my time and/or if I forget to. I’ve divided my time into 5 categories (I had “commuting” as a 6th separate category but now I include any commute time in with the activities I’m recording). This is, again, a way to see if I’m balancing my time well. If I’m investing too heavily in one area or not enough in another. While the goal is to at least have 50/50 between my part time and the other categories I find it important to remind myself that the ENTIRE amount of time I’m recording is an investment in my acting career. It’s a great way to motivate myself when I feel somewhat powerless or stuck and it also validates that I am putting my energies into my dreams. A big part of this is not beating myself up for the results, it’s a barometer and allows me to be aware. In the show “Slings and Arrows” a Canadian show about a Shakespeare company, they say, “Acting is an act of faith” – and I think that’s true but it doesn’t hurt to plan and prep.

The following are the categories I use to track my time and I’ll list examples of what I mean next to them:

Action – Acting Gigs, Rehearsals, Classes, Workshops, Working/Memorizing material, anything that would fall under “Acting”, “Performance”, etc.

Administration – Going through breakdowns, Sending submissions, Updating my Website/Resume/Headshot, etc. The “Paper Work” part of being an actor – which is a SUPER important part of it.

Associative – Meeting other professionals (actors, directors, so on), Creative Projects (music involving my experiences as a Latino actor in New York City), Research (which theaters are equity houses, info on casting offices, etc). The moves that are important for “playing the long game” of an acting career.  

Well-being – Meditations, Workouts, Physical Therapy, seeing plays and movies and “good” tv, taking in museums and art, day trips.

The events/practices/things that “fill me up”. 

Job – Thing that helps me make money to keeping doing what I want to do. It’s important that I title it “job” rather than “career” because it helps me keep perspective on the ultimate goal and/or what I want to prioritize.

Professor Haston- What is your reaction as a Latino actor when you see that Latino parts are not being played by Latinos?

Professor Peña- I have a strong personal reaction, professional reaction, and an intellectual reaction. My journey is complicated in that, I am not what popular media says is a Latino and I play with that dynamic in my music and my writing. Someone, i.e. popular culture, trying to tell me what my identity is, or should be, feels like a quintessential experience of a minority or person of color in the United States. It’s extremely complicated and very personal and also something that I think that hopefully is becoming more and more of a discussion, and little by little is getting more complicated, in a good way, problematized in a good way, and righted in a just way.

Professor Haston- What do you think makes you a successful artist?

Professor Peña – I think I feel successful when I can think to myself, I made “this” – I made that role. That isn’t to say there were not other people who contributed, the writers, the director, the crew, they all contribute but I like to feel like, “I put my name on that”. When I finish a song, I get the same feeling, that’s when I feel successful.  It also validates me as an artist to talk about my art. Doing things like this interview helps me stay present to the idea and feeling that I want to do this acting thing, out of the wonderful irrationality that is love.

Professor Haston- What advice would you give to your younger self?

Professor Peña- (chortles) Oh man, so many things…… Okay, well two things:

  1. “In the best way possible, if you can, let yourself take it less seriously.”
  2. “As patient as you are, sometimes you aren’t, and that’s okay, but believe me, believe me, believe me, the more you embrace the idea of not having a clock on things the better, better, better you will feel.”

Professor Haston- What is some of the best advice you have ever received?

Professor Peña- Ooh, there is a long list from my folks that just lives in my skin. However, one of the conscious responses that comes to mind is from Richard Robichaux- (Professor at University of California at San Diego),  “Trust that you are enough.”

The Meisner technique, as taught by him, helped me be as dangerous as I wanted to be, in the context of a stage, without anyone getting hurt or going too far. His teaching and his classes really helped me evolve back to being a kid and finding that sense of play. His technique helped me boil it down to the basics and really get back to myself.

Professor Haston- How do you respond to criticism because we all have haters!

Professor Peña- I love the framing of that question. I actually like critiques. I think there are so many ways to take it. Like, Oh cool, I see how I can take that and make it better because of what you are offering me. I can always “leave it” instead of taking it if I disagree. I have been fortunate enough to not have people just be mean for the sake of being mean. I don’t do or like social media so I’m sure that helps. I prefer face to face with people. Also, grad school is an excellent opportunity to learn the value of critique.

Professor Haston- Who is your favourite artist and why?

Professor Peña- Bruce Springsteen- He is my favourite because I have always felt an authenticity from the guy. I first listened to a “greatest hits album” because my pops had mentioned Bruce, and I remember hearing “Born to Run” and immediately loved the song. I was so in it, and then I didn’t like any of the other songs on the album. But because I was in middle school and only bought one cd every other month, (which was my favourite event as a kid cause I LOVED music, still do) I had to listen to the record over and over again and it grew on me. Bruce, in addition to having great music, is a great lyricist and storyteller and the poetry and lyricism in music was a new element for me to focus on. Before I was about instrumental or sonic experience of music with bands like Led Zeppelin. With Bruce’s music AND lyrics, though, there’s the sense that every song is about somebody that is fighting to stay alive, fighting for something better. The fact that he tells stories about people who are not pretty and up there and rich. He tells stories of teenage kids trying to get out of a dead end town, he tells stories about people working all day in a factory. He tells stories of immigrants who die crossing the Rio Grande. He seems like a real, kind, human being. A very wise, very empathetic guy. When he performs, he steps on stage and unzips his skin and ribcage and is just out there.

Professor Haston- What inspires you?

Professor Peña- What inspires me are the souls around me that unlock a part of my soul. My family, my partner, my friends. What inspires me are artists that are telling “people people” stories. I get inspired by any environment I am in. I was going to say the city, but the truth is, I am inspired where I am all the time. When I was in California, it was California. When I was in North Carolina, It was North Carolina. I am in New York, it’s New York. I’m very fortunate in that sense, to be constantly surrounded by inspiration.


It seems a good thing for us all to take away, “Be inspired, right where you are,” and a good place to end so you can head to Arkansas to start rehearsal in Native Gardens

It would be impossible to encapsulate the entirety of awesomeness that is “Gab” in just one interview and that’s actually a good thing. How boring would life be if one interview covered the whole of the human experience of one person?

Think About It.

Princess Awesome Asked ME to Guest Post! How cool is that?

Dear Readers!

Today I am honored to tell you about a great thing that happened!

I wrote a post for a company I love called Princess Awesome, they let me know it would be posted today. I love this company and love their message.

In their words- “We believe that if a girl likes purple and also likes trucks, she should be able to wear a purple truck dress. And if a girl likes princesses and also aliens, then an alien princess skirt is for her.”

In mine–

Their goal is to “change the conversation” we have with little girls, with particular attention to how their clothes define who they are, it’s so easy to get lost in that mindset of “little girls wear pink and are pretty and nice and don’t get muddy” well… to that I say, “Open your mind” and also, “Meet my daughter” she LOVES getting messy and doesn’t care about wet in the rain and if she slips in the mud, she gets right up and smiles and heads right back to what made her dirty in the first place!

So if that is the case, maybe what we think about little girls isn’t really accurate, maybe it’s time for that to change… Past time, really!

Think About It.

Here’s the post- 🙂   “And Not But”


Happy New Month!

Dear Readers,

If you are wondering why I am wishing you a happy new month, it’s because I was reminded that we are 3 months into the year 2019 and it might just be time to take a look at the resolutions, or as I prefer to call them, “promises I have made to myself”

Instead of a resolution, what promise will you keep that you have made to yourself?- Professor Haston

Some people are talking about “less screen time”– We have touched on that in the blog before, that is different for everyone. Though I consider myself to be very conscious of that, it was not until I started tracking it that I realized how much I do use my phone so I became aware of it and have already made that a new promise to myself.

I promise when I am with my child, I will be on the floor and “looking at her and playing with her and my phone will be in the other room”

I have been doing this about 50% of the time, I think that is good and I can be better. Sometimes the phone is in the room and if she is playing with another toy or with her book, I will occasionally text or scroll. I think that is okay, and it’s important to me that she never thinks my phone is more important than she is so I have developed the not so great habit of sneaking my phone out and back under covers but I don’t want to teach her sneaky behavior either so I guess the goal is back to 100% no using phone when she is awake.. I might not be able to make that goal but here in the examination of it, I see it needs work. It’s progress, not perfection, right?

But enough about me — how about you?

What promises have you made? What promises have you kept? Do you need to hit that “reset” button ? Forgive yourself if you are not as far down that road as you want to be. You are on the road, aren’t you? So let’s have some praise for that and then move into whatever your “NEXT” is.

Think About It.

Our Little Nature Lover!

Dear Readers,

A few months ago, I discovered a great thing about my daughter.

She loves the outdoors. I mean really loves it. Every chance she gets she is moving slowly outside so she can be in it that much more.

In fact, I have started to give us a 10 minute “nature buffer” so she can amble around. It’s helping me to arrive on time with a LOT less stress, all in aid of helping her have the time to enjoy nature.

She can’t get enough of it. I find this highly amusing since I do not care for the outdoors AT ALL.

I mean, most of the time I would choose reading a book curled up on the sofa under a blanket. Then there are those times the book gets closed and I will watch a movie with her. Curling up with her, watching a movie is my idea of a great time. She loves the park and the pool, equally. The unadulterated joy on her face is so clear, that it has led to a funny outcome.


I have actually started to see the world through her eyes and have grown to appreciate nature more and as I look at the stick or rock that she picks up and hands to me, I wonder with her at all this beauty.


She will go out of her way to pick up a rock or stick or a blade of grass and she loves to run up to trees and sit under them. She is perfectly content to sit outside and walk around and gets so much joy in the great outdoors.

Her joy has actually led to my enjoyment of these outings to the park or even our yard.


I was struck by this today and realized she is teaching me to appreciate something I didn’t even know I was missing.

I feel humbled by this and can only hope she will keep teaching me to have “fresh eyes” when looking at something.

So whether you have a kid at home or not, I think we can all embrace the idea of learning something new about something we see every day. It might be a coworker who displays an interest in something you only have a passing interest in so you ask more questions, and learn some interesting things that if you had just dismissed it, you would have missed out on learning. How about a friend who tells you about a new hobby that you know nothing about? What could you miss out on by not listening, but only waiting for your turn to talk? We can all learn something from each other.

Think About It.

It’s the first thing we need, and the last thing we do… What is it?

Dear Readers,

When was the last time you said, you know, I have a ton of things to do, but you know what, I am just going to rest and do nothing today? Yeah, right!

With the idea that I always want to provide value to you, my dear reader, I would say that you are probably like most of us and you are WAY too busy with the stuff and things of life and as you work or take care of others, you should always remember to take care of yourself first. It’s easy to forget but keep this in mind.

It’s the first thing we need, and the last thing we do? What is it? 


Think about it, you would tell a good friend who told you they were tired or run-down to rest, right? Why not tell yourself the same thing? Because dear readers, you take care of others first and yourself second. Stop that, stop it right now.

Playing with my little girl, always fun, AND I need a break from THAT too!


I know what you are saying, “Professor Haston, that sounds nice but between working full-time and taking care of my kids and my family… etc… I just have to put self-care on the back burner. Adding self-care to my list, is just that, another list ! Well, I hear you, and I think it’s worth adding it to your calendar as a to do at LEAST once a month. Baby steps, people!

Even carving out just 15 minutes to JUST BE and not scroll and not email and not log on to yet another location, but rather just BE you and just breathe.  (Something I did in November that I would DEFINITELY consider self-care)


I think self-care gets a bad reputation but if you consider that you can’t fill others from an empty cup. When you don’t take care of yourself FIRST, your ability to take care of others takes a real beating.

Self-care is not Selfish, it is Self-Renewing. – Professor Haston

So as I do in every post, I like to give you something to takeaway, what would fill you with relaxation and “FILL” you up? Don’t give me a to-do list. This is about sparking joy and giving your self something to be happy about. This is my current list and here is the cool thing about self-care, there isn’t a wrong way to do it. For some, it will be reading a book, for others, that feels a lot like school. No problem, find something that makes you happy.

  1. Read a few minutes of a FUN book (not a self-improvement or business book)
  2. Go to the movie theatre and see a movie by myself.
  3. Get a manicure or pedicure or both.
  4. Make a coffee/tea/cocktail/phone/slack/skype date with a friend and KEEP it.

I can’t speak for you, but here are a few things that I do for self-care. Feel free to comment with your own ideas, let’s learn from each other.

Think About It.


Artist to Artist- In the Moment-Adventure Incorporated-

Dear Readers,

Now for something a little different. I have long been passionate about different types of art and their purveyors. So begins the “Artist to Artist” series.

Mike Ellison is a colleague of mine who I am lucky enough to work with in a completely different capacity as we are both customer service supervisors at HomeAway.  We are also fellow artists, hence this post!

I sat down with Mike “Danger” Ellison who is one of the hosts of a Dungeons and Dragons podcast called “Adventure Incorporated” and they are heading into their third year. You can find it here

For those who don’t know- Dungeons and Dragons –

Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as D&D[2]) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast (now a subsidiary of Hasbro) since 1997. It was derived from miniature wargames with a variation of Chainmail serving as the initial rule system.[3] D&D‘s publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.[4]

As is so often the case, when you take the time to learn a little bit more about the people you work with every day, you peel away quite the onion layer. It’s pretty fitting that Mike was my first interview as this whole series was sparked by a casual walk and talk at work.

What follows is our chat about D and D, art and the artist, and truth and passion in podcasting.

Professor Haston (PH)- What is your name Mike “Danger” Ellison all about? 

Mike Ellison (ME)- Well, my mom named me in accordance with her “rediscovery of God” so in pursuit of giving me a name that was religious, she picked Michael David, instead of Jesus Christ. I noticed on my social security card it said, Michael D and because I was a 12 year old buffoon, I started calling myself “Mike Danger Ellison” . 


PH- How long have you been playing D and D? What appeals to you about it?

ME– 22 years – It all started in Gifted and Talented program, part of an independent study for “Odyssey of the Mind” because we were bored with regular school. I love love stories.  I think fiction is the greatest invention of humanity. I really love storytelling and think that when people can come together to tell a story it is the pinnacle of human achievement. 

PH- How has it evolved for you? Have you ever taken a hiatus? 

ME- When it started out, this was the dorkiest thing you could do. People would admit to video games and reading comics and writing fan fiction and I love sci-fi but I WOULD NEVER play D and D! So people were willing to do a bunch of other things but no one was willing to say “Let’s roll some dice!” I changed high schools and went from age 13 (this was when we had a silly and stupid storylines) to about age 22 (where storylines were only SLIGHTLY elevated) with no D and D games. In 2008, Fourth Edition was released and everyone was talking about how easy it was to play with the advent of this release. People were playing World of Warcraft and everything around D and but took the mechanics and streamlined the game. My friend Charlie put together a game for me and my girlfriend and some friends to play when I was 25 and we played that for six months and then the group fell apart. It’s pretty common for games to fall apart after a few sessions. 

PH- What happened to bring you back to it? 

ME- Fifth Edition came out, I got super excited about it and decided I was going to run a game with a bunch of people at work. I bought all the stuff and spent way too much money and someone I worked with started a game using Pathfinder (not Fourth Edition) and it lasted about two years. We played every week because we worked together and it helped make us a lot more accountable. Life changed again, but I really wanted to play Fifth Edition so I pretty much bullied all my friends and girlfriend into coming over to play my “shiny new thing” and I said, “So come over and we will do a thing and if you hate it, we will never do it again, and if you love it, you are welcome” and they LOVED it. The game fell apart after a couple of months, so I was without D and D again. 

PH- So what led to the birth of the podcast? 

MEWell, a great and close friend of mine from college, Anthony, we find all the same things funny. Smart and dumb things, we both think it’s hilarious in the same way. We just “get” each other and he happened to play D and D too. I reached out to him and said, “I want to play D and D Fifth Edition and I want to play with you.” At the same time, a buddy of ours was going through a super rough time and was a former D and D player. I posted recaps on social media and he reached out and was always commenting and asking questions about it since he couldn’t play locally, this was our way of helping him and solidifying an already deep friendship but we had to all commit to getting together every other week at a certain time. This is common in every group of friends, unless you have something keeping you accountable, you are just as likely to sit in your underwear watching the latest Flash episode. We knew that if we didn’t have a common goal it would NOT happen. Something will always come up, unless you are properly motivated. Anthony offered to DM the game and I was super relieved cause I just wanted to play. So knowing the group of friends and how stage hungry and attention driven they all are, we came up with the idea to do a podcast to record us playing the game every other week, which is hard, because sometimes every other Sunday is Christmas, or your mom’s birthday, or someone is in surgery. One of the players is a doctor, so as you might imagine he can’t commit to anything, so routinely we get messages from him bowing out due to his whole life-saving thing, so no problem, they created a mechanic in the game to play for him that will die and then come back as a new character. We wanted him to play so bad so we made it work.

PH- How does the podcast work? What are the mechanics? Do you think about your audience? 

ME: So there are five players and the DM, so six of us total. 

Here they are!


We all record our audio (using various forms of microphones and in one case a shoddy internet connection on a phone from the Dominican Republic) and send it to the DM who mixes it down and uploads it. We play over skype, and being able to see each other while we talk is invaluable. I know it seems super obvious but the first year and a half we played and recorded without looking at each other but after a year or so, we started to figure it out. We are just a few weeks away from our “Adventure March” which is the celebration of our anniversary.  We do a thing for the anniversary every year. One year we did dice bags with our logo. 

Check it out!


This year some super fun stuff is coming up. A coloring contest! We will send out black and white drawings (that were made by fans of the podcast) so people can color them. This community is so awesome.  

PH- How do you deal with haters? 

ME- It’s super easy. Sounds like this isn’t your show. There are tons of other podcasts and maybe you should go listen to those other shows. 

PH- So how does doing improv and playing D and D intersect?

ME- I had been improvising in town with ColdTowne Improv and was curious about getting back onstage and doing more scripted work. Playing D and D is kind of like the intersection of those two things because you’ve developed this character and you don’t know what’s going to happen but you know everything about that character and so as long as you are true to who that character is, you are basically playing out a script even if it hasn’t been written yet. I think D and D is a interesting middle ground between improv and scripted work because of that. 

PH- What is your favourite thing about the show? 

ME- I love hanging out with my favourite people doing my favourite thing. I love telling a story together that is the type of story that I want to hear. We don’t really worry about what the listeners might want to hear, we are playing our game. It’s knowing I have a creative outlet and knowing it will always be there. Knowing that the rest of the team are all conceptually aligned. Going into Year 4, and super strong. 

PH- What do you do to stir the creative process? So how do you approach your character? 

ME- As a player, my job is a lot easier than the person running things. Anthony (our DM) has to do a lot of collaborating since the players will do something completely different than what he had in mind and then he has to roll with it and find a way to make it work. As players, we all have different styles of play. Personally, I think a lot about what Jebeddo (my character) does in between (also called the moment before) like what steps he is going through (mentally) in his head. Just before the show starts, Steph (Jennuevera) (her character) usually does a recap about what happened and then in between we will talk about the show all the time. 

PH- What’s next for the intrepid explorers? 

ME- We are going to Dragon Con in August and have submitted our application for panels there so keep watching for updates on that… 

PH- What’s the most important part of the creative process for you? 

ME- The Doing. It’s all the Improv 101 stuff. Being sure you are reacting honestly and being vulnerable and being true to the character that you have created. It’s all the stuff you get told on stage whether improvising or scripted work and all the rest can go up in smoke and as long as you are true to that character, it’s still really listenable.  If everyone’s acting within character something nice is going to come out of that moment. Overall, I think it’s also important to talk about the three conversations. The conversation of  Character to Character, Actor to Actor and Actors to Audience. I think keeping that in mind through the show is crucial. The nice thing about podcast is you can often have that conversation Actor to Actor after the show. **** SPOILER ALERT*** In a recent episode, one of the characters (Gillik) is being tempted and the other characters are HATING it and reacting accordingly, so after it was over the actor was said, “hey guys, I can tone it down” and we were all saying. “No, it’s awesome” it makes it so much richer that we hate this thing that your character is doing so keep moving through it in a way that makes sense to your character. On stage, you can’t have that conversation, being able to talk Actor to Actor about it, opens it up.

PH- Who is your favourite artist? Why?

ME- Oh. Heavy..  hmm like everything? John Darnielle- The Mountain Goats- He has recorded over 600 songs and ALL of them are different. He has a massive creative brain. His most recent album was called Goths and growing up goth. Another record is all about wrestling. The next album has no guitars on it at all. The album before that was his favourite bible verses. Very excited about his next album which is all about Dungeons and Dragons. How is that for a segue? 🙂 

PH- What inspires you?

ME- Honesty. Honesty inspires me. It’s so refreshing for people to just be honest and open. Watching that happen makes me want to create more. In addition to that, passion. I think it’s so important to me that people care about what they do. 

I couldn’t agree more, Mike!

The podcast is Adventure Incorporated; it can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Podbean… basically, anywhere you can download a podcast from? We’re on it.

Support us on Patreon
Come and join our Discord Server
Follow us on twitter @AdventureIncPod
Like us on Facebook
Check out our website
Don’t forget to rate/review/subscribe!

Before this interview, my only exposure to D and D was my mom, who plays and is super awesome for many reasons. I hope I have faithfully reported the world and done it justice.

My final thought is this. The next time you hear a term you don’t fully understand, instead of being afraid to admit it, open your mind and your eyes to a brand new world, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find out.

Think About It.


My 10 Takeaways from the 90 Day Challenge!

Dear Readers,

Recently I took part in a 90 day challenge to do a Facebook Live every day for 90 days in a row. The idea behind it was brought to us by my speaking coach and famous speaker, Darren LaCroix and the idea is to clarify your message and define what you are passionate about as a speaker.  You go on Facebook live and do a message for your followers that is 2-4 minutes every day for 90 days. No substitutions, exchanges, or refunds.


I have 10 takeaways from this challenge and a few thoughts I wanted to share.

First, I want to say, there is so much value in doing a challenge that really makes you stretch.

Like so many things, when you say you are going to do something, there will be things to get in your way. Fear is the first one, and it can be loud. Fear gets loud when you decide to do something important.

Facebook Live is exactly what it sounds like, You press a button for “facebook live” and then you are live on camera, no takebacks! Also, when you do a Facebook Live, you automatically gain more views because anyone who is online gets notified that you are “going live” so you have the “privilege of the platform of someone you might never encounter otherwise. One of the benefits of this challenge is you say you will do something for 90 days, you do it, every day, because you said you would. I definitely had days where I did NOT want to do it, and integrity is very important to me so I kept saying, well, I said I would, so I must. Also, as my buddy Albert Chang (a fellow speaker) says,”This helps build your speaking muscle for 90 days!” I workout at the gym so why wouldn’t I do a speaking “rep” every day for 90 days? (hard to classify this pose as a pull up– but stretch your imagination.. I know! We can call it a “speech up” ?  Thank you, I will be here all night!


Before this, I was really scared to go “live” but now, I am going to be delivering a message once a week to help my followers be inspired. What follows below are my takeaways and I hope they help you with your next presentation whether it’s a “facebook live” or standing in front of a room or your next one on one. If you have thought about doing a facebook live, stop thinking about it, and just do it. Then you will have done something you have not done before.

  1. Look at the camera and don’t take your eyes off the viewfinder. (harder than it sounds, trust me)
  2. Do not drive and Facebook live! it’s dangerous and stupid!!!!
  3. Keep it between 2-4 minutes- longer than that, and you risk losing viewers.
  4. Don’t overthink, have an idea (title it to give viewers a teaser) but adapt to changes.
  5. Be sure your message has value for your audience.
  6. Have a call to action (questions are best) to your audience for engagement.
  7. Start with Silence (Gives your audience time to get ready)
  8. Be authentic (dentist appointment, lives with guests) but don’t overshare.
  9. Stay on topic, and don’t greet your watchers, it pulls focus from your message.
  10. HAVE FUN and remember it’s not about being perfect, it’s about connecting to your audience.

So maybe you don’t have any desire to do a facebook live, that’s okay, think about something that will stretch you and then make a game plan and go do it.

Think About It.