Free Transcript Project – #13

Pushing Upstream – Episode 01 – St Louis Post Dispatch & DNA Testing

YouTube Channel : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRCr8a7XCdy164safAuDIOw

Host :
Twitter : @WinstonWolfe333
Steemit : https://steemit.com/@winstonwolfe


 

[INTRO MUSIC]

Winston Wolfe (Host) : My name is Winston Wolfe, and you’re listening to “Pushing Upstream”. I was born in 1979, in the midwest, and adopted eight days later. Now, at almost 39 years old I’ve begun the search for my birth family, and I started this podcast to document my experiences. I invite you to join me on my journey… Today is June 22nd, 2018. This is Episode #01. The day after I recorded the pilot Episode #00, there was an article that was posted by Kurt Erickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. [This] could not have come at a more perfect timing, in my opinion. The name of the article is “Long wait for adoptees seeking birth records in Missouri”. Essentially, whenever the law went into enactment on the 1st of January, for those over the age of 18, people were warned that the wait period could be between three to six months. However, it looks like – considering the number of requests they received; which they didn’t anticipate – apparently the wait time has actually been extended to nearly nine months. Now I personally have not been able to submit my form yet, [although] I stll plan to. But it looks like I’m going to need to plan for a wait period of probably up to about a year. Needless to day, this is a little disappointing. According to the article it looks like 848 people have been provided with either a copy of their original birth certificate, or notified that the agency dd not have a record on file for them. This is something I’m kind of worried about – not necessarily that they won’t have a record; that would be disappointing in and of itself. But also to find out that information may have been redacted. As I said in the previous episode, there is a form you can submit if you are a birth parent, if you decide you don’t want that information divulged. The way I understand that it works is [that] if both parents fill that form out the record is completely unavailable. If only one of them fills out that form, then essentially, you would get a record that has that information marked out. But to be honest, even if I’m not able to get any sort of document – anything that shows any information about either one of my birth parents – no matter what the outcome is going to be I plan on submitting it anyway, and basically planning for probably up to about a year to get anything back, as I said. In the meantime, however, there are plenty of other things I can be doing. I can be searching online. I can also submit my DNA – for example, through Ancestry.com, or through 23andMe.com. Since I released the pilot episode about four days ago I have joined all kinds of Facebook groups for people who are essentially “adopted and searching”. I know that’s actually the name of one of them. There are several different groups like this too, and I’m seeing stories popping up by the hour – from people who are getting results back, people who have had results and have tried contacting the people that it says they are connected to; both positive and negative. I’m seeing things where it almost seemed as if the birth families were simply waiting to be found, and accepted their long-lost child – [laughter] now an adult – with open arms. This is kind of what I’m hoping for maybe. Meanwhile, other people are finding it very difficult to contact their birth family – some of whom are saying things like, “We have come to terms with what we’ve done, and moved on, and we really don’t want to talk.” This is heartbreaking to me – [these] people who are on this journey of self-discovery, [to] find out where they came from, and to see what kind of people they came from, and are being rejected. I’m even seen cases where people are contacting half-siblings they never knew they even had, and are very easily able to talk to some of them, but whenever they try to talk to the actual birth parent [they’re] being rejected. Now, the thing with Ancestry.com – just to kind of talk about that for a minute. This is something I’m actually kind of excited about, because even if I don’t find anybody I can still get some information about my genetic health background, which is very important to me, and important for me for my son. But essentially, for about $100 [USD] from Ancestry.com you can order a DNA kit. It just comes with – to my knowledge – when you receive the kit it comes with a kind of tube, and you fill it up with some saliva and that’s it. You just sent it off and wait for about a month [or] two months, [or] something like that, for your results. [It’s the] same thing with 23andMe.com. Both of these services offer family genetic testing, [which basically will] show you who, genetically, you’re linked to, if the people that it says you’re linked to have decided to make it public, and make themselves able to be contacted. With 23andMe.com, however, not only do you get that, and not only – like [Ancestry.com] – do you get the ethnic background test — which, by the way, I understand should kind of be taken with a grain of salt, because it’s not perfect. But they also offer a service for $199 [USD], which provides that information, but also gives you your genetic health background. Like I said, this is important to me – for me and my son – because I know nothing about my genetic background, obviously, and my son only has half of the information that he needs – which is on his mother’s side, of course. Now granted, I’ve not really ever been terribly sick, aside from just the normal sicknesses people get on and off. [For example], I’ve never had to go spend the night in [a] hospital. I never had a surgery. I’ve never broken a bone. I don’t even wear glasses. But who’s to say that somewhere down on my birth father’s side they don’t have a history of early-40s heart attacks, or anything like that. I need to know what it is I’m up against. Of course, aside from being able to get those services, those two places – [Ancestry.com] and 23andMe.com – they also offer you the ability to download, essentially, the raw data on your DNA. Then once you’ve got that you can upload it to other databases that people upload that information to. For example, MyHeritage.com, GEDMatch.com, FTDNA – which is also [FamilyTreeDNA.com] – and [Promethease.com]. I understand that Promethease actually has a huge breakdown that they can give you on a lot of information about your DNA. I’m interested in submitting to all of these. You’ve got to set those trot lines. Another really useful resource I thought I found, actually, was on a website called AdoptionDatabase.Quickbase.com. I actually found that one by simply Googling “adoption database for Missouri”. That’s really it. There’s all kinds of listings. When you go in there – again, it’s going to be one of those things where it completely relies on the people you’re looking for having gone there and paid to make an entry. I think it’s like $10 [USD], and you can make an entry saying, for example, “I’m a birth mother, and I’m looking for an adoptee who was born on [this] date, in [this] county, in [this] city, in [this] state, on [this]…” you know, and “… you can tell at the hospital, [and] you can tell at the adoption agency that was involved ..” On that particular web site I found an entry that was very, very similar to mine – so much so that I thought, ‘You know what? Even though there’s this one piece of information, of all of the available information on this entry, that’s incorrect, I’m still going to take a look. I’m going to go ahead and see what I can find out.’ I’m going to talk about that, but not on this episode. But to sum up, essentially, everything on that entry that I found was on par with what I expected to find, except that the birthday was wrong. Now, I almost didn’t look at this entry, but then after reading article, after article, after article on advice for people who are on this journey, and on this search, in particular the one thing they said was, “Even if some information is incorrect, if your gut tells you that it’s worth looking into don’t pass it up. Look into it.” So I did, and again, I’m going to save that for a different episode, because that was an interesting experience. It was the first contact I made, and while it was a little bit of a letdown at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if this is not just kind of part of the process for a lot of people. I’m sure it is. I don’t have to really wonder. I’m sure that it is. I know that it is. [There’s] lots of “false positives”. [There’s] lots of getting not only your hopes up. but the person you’re contacting – getting their hopes up too – and having to apologize for that, and then wishing each other “better luck next time”. Now one thing that I will talk about [is that] in the last episode I mentioned several different things that I had wondered over the years. For example: Are they still alive? Are they looking for me? Have I met them and not even known it? That one in particular – that last one about having met them and not known it – there was something that happened to me about 18 years ago, when I worked at a camera store. There was a woman and her daughter – who must have been probably five years younger than me, or so – who came into the store looking for a camera for the young girl. So, of course, I helped these folks out, [showing] them a lot of the point-and-shoot cameras, and I think she might have been interested in one of the Olympus models. The more I was looking at her [I thought] to myself, ‘She could be my sister. This girl could be my sister. She looks like I’m looking into a mirror at a female version of myself.’ I can’t be the only person that’s had that experience, where they’re looking around at people and they find somebody and just kind of look them right in the face and go, ‘My god!’ You know? How do you approach that? How do you go, “Did you by chance have a child that you adopted out in 1979?” How do you drop that? [laughter] You don’t. [There’s] no socially acceptable way to just stumble into that conversation, like, “Nice weather, huh? Did you ever adopt a kid out?” [laughter]. It just doesn’t work that way. So I just had to kind of stand there, and I helped them just fine. I sold her a camera, but I never saw them again, to my knowledge. I just [have] never had that experience with anybody else – to look at somebody and go, ‘I wonder?’ You know, there’s enough similarities in physical appearance that ‘I wonder’. Now, of course, here we are in 2018 and it’s so easy to do a DNA test now, and throw that data into a database to see who links up to you. How much would that have cost 18 years ago? I don’t even know. [I was] probably pretty expensive. I don’t even think the technology was nearly up to par then as it is now – just as with, of course, any other technology – so we really do live in the future [laughter], so to speak. So yeah, that was a unique experience that I wasn’t sure how to describe, [and] I wasn’t sure how to share, over the years. It’s just been one of those things, but it is what it is. This afternoon, on one of the Facebook gourps that I’m a part of for adoptees who are searching, or family members looking for other family members, there was someone on here who wrote – as if they were speaking to their birth child – a post on their 40th birthday. Now I won’t read the whole thing, but I do want to read a couple of highlights, and I think you’ll like where this ended. She said, “You are 40 today. I don’t want to interrupt your life. I don’t want to upset you. I only want to know that you are okay. I was very young when you were born. I wanted to keep you, but couldn’t. The reasons seem trivial now – now that I’m older, and wiser, and not to naive. Do I blame my mother who told me I couldn’t come home if I brought you with me? No, I should have been braver. I should have been stronger. But I wanted you to have a life, a home, a family. Not what I had – a turmoil. You came early – very early. You only weighed one pound and fifteen ounces, but you were beautiful, you were a screamer, and you were mine. I always worried that you had health issues because you were so small. I hope not. I pray not. You are mine, so I know you are a fighter. so if you’re looking I am here. If you’re looking Im not ashamed. If you’re looking, you have family who know about you, who care about you, [and] who want to know you. If you are looking, find me.” Then further down she says, “I wrote you a letter that was supposed to be given to your adopted parents, but who knows if it was given to them. I’ve never kept you a secret, and anyone who knows me knows about you. I hope to meet you one day. I hope to be as much a part of your life as you will allow. I love you.” So I actually went ahead and responded to her, because as somebody in her birth daughter’s position, I think [that] for somebody who sounds so distaught over it – and no blame there – that maybe she could use a little perspective from somebody in our position. I told her, “I’m about two-and-a-half weeks away from being 39. Both of my wonderful adopted parents have passed away recently – dad four years ago, and mom just this past September. I remember thinking years ago that I would feel guilty for searching for my birth parents, because I didn’t want my adopted ones to believe that I was doing it to replace them, or because they weren’t good enough. But I remember one of the last things my mom said to me before she passed away – and keep in mind [that] she had kidney failure and faded into a coma before passing a few days later – was that she was sorry that she didn’t know more about who my birth parents were – or who my birth mother, in particular, was. But I somehow feel that it’s more respectful to them that I waited to embark on this search for my birth parents until now. At one point I’d made peace with not knowing. But now that I’ve got a little boy of my own I feel like I need to do it. I’ve got a non-identifying letter, that was given over to my adopted parents with me at the time of the adoption, as well as a stack of children’s books, a greeting card congratulating my parents on their new baby, and a ring that she wanted me to wear when I got older. Just because they are 40 I don’t think you should convince yourself that they don’t think about you, or that they’re not maybe trying to find you. I just began my search four days ago, and I’ve got some tasks ahead before I can even get a first wave of any useful information. If I can find her I just hope that my birth mother is as anxious to hear from me as you are of your daughter.” So there it is. As I continue on my search I’m learning a lot about other people, and I’m also finding that my story is pretty cut-and-dry, compared to a lot of the ones I’m seeing. For example, I’m finding a lot of people who aren’t adopted, but are doing DNA tests for trying to do family trees, or find out about their ethnic backgrounds a little bit deeper – and in my detail – and in the process they’re uncovering some pretty ugly family secrets. I can think of one instance where a brother and a sister both did a DNA test, and when the taste came back the brother only had half of the people connected to him as the sister did to her, but also had an entire list of people that they’d never heard of before. So essentially – for a lack of a better way to put it – it seems as though the mother in the situation may have been unfiathful. This is a huge secret that can just be blown wide open in a family, and [I have] to admit I’m grateful that that’s not something I’m worried about. I’m not connected to anybody, so everyone I find is going to be a surprise. My hope is that I’m not the secret. On the other hand, I need to go by what I originally said, which was, ‘No matter what the outcome, I want to do this.’ I can be tactful about it, [and] respectful. I get it. [Whenever] I talk about my letter – and I’ll read it, like I’ve said before; I’ll save that for another episode as well. I think you’ll find, like I did, that it seems that my birth parents were probably pretty young, [and] they weren’t ready. I get it. You know, adoption is a fantastic option. It beats the alternative. If you’re not going to keep a kid it beats the alternative. Like I said in the last episode, I’m grateful for the life I’ve had. I don’t know what it would have been had I not been adopted, so I’m not going to speculate, but I certainly have no complaints about the upbringing I got. By as I said, I think that’ll probably do it for this episode, and I’ll go ahead and kind of leave things where thy are right now. In the next episode I think I’d like to discuss the experience of making that first contact – doing the research, and ultimately how I came to the conclusion – before even making that contact – that I was probably not on the right trail. In the meantime, thank you again to all of my listeners. I enjoy recording these episodes and releasing them, and your feedback, of course, is important to me. In fact, I’ve created a new email address for you to send questions to if you want. That email address is : PushingUpstreamPodcast.Gmail.com. For those of you listeners out there who are on your own journeys, don’t give up. Never stop searching, no matter how discouraged you get, because ultimately you don’t know if the people you’re looking for are waiting to be found. But for now, that’s it for this episode. I hope you’ll join me in the next episode, and of course, thanks again for listening. We’ll see you next time…

 

[OUTRO MUSIC]

 

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Free Transcript Project – #12

Mixed Mental Arts #302: Don Mei

Episode Show Notes : http://mixedmentalarts.libsyn.com/ep-302-best-of-east-best-of-west-don-mei-enters-the-dojo

YouTube Channel : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV5uJg_7m89dZ-0rqhHT1Ww

Web Sites :
https://mixedmentalarts.online

https://meileaf.com

Host : Hunter Maats : https://twitter.com/huntermaats

Guest : Don Mei :
https://twitter.com/MEILEAF_Don

https://twitter.com/mei_leaf_tea

 


 

[INTRO MUSIC]

 

Bryan Callen : Welcome to “Mixed Mental Arts”. This is “Mixed Mental Arts”. Welcome to “Mixed Mental Arts”…

 

Hunter Maats : … and then just… and then just…

 

Bryan Callen : Welcome to “Mixed Mental Arts”. This is “Mixed Mental Arts”. Welcome to “Mixed Mental Arts”…

 

Hunter Maats : Hi! This is Hunter Maats, and I’m really excited for this next episode of “Mixed Mental Arts”, because Don Mei – today’s guest – is the perfect example of a phenomenon known as “Third Culture Kids”. These are kids who have parents from one culture, and then grew up in another culture, and they find that they belong to neither culture one, nor culture two, but have evolved a third culture of their own. That was a term that I was introduced to in college, and it really fit my own experience growing up. I’m sure that it fits the experience of many of you, and it certainly described Don. Don’s dad – as you’ll hear in this interview – was Chinese. Don’s mom was Swiss, and then he grew up in the UK. His whole life has been about the conversation back and forth between Eastern and Western culture, and specifically with medicine and tea. There have long been these two different traditions – Eastern and Western medicine, [and] Eastern and Western thought – and Don has been trying to figure out, his whole life, how to have the best of East and the best of West. So without further ado I give you Don Mei… Welcome to another episode of “Mixed Mental Arts”, and today is a real treat, because [as] much as we, sort of, “ape” and pretend to have some sort of Asian credentials, and have thoroughly appropriated most aspects of Asian culture, today we have somebody with real credentials there, Don Mei. Don is, pretty much – like if you were looking for a “poster child” for “Mixed Mental Arts”, and “idea sex” between cultures, it’s Don, because Don’s mom [was] Swiss, and Don’s dad [was] Chinese, and then they’ve been doing everything that we sort of showed up to in the last few years for about half century. Specifically, Don’s mom and dad started this bookshop in London, and they were really the first onés to bring Chinese Medicine into the West, and have been acting as a bridge between cultures ever since then, and then … well, we’ll get into Don’s full story, But, essentially, [really] that’s your life, Don, is being a bridge between these two cultures. Is that fair?

 

Don Mei : I think it’s fair. It certainly isn’t something that I considered from a young age [laughter]. It’s only kind of crept up on me a little bit. But I guess that’s just the way it is normally, isn’t it? You kind of are so used to your own culture, and your own background, that you don’t realize what’s different and what’s similar. So, yeah, it’s certainly something that I have kind of taken upon myself over the last five or six years, for sure.

 

Hunter : So, just so that people know your credentials, let’s run down that list that you’re going to be very uncomfortable with, right?

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : [Because] Don has this great video that sort of sums up his life story in 20 minutes. But you’re the head of the British-Chinese – or the Vice President of the British-Chinese Medicine Association, or something?

 

Don : Okay. Well, first and foremost, I’m [the] director of Mei Group. Mei Group is kind of a cluster of different companies [which are] all focused on the same area, which is this kind of bridge between East and West. It started, as you said, with my parents opening a book shop, just kind of disseminating Eastern ideas to the West. This was in the 1970s, you know, when everything was all about the “Little Red Book”, and [all] of the interesting things [coinciding] with Nixon’s travel to China, and all of the focus that then was placed upon Chinese Medicine, and that kind of morphed and evolved into Acumedic, and Acumedic [was] probably the first Chinese medical, clinical organization outside of Asia. So that’s been running. So I’m a director of a clinic – [a] Chinese [Medicine] clinic. Other things that we do are related to the politics of medicine. So, I’m chairman of the “Chinese Medical Council”. I’m also Vice-Chairman of the “World Federation Of Chinese Medicine Societies”, which sounds very grand…

 

Hunter : [It] sounds amazing! [laughter]

 

Don : [laughter] [I know], it sounds really good! It sounds really good, but in fact that probably takes up about naught point naught… naught… naught…one percent of my time…

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : … but it sounds great. [It’s] kind of high up there on the C.V. [laughter]. So there’s a lot that’s happening in the politics of medicine, trying to kind of look forward to [different] paradigms in medicine – integrative medicine. That’s a whole other subject. Then [the] tea, [with] Mei Leaf. [It] started off as “China life” [over ten years ago ] – but now it’s morphed into Mei Leaf – and that really is looking to do something very similar. So taking the idea of tea – which is [the] most consumed beverage, after water, in the world – and yet 99.9 percent of people outside of Asia – and I have to say, even people within Asia – kind of don’t really know that much about it. So, it kind of was a really good metaphorical subject, in a way, to describe how, culturally, we think we know something, yet we don’t – or there’s plenty more to learn. So tea is a really interesting [“point of context”] that we find kind of can lead you into medicine, and lead you into all these other aspects to try and explore.

 

Hunter Maats : So, we’ll get into tea, but my father always says that nobody learns their first language the right way. I think that’s very much the thing, is that when something like tea is such an essential part of your culture it’s just everywhere and it’s unconscious. You’ve never had to really reflect on it. You’re never had to think about it, and you’re never really had to understand it. I think that, you know, [there’s] a lot [of] similarity between our childhoods – you know, the experience of being “third culture kids” – where you’ve [picked up] all these ways of being from your mom, [and] these ways of being from your dad, [and] you’re then surrounded by an entirely third culture of living in England, and [you’re] violating norms in some places, things don’t make sense to you, and so you’re having to be very conscious, and intentional about everything, and really having to pick it apart and understand the deep structure.

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : So I think that’s the interesting thing, is that as I watched all of your videos – and Don has all these great videos for Mei Leaf – that just sort of break down all the aspects of sourcing great tea, the different types of tea, what we look for, [and] this special type of brewing that is practiced. I mean, apparently, in the West, we just boil the shit out of everything [laughter] …

 

Don : [laughter] …

 

Hunter : [and] destroy the flavor, which is certainly my experience of English vegetables…

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : … as opposed to Gong Fu brewing, which is the style which really brings out the flavors. But so, talk to us about your tea journey. [It is] this great point of contact. [How] did you go down that “rabbit hole” of tea?

 

Don : It started off purely as a practical thing. It wasn’t this kind of life quest that I embarked on. I don’t think you kind of choose those things. They just fall upon you. It started off simply with the idea that we have this medical clinic, and we are serving tea to our clients. Tea is the first Chinese herb, in many ways. So [out] of the Chinese medicinal herbs tea is the first one. [We thought], “Let’s just try to up the quality.” Because at the time we were just kind of [giving just] a little bit [of] lip service to tea. We were serving some kind of medium to low-grade green tea, [and] marketing it as proper, authentic Chinese tea. So I thought, “Let me go and explore [and] see what we can come up with in terms of finding a better product.” It was literally coming at it from a purely marketing product angle. Then I started to learn how much – because growing up in England, of course, I’m used to British tea, right; you know, the classic “Builder’s Brew”, and I thought I knew enough about tea to be able to research this. I very quickly discovered that there was a whole world out there that I had no idea about, and I think that the kind of inquisitive, Western – I would say – desire to understand and put something into a [discrete] box, kind of took over, and I wanted to try to figure it all out within like six months to a year, and here I am like 15 years later still figuring out that I can’t figure it out [laughter]. So it started off purely practical, and then just tasting my way through different teas, and having these little moments of revelation where I suddenly realized that this “rabbit hole” was extremely deep, and pleasurable as well, because it involved taste [and] it involved experience. You know, I love food [and] I love cooking. It’s one of those things [where] I do enjoy that whole aspect of it. So it was a really interesting bridge for me, because it meant that I could enjoy something but also stimulate [a] kind of understanding, and try to break something down, and try to understand “how” [and] “why”, and all the different questions. So it just lead me down this path, and I haven’t looked back.

 

Hunter : Yeah, so there are these very different ways that, I mean, something as simple as tea is experienced by very different ways, and on very different level by different cultures. So let’s talk about that “Builder’s Brew”, which is the quintessential English cup of tea, you know. Firstly, even just the way — we had Sara Rose on, who wrote “For All The Tea In China”.

 

Don : Oh yeah. Yeah.

 

Hunter : Even the way that the British got tea, you know, says everything about maybe how cultural contact should not be done. Right?

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : So I’d love to hear your encapsulation – your perspective on that story – and also, what is the Chinese perspective on Robert Fortune?

 

Don : I think it that [it still] continues, and I’ve certainly noticed it in the sense that when I started at least – or when I make contact with groups of producers, they’re very reticent to give information, [and] to give answers to questions – for various different reasons. [It’s] not only because they’re protective, but also [with] some of them they don’t know the answers. That’s a whole other discussion which we can get into, [in that] just the way that they look at things is very different to the way that I look at things, necessarily. So I think that that continues – that legacy. There’s a protective nature to the Chinese, especially their approach to giving information. Certainly, the history of tea in India, and the way that the East India Company, and Robert Fortune, took this incredible product that was being enjoyed, and was growing, and was considered this medicine, and this kind of luxurious product, and they turned it into a commodity. They turned it into a commodity through “choose reduction”, which is a marketing tool which is used all the time. You know, why give people 100 choices. They’re going to spend a certain amount of money. Instead, reduce the amount that you have to spend, produce one or two different types, you’ll still get the same income, and you’ve got less work and it maximizes your profit. They did that very well, but the problem is that now everybody – especially in the UK – just associates tea with strong, black Indian tea, and all of the myriad of complexity, flavors, [and] all of the enjoyment  – well, 99 percent of it – has just been drained out of tea. So a lot of the challenge that we have – or when we started Mei Leaf – is just starting to take those blinkers off people. In fact, I have to say that the UK market has probably been the most challenging market. When you compare [it] to the US, [and] when you compare it other parts of, [like Russia], or other parts of Europe, [they’re] much more willing and open to say, “We don’t know anything about tea.”, whereas the British mentality has definitely been one of “Oh, I know tea. It’s a British drink.” So it’s been very difficult to take those blinkers off, but certainly that’s a legacy from that approach to tea – the commoditization of – which happened, you know, many years ago.

 

Hunter : But not just the commoditization of tea, but Fortune snuck into China, pretended to be from China, and then stole all these plants [laughter].

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter :  [Which] is a pattern that was repeated. You know, Brazilian rubber was stolen from Brazil and then grown in Southeast Asia. This was a pattern that was repeated again, and again, and again.

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : To be fair, I mean, the whole thing was that [there] was this massive market for tea, and the Chinese, at that time, wanted to control the market, and everything. [So], you know, it’s not a clean history… [laughter]

 

Don : No… no…no.

 

Hunter : .. and it certainly wasn’t done in a way that both parties parties felt good about what happened.

 

Don : I think that there was problems on both sides, as you said, but one of the end results of that is that the East Indian Company – [or] Robert Fortune – managed to steal the tea and the seeds, and enough information to produce a single type of tea decently. But because there wasn’t a proper cultural exchange going on it meant that, yeah, the choice became reduced, the quality reduced, and the understanding of tea really became isolated to the Chinese and the Japanese, and some of the Taiwanese, and the actual – predominantly the UK – started to appropriate this drink that they thought they knew everything about, when in fact they knew nothing about [it].

 

Hunter : Well, and that is cultural exchange writ large, because [cultural] transition is so slow, right?

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : Like, if you think about a child growing up in a culture, it takes them decades and decades to really internalize all of the cultural knowledge. So to think that you’re going to show up, grab some seeds and be like “Yeah!…

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : … I now have this thing nailed!” is massively naive.

 

Don : Absolutely.

 

Hunter : One of the stories that I think points this up – just sort of as a large, cultural pattern that plays out again – is in Joe Henrick’s “The Secret Of Our Success” there’s this story about the [maximalization] of corn. So the Spanish came in [and] they found this crop that existed, corn, and they were like, “Man! They eat a lot of this stuff. It grows well. Let’s bring this back to Europe.” Then they noticed that they did this weird thing where they would mix wood ash and burnt seashells in with their corn, and they were like, “That’s gross! Like that’s not even food. Why would you do that?”  Sure enough, then, there was a massive epidemic of pellagra in corn-growing regions, and it turned out that that wood ash was actually releasing the niacin, and actually had a functional component to it.

 

Don : Hmm.

 

Hunter : But, as you’re saying, the local farmers didn’t conceptually understand this. For them this was just a learned cultural practice. So these are basic challenges of just being human, and the way we transmit cultures, and very often these things – and I think this is going to be super-important for when we get into Chinese medicine – very often, you know, it comes down to what Jenny Aguilar calls “FEISTY” – “Face It, Evolution Is Smarter Than You”.

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : So evolution [can] evolve these very, very, very, very smart solutions that the people who are practicing those cultural practices have no conceptual understand of how, or why, it works.

 

Don : Absolutely.

 

Hunter : So you’ve got – and I mean it’s just such a great example that, of course, the British think they know everything. I mean, that doesn’t remind me of high school at all [laughter].

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : But so yeah, the “Builder’s Brew”. [With] the “Builder’s Brew” not only did they commoditize tea, but then tea serves this very specific function. [There’s] this massive industrial revolution in the UK, and it’s this very functional drink that is a caffeine delivery system that is designed to basically give people a little boost so that they can be productive [and] get back to work.

 

Don : Sure, and it replaced drinking weak alcohol at the time, you know? [It] was always better to not go to work slightly pissed, you know?

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : [laughter] So it kind of made sense at the time, and it’s still being used in that way throughout the world. But there’s a big difference between using something in that way, and then being able to still get all of those functional benefits – if not more functional benefits – when you have the true stuff – the really well-made stuff – and then being able to appreciate, you know, not just the flavor, but the aesthetics of the actual drink itself, which has been totally destroyed, right…

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : … by this kind of “soggy tea bag”, right? But, you know, and I don’t mean that in a kind of imperial, “beautiful women wearing costumes with pinkies in the air” kind of ceremonial aesthetics. I mean the actual symbolic aesthetics of, you know, taking time, rehydrating [the] leaf, extracting it, and then watching it as it kind of gives up all it’s flavor and then basically dies, you know, and basically kind of becomes water again. There’s a certain aesthetic which [is so] part of tea. When you go to tea-growing regions, and you visit these farmers, and these producers, and these tea-lovers, you can so see that that’s so [part] of their life story – [those] moments.

 

Hunter : Right.

 

Don : It’s [one] of the thing that makes tea so special, and the reason why it’s been so intrinsically linked with Buddhism, and intrinsically linked with meditation, and all of those things – without going too far down the kind of “woo-woo” kind of area, it’s all about the [fact] that there’s a real, beautiful symbolic nature with tea that has been lost, and I think that people are craving that kind of rediscovery, and hopefully we can all contribute to that.

 

Hunter : But I think [that] the point is that, [well], let’s go down the “woo-woo” area, because I think [that] so much of … I mean, listen, Western culture – as it is manifested in the age of industrialization – right…?

 

Don : Mmm!

 

Hunter : … is massively practical. It’s produced all of these material benefits, but that myopic focus on that – which is what Western atomism tends to do; to myopically focus on one thing – has created a profound spiritual emptiness.

 

Don : MmmHmm.

 

Hunter :  You know, there is – I mean, I read “Man’s Search For Meaning” as a teenager – and boy did that book resonate on some non-conscious, non-verbal level, because we don’t have that experience of, sort of, that strong cultural embeddedness that a lot of people have had. So, I think – especially for sort of “third culture kids” like you and me – we then have to cobble together this global culture that draws the best from all places, and can give us those sort of rich cultural moments. So let’s talk about… Okay, just to even give people an overview, right? [Obviously], China’s huge, and there are all these different regions that grow tea. So, from what I’ve even – you know, my very sort of superficial understanding – it seems like Yunnan [province] is the heart of tea growing in China. Is that fair, or no?

 

Don : Well, Yunnan is the historical heart of tea growing in China, because Yunnan is pretty much where… Okay, so they’re still digging up the archeology of tea [and] trying to figure out when it started, and there’s some, you know, tea rhizomes from thousands and thousands of years ago in certain areas of China. But Yunnan certainly seems to be the first province that really started to grow it [and] cultivate it, you know. These tended to be tribal people – mountain people – so not the Han Chinese, which make up 90 [to] 95 percent of the Chinese population, but much more kind of mountain people that really revered this land, and revered this plant. It’s interesting, because you have to question why they started to cultivate it. It’s in the same area as was cultivating opium at the time, [and] cultivating cannabis at the time. It’s certainly an area that’s well-known for cultivating psychoactive plants that [function] psycho-actively, but also can help them get their caffeine fix, etcetera. So the background – or the real history – of tea, seems to [have been] hijacked a little bit by the kind of “imperial Chinese”. This kind of, “This [is] a great [touristy] cultural heritage thing that we can put out.”, but [it] actually comes from a little bit more, kind of, earthier roots – [we can] put it. It’s a little bit [different] to how it’s portrayed often. I think that that’s something that a lot of people, now, in the West are rediscovering that, and finding that a much more attractive way to get into tea, rather than – as I said – the very kind of surface, ceremonial side of tea.

 

Hunter : Well, and so to talk to us about the people of Yunnan, [you] talk about “earthier”, right?

 

Don : MmmHmm.

 

Hunter : So, [it sounds] like [maybe] they’re agriculturalists, but there is maybe a little bit of sort of that more traditional sort of shamanism, or those sort of hunter-gatherer practices. Is that fair?

 

Don : Yeah. I mean, I think [that] on a very practical level it’s very far away from Beijing.

 

Hunter : Yeah.

 

Don : [laughter] it’s probably one of the [furthest] provinces – you know, one of them – and it’s very close to the borders of Burma, Laos, and Northern Thailand, and in many ways it shares a lot of kind of cultural similarities to those areas. If you go there you see [that] the architecture looks very Thai. It looks very Northern Thai compared to Chinese, and yeah, they have a very different cultural approach to their land, I think. This is what’s really interesting. When they go picking the tea [it’s] a pride, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch, and the way that they treat their tea afterwards, and the way that they drink their tea, is very, very abstract. [I think] this is one of the challenges [for] me coming to understand tea with my Western education – you know, [British] private school celebrating the kind of Western logic, [and] the kind of modular, atomized way of looking at truth, and all of those things – and even though I grew up in a half-Chinese family, where my father was continuously talking to me [laughter] about contradiction, and being accepting of contradiction, and [contradiction] actually being part of truth, and all of those things, which from my very Western upbringing – and Swiss mother – [laughter] found challenging. I would always argue with my father. We would have blazing arguments  – you know, polite, civilized arguments – but still, about truth, and I would always tell him that he was copping out. It was a lazy way that he was…

 

Hunter : Mmm.

 

Don :… you know, that [he] would be so accepting of contradiction, and not ask the difficult questions, and he wouldn’t try to isolate and find the truth…

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : … and that he was too able to just kind of hide behind these kind of nice abstract concepts that kind of allowed him to get away with stuff. You know? So I came at it from that point of view, and I came to try to understand tea from that point of view, and I think [that] over the more than a decade that I’ve now been doing it – and especially the last five or six years – I’ve totally [come] to really understand the wisdom in this approach, and in Yunnan province they are particularly like this. They will never give you a straight answer for anything.

 

Hunter : Yeah.

 

Don : You know, you ask them a question, and it’s like [to them] that trying to understand things, or trying to isolate “the reason”, or trying to focus on “the why”, is in itself a very childish abstraction. It’s kind of [like] they chuckle about it, like you know, “Oh, here he goes again.. the very rigid Western mind who wants to try to fix something.” In other parts of China it’s similar, but in Yunnan province , if you don’t accept and give in to that, you’re going to have a very frustrating time as a tea buyer. I know a lot of people who I teach – you know, when we do all of these videos to try and teach – they’re [desperately] trying to fix something…

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : . [laughter] and I have to [now] be the one to go, “No.. no…no. You have to understand that there’s a dialectic in everything”, and then I start to talk about Yin and Yang, and I start to talk about … and it just reminds me of, basically…

 

Hunter : Your childhood.

 

Don : .. my father, and the arguments that I [used to have with] him. Yeah, exactly. It’s funny how it comes back. But yeah, Yunnan province is, by far, the most [like] that. They’re so abstract. It’s all about relationships. [They] never want to isolate any one thing. “Why is it? Is it the cultivar? Is it the earth? Or is it the way you’ve processed it?” No, it’s everything. You know, and you can’t isolate anything, and that is … [I’m not necessarily] saying that that’s right versus wrong, because I think that’s way to simplistic. I think that both viewpoints have a purpose, and whatever work works. But their point-of-view is that if you try to fix it then you’re not understanding what tea is about.

 

Hunter : Right. So it’s the most holistic environment, where they’re really just seeing everything as harmonizing together, rather than trying to isolate the parts atomistically. [It’s so] funny, because as you talk about this, [this wasn’t] the pattern – obviously, not that particular cultural pattern – with my own childhood. But I just have often thought that, “Man! If we took some of these ideas and just gave them to me when I was 10, [laughter] my life would have been so much easier.” Like, I feel like if I could go back and give young Don a copy of Richard Nisbett’s “Geography of Thought” that like so many conversations would have gone so much better.

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : I mean, that cultural pattern is, I think, a really important one to draw out, because [there’s] that great story about when Nixon met with the Japanese Prime Minister. He says to the Japanese prime minister, “We’re really getting fucked on the Japanese textile exports. Can you dial them down?” Right? And the Japanese prime minister says something like, “This is a matter that we will have to look into seriously.”, or something like that. Nixon, with his very rigid, atomistic mindset like interprets that to mean, “Oh, so you’re going to cut them down?” Then, the Japanese prime minister doesn’t do that, because he can’t like just destroy jobs in his home country because it’s inconvenient for Nixon, and Nixon interprets this as [the] Japanese prime minister having fucked him over, like, “He lied to me!”.

 

Don : Hmm.

 

Hunter : “He misrepresented himself!”, and so supposedly, when Nixon and Kissinger then went to go open relationships with China they deliberately didn’t tell the Japanese – which to not tell the neighboring country, that you have good relationships with, that you’re doing something that major, is the ultimate afront.

 

Don : Hmm.

 

Hunter : [Yeah], so I think that – [and] this is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot – because certain people that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with over the last year – are obsessed with logic as the “be-all and end-all” of reasoning, and that this is how we find truth, and there are a lot of problems with logic. One [is that] if you start at faulty assumptions you reach ridiculous conclusions that don’t correlate with reality and how things actually work, and the whole point is that the western mind – that atomistic mind – just loves to dissect everything into little pieces, put them in categories, and then insist that a particular thing is that category. So even, before this conversation, we were talking about tea, right?

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : The reason why it’s so hard for the British to understand tea is because they know tea, tea sits in this bucket of “beverage”, and it is this “builder’s brew” thing, and to conceptualize that there might be other ways of approaching tea, or that maybe tea is not just a beverage but [that] it’s a medicine, and fits in this entirely different bucket, is like incredibly hard for them to grasp because they have such a clear, rigid idea of tea.

 

Don : Yeah. I think it [boils down] to the power of perspective in any ways. You know, one of the things that my father always used to say to me is, “Okay, so how do you paint an elephant?… [If] you had to paint an elephant, what would you do?… Would you just create its silhouette – a nice little outline with the trunk..?”, and you know, “.. or would you go really close, and would you look at the skin, and would you look at the texture?” You know, “How close would you go, [or] how far away?” So, just on the basic idea that, you know, truth us changeable depending on where you’re standing. Then he would take [to saying], “Well, and that’s just drawing. What about the smell, the sound, [and] the touch of the elephant? What about all of those aspects? How would you describe those things?”  Then he would say, “… and you’ve taken it out of its environment. Now put it in an environment. Now describe it. How does that change it? Do you put it in front of a sunset? Do you put it in front of a…?” You know, “How does it change? Then think about you, and how you are affecting the reality of that elephant.” Right? “Then, if you were then to describe the truth of an elephant to somebody, how far would you go? What would you talk about? And not only that, but whatever you choose to talk about – so let’s say you described it as this big, hulking beast of an animal, that would give off a very different impression to talking about it as this docile, vegetable-eating… and so your [communication] actually changes the reality in other people’s minds of what that elephant is, and therefore, their reaction to potentially meeting that elephant is going to be different, and it’s going to affect how that elephant reacts. Because if you go to that elephant scared that it’s this big, hulking beast of an animal then there will be an interaction that may lead to defensiveness, or whatever…”  So the whole idea was that you can take a very simple thing, like, “What is an elephant?” and you can turn it into this massive, you know, very, very expansive area, and the truth is in all of those things, and it’s all about depending on what you want to get out of it. I think that that’s [kind of] what I have learned in my exploration of tea, is I constantly ask the question of “Why?” to these producers, [laughter] and the answer always seems to be, “Because it works.”

 

Hunter : Yeah.

 

Don : You know? [laughter] It’s as simple as that to them. It’s like, “I don’t need to be drawn into that discussion. That’s not important to me.”

 

Hunter : Mmm.

 

Don : You know, “That’s an abstraction. It’s a nice little abstraction, [and] you can occupy your mind with it, but at the end of the day this is what works, and we will try different things, and if that works then we’ll try other things.” It’s purely experiential, and it’s purely just through time, and experience, and wisdom  – versus, kind of, analytical truth. It’s a whole different way of looking at things.

 

Hunter : Yeah, and I think that’s – [I mean], I can absolutely relate to that, and it’s amazing how often elephants come up on this podcast.

 

Don : Oh really? [laughter]  

 

Hunter : Yeah. There’s a real [abundance] of elephants.

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : John Heidt has this metaphor for the human mind as a rider and an elephant. The elephant is the large, sort of, lumbering, emotional brain, and then the rider is the reflective brain – the slow thinker..

 

Don : Right.

 

Hunter : … who can sort of nudge the elephant over time. Then the other one is the “blind man and the elephant”, that story.

 

Don : Sure.

 

Hunter : So, you know, [I just] think we should just embrace the elephant as the symbol of [“Mixed Mental Arts”].

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : But [it’s interesting] that you say that, as well, about elephants, because I was in [South Africa] a few months ago, and [again], like my conception of elephant is “Babar”. Like, essentially – and maybe certain types of chocolate bar that like, in the 90s, tried to make wildlife accessible to children in England. Then, [it’s very upsetting], because you start talking to these game wardens, and they say, “You know, elephants are a huge part of the ecosystem. They turn up all these trees. They [have] this role of almost – not pollinator – but like tiller of the land.” and you’re like, “Oh, that’s cool! Elephants are providing a useful role.” and they’re like, “In South Africa we have, actually, an overabundance of elephants, because we can’t cull them, and because they can’t wander across the borders to other countries. So they’re actually destroying the land, because they’re at too high of a density.” Of course, you know, like I’ve done this enough that I don’t just like freak out and get super triggered, but there was a little bit of like, “You’re threatening my conception fo the elephant here!”

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : “You’re saying that “Babar” is a problem, guys, and I don’t like that. Like, “Babar” is a good guy, and you’re saying that “Babar” makes problems.” So I think that [it’s] very clear that your father was a very wise man, but I think that – based on the sort of education that we received in the West – it becomes very hard for us to conceptualize that sort of dialectic, contextual way of thinking, and it just seems sort of very frustrating…

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : … because it’s like, “It’s an elephant! You’re overcomplicating this! I don’t like you! Go away! Shut up, dad!”

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : Then likewise, [with] you talking to these farmers in Yunnan, there’s obviously real value to just experiencing it, but there is value to being able to understand the parts of it…

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : … and to being able to sort of have a slightly more reflective, and intentional, understanding…

 

Don : Mmm.  

 

Hunter : … because i think [that] one of the problems with cultural transmission is that what can happen is that [if] you don’t understand what the “secret sauce” of the culture is then you can end up messing up that “secret sauce” and then being unable to reconstruct it.

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : So [you’re] in Yunnan, and [it] helps a lot to have it in the context of sort of : Burma, Northern Thailand, Laos… even, why are we calling it “Burma”?  Like, shouldn’t we be calling it “Myanmar”? Are we such British imperialists that…

 

Don : Yeah. [laughter]

 

Hunter : Yeah, so “Myanmar” [is pretty] sort of jungly, wet, [and] humid – that sort of terroir?

 

Don : Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

 

Hunter : Then what sort of teas? [What sort] of varietals are they producing? Are we talking about Oolongs? Are we talking about…? Oh, there’s a lot of Puerh there. What is Puerh? Tell us about Puerh.

 

Don : Okay. Puerh kind of falls under a weird little category of tea. There’s green tea, there’s white tea, there’s Oolong tea, there’s yellow tea, [and] there’s black tea. All of them are pretty clearly defined in terms of process. It’s got nothing to do with the actual plant. It’s got to do with the processing that defines the type of tea, although of course there are some varieties of tea plant that are more suited to white tea, more suited to black tea, etcetera. Yunnan produces black tea [and] it produces white tea, but it’s very famous for Puerh tea. Now Puerh tea is kind of a tea which starts its life as a kind of quasi-green tea, and then ages over time and changes. [It’s] a little bit more complicated to define, but in its very strict sense it’s a tea which is made through low-heating and sun-drying. What that does is when you don’t heat the leaf up in the same way that you would heat up a green tea – [or] Oolong tea – [to over] 250 degrees Celsius, if you kind of just heat it a little bit you slow down all of the enzymatic actions, and all of the kind of microbial actions that are happening, but you don’t kill it off You don’t stop it, and you don’t fix it. So the tea kind of stays alive, and continuously changes, essentially. This is why you get people who will age their tea for 20, 30 years, [or] 40 years, because it will change over time. There’s a delight – and I guess, a passion – for this kind of tea which is forever in flux. It’s never going to be the same. It’s always changing. Every day is going to be different. [When] people start to get into tea, I think by definition, they need to appreciate and celebrate flux in general, because no tea is ever the same. But especially with Puerh, just literally, it’s continuously changing in front of you, and it’s very, very wild. It’s produced from tea trees which are – even though there is plantation Puerh  – in general, the historical, traditional, Puerh comes from these kind of semi-wild tea forests, where the tea plants are allowed to just grow freely into trees, and that means that they’ve got very deep, long roots, which [means] that they can reach kind of layers of soil that plantation teas can’t reach, and it means that the leaf just seems to have a lot more going on. Now, whether or not that be certain chemicals [or] minerals, these are the “whys” that I’m continuously trying to find out , but certainly, these semi-wild, or wild, tea forests produce the highest quality in terms of flavor and effect. It tends to be something that people who get into tea become quite obsessed with. So there will be “tea lovers” and then there’s “Puerh addicts”, you know? [laughter] The Puerh people are very, very obsessive about finding [good tea]. It’s always changing, [with] lots of different mountainous regions [and] hundreds of different villages all producing their own types, so it gets very complex. It’s a whole area that you can explore.

 

Hunter : Really, [Puerh] has sort of blown up in the last decade or so, and there are now people who are spending outrageous amounts of money on Puerh, right? I mean, what sort of numbers are we talking about?

 

Don : Oh, [you] could spend, easily, $10,000 [USD] on a 500 gram cake, or a 400 gram cake – something like that.

 

Hunter : Yeah. Okay, so we’re got Puerh, [which are] these plants growing in the wild, and then also it [basically] sounds like – to simplify this down – like it’s unpasteurized tea. So because you’re not really heating it up very hot the bacteria are allowed to keep working on it, and it’s allowed to mature over these 20 or 30 years, and so it reaches this much more satisfying [and] much more complex flavor.

 

Don : Yeah. That’s a good way of looking at it. Yeah.

 

Hunter : Yeah. So then [that’s] just Yunnan, right? What are some of the other tea-growing regions that we’re looking at?

 

Don : So around Yunnan you’ve got Hu Nun, you’ve got Guang Xi, [and] you’ve got Si Chuan. [This is] very traditional, so that more western part of China – central to western – are very, very traditional, and then you’ve got the east coast. You’ve got Zhe Jiang province, and you’ve got Fu Jian province. Fu Jian province is very, very well-known. But those areas tend to produce a little bit more – [let’s] call them “refined”, for want of a better word – “refined tea. [They’re] less raw, unpasteurized, [and] much more kind of about precision and elegance. So you get this different culture even within China, and it’s expressed very clearly through the tea. Then, if you hop across the ocean, [you] can see, in Japan, how their culture has affected the way that they produce tea, and the Taiwanese produce their own tea. It’s really interesting how tea is a fascinating market [as a kind of] looking glass at the culture of the area. So, for example, in Japan they’ve actually gone down a little bit more of the wise and technical aspects of the tea production, and they’ve kind of made almost like a production line approach to tea, where they’ve isolated each stage in the production, and they’ve really dug deep into the numbers, and figured out : What’s the right temperature? How long to steam it for? What’s the right shaking time? … and it has produced an incredibly consistent quality tea – very high quality, consistent quality. That’s why Japanese tea is so celebrated around the world, because you [kind of] know that when you buy Japanese tea it’s very unlikely that you’re going to get a dud.

 

Hunter : Yeah.

 

Don : It’s very unlikely. However, the problem with that is [that] it’s taken away all of the flexibility from the system. So now you’re in a situation where the Japanese are starting to lose the wisdom of how this all came about, and you’re getting generations of Japanese tea producers, and tea farmers, that only know how to work the machines, and only know how to work the parameters that they’ve been set, and they’ve built these entire warehouses with all the machinery in place, and then there’s the kind of annoying foreigner, like me, who comes over and says, “You know? Why don’t you try something different? Because you’re tea sales are dropping, because you’re not exciting people anymore. So let’s try something else. Why don’t you try making some Oolong teas?” [It’s] very difficult to break out of that rigidity, because they’ve set themselves up with these parameters. From the Chinese point of view it’s chaos, right? You’ve got people doing all these different things, not explaining why, [and] not caring why. Like, they’re just trying shit out, basically [laughter], and they come up with the most steller, incredible, small-batch teas, [and] you’re just like, “How did you do this? How can I recreate this?” They just kind of nod in their very classic way, and kind of nod and say phrases that are very frustrating like, “Oh, if I tell you everything you won’t come back and visit me.”

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : You know? [laughter] Those kinds of…

 

Hunter : [That’s] so funny.

 

Don : ‘It’s not about me withholding information. It’s just simply that I want to develop our relationship, [and] I want you to come back, and therefore I shouldn’t tell you everything.”

 

Hunter : Mmm.

 

Don : So you get the opposite, where you can get a lot of bad tea coming from China, but you can get this immaculate, incredible, quirky, crazy stuff which blows people away.

 

Hunter : But that’s also why we need Don, right? Because Don goes into China, and he sorts the “shit from the shinola”, “the wheat from the chaff”, [or] “the “tea gold” from the “tea junk””, and then brings back [the best] of China to Mei Leaf, right?

 

Don : I think that [the] ego in me wants to say “Yes.”

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : [laughter] But I think that the truth is much more about intention. I don’t expect that everybody is going to think that the stuff I bring back is all gold. What I’ve learned, in the 15 years of sourcing tea that I’ve been doing, is that the success comes from actually you loving it.

 

Hunter : Hmm.

 

Don : If I love it, [and] my intention is to express it authentically, then it tends to be a winner. The moment I overthink it, [and] try to think about what other people might want, that’s when I fall into traps. So it’s not black and white, you know? Some people might love a certain tea [while] I hate it, but it’s simply about me coming at it with the best intention, and being very authentic about it. It’s interesting, because when you come at it from that angle you seem to stop asking the questions a little bit more. What’s interesting is, then, the relationships that you build with [the] producers tends to improve.

 

Hunter : MmmHmm.

 

Don : because you’re not trying to back them into a corner all the time, saying, “Why?..Why?…Why? You need to explain this to me, otherwise I can’t sell it.” So when the relationships improve they pull out the better tea [laughter]. So suddenly a whole different cupboard opens, and suddenly you’re tasting different stuff.

 

Hunter : Well, and not only [that, but] the other thing that also helps the relationship improve is drinking alcohol, right? Like there’s [some] great videos of you going out there, and so much of what opens “the doors “tea-ception”” is the fact that you got drunk with them, you ate with them, you hung out with them, [and] now they feel like you have a relationship, and it’s not a purely commercial venture for them. Like they have poured their heart and soul into this tea, and they want to share it with someone who’s really going to appreciate it, and cherish it in the same way that they and their families would.

 

Don : Yeah, and everybody knows [that] when you do business in China that sharing a meal is the essential part of any kind of business deal. But you’re absolutely right. [If] you [extrapolate] out this whole idea of “holistic versus individual”, [or] this kind of “atomized versus patterned”, it really is, in China, [that] the relationships are number one. You know? If the relationship is broken, or it’s not a positive relationship, then [there’s] no point in doing any business at all. The way that they figure that out is by getting you drunk [laughter]. You know? Let’s get him pissed…

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : … to the point where he can’t stand anymore. Then we’ll find out what he’s like, and then the next day the deals can be done. Also, you know, what’s his capacity to eat weird and wonderful foods? [I’m sure] that a lot of the time they don’t eat half the stuff that they put in front of my face, but they want to make sure that I’m down with it…

 

Hunter : Yeah.

 

Don : … and that I’m prepared to eat it. Then they feel [like], “Okay. He’s prepared to eat ant larvae, and elephant skin. We’re good.” You know? [laughter]

 

Hunter : In general, “fucking with the foreigner” is a universally appreciated pastime in every culture.

 

Don : Yeah, [laughter] and I totally embrace that. I totally embrace that.

 

Hunter : [Specifically], like, I appreciated that, you know, they – because, I mean, this is also one of those universal cultural things, is that everybody does a toast with you, and so the result is that everybody does one toast, [but] you do ten toasts.

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : So you’re ten drink in, [and] they’re one drink in…

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : … and that’s really how they fuck you up.

 

Don : Oh, there’s no illusion of fairness.

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : [laughter] There’s no argument here. I mean, everyone knows that they’re being totally unfair to you, but you just have to go with it. As I said, it’s all about them trying to understand your intention, I think.

 

Hunter : Right.

 

Don : Is your intention coming at it from really trying to appreciate and understand this product that they are [making]? Or is it simply that you want to sell something? You know? So once they understand that you’re happy to get drunk with them, act a fool, and you still love their tea, then things tend to get easier for you.

 

Hunter : Well, I think that’s the interesting thing, is that what you’re really talking about is that you’re trying to, [with] sort of the “Why…why…why?”, that interrogation, right?  You’re trying to open the box with a hammer, right?

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : [But] if you just establish a relationship with the farmer then he’ll give you the key. Right?

 

Don : Yeah, and a lot of the time, when you use the hammer, you start to tread very close to challenging their face, which we all know [that] in China is a big deal, right? It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, you don’t challenge somebody and make them look like they don’t know. And a lot of the times – like we said before – this knowledge is just passed down, and there is no reason why. So the annoying foreigner commenting, and saying, “Well, you should understand why you do this, because otherwise, somehow, you are [not] taking your job seriously.” [That] is really dangerous, because that can just shut the door very, very quickly. So yeah, [I’ve] made mistakes in my sourcing – especially early on, and I still get very excited when I’m trying to understand something, and this whole debate, and questioning, comes in. But you’ve always got to check yourself, because a lot of time they don’t know. Or if they do know it’s going to come out in a very slow – over a few days. Suddenly – this tends to be what happens – the questions find their answers once you kind of build the relationship, and you start to see what’s going on. Part of [my] job, I think, is just observing, and then trying to make head or tail of it, and then testing to see whether or not… So, I am still kind of, in a very quiet way, following a western approach?

 

Hunter : Yeah.

 

Don : But it has to be done with the greatest kind of respect and understanding that this kind of pattern, and contextual way of looking at things, has lead to incredible tea, and lots of incredible things, so it’s not one or the other.

 

Hunter : Well, it’s the difference between speaker-driven and listener-driven communication, right? So, yeah, western communication tends to be speaker-driven, [like] “I’m going to ask the questions, [and] you’re going to give me answers.” I mean, even in this interview there is a certain amount of that sort of western communication. Whereas, in holistic cultures there tends to be much more listener-driven communications, where, you know, you [certainly] wouldn’t directly ask your boss a question, right? Like, your boss talks, and then you try and tease out his meaning, and that’s your job, right?

 

Don : MmmHmm.

 

Hunter : So [rather] than being very linear, like logic, where we start off, we set an objective, [like] we’re going to do a business transaction. Therefore, I now need to know this information, which I will extract from you about the terroir, about how it was grown, [and] how it was prepared, and all that sort of stuff, because I need it. Okay, now let’s talk about the a price. Now… dah…dah…dah…dah…dah…dah…dah…dah… and then we conclude the deal.[Compare this to] this very circular process of : we talk, we get drunk… and the westerner is like, “What the fuck are we doing here? I just want to buy tea. I don’t want to get drunk with you!” Right?

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : Then over the course of days we circle into ultimately doing business, but [we’ve] worked towards that. I mean, I think that the western mind… and this is something that I’ve sort of struggled with, and have been trying to conceptualize, is that [when] there’s talk about development in the West, so much of the narrative focuses on corruption, and that corruption in bad. [But] what we would call corruption – like doing things based on people that you have relationships with, is such a core part of how business is done in China, is done in the Middle East, [and] is done in most of the world, right?

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : I just [wonder] a lot about that in terms of development, whether we’re trying to impose sort of our narrative of corruption on this mechanism of Guan Xi, or “face”,  and whether… You know, [I mean], ultimately the goal is to create a society that delivers prosperity, and purpose, and all that. Does it always have to look the same way? Are there different paths? I don’t know.

 

Don : Yeah. I [bring] it back, again, to intention. [It’s] one of those things that you only discover people’s intentions through relationships. So deals aren’t done in black and white and paper. They’re done between people, and so if you need to get to know that person, and the relationship is fundamental to whether or not you do the deal, that could be a slippery slope for corruption, but it can also be a way of understanding the intention behind a deal. For example, I [was] in Chao Zhou, which is in South China, and I was looking for teaware. We went to this beautiful master clay [teapot] maker, and we’re talking about handmade teapots that are worth upwards of $200 [to] $300 [USD] dollars for a tiny 70 [milliliter] pot, or 100 [milliliter] pot. I found this pot that I fell in love with. [I] totally fell in love with [it]. [It was a] tiny little  pot, [which was] beautiful, [and] it had this tiniest little mark on it – this tiniest little indent on it, and the master refused to sell it to me. [He] just point-blank said, “I will not sell you that.” I said, “Look, I understand that there’s an error – or a mistake – or it’s imperfect there. But I don’t mind. It’s fine. I’m happy to pay for the pot. I love the pot.” He said, “No, no. I can’t do that. I cannot sell it to you.”, and I was like, “Well, we’re at an impasse here. You know? Because I want it. You’re not selling it to me. Like, you know that I love it. I’m not [questioning] your artistry, that you left this indent…” and he just – for about 45 minutes – it was just back and forth, and in the end I had to give up and walk out very, kind of, a bit sad that I’d missed out on this amazing pot. [Then] a day later the pot came to me, right? But what the master had done is he had given it to a friend of his [laughter]. [This] friend of his had been waiting for a pot to be made by the master for months, and it had been delayed. So the master said, “As an apology I’ll give you this inferior pot to hold you over, right?..”

 

Hunter : Mmm.

 

Don : “… until that pot [is ready].”, knowing full well that that person knew somebody else who knew me. So the master basically gave me the pot through three other people to get to me.

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : So that’s the really round-about way of doing something that seems – like to my mind – [it] should have been direct, but to him it’s like, “No, I need to protect all of this kind of contextual stuff. I need to protect my face, [and] I need to protect all of these things. So I’m going to give him the pot, but I’m going to do it in this roundabout way.” So yes, things take time, and relationships need to form, and [the] answers tend to come with a little bit more patience, and you eventually [laughter] kind of get there in the end, but it has to come from him understanding that I genuinely loved what he did.

 

Hunter : So beyond tea, [how] has this sort of journey over the last 15 years of sort of really understanding your father’s culture on a much more sort of primal, internalized level, how has that affected you?

 

Don : I think it’s affected me in all walks of life, in everything I do. [I] guess – [it’s not] like just the last five years, [or] ten years. I think that this has been a seed which has been growing ever since ever. Certainly, my father passing away in 2014, and putting me in the limelight – or the spotlight – of having to run these companies, and deal with Chinese medical doctors, and politicians, and this whole kind of world, which I was part of because I was working for 15 years with my father. So it wasn’t like I wasn’t [a] part. But it’s a very different thing when you are the person that everyone is looking to for direction, or answers. Certainly, that was a major catalyst of me trying to kind of figure out how I could walk a similar path, but iin my own shoes, right?

 

Hunter : MmmHmm.

 

Don : That involved me asking myself lots of questions, and dealing with this Western, kind of, analytically way of thinking, and not wanting to disregard it, because I think it’s extremely valuable, and [has helped me] a lot, in many different ways. But to find that integration – to be able to try to find that integration – [is] something that I continuously try to do, and it certainly has really shown itself in tea sourcing, but also just the politics of medicine, and [the] absurdity that I see on both sides of the ocean. [It’s] both on the very kind of pattern-based, kind of, quite [constructed] methodology of the Chinese medical traditional, to the very myopic, very absurd “drawing lines in the sand that don’t need to be there” world of medicine politics. So it’s kind of thrown me in. I’m in at the deep end, so it’s forced me to kind of really review that. Yeah, [and] that obviously filters into your personal life as well.

 

Hunter : Yeah, [and even] – [this] goes back to what your parents were doing, right? To be a bridge – and [the] thing that I really appreciated just from [the] video of your backstory – is the word “complementarity”, right? Like, with Eastern and Western approaches to things it’s not a about fetishising one or fetishising the other, and saying, “This one is the best!”

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : It’s really about what is the blend between them? How do you have that “bridge”? That’s a word you use a lot, Don, which I love, because the words I use a lot are “right?” and “you know?”, and “bridge” is an actual word rather than just “verbal garbage”. [laughter]

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : But, you know, it really is this promise of bridging East and West, and how can we get the best of both?

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : So yeah, let’s talk about Chinese medicine, and let’s talk about Western medicine, because you’ve found yourself in that intersection, and have seen sort of the problems of a myopic focus on one or the other. So what have you noticed? What have been the challenges in terms of moving ideas one way or the other?

 

Don : I think [what’s] surprised me the most – and I think that [my background] has not prepared me for this – [is] the level of entrenchment, the level of fundamentalism, [or] the level of dogma, that is on both sides. [People] are so entrenched – invisibly – in their kind of cultural heritage, that to try to kind of open eyes, or to try to have this meaningful dialogue – [not] just platitudes that kind of serve no purpose – but actual meaningful exchange. In order to find this other way, or these new paradigms of integrations where you can actually blend these different prospective ways of looking at things; these different medical approaches – which I absolutely 100 percent believe you can. Because seeing Chinese medicine in action for the last 30 years [of my] life with the clinic,  and also living in the West, really, honestly, it’s amazing when you start to look at the advice that these two areas of medicine are giving to their patients. When it evolves you start to see that there’s a major convergence – [a] huge convergence – and now we’re finally – in Western medicine, or in Western health – we are embracing lifestyle a lot more than we used to, right? We’re embracing the concept which seems very obvious, right? That nutrition is a very important thing for your health. [laughter]

 

Hunter : [laughter] What?! Don, what is this “woo-woo”  Eastern garbage that you’re peddling here?

 

Don : [laughter] I know!

 

Hunter : You mean I can’t just eat “Ho-Hos” all day and live forever? This is crazy.

 

Don : [laughter] But [the crazy] thing is that I will be sitting in meetings with agencies – medical healthcare agencies – and they will say things to me that make me want to bang my head against a wall, or look for the “hidden camera”. Because [I’m saying things like], “Look, Hippocrates said ‘Let food be thy medicine, and medicine by thy food.'” Like, we need to be giving people advice about nutrition in a much more meaningful way, you know? Rather than just, in Britain we have something called “five a day”.

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : That’s about as big as it gets, right? [laughter] “Have five a day”, and then they’re taking like really sugary juices and they’re saying, “[This is] one of your five a day.” You know, it’s just like the most nonsensical thing ever, and these people who are civil servants who [not] just enforce the law, but they guide the law when it comes to medicine. They’re saying things to me like, “No…no…no! The definition of food is that it doesn’t have a pharmacological effect on your body.”

 

Hunter : [laughter] … and because we’ve defined it that way, therefore, it can’t, right?

 

Don : Exactly!

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : I’m sitting there and going, “I don’t know how to actually like respond to that.” The level of absurdity makes me feel like I’m in another dimension, you know? Then they say to me, “Oh, and also, Don, the definition of food is [that] it cannot do you harm.”

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : So I’m sitting there going, “Okay, guys. How am I supposed to have a reasoned debate with you about nutrition, medicine, [and] healthcare, when you’re talking in a way which is [so] beyond anybody’s understanding of anything logical?” So yes, that’s what’s surprised me the most, is how willing people are to be entrenched in these ideas that seem very, very absurd. So yeah, I mean, that’s been surprising, for sure.

 

Hunter : [laughter] Well, [I think] the first thing is that culture binds and blinds, right?

 

Don : Mmm.

 

Hunter : You know, [one of] the analogies that we’re fond of in “Mixed Mental Arts” is that asking a human about culture is like asking a fish if it’s wet.

 

Don : Right.

 

Hunter : Like you’re wet, [but] you may not know it. [The point] is that it’s very much like the whole “builder’s tea” thing. Like, these guys are wet. They’ve internalized a whole culture, and they haven’t had the benefit that we’ve had of having to swim in different oceans. So the majority of humanity has never really known that it’s wet. I think that part of the thing that I’ve really realized in the last year is [that] I sort of naively assumed that people with a scientific education would know how wet they were. Like, that’s the point of science – to make you aware of your biases, [and] make you aware of all the things that you’ve internalized, so you can question them, and all of that sort of stuff. But what I’ve come to in the last year is that, you know, dealing with a westerner is no different than dealing with a farmer from Yunnan, or dealing with some guy from the hinterlands of Libya.

 

Don : Hmm.

 

Hunter : Like, you’ve blindly internalized your culture, you don’t know that you’ve blindly internalized your culture, and it is driving your thinking. It really is that problem of cultural arrogance, is that you look at all the cargo, and all of the material abundance that the West has accumulated, and so not only are you wet, but you just think that – [it’s] that hardcore naive realism – where you really just think that your view of the world is the best.

 

Don : Hmm.

 

Hunter : It’s that cultural chauvinism of like, ” Listen, we did the industrial revolution, [and] we invented science, [and] we cured all of these things. Don, who are you to come in here with this crazy “woo-woo” nonsense and try and tell me that Robinson’s juice drink is not a fruit or a vegetable.” [laughter]

 

Don : [laughter] Absolutely. That’s precisely what’s happening. You know?

 

Hunter : Yeah.

 

Don : It’s this blind [belief]. That’s, [I have] to say, [why] the “Mixed Mental Arts” platform is so fundamentally important, because as your [exploration] into this has no doubt shown you that it takes time to break that down, and it needs structure to break that down, and it needs continuous spotlights being shone in areas that you may feel uncomfortable being exposed to. So that’s essentially what I’m trying to do, not just to other people, but to myself as well, because I’m just as blind and bound as other people. I mean, maybe [I] have a [slightly] more diverse – [I’ve] swum in many oceans, perhaps – but we all carry it with us, and I think [that] exposing that is so fundamental. That’s why when I go to China I’m talking the same language to them, you know? I’m saying, “Look, you guys [are] so entrenched in historical, traditional constructs – [like] concepts of Chi, concepts of [the] “five elements, [and] concepts of the “Yin and Yang theory”. That’s not to say that they’re wrong. That’s not to say that they [have no] purpose or meaning, because absolutely they do, and we’ve seen the effects, and we’ve seen results. But you have to understand that these need to be modernized as well. [The language] is constantly in flux. The moment you fix the language you’re basically saying, “No more development [is] needed.” Right? It’s the same in western medicine, right? [They’ve had] incredible success at dealing with infectious diseases, yeah? [It’s] amazing. You know, how many billions of people have lived because of antibiotics, and the understanding of the microbes, and the ability to zoom-in, and the ability to use lenses, and the ability to focus on details. [It’s] incredible. But if you just then take that success [and say], “… therefore, everything else we do is right.” You know, [laughter] you’re not evolving, and more to the point – as you say – you’re not being scientific. This is the thing that winds me up the most – this kind of “skepticism” with a “k”, pseudoscience, you know, [and] all [these] kind of “trigger words” that people are throwing out at anything that potentially challenges the paradigm. [I mean], at the end of the day Chinese herbs is not such a difficult concept to understand, right? It’s a herb. You’re eating it.

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : It’s going to have an effect on your body. [I’m] not even asking you to believe in some vibrational whatever, you know?

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : I’m just saying [that] if you eat basil it’s going to have an effect. If you eat ginseng it’s going to have an effect. If you combine some plants together they’re going to have a synergistic effect. It’s really not that complicated. So [what’s] the opposition? Why are you being so like “anti” here? Is it because we’re using the words [like] “Chi”? Is it because we’re using concepts of energy, and life force, and all of this stuff? Fair enough. Get it. Understand those are your trigger words. But you have to also understand why those are your trigger words, and [what’s] the background that has lead those to be your trigger words? On the other side, the Chinese, and these Eastern [medicines] need to understand that they can’t just keep grinding their heels and saying, “Well, we have thousands of years of history!”

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : You know, [as if] that’s like the medal. It’s like, “Yes, good. Congratulations. You have had success over thousands of years, and you’ve built up this medicine experientially. [Those are] all good things, but we need to develop. If we are going to integrate we need to develop. We need to find this complementary approach.” So yeah, it’s on both ends of the spectrum. There’s [no point] in painting it black and white, and it certainly is the case that the Western way of looking at things has lead to incredible results. I have to say – as a little side story to this – the Chinese invented many, many things, right? But glass is not one of them, and the use of glass in Chinese history is very, very low. I mean, it’s superficial, and a lot of the reason why – there is a thinking, [although] I’m not sure how accurate it is – but there’s a thinking that the Chinese really focused on ceramics [and] metal work, and that tea is best consumed in ceramics, right? Whereas the Western drink of choice tended to be wine, which was best consumed in wine glass, and whether or not that lead to a bigger development in glass, and then lenses, and then the ability to look out, and [to] look into detail, [it] may be that tea played its part, actually, in this different way of thinking – the pattern versus the detail; the pattern versus the whole. You know, we don’t know, but it’s a kind of interesting area that China has very, very little experience with glass-making, and glass in general.

 

Hunter : Well, it’s not just glass. It’s also that atomistic mindset, right? It is that desire to – [and] this goes back to the Greeks – like the desire to break up, split up, categorize, [and] figure out all the parts. I hadn’t made that connection until this conversation, but infectious diseases are really the perfect problem for the Western mind, right?

 

Don : Absolutely! Yeah.

 

Hunter : You have to isolate the thing that is the problem, and you have to fucking kill it. Like that’s just what it comes down to.

 

Don : Yeah. [laughter]

 

Hunter : You have to sort through all the chemicals that are out there, and find the one that’s going to kill that thing without killing you.

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : It’s an ideal western problem, and one of the thing that Nisbett talks about in “The Geography of Thought” is the fact that surgery never appeared in China, right?  Because the body is so integrated, [and] it is so much a holistic thing, that why would you chop out a piece?

 

Don : Yeah.

 

Hunter : So again, like surgery is very much a Western thing to have invented, but in terms of these sort of rigid lines in the sand that don’t exist, there’s a guy out here, Tony Molina, and although Tony’s name is Molina, which is hispanic, right, [actually] a large part of his childhood was spent around his Korean friends and family. So my personal feeling… and he talks about sitting on the floor, and really being like, “This is so cool. This is a real community. I don’t have this. It’s such a great experience.” I think that he’s a very holistic thinker, and I just wonder how much that was picked up from his childhood. But his thing is… and he’s brought together all of these technologies that are basically designed to get the body to repair itself. You provide the targeted signals to the body, and it is these very modern approaches. Like for example, there’s this machine [called] “bio-density”. So if you send a person into space there’s no gravity, and therefore there’s no force on the bones, and so you get osteoporosis. So this provides, you know, you get on there, you generate a force, and then you’re signaling your osteoblasts to upregulate production and create that bone density.

 

Don : MmmHmm.

 

Hunter : It’s really effective. You can bring people in with osteopenia, and they do this for five minute [to] ten minutes a week, and you can see their bone density actually build, in measurable ways, on a DEXA scan. He has had – he and everybody else who’s promoting this stuff – a devil of a time moving this in the West. Of course, where has it had the best reception? China. They’re like, “Oh, duh! Of course! It’s all an integrated system”. Again and again, everything that he’s doing is basically about dealing with these imaginary lines that Western doctors have, where you go to a GP, you tell the GP you have back pain, the doctor sends you to a back specialist. [But] the only problem is that the real source of the back pain is that you actually don’t have range of motion in your foot, and so those forces are being transmitted up and manifesting in the back. The western doctor does a scan, sees a back problem – like there’s something that shows up on the X-ray – concludes surgery – because that’s what the west does – when really, you know, these much smaller fixes, in terms of foot motility, would actually fix the issue. So the damage that is done on both sides, just by sort of blindly running your cultural biases, is vast, right?

 

Don : Yeah,… [and] so you have, [in medicine, we’ve] lost the concept of proper triage – you know, the proper, “Let’s look at a problem, and let’s really take a step back from it, and really try to understand the whole environment that has lead to this problem, before we specialize. The specialization is a great thing, because it leads to expertise, and it leads to all of [the] improved – like the Japanese tea, right? It raises the overall standards [in] exactly the same way as tea. If I come in to a tea farmer’s house, and I try to specialize too quickly – to try [to get] them to answer very specific questions – then I oftentimes lose sight of actually the environment, and lose sight of the actual question that needs to be asked, right? [Like] if I sat and I kind of just observed for a while I would figure [it] out. That’s absolutely the case in medicine. It’s a specialization that’s happening far too quickly. It’s like, we had a Chinese doctor coming to speak with us once, and he kind of just gave a very simple example of mildew in the bathroom, right? If you have mildew in the bathroom you can find out what it is, you can find out what the microbe is, you can find the chemical, [and] you can kill it off, but really what’s causing the mildew – even though the cause of it is this microbe – it’s actually the [humid] environment that has caused it. So both are causes, right? But which is going to have the best long-term results: you spraying it every couple of months, or you figuring out a way to dehumidify your bathroom in some way [laughter]. You know? It’s a very simple idea, but that’s basically the difference in a nutshell.

 

Hunter : Yeah. The challenge for us, and a lot of what I think [building] this “Mixed Mental Arts” community of all of us who have sort of wrestled with this problem of culture, in one way or another, is to basically pool our insights, and to evolve tools so that we can all have these conversations better. That’s why we’re doing the “Mixed Mental Arts Belt System” as just sort of the nine basic concepts that are most important for like giving people the vocabulary, [because] I think that if you’re going to talk to some British civil servant about this sort of stuff I think, obviously, the compounding factor is [as] Upton Sinclair said, “It’s impossible to convince a man of something when his job depends on him not understanding it.”

 

Don : [laughter] Yeah.

 

Hunter : [That’s] the other compounding thing, but the more that we can get humanity to this idea… because I think [that] the difference is, Don, that you know that [culture] binds and blinds. Most people don’t even understand that, right? They might think, “Oh, yeah, culture binds and blinds other people.” But it’s really that when you understand that. So I think it’s, A, that, and the other thing that I think is super-important is [that] for people to be able to see this – and so we can all see this better, I think that, A, you know, humans learn by seeing example, example, example, and then they go to the general principle. So you and I have had lots, and lots, and lots of examples, examples, examples, and then we sort of accepted a lot of these general principles to live by. You have a totally different set of examples from the ones that Tony Molina has, or that I have, or that – a lot of what you’re saying, by the way, have you read Mark Schatzker’s “Dorito Effect”?

 

Don : No, I haven’t. No.

 

Hunter : Oh, see [this] is what I’m talking about [in saying] “pulling toolkits”, because that book is going to be give you so much of what really sounds like science to this British civil servant, where you can talk about food in ways that they’re really going to appreciate. So anyway, [I] think that’s the point, is that we all need to band together. [You know] it’s frustrating when you’re the one person trying to mediate these conflicts. [I mean], for me – in the last year – it’s been nice to know that I’m not alone, and that there is a community of people who think like this, who can help us all have these conversations better.

 

Don : Absolutely, and a growing community. I think that there are people that are searching for this, so [the] MMA platform is really important for that, because one place to send people is a much easier way than [laughter] trying to kind of like cobble together your own personal reading list. So yeah, pooling it is very important.

 

Hunter : Yup, and to that end, I [think] what’s great is, you know, [obviously] you’ve done so much of that pulling together – in terms of tea, in terms of Chinese medicine, [and] in terms of a lot of these things – and [with] Mei Leaf you’ve created a really great set of resources there for people to begin the journey towards becoming “teaheads”.

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : [We’ve] really only scratched the surface here. Like obviously, being a recovering “WEIRD” I’ve focused on Yunnan, and I’ve focused on Puerh, but we haven’t really gotten into : How do you brew tea, right? The “Gong Fu” brewing style. We haven’t really gotten into the teaware; like what are the cups, and what should we be using? But [I’m] excited to begin that journey, [and] I’m lucky to have a great guide in Don, who – although he’s too humble to ever say he [is] an expert – he’s been on the path for long enough that he can certainly point me to a few things that might help me in my own exploration.

 

Don : Thank you. Yeah, absolutely. [There are] so many more things to talk about, and as anybody who embarks on the “teahead” journey discovers, it’s a world of absolute acceptance of flux.

 

Hunter : [laughter]

 

Don : [laughter] Right? So get ready for everything I say to be contradicted in the next moment. I know you can handle that.

 

Hunter : Yup! [We’re] all going to have to handle that, because that’s the world that we live in. All the old certainties are gone.

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : [Also] , there are some people that I want to connect you with, because I think that there’s enough of that similarity. I think it would be great for you to talk to Tony Molina, it would be great for you to talk to Mark Schatzker, and I think you’d really appreciate talking to Jenny Aguilar. That’s really a big thing that we’re going to be doing in 2018, is trying to really facilitate “idea sex” where we bring together great, fun combinations, and just watch that exchange of ideas, back and forth, happen. So thanks so much for coming into the dojo, Don. I feel like we can now more comfortably use that term than maybe we could before…

 

Don : [laughter]

 

Hunter : .. [laughter] which is exciting. Plug yourself shamelessly. Where can everybody find everything that you do?

 

Don : The best place to go is search out our channel on YouTube – “Mei Leaf” ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaHBABJFMRAtnKhQp2Cu5BQ ) – search for us on YouTube, and then you can begin your exploration into the world of tea. Just dip in [and] dip out. You’ll find things, I’m sure, that interest you. If you’re interested in Chinese medicine then Acumedic.com is the best place to go.

 

Hunter : Yeah, and I think – that’s the other thing, too – in terms of, as we start to help people realize they’re “wet”, [food and drink] is such a great first point of contact, because once you start to develop an appreciation for those things then it becomes much easier to get into the literature, or to get into the philosophy, or the spirituality, or the religion. So, in general, let’s shamelessly promote all the food and beverage, and maybe then people will realize that it’s not just food, [but] it’s also medicine. [laughter]

 

Don : Absolutely.

 

Hunter : All right. Take care Don.

 

Don : Thank you so much, Hunter. Take care.

 

Hunter : Bye.

 

Hunter : Well, that was Don Mei, and I was so inspired by that conversation with Don that I decided to create a special sub-group of “Mixed Mental Arts” called” “Mixed Medical Arts” where anybody who is interested in figuring out what a truly global medical system – that is the product of “idea sex” between Eastern medicine and Western medicine – would look like, can come, talk, share experiences, [and] figure out how to move these ideas both in the Eastern world and the Western world. So you can find that group, “Mixed Medical Arts” on Facebook, and there’s actually a very interesting new sub-group set up by our own Isaiah Gooley, “Mixed Musical Arts”. So if you’re interested in finding out about the music of different cultures, how they’ve blended, [and] how they’ve learned from each other, there’s that opportunity to go [to]. So thanks so much for listening, and remember, on Facebook : “Mixed Mental Arts”, “Mixed Medical Arts”, and “Mixed Music Arts” .

 

Announcer : I’d like to let you know how you can engage in “idea sex” with us by joining our online communities. If you’d like to help support us, please consider becoming a patron by visiting our Patreon page, where you can get access to behind-the-scenes content, early podcast episode releases, and much, much more. You can find our website at http://www.mixedmentalarts.online to sign up for our email newsletter. For Facebook users, you can find our Facebook page with the URL Facebook.com/MixedMentalArts . From there you can join our Facebook discussion group, or you can give us feedback about the podcast, or engage in discussions with our community members, including Hunter Maats. We also have a Reddit community at “R/MixedMentalArts”. Subscribe to our YouTube channel at YouTubecom/MixedMentalArts for video podcasts and weekly live streams, where you – the audience – have the ability to participate in our discussions. Last, but not least, please follow us on Twitter at “”@MixedMentalArts”, and [the same on] Instagram, to get our latest updates. Join the “Callenphate”, and replace that cognitive dissonance with some “cognitive coitus”. Thanks for listening.                                                                      

 

Transcription Power Tool #3 : WorkRave Pacing Program

 

workrave_screenshot

WorkRave Work Pacing and Repetitive Strain Illness (RSI) Management Tool

 

Workrave ( http://www.workrave.org ) is an EXCELLENT, totally FREE and little open source freeware software application which provides some highly valuable computer work pacing features, as well as regularly timed short, and longer, work break reminders, along with some helpful exercises to do during those breaks to counteract the risk of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Workrave is available as a TOTALLY free download at :

 

http://www.workrave.org/download/

 

The program is easy to use, and works on Windows, Mac AND LINUX operating systems. Please feel free to go ahead and download, install, and play around with the program as soon as you can, to reap the benefits immediately. I ASSURE you that you will see a noticeable increase in your productivity just in your first few hours of integrating this excellent tool into your daily workflow.

 

For such an essentially simple program this tool provides some highly valuable time and effort management functions, so that your overall productivity will increase NOTICEABLY, while simultaneously decreasing the productivity obstacles presented by repetitive, monotonous bodily and mental activities which create stress – and even potential long term illness- if not managed  over extended periods of time. Although the standard definition of Repetitve Strain Illness focuses mainly on PHYSICALLY strainful, repetitive activity, any worker who heavily uses their computer for several hours per day in order to do important tasks knows that the MENTALLY strenuous and/or menial activities are EQUALLY taxing on the whole mind-body system – especially because the mind and body are so interconnected – and so for the purposes of this analysis as it relates primarily to computer teleworkers (and transcriptionists/proofeaders specifically), Repetitive Strain Injuries in this discussion will include mental activities as well physical ones.

 

For teleworkers, some significant physical repetitive strain producing activities include : eye strain resulting from staring at the computer screen for long periods of time, back pain resulting from sitting up for long periods, and joint pain commonly in the fingers, wrists, arms, neck and/or back areas, resulting primarily from long periods of stationary sitting, posture-maintaining, and typing and mouse activities. Some of the major mentally straining activities include: difficulty concentrating, anxiety resulting from mental exhaustion, noticeable decrease in cognitive ability, and hyper-aroused nervous system states (including moodiness, agitation, insomnia, etc.). These often result from enduring long periods of sustained, focused mental attention on more single, narrowed subject matter, fine textual details, and repetitive tasks. These mental ailments develop primarily due to a failure to take adequate rest breaks away from the computer to let the mind rest and recuperate. Just as a body builder experiences the maximum physical gains by integrating adequate rest periods into their training routine, so the teleworker gains similar benefits from achieving a proper balance of activity and rest.

 

Some of the more technical names for of the most common Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI’s) include : Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Information Overload, Pressure/Stress Headaches, hyper-arousal induced insomnia, etc. More detailed information and examples of these conditions and their causes can be found here :

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repetitive_strain_injury

 

And a more in-depth analysis of the occupational risk factors for teleworkers is well examined here :

 

Working From Home Can Sabotage Your Health

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/121097/20160104/working-from-home-can-sabotage-your-health-ways-telecommuting-can-make-you-ill.htm

 

Luckily, Workrave addresses many of the most significant telecommuter health issue by providing some valuable core features which are simple to execute, yet highly effective in helping to manage and minimize the manifestation and development of these Repetitive Strain Injuries. Plus, it does so in a way which, when properly used, is quite non-intrusive, and highly customizable based on the unique physical and mental needs of the individual worker.

 

The most useful features of the program can probably be best understood through actual case study examples of the typical daily workflow of the teleworker (in this case, the transcriber/proofreader). To best achieve this I will use my own, personal daily workflow as an example here, and show how the Workrave tool is integrated so easily and effectively with the most common workflow tasks of teleworkers (and even computer workers) in general.

 

Let’s say on a typical day I end up doing eight full hours of computer work on various tasks. Upon waking in the morning I usually start working on one of my private client transcription/proofreading projects. I will load my transcription software, continue from where I left off last on the transcription or proofread. I have found that working in 15 minutes chunks is ideal for the specific nature and needs of my body and mind. That is, I will usually transcribe or proofread for 15 minutes, and then either switch things up significantly to consuming some work-related (or non-work related) audio, video or textual resources (ex. YouTube videos, podcasts, web articles, etc.) If my energy levels are further down I can choose the third alternative option of completely disengaging from physical and mental work activity, and instead spend the next 15 minute chunk of time doing some menial daily chores (ex. cleaning, meditating, walking around the room or yard, etc.) So, the three 15 time slots include : 15 minutes of work-related computer work, 15 minutes of less  (or non) – computer related content consumption, or 15 minutes of physical activity which does not involved intense mental activity. The more you understand the ideal mixtures of task sessions which are unique to YOU, the sooner you can most appropriately customize the WorkRave program scheduling features to most effectively assist you in sticking to the specific organization of activity program you choose.

 

So, continuing to build upon the above example, I go into the WorkRave settings area and set the micro-break intervals to 15 minutes. This means that every 15 minutes a “break screen” pops up and stops any activity on the machine (ex. Keyboard and mouse input, etc.) I also program the DURATION of these microbreaks to be 30 seconds. In this way, after every 15 chuck of my work the program forces me to AT LEAST take 30 seconds to stop what I am doing, take a deep breath, rest, and clear my mind in order to best plan for the next 15 minutes activity chunk. After this first microbreak I move into the first alternative task (let’s say watching an interesting YouTube tutorial video on one of the new software programs I am learning and planning to integrate into my arsenal of work tools). The MORE INTERESTING you make this second task (specially relating the task to the first (and also) third task session), the more productivity benefits you will get from switching and pacing the tasks. IDEALLY, the most effective mix of tasks includes a logical component to this transition. For instance, if you are specifically focusing on improving your use of punctuation during your proofreading tasks then switching to watching an interesting YouTube video related to some aspect of proofreading will provide a nice repetition and reinforcement component to your activities (and self-training) schedule. The key is to try and consume resources which are interesting, motivating, and applicable as quickly as possible into your workflow. By doing this you are able to apply (and build) the knowledge and skills you are absorbing during the different task sessions, in real-time, and the continuous, tangible improvement in your productivity which results from this will further motivate you to pace and organize your efforts properly, using SEVERAL tools, including WorkRave.

 

After the second 15 minute task, the next micro-break box pops up and I can then rest for 30 seconds while I also decide if it is most appropriate to switch back to the first (active project work) activity session, or if I feel that my body and mind are becoming more drained of energy and focus I can choose to switch to the third task session, which involves some physical activity without mental activity. In this case I may spend the third 15 minute activity session doing some silent meditation, or giving the kitchen or bathroom a routine 15 minute clean, I may prepare some food (which, in my specific case, general consists of a light, liquid and raw fruits and vegetables based diet. I could, for instance, brew a pot of one of my favorite, and most appropriate types of Chinese tea which I drink daily. While this is another subject worth elaborating on elsewhere (when I talk about proper nutrition for the teleworker), I find that taking a 15 minute break to drink a pot of high quality tea (specifically a black or Puerh category tea if I need more energy, and a green, white, or herbal tea in the evening when I am in the process of “coming down”) is a HUGE boon to my productivity AND the overall health of my body. Once the 15 minute tea drinking activity session finishes, the third micro-break box pops up on the screen. Actually, after the third session it is really best to schedule one of the longer breaks (which include the guided exercise activities). So, in this example I will program one of the long breaks every 45 minutes – that is, after I complete the full round of the three main 15 minute activity sessions.

 

Aside from time the interval (45 minutes in this case) between breaks you can also customize the DURATION of the longer breaks. Again, this proper duration will be unique to your body and mind. I find that after the three 15 minute microbreaks, a good 5 to 10 minute long break is appropriate to really properly recuperate from the past hour of heavy activity. For a few minutes at the beginning of the longer break the program provides you with some guided examples of some common, and effective, basic exercises that you can perform along with the program’s timer. These exercises are focuses on addressing the most common physical Repetitive Strain Injuries, and range from eye exercises to stretching exercises for various high use body parts. The nice thing is that you have the option to follow the exercises provided, and/or replace or add some of your own preferred exercises. I like to try to AT LEAST follow the provided exercises, and then in the remaining non-activity time, where the program stops providing exercises and simply let’s the break timer run, I add a few of my own good ones – mainly consisting of some powerful yoga and Chi Gong stretching, and movement exercises. I may also take some of this remaining time to cease all physical and mental activity by lying on my bed with eyes closed..

 

Once the longer break is completed you will usually feel well rested, and ready to run through the cycle again – depending, of course, on how many cycles you have already completed. With this specific routine you can get quite a lot of work done in an eight hour daily work session. The program also has a customizable “daily limit” timer. This box will pop up to remind you that you have reached your self-estimated overall time-work threshold for the day. If you have more accurately customized the time interval on this feature you may find this a refreshing notification and conclusion of your workday, and you will likely be happy to shut down your work activities and computer for the remainder of the day. However, if you decide (for a variety of possible reasons, including approaching deadlines, glut of work, compulsive tendencies, etc.) to do some additional work, you have the option to “cancel” this daily work reminder. If you do this, however, it IS recommended that in the additional work time you perform for the day you extend the frequency and duration of micro and longer breaks. As some friendly advice from someone who suffers from SEVERE insomnia, plus internet addiction, and other goodies – which is only exacerbated by the constant hyper-arousal induced by above the eight hour threshold of daily computer work, often even reaching up into the double-digits —) yikes – I can tell you from experience that as you endure more hours it become increasingly important to include a pacing mechanism which gradually slows down your physical and mental activity so that when you finally conclude the day’s work your body and mind will be in as an ideal of a state as possible to facilitate sleep and recovery. Ultimately, you want to customize your pacing schedule so that, with the help of the WorkRave program features, you are able to slowly wind down to a soft conclusion of activity which will make it easier for you body and mind to transition to the lower level of brainwave  activity to allow you to get the proper amount and quality of sleep required to maintain consistent productivity over days, weeks, and months. Pacing is a VITAL component to computer-based telework and non-telework. If you can achieve a high level of control over your energy exertion you will be able to maximize the overall results of your effort. If you CAN’T achieve this control then you will tend to experience a progressively increasing level of physical and mental exhaustion which can very likely develop into more serious,  longer term injuries over your extended work periods of days, weeks, months, and beyond.

 

Developing good pacing habits is therefore a vital component to telework, and one which ultimately translates into better health, higher productivity and income earning potential. People who are able to properly pace themselves are able to get more work done with less effort, and experience less health issues which have a tendency to have a detrimental effects on productivity in the short and the long term. This is why I STRONGLY suggest using a simple, yet powerful – and FREE – program like WorkRave as a fundamental tool in your teleworker tool kit.

 

One of the challenges people face when using a program like WorkRave is that you may sometimes find that both the micro and longer breaks feel like they are a bit intrusive, and distracting, to your efforts. However, I find that if in the times when I have those feelings it is very helpful to force myself to take the break, and then practice some meditation on those negative feelings which the rest break alerts trigger in me. I sit or lie down on my floor or the bed, and with my eyes closed allow the feelings to arise naturally and without trying to stop them. Then I examine and reflect on the feelings and sensations to try and figure out the deeper force driving them.. For instance, I ask myself WHY I feel frustrated by the break? Is it simply because I want to get more work done, but by doing so I would overextend myself? I ponder whether or not the break is actually HELPING to increase my productivity and comfort level, Even though at the time of the break I may have negative feelings what I have found is that, looking back in hindsight, it is most often the case that even though I had to endure some frustration due to the interruptive nature of the breaks, they did INDEED successfully serve the purpose of increasing my productivity. In addition, the program forces me, in a healthy way, to confront my own mental processed (and neuroses, or maybe more accurately, demons) which cause me to put up the resistance. A major benefit of this analysis  is that it helps you to begin to gain a better understanding of the destructive ways in which your impulses, compulsions, and counterproductive thought patterns contribute to improper pacing. So in the end this program also has the potential to help you change your pacing routine by changing the underlying destructive psychological mechanisms which have a tendency to force you to push body and mind beyond their limits, and ultimately sabotage your potential maximum productivity.

 

On a more practical level, one of the first things you can do if you find, through analysis, yourself feeling justifiably frustrated at the pacing of the breaks is to simply increase the time interval between them. You do this in the setting section of the program. Since everyone has unique physical and mental needs, once you figure out and customize your own proper individual pacing schedule you actually will be more welcoming of the breaks, accepting them as a necessary – albeit somewhat frustrating – tool, which helps you bypass your own self-destructive tendencies, and just start accepting that the breaks are indeed ultimately necessary for, and effective at, producing a significant increase to your productivity. Plus, the various metrics you can apply to judge this increase in productivity (for example, the number of total increase in transcription/proofreading output time ( based on a word count), an increase in income due to the increase in productivity), etc. will highly motivate you to appreciate and take full advantage of such a valuable tool as WorkRave. You will naturally accept the automated pacing schedule provided by the program.and gain maximum benefits from the breaks, and experience a general  diminishing need to cancel or postpone them. Once you reach this milestone, you KNOW that you are making real progress, and ultimately the improvement in pacing ability that you develop from regular use of this program will naturally transfer into the pacing of activities in other areas of your life (ex. Better organizing and pacing plans to achieve dietary goals, serious exercise routines, general career and life planning, etc. Ultimately, pacing is a valuable life skill to master.

 

Well, quite a lot has been said in this post about a nifty freeware program which may APPEAR on first glance to be quite simple and insignificant. However,us free-thinking, smart people know that the most profound,  influential – and often revolutionary – philosophers and innovators in history have expressed the common important opinion along the lines that the best ideas and inventions are those which are the simplest. Taking the wise words of one such great thinker, Albert Einstein, “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

So it is on this enlightening final note that will I put some closure on this rather comprehensive, and hopefully helpful, reviews of the WorkRave productivity enhancement application. It is my sincere hope that any reader of this post will experience the significant benefits of integrating this tool into their work routine, and as a result experience an increase in productivity, income – and most importantly – the most valuable gift of increased self-awareness.

 

If you do try out the program please feel free to send your comments (both positive and negative) so that all readers of this blog can benefit, as well as sharing this post with anyone who you believe will benefit from the information.

 

Happy Transcribing,

@TranscriptJunky

https://twitter.com/TranscriptJunky

 

 

Free Transcript Project – #11

Tea Bag vs Loose Leaf: The Taste Test
YouTube Channel : https://www.youtube.com/user/chinalifeteabar/
Web Site : http://chinalifeweb.com

Host : Don Mei
Twitter :  https://twitter.com/chinalife_uk


 

[0:00] Don Mei : Hey tea-heads! This is Don from Mei Leaf ( https://teatipsy.com ). In this video, “Tea bags Vs. Loose Leaf Tea – The Taste Test”, I’m going to be brewing up some green tea from a tea bag, and some loose leaf green tea, and we’re going to taste the difference. This video is going to go under the “Basic Tea Education” playlist :  

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAtdGF0-xVNamOA89BRbY00GFlvMUAvWO

 

If at any point in time you enjoy this video then please give the video the “thumbs up”. The more thumbs in the air, the more tea videos are going to come your way. And if you haven’t subscribed to our YouTube channel yet, then go click that button :

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/chinalifeteabar/featured

 

Okay. So the more eagle-eyed viewer amongst you will realize that I’m not sitting in front of my usual desk in London. I have relocated. I’m on holiday at the moment, and we are in beautiful Mazunte in Oaxaca. Behind me is Mermejita beach. It’s a stunning, stunning location. You can hear the wildlife around me. It’s a beautiful place. We’ve been here for a few days,and we have been exploring the delights of mexico, and believe me, there are plenty. There is plenty to explore.

 

[1:00] But one of the annoying things about Mexico is that they are a real coffee-drinking country, and they don’t have much good quality tea. So, obviously I’ve brought my own, and today what we want to do is I [just] want to show you how easy and convenient it is, when you’re traveling, to still brew loose leaf tea. So we’re going to do a taste test between a [tea bag] green tea and a loose leaf. Now, this tea bag green tea is, honestly, a very high quality, compared to your, kind of, standard green tea tea bags. So  I’ve tried to find a decent rival to battle against the loose leaf tea. I’m not going to mention brand names, but this is a very well-respected tea bag brand, and it’s an organic green tea. So, I’m going to try and do a very fair taste test. I’m going to try and get the best out of this tea bag as I possibly can, and the best out of this green tea.

 

[2:02] So, the comparison. This is – I don’t know where it’s from, because it doesn’t give me an origin; which is one of the annoying things about tea bag tea, generally. So this is a green tea. I’m assuming it’s from China. This here is a White Money, or a [“Fai Mao Ho”/], which is from Fujian province, in Taimu mountain. So, I’ve intentionally picked a green tea which is more of a, kind of, everyday green tea, an affordable everyday green tea, rather than a super high premium green tea, because that wouldn’t be a fair comparison. So, hopefully, we’re going to get a fair comparison here.

 

So, quickly, the reasons why I personally don’t like tea bags; the first reason is the quality of the leaf. It’s probably machine picked, and that means that you are not getting the same level of accuracy, in terms of choosing which leaves and buds are going to be part of your tea. So twigs, insects, etc. can be picked up in the machine, and it’s all mulched up and turned into a powder, so you wouldn’t know the difference.

 

[3:07] There are some HORRIBLE YouTube videos out there of people opening tea bags, and finding insects, and finding worms. I might put a link in the description below so you cans ee. But it goes to show that you don’t really know what you’re getting. When I travel around to purchase tea from the tea mountains of China and Taiwan, I do regularly see tea manufacturers sweeping the floors of the factory, and making big bags of tea dust which they then sell to tea bag companies. So, really, you’ve got either sweepings, or you’ve got machine-picked tea, which you don’t really know what’s in it. So the quality of the actual contents makes a big difference.

 

The second thing about tea bags which I find makes it inferior to loose leaf is the fact that it’s turned into a powder. If it’s turned into a powder it has a very large surface area, and so it brews very quickly – which is one of the reasons why people like tea bags, because it’s very quick brewing. But the problem with that is that it releases all of the astringency, and the tannic notes, much faster than if you’re brewing loose leaf. So it’s much more likely that you’ll get a very bitter brew.

 

[4:26] Also, you can’t do multiple infusions of a tea bags. You can, but generally all of the flavor is released in the first infusion. So you can’t do multiple infusion, which anybody who likes tea, and enjoys the Chinese way of drinking tea specifically, enjoys the fact that every infusion has a different flavor.

 

So, quality, you don’t know what’s in the bag. Brewing, very large surface area [that] doesn’t allow for multiple infusions. Finally, appreciation. There’s no comparison between something hidden in a tea bag, like this, and actually looking at proper loose leaf tea. It’s not just for looks, but it’s also a great way of looking at quality, and understanding a direct lineage from the leaf to the field. You see how it was picked, you see which part of the plant was picked. So it gives you such a greater understanding  and appreciation of the actual leaf that you are drinking.

 

[5:29] Okay. So, we’re going to brew these now. I’m going to brew them at different times, because I’m very conscious of the fact [that] this is going to brew a lot quicker than this.  As I said, one of the annoying things about traveling is not having your tea with you, but I just want to show you how convenient it is. So this is a very simple basket brewer. We sell some [Fenum?] basket brewers – really high quality [Fenum?] basket brewers. Again, I’ll put the link in the description below. This is very similar. This is from japan. All you do is take your basket brewer, put it in your cup, and pour in your leaf.  So if you compare this with this there’s really not much difference in terms of convenience. So the idea that loose leaf tea is inconvenient is not true at all.

 

[6:20] I’ve got water here which is not boiling. This is about 85 degree. So again, [I’m] wanting to make sure I’m going to get the best out of both of these. So I’m going to pour into here first, I’m not going to do a rinse. I know that this will take about 30 seconds to brew, and I’m going to pour the same temperature water in the tea bag and maybe give it a little bit less – 10 to 15 seconds – because I just want to make sure that I don’t brew it too strong. Okay, so we’re going to pull the camera around, and you’re going to see the difference.

 

[7:12] Here we are. These are the two different teas. This one here is the loose leaf tea, and this one is the tea bag. So you can immediately see the difference in the color and the clarity. This one here is much greener, much more clear – translucent – whereas the tea bag one is much more cloudy, and is almost a, kind of, orange color, which is a bit strange. But it goes to show that this [tea’s] leaf has been oxidized more in the processing of the tea, which it shouldn’t be for green tea. But as I said, because this is machine-picked, and the quality is going to be lower, the leaf may have been damaged along the processing pathway, and therefore has oxidized slightly. So you can see here, this is what I’m talking about in terms of tea appreciation. That’s not very pretty, and doesn’t really give you much information.

 

[8:08] Whereas this here – let me see if I can pick – let’s you see exactly what you’re drinking. So this is the bud and the first leaf. So you know the picking of this tea is a bud and one leaf. So here you have – let’s see if I can show it to you a bit clearer – a bud in one leaf. It just lets you really visually see the quality of the tea you’re drinking, so you can really appreciate, visually, the difference between loose leaf and this horrible mulch here, which is tea bag tea. Right. What matters most though is taste. So we’re going to taste.

 

[8:53] Okay. So let’s taste. So this is the loose leaf tea… a lovely, everyday green tea.It’s got quite a juicy mouthfeel, so it’s making my mouth produce saliva. It has the smokiness that comes from a wok pan-fired green tea. [It’s] very gentle. It’s a lovely, everyday Fujianese green tea, [with] nothing spectacular about it. It has good minerality, so it’s got a nice kind of mineral-rock taste… high notes nice and vibrant, and a lovely, juicy mouthfeel. So, a lovely, everyday green tea.

 

Now the tea bag green tea is very, very different. First of all it has a really sour taste, which is a bit strange. I don’t know where that comes from, but it’s quite sour. It’s also much drier. So it’s got a lot of astringency. I brewed it, actually, quite well, so it’s not too bitter, but it’s very dry, very astringent, [and] really giving me a kind of choking sensation in the mouth… And just very stewed and old tasting.

 

[10:12] I guess one of the things about powdered tea is, because it’s got a larger surface area, it will age a lot quicker. So it loses vibrancy and freshness a lot quicker. I’m not sure how old this tea is. Again, it’s not really batch-numbered, so that’s one of the other disadvantages of tea bagged tea. It just tastes old. It tastes stewed. It tastes sour, It just doesn’t taste nice at all, and I really did try to brew it properly…

 

So a world of difference. Oh! a world of difference; much smoother, much cleaner, much brighter – just enjoyable. This is a green tea. I wouldn’t call this a green tea. I don’t know what you would call this. But this is meant to be a very high quality, organic, green tea tea bag.

 

[11:00] So, there you go. The difference in taste is very clear. The distance, visually, is very clear. And I hope you can see how convenient it is to brew loose leaf tea, even on holiday. Okay? That’s it tea-heads. If you made it to the end of this video then please give the video the thumbs-up. Check out our playlists:

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/chinalifeteabar/playlists

 

and let us know if there are any videos that you would like us to make. If you’re ever in London then come visit us in Camden to say “Hi”, and taste our wares. If you have any questions or comments please fire them over. Other than that, I’m Don Mei from Mei Leaf. Thank you for being a part of the revelation of true tea. Stay away from the tea bags, keep drinking the good stuff, and spread the word – because nobody deserves bad tea. Bye.

 

Transcription Powertool #2 : WavePad (Audio Editing Software)

WavePad Masters Edition Screenshot_ for DOAFT blog post

WavePad Master’s Edition Screenshot Provided ON Company’s Web Site

 

Rescuing Poor Quality Audio Files From Death To Make Them Suitable For Transcription Using Audio Editing Software

As a freelance online transcriptionist you will spend a considerable amount of time evaluating files which come to you via various available job boards and/or private clients. As the different online transcription companies receive audio and video files from different, and numerous sources – each of whom record their audio/video with different equipment, and with a range of recording skills (from amateur to professional), as well as under some uncontrollable conditions  which are common in audio recording – it is CERTAIN that you will REGULARLY come across audio files where the WHOLE file is of poor quality (in terms of being able to hear the speakers well, and most accurately transcribe their speech) OR files in which only PARTS of the file are of poor quality. The main downside to poor quality audio is that it takes more time to complete the transcription and/or editing process, and especially if you are on a strict deadline this can create a significant amount of stress and frustration, which disturbs the general flow and enjoyment of your work, and may even cause you to take more time than usual to complete the file. In addition, even if you are NOT under a strict deadline, these poor quality files require more time and energy investment to complete, and since you are paid per file, line, or audio minute this means that you make less money overall, since these more difficult files take up time that you could be working on better quality, easier files, processing them faster, and turning over more files.

The silver lining in the case of poor audio quality is that the problem presents you with a valuable growth situation by motivating you to teach yourself the valuable new skill audio editing by learning how to use a decent quality audio editing application (some of which are free). This software will provide you an array of powerful tools to greatly increase your potential of transforming a “poor” quality audio/video files into a “workable” quality audio/video file. The potential benefits to you are significant. One will be that if the content of the file is good then you can enjoy that content while transcribing and/or editing it, and get paid to do so. This is always the ideal situation for a transcribers and editors. Secondly, during “slow periods”, where there is a limited number of files made available for you to work on, having some audio editing skills can increase the amount of work available to you, especially if other transcribers/editors working for the same online transcription company do not (yet) have such skills. Finally, the company, or client, providing your files on a regular basis will be happy that you have spent time and energy developing these skills which enable their company to make money off of these poorer quality files, instead of having to return the files to the original client and lose the revenue (and possibly the customer as well).

Some companies have started offering to transcribe/edit poorer quality files with an extra “challenging audio” charge. In this way the customer is still able to get their files transcribed, and the company doesn’t turn away customers who may, over time, provide a significant amount of work, regardless of the occasional poorer quality files. Even the highest quality audio/video productions have SOME content which is sub-par. It is often not the intentional fault of the customer in these cases.  The multitude of factors which can make an audio/video file “poor” in quality include : high level of movement of speakers, high level of background noise when the recording is done in populated places, and many others. A reputable online transcription company will then go on to pay the transcribers and editors some of that extra fee, and so by having some basic audio editing skills you open the possibility of working on these higher paying files. This is a win-win-win situation for the customer. the company, and the transcriber/editor.

Here is a high quality article which goes into significant detail of the various factors which contribute to poor audio quality recordings :

How to Make Good Recordings

Once you get proficient with the audio editing software it is often the case that one of the powerful functions in the software can revive the file from audio death with just a few clicks. So, it is ultimately a valuable and practical skill to add to your virtual transcription/editing toolbox, and one which your clients will appreciate. You may even win certain well-paying contracts over other applicants by simply listing your competency and ownership of a good quality audio editing software application on your resume. Of course, it would be most ideal to perhaps take an online course in audio editing which provides a certificate upon completion, which you can then include with your resume and post on your transcription related online sites and social media accounts (ex. your transcription service (or company) blog, LinkedIn, etc.). You can even find such courses for free on online education sites, such as the following Udemy course :

Audio Editing Basics with Reaper

Just do a Google search for -> “audio editing basics online course + [specific preferred audio editing software]”, and you will discover a nice selection of courses (free or paid) which will start you on the path to becoming skilled and certified in audio editing. In fact, the audio editing application “Reaper” http://www.reaper.fm, which is taught in above course, offers a 60-day evaluation free trial. This is AT LEAST a generous amount of time to experiment with the software while taking the free course. Then, once the trial expires, you can decide whether to buy Reaper, or seek out one of the other full freeware applications available to consumers, such as Audacity http://www.audacityteam.org , which is one of the most popular, open source, applications available. Some other options can be found here :

As you can see from the above article and a simple search, there is a wide range of decent (and some free) quality audio editing software programs available which will enable you to do MOST of the repair work you will need for files which are of moderately difficult quality – which will be the difficulty level of most of the files you will need to work on. Often the one-click application of a simple “background noise reduction”, or “high pass” filter will be adequate to get the audio/video functional enough to work on and process to completion. Remember, YOU are ultimately responsible ONLY for adequately transcribing and/or editing the words in the audio/video file. The quality of the file is NOT your responsibility. So the more skilled you are at tweaking the audio so that you can properly hear and transcribe the speech, the better final transcript product you will produce. In other words, you will have done your job well, even under less than desirable conditions. This is ALWAYS proof of a valuable worker who takes their job seriously, and will surely, more often than not, be looked at favorably by current and potential clients.

The industry standard professional transcription software ExpressScribe Pro http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/index.html provides three of the most basic, commonly used filters (ex. Background Noise Reduction, Extra Volume Boost, and High Pass Filter), BUT these are simply one-click applications which cannot be configured for more fine-tuned audio repair. You simply select the one available, preconfigured filter, and ExpressScribe runs the entire file through that filter. This means you can’t apply the filter only to selected sections of the audio, which proper audio editing programs allow you to do.

As I use a registered version of Express Scribe Pro, which I highly recommend to ALL transcribers, because it is affordable and has features which make the transcription process MUCH more efficient, I HAVE used the above “Special Audio Processes” [ FILE -> “Special Audio Processes”], on a number of occasions, and they have been adequate in making the audio/video workable. However, there have also been a significant number of files which the basic ExpressScribe Pro audio processes have NOT been able to remedy adequately. Therefore, I made the basic cost-benefits analysis decision that if I went ahead and purchased a PROPER audio editing application the income from EACH file I successfully transcribed/edited – which that application enabled me to work on by making it possible to repair the file to workable condition – would offset the cost of the program. Even if you account for a low payout on transcribed and edited/proofread files – let’s just say, for our purposes here,  $10 per audio hour for a completed transcribed audio file, and $5 per hour for a completed edited/proofread file. With some simple arithmetic it is clear that you can recoup the original $99 USD (retail price) registration cost for WavePad Sound Editor Master’s Edition likely within a mere month or two. For me, in the end It has turned out to be a very sound business decision which has significantly enhanced my productivity, as well as providing me the opportunity to develop an additional skill set to complement my transcription, editing/proofreading, and digital audio related (podcast editing) work, in addition to some other personal projects which include audio as a component.  Finally, the cost of the program has served the additional bonus of being a justified “business expense.”

I specifically chose to purchase the WavePad Sound Editor http://www.nch.com.au/wavepad/ application for two main reasons. Firstly, it is a member of the same suite of software products, NHS Software http://www.nch.com.au/index.html which produces Express Scribe, the application I use for transcription work. In fact, there is a valuable “launch” button within the FILE menu of ExpressScribe (as with some of the other in programs in the suite) which enables you to launch WavePad with one click from within the program. As it is often the case that you discover a section of sub-par quality audio while you are in the process of transcribing the file, this one-click ability to open WavePad and then quickly clean up the file so you can get back to work on the transcription is a nice little bonus feature. Of course, this is not a MAJOR feature of the program, but it is a common and convenient perk you get when you buy programs which are components of software suites. Many of these software companies design their products to streamline with each other in various ways. Some of these streamlined features are more powerful than others, but sometimes those little bonus features are valuable, especially if they help save you time, and thus earn more, when you are working against the clock. Many software companies offer discounts to customers when they purchase additional programs in their suite – either as part of one single purchase, or for future purchases. The company with often advertise the available discounts on their site. Other times they offer you a discount on additional suite programs when you reach the check-out page during purchase. I recommend sending a quick email to the company sales department and inquire about the availability of any such discounts so that you don’t miss out.  Feel free to AT LEAST download the free demo version of WavePad (and/or any of the various other quality audio editing applications), read through the tutorials, and experiment with some of the powerful, and easy-to-use, audio processing tools.

WavePad has a very nice, clean, user-friendly interface, which is NOT overloaded with audio functions, or overwhelming on the eyes and brain, However, it does offer a decent amount of functionality for both lower-skilled and higher-skilled audio technicians, if they care to take advantage of these features. The main advantage that WavePad has over the basic three audio processes available in the Express Scribe Pro application is that there are a LOT more functions, and each function has a much higher range of configuration potential (including the ability to select and apply editing to smaller sections of the entire file), which enables the user to fine tune their application of audio processes in order to enable the highest potential to transform poor audio into the most workable quality. This is ultimately the most important goal. Many of the audio processes also offer “preset” options, along with a preview, so that you can hear what the file will sound like after the filter is applied, BEFORE actually applying it. This minimizes time, effort, and computer processing power needed to find the BEST level of audio adjustment. At the same time, it makes it easier for inexperienced users of the application to get the final outcome they are looking before they have invested the significant amount of time which is required to become comfortably proficient with the numerous features of the program. For advanced users (such as professional audio engineers, podcast producers, etc.) the program offers the ability to fully configure the most important elements of the audio processes. This enables the user to really get in there and get to the core of the problem in the audio and produced the best final product.

Most transcriptionists and editors will only need to use the presets for most files. The preset filters are powerful, and you often just need to apply a few of them to make the audio/video file workable. Sometimes just ONE filter will do the job. This is why it is important to thoroughly go through the tutorial manual provided, so that you will better be able to know, and decide on, which process(es) to apply to get the audio into workable form with the least amount of wasted time and effort.

As this blog post is NOT intended as a tutorial on WavePad – or any other audio editing software application – but instead, to address the value these programs add to the efficiency of transcription and editing work, I will simply advise that the reader follow up with some of the resources, free software demo, and tutorials of the programs mentioned above, The IDEAL way to achieve working competence with these programs is to actually experiment with the features on REAL files, as you work through the tutorial. I assure you that you will feel a great sense of satisfaction the moment you resuscitate a “dead” audio/video file into a workable form which you can then process and make money on. You will also have learned some valuable and marketable skills. In fact, as a result of mastering the WavePad program I have been able to earn additional income editing the audio of some podcast clients, and then proceed to transcribe and edit their podcast audio files. The combination of audio editing, transcription, editing/proofreading, web design and SEO marketing work that I now am able to do for various clients has enabled me to now earn over $20+ an hour, which is a significant amount of income based on my specific situation- that is, living in a “developing” country, where the cost of living is roughly 1/3 of that in the “developed” world, at the time of this writing.

Since I make the BULK of my living doing transcription and editing I felt it was best to properly purchase the above software applications. It is always a nice feeling to know that you are using software with the proper permissions, in addition to the fact that the programmers who design these excellent programs work just as hard as the rest of us technology workers, and so, being a full believer in free market economics, my conscience tells me it is the right thing to do. However, I CERTAINLY understand that (especially for new people to the industry) money is scarce, and it is thus important for us to utilize whatever is available (especially free resources) to us to get the gears moving, and the $$$ rolling in. Trust me, I have been there. The great thing though is that there is an adequate range of free resources and tools to get you started during the process of self-education and experimentation. Then, once you are generating a decent income you can decide on whether to use freeware or paidware (or a combination of both). The choice is completely up to you, of course. NO moral judgement is being made on this end. I promise ;->

In fact, as it probably obvious to the reader, the whole purpose of this blog is to help people who are interested in doing work in the online transcription industry to be able to gain the essential knowledge they need, in the most practical, efficient, and cost-effective way possible. The good news is that it is COMPLETELY possible to achieve this goal without having to spend barely ANY money at all. That is the beauty of the internet. It allows a freer flow of information, as well as providing the technical means by which to enable people all of the world to earn an honest living in a location and (generally) time-independent manner.

As I started to mention earlier (in regard to the free, open source Audacity audio editing application), there are TONS of excellent open-source, freeware applications (for all of the various areas of your transcription business – including productivity apps, typing practice programs, etc. – out there which can help take MOST of the financial burden off of you – especially in the beginning phase of your endeavor. For instance, instead of using Microsoft Word to type your transcription text (while using a transcription program like ExpressScribe to control the audio) you can easily, and smartly choose LibreWriter – part of the LIbreOffice open source suite : https://www.libreoffice.org/download/libreoffice-fresh/  which has ALL of the core functionality of the full Microsoft Word (Office suite), BUT is COMPLETELY FREE! I personally use a core mix of Express Scribe for the transcription (to control the audio/video file), with LibreWriter as the word processing software, which I have open as the top window while I type out the audio speech. ExpressScribe Pro includes the “universal hotkeys” feature which allows you to control the audio (for example, pressing F9 to start the audio and F4 to stop it), even though you have the LibreWriter page open as the top (focus) window. I then use click “launch WavePad” within ExpressScribe to open WavePad, import the audio file, and adjust any parts of the audio which require it at any point during the transcription and/or editing process.

With just these three powerful tools you can basically do ALL of the transcription and editing work you can handle, and do it in professional manner – keeping in mind that accuracy is the most important feature of quality transcription and editing work. In combination, these three tools maximize your potential accuracy, and ultimately enable you to work faster, make more money, and – most importantly – get maximum enjoyment out of the process.
Although I realize that this post has grown quite long, I believe the length has been justified to allow me to do justice to this important subject related to the transcription craft. My main hope is that the reader will derive some practical, actionable, and valuable tips and motivation to follow through on their own in utilizing the resources I have presented here to progress productively along the path to becoming a more seasoned, and wealthy, transcriptionist.

Please feel free to direct any questions and comments to :

TranscriptJunky@gmail.com

I always enjoy assisting readers in any feasible way possible, and I ESPECIALLY enjoy when people send emails offering gratitude for this blogging effort as a result of being able to use some of the information provided to solve a problem, or achieve a new milestone in their transcription career effort.

 —————————

Happy Transcribing.

@TranscriptJunky

Free Transcript Project #10

The Law Practice Doctor : Burnout Prevention and Stress Resilience
http://thelawpracticedoctor.com/podcastpauladavislaack/

Host : Sam Gaylord : http://thelawpracticedoctor.com ,
Twitter : ( https://twitter.com/sgaylordesq )

Guest : Paula Dais Laack (JD, MAPP) –  http://www.pauladavislaack.com

————————————————————————————————-

[intro music]

Announcer : Hello, and welcome to “The Law Practice Doctor”, the ONLY podcast dedicated to providing you the EASIEST, most PRACTICAL, and PROFITABLE ways to grow your firm and still have a life. Attorney Sam Gaylord is the founding partner of Gaylord Popp (http://www.gaylordpopp.com/ ), a prestigious law firm specializing in worker’s compensation, social security disability, and personal injury law. Using Sam’s unique gift for marketing and business development, Gaylord Popp  has seen dramatic growth by focusing on finding the right clients, delivering an outstanding experience for those clients, and seeing that their partners and associates enjoy a well-balanced home life. So if you’re looking for inspiration, techniques, and proven strategies on how to grow a more profitable and enjoyable law practice, you’ve come to the right place. Please welcome your host, the “law practice doctor” himself, Sam Gaylord.

Sam Gaylord : Welcome to another episode of “The Law Practice Doctor”, the only podcast designed to helping solo and small law firms succeed by providing the easiest, most practical solutions, to grow, practice, and still have a life. Today we are absolutely lucky and thrilled to have with us Paula Davis-Laack – I hope I pronounced that correctly, right?

Paula Davis-Laack : Yes.

Sam Gaylord : Okay. Perfect. Today we’re going to work on the “still having a life” portion of the “The Law Practice Doctor”. Paula Is a former practicing attorney, publisher, writer, and media contributor, on topics near and dear to, I think, EVERY practicing attorney’s heart, which are burnout prevention and stress resilience. She has [had] her articles appear in The Huffington Post, US News and World Report, and Psychology Today. And I know that she is the founder and CEO of the Davis Laack Stress & Resilience Institute (http://www.pauladavislaack.com/about/davis-laack-stress-resilience-institute/ ). We’re going to get through all of that, and where you can [get and] stay in touch with Paula throughout the course of our interview. First of all. Thank you for joining me today on “The Law Practice Doctor”.

Paula : You are welcome. Thanks so much for HAVING me, Sam .

Sam :  Absolutely my pleasure. So before we get into all of the great content which everybody can certainly find on your web site [at] : http://www.pauladavislaack.com/ . Is that correct?

Paula : That’s correct.

Sam :  Perfect…. So before we get into all of the good content, and what’s going on, I want to make sure that we get the opportunity to get to know you a little bit better. And as any good doctor knows, the idea of meeting a new patient the first time is to take a good history.  So without much ado, why don’t you give us a little more on your background, how you got to this point, and talk a little about the Stress and Resilience Institute.

Paula : Great. So, as you mentioned, I practiced law. I practiced for seven years, practicing commercial real estate law. And as we were briefly talking about, I practiced right when real estate was in a boom. It was all through the 2000s, before the economy crashed, and to say that I and my fellow real estate attorneys were busy is an UNDERSTATEMENT.

Sam :  Right.

Paula : And I found that I was burning out during the last year of my law practice, and I didn’t really know, kind of, WHAT I was going through. It was just all of a sudden feeling like, “Why can’t I handle stress? ” It seemed like I was able to before, [and] seems like everybody ELSE was able to, [so] what [was] it about ME all of a sudden that was making it so that I [didn’t] really feel like I [could] manage that. So I finally – after MULTIPLE trips to the HOSPITAL, and all kinds of other things – basically zeroed in on the fact that stress and burnout were causing all of the things that were going on.

[However] I actually LOOKED at still staying in the legal profession, because I felt like I came to a point where I really had to reevaluate  my career and [ask myself], “Is this REALLY something that I want to continue? Maybe I want to go into a different AREA or law? [Or] maybe a different area of the COMPANY I was at?” I decided that I was going to take a CHANCE.

My parents had owned a business for a LONG time, and so I grew up in a very entrepreneurial world. [I] had wanted to OWN my own business at SOME point, and thought, “Why not NOW? Let’s do it now.” And I just became interested trying to study and understand and learn more about stress, what causes burnout, and not only that, but what can you do to PREVENT it?

Sam :  Terrific. I know that as part of what you are doing  that there’s a coaching component to the materials, and other things, so I would THINK that you’ve had the opportunity to, sort of,  really ANALYZE, and get a good sense, or feeling, of what is CAUSING the stress, and then potentially how to avoid it.

Paula : Yes. It’s not only the COACHING component, – which is a little bit on the smaller side of what I do – but it’s also a lot from the training and workshops that I do. So really, in THAT sense, meeting the people and getting to have a better understanding of – ESPECIALLY in the LEGAL profession – what’s driving a lot of this.

Sam :  Okay. Good. So then there’s multiple ways in which you can provide assistance with these particular important topics, and we’ll get into that in terms of how people can have access to that. But in terms of diagnosing the problems, in terms of either stress or burnout – I mean, I can always say that, “Oh, I’m stressed.” But what are some of the SPECIFIC signs that you’re seeing , either in the workshops or the other types of [situations] where you’re dealing with people – what do you commonly see as,  sort of, SIMILAR diagnoses of problems, [or] similar things that you can,  sort of, recognize across the board?

Paula : Sure. I know that the research points to three very specific, big DIMENSIONS of burnout, and I see these three going on very consistently with the people who I coach, and teach, and talk to. The FIRST one is the sense of chronic, low energy.  So there’s this EXHAUSTION component going on. For me it [included]  having a hard time getting to sleep, having restless sleep, waking up not feeling refreshed, dreading Monday morning. Just feeling like I couldn’t get the energy to get myself motivated. One of the things to punctuate with that is that this is CHRONIC. So this is not like you wake up one day and you’re tired, or you’re having a tired week, or what-not. This is something that happens over a period of time. So there’s THAT piece.

The second piece is cynicism. I think of it as everyone and everything just irks you, or runs you the wrong way.  I always joke with people [that] it’s funny that when LAWYERS notice that you’re being too cynical, then you know you must REALLY be cynical.

Sam :  [laughter] You KNOW you have a problem WHEN ….

Paula : [laughter] Yeah. What this looked like for me – and what I hear similarly from [other] people – is [that] I was always, of course, very cordial with my clients, and always willing to help. But what would happen more and more is [that] privately, after conversations, I would think to myself, “Man, do you REALLY need my help with this? Didn’t we talk about this already? Isn’t this something YOU can fix? Why are you bringing me in on this?”

And, of course, I never SIAD that to anybody, but that’s how I felt. So that was the cynicism at work.

Then the last big dimension is something called “inefficacy”. So feeling like you’re not able to produce the results you were once able to. Like you’re trying, and it’s like, “Gosh, I’m, showing up and I’m really trying to get my work done, and get things done and out, but I just don’t have that same sense of connection, or engagement, with what I was doing.” So those are three big ones, for sure.

Sam :  Okay, so now that I’ve checked off ALL THREE [laughter]. Seriously [I assume that] when you’re talking to people, I’ve got to imagine – with a room full of lawyers – that there’s this, sort of, this “Ah-hah!” [where]  people are out there in the audience like, “Oh yeah. That’s me.” And there HAS to be sort of a sense of relief, that it’s like, “Hey, I’m NOT messed up. There may actually be something REAL out there?”

Paula : Yes. What’s funny, though, is that there’s still RELUCTANCE for somebody, or for a couple of people in the audience to raise their hand and say, “Yup! This sounds like me. I’m going through this.” Because I think there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to SAYING that you’re burned out.  [It seems that] the fear is that you might be perceived as not being TOUGH enough, not being able to handle it, maybe you’re not as serious about your career as these other people over here who seem to be able to handle their stress just fine. In reality, [though], LOTS of lawyers are having a hard time managing their stress, and I feel like if we could just TALK about it a little more it might be a lot easier for people to get some tools. Because often times, when I’m talking about this, people are definitely looking at each other and shaking their heads, and I often don’t get the full story until after I’m done speaking, and [then] someone will grab me at a reception or something and tell me a little bit about what’s going on, or they’ll contact me after the fact.

Sam :  Right. Well – and I have to say in all fairness, 1000% – I mean, how many bar association functions or events have you been at where we’re all sitting there saying the same thing, like “How’s it going?”, “Oh, it’s going good. How are you?, “Oh, I’m fine.” And nobody has a REAL conversation about what’s ACTUALLY  happening. Then if somebody was to say, “Oh my God. I’m dying, and this is going on…I don’t know what to do..” You’d be like, “Uh, why are you dumping on ME? I don’t know what the heck to do [to] help you.” Right? It’s like we’re almost INSTRUCTED or almost TRAINED to NOT talk about it.

Paula : Exactly, and I’ve done a lot of work with soldiers. My post-graduate training for my master’s degree – once  I stopped my law practice and went back to school [to] get] my master’s degree in something called “Applied Positive Psychology” – my post-graduate training was spent teaching drill sergeants, and other soldiers, stress management and resilience-building skills. So one of their sayings is, “Suck it up and drive on!” And I feel like there’s a “Suck it up and drive on!” mentality in the legal profession, and until we can start talking about the fact that, “Yeah. I’m going home and having three beers and seventeen chocolate chip cookies every night just to try and cope with the stress of what is going on”, I think it’s going to be a struggle to make headway with the issue.

Sam :  Nope. I couldn’t agree more. Okay. So now that we’re identified, or diagnosed, some of the issues and problems that you typically see, let’s get to the meat of the things. How can we FIX some of this stuff?

Paula : Mmm…Hmm.  So I’ve basically [taken] the best of what we know about stress – the latest and greatest – and mixed that with the best of what we know about how to help somebody BUILD their RESILIENCE. That’s really ultimately what I a trained in. [That] is, the SOLUTION side of it. How do we build our resilience? I define resilience as “a person’s capacity for stress-related GROWTH”.  So how can you get GOOD at stress? How can I make you better at stress so that you’re GROWING from it, instead of CRUMBLING from it.

So I just created a little sub-category of resilience called “stress resilience”. So how can I help make people better at stress? So there are FIVE big categories that I have come up with in my little model here. The first one is something that I just call “Practice Safe Stress” [laughter]. It’s really just a combination of incorporating more positive emotions into your diet, incorporating a couple of very key MINDFULNESS strategies and techniques. Then just generally figuring out a different mindset when it comes to stress, and there’s some really cool research around how to do that.

Sam :  Okay.

Paula : The second component is just building more motivation,  engagement, and energy. We know that a big part of what causes burnout is that you’re “unplugging”, as I call it, from the things that give you a lot of energy, and vitality, and zest, and enthusiasm. So we have to figure out how to get you plugged back in.

Sam :  Mmm…Hmm.

Paula : The third component  [is what I call] being a “FAT” thinker. So it’s “Flexible, Accurate, and Thorough” in your thinking. It’s figuring out how to turn that inner critic in your head into your “inner coach”. So how do you think better under stress, pressure and challenge?

Sam :  Okay.

Paula : The fourth component is just maintaining high quality connections with other people. So having really solid relationships is a great way to build resilience. And the last one is something I call “Improve your meaning quotient”. So, what are the sources of meaning in your life? What’s giving you meaning at WORK, [and] HOME? I know these are not conversations that lawyers often have [laughter], especially about, “What’s giving me meaning at work?””

Sam :  Right, and instantly I’m [thinking], “Oh, great! We’ve got “warm fuzzies”, and we’re going to be doing woo-woo in the office, and burning incense, right?

Paula : [laughter] Yeah right. Now that would be the case if I didn’t have TRUCKLOADS of evidence, and data, and research supporting how GREAT a lot of these tools are. So believe me, I am not a “woo-woo, warm and fuzzy” [laughter].

Sam :  [laughter] No, and I am just teasing you.

Paula : Of course.

Sam :  But right. What is it? The little box of feng shui sand in my thing, with the little rake, and all the other things, right?

Paula : Sing a lot of “Koom-ba-ya” [to get focused?]

Sam :  There you go. Terrific. Well there [are] a couple of things that I really want to try and highlight, because I think they’re really critical, [and they’re] certainly some of the things that I practice, or try to as best as possible.  The first one I actually like [is] that “Practice Safe Stress”. But from what I was gathering from what you were saying it really does talk, to me, about somebody’s mindset. That [is] that if you have more of a GRATITUDE thought process, or allow yourself to be grateful, and express that, kind of, gratitude – even if it’s just out loud, to yourself – saying, “Today I’m grateful for the fact that the sun is out, [and] that my wife and kids are having a good time at the Jersey shore today.” At least VERBALIZE some of those things POSITIVE though processes, that that actually provides – for ME anyway – some help.

Paula : Spot on! And I think it’s EVEN MORE important for lawyers, because we are trained pessimistic thinkers. We are trained to see : What could go wrong? Who’s responsible? Who’s at fault? Where’s the bad thing? What’s the problem in the contract lurking that I have to find so that my client doesn’t get sued? That’s just how we’re trained. So we OVER-EXPERIENCE pessimistic thinking, and so we also then over-experience a lot of negative emotions. We over-experience a lot of anxiety, anger between us and opposing counsel, frustration, [and] all of those things. So what THIS is meant to do is just, sort of, tip the scales at least a LITTLE BIT in the other direction, so that we can at least have a little bit more of some of that other stuff in our diet.

You mentioned gratitude, and gratitude is, sort of, the granddaddy of positive emotions, in my opinion. The research shows that when you have enough, or start to take that stance of incorporating gratitude into your life, you see greater life satisfaction, people are more productive, they sleep better, they’re less depressed, they have fewer physical symptoms in terms of colds, headaches, and fewer biomarkers for inflammation. So there are just these great BENEFITS that come from just introducing little things like gratitude.

Sam :  Sure. I also – and again this is just  from my own personal experiences – have found that even doing SMALL things, which may NOT – in the grand scheme of things – SEEM important, but where, like for example, you hold the door for somebody and make eye contact and say “Thank you”, or, “Have a nice day.”, as silly or simple as it may seems, to me it’s a way of saying, “Look. I’m trying to connect.”, and it’s as simple as just wishing [someone] a good day, or holding the umbrella for somebody, [and] silly things like that. But they really provide that, sort of, BOOST to whatever it is that makes you feel better, and eve n if it’s just a LITTLE bit, it makes you FEEL better.

Paula : Yeah. It really is THAT SIMPLE. I think we’ve gotten away from – especially in our “hustle and bustle, 24/7, always on busy, law firms and workplaces” that simple things like when your assistant hands you a redline of a document that he or she just did, say, “Thank you.” Actually look up from your computer, or iPhone, and say, “Thank you. I appreciate what you just did.” I mean, something that takes five seconds is really something that can have a lot of feedback.

One of the things that I talk about, too, is something called the “Ten-Five Rule”. So if you’re within 10 feet of somebody, actually look them in the eye and give them a nice little smile, and if you’re within five feet of somebody, actually say hello to them.

Sam :  [laughter]

Paula : Yet it’s easy to SAY, but it’s not necessarily easy to DO, because we’re so stuck to our devices, and we’re thinking about the court case that we have to deal with later on this afternoon, and so we’re not PRESENT often times.

Sam :  Well, and there’s the phrase. I think it was Brendan Burchard, but I was at a conference, and the discussion was that we are becoming a society so focused on always looking forward into the future that we’re really forgetting about trying to enjoy the moments that we’re IN, and not having an appreciation for how well things are going RIGHT NOW as you’re going through them. And the more you can DO that, [to] BE PRESENT, and  if you’re at a baseball or soccer game for your kid, NOT be on your device checking email, but actually be present and involved and engaged with that particular moment [which] provides you with a better sense of self.

Paula : Oh, without question. And I think you said it perfectly, and that’s the challenge. When you’re watching your kid’s ballgame, can you actually sit there and focus on the game for 45 minutes or an hour that the game is going on WITHOUT having seventeen side conversations, and looking at your phone every three minutes, and slipping out to make a call that you have to make?

People FEEL that. I had a boss – one of the only boss/partner folks who I worked with – who was SO good at this. So whenever I went into his office and had a question, or needed to talk to him about something, he would actually shut the lid of his laptop and actually look at me and listen to me, instead of typing and texting and all of the other things.  So I really, actually felt heard and listened to, and it built a really solid relationship between the two of us.

Sam :  Yup. No doubt. Then that goes down to the FOURTH item, which is the connection with people. You were talking about connections , and as you were saying it I immediately think [about] my family – my wife and kids – but then I start thinking of all of my friends – my non-lawyer [and] lawyer friends – and I always try and think of when I’m doing things during the course of the day, whatever it may be – where I’ll read an article, or see something – and think, “Hey. John might really like that. Why don’t I print that out and send it to John?” So it becomes a situation where I try and continue to keep that connection going so that I feel better.

Paula : Absolutely. And, you know, relationships take work. They’re, kind of, a living thing that has to actually be nurtured if you want it to continue to stay strong and go in the right direction. So I think that’s a mistake that sometimes lawyers make – especially with our FAMILY members – because we get so focused on work and we think, “Ah yes! My wife or husband, or significant other, and my kids are always going to be there, and they’re [people] I can just ignore for a little while, and not spend as much time with.” And I think really, at the end of the day, comes back to bite you on some level.

Sam :  Oh, no doubt. Again, from my own personal experience, [when I was growing up] my father was always traveling for business, was never around, didn’t get to the games and all of the other stuff, was always working , and we understood what it was all about. But that was one of the [reasons] why I left a big firm and went and set up my own law firm, because I swore to myself forever ago that if I were going to start a family that I was going to have the ability to go to the school events, and teacher things, and sporting activities, and concerts, and all of the other things. I wasn’t going to miss ANY of that.  I think that experience then creates the experience that I pass forward to MY children.

Paula : Absolutely. And you know, quite honestly, in thinking about whether to stay in the legal profession or start my own business, one of the things that I thought about too was the fact that MY parents were always [there] – my brother and I each played three sports, so we were constantly playing SOMETHING during the school year. And having your own business DOES give you a measure of autonomy and flexibility to be able to say, “Yup, sorry. I really AM leaving at 4:30pm today to see my kid’s game.”  That was appealing to me. I saw that, and it made an impact.

Sam :   Right. So these tools that you’ve now discussed, I would say, “Okay. So now we’ve been able to IDENTIFY some of the things that you can say, “Yeah, I’m falling into that category.”” Now those are some of the TOOLS that you can say, “Okay. If we do a FEW of these things…” One of the thing that I like to try and do as part of “The Law Practice Doctor” is to say, “If tomorrow I open the book to page one, and I started in the top left-hand corner, by the time I got to the end of page twenty [of] chapter one I would know the first two or three steps to do.” Is there something that you can [advise, such as] “Okay. You really want to try and work on THIS first, THIS second, [and] THIS third, as part of taking those tools and putting them into practice”?

Paula : That’s a great question.  Thinking back to the three big dimensions of burnout that we talked about, with the exhaustion and cynicism and inefficacy, I think the great place to start is to start to chip away at ALL THREE of those things. So one of the easiest things you can do is start to BUILD that sense of energy, and get that sense of energy back. One of the things that I do with folks is have everybody do [what I call] an “energy audit”. So I actually have them track, “How are you spending your energy – not your time – both AT WORK and OUTSIDE of work?” Then I have people assign percentages to each of the categories, and it’s amazing how many people go, “Whoa! I’m spending a TON of time – like 60% of my time – on things that drain my energy, both AT work and OUTSIDE of work.”  So then the question becomes, “Okay. What can you start to DO to get some of that back? Can you delegate things? If you have to deal with it then you have to deal with it, but start thinking about them. What can you offload? What can you change? What can you modify, to get a little bit of that energy reserve back?” Because we can’t go and go and go and go. It’s unsustainable, without taking some sort of a break.

Sam : Okay. So then what’s next?

Paula : Then I think the part we were talking about with the positive emotion piece. [That is] just injecting more little moments of positive emotions on some level during the day is NOT ONLY going to give you energy, but it’s also going to combat that cynicism piece. We’re going to start to swing the pendulum back in the other direction.  So we talked about the importance of gratitude, and just saying, “Thank You”. There’s [another] skill that I teach all of the time, and it’s something called “Find the good stuff.” Typically people do it at the end of the day. A lot of people tell me that they do it in the car when they’re leaving work and going home. They just think about a couple of good things that happened during the day, and why those things were important to them. We know that people who do that SIMPLE activity on regular basis report better sleep, less depression, better relationships, and higher life satisfaction.

Sam :  That’s great.

Paula : It was actually really interesting. I was teaching this skill to some law students that I have, and I think it’s because of just doing this for five minutes in the evening before I go to bed.

Sam :  Right. Neat.  It’s funny, because one of the thing in terms of energy, [is] I recently attended Tony Robbins’ “Business Mastery” out in Las Vegas. It’s an event where you’re in a conference room for the better part of anywhere from  15 to 17 hours [on] any given day. You’re there, and it’s like 12 o’clock at night, and you still have all of these people jumping up and down in a constant form of energy. And one of the things he always talks about is “being in state”. So just thinking to yourself, “I AM going to succeed. I WILL do better. This is not going to BREAK me.” Creating those kinds of MENTAL STATES really generates that kind of energy that I think you’re talking about.

Paula : Yeah, absolutely. And you can do that very intentionally.

Sam :  Yeah. And it’s not just MENTAL either. It’s [also] PHYSICAL. For example, there are times during MY day where I’ll get up and actually work standing up. I’ll make phone calls, but I’ll actually be walking back and forth in my office while I’ve got a headset on, because it’s a change of direction [in getting]  the blood flow and motion going. I’m a big Red Sox fan, so I’ve got a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. So I’m walking up and down and I’m just grinding away at the bottom of the bat. But it makes me FEEL good. It’s like [getting] the energy going, get some pumping going, or music, or any kind of thing that,  sort of, changes you mental state to [help] make you feel better, gives you that energy to get through the day.

Paula : Absolutely. And what you’re actually giving examples of are {pieces of research] I talk about which points to the fact that we need to be taking BREAKS while we’re at work, during our day, every 90 to 120 minutes, to stay in peak performance. So when I cite that research to folks a lot of them either just roll their eyes, or they outright LAUGH, because not many people are, with any sort of regularity, taking a break every 90 to 120 minutes. And really what it is is doing EXACTLY what you were just talking about. [It’s] grabbing the Louisville Slugger and just walking back and forth, just so you can think.  It switches the channel of your brain for just a little bit. It’s walking to grab a cup of coffee. It’s going next door to the next office to say,  ”HI.” It’s the same type of listening to music [type] strategies that you were talking about.

Sam :  Yeah, and it’s interesting because the articles that I’ve read [suggest] LESS than that. They [recommend that] out of every hour you really want to try and work 45 to 50 minutes and then take that 10 minute break, [or] whatever it may be, and refresh. Then actually, what I’ve started to do – although I’m trying to get better at it – is to keep a CLOCK on my desk – a countdown clock – so if I say, “Okay. I’m going to work for 45 minutes on THIS.”, then try to block that time to just work on that, and at the end of 45 minutes –done or NOT – “Okay. Now it’s on to the next thing.” I’ve actually found that it becomes MORE PRODUCTIVE. It’s almost like you’re PACING yourself, or RACING yourself, to try and get done as much as you can in that project for that set period of time.

Paula : Yes, and you’re also FOCUSING yourself as well., which is important. What you’re doing is an example of “chunking”. Chunking is a really great strategy to help people e more productive, and manage their time better. Because one of the problems that we have is that we, sort of, unintentionally come into the office and maybe check a couple of emails, and then we see an email [where] we go, “Oh, I have to address this right away!” Then that takes us in one direction. I’m reading a great book called “Two Awesome Hours” (http://www.amazon.com/Two-Awesome-Hours-Science-Based-Strategies/dp/0062326112 ), and one of the things that the author talks about are the decision points that we have when we’re DONE with a project, and how important it is to be really INTENTIONAL, when we have those pauses,  to make the decision points, because you might only get a FEW of them, really, during the day. [It’s important] to say, “Okay. I’m done with this project, and I’m now going to focus on THIS.”

Sam :  Yup. And email is a perfect example, where if you come in with a PLAN, and then you start checking email, you’ve now immediately thrown out what’s important to you, and now you’re basically being reactive to whatever everybody else’s agenda is, and you’ve lost your own agenda.

Paula : Absolutely.  Stephen Covet [in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People]( https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits.php ), I believe, is the one who talked about distinguishing the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important, and we’re making EVERYTHING urgent and important, and NOT everything is.

Sam :  Yup. Absolutely. That’s 1000% right. Okay. So now the last question I have in terms of what we’ve been talking about is, have you seen a scenario where things are just so bad that you have to take the patient into the emergency room and chop off the arm to save the patient, in terms of all of these burnout and stress thing?

Paula : [laughter] That’s actually what happened to ME! I landed in the emergency room a few times just with various stress-related ailments and illness and things that had gotten a little out of control. So I DEFINITELY DO NOT want people to get to that point.  So there’s a number of different tools and strategies that I can work with folks on. A lot of people come to me and they’re like, “I DON’T want to LEAVE my job? Can I do something and not have to leave my job?” And leaving your job is NOT the answer for everybody. In fact, it’s not the answer for MOST people. I’m probably the exception to the rule. So anytime I’m able to help people AT LEAST work through the process of INTENTIONALLY making their NEXT STEP is something that gives me a lot of joy.

Sam :  Terrific. Excellent. Well listen, I want to thank you. It has been AWESOME, and I’m sure [that] my audience has gotten as much out of this as I did. I now have two full pages of notes on a yellow pad which I’m going to convert into my own diary. [So] I did want to say thank you. I absolutely appreciate you’re having taken the time to join us today on “The Law Practice Doctor”. And before I let you go, if somebody is interested in getting more information about what it is that you’re doing, and how they can hopefully reduce their stress and prevent burnout, how is it that they [can] get in touch with you? What’s the best way to contact you and get that that great information?

Paula : Sure. So I have lots of resources on my web site, which is as you mentioned earlier : http://www.pauladavislaack.com . It [presents] all of my speaking engagement type topics, my workshops and training programs and my one-on-one coaching. Then if anyone wants to email me directly it’s just paula@pauladavislaack.com .

Sam :  And just so everybody knows, it’s Paula Davis LAAck (with TWO “A”s).

Paula : Thank you.

Sam :  Oh, my pleasure. Listen, it’s been great. Thank you very much for joining me, and I just want to say [that] I hope everybody – and I’m sure they did – got as much  out of this as I did. I want to thank you for joining us on “The Law Practice Doctor”, the only podcast designed to helping solo and small law firms succeed by providing the easiest [and] most practical advice to grow a practice and still have a life. Today we were privileged to have with us Paula Davis Laack talking to us about burning out and preventing stress and burnout, and all those good things. Definitely please try and go to her web site. There’s some GREAT information [at] : http://www.pauladavislaack.com . Thanks again Paula.

Paula : Thanks so much Sam.

[outro music]

Announcer : You’ve been listening to “The Law Practice Doctor” podcast. “The Law Practice Doctor” features Sam Gaylord’s unique gift for marketing and business development, each week showing you the EASIEST, most PRACTICAL, and PROFITABLE ways to grow your firm AND STILL have a life. To make sure you don’t miss a single business-building show, SUBSCRIBE to this podcast at http://www.thelawpracticedoctor.com . If you know OTHER attorneys who want EASY, PRACTICAL, and PROFITABLE ways to grow their firm and STILL have a life, please tell them about “The Law Practice Doctor” podcast. To learn more about Sam, and how he can help YOU grow YOUR law firm, please visit http://www.thelawpracticedoctor.com . Now, go and implement what you’ve learned, and we’ll see you next week for MORE of “The Law Practice Doctor”.

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Transcription service provided by : http://www.diaryofafreelancetranscriptionist.com

Free Transcript Project – #9

 

Morgan MacDonald : Hello. Welcome to the replay. I’m out in the world! I’m not in my office. This is really unusual for my Scopes. I am having a FUN Friday. I went and got my hair done, [and] when out for lunch, [and have been] doing some work while out and about, and I was like, “Well, I’ll be like the COOL Scopers. I’ll Scope with something SCENIC in the background.” Although there’s traffic in the background. I apologize. I hope that the little headset mic helps with that.

 

BlueSparkCol ( https://twitter.com/CourtneyOLIN ) : Nice color.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Thanks Courtney. Yup, [it’s] “rocker chick red” right now. It fades after a couple of days, but this is what it looks like fresh out of the salon [laughter]… Yeah. So today we are talking [about] transcription,  because there are some really cool ways that you can use transcription in your WRITING and your BUSINESS.

 

So as you guys are coming in, say “Hi!”… Courtney is here, I know. Glad to have you… Other people, as you’re joining, let me know what you NAME is, where you’re from, [and] what you WRITE.. I love to talk about what you write, because people write the coolest stuff. I mean, I’ve got people in here who write travel blogs, [and] people who write dissertations on the World Trade Organization. I mean, you guys write about everything.

 

Carlos Ramirez ( https://twitter.com/caramirezga ) :Hola. Saludos desde Columbia.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Hello from Columbia. Saludos…

 

Gilbert Maldonado ( https://twitter.com/gmaldonado59 ) : Hi. I’m Gilbert from Sugarland.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Hi Gilbert from Sugarlane. Hey! You’re just like down the road [laughter] . I’m in Houston… [If you guys caught my Scope] yesterday I was reading my daughter’s first book, which she wrote. Well, my nanny helped her write it. It was in Spanish, and I was reading it in Spanish. ( http://katch.me/morgangmac/v/ba292fed-8a57-33a2-8c51-957e2674054f ) So if any of you actually speak Spanish I’m sure you were laughing at me. It’s still on the replay if you want to catch it. But it was a book about a monster eating a family, and my daughter did the illustration. It was funny.

   

Gilbert Maldonado ( https://twitter.com/gmaldonado59 ):  I do [live near Houston]

 

Morgan MacDonald : …You DO live near Houston? Well, very cool. If we ever have a Houston meetup we’ll get in touch… Alrighty guys. Are you ready to hear how transcription can help you in your writing and your business? I’ve got THREE ways I’d like to talk about today. The first is to help you get UNSTUCK in your writing…

 

…Oh, hold on. Pause. Wait a second. I’ve got to do the intro. You don’t even know who I am?  I am Morgan Gist MacDonald. I’m a writing coach, an editor, and author. I run my business and my blog out of http://www.paperravenbooks.com .

 

BlueSparkCol ( https://twitter.com/CourtneyOLIN ) : Haha.

 

Morgan MacDonald : …I know. I forget. Every day I’m like, “I’m on Periscope, and everybody knows me.” Yáll DO NOT necessarily know me [laughter] …. I DO Scope every day about writing, around the lunchtime hour, [to] give you guys a little writing inspiration, [and] some tools and tricks, then hopefully you can use [the rest of] your lunch hour to do some WRITING – or later [in the] day if you don’t have the LUXURY of a lunch hour.

 

All right. So back to transcription. If you find yourself staring at a blank page, and you’re like, “I need to write on this THING, and I don’t really know what to write, but I know that there’s something IN me that I’m trying to get out, but I’m STUCK.” Start TALKING.    

 

Gilbert Maldonado ( https://twitter.com/gmaldonado59 ) : I’m a musician, so this will help with my writing.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Gilbert [says], “I’m a musician, so this will help with [my] writing.”… Yes. It’s interesting how different brains operate differently. So SOME of us want to use writing as a tool to GROW our platform, or BUSINESS, or whatever. But writing doesn’t necessarily come super NATURALLY. Some of us are writers, and it USUALLY comes naturally, but we still get stuck sometimes. So CHANGING the way in which you try to get the words out helps, and TALKING can often be that thing that dislodges the words. So once you start talking you’re just coming at the SAME concept from a different angle.

 

So what you can do is – [since] most Smartphones have a voice memo app – you can just start recording. Talk to YOURSELF. Explain to yourself WHY you’re having a hard time with this writing. Explain to yourself what it is that you’re REALLY trying to say. Just, kind of, talk it out in a really casual way, and you’ll find that if you give yourself at least five minutes with this “talking it out” [method] you will hit on a NUGGET. You will hit on an idea that you had not come upon before, and [now] you have it RECORDED.

 

So once you get to the point where you feel like, “Okay. I’ve, kind of, talked this through. I’ve got some good ideas.” Now that [you’ve] got it recorded, GO BACK and find those “Ah-hah!” moments, and listen to them AGAIN. [Then] type out the phrases that you were using. If there was something that really CAUGHT you, type those [few] words, and [try to figure out] why those [few] words [meant] so much to you?

 

KandyCoatedModel ( https://twitter.com/Kandyapple504 ) : Good tip.

 

Morgan MacDonald : …Thanks “KandyApple”. I appreciate it… So WHY do those [few] words mean something to you, and, kind of, UNPACK it. You’ll find that as you get a few [more] steps into the writing [the ideas] will come a little bit more, a little bit more, [and] a little bit more.

 

Gilbert Maldonado ( https://twitter.com/gmaldonado59 ) : Awesome.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Yes, Gilbert. Awesome. You’re welcome… And if you guys are new to Periscope, if you like what you’re hearing just tap that screen, and that sends hearts up, and that lets me know that you are loving this. The comments do too. So comments and hearts are awesome. Thank you.

 

All right  So that’s tip number one : get unstuck… Oh, there are the hearts! Thanks… Okay. Number two : transcription helps you write FASTER. This is a trick that people are starting to use more and more, but it will be interesting to see how it changes the writing world. This is ESPECIALLY helpful if you’re on the GO a lot. If you’re not necessarily sitting right in front of your laptop or desktop for long periods of time, you can DICTATE blogs, or articles, or even CHAPTERS of a book, into a dictation SOFTWARE. Actually, I [take] Scope Notes, which are notes that I take during a Scope – or actually right BEFORE a Scope – so that YOU don’t HAVE to take notes, and I post them on my blog. I will tell you where those are in just a second… Thanks for all of those blue hearts [laughter] Gilbert. Thank you…

 

Okay. So you talk into a dictation software while you’re on the go. [In] that way you can capture those ideas as you’re going. And if you are a talker ANYWAY, this is a perfect way to get that content OUT, so that you can process it. Then – and this is important though – you have to set aside specific time LATER so that you can review the transcript that the dictation software gives you. So you’ll either have to EDIT, or RE-WRITE that transcript, BUT it gives you a HUGE step forward in your writing. When you sit down to write you’re not staring at a BLANK PAGE, you’re staring at some idea that you’ve already talked through, right? So that’s a really good way.

 

In my Scope Notes I give you some APPS that you can look at. Dragon Dictation is a really popular one for IOS, as is Voice Assistant, and then Evernote. If you follow me on YouTube you know that I LOVE Evernote. Evernote also has a dictation component.

 

BlueSparkCol ( https://twitter.com/CourtneyOLIN ) : Do you have to buy a dictation device, or is it an app?

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Courtney [asks], “Do you have to buy a dictation device, or is it an app?”… They’re apps. There are some really great apps. Dragon Dictation is the one that I hear the most about. So they’re [all] in the Scope Notes, and I posted links for you too, so you can go get those.

 

Lilia ( https://twitter.com/L610 ) : Good tip. Saludos desde Peru!.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … “Good tip. Saludos… Peru.”.Nice…. I went to Santiago, Chile for one weekend. It was beautiful. [irrelevant comment] I have not been to Peru. My sister went to, not Lima… I’ll think of it and let you know. But I WANT to go to Peru.

 

Gilbert Maldonado ( https://twitter.com/gmaldonado59 ) : Does it help to to take a little break to come back to it with a clear mind?

 

Morgan MacDonald : …[Gilbert asks], “Does it help to to take a little break to come back to it with a clear mind?” … You don’t HAVE to wait. Actually, I think [that] the transition between talking and writing is enough of a GEAR SHIFT in itself. You CAN take a break, but I don’t think it’s mandatory. If you’re in a groove, and you’ve been talking it out, go straight into writing, and ride that energy. I will say [that] when you are WRITING, and you are really STUCK, don’t try to push through that writing, [but] take a break and then come back to writing. But if you’re going to switch gears into talking I think that’s ENOUGH of a shift that you can transition straight from writing to talking and talking to writing. But that’s something that you’ve got to experiment with.

 

Okay. So number one was : transcription can help you get UNSTUCK. If you talk it out you might be able to uncover what it is that you’re really trying to say.

 

Gilbert Maldonado ( https://twitter.com/gmaldonado59 ) : Thanks.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Yeah, sure. You’re welcome….

 

Ron Estrada (https://twitter.com/RonEstrada ) : Hi Morgan!

 

Morgan MacDonald : …Hey Ron! Nice to see you… Number two : it helps you write faster. [Finally], number three – and this is ESPECIALLY important for [those of] you who are starting BUSINESSES, or trying to build PLATFORMS for your writing – transcription helps you to REPURPOSE your audio or video content into SEO [strategic] transcripts.

 

Okay. So let me explain what this is. If you are a writer – and I assume [that] if you are on this Periscope that you ARE a writer – and you are SERIOUS about creating a platform that impacts readers AND brings you in some money – because that is a really nice part of building a platform – you need to do more than just write… Thanks for sharing on Twitter, Ron… You need to be creating CONTENT on OTHER platforms; not just your blog, not just your books, [and] not just your articles that you send to magazines, or journals, or whatever. The written stuff is GREAT, but you’ve got to take it UP a level, and you’ve got to go to Periscope, or podcasting, or YouTube, to get the message out in different ways, because people are consuming content in a VARIETY of ways, depending on what fits their lifestyle. Some people like YouTube. Some people like Periscope. Some people like podcasts. Some people like [simply] reading. So transcription helps BRIDGE that gap.

 

You [may] have a lot of WRITING content, but once you start producing audio and video content then you [should] get a transcriber. This is where I recommend that you actually bring someone in to do the transcription FOR you. The Dragon Dictation software and stuff is great if it’s for YOUR OWN purposes, [for instance] if you are going to go back and edit or rewrite that stuff. But if you are trying to create a WORKFLOW, where you are creating content and then are [using] the transcriptions on your web site to build your platform, bring in a transcriber, because otherwise you’re NEVER going to be able to transcribe [all the content] yourself.

 

Ron Estrada (https://twitter.com/RonEstrada ) : Different age groups hang out in different social media sites.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Ron [says], “Different age groups hang out in different social media sites.”… That is very true. [irrelevant comment] …Hi Chivas! Thanks for joining… Bring in a transcriber to take over content for you, because as a WRITER you’re producing WRITTEN content. As a platform-builder you’re now producing audio and video content, and it’s a LOT of work. But your MOST IMPORTANT value-added contribution is your writing, your content that you’re bringing to the table…. So I do not want you wasting time transcribing your own stuff to put it out there.

 

You bring in a transcriber who does this PROFESSIONALLY. They know all of these tips and tricks for doing it FAST. They have all of these keyboard shortcuts, and they know how to make it [look and] sound smooth and readable. There are TWO [MAIN] benefits to transcription.

 

Ron Estrada (https://twitter.com/RonEstrada ) : Yes! Time consuming

 

Morgan MacDonald : …Ron, yes. Time consuming… ONE is that you are allowing people who like to consume written content to continue to consume [your] content in a written form. So if they know [that] you’re producing podcasts, and Periscope videos, and YouTube videos, but they LIKE the written stuff, they know [that they can] go straight to those transcripts and digest [the content] the way that I like to. … Thank you Chivas. Thanks for those hearts. I appreciate it.

 

[The second major benefit] is [related to] SEO, “search engine optimization”. If you’ve spend [even just] three days in [any] online marketing business you know that search engine optimization is HUGE. This means that, [for example], I am a writing coach and editor When someone goes into Google and searches [for] “writing coach”, or “editor”, or “writing help”, I want MY name to pop up in that Google search, right? That’s how my business finds new clients. That’s one of the avenues. If you are a writer of a particular genre, when someone types in “science fantasy books”, or whatever your particular niche genre is, you want YOUR name and web site to pop up. The ONLY way that happens is if Google sees lots of those KEYWORDS in your content. So imagine [that since] you are producing Periscopes, and YouTube videos, and podcasts, and you’re using those words over and over again – how many times do you think I’ve used [the word] “writing” in this Periscope broadcast. Like a trillion. Not really. Like 30 probably. But when my [transcriber] guy Frank ( https://twitter.com/TranscriptJunky ) transcribes it for me, we’re going to put it up on my web site, and Google is going to see, “Ah! [These] words “writing”, “editing”, “coach”, etc. keeps popping up.”, and [my site] is going to rank higher and higher. That’s how SEO works, in layman terms. I am NOT a professional in SEO, but that’s just what I’ve picked up from my time running a small business.

 

So you get yourself a transcriber. I [can] give you the contact information for my guy Frank. He’s awesome. He does all of my transcripts for Periscope.

 

Ron Estrada (https://twitter.com/RonEstrada ) : Gotto go, Morgan. I’ll put this on my website.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Ron says, “Gotto go, Morgan. I’ll put this on my website.”… Thanks you Ron. You know there are Scope Notes, so go check those out, and there will be transcripts soon. So let me flip you around. I’m actually going to show you where I keep my Scope Notes on my web site, and you can always find these, because you [probably] don’t have TIME to take notes.

 

So to recap, three ways you can use transcription in your writing. One is to get unstuck. If you’re staring at a blank screen, and you don’t know what to write next, sometimes talking it out is the BEST way.

 

Gilbert Maldonado ( https://twitter.com/gmaldonado59 ) : I have to go. Thank you so much for the info… Your awesome!

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Thanks Gilbert. Thanks for letting me know… Sometimes talking it out is the BEST way. If you RECORD it, you can always go back and find those “Ah-hah!””moments – those key phrases – that meant something to you, and you can use those as your “starting block” for getting back into your writing. Number two is : to write FASTER. So if writing is really long and slow process for you maybe talking it into a dictation software will be helpful and faster. BUT that requires that you set aside some specific time to REVISIT that transcript and either edit it, or rewrite it. Number three is : to grow your platform or business, and that is by getting on these Periscope, YouTube, [and/or] podcast [platforms], doing this audio and video content, and then having someone transcribe it so that your readers will have a chance to READ it – if they like to do that – and [for SEO] Google will love you.

 

Okay. Let me flip you around really quick and show you something.

 

[change of camera view to computer screen]

 

Alrighty. This is my web site, where I post all good things : http://www.paperravenbooks.com I’m in a bit of a business transition, so it still says “editing”  down there. But the web site [page for the Scopes] is http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope . If you scroll down this [page] you’ll see all of the “replays”… So those are [some] of the replays, but you see that THIS week I haven’t gotten to upload those yet. [For THIS episode], “Üsing Transcription In Your Writing And Your Business” , if you click “Scope Notes” it opens up my Evernote file where I was taking notes. So it has all of this stuff now for you, plus links.

 

Meghan Diez ( https://twitter.com/meghan017 ) : I love your hair.

 

Morgan MacDonald : …Thanks Megan. [I’m] glad you like it… But you also see – [although] these are not live yet – I’ve got “transcripts” down here. That means, if you like to consume Periscopes through TRANSCRIPTS instead you can go find the transcripts for my Scopes. Google loves my transcripts. That’s the point. Okay. Here’s the Scope Notes. Then,  [as you] can see, there’s my transcriber’s web site there ( http://www.diaryofafreelancetranscriptionist.com ), and then here’s some apps if you are interested in using them. I’ve got links to those too.

 

[change of camera to face view]

 

Alrighty guys. I hope [this info is] helpful, and I hope you have a good Friday afternoon, and a good weekend. I am sending you lots of positive energy and vibes for writing. Do some good work. Get some word count on there. If you were watching yesterday you know that you need to TRACK your word count.   

 

Gilbert Maldonado ( https://twitter.com/gmaldonado59 ) : Looks good.. Gotta go.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … You have to go Gilbert. Yup. Thank you… I might Scope a little bit this weekend, but definitely on Monday we’re going to come back [and] do some more writing Scopes. So hit the little “Peri Guy” down there [to] follow, and that way you will catch the next scope on writing, and we’ll get you writing.

 

All right, everyone… Feel free to hit me up on Twitter over the weekend [at] @morgangmac ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac ) , and I will catch you next for a writing Scope. Alrighty. Bye.

 

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Transcription service provided by : http://www.diaryofafreelancetranscriptionist.com