Discover Your Design and Lead with Purpose

Episode 32 with Dr. Anthony J. Marchese

“Don’t you wish that babies came with owner’s manuals?!” We’ve all wish we could understand our kids, loved ones, friends and coworkers better at one time or another. But what about understanding ourselves? Maybe it’s self-awareness that can help us know what direction to go in life and how to communicate with others. In this interview, I talk with Dr. Anthony J. Marchese about how discovering our design helps us live a life of significance.

Dr. Anthony J. Marchese has over twenty years of leadership experience in corporations, universities, and churches. He is the author of DESIGN: An Owner’s Manual for Learning, Living, and Leading published by WestBow Press. Marchese is a corporate trainer, professor, and avid public communicator.

Find Dr. Marchese’s book here DESIGN: An Owner’s Manuel for Learning, Living, and Leading with Purpose

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Interview Transcript

Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have on the line, Dr. Tony Marchese. He has written a book, a fabulous book called Design: An Owner’s Manual for Learning, Living, and Leading with Purpose.

Andrea:   I’m so glad to have you on the podcast today, Tony!

Dr. Tony Marchese: Oh it’s great to be here, Andrea. Thank you very much for the invitation.

Andrea: Yeah, and it’s particularly fun because we have a mutual friend. I had Doug Walters on the podcast a few episodes ago and he and you are actually working together. Can you explain what’s your relationship is just briefly?

Dr. Tony Marchese: Sure. Several years ago, Doug and I worked for a university in Charleston, West Virginia. He was the Dean of Students and I was the Assistant Dean of Students and then I ended up going over to the academic side. But we remain friends, and for many years, we did some consulting together where we go into nonprofit organizations as well as small to medium sized corporations to assist them with anything from HR to organizational design, organizational assessment, and executive coaching. So I worked with him for a long time and he’s a very, very good friend.

Andrea: OK. So you wrote this book and I know that you have a doctor degree in organizational leadership. So tell us about what that is exactly first before we go on.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Sure! My PhD is organizational leadership and I was toying several years ago between going for a PhD in philosophy or PhD in organizational leadership. And I felt like since my bachelors and masters were in the humanities so I wanted to do something that was a little bit more practical. So my area of interest is in the science of human motivation as well as positive organizational psychology.

So rather than viewing organizations and people as problem to be solved, I look at them as opportunities where there’s immense potential and there are immense opportunities. And if we look at what’s essentially right about us, those things at service differentiators and we really learn how to identify those things and develop them and apply them strategically, I think that we can make a major difference not only in our lives but also in organizations.

So that’s what my doctorate was all about and my practice for the past many, many years in my work has been kind of pretty at well aligned with that philosophy I guess you’d say.

Andrea: So you’re using this positive psychology and the things that you’ve learned to help organizations and be able to man better leadership and to be able to communicate better. What would you say are some of the top priorities when you come in to work with people?

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well, I think that many people have an approach where it’s guided by a deficit-based world view. I think that rarely does kind of proliferate our cultures. We’re always trying to identify what is essentially wrong and learn how to compensate for those weaknesses and for me it’s all different disciplines.

Currently, I work for a large international consulting firm that’s based out at DC. I live in West Virginia. I’m the Director of Learning and Development, so I’m essentially a corporate trainer, and I create the leadership and management curriculum for all of our 6000 plus employees worldwide. In terms of the rest of my career, I’ve done a great deal of consulting in medium to large sized corporations. Again, in all of those areas, I just been very interested in helping people understand kind of the intricacies of the self and to really identify those things at serve as differentiators and to develop those and to really learn to channel those strategically in various ways where people want to achieve.

It doesn’t mean that we are unaware of areas where we fall short. But I just kind of have lived my life according to the idea that when we try to compensate for our weaknesses and that’s the chief aim of our professional life, we become adequate at much but excellent at nothing and so that’s really not the approach that I take. I try to help people understand what’s right about them and how to really use that to create a personal brand in one in which they’re able to flourish.

Andrea: Obviously, I really love everything that you’re saying. I’m curious though, in a corporate setting, do you come up against any oppositions to this idea that we should be focusing on what’s right? I recently talked to somebody who is a manager of a small business and they were working with somebody else who had the same kind focus, this strength based kind of focus. He said it was really hard to shift gears because he grew up and spent most of his career in that mindset of “You got to fix what’s wrong, you got to fix what’s wrong.” It feels a little bit like we’re not going to fix what’s wrong then if we don’t do that. So how do you talk to somebody like that? How do you explain this to them?

Dr.Tony Marchese: Well, I think that’s a very common perception that people have, especially initially, when you’re not really adept or familiar with kind of that assets-based approach. I think that the transcending kind of principle, the overarching principle behind all of this is the idea of being self-aware. That can either be from a personal perspective as an individual but also from an organizational perspective. What does that mean to be self-aware? That is the number one thing and when you’re self-aware, not only you’re aware of your strengths but you’re also aware of those areas where you kind of fall short.

But if you’re really good, if you’re self-aware, you understand your reason for existence. You understand why you exist. You understand your chief function. You understand your values and you’re able to leverage those in various ways. So the idea of having a strength-based approach to working or to living does not mean that we ignore what’s essentially wrong, but it’s really kind of future focused rather than dwelling upon those areas that we fall short, we can really, really supplicate within that mindset in living a life or working in a profession immersed in that approach. It’s about identifying what the desired future really looks like.

In positive psychology, there’s this idea of disputation where you reinforce the positive. And as a result of that, the theory goes that the negative, those areas of deficit, where they’re applicable diminish. So it’s not ignoring what’s wrong but it’s making sure that we’re moving in the right direction that our values, our identity, and our true function are all aligned in that particular direction and it’s focusing in what we need to get there.

Andrea: Yeah, I love that quote in your book, “self-awareness is intimately connected to a positively _____ impact and that awareness that you help people to achieve, what’s kind of things are you helping them to become aware of?

Dr. Tony Marchese: One of the things that I do a lot is I work with corporate executives’ kind of an international basis. And the thing that I know that regardless of individuals success, I mean how much money they make regardless of what domain that they may find themselves professionally that they all bring baggage to the work place, everyone of us do that. Some of these bring more baggage than the others or baggage that maybe more potentially harmful to others around us than others.

It’s really important to be aware of our own liabilities and to be cognizant of how those can impact others within the organization. One of the things that I do talk about in the book is a lot of bad behavior that happens among leaders within the workplace has its origin on the playground when the not-yet leader was bullied or pushed down or no one would pick that individual to be a part of their team. They didn’t get invited to play tag and they were kind of in the shadows.

For many people, there’s an injury that occurs very early in life. And for most of us, we don’t really find healing. There’s sort of scar that’s left. Not necessarily an open wound anymore but it’s still there and there’s still sting. As we advanced in our careers, we become smarter and enjoy a more lucrative lifestyle from our earlier years. Unless we actively engage in that process of becoming more self-aware and being aware not only of the good that we bring to the workplace but also those areas that could cause damage or inflict harm then it’s probably going to happen in some degree.

So one of the things that I really try to do is for people in order to be able to move forward, in order to really excel as a leader, you need to start with the basics. You need to understand who you are and in all of the complexities that make up your identity. That includes some of those areas that aren’t so nice. It sort of like Plato’s Cave allegory which I used in the book and it’s often used in many different ways 2500 years after its initial publication.

I think that it’s the idea of being a attentive to what’s above and recognizing the shadow with black and white cavernous existence is one that’s not going to allow us to flourish. And it’s only through the arduous climb out of that cave, facing ourselves, coming out into the light, and being able to look around and see things not just as they appear but as they truly are in color and in multi-dimensions and that type of thing that we’re really able to see things as they are. And to really address who we are and what we bring to the table and to be cognizant again of those areas that aren’t so good. So it’s about being truthful with ourselves I think is one of the main themes.

Andrea: You know that’s interesting because we’re just talking about positive psychology and everything and a lot of times people’s perception of that is that you don’t even pay attention to these things that you’re just talking about the harder things. They’re kind of different too. But bringing those two things together just standing in the truth of who you are and being honest about it that is a really hard thing for people to do.

I’m curious about your experience in facilitating that for other people as they’re going through this process with you. Do you find that people resists going there? How does authenticity and transparency, which are two different things I realized, how do these things play into this process as they’re working through it?

Dr. Tony Marchese: As I speak across the country and as I write articles in different things, especially when I’m speaking in public, a lot of times people will come up to me afterwards and you can see on their face a look of brokenness. Because from many of these individuals, and if someone look at their life, they’d say “Well, they have everything.” They have a nice car. They live in a grand house. They really have wants of really nothing, and yet, it’d come to a point in their lives where despite all those things, despite checking every box that our society would say makes an individual successful and happy and make them content in many, many ways, they’re languishing.

Languishing is not depression. It’s also not flourishing. It’s sort of what one writer calls being wooden, kind of feeling hollow inside and so part of moving forward, part of being honest with ourselves is asking a question, “Is my life worth what I really thought it was going to be?” “Am I really making a difference?” Because I believe that inherent within human nature is that need to really contribute in whatever way is relevant to us to the evolution of the human race. When we’re not doing that, when we’re just living life in a transactional way, I think that slowly our soul begins to atrophy and we find ourselves longing for something more.

When we’re at that place of authenticity, of being aware, and of looking at ourselves as though in a mirror, I think it’s at that point when we’re really in a position in an assuming a posture where we can really make some changes.

Andrea: Yes. OK so you just mentioned a comparison, why don’t you go ahead and do this for me compare what it’s like, what is that look like for somebody to live in a transactional kind of way versus living with purpose?

Dr. Tony Marchese: I think a transactional way is something that is really perpetuated by our culture. We live at a very consumptive lifestyle for the most part. We’re taught to always be seeking opportunities to make ourselves over to be focused on those areas of deficit. If you look at television, if you look at the commercials, if you look a lot of popular TV shows, if you read, or if you’re paying attention to the internet; there such a lot of things that are reminding us who we are in our present state is an adequate and reconstruct ourselves to correspond to whatever the latest trends of societal acceptability look like and so it’s idea of a transactional.

We expand effort of some sort and receive a return of some kind. I don’t think that that is how we were designed to live our lives because when our lives are no more than just here to basically perform a function, we become nothing more than a horse that’s been trained to pull a cart. I think that we are to live lives that are transformational in nature where we really pay close attention to those things that differentiate us from every other human on this planet.

As we look at what I call birthright gifts or what Aristotle called 2500 years ago, entelechies, when we pay attention to those differentiators, and we see what pattern they reveal, there’s a lot of information there about things that we may want to do. Things we may want to consider and things that can move us from that transactional way of thinking and living towards activities that we really were designed to do.

When we’re engaged in those types of things, it’s very similar to flow. It’s almost like a mystical experience. Some of the things that I noticed in my work as I’ve coached executives of different types over the years is that it’s often people that are in roles like teaching or an education of some sort that really kind of have that sense of destiny. They feel like their lives are lives of consequence.

It’s not just teachers but I noticed that especially with those people, they have a sense that they’re not living life as though they paid for their tank of gas at the gas station and requested a carwash. When they get that receipt with that code and they go up and they drive up to the carwash and they input the code and they gained access into the carwash, many people live their lives where they’re at the carwash and they’re just randomly inputting numbers hoping to gain access to what they’re feeling that they need but don’t really understand.

Andrea: Hmm, yeah. OK, I find it interesting that you’re talking about all of these things in relation to people’s personal brands. It sounds like a corporate setting, is that right?

Dr. Tony Marchese: A corporate setting in what sense? What I do?

Andrea: Yeah like what you’re doing.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Yeah. I’ll just say this, when I wrote Design, I wrote it out of the sense of obedience. It was one of those things where I felt like I just absolutely had to do it. That’s why it was written in three months, which kind of crazy. I would come home and it was almost… I was absolutely in a state of float. I think that one of the main things about this book was that it was written to be accessible to all types of people.

I’ve heard many, many stories of teenagers that are reading this book. I know many single parents or parents who have children that have recently left the nest and the parents are now wondering “OK, what am I supposed to do now?” I think I would say that in my day-to-day profession, while I don’t necessarily use the book, I think many of the principles are quite evident in a way that I approach management and leadership.

Because this is all based upon a promise that before we can really lead others effectively, we need to understand how to lead ourselves. If we don’t understand our design, if we don’t understand the intricacies that make us who we are, then we’re not really living the way that we probably want to. It’s probably going to be really hard to lead others.

It reminds me of a quote that Thomas Martin said; he said “How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city?” And the one thing that I know about leadership is that a lot of the leadership and management materials, if you go in the business section of almost any major bookstore, there’s Tom after Tom after Tom promising that “If you do these five things then you’ll be successful like me.” I find that somewhat insulting because it’s so imitative rather than organic.

Design is written for, not to say ignore all these other voices out there, because there’s a lot of value and things like even Voice of Influence podcast, there’s a lot of value and perspective of other people and the wisdom that they bring. But at the same time, don’t deny all of those clues. Don’t deny those voices internally that are screaming for you to pay attention.

Andrea: I totally agree. The promise of this podcast is to help other people hear their own voice of influence. So yeah, I’m in full amen mood right here. You mentioned personal brand, so I’m very curious. How does finding your purpose and all of these things that you talked about in your book, the Design, how does relate to personal branding for you when you look at your own or when you look at helping other people?

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well, the subtitle of the book talks about the idea of an owner’s manual and this is really what the book is about. I started out talking about how this book came to be. Basically, I talked about waking up in the middle of the night and needing to get a drink of water because I was really thirsty. I walked into my kitchen and I looked around and got my water and I noticed a cell phone box on my table, when I remember that I purchased a cell phone the day before, and there was an owner’s manual that was sitting on it.

I never, ever, ever read an owner’s manual for electronics. I’m a techy kind of guy. I’m an early adopter. I ordered a new iPhone this morning at 3:00 a.m. When it came out, I started scheming through this owner’s manual. It was literally 3:00 in the morning when I had to get this drink and I had this weird thought that you’d only have at 3:00 a.m.

As I looked at this owner’s manual especially the table of content, I saw sections like Overview where there was an explanation of the purpose of the product. I saw section called Distinguishing Features, which was all about differentiators, things that differentiate this cell phone from another. There was a section that dealt with requirements for optimal functioning which were basically instructions in order for this to function at its best. There was a section on precautions, which was all about preventing harm. And the last section was Support. If things aren’t working the way they’re supposed to, this is where you go.

And I thought, you know, what if people had an owner’s manual? How might that impact the way that we think about our lives, the way that we plan our lives in terms of making those major decisions like what do I want do with my life professionally for example. I mentioned earlier the parents that maybe their children have left home “How do I know what am I supposed to do next?” Or that executive that has everything but yet feels as though they have nothing and they’re looking for answers.

If we were to really begin to identify those entelechies, which Aristotle said are innate within all living matter, those things that can pick something from a state of potentiality to actuality that can turn an acorn into an oak tree provided that it receives the right nurture and care, the right elements of water and soil and so forth. If we were to really begin to pay attention for those things and to create an owner’s manual based upon those where we understand our purpose, we understand what we need to be at our best, we understand how to prevent harm, we understand where we go for support, and we have that support system in place; I think that we’re going to do a lot less imitating.

I was talking about buying a book and then just going to do everything that it says to do and we’re going to make a lot more decisions based upon what that owner’s manual said about us. Because I believe, unlike some educators who believe in a concept of tabula rasa that humans are born as “blank slates,” I believe there’s great deal of information on every human being. And until we acknowledge that and we affirm those thing and we begin to develop them and strategically apply them in areas where we want to succeed then I think we are going to be languishing.

So the idea of a brand for me is really about being attentive to who you really are. One of the things I say in my book is I say that the childhood is perhaps the most honest season of our lives. When we’re young, we have yet to yield the cacophony of voices competing for our attention. Parents, teachers, television, and connected culture present various compelling visions of our future selves with promises of acceptance, approval, prestige, beauty, and wealth.

We slowly yield our still emerging dreams and gifts not yet developed into talents to act to the expectations of others. Part of us is real self gradually back swaying to the shadows. Eventually, when we find ourselves in middle age enjoying all the benefits of personal and professional success, yet strangely looking for something more. I believe that our most authentic selves, our most authentic moments are as children.

As we grow older, so many factors or so many different types of stimuli that are encouraging us to grow up and to develop and to conform to whatever trends are out there at the time and I believe that we begin to lose ourselves. And so part of this process of identifying our brand is understanding what I call our birthright gifts.

I wrote this, I said “Birthright gifts reveal the depth and breadth of human diversity, and while we all share in common the presence of Design, the way our gifts manifest themselves is as unique to each of us as our DNA. Like discovering our place of origin, knowledge of our gifts serves as a stabilizing force as our identity and calling become clearer. Acknowledging and developing our gifts helps to reveal our place in a brilliant tapestry of human experience.”

Andrea: Hmm, totally. I love that. It’s really beautiful.

Dr. Tony Marchese: And so as I think about things that are in the news, one of the things that’s in the news right now a lot is this whole idea of bullying. It’s been for the past several years. When I was in school, I don’t really remember that being a really big thing. I remember a little bit conversation about it, but it’s really a very real thing and it’s really a horrible thing that happens.

As I think about this idea of Design, I think of a bully. I think of our world has a lot of stuff going on right now and there’s a lot of stuff that’s not so good. There are a lot of uncertainties and people have a lot of anxieties. And the thing about Design is I think is so powerful as we’re faced with all these things that are coming at us and creating all the anxieties. We’re kind of in the sea and it’s a very tempestuous sea.

I think that our design and awareness of our design really serves as a bully and keeps us from going under. And I think about the child that maybe bullied. How powerful it would be to know even in the midst of some of these bad stuffs that’s going on at school, you know, “This is who I am. I’m here and my life is a life of consequence and I’m here to do some very specific things.”

I don’t think as Design is something that’s just for older people, for those executives that we’re talking about before. I think that there’s a great deal of opportunity with even younger people as well.

Andrea: Definitely. I’m totally in agreement with that. I’ve had conversations with our kids about “If you end up feeling like somebody is trying to squash this part of you in some way, in your mind, acknowledge that maybe they just don’t understand. They don’t understand you and that’s OK and the idea that they might know, that they are created in a certain way that they’re designed that these things that might be driving other people crazy or might be really powerful things that needs some honing maybe, maybe they need to be channeled in a right direction but that’s such a power inside of them. I mean, I think it’s encouraging and empowering for those kids and the parents.

Dr. Tony Marchese: It makes me think about also one of the concepts that I write about in the book and that’s the concept of “dream stealers.” I tell you, as I go around the country and I talk about Design, I can’t think of any other story that I share from the book that resonates more than the story that I share of dream stealers in this whole concept. It’s almost like universal. Everyone can relate to at least one person in our life who acted in this way.

A dream stealer can be one of two types. It ultimately has this idea where they deplete our greatest desires rendering us pain and empty and sometimes feeling of lost. It can be a parent who urges their child to be realistic and responsible and a lot of times, it may come from a lack of experience on their part or it may be a fear of the unknown. The words might come from a parent who didn’t go to college and was successful and feels as though it’s not a necessary thing. It can come in a lot of different ways.

But one of the things that I know was handling your child’s destiny is a very, very delicate matter. I think other dream stealers have a far more sinister intention and a lot of times they target our clues to selfhood, our birthright gifts, our entelechies and can sometimes derail our entire professional trajectories any existing confidence that’s there in that person.

For me, I was a very averaged high school student. In my elementary school years, I spent several years in gifted program and in fact took classes at a high school in fifth and sixth grade for half a day. When I got into high school eventually, I wasn’t really engaged and I was taking classes like music theory and radio and television and public speaking, things like that wasn’t under the AP track, let’s put it that way. I think I had a 2.6 GPA, but I decided my senior year that I wanted to go to college and I wanted to go to the local community college.

So I remember towards the end of the year that I was going to be having what you basically call an exit interview with my guidance counselor and I was excited because I was going to let her know that I was going to go to college. I’ll never forget when I received the invitation to go upstairs and to see her.

I went out there and my heart was really pounding and I was really excited. I sat down and we had small talk and then the question, “So Tony, what are you gonna do after high school?” And I said “Well, I wanna go to the community college. I wanna become a teacher.” And I’ll never forget her looking at me dead in the eyes and she said “Tony, you’re not college material. You’d never make it in college.” I had a DJ business at the time and did very well. She said “The best thing you could do is just keep DJ’ing. You won’t make it in college.” I left there so depleted, so upset, and really, really injured.

Andrea: It’s crashing.

Dr. Tony Marchese: It was. And many years later as I walk the stage to receive my PhD, I had a flash of her face that went through my mind and I thought “You know, I’d love to go see her.” I ended up working with youth shortly after that period and I heard story after story of kids that either heard that same thing from her or from other people. We have to be so careful about the words that we say. Like I said a person’s destiny is a very delicate matter.

Andrea: Yes! Do you think that that was part of your motivation for pursuing continued education in this area and writing the book and all that?

Dr. Tony Marchese: I can only say this, I’ve always had a pretty strong sense of self and I’ve been pretty self confident. I’m here in the timeline of history for a reason and that really has driven me to make a lot of decisions that I have. I don’t like to hear people tell me you can’t do something. So I do think that it did act as a motivator. I really can’t fully explain it. I think that some people maybe are a little bit more resilient than others.

I know that other individuals may have heard those kinds of words and there’s nothing wrong with working in a blue color job. There’s nothing wrong doing a vocational or low tech type of thing at all. We need those professions but I know of so many individuals over the course of my 20-plus-year career who ended up choosing a different path that really wasn’t aligned with where they really were at and with what their birthright gifts or their entelechies said. For them in many cases, they do engage in a transactional approach to life and its life is lost, its joy or its magic I guess you could say, that wonder that I write about in the book.

Andrea: Yeah. It’s hard for me to see people not living into the fullness of who they are, not that it’s kind of idealistic but that is hard. It’s hard to see wasted human potential. It’s very painful almost.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Yeah, and I truly believe that the world suffers every time an individual lets that flame, that spark, get pushed down and smothered. Like I said, I don’t think that I’m unique at all in the sense that I’m in this timeline in history and in this place. I think everyone of this are here for a very, very specific purpose. And I think that when we just become consumers of life, we just become consumers of oxygen when we go to our jobs and we come home and really don’t have any sense of destiny, any sense of a purpose. We just kind of go to the motion.

It’s hard to know what kind of an impact that really has because I don’t think that our gifts, I don’t think that those things that captivated us as a child that we’re just kind of emerging but meant to be nurtured and cultivated to move that acorn towards that oak tree. It’s hard to really calculate, to quantify what that impact really has upon our role.

Andrea: I really appreciated the fact that at the end of your book, you gave so many exercises and things that people could actually do to write their own manual for themselves. I wonder if you would mind sharing a little bit about it with us that Creative Disruption exercise. I love it. Would you share that with us? Maybe some of us are stuck. Maybe some of us are feeling like we’re in a day-to-day grind and it’s just more comfortable there. Maybe there’s more for us.

Dr. Tony Marchese:   I’m happy to do that. Creative Disruption is the concept of really altering patterns of your life. There are certain patterns. I could go through all kinds of them that I have been following or engaging for probably 20 or 30 years. We all have those kinds of things. We have our routines. We have a way to go about things. The idea of Creative Disruption is an experiment basically and it’s the idea of picking something, choosing something one of those things in our routine.

So for example, one idea might be that you wake up in the working and you’re still in bed and the first thing you do is you turn on the news and you watch the news. Well, you might find later in the day that you really are sort of preoccupied with negativity. You’re really preoccupied with a sense of some just “Uh there’s just so much bad stuff in the world.” It really brings you down. I know that it does to me sometimes.

So you’ve been doing this for years and years and years, so the idea of Creative Disruption would be to maybe instead of doing that, maybe reverse that. And instead of lying in bed for half an hour watching the news, you get up and you go workout or you go for a walk. You do that for a week and just see if you learn something about yourself. See what kind of an impact that there has on your life. Another great thing is that some people absolutely have to have noise. They have to have noise all the time.

A great Creative Disruption exercise is to turn it off during a specific time and just see what it’s like to be alone with your own thoughts. It might be scary but you might come upon a great idea or strategy or a new awareness. Another one is that a lot of people don’t journal at all, and I think that there’s so much stuff that bombarding our senses every day and it can be absolutely overwhelming. I think that rather maybe watching that 30-minute show that you like to watch maybe have it recorded and watch it another time. But during that time when you normally watch it, spend 30 minutes and journal about your day.

I find that in the act of journaling for example, it’s a way of getting all that stuff that’s all bottled up within us and it’s just making us anxious. It gets out and it puts down on a paper where you can kind of step back and see what’s going on. A lot of times, I find that many people have epiphanies of sorts as they do that. It really is a very therapeutic exercise, so creative disruption can take on so many different forms but it’s in experiment, in changing your routine, disrupting the norm in very intentional ways to see if something emerges about yourself that could be helpful. At many times, people continue on of those that it becomes a new routine for a while.

Andrea: Yeah. That’s super powerful but I will say that like most people don’t want to change that kind of thing. They don’t want to try. It’s scary, so what do you say to that person? “I don’t wanna change. I don’t wanna change.” You know, they always say that.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well, I say that the worst thing that I think you could do is to try to change everything all at once; you know. I think the idea is to identify little things and again things are somewhat safe, things that are disruptions, but aren’t a complete kind of a thing. The whole final chapter of my book, the chapter entitled Deciphering your Design is all about what that process looks like.

So yes, full of different activities. Several of those could happen within the context of a retreat which I talked about, you know, going on a personal retreat. Not many of us are able to do that with their lifestyles or the way they are, but maybe blackout 30 minutes a day or if you’re lucky an hour a day or a couple of hours a week in your calendar and you work on some of these things that are in that chapter. Do some of these activities that are there.

Some of them are just kind of thinking and throws some questions and to kind of really understand a lot of things from way back. Because again, I think that some of the greatest _____ ourselves in what would ultimately make us happy now when we go back 20, 30, 50, or 60 years depending how old you were. So this process of deciphering your design, it requires some concentration and it requires of being in an environment that’s kind of free from disruption where you can really think and process and reflect. But like I said, not everybody can literally go away for a week and do that.

Andrea: I do like the idea of a retreat though because I think it might be an easier way to then come back. If you go away and get a start on it in a different space that’s just make a huge difference. You don’t have your normal responsibilities and relationships maybe that you’re taking care of and you’re able to get out of that and start to think about it and then come back and do the creative disruptions, the other kind of creative disruptions. I think that’s a really great way to do it because you’re ready. You have to set your mind ahead of time and your heart ahead of time too “You know what; I don’t wanna change this one little thing and try it.”

I think it’s really hard for people to do it right in the middle of what they’re doing unless they’re already really hungry or in great deal of pain.

Dr. Tony Marchese: I think that’s true and in some cases, sometimes the people that I talk with at that place, they’re really kind of along the edge where they just had enough. But for others, it’s not quite to that point yet and that’s good and sometimes it’s more of a subtle process.

Andrea: Yeah. And I think if we were to view pain as the opportunity to make changes that need to be made, you know, that is a very motivating factor so maybe we don’t need to run away from pain and we don’t need to resist it so much as look at it and say “OK, what need to change? What do I want to change?”

Dr. Tony Marchese: Some of that pain you know, Andrea, is connected to our gifts. I mentioned earlier the idea of dream stealer and again I found almost everyone that I talked to can relate to that in some way whether they’re a parent, a coach, a teacher, or a boss. All of these probably have some experience of that type of person who really, really encouraged us to keep our feet on the ground. For some, they kind of dig a hole and bury yourself. In many ways, those words are targeted around that persons birthright gifts or their entelechies.

So that process of discovering, deciphering, or design is a lot of times painful because it forces us to go back and to kind of face that person. Maybe that person is no longer alive but it requires us to really consider the impact of their words and how harmful they were and how wrong they were. Ultimately were responsible for our own lives and we’re responsible for nurturing our gifts and trying to make a difference and I think for a very few people, it’s an easy process.

Andrea: Yeah. Yeah, don’t play the victim. You don’t have to be a victim.

Dr. Tony Marchese: No.

Andrea: Yeah, we are responsible. I love that.

Dr. Tony Marchese: You know and the idea of the other thing is that just as there are dream stealers, there are also dream starters. The dream starters are those individuals who don’t just see as we are but they see us as we could become, you know, they spot our entelechies.

Fred Rogers said “As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique at all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”

I just really think that we need to be aware of the words that we share with other people and maybe we’ve been a dream stealer to someone, maybe we’ve inadvertently causing individual not to pursue something that they probably were supposed to do. I just think that we just need to be very aware of that and to make sure that we’re being a dream starter in someone else’s life.

Andrea: That’s great! Yes, let’s be dream starters! Well, thank you so much for your time with us today and sharing all of your wisdom and all of the knowledge that you’ve gained over the years on this particular topic especially Design and your passion behind it. It’s very inspiring.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well, thank you so much. It’s been a great opportunity and I really, really appreciate the chance to be on your podcast.

Andrea: Sure and where should I send the people? Where do you want people to come find you and your book?

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well my book is available online. I’m on Amazon, if they just do a search for Design: An Owner’s Manual to Learning, Living, and Leading with Purpose. Or search Design and Marchese. It’s available in all major online booksellers and they can also find out more about me at

Andrea: That’s great. Well, link to all of that in the show notes for listeners to get really easy for them. Well, thank you again and let’s go big dream starters.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Let’s do that. Well, have a great day. Thank you so much!