Episode 297 Dan Joseph Mental Health and Leadership – a Soldier’s Perspective Transcript

This transcript is from episode 297 with guest Dan Joseph.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to a Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host Scott DeLuzio, and today my guest is Dan Joseph. And Dan is an army veteran who joined later on in life and, uh, later than most who joined the military. And he’s here to talk about his book, backpack to Rucksack, which I have a copy of right here, insight into Leadership and Resilience by Military Experts.

So welcome to the show, Dan. I’m glad to have you here.

Dan Joseph: Hey, stoked to be here,

Scott DeLuzio: man. Thank you. Yeah, absolutely. Um, for the listeners who maybe aren’t familiar with you and your background, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Mm-hmm.

Dan Joseph: So, I, uh, [00:01:00] I was a biotech guy, biology major in college. I grew up in Northern California in the Central Valley, actually, uh, went to school in Santa Barbara and then, um, spent 10 years working in the biotech industry with some pretty cool advanced stuff, uh, researchers that were working on machine learning algorithms to read DNA and basically try to cure disease at a molecular level.

Um, After several years of that, I started making a lot of friends, uh, who were in the military. Um, I was in San Diego, so met some, some Navy Seals, um, some Marine Marines out here, all sorts of different jobs. Rescue swimmers in the Navy. Uh, started just meeting one person after the next That really, really started to inspire me to look into the military.

They, uh, they were so different than. Than the civilian friends that I had. And I was really just attracted to the drive and the passion they had for, for being physical. And um, this is [00:02:00] when, man, this is when the wars were really popping off. Uh, and these dudes were just, every time I met, met one of ’em.

They were shipping out to go deploy to war and they’d come back with stories and, you know, I was working, working my comfortable life, um, just getting, getting told about what was going on around the world Day in and day outlet. Yeah, I was just mind blowing the stuff these these young guys were dealing with.

And so, um, I wrestled for a while with joining the military. I was fearful, very fearful that I would not fit in, that I wouldn’t be tough enough mentally, strong enough. I doubted myself a lot. I was definitely caught up in the party lifestyle and it was a pretty vapid, superficial life for, for quite, quite a lot of it.

Um, and I was intrigued at the substance that a lot of these, these. Military service members had. Um, so at the age of 32, I finally, uh, had my back against the wall to sign a contract cuz I was aging out. Um, and [00:03:00] then I shipped out for basic training at 32. And one of my best friends today, I met him when he was 18 and we’re still friends today.

Great dude, Brent. And, um, yeah, so we, uh, And then I shipped out to OCS after that, became an officer, commissioned officer in the Army. Uh, and just got out last, uh, about eight months ago, nine months ago.

Scott DeLuzio: So, yeah. So following the people that you were hanging out with basically, right. The, the Navy Seals, Marines, other people who were, uh, around your area, kind of hearing all those stories, that’s basically what inspired you to join the military, right?

Is that kind of what I’m, I’m hearing.

Dan Joseph: Yeah, I mean the, uh, I mean I can go into this for, for quite a bit, but my, my parents are actually from Iraq. Uh, they were refugees back in the 1970s. They escaped. Uh, it was, uh, It was right before Saddam took power and the way that they got out was, [00:04:00] uh, sort of one by one the whole, all these families had to split up and they had to find their ways, ways out.

We’re a Christian minority over there, so, um, not necessarily super popular with the main populist, depending on what sort of fights are happening between what sex. Um, there’s, it’s a very fractured lot of, lot of different, um, not even just religions, but bloodlines and, and this is ancient type. Stuff going on, uh, conflicts in that area.

And so my parents got out and they basically raised us to understand and appreciate the freedom we have in America because of the stuff that they had to the atrocities. They had a witness as little children day in and day out, not knowing who’s gonna get killed, how they’re gonna get killed, um, for what?

Cause I mean, there really is no cause other than just sheer violence. Um, it wasn’t always violent, but they wouldn’t know when it would be So, Um, I was raised sort of with, with a, a deep sense of, I don’t wanna just call it [00:05:00] fear cuz there was stuff I was scared of just hearing the stories, you know, that they, my parents, things they witnessed.

Um, but it gave me this, yeah. Anyway. Ha. So it just gave me a sense that there’s a lot of darkness out in the world, right? And a lot of darkness that we don’t see in America. Stuff that’s un unimaginable really happening. Um, And my friends were, were entering into that darkness. So my family had run one way out of the building, right?

The building’s on fire, they’re escaping that stuff. And then here I was around service members telling me they’re going back to fight in the villages my parents are from, right? And I saw so much honor in that and I was, uh, yeah, it just really impacted me to know that they were willing to lay down their lives.

Uh, they got into some nasty firefights, you know, a lot of good dudes lost their lives. Uh, a lot of my friends had. Yeah, the, the, just the, it’s not just the sacrifice of what happens there, but you know, what they bring back with them mentally and psychologically. We know a lot about that now, but, um, [00:06:00] that to me, compelled me to do some sort of part to help America and, and be in uniform.

Sure. Um, as the child of immigrants, you know, I, I felt like I’d want to be able to look at myself in the mirror later knowing that I put on a uniform just to say that in some capacity. I did work related, you know, in any sort of support role. I, I don’t care. It could have been a janitor role just as long as I knew that I served, you know, but it was because of them, because these guys were coming back telling me stories about a lot of close calls that they witnessed.

Mm-hmm. You know, and it’s just, I. That was, that could have been my neighborhood, you know? Sure. Um, and I could have very well had to be dealing with ISIS as a Christian minority and having Joseph as a last name that would’ve been ISIS was

Scott DeLuzio: known to, that

Dan Joseph: would’ve been terrible, man. They were stopping people and looking at their IDs, like, yeah, oh, that’s a last name that we don’t like.

Bam. Right. That’s straight up was happening in the streets there. That was my parents where they grew up, man. Sure. That’s crazy. Crazy alternative

Scott DeLuzio: reality for me. It is. Yeah. Well, we’re gonna cut to a [00:07:00] quick commercial break. Um, but when we return, we’ll, we’ll pick up this conversation. We’ll get into, uh, Dan’s book, uh, a little bit, and, uh, we’ll take it from there.

So stay tuned.

Now Dan, I wanna talk about your book. Um, but before we get into it, um, you did mention earlier that you joined the Army at the age of 32, um, which for a lot of the listeners we’re familiar that that is way beyond the age that a lot of people joined the, the military. Um, and so, uh, I, I mean, I turned 24 when I was in basic training, and I think we had like maybe one or two others.

That were older than me in my platoon when we were in basic training. I think one might have been in his thirties, like maybe just 30. Um, and he had a really tough time with basic training like the, especially the physical parts. Um, but I. But also fitting in with the, the younger guys, like the younger [00:08:00] 18, 19, 20 year old guys.

Um, and you mentioned earlier that one of your best friends, you met him when he was 18. Uh, did you have any difficulties that you experienced, uh, when you joined due to your age or anything like that?

Dan Joseph: No, not at all. Age was never an issue. Um, I. Was physically fit. And the, honestly, I, I wish it was more physical.

Like, I liked getting smoked and, you know, getting told to do pushups was a good outlet for me. It was sitting still and keeping my mouth shut. That was really hard. But nah, man, I, I felt such a connection with these, with these guys. Um, I’m still friends with, I’m still in touch with like a handful of folks that I was in basic training with.

And, uh, no, I mean, it was, I was, I was coached by my buddies who said, look, you know, it’s, it is a game. You gotta get through it. You gotta, you know, Do what Simon says when you’re in basic training, but um, Basically don’t go in there thinking that because you have age and wisdom to share, you have an ability to condescend to anyone, talk down to them.

That’s not what it’s about. Be be one of the guys. [00:09:00] Um, keep your mouth closed. Don’t brag about who you are. Don’t try to, you know, pull the alpha card or whatever. Yep. But be there willing to share wisdom when someone young comes up to you and, and says, Hey, you know, I miss my fiance, I miss my girlfriend.

I’m, I’m bummed about not being around my family. Or, I don’t, I don’t know what to do with, you know, I have a financial question, whatever it is. If, if somebody wanted to chat about those things, that, that, I love that stuff, you know, and I, I waited for them to start the conversation. Um, so I was primed mentally to, to go in there with the right mindset because of the people I wrote about in this book.

They all were mentors of mine that helped me out.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, I, I think that’s a key point because when, uh, you go into, especially like basic training, uh, Type of environment where everybody’s starting off at the ground level and you’re all like, as far as the drill sergeants are concerned, we’re all, you’re all pieces of junk.

And like everybody is, uh, nobody knows anything basically. Like you’re, you’re just going in at, at the, the bottom of the [00:10:00] barrel. And, um, yeah, if you, if you start acting like you have all this experience and wisdom and, and all this stuff, and like you’re, you know, hot crap or whatever, like, They’re gonna hone in on that and they’re gonna make it a thousand times more difficult for you.

Right? Yeah. Um, yeah. So I mean, that, that’s good that you had that going into, uh, this experience, um, like outside of what you were just talking about, do you have any advice for any of the older guys who might be listening to this, who are thinking about joining the military?

Dan Joseph: Yeah. I tell people all the time to do it, man.

Or at least pretend like, not pretend, but have that goal. Cause people hit me up and say, you know, they’re unsure if they’re gonna join or not, or what contract, and I say, For all intents and purposes, tell yourself you’re gonna, you’re gonna join because guess what? Guess what you’re immediately gonna do?

You’re not gonna put your butt on the couch. You’re gonna get up and run. You’re gonna go work on mobility. You’re gonna work, work on your diet. You’re gonna work on your [00:11:00] psychological discipline of not just having pleasure all the time and putting yourself in uncomfortable position. So, Even if you don’t sign a contract, you’re gonna be a better version of yourself.

Sure. On the other side, if you do sign a contract, then you’ll be ready for it. You know, whether you sign in the next three months, six months, two years, 10 years, or you wait till you’re 32 like I was, um, it’s going to, it’s going to get you to approach a more idealized version of yourself. And that’s, that’s, I I love seeing people.

You know, put in the work to lose 10, 20, 50 pounds. Some guys lose a hundred pounds to join the military. And to me that’s, that’s awesome. Um, and I definitely would say practice of martial art. Be careful about not getting injured before meps. You don’t wanna go in with busted bones. I actually came close to that, uh, a few times.

I, I do juujitsu, but I love how everything I learned on the mats translates to being in the military. Sure. Like, Being a white belt, getting choked out and tapped out, and [00:12:00] having to just eat your ego and getting your face just grinded into the mat. If you are ever, you know, a jerk, if you come in all hot, this some, some dude with a, with a better belt than you is just gonna absolutely pulverized you and let you know.

Don’t come, don’t come to the mats with that attitude. And so I was reminded of that when I did want to have an ego issue or be a jerk or say something, you know. That I shouldn’t say, uh, in the military, in uniform. I, I would kind of remember what my coaches on the mat, my mentors on the mat would do, and out of respect for them, I’d, I’d tell myself like, Hey, dude, chill out.

You know, you don’t own this spot. You’re just, you’re just a dude. And my ego was horrible before I joined. A martial art, you know, and then before I joined the military, like when I was younger and back in my party days. So I, I, I personally needed to get choked out, you know, quite a bit, uh, to, to just shape myself.

Sure. But I would definitely advise anybody, especially any officer candidate who wants to join the [00:13:00] military. I. Do a martial art man. It’ll teach you so much about your ego. It’ll teach you so much about breath control and how to center yourself and how to respect a hierarchy, not because a dude comes in and says, I have the rank right, but because he put in the work, he put in the sweat equity, and when he does smash you, it’s out of love because he wants to shape you to be someone who’s.

As strong of a weapon as he is. And I love that. I absolutely love that. And it, man, it saved me for myself in so many ways. Man. That could be, we could talk for days

Scott DeLuzio: about that, I’m sure. Yeah. Well, you also talked earlier about your, uh, Your career leading up to the military and some of the stuff that you, you mentioned about, uh, your career, like the researchers like studying DNA and you know, trying to cure diseases and stuff like that.

Um, and. All of that. Like, to me that seems like it’s pretty meaningful work in and of itself like that. I mean, if you’re able to cure diseases by, you know, researching into D n a, like [00:14:00] that to me seems like it’s a, a pretty fulfilling work. And then you went to go look for something even more fulfilling, uh, through the military, which.

Is like that. That’s, to me, that’s pretty impressive because, um, you know, the military, the, the pay is probably nowhere near as good as what you were, you were getting on the, the civilian side. Um, you know, different way of life. It’s much harder physically demanding, uh, that type of stuff. Um, but you switched, you know, um, you know, w.

What was the thought process there? Like, you know, leaving behind that career to, to move on to something else. Like what, what were, what was the thought process there?

Dan Joseph: So, man, uh, so again, in the research industry I was in, I mean, cutting edge stuff, right? Like these, these scientists that I knew sometimes there were maybe three to five in the entire United States that could code algorithms that were able to [00:15:00] predictively.

Analyze biomarkers that would lead to certain diseases cuz they’re studying not only DNA N but DNA is a building block. It’s a blueprint for proteins, right? So DNA goes to rna, goes to protein, and these scientists were looking at DNA N and predicting what proteins would come out and how the body would interact with that and, and what diseases would come from it.

So, yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of money in that industry. Um, one of the companies I was working with was actually they’re able to detect the, uh, baby’s DNA floating in the mom’s bloodstream cuz little fragments break off and they can essentially tell a pregnant woman all the diseases that that child’s gonna have that manifest down the road.

Wow. Like you can tell a pregnant woman, Hey, your kid’s potentially is gonna have Alzheimer’s when they’re 65 years old. I mean, we, we, we have that technology right now. Um, the question is not can we do it? The question is, What does that mean for, for people who are trying to have kids? Do we do, we say, don’t have sex anymore.

Um, make sure that you have it. Have your child created in a laboratory. So we know it’s optimal dna. You know, you don’t want a [00:16:00] kid with, you don’t want force a kid to have cancer. If we can snip out the cancer gene and make sure it’s an optimal gene. So there’s, there’s a lot philosophically that, that, um, even I was pretty uncomfortable with.

Right. Uh, just because I don’t Yeah, man. It was, it was pretty wild. So that was, it’s almost playing God

Scott DeLuzio: at that point, right.

Dan Joseph: Yes. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. There’s definitely some wild stuff going on. I mean, we’re talking, we’re talking some, some crazy stuff, so, uh, we’ll have another talk about that, I’m sure in the future, but, Um, I was working with some folks that were, it was an arms race back, back in, you know, when I started, I started my own business.

I left corporate America cuz I’m just not a good employee. I’m good on my own, man. I’m, I’m good on my own. And, um, so I started, I started consulting with scientists all around the world. Um, but there were. There’s an arms race between the biotech hubs in Boston and San Francisco and, and San Diego, but then London and some other countries as well, where we’re all racing for this, this genetic arms race, man, the future.

And, um, so I was helping [00:17:00] scientists get on different teams, you know, and, and these PhDs are, Insanely intelligent and some of ’em have been published over a hundred times, cited upwards of 500 times, um, just the bleeding edge. But as I was helping these scientists and looking at the future of humanity, again, my buddies were coming back from Iraq telling me, you know, dude, I was pinned down.

In a firefight that was supposed to be 15, 30 minutes, ended up being five hours, didn’t know if I’d make it back, was just thinking about my wife and kids. And so I’m sitting here working on this, in this biotech world. Negotiating some, yeah, there’s money there, you know, but, but these guys were willing to lay down their lives, right?

For people. They didn’t owe anything to man, and I just, It just kept me up at night, you know? Um, and I realized, and I, yeah, the money, money came in. Um, and I, I remember, so my dad worked like two jobs his whole life and, you know, barely made money, but he kept us in school and kept the bills paid, and it was, you [00:18:00] know, they did it right.

Um, he passed away a couple years ago, but, um, he, he, you know, broke his back for us. And I remember I did a deal in my industry, um, seven days I was supposed to make. Like $26,000 and that was a lot of money for seven days of work. Ended up that they doubled it and I made 52. Yeah. Wow. So that math is correct.

I remember having a like 52 or $54,000 check in my hand having worked like seven days. And when I say work, I mean I made like 12 phone calls and um, and I remember going to the bank with that cash and I thought like, Hey, dad didn’t make this much money and he worked. 365 days, two jobs. And I realized right there, like I felt kind of deceived by Sure.

Life by humanity. Cuz time isn’t money. You know? Knowledge was money. I knew something that other people in the industry didn’t know. Um, it was a short-lived. I’m, you know, I’m not like some savant. It’s just, it was, I was in the right [00:19:00] place at the right time. I knew a little bit of intel that other people didn’t know, and some, some billion dollar companies, a hundred million dollar companies were jealous and they’d pay me for that information.

It wasn’t, it was all like, ethical. But, um, so I remember thinking like, Hey, this isn’t where it’s at, man, because yeah, I made, I made whatever this much cash, but these guys are willing to lay down their lives. They’re not asking for money, right. They have brotherhood. They have connection in war, they have, man, it’s, it’s that soft, it’s that it’s

Scott DeLuzio: a different grind.


Dan Joseph: no words to explain it, bro. Yeah. Because, you know Yeah. It’s embracing the suck. Right. And it’s all, but it’s, it, there’s this quiet honor to it that’s so hard to say because, you know, I’d see them between deployments and their op tempo was insane. And I, I, I could see in their eyes like the weight of each mission.

Right. But it, it, it put like electricity in them. Sure. It just, it made them, they were so fired up to go protect America and to go and to go get into these fights. Um, [00:20:00] and, uh, you know, they brought a lot of stuff home with them, but I just, I hated how comfortable my life was and how soft it was. I talk about it in the book, I call it corporate Soft.

Right. And there was, to me, I could write an email. Or make a phone call. Right. But these guys could start a fire in the middle of nowhere. They knew how to handle squad squad maneuvers, and they knew battle tactics. They were, they were tactically proficient and aware and aware of their environment, aware of the situations they’re in.

They had so much, it was primal. Mm-hmm. They had a primal wisdom and it was hard earned wisdom. Right. Yeah. And I just, I knew some stuff in an industry that. Yeah, it was, it was cool. It made money, but again, it, it didn’t, wasn’t anything as cool as what these guys were doing,

Scott DeLuzio: man. Sure. Well, we’re gonna cut to another quick commercial break.

When we get back, we’re gonna talk a little bit more about, uh, Dan’s book, backpack to Rucksack. So stay tuned.[00:21:00]

I want to talk, uh, now a little bit more about your book, uh, backpack to Rucksack, uh, which I have a copy of right here. Um, now, what motivated you to dive into the psychology of military leadership, which is, you know, kind of the, the basis of the book, right?

Dan Joseph: Yeah, so couple things I would say. The lockdowns, uh, really kind of stopped a lot of movement.

There was a, I think like a stop order movement or something that happened where no branches, no bases were allowing us to transfer. So we were stuck where we’re at, and I thought to myself, Hey, this thing. If this thing lingers for longer than, you know, a couple weeks, I’m gonna get bored real fast. And so I heard about tuition assistance and I figured, hey, I’m at a, I’m at a point right now where I can activate it.

So I thought, let me hit up, you know, these universities and see who’s willing to help me out to work on a master’s degree. And I wasn’t sure [00:22:00] which masters to get and I thought, um, I love. The concept of leadership. I don’t know too much about it. I joined the military to, to understand leadership. So I thought why not study it academically while I’m doing it so I can know whether or not I’m hitting the mark or how far I’m missing the mark.

Sure. So I decided to do an, uh, an, um, industrial organizational psychology Masters online. So, uh, I picked Grand Canyon University and I started that up and, uh, it was pretty, pretty cool to just kind of process like with these prompts, you know, there’s a lot of. Different folks from different branches and stuff in my classes too.

So as I’d post something about a leadership situation, I’d, I’d see, you know, sergeant majors and first sergeants and other, you know, commanders, uh, put their input. And it was, I felt supported in that we all kind of supported each other. Um, I. But that’s not why I wrote the book. That kind of allowed me to do research to be objective, not just emotional, right?

So my feelings, I have feelings, right? I’m an emotional creature. We’re all human. Sure. But I wanted to know the objective data and [00:23:00] science of is this a valid emotion or to what extent is it valid and neurophysiologically, why am I feeling it and what does it mean if I’m feeling this for someone else’s brain state?

I, I think like that. Cause I, you know, have a cell bio major. So I, I enjoyed seeing how brains operate at a. Molecular structure all the way to an interpersonal and, you know, all of that. So, uh, but my last week as a platoon leader, I was a pl for 19 months, uh, as a combat engineer. My, uh, one of my soldiers let me know that he survived the suicide attempt.

My last week is pl and he, he wrote the introduction to the book as a survivor of suicide. Uh, and. I remember when he told me, you know, I, I called his mom to let her know that he, he was alive and that we were gonna get him help. Um, and, uh, his name’s Cody, and again, he wrote the intro to the book. And I’m so proud of him for doing that.

He’s alive and well today. We keep in touch. I’m gonna see him tomorrow at a book event. Um, but, you know, I remember when he told [00:24:00] me like, Hey, sir, I gotta tell you that I, you know, I made an attempt and, uh, I survived it. And he, he said, like, I, you know, sorry that you gotta do so much paperwork now. Um, and I remember thinking like, bro, I’m just, I’m pumped.

You’re alive. I’m pissed that you like, could have not been alive. But I also realized how lucky I was cuz I knew a lot of guys who told me, you know, things didn’t turn out that way for their friends. Right. You know, several people who’ve died through suicide. Right. And I was sitting there in this, this moment thinking, How do I make this happen more?

How do I help guys survive this stuff? What can I do to create a discussion? I don’t have all the answers, but we can at least have a conversation about this. You know? Um, so that was, he was a real big reason of why I wrote the book to just process what I had witnessed in the military, um, the good things and the bad things.

And I just wanted to, again, apply my masters to. To sort of quantify if I could, um, the [00:25:00] weight differential between good and bad leadership and things that we do optimally and suboptimally and how that turns into somebody wanting to kill themselves. You know? Um, cuz there’s a pathway. It’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a constellation of variables, but what’s my part in being a catalyst to, to kind of undo that entropy, if you will, to, to put Yeah.

To put things back how they should be. Right. Right. And it’s right. Yeah, this is a huge, huge conversation. I don’t mean to get so esoteric with it, but, um, he was a big reason I wrote the book. And then actually one more guy who wrote the Forward Austin, he was an unlisted marine and now he’s a, an officer in the Army, um, badass guy.

He’s a swat, SWAT medic. Dude does, he does more missions on state side than he did, you know, overseas. But he told me that, uh, 12 guys from his unit that he deployed with tap Afghanistan committed suicide. 12. Wow. I mean, I can’t even saying that doesn’t sound possible. And the 13th guy almost killed [00:26:00] himself a couple months ago and he called the sheriff from that county over and had the sheriff go to his house, make sure the guy didn’t do it, you know, and um, man, that’s not, how was that normal?

Right? You know, how, how my cuz could, Austen could have been one of those. He’s struggled too, you know? And um, that hurts, man. That hurts because to me, these guys are heroes. You know? I know they’d hate that word. But I look at, I look at these dudes like they’re superheroes, like they’re Avengers to me. You know?

Yep. And to know that he could be not here tomorrow because he didn’t get something off his chest, or he felt stuck in that loop of just, things aren’t gonna change. You know? There’s no door outta here, there’s no way out. Um, Man, I just, I wrote this book to process my own angst with that. I’m not comfortable with it even after writing the book, right.

It still hasn’t resolved anything really. Like I still feel now, I just feel fired up to talk to people about it, cuz I don’t know the answers. You know? And I think that’s a, there’s so many good leaders out there, but

Scott DeLuzio: [00:27:00] I think that’s the biggest thing about it though is, is just talking about it. And letting people know it’s okay to talk about it.

Like, yeah, you’re going to feel down in the dump sometimes. Like everyone has bad days, everyone has bad weeks and even may, maybe they have bad seasons in their life where just stuff is kind of crappy and just it’s not going well for you and you know, your job or your relationships or, you know, other things are falling apart.

Like these things happen. Unfor, unfortunately, like it, it sucks. It’s tragic. It, it, you know, I wish. There’s a, you know, a way you could just snap your fingers and have everything get back to normal, um, and get, you know, just get right. But unfortunately that doesn’t happen. That’s not reality. And we need to rely on other people, whether it’s professional help and mental health treatment or just having a buddy that you can talk to and be like, look man, I got this thing going on.

I’m, I just, I can’t get this [00:28:00] outta my head. And, you know, I. I just need help. And, you know, have someone, like in your case where someone came to you and was like, yeah, you know, I, I attempted this and, you know, I had this problem, but you know, I, I need, I need to get some help. And, um, you know, they have someone there that they can talk to.

And, and so by doing this, like what you’re saying, it’s. It’s starting the conversation and it’s opening up that door and that possibility of some people who might otherwise just feel like they can’t talk about it. And, and that’s I think a tragedy in and of itself is, is that there are people out there who just, they, they shut down.

They shut up, and they don’t, they don’t want to talk about it. Um, I wanna talk a little bit more about this, um, but we’re gonna take a quick break, so stay tuned. Dan, in your book, uh, you talk about the time as a junior officer, that you accepted that most of the things.

That are going on are kind out of your control at that junior level, right? Um, you know, a lot of the decisions are being made at higher levels, but you’re [00:29:00] still able to affect some change. And so you kind of focused on that, uh, on, on those things that you can control. So how did you use this to kind of optimize those, those things that you can control?

Dan Joseph: Yeah, man. So, uh, one of my buddies Will, he’s a MARSOC officer. Uh, he, he was a COBRA pilot and then joined the MARSOC teams. And he, when I asked him, I was like, will, what’s, what’s military life gonna be for me? Can you predict it in any way? And he said, um, and I wrote a, he’s one of the chapters in the book, each chapter’s written about a really amazing badass, uh, but anyway, will told me, uh, command climate is everything.

So if you have good command climate, you’re gonna be supported. You, it’s, you know, good work culture, right? Uh, and that’s great. Count your blessings. If you have bad command climate, you gotta write it out. Um, you can’t really change it. You can’t go upstairs now. Hey sir, ma’am, can you be a different human?

So that’s when I realized though, the, you know, that corny little statement control your [00:30:00] controllables, right? So if you’re in a situation where a leader says, I own all of this, you know, This is all in my domain. Your left and right limits are nil. I mean, you’re just, you exist, but barely. You do what I tell you to do, and you don’t get to make, you don’t have autonomy.

You’re not making decisions on your own. Well, okay, so what can you focus on? Okay, well, what I eat, how much I sleep, how well I sleep? Um, how much I exercise my recovery self-care. I mean, self-care is like such an unknown science. And, um, again, I was studying psychology masters, right? And I’m reading research about this stuff.

How, how Olympians and world-class athletes and just these amazing performers around the world, how they operate to avoid burnout. So I started applying. Little pieces of wisdom like that, uh, during my time in the military. And I mean, the whole world was experiencing it too because of the lockdowns, right?

So it wasn’t just a leadership thing. This is like a global [00:31:00] phenomenon, you know? Um, and yeah, so I was just reflecting on the advice my buddies told me on, uh, Basically, you know, your, your body is your resume in the military, like how fit you are. Soldiers are not gonna want a leader who’s just outta shape and frumpy.

They’re gonna want to see someone who’s driven, who’s got good posture, who makes good eye contact, who has the discipline to not eat, you know, tubs of ice cream at night. So all these little things started, um, Marinating on my mind on, hey, what I’m doing privately, my soldiers are gonna see it. You know, uh, we talked about earlier how leaders live in a fishbowl.

You know, this, my Joes saw everything about me, and so I wanted to try to be the best version of myself I could. Um, just to put less weight on their end. You know, it was just like having a. A less heavy ruck if you think about it. Yeah. As a leader. Um, I didn’t want to be dead weight to them, so, um, getting the masters was another way of me just saying, let me redeem some of this.

What would’ve been lost time just being sedentary during a [00:32:00] lockdown, you know? And we had a lot of field time, um, and I thought, let me be as productive as possible. So the military taught me to. Hunt the good stuff is what they said, but man, I would just, I would search with a fine tooth comb to try to make my day 0.1% better than the day before.

Sure. And then just compound that throughout the time.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And that, that’s, I think the, the whole theory of, uh, atomic Habits, if you ever read that book, uh, it, it’s just making things just a little bit better, uh, every day. And it doesn’t have to be huge, massive wholesale changes. It’s just little incremental changes along the way, and that makes a huge difference down the line.

You, you’re not gonna see that, you know, if you go to the gym today, you’re not gonna see. All those gains tomorrow. Like you’re not gonna see all of that right away. But if you go consistently and you go to the gym every day, or you know, at least, you know, a few times a week, by next year, you’re gonna see a difference.

You’re gonna, you’re gonna have a different body than you had right now. So, [00:33:00] um, you know, and that, that goes with. Basically anything in your life, I, I would imagine, right? Like we, you can apply that same mindset. If you get a little bit better, eventually that’s all gonna add up. If you get a little bit better at saving money, eventually you’re gonna have more money in the bank, right?

Like, you can just apply that, uh, mindset to just about anything. Right? Um, you also talk in the book about, um, a story when you were a freshman in college, I believe it was, uh, You were in a pretty affluent area. You’re struggling to fit in. Everyone was, you know, they’re wearing the top of the line, you know, name, brand, everything.

And you’re, you were struggling to fit in in that crowd. Um, going into credit card debt and all that kind of stuff, just trying to fit in. Uh, could you st share a little bit more about that story and how you eventually found your people to fit in with.

Dan Joseph: Yeah, I mean, it was, there’s a lot of stuff I’m not super proud of back then, but I mean, I was, I was young man.

I started college at 17 and, [00:34:00] um, yeah, man, it was, it was definitely a, I was friends with a lot of the, a lot of the rich kids, you know, kids that grew up with a pretty extreme lifestyle, I mean, It was the kind of friends who would say things like, you know, we don’t smoke weed, we do coke, because as teenagers we’re rich.

So when mom and dad would go on vacation, like we, we, we do cocaine cuz it’s what rich kids do. And um, you know, they’re driving a hundred thousand dollars cars. And, uh, I went, yeah, I went to go buy like 10 shirts one time and I spent a thousand dollars. On 10 shirts, each shirt was a hundred bucks. Um, just to try to look the part, feel like I fit in and it was all superficial.

And you know, I talk about it in the book. My face showed that I don’t fit in. I was nervous, you know, I was looking at these people who, to me, they didn’t have a care in the world and they had all this money and all this success and, um, but there was, you know, I, I started to realize the, the emptiness that was there, you know, it was super [00:35:00] shallow.

Uh, what I didn’t like psychologically speaking was the self-medicated processes that I saw. So we’re talking, you know, alcohol in the middle of the day and then uppers at night, you know, whether it’s pills, prescription pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, and then, uh, you know, depressants to come back down from that in order to go to bed.

And then just wake up and self-medicate and self-medicate. So it was either uppers, downers, you know, uh, alcohol and it was just this lifestyle that looked so sexy on the cover on the front. The pictures, you know, were always awesome. Everyone looked amazing. But, uh, you know, a lot of people started getting in trouble.

There was a lot of run-ins with the law, um, involving drugs, involving violence, you know, fights and clubs. I saw my friends get arrested as I was, I I was designated driver quite a bit cause I wasn’t comfortable like, Drinking too much. After a while. I, I tried to slow down, but I still wanted friends. I still wanted community.

So I’d go with them and I’d see all this stuff go down. What was worse is I was sober, so I’m [00:36:00] watching them do this stuff out at clubs and bathrooms and it’s just like, bro, the doors open. People are watching this. You know, there could be families around. It’s just nuts. Um, and then, I knew I wasn’t happy with it.

Uh, especially when, when my buddies started getting multiple DUIs, you know, started getting, uh, breakups, divorces a lot, a lot of things were going down. And then that’s when I started making military friends around that same period. Um, I’d bump into them at parties and stuff, but they were much more mellow and they had to wake up early for PT and stuff and they couldn’t do drugs cuz ua um, urinalysis and all that stuff.

So I, I realize there’s. Uh, a divergence there. Um, and I li I felt safer and more comfortable with the military friends, you know, cuz they. When you’re with friends who are parting on substances, man, they can’t stop that train. When these guys pop pills and they’re on a trip, you know, whether it’s acid, ecstasy, shrooms, whatever it is, they’re in that mindset and they, that’s going for a few hours, right?

Yep. Um, but these military friends, they were [00:37:00] dependable. If I needed to make a phone call, if I needed a ride somewhere, if someone was getting sketchier, whatever it was, I could count on them having far less of a sketch factor than my civilian friends. And, um, and then again, then I started paying more attention to their.

You know, the physique, the, the discipline they had with, with their exercise, with their sleep, with their finances. They weren’t spending money like an idiot. Like I was buying everyone shots cuz I wanted to look like I fit the part. So I’d have $300 tabs to buy one round of shots. Right? That’s stupid stuff happen man.

Um, And I mean, I could talk for days about Yeah. Some of the stuff that went down, but, well, you know, I don’t know how

Scott DeLuzio: much detail I should share. Yeah, no, no. Yeah. And not to, you know, name names and get into details and getting people in trouble or anything like that. But, you know, the, the point, uh, that I think resonated with me is that, um, that you were with a crowd that you were uncomfortable with and you found your way into this other [00:38:00] crowd that you were a lot more comfortable with, and.

I think the reason why I wanted to bring that up is because I know when people are transitioning out of the military, um, they are used to that, the military lifestyle, the uh, the comradery and all of that kind of stuff, and they, they get out and then, uh, they’re, they’re thrown into, you know, maybe a workplace or school or, or things like that where there’s.

People there, and maybe they want to try to fit in, but they know that they don’t fit in because they’re this, you know, clean cut military guy or, or gal or whatever. And they’re, they’re in this environment, but they’re having a difficult time fitting in. Um, I think the message I took away from that is it’s okay to not fit in with everybody.

Like there’s some people who are just not gonna be your people. And it’s okay. Like you can find your, your tribe, if you will. You can find the people that, um, that you do fit in with. Um, and don’t try to be [00:39:00] somebody that you’re not just to fit in with people who. Aren’t really your people is, if that makes sense.

Is that kind of the, the, the gist of it? Am I kinda catching that? Yeah, man, on,

Dan Joseph: on that note, one of the dudes I wrote about in the book, uh, Brad, he’s an EEO D commander, he, he told me this piece of advice that he gave me is not what I put in the book. Um, I’d love to add it in another book, but. He told me that, you know, there was a point in his life where he was kind of getting a little bit depressed in the military, in the Navy.

Um, he was feeling like he wasn’t himself. And this, this, um, commander, somebody high ranking came up to him. I dunno if it was an admiral, but somebody came up to him and said, look, dude. Be yourself, man. If there’s one thing the military needs, it’s for you to be yourself. You’re not happy because you keep filtering who you are.

Sure. And your personality. As wild as it is, he’s got a great sense of humor. The guy’s awesome. And, uh, soon as he took that advice, it flipped. Everything changed in the Navy Forum. He was stoked. He was so happy. He was pumped. He was motivated. [00:40:00] He didn’t care what people thought. He did his job well. Mm-hmm.

And I mean, you know, you know how it is, man, if you do your job and you carry your weight, that says a lot. You know, people don’t have much to say against you at that point. There’s no point. There’s no benefit in modifying your personality for someone just to have a fake friend. Right. You know? So screw that.

Like, be yourself. And um, and again, I was blown away at what the Joe’s pick up, man, you can’t fake Joe’s out. You can’t fake the soldiers out. They see everything. Um, if I were to put up a front. They would pick it apart so fast. Um, they saw through me, man. So I never, I tried my best to never bother having a facade to ’em, you know?

Right. And, um, you, you know, you just care about doing the job well and, and respecting others re regardless of if you like ’em or not. It’s always dignity and respect for other people, but that’s where it ends. It’s like, dude, I’ll be respectful. I’ll be professional, but we don’t have to fake that. We get along, you know?

Sure. And then you find your, your group. You find the, the group of people where you just. You get along and you’re driven the [00:41:00] same way, and it’s awesome, you know? Yeah,

Scott DeLuzio: exactly. And I, yeah, that’s, I I guess the, the reason why I wanted to bring this up is because there, there are those situations you get out and you, you just feel like you don’t fit in.

And it’s like, what do I do? Do I, do I change who I am? Am I the problem? Do I need to be somebody different? Um, but no, you don’t, you just, Those people are, you know, they’re, it’s fine to be around those people if you work with them or you go to school with them. It’s nothing, not like you have to go find another job because you don’t like your coworkers.

Maybe like, like so what? Like everyone has crappy coworkers from time to time. It’s not the end of the world, but you know, you’ll find your people, you know, whe whether it’s, you know, at a gym or it’s at, you know, some other hobby or something like that. You’ll find your people. It’s just a matter of, uh, you know, just recognizing that you don’t need to change you.

You need to just find those, the, the right people. Um, we’re gonna cut to another quick commercial break, so stay tuned. And Dan, before we wrap up this episode, I wanna give you a [00:42:00] chance to, uh, let the listeners know, the viewers know, uh, where they can get a copy of your book and anything else that you have going on that you might wanna, uh, share with the, the listeners.

Dan Joseph: Uh, yeah, so you can go to my website, combat psych.com, and, uh, the book’s available on Amazon as well. There’s a Kindle paperback and hard cover edition. Um, I’m working on the audiobook right now and, uh, Yeah, that’s, if you go to the website, you’ll see all my other stuff that’s going on. I don’t wanna ramble about it right now.

Sure. But feel free to check the website out if you’re bored. I have a few, uh, kind of nuanced little things about psychology on there. So hopefully some resources

Scott DeLuzio: too. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And, and the, uh, the audiobook, uh, production is that, um, is that, Seeming like it’s a, a bigger project than you might, might have, uh, originally thought it was gonna be, it’s a, it’s

Dan Joseph: a kick in the butt, man.

I, uh, the book in length is gonna be about 12 hours. Oh wow. Okay. I recorded about 36 [00:43:00] hours of audio. Completely wrong. I made every mistake in the book. Uh, and so now I’m starting from a minute, zero. But I came in with this like military voice of like, Hey, so there I was, right? And I’m like, that’s not okay.

That’s not me. And then I was talking to softly about stuff. It’s, it’s basically you want to treat the microphone like it’s your friend. Right. You know you want to, because when listeners, they want that intimacy when they listen to an audio book, just, it’s gotta feel natural. Yeah. But it’s weird when you go into a booth and you’re recording, it’s a microphone and a computer.

It’s not a human. But in your mind, conceptually, I need to get better at, Hey dude, I’m just, I’m just talking to a friend right now, talking to a buddy, and if I can relate that into the studio, I’m getting better at it. But it’s, man, that’s a process I didn’t expect. I just came in there so rigid and anyway,

Scott DeLuzio: when, when I recorded my audiobook, I, I made so many mistakes when I was recording, I, I had to stop and start again, like, and go back and like cut stuff out.

Yeah. Dude, I realize just how bad of a reader I am [00:44:00] because I’m reading my own book as my own words on the screen in front of me, and I’m just, all, all you have to do is just read it and it, it couldn’t be more simple than that as you just read it. And then I’m, I’m reading it and I’m like, in my mind, I’m telling myself.

I know what the next word is on the next line. As I end that line and I, I know what it is, I’ll just say it, and then I look over and it’s like, oh crap, I screwed that up again. And I gotta go cut that out and start this whole paragraph over again. So

Dan Joseph: hearing that makes me feel so much like less alone. I.

Because I, I didn’t research this stuff. I just went into it. Right. You know, and then I started going on Reddit and I started going on these different websites and people were talking about how you are, and I’m like, dude, I’m not the only one. Right. This is so unnatural. You know, how, how hard is it to just talk and read your own content?

Right. But yeah, man, it’s humbling for sure.

Scott DeLuzio: It, it’s like I, I wrote this, like I should know exactly what it says and then I’m get to the next line and it’s like, where did that word come from? That’s not what I. Dude, you know, and so, yeah, I, I totally had some, uh, uh, [00:45:00] you know, choice words that I would say after I screwed things up and had to go back and make sure that those have edited out.

If I

Dan Joseph: made a book of everything I say when I screw up, holy smokes, Steve. It’s, I say some pretty crazy stuff. You know

Scott DeLuzio: what I should have done, just screaming. I should have just kept all of the, the bloopers in the excerpts and made that into it own audiobook and, and just sold that. My buddy

Dan Joseph: told me that he’s like, I want the uncut version.

I want to hear all the cursing. I want to hear all the screams cuz I just. Dude. Yeah, man. Yeah. Emotions were running

Scott DeLuzio: high. Yeah, it, it’s, it’s definitely a process. So anyone out there who is looking to get into that, um, yeah, it, you, you gotta have some patience with yourself or hire somebody else to do it for you.

Dan Joseph: I can’t do that cuz it’s my baby. You know, this is so near and dear to my, I totally hear. People have told me like, just hire a voice actor. Cause Amazon has an easy way to do it. But no, man, this, these are, yeah,

Scott DeLuzio: dude, it’s, it’s a lot of work, my project. Well, Dan, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today about your [00:46:00] experiences, your book, and everything else that you have going on.

Um, for the listeners of viewers, backpack to rucksack, uh, go check that book out. It’s on Amazon and we’ll have links in the show notes. So thank you again, Dan. Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need.

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