The “Intangile “It” with Jack Stahlmann, Keynote Speaker

Jack Stahlmann’s entertaining and informative presentations are built around his experiences in Los Angeles as an actor, producer, director — and of course, a waiter.

In Hollywood, he launched his own production company which created several films that enjoyed international success and was an Assistant Director for the Margaret Cho stand-up show, Cho Revolution.

As an actor, his shining moment came in a co-star role on the CBS drama Cold Case, where he played a wimpy park ranger. He also appeared briefly – very briefly – on Days of Our Lives and several commercials.

Jack has been a business and pop culture contributor to The Huffington Post and currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In this episode, Jack and Cindra talk about:

  • What Jack means by the “Intangible It”
  • His story about meeting George Clooney
  • What he means by the “Upside”
  • And strategies to find the “Upside” more often



TO FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT JACK: Don’t Flinch Guy | Informative and educational presentations (


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“Find one thing you want to change, and then within that one thing, find just one thing that you can do every day to drive that change and see, what happens… 5 swings with a sharp axe to a tree every day, I mean eventually that tree is going to fall.” -Jack Stahlman @Mentally_Strong
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“They say he (George Clooney) makes you feel like the most important person in the room… and if you’re regularly making people feel that way, you eventually become the most important person in the room.” -Jack Stahlman @Mentally_Strong
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Cindra Kamphoff: Welcome to the High Performance Mindset. I’m excited to have Jack Stahlman here today on the podcast… I think we’re going to laugh and have some fun times today, Jack, because my stomach already hurts from smiling and laughing with you.  

Jack Stahlmann: Well, I wasted all our good material off air here, so it’s all down hill from here, but glad to be here. Thank you for having me Cindra. 

Cindra Kamphoff: You bet! I am fellow speaker, and I have seen you speak multiple times. I was trying to kind of think yesterday, as we are preparing for this, how many times I’ve heard you and I don’t know… 5, 6, 7, maybe. Could it be…  

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, maybe. 

Cindra Kamphoff: …something like that? 

Jack Stahlmann: We have had some amazing crossover which is interesting in our world because it doesn’t always work that way. We’re often ships passing in the night. So, it’s nice that… we each can kind of talk about what we both, you know, sort of speak on with some with some knowledge.  

Cindra Kamphoff: So that’s good, exactly. Exactly.. and so, for those people who are just listening, and they haven’t heard you speak before. Tell us a little bit about what you’re most passionate about and what you’re doing now. 

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah. So, you know, kind of my whole shtick is… in a former life I used to be an actor, a producer, a waiter… excuse me, and there’s something in my throat there… I was a waiter for a little bit in Los Angeles, and I learned these lessons that… I think I learned them the hard way, right? I learned these lessons the hard way… that I deliver to audiences in a really light and fun way. And so, what I did is I sort of just… when I started my career. I sort of was like, okay, I have these weird encounter stories with Arnold Schwarzenegger and with George, Clooney…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Exactly.  

Jack Stahlmann: Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years… and I’m like, these are really interesting stories at the bar… how could… how can I, you know, kind of make them interesting at the workplace, and I realized that in each one of them there was… some sort of message, and some sort of moral. And so, I created my first sort of “baby”, and still sort of my… to you sports analogies, I think that’s safe here in this…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes you know it.  

Jack Stahlmann: My fast ball is the intangible it… and it’s the it factors that a movie star has. You can’t quite put your finger on what that is… I sort of break it down for audiences and several steps, and we have a lot of fun along the way. So, my whole… formula is that I hope it’s really fun and light and so, people leave smiling, laughing, and then… walk up the door and get a little upset like, hey, that that guy just fooled me because I just learned something that I can, you know, use in terms of interpersonal relationships at the workplace and beyond. And so… that’s kind of how I came to be, and now I have a couple of other topics that I’ve sprinkled in, but that’s truly my baby, and really, with all… everything I do, I always make sure that the personal story is in there, and a lot of the Hollywood stories… because people I’ve noticed just kind of want to hear them, you know, that happens.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I want to hear them, and I think that’s what we’re going to dive into today is like this, “invisible it”. What that actually is, we’re also going to talk about the upside, which is one of your keynotes. So, we’re going to dive into that, and I’m just curious about… you know, as I think about your time in Hollywood. Gosh! How much of a grind that can be, and how competitive it is, and how difficult it might be from a mindset perspective… to believe that you deserve to be there and get some of these roles that you’ve been in… some commercials and cold case, for example… gosh! What mindset do you think it takes to be really successful there? 

Jack Stahlmann: Well, I think that’s a great… you know, I feel like, if you came into my life 20 years ago, I might have had a more successful acting career, because it really… it was a grind, and ultimately that’s why I stepped away and without… well, maybe just a small tinge of bitterness, but I would say less bitterness than most people walk away from, because I did get the opportunity to do a few things. I acted in some stuff that people know is on TV.  

Cindra Kamphoff: I know! Day of Our Lives, my mother-in-law is going to be like… they still record those and watch them on… their VCR! 

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, no, that one is big… I tell you what, you know, because now I’m a little bit doughier… I’m older now in my forties, and it’s funny when that line and my intro gets a little “ooo” I feel like the audience thinks I’m going to be some plastic hunk… and then I get up there and I’m just this average guy. But that is one where… when I was on it, so many friends came out of the woodwork, male and female alike where I was just like, oh, you watch that, you know… they’re kind of busted watching it.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah. Well, watching a soap opera. 

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, watching a soap… but that was really the launching point for me, in my acting career. I kind of… a weird story, I don’t tell this one on stage, but I was working at Sears big time job at $8 an hour at Sears and in Burbank, and this gentleman came in with a complicated return. He was returning a phone like, not a smartphone, this was before that… I had to call like the headquarters, and every salesperson hates returns because it doesn’t help your, you know, bottom line… and but I… it worked out really well for me, his wife was there, and at the end of this conversation, where I’m helping him, his wife says, “oh, Roy, give him your card”, and it was Roy Steinberg, the executive producer of Days of Our Lives.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, my God! That is not how you got on Days of Our Lives!  

Jack Stahlmann: That’s how I got on Days of Our Lives.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s amazing! 

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, it just, you know, a nice lesson in, you never know who you’re talking to, you never know what the benefit can be. So, you almost always want to be on you’re A-game, or at least always be a nice person, right?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. 

Jack Stahlmann: You just never know the person who can… really help you out.  

Cindra Kamphoff: And give you opportunities, right? 

Jack Stahlmann: And that’s going on… so, he put me in as an extra, you know it’s just a background person, and then… but in soaps, it’s kind of weird, in soaps it’s a good thing to be an extra. It’s first of all, it’s Union… it pays really well, and they promote from within. And so, I did get a speaking line and quotes not much of one, but if that’s what got me my union cards and everything else, and then fast forward, 15 years later, I’m writing a book with a co-writer, and we decided we wanted to call it Days of Our Work Lives 

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s awesome.  

Jack Stahlmann: So, I called him up… I called Roy up and I said, first of all, do you think we can use this title… I’m pretty sure we’re safe under parody law. Second, will you write the introduction? And he did so.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s amazing.  

Jack Stahlmann: Really fun relationship I’ve had with him. He’s now out of the soap opera business he’s now doing… theater out east summer stock kind of stuff just kind of a passion project for him. So, it’s been really fun to stay in touch, but that’s… was part of it, you know, and it just… sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. Lots of failed auditions out there in LA.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: Took me a couple of years before that… before you become know to that. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure. 

Jack Stahlmann: … but fast forwarding that into the real world. I have no problem on a cold call having somebody tell me, “no”, because that’s… I’ve heard “no” my whole life as an actor… it’s kind of nice, you never really know why it’s a no. You could be 2 inches too short, 2 inches too tall, your hair color could be wrong – it might have nothing to do with how much your talent is. So, you just start to learn how to take those things… but I will say, after 5 years, I could see that I wasn’t going to be the next Brad Pitt, I was going to be this character/actor, and I just… I did kind of lose the passion but the good news for me is that’s… I was in tune with that I think a lot of people out there are not, and then they just end up being, you know. 50/60-years-old, doing something they don’t want to do, you know, whether that be in casting, or you know, they wanted to be an actor, and it didn’t quite work. And you know it was…  almost a relief for me to be like, you know what – I don’t want to do this anymore. And it was… you know, a whole bunch of a life reset to figure out what it is I did want to do, but it was nice… it was also nice to be just done and walk away with no regrets. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Well what I’m hearing is just the process of becoming an actor/actress is, you know, so much resilience. And I think about how we all need lessons about moving on and failure… and how are we making sense of failure, and do we believe that it’s personal, right? And what I heard you say is… I might be 2 inches just too short or too tall or whatever… and so, I mean, I think when we take failure really, personally that’s when it really does impact our self-esteem and our confidence. And really, you know… and negatively impacts our performance in the long run and in the short term. 

Jack Stahlmann: Oh totally, you know, and I even… I talk a little bit of this on stage, once in a while I try to sprinkle it in… that I’m very much a process/ goals guy, not a results/goals guy.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Good.  

Jack Stahlmann: The difference in my mind is… the process is, I need to make X amount of phone calls today to get the sale, all right… you know, whatever it is in your life. You know, what’s the task that you have to do, right? So, I’m kind of addicted to… I have a CRM, and I’m addicted to like getting those tasks done as quickly as I can.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Cool.  

Jack Stahlmann: Because that’s the goal, the result… will follow if the process is correct, right? 

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Jack Stahlmann: So that’s different in every field, I don’t want to pretend to be a process expert, but from a mindset, you know that way… you’re not really down in the dumps if you didn’t book a a gig today, or if you didn’t, you know, if you’re in the interview process and you didn’t get that job. So many reasons that are outside of your control, where, if you are doing the process right. It still may not have mattered… you may have been the most qualified for that job, but the bosses, you know… applied, or whatever happened, or you know, one that’s crazy to me the more curtains I look behind in corporate America, and it does sort of make sense… sometimes people, if they’re looking for a promotion, they don’t get it. It’s because they’re too valuable at their current role.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure.  

Jack Stahlmann: And that… you know, and so, the employer is thinking kind of selfishly like… I need this person in that role. So… a million reasons that things can’t go your way.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: And way easier said than done, but to remind yourself like, well did I do everything that I can do? And how can I make an adjustment from there?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, awesome lesson… and when you look at the research and high-performance, process focus is more… is more valuable than outcome focus. And so many times we attach our… our own value to the outcome – like I am a terrible blank because I didn’t get blank, right? And really, so many things are outside of our control when it’s related to the outcome. So, I think your message is really on point there. Let’s dive into the “intangible it”, and maybe start off with what does that actually mean? 

Jack Stahlmann: Well, I like to, you know it all kind of the whole episode of the intangible. It… the whole presentation has a fulcrum point around an encounter I had with George Clooney, which I was with him for 13 seconds. 1, 3, 13 seconds with George Clooney.  

Cindra Kamphoff: You got to tell us about it, because I’ve heard it, and I want to hear it again. 

Jack Stahlmann: Okay. Well, let me get on stage really quickly…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Okay, perfect.  

Jack Stahlmann: So I was driving in in Burbank, California, getting off a little exit ramp. It was a little too laner, you know, one lane going left, one lane going right, and it was a a red light, I’m trying to take a left. And up alongside me in a convertible drove up, you know, George Clooney… and he was looking all Clooney, he was looking great. And yes, listen…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sexiest man of the year, 19 whatever.  

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, a couple of times wasn’t even?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: Like… I’m a happily married man, but even my wife knows a small piece of my heart drove off in that car that day with George… so, you know, I’m sitting there. And I’m like, it’s George Clooney. So I decide, you know, he’s… I’m talking on the cell phone with my mom, and just I’m like really peaking over at him, right? And I decided this isn’t good enough, so I… lower my window to share the same air as George, right? I want to just share that air and I mean I’d drive in a 2001 Saturn, if you’ve ever been in one of those you know that nothing on it is quiet, right? So when the window… I tried to like lower the window right, and when the window went down, it just sounded like a cat dying right? Just meow… and then, like the… it got jammed a little bit, and George looks at me… and he goes, who you talking to? And I said, “I’m talking to my mom, telling her I’m looking at you.” And he just smiles at me, and he says, “say hello to Mom for me”, and then he drove off.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s awesome.  

Jack Stahlmann: And that was it… you know, there was nothing really to it, but I even remember at the moment having this sort of thought like being a little depressed, almost… because I felt so giddy, you know, and then it like, slammed it really quick because I realized… something I shouldn’t… I should have known that George Clooney was cooler than me. But when you’re around it, when you see that little, just “it” thing. Just a little quick quip is all it took for him to be, you know, engaged in the moment. And I realized I really wanted that, you know, not just necessarily as an actor, but as like a human. How do you… what is that? And so, I I’ll start with this George Clinton story for audiences, and then I’ll take him back a step, and I’ll say I’m going to tell you a bunch of celebrity stories, but I want you at this moment to think of somebody who has “it” for you. That, like that thing you can’t describe that like magical, and it’s… a little bit different for everybody, I’m sure, but we all have these people that like we just like to be around, right? They just have this engaging quality. And so, I imagine… think of that person in your mind, and then imagine, you know, having that skill with everybody you encounter in your life, you know? Can you… can you bottle this? And so, I step them through me going to my spacious 200 square foot apartment, doing my soul searching about what it is, and then in, you know… depending on the length of my presentation, a little inside trick here. It has multiple steps… 4 and a half is what I’ve landed on is really the… sweet spot of what that magical “it” thing can be, and that’s what we talk about for a while.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s fun.  

Jack Stahlmann: And we talk about that for while – what is it that people have, that we want? Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: And yeah, I can oversell it. I can’t, I won’t promise that after our hour together you’ll be the next George Clooney, that ship has sailed for me, but you could be George Clooney to someone, right?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, cool.  

Jack Stahlmann: So, it’s a nice thing whether you’re customer facing every single day, or even if you’re in the back room counting beans, you still have to interact with people. And having that, “it” thing makes your life a little bit easier, because people want to work with you, and they’ll be a little nicer to you if they like you, and not have that whole thing. So that’s… where we landed with the intangible “it”.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s awesome. Well, when you ask that question… well when you asked it for us, I thought about me, you know, what does this person who has the “it” factor have? And I think they have presence, I think they also have fascination, like, I’m just fascinated by them like I’m intrigued.  

Jack Stahlmann: Mm, I like that.  

Cindra Kamphoff: And I like watching what they’re doing, and how they’re interacting, and like, I’m learning like… so, there’s a lot of like intrigue when I think about someone who has the “it” factor, and for some reason I’m thinking about speakers that I know, who I just want to keep watching. You know, like, what are they going to do next? Or how are they going to interact with people offstage, right? So tell us… can you share with us the 4 steps, 4 and a half? We can’t forget the half.  

Jack Stahlmann: Sure, well it’s funny… it’s interesting that you have hit on a couple of them…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, cool.  

Jack Stahlmann: …as you’ve been talking here, because presence I really like to call it the gift… and what I’ve learned in talking to people through the years, everybody I’ve encountered who has had an encounter with George Clooney says the same thing about George Clooney. They say he makes you feel like the most important person in the room… and if you’re regularly making people feel that way, you eventually become the most important person in the room, because people just want that… they want to be engaged in that. And what’s great about it is, it doesn’t take like a ton of time, but George Clooney took 13 seconds… you know, he could have just waved, he could have done nothing, but for 13 seconds I was the most important… and he was locked in, and what he was doing. So, presence exactly what you’re talking about, and we can accomplish that in very, very simple ways in our workplaces, just in terms of having a thank you note, or having a unique way to give someone a promotion. I tell a story sometimes about a… I was at a company, and the gal across the table was telling me she was, she was my point person, you know, I like to at least hear a little bit about the company before I put my foot in my mouth in front of an audience, right? Now this is the day before I was going to speak, and 

she was talking about their culture, and sometimes… that’s a warning sign for me in my earballs…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure.  

Jack Stahlmann: When I hear people say the word culture a lot, because this isn’t always true, but sometimes… you know, people just say that word over and over again to fake it till they make it. I feel like a lot of companies don’t need to say it. It’s not necessarily a hard and fast rule, but it just is interesting to me when I hear it. And so, anyway, I kind of called her on, I said, “well, what are you doing to drive your culture?” And she said, “well, can you stick around a second?” I like, “yeah”… she goes, “Great. We’re going to  promote Robbie today, and you’re going to be there, and I’m like, “Oh, okay, so it’s like going to be you, me and Robbie in the office and I’m just going to give him a thumbs up like good dude, great job.” She’s like, “no, we do… we do it differently every time”, so, this kind of this company’s MO… is that they do a different way of promoting people from within… and so, we go into this big conference room, and she points out who Robbie is, so I’m looking at this guy, and he’s a skinny kid in his twenties… and she’s like, “yeah, he’s got kind of a a tough exterior, but he’s got a heart of gold, and he’s great worker, and we’re going to promote him”… okay great, fine whatever, we’ll see how this goes. And she gets up in front of the room… and, by the way, this pre-COVID, I think that’s an important detail here. She gets up in in front of the room and says, “thank you everybody for coming to this last-minute training session”, which, of course, was all a ruse… you know, she just set this whole thing up. She goes, “before we get to that, though, I want to take a minute to acknowledge Robbie” and then the screen drops down, and she goes, “but rather than take my word for it, I thought there were some people who might have a greater impact”.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Wow.  

Jack Stahlmann: And again pre-COVID, his sister, 7 states away… gets to make the announcement that congratulations Robbie, on your promotion, and then the camera, Robbie’s twin nieces with the message, and then it cut to Robbie’s mom, who said, “I’m so proud of you”, ” and then told a pretty embarrassing story about Robbie, and it was a great moment, you know, it was really fun…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: And I look over at Robbie, this tough guy, and he was like… he was a puddle. Just crying, sobbing because for that moment… and this cost this company nothing, he was the most important person in the room. And so, it’s just one of those things where 100% presence being there being locked in with people making people feel special in just small little ways doesn’t have to be a a big thing. And then… 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, what a great… hold on, time-out. That was awesome story, and I just got goose bumps as I was listening, and I was thinking about Robbie… like the people that are most important to you, right? Saying congratulations, how cool is that? And you know, when I think about what I feel like I’m the most important person to somebody… so, I think about, you know, as a speaker you go and meet a lot of different leaders. You might meet superintendents or CEOs, or whoever, and you can tell when they have the It factor just by the way they interact with you, the speaker. Because if they kind of blow you off, or if they’re like, they see you, and they shake your hand, and they look at you… and they’re listening, and they might ask you a question, and you know… you know that they’re present, and they might even ask you something you didn’t expect, you know, like more detail.  

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah.  

Cindra Kamphoff: So that’s when I feel like… I know that I am an important person to other people. I think we could all do that more.  

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, or they actually read your bio and knew something about you too. Where you’re… 

Cindra Kamphoff: It’s true.  

Jack Stahlmann: … what the heck.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, you’re the speaker?  

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, that was… that’s always in a fun way, very startling for me when somebody’s like, oh, I love… you know I worked with Margaret Cho, the comedian…  

Cindra Kamphoff: I know, so good.  

Jack Stahlmann: Some people just know some of… these little weird, quirky things that I did, and these little indie films that were like, nothing burgers, but they knew somebody who was connected to it… so those, that’s always fun for me as well, but yeah, you do get that. But the other thing you sort of hit on… not accidentally, because hopefully, we are describing what the intangible “it” is, but you talked about intrigue.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.  

Jack Stahlmann: Right? And that’s the half lesson.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s half of the lesson, okay. 

Jack Stahlmann: Well, I call it mystery… because it… and it’s a half lesson for me, because I can’t really tell you what that is. Sometimes it just happens, you know, this magical sort of mysterious thing just sort of develops, but you can see it in successful people out there, in the world. I tell a little Barbara Streisand story about it… because she, I mean if you look at her whole career, she’s always been mysterious, right? She sells out arenas coast to coast… and then disappears for 10 years.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: And then like… does it all over again. Like she really understands the rhythm of not having over exposure, and I’m not saying that’s what mystery is, but she is a very mysterious person. She never goes on talk shows, and she’s always kind of had this. Her first big audition in New York, a very famous casting director brought her in, and casting directors don’t actually cast… this is something that a lot of people are like, oh, really? Casting directors, what they do is they narrow down the talent, so that the producers and directors don’t have to look at 1,000 people. So, this casting director, Michael Shurtleff, brought her in and put her in the coveted spot because he really liked her… gave her the last audition. So, she was going to be the last impression.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Okay.  

Jack Stahlmann: Which is part of the mystery, right having that one.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: And she walks in… well, first of all, she didn’t walk in. He calls her name… she doesn’t come out, like they call her name again, they’re finally like last chance… and she comes out chomping gum with a hideous fur coat on, and she’s like looking around… and they’re like, what is she doing? She drops this fur coat, she puts the gum under a stool that was out there, and then she stood on her mark and sang beautifully… and then she recited her monologue perfectly and said, “thank you very much”, and she left. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Wow.  

Jack Stahlmann: And the producers were dumbfounded by this whole thing… this fur coat behind this… horrible fur coat, and like they felt underneath the stool, and there was no gum. It was all just kind of a ruse. She wanted to create this experience because she know she hit her mark and said, “I’m Barbara Streisand and auditioning number 427”… like, how does that land? 

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Jack Stahlmann: You know it just doesn’t.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Jack Stahlmann: And she knew how to package that a little bit differently. And so, I really dive into, you know, what mystery is, how we can create a little bit… one tip I do give people, is you can create mystery when you’re out networking, and the way you can do that… every conversation that you have, be the first person to leave the conversation. Don’t be rude about it, you know, you can be a lot of things… you can be like, this was a great conversation, right? Or leading with the grin which maybe I can get to in a second, that’s one of the other steps, you know… I feel like we connected on a lot of things, you know… we can hype it up like that… but I got to, can I get your card? I got to, you know… and then people say, well, what if I’m not leaving the networking? But I say that’s even better, because now they’ll see you from across the way and say, hey, I thought Cindra was leaving… and now you’ve created a a thwarted lover sort of feeling, right? And you can call them in a couple of days, and I know it’s a little silly… it’s kind of a silly exercise, but… you control the end of the conversation, because so often as I’m reminded by my wife, you know, you get boring after a while. So, you say this, is it… this is the end, this was great, I loved it, give me your card, now we’ll talk later… it creates… it’s almost like a dating concept, you know, like where you don’t call after a couple of days, whatever that was, I don’t know… it’s been so long since I dated. I don’t know how it works anymore.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I have no clue.  

Jack Stahlmann: But there was that wasn’t there? 

Cindra Kamphoff: There was for sure.  

Jack Stahlmann: Like you get their number… and you couldn’t call them 

Cindra Kamphoff: And there was mystery.  

Jack Stahlmann: Yes, we needed to create a little mystery. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Well cool. So, we got the gift. 

Jack Stahlmann: We got the gift. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Is the lesson one, we got the half-lesson of mystery. What are the other 3? 

Jack Stahlmann: We’re going out of order…  

Cindra Kamphoff: We’re going out of order?  

Jack Stahlmann: But that’s all right, because… and now you’re challenging me to see if I even remember them all. So, there’s the connect, right? And that to me… and we were talking a little bit about this off air. Some of this is just repackaging some stuff that that that people know. The connect, I would say, is, is akin to… and maybe an added step, but it’s akin to personal brand… like when people leave your presence, what is it that they take with them?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. 

Jack Stahlmann: How do they… how do they remember you? What is the stamp that you leave in their minds? And there’s lots of ways… lots of ways that one can do that. But there’s also fun ways, and it should be as personal to you as possible, and it’s as simple as… well you were asking about my background here. I know this is a podcast, but my background in my office had this boring gray wall, nothing really going on in it, and I also have these baseball cards sitting in a box that were worthless from 1988. So, I decided to glue them to my wall, and then you know what, it’s a talker. Like when you start the zoom call, it’s just something that people can connect to you… so they might not remember exactly who they are, you might be like, do you remember, Jack? No, not really… he was on that zoom call, yeah there were a lot of people on that. He had the baseball cards behind him… oh, Jack! You see?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Exactly.  

Jack Stahlmann: You see how… those steps go through, and lots of different ways. People can do it. A friend of ours, Holly Hoffman… has she been on this podcast? 

Cindra Kamphoff: She has, yeah a while ago. 

Jack Stahlmann: She wears head to toe red, right?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: And you know when Holly Hoffman walks in that room. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: And so, there’s lots of ways that people can create that… and that’s just one of those special things, so there you have it. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Got it, the connect… and you’re right, like I think about the ways I’ve thought about my personal brand over the years is like, what do I want people to say about me when I leave the room? How do I want to be described, right? 

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, yes.  

Cindra Kamphoff: And being intentional about that. 

Jack Stahlmann: And it is challenging, I do warn audiences that your connect is not often what you say it is. You connect is how other people perceive you, essentially.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s true.  

Jack Stahlmann: So the more you think about how to get outside of your own eyeballs, and you know, because we know ourselves so well, it’s like a… it’s a problem, right? We’ve lived with ourselves… I’m 43, I’ve lived with myself for 43 years, so I don’t even notice some of the big things, but I’ll the small things I will, right? Like I had a zit the other day, there was a zit… I’m 43 years old and I had a zit on my face… trying to like wipe it off, you know, like that’s going to work. And then I thought to myself, well, wait a minute, if you met me today, you’d be drinking in all this doughy goodness, right? You would be… the zit would just be part of… that is Jack, right? But we get obsessed with these small things when we’re… or maybe you’re fixing the hair in the public restroom, and you’re really working on that one piece of hair for like a minute, and then you walk out, and you have a giant roll toilet paper in your shoe. You’ve missed the big picture, you know, we get so into the small things about ourselves… that we sometimes can miss that. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, absolutely. Okay… we got… this so good. So, we got the gift, the mystery, the connect, the shift.. 

Jack Stahlmann: The shift.  

Cindra Kamphoff: The shift.  

Jack Stahlmann: Does that get us all of them? 

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s 4. Is there 4 and a half, or just 4?  

Jack Stahlmann: There should be one more. Yeah, yeah, wait for a gift, the shift… okay, so let’s talk about the shift. So, the shift to me essentially is my take on a change management. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Okay.  

Jack Stahlmann: But it’s… it’s a little bit more than that, because sometimes I tell audiences, you know, change is easy. Sustaining that change… that’s a whole other thing., right? So, and this is pot calling a kettle black here. I struggle… I love horrible, unhealthy food for me… and so like…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Me, too.  

Jack Stahlmann: So I’ll go on these little…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Chocolate would be great. 

Jack Stahlmann: Oh yeah, Arby’s.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Cheese curds.  

Jack Stahlmann: Oh, you’re speaking my language… and so like I’ll have a a lunch… I’ll have a salad for lunch maybe, great good for me, I made a change. And then dinner comes around and it’s like, oh, I have to do that again?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Mhm. Yeah, it’s hard.  

Jack Stahlmann: Like it’s sustaining, and so, I really use the theory of, you know, just one thing… is kind of my mantra when it comes to change, find one thing you want to change, and then within that one thing… find just one thing that you can do every day to drive that change. And see what happens, 5 swings with a sharp axe to a tree every day…. I mean eventually that tree is going to fall, if we would just consistence… it’s not about the change, it’s about consistency. 

Cindra Kamphoff: I love it. When I think about the invisible “it”, right? Like what we’re talking about, and all these things that we’re even describing…. I’m thinking about as athletes or leaders or parents or coaches who are listening, right? I’m thinking why do we want it? And I think the reason we wanted this to stand out. I think the reason we want it is to connect with others. I think the reason we want it is… maybe good for business, you know, if you’re an entrepreneur, and if people are intrigued by what you do, and who you are, right? You stand out… are there any other reasons why you’d want it? 

Jack Stahlmann: I think there’s just a… and I alluded to this a little bit earlier, but I think it actually makes our lives simpler, if there are… so for example, I hate to say this this way, but 

we’re in the trust tree, right? We’re amongst friends here…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes, always.  

Jack Stahlmann: But you can get away with some stuff if you… if you have a a thing about you. Where it’s like, oh, that’s just that’s just Jack, you know, like… oh, I didn’t turn in my assignment on time… oh, that’s fine, you know. I feel like, I went to a a smaller liberal arts school, which I probably shouldn’t name now, but I do feel like the smaller class sizes… and I loved my education, by the way, but I just don’t want to slam… but the smaller class sizes allowed me to have that personal relationship with my professors, and I think I got the benefit of the doubt on like a lot of things.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure.  

Jack Stahlmann: I was… I did pretty well as a student, but there were students that didn’t do as well as me… and I think there that were smarter than me, if that makes sense, and the grades at the end of the day. I think there were times when I got that little edge… by having “it” and that’s ultimately what I’m trying to give people… I don’t bluntly say it like that like, hey, you can get away with stuff now, but if you do it, gives you a longer leash if you do happen to screw up, right? I mean…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure, and I think also, it’s like, okay, when I’m connected with people, right? And I think that’s what we’re talking about here, that invisible “it” is like… that you have… there’s some connection, you know, and it’s like when I’m connected to people, I’m more likely to remember them, but it’s probably true… I’m also more likely to say, you know, get it to me tomorrow. 

Jack Stahlmann: Oh okay, yeah. Right, right? There’s just some people that you don’t jive with very well. You find reasons to be kind of… maybe it’s a boss or something, you find reasons to be mad at that person, right? Whereas if you do like that person, that boss, and maybe they implemented something you don’t like… you’re more likely to be like, well, I like the boss, so I’ll trust the boss on this one, you know? There’s… it works both ways. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure, it works both ways. So, I know you also speak about this idea of the upside… and I’m curious, Jack, what inspired you to speak about the upside, and what does this have to do with Yale? 

Jack Stahlmann: Well, you know what? Again, we’re in the trust tree here, right? So, I got to be honest… so I do have the Yale thing in the in the description, when I have it in there, because it’s a… It’s a talker.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: I get to this right away, that I have a certificate from Yale… for $25 on  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s awesome… because it did get my attention… 

Jack Stahlmann: It does get your attention.  

Cindra Kamphoff: I was like, woah, Jack went to a course at Yale… of a happiness. 

Jack Stahlmann: And it’s not a lie, it’s not a lie, but it’s not exactly truthful either and I am… I actually am very honest with clients when we get down to the brass tax about it too. So, that all started… I don’t know… do you remember the year 2020? Does that ring a bell?  

Cindra Kamphoff: I remember some parts of 2020, I don’t remember everything about 2020.  

Jack Stahlmann: Oh, okay… nobody does.  

Cindra Kamphoff: I don’t want to.  

Jack Stahlmann: No, no. There was a little bit of time for speakers to… redevelop our messages. And so, I did, so I took this class on… well I think it was called wellbeing or happiness they kind of work hand in hand, and I had some great takeaways. So it is… I think it is still on and I think that if you don’t get the certificate, I think it’s free. I could be wrong about that, it was at one point. And so, it is a really interesting course.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Cool. 

Jack Stahlmann: That sort of got me thinking about a lot of different things in my life like, was it all as bad as it seemed? Because it was a really easy time to get down.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, super down.  

Jack Stahlmann: And then I read another book called Factfulness by Anna Rosling. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Factfulness, okay.  

Jack Stahlmann: Factfulness, and I cannot recommend it enough, there’s a newer version that I think came out right after the pandemic… they’ve been updating this thing, and what Factfulness does is it takes all of these stats, and just complies them for you. And you think, well what’s so fascinating about that? Almost every one of these stats is jaw dropping, you know, so they… they ask people these same questions that they’re going to find facts on… I’ll get to the point here in just a second. And they found that chimpanzees answered better than humans when polled on questions about worldwide hunger, on questions about high school graduation rates, on questions about deaths by natural disaster.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Wow.  

Jack Stahlmann: Really major huge things, that people think are trending in the wrong direction that actually are amazingly trending in the right direction.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Wow.  

Jack Stahlmann: For example, worldwide hunger… I’m butchering some of these stats, because I don’t have them in front of me, so I apologize if they’re slightly wrong, but… the general gist is there. In the last 50 years, 5, 0, years, worldwide extreme poverty has been cut in half… cut in half.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Wow.  

Jack Stahlmann: And most think that it’s on the rise.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Jack Stahlmann: High school graduation rates, people think that they’re on the decline. In the last 50 years, high school graduation rates are up by 8%, they’re on the increase. You know, people talk about deaths by natural disaster, most people think that those are rising, and there is some evidence that there is more natural… I’m not going down that path… but actual deaths by natural disasters are down by 90%+ since 100 years ago, because our warning systems are better… and people just think that things are getting worse when many many things, not everything in the world… and I’m very clear about that in my presentation, not everything in the world is getting better. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, right.  

Jack Stahlmann: As a matter of fact, some people… you know… some stats are showing that violent crime is on the upswing. It is. But if you look at that big chart, and I know that this is an audio thing and not a… if you go to the FBI website and you go to violent crimes over the last 40 years, you will see that it peaked in 1992. So while we’re on the rise… so your local news will tell you, and they’re not wrong, that crime is up by 10% or 15%, whatever it is… that’s true, but it’s still down 30% from where it was in 1992. So if you look at that big chart….so even with some news, that’s bad. We need to zoom out a little bit, right?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, right.  

Jack Stahlmann: We need to just zoom out and have some context with it.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Jack Stahlmann: And so that was really the inspiration for me of… and I love giving this particular… because I’m kind of at a a tipping point with the age 43 years old, I like giving it to people who are older than me because their jaws really drop… when I do this for, like college kids or something… they’re not as impressed with these stats because they’re more in tune with how it actually is today. But, as Hans Rosling tells us in Factfulness… we remember that the past is more rosier than it actually occurred,  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Jack Stahlmann: And that is… they’ve done studies on this over and over again. And so, I tell audiences I’m like, I’m sorry if you had that game winning goal in soccer in high school that you thought was so awesome it should have been on Sports Center… it wasn’t that awesome. But here’s the good news, remember that that love of your life, the one that got away because your times together were so special… they weren’t that special, right? I mean, if we can just remember that… that we remember in the past… so many people say, oh, TV is so much, you know better and so much better back in the day. And I’m like, is it? Because my TV at midnight turned to snow and static… remember that?  

Cindra Kamphoff: I do remember that.  

Jack Stahlmann: It just went off the air… 

Cindra Kamphoff: It did.  

Jack Stahlmann: Like you’re telling me that was better than… we had 5 options as a kid, we now have millions of options, you know… like it’s just no way that TV was better, that it’s so much better now. There’s so many other ways to do it, but we view these things… cars is another one, you know, I like going to car shows it’s fun, you know… but you see, some of these old timers who are like boy, they just don’t make them like they used to. And I’m like… really, because a 100,000 miles, you know, that used to be like a hooray moment for a car… and now it’s a midlife crisis, you know.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s true.  

Jack Stahlmann: And they’ll come right back at you, they’ll say, oh, yeah… but the chassis, you know… like it used to be steel frame indestructible car… I’m like, yeah, because we make cars now when they crash the human survives and not the car… like it’s not… cars are way better than they used to be, you know, it’s not even close… but we remember the past, we love the past, and I don’t want to diminish that love for the past, but we also have to be real, that the fact is, there’s a lot of upsidey type things going on well.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, and I I’m hearing that it’s like, you know, it’s about perspective. And I’m curious about what does the upside, in your opinion, have to do… well, tell us, maybe, what the upside is, and then what does that have to do with perspective? 

Jack Stahlmann: Well, I think the upside, really, isn’t… it isn’t a hook quite like the intangible “it”, it’s not like the upside is this one thing… what I’m trying to demonstrate to folks is that there’s so much more upside than we’re actually observing.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, nice.  

Jack Stahlmann: And so, I kind of break it into 2 parts. Part one is, shock them with these stats and these things that they thought were going bad in the world. Okay, now, we’re all on the same page, right? It’s not that bad? Okay, great… but guess what everybody we encounter in our lives who isn’t in this room right now thinks that all these things are bad… so, everybody out there, I don’t want to make it like an enemy thing, but they’re all going to be negative.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: They’re all coming into your life with negativity, because as we get older, we just take that baggage. We think it was better in the past, you know… so now, how do we combat that? That’s what part 2 is, you know, and it’s and it’s using very similar things to the intangible “it” about how, when negativity comes in your life, what’s the… how do you take on those battles?  

Cindra Kamphoff: So yeah, well, let’s dive into that for just a few minutes before we close, if that works for you?  

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, sure.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Because I think that’s really helpful for people to understand… I think that has everything to do with mindset… when these negative things come in, how do you handle them? And do you freak out, or do you maybe… in psychology you might say that catastrophize it, right? Or do you use like language that it’s like… it makes it even worse, such as, oh, my goodness, that was so devastating. When really, maybe it was just… you know, something that happened today, and it we attach a label or meaning to it. So, I’m curious what would be something like one thing that you would share with the audience about what to do when negativity comes in?  

Jack Stahlmann: Well, I would say… there’s something to be said for, considering all things in everybody’s life. And I’m not saying that we need to assume the worst, but we often jump to conclusions when we don’t know the full story, right? If somebody comes into work and they’re grumpy today, maybe daycare drop off was just a nightmare, you know, if one of your coworkers has been kind of gloomy for a week or two, you know.. maybe their dad’s in the hospital. There’s lots of these, there’s lots of these things… one of the ways I illustrate that is… through the story, a buddy of mine worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign for Governor and this was back, a lot a while back, you know, this was before 8% approval rating Arnold. And it was it… and I don’t usually get into politics. I think that belongs on Facebook… but he’s like, do you want to meet Arnold? You know, and I was like, okay, yeah, I get, I guess I will. He said, great, come to this call center, pretend you’re making some calls. This is right before the election Arnold is going to come by… shake hands for the cameras and stuff… it’ll be a lot of fun. So okay, so I show up to this thing, and my buddy is like, white as a ghost. He’s like Arnold’s going to be here. In the second… we need him to make a phone call, because… know the local TV crews are here, can he call your cell phone? Because he… we don’t want to call him some crazy person and… can he just call you? And I’m like, sure, so I step out of the room and into this garden, and there was windows. So I can actually see… because it was like a big ballroom, right? So, I can see Arnold like dialing my number, which is really weird, and he says to me, Jack… oh, by the way, I do terrible impersonations on my resume bottom line, world’s worst Impersonations list available upon request… Jack, we need you to volunteer. Will you volunteer? You know I’m like, I don’t know… but I’m already there, right? I’m already there. Sure, yeah, I’ll volunteer… he put the phone down and gets everybody’s attention… everybody, everybody, Jack agreed to volunteer. And the whole place goes crazy with like high fives and stuff, and then I get a chance to sneak in and say hello to Arnold, and I shook his hand. A really cool day… and that night, on the nightly news, there were 2 clips of Arnold doing this… one clip was Arnold and I shaking hands, and the other clip was, Jack agreed to volunteer…  

Cindra Kamphoff: No way.  

Jack Stahlmann: And who knows that it’s the same guy in both clips… so I just thought to myself, my gosh, we just duped the most powerful man in California, very innocent doping… nobody got hurt in the duping, right? But think about all the layers that even he, the most powerful man in California, didn’t know was going on… and it’s just a microcosm of what we have in our workplaces, or even in our lives. You know, there’s this place… I live in St. Paul here in Minnesota, and in kind of a busy neighborhood, and there’s a place where people double park all the time… and one time I jumped to conclusions somebody was double parked right there, and I just lay in my horn as I’m driving by, and almost hit them, and this poor girl in this car was sobbing, and I look at the front and she had gotten in an accident… she wasn’t double parked at all.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh…  

Jack Stahlmann: But I jump to conclusions like a real…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Jack Stahlmann: And that’s just something that I think it’s so vitally important when we’re talking about the upside and dealing with negative people… is that there may be something else going on much deeper, not always… but let’s just cut to leading with, you know, kind of a smile that doesn’t cost us anything to do that’s… 

Cindra Kamphoff: Isn’t that so true? And we might make assumptions about that has to do with us when really what their behavior likely doesn’t have to do with us. Here’s like one example, yesterday I called my husband on my way home from speaking… and I’m like, hey, what do you want for dinner? And he was like, I don’t care… I was like, whoa, he’s really short, and then he hung up. And I was like man… I think normally I would have been like, why was he acting that way to me? But I took a step back, and I was like, what’s going on with him that he might have reacted that way to me, and I heard later on right that he just had this little spat right before I called him…  

Jack Stahlmann: Oh.  

Cindra Kamphoff: You know, just like a quick disagreement with somebody.
Jack Stahlmann: Yeah.  

Cindra Kamphoff: And then it was like, oh, yeah, had nothing to do with me. And I’m glad that I didn’t take it personally, right? 

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, really good. You know, the semantics matter. I know we’re speakers, so we should really be caring about semantics a lot… but it’s funny the phrase, I don’t care, got me in trouble once, a long time ago with my wife… because when you’re planning a wedding.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, sure.  

Jack Stahlmann: It was 11 years ago, 10 years ago… and she asked me about something, and I just said, okay, you know that… and she said, for the in the future… please say I have no preference. And to me that was the same thing in my mind… I had no preference about it. I guess I did care, but I didn’t really care… does that make sense?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I think that’s actually better for us to say anyway… I don’t have a preference instead of I don’t care.
Jack Stahlmann: I don’t have a preference, yeah. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Because then it is like, maybe I don’t care about you or something… so yeah. 

Jack Stahlmann: Oh 100% and we joke about that all the time now, it’s become like whenever it’s just like… I have no preference. If we see the other person, maybe teetering a little bit, you know…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, Jack, so good! Well, so tell us how we can find more information about your speaking. If you want to pick up your book that you co-wrote, tell us about how we can do that.  

Jack Stahlmann: Oh, 100% I am at, dontflinchguy… all one word, no apostrophe… and on there… that has everything, so I can send you to Amazon, too, but you the links right on that website, my videos right at the top. You can scroll on down, find me on other channels… although I don’t do much social media which I know cost me business Cindra, I know, I know, I know… every speaker in the world like you need to do more social media… but it’s just not…. it’s not great for my mindset to be on social media.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I’m not sure you do. So there’s that.  

Jack Stahlmann: And but I do check the website a lot… I feel like an old man, I’ve become an old man. I’m off with that social media that those kids do, and but yeah, dontflinchguy. That’s always part of my message, I always say, you know… there’s no… I close just about every speech with this – there’s no silver bullet for success, I wish there was, I wish I could tell you that, but what I will say about every success story, every success story begins where they don’t flinch moment. There’s a moment in which you went for it, right? So, if you love your job, there’s a moment you applied… if you loved your wife, there’s a moment you asked her on a first date. If you can tolerate your husband, there’s a moment you said, this is fine. There’s don’t flinch moments. That’s kind of what every presentation for me is anchored in is not just knowing is half the battle… that GI Joe thing is a myth. That’s a myth… you know, knowing is not half the battle, knowing’s like a little bit… the rest is us doing it and not flinching… so, there you go.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Awesome, so Check it out… you can get his book over there and learn more about his speaking. I loved that you talked about today in terms of the invisible “it”, the George Clooney story… awesome, he totally has the “it”, and we talked about 4 steps.  

Jack Stahlmann: And a half…  

Cindra Kamphoff: The connect, the shift, and the mystery… and at the end we are talking about… I like, I’m going to check out that book, Factfulness, hat’s super interesting and fascinating.  

Jack Stahlmann: Yeah, they’re really fun. It’s really a fun to read with a lot of just surprising basic stats of things that you think aren’t going all in the world… they actually are going better than we think. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I love it. And at the end, not jumping to conclusions or making assumptions if people are having negative energy… so, Jack, thanks so much for being on today. I appreciate you, and I hope you have an awesome day. Thanks for making us laugh and smile today. 

Jack Stahlmann: It was my pleasure, thank you for having me Cindra.