Frank Carlisi is the Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of the ExV Agency. Born and raised in the Bronx, Frank brings a New York-centric style of creativity to the global events industry.
With an elevated attention to detail and a strong focus on creating unique, experiential events that leave an unforgettable and uplifting impact, Frank has worked with some of the largest international firms in the world, and has shared his event planning strategies with startups, emerging businesses as well as individuals looking to elevate their brands or social events.
Frank built his career and reputation in the hospitality industry in New York City and has a deep knowledge of how to produce events on a small or large scale.
His goal is to continue to uplift and empower as many people as possible through his unique events strategies, creative thinking and dedication to building lasting and authentic relationships with everyone he works with.
Stephen Box: 0:00
Hey everybody welcome to the Unshakable Habits podcast. I am your host Stephen Box and I enjoined today by Frank Carlisi. So Frank, thanks for joining me today.
Frank Carlisi: 0:11
Stephen. I've been looking forward to this conversation for weeks months. Now I'm thrilled to be here. Thank you for
Stephen Box: 0:16
having me. Yeah. So just to give people a little bit of a teaser into what we're going to be talking about today we're talking about the idea of how to overcome imposter syndrome. And Frank knows a lot about that. Growing up as a gay man in a Catholic Bronx neighborhood and having to pretend to be something he wasn't. And then later on realizing how that impacted has self-worth and then realizing that he used work as a, a scapegoat for that. So we're going to dive into that whole story. We're going to talk about what it was that ultimately led to him, realizing that, Hey, something has to change you. We're going to talk about what that something. Then once we do that, we'll spend a few minutes actually helping everybody see, like, how can you implement this? And then for those joining us live in the private Facebook group at the end, we'll set aside about 10, 15 minutes to answer any questions. If you have any questions that you want to type in during, you can put those in the comments and we'll pull them up at the end, just throughout that way, you don't forget what you want to ask, but Yeah, to stay tuned, to catch all of that good stuff.
The right habits puts you in control of your health relationships, mindset, and more, but most people lack the tools to stick with those habits long enough to see results that is about to change. Welcome to the unshakable habits podcast with your host habit change specialist and speaker Stephen. Join us each week as experts share their stories, experiences, and insights, and give you the tools to build Unshakable habits. Oh, you can live life on your terms. It's time to take your habits from unsustainable to unshakable
Stephen Box: 2:11
all right. As I said, I am joined by Frank Carr, Lacey. Today, we are going to be talking about how to overcome imposter syndrome. So Frank, I want to really hit this jump right into this and give you a sense of where we're going with this. So you told me a story when we did our pre-interview about being, I think you said you were like eight years old at the time riding in the car with your head down. And one of your mom's friends emailed something out her car window at you share
Frank Carlisi: 2:42
that story with never forget her name was Anne Bello. Shout out to Anne bellow in the Bronx. I hope you're well. I was this young kid in the Bronx, as you mentioned, New York grew up in a very Italian Catholic environment, neighborhood family. And for whatever reason, I would walk out the door and my eyes would go straight to the. Always down, always looking down, not looking outside myself, not being open to what was around me and I'll never forget and beeped the horn. She must've been driving a minivan knowing her beep the horn and she screamed Frankie. That's what everybody called me in the Bronx. Get your eyes off of the floor now. And if I ever see you doing that again, whatever expletive, Bronx, Italian Yeah reprimand that she, she said to me, but that's stuck with me until this day that someone actually took a minute to see that I was so closed off to the world, myself, my environment, that they tried to pull me out of it. And I think there's something so powerful in that, that I tried to do in my life for other people as well. But it was such a learning lesson. It's such a powerful moment in my life. I actually believe that moment. The man that I am today.
Stephen Box: 3:59
So you say you were looking down at the ground, you said for some reasons. So if we dive into that, do you have an idea of what that recent.
Frank Carlisi: 4:06
Absolutely. I will 100% do obviously starting with a lack of confidence for sure. But as you mentioned, I was growing up as a gay man in a very heteronormal neighborhood. Where your religion, your upbringing, your ethnicity, and your, your social class was all pointed against that lifestyle. If you will growing up in the 1980s and nineties in New York there was no apps. There were no, no other people you can look to see someone like you in the media, unless it was a parody. But. For me it really be got a level of losing my confidence at a very young age, not feeling worthy to be in a room with other people because I had a secret and I wasn't being true to myself in the environment that I was in. And it just led me. Very much internalize and not be the person that I wanted to be. It was a very difficult time. And those little glimpses into people that, that got me were so powerful. I just told the story, that was, that kind of, takes me through that for sure.
Stephen Box: 5:19
So I want to ask you this because you brought it up. Yeah. There's a lot of debate amongst people of. Are people actually born gay. Do they learn to be gay? There's this debate between people who have different beliefs. Sure. So when you were eight years old, did you actually think to yourself, Hey, I'm gay or did you just did you find it that you weren't necessarily like when they're like, oh, you don't like this girl? You're like, no, not really. Like what what was it.
Frank Carlisi: 5:46
There's two answers to that question. There's the eight year old dancer. And then there's the 41 year olds answer. Looking back at the eight year old I'll start with the eight year olds answer was, I was not gay. There was something wrong with me. Okay. Now in hindsight, when I look back at that, I realized that I was born gay. I firmly believe that we are, members of the LGBTQ community are born that way. For lack of. Lady Gaga song, but yeah, I, but I, at the time, which is, really interesting to dive into and think about, I didn't think of it in those terms. I just thought of it as an abnormality, for lack of a better
Stephen Box: 6:25
word. Yeah. So like, when you say it's an abnormal over there, can you talk today? You know what I'm trying to say? No,
Frank Carlisi: 6:32
Stephen Box: 6:33
What exactly was it? What kind of things were you being told that made you feel like this isn't normal and. That's what started making your confidence go down?
Frank Carlisi: 6:44
Sure. Obviously attending a Catholic school and, attending mass. I was an alter boy at St. Francis Xavier church in the Bronx. Great people of course, it was the time and it was, you're going to have. If you are, if you're deviant in any way or you're, going against the normal code. So there's that, that was instilled. I feel like in school at the time, it just wasn't discussed. I can't remember taking a sex ed class. At all maybe very briefly and ha and later, maybe in high school, but at that, not really. So I wasn't getting an edge in an edge, in an education format. Definitely being preached against in church, but also at home, it wasn't, it was something that I believe very strongly that my parents were definitely afraid of a, that I was going to get hurt. Beat up if you will, because that's what was we were seeing at the time and what happened. But I also think obviously the aids crisis was happening and it was just something that people were terrified of and really. We tried to shun shun away from, so I think that is, and I, I can't speak for my late mother and my father was still alive, but I believe that had a very big part of it. And of course, what the media was portraying at the time because of the aids crisis. For sure.
Stephen Box: 8:11
Yeah. And I'm glad you brought that up because one thing I wanted to just point out to people in more of a general context is. This is the power of subliminal messaging. No one actually came to you directly. If they said, Hey, Frank, this is a problem for you, right? But they were saying, Hey, people who feel the way you feel are wrong. And there are people who are African-American deal with sublingual things like this. Women deal with stuff like this. People from, trans gay, all that whole community, they go through this whole thing. So it's something I think a lot of people can relate to on different levels where when there's something that you feel and everybody around you is telling you is wrong to feel that way or it's wrong to be that or that you're somehow less than because of. Even if no, one's saying it directly to you, it has such a profound impact, even on an eight.
Frank Carlisi: 9:14
Definitely 100%. And just to piggyback on a point there, I would consider myself someone that past passes, if you will, which means I back then, I don't think very many people thought that I was potentially gay or, in that. So I definitely have a word. When I was younger to overcome that, I shaped my, myself, my, my mannerisms, the way I carry myself in public. Two paths, because I didn't want anybody to know. And I've just learned. And this is something that I've honestly never thought about discussing this with you, is that I've learned to unteach myself that in a lot of ways I would be very buttoned up very, Pretending, to be straight, if you will. And it took me years and years of actually thinking about it to realize that I worked against it to just be who I am. Not that I have to be something different, but just to feel at a base level for who Frank
Stephen Box: 10:17
is. Yeah. So not even just a matter of. Going through this actually affecting your confidence and making you feel like you couldn't fully express who you were, but actually making you actively try to be something else.
Frank Carlisi: 10:32
Absolutely. Yeah. And I feel like that's an experience for a lot of people. We're blessed today. It's not something that a generation has to worry about as much as the ones prior. I love that we could see that. And I look at younger, a younger generation and see how they're expressing themselves and how. This isn't even something in their world. We've worked past it in a lot of situations. In some situations, of course it still exists, it makes me happy to see that is not impacting a generation as strongly as it did my own. Yeah.
Stephen Box: 11:09
Yeah. So going from that little kid who had your head down to start getting a little bit older. So you probably started to become a little bit more aware of your sexuality. Sure. So it's like you said, it didn't start off necessarily as oh, I'm, I'm gay. It started off as like, why am I different? What's wrong with me? And then eventually you start realize why you're different. Exactly. So having two. Live in that environment, as you started to realize that you talked about how it made you start to pretend to be something that you weren't. So take us through that process a little bit of. When you are trying to pretend, because this ultimately is what led to you doing the work thing and bury yourself in at work. So kinda talk to us about what that was like, trying to keep that secret from your family and trying to keep up those appearances.
Frank Carlisi: 12:01
It was the most terrifying feeling of I could express it was a constant state of, for me fear I could speak from my high school years where I wanted to, join the school play and I had to I was in a play called bye bye birdie. I'm sure a lot of your viewers will have heard of it. It's pretty classic. And there was a one scene where one of the characters, male characters has to put it on a dress to. Assimilate into a crowd in order to make a big speech to his girlfriend and this whole thing. And I was that character. So when the costumes came and there was a dress in the costume, I'll never forget having to, I brought the costumes home and I hid that and I put that in my bag because I did not want my parents to see that God forbid, that was terror. I felt, but. Little wins where, you know, I would still. Partake in those, I didn't shut myself off completely. I would still say, okay, even though I'm hiding this from my loved ones, my family I'm still going to be myself, but I had to be myself outside of the doors of my home, which is. And outside of my social circle in most cases. That, that would pretty much sum up a really big portion of my high school, a wonderful high school experience. I should say. I was the captain of the ice hockey team at the same time that I was the lead in the high school play. Not a lot of people get to do that. And that was always who I was. I was, I have, two sides that I was just then learning to bring into one. At that point, I was keeping them very much separate leading into a little later in college. And when you start expressing yourself sexually, I would most likely say that I was a late bloomer I didn't seek out companionship in that way, very much through my high school and college years actually. And again, something a lot of people can relate to. It's and again, the root is fear. The root is fear for what you're being, what's being instilled in you again, worried about. Contracting something or anything that you were carrying from your childhood? Really? I kept it through my early twenties. So it was, a very difficult time, but rooted in fear.
Stephen Box: 14:25
Okay. And I think what we talk about imposter syndrome that's I think really the core of it for everybody, is it's that fear that you're not good enough. And they, everyone is going to find. And for you, I imagine that at some point you didn't necessarily view being gay as being a matter of not being good enough, but you've viewed it as still being wrong, or at least you knew that's how other people would view you, that you were, that there was something wrong with you. And there's that fear factor, like you said of I don't want people to know because what's that going to do? Like, how's that going to change my relationships? Are my parents going to disown me or, are my friends going to stop hanging out with me? It's there's a lot of fear there about what's going to happen. It's everything that's familiar to you, it's going to go away.
Frank Carlisi: 15:14
Yeah. That is such a good point, even honestly. I, when I came out, that story, it was a very slow burn. And again, not inside my home, that's a whole nother, we can get into that for sure. But coming out to my friends, it brings up a really great point. I remember saying to one of my friends, thank you so much for staying friends with me. Think I can't believe you're doing this. You're still, and it, I don't remember his reaction, honestly, but it was a male straight friend that I've known since I was literally three years old. And, but what I did and I, this is a regret that I have in my. I feel like I pushed people away that, and didn't give them the chance to be understanding if, because they didn't feel good enough. And like you said, I was I was afraid. So my fear really did affect my friendships at that stage of my life. V rather significantly, for sure.
Stephen Box: 16:11
Yeah. Yeah. That the irony and the fact of you're trying to avoid. Pushing people away, you're trying to avoid losing friendships. And in the process you were actually pushing them all yourself. That's
Frank Carlisi: 16:26
Stephen Box: 16:30
Yeah. It's one of those things. I think when we look at situations in our life where we have fear around other people's thoughts or what their reaction is going to be to think. One of the key things that we can really do is sit back and recognize that we can't control what other people do, but we have control over what we do. We have the control of how we react to whatever their reaction is.
Frank Carlisi: 17:03
That's the truth. I think something that, we don't really think about so often is that we, like you said, we can only control our own reactions in certain cases. And you saying that reminds me of a story. I was dating someone again probably mid to late twenties now. He ended up moving in with me. I had an apartment and I remember the fear of when we went to the grocery store together. Cause I lived locally to my family and I. I can remember that feeling of fear so greatly. What if we're in the can suit bio and incomes? My mom and my dad. And what do I do? So it's remarkable. How these things shape you as a human being and then talking about them in examples like today you don't get to do often. Wow, how powerful this conversation is already for me. And we're not even that far into it. So thanks Stephen.
Stephen Box: 18:04
I see my
Frank Carlisi: 18:04
bill in the mail. Okay. Good. All right, I'll send you the wrong address. Okay.
Stephen Box: 18:10
Fair enough. Fair enough.
Frank Carlisi: 18:12
Stephen Box: 18:14
one of the things that we talked about windy in the pre-interview was how. I think you said you were in high school at the time. It may have been early college, but you started working and you would pick up extra shifts at work to avoid family functions. Just the, you didn't have to answer the question about why you didn't recruit.
Frank Carlisi: 18:35
Absolutely. As a, as much as I could. I did that for sure. Yeah.
Stephen Box: 18:40
So how did, cause I think this is what happens to a lot of people. When they have imposter syndrome, they find something else to learn. And they use that to build up a false sense of worth. So how did work for you actually transition from something that you were just using as a scapegoat to avoid those family function? The becoming something that actually was way less healthy.
Frank Carlisi: 19:05
Stephen Box: 19:06
yeah. That's not that the way you were eating in the first place it was helping.
Frank Carlisi: 19:10
Absolutely. No, I it's. Reflecting on that is very, it's very powerful to do and there's a lot of lessons in the story. You associate working. Most people do, obviously it's something you have to do. You have to pay your rent. I would define myself as an overachiever because of this I feel the absolute obligation to push myself in a work setting and oftentimes in a physical setting or, at the gym I have to do more. I have to struggle. I have to fight harder. I have to put in an actual. Hour or two. And that I believe honestly will, can definitely conclude that. That is because of that repressing, who I was and throwing myself into work at a young age. I like you said, I didn't want to be, I didn't want to have to answer the question. How come you, who is your girlfriend? How come you didn't bring someone? It was such a, it was a knife through my heart. That question, it is as simple as it sounds. It hurts so much. It was. Insult, you could say to me at the time, because I felt so. What I was doing was wrong. So so you're calling me out on it in front of family. And I, looking over at my dad or something that to me was not worth going to the event. So like you said I worked, I took extra shifts. I. Catered. I did everything. I worked on the weekends, when I knew those events were going to be is when I took jobs that would conflict with that. So I was not present. And again, another regret is I wasn't present for some family of mine. That was, I didn't know that was going through something similar. One of my female cousins later on, I found out was gay as well. And one of my regrets in life is that I was no, I wouldn't say focused on my own issues, but I was, I threw myself away from being around people that actually needed me at the time and that I could relate to and grow along with. So it was a very much a double sword, pretty tough time.
Stephen Box: 21:13
Yeah. And I think there's a valuable lesson in what you just said there of, regardless of what it is that makes you feel like. You really need to sit back and ask yourself, what am I missing out on by allowing us fear to control me? I just think that's such a powerful thing for people to walk away with because it's common, right? Like when we have a fear, especially when we're aware that people are going to find out that we're some kind of fraud or phony, we avoid situations in which we might get exposed. And people they miss out on opportunities when they do it. And like you just said, it's one of your regrets.
Frank Carlisi: 22:00
Sure. Is it sure is. I wish I could have been there for her that, I absolutely do it. Is it sure it's certainly is that and pushing some other friends away that I just didn't give it to. Yeah.
Stephen Box: 22:12
And they, and you to now, you like don't know, or maybe you found out later on that they would have been totally cool with finger light. Absolutely.
Frank Carlisi: 22:19
I told agree. Absolutely. I run that for my, for myself, I don't know if this has, is a by-product of being a gay man, or if it's a byproduct of being born and raised Italian, American and Catholic, but we like to take care of people. I love to cook for everybody. I love to make sure everyone, I'm the type of person. I cook for everyone. I make sure everyone is fed and then I stand up and wait on everyone. And then when everyone's done, I do the dishes and then I that's who I am as a person. So I don't know what where that falls on my spectrum, but the reason why I bring that up is that is something that Enjoy to do it's in my DNA. And I was depriving myself of that of being that person. And now I am that person and it makes me happy, interestingly enough. But at the time I was depriving myself of who I was.
Stephen Box: 23:11
Yeah. My, my insight for you here is as someone who has several, a Italian for instance, has had several Italian clients in the past. It is definitely an Italian thing.
Frank Carlisi: 23:22
Stephen Box: 23:25
But I will also say that it could very well be a factor of being gay because one thing that I know about human behavior is our behaviors are usually a way to solve a problem. Or there a way to identify who we are and someone who is gay, who feels as though they haven't had that support system in place who feels as though they've had to go on their own all those years, it would make perfect sense that one of the personality traits they might adopt is to take extra care of other people, to actually be there for other people. So it could be both.
Frank Carlisi: 24:06
Yeah. Okay. Yeah, definitely generations of Italian men and women that did it. Plus this it's the perfect storm of you're getting a really good pasta dish and you're going to eat all of it or else you're not getting up from the table, Stephen. Okay.
Stephen Box: 24:24
I've had clients bring me stuff and they're like,
Frank Carlisi: 24:27
Go good. You deserve it.
Stephen Box: 24:31
I'm like, okay, I'll eat after work. They're like, no, right now, like I'm going to watch it.
Frank Carlisi: 24:38
That's us. What are you going to do?
Stephen Box: 24:41
Like I'm not even hungry. And
Frank Carlisi: 24:42
she's eight. That's wild. It's insane. I don't know. I don't know where we put it. It's a hollow leg, but a time's going to eat, but that's a whole nother we'll. We'll talk about that on the next pod.
Stephen Box: 24:53
Yes, I, we might have to actually have you back again, man. I might've saw it in your bio somewhere that you're actually a classically trained chef. I don't know. We might have to have you come on to talk food
Frank Carlisi: 25:04
to, let's do that. There's a lot of things to talk about with food that's for sure we can get into, we can get real deep on that topic. So I would welcome.
Stephen Box: 25:13
Okay. So back to what we're actually talking about, about overcoming imposter syndrome. Yeah. So you started going to work at what point did the work actually start to become your. What was there? Can you find like a moment that you can look back on and go that's really where it started to
Frank Carlisi: 25:30
happen? Absolutely. A big part of my story is that I lost my mother very tragically to brainstem cancer. At a very pivotal time in my life where. I was trying to mend my relationships with my family, with my immediate family. At the time everybody in my life knew of my sexual orientation. It wasn't a thing anymore, but I never was able to have the courage to say it to my mother, my father, my grandparents, my sisters knew of course. And I remember writing my dad and my mom, my dad, really a letter, but I sent it to the house. I wasn't living there at the time. And I remember my mother calling me saying, thank God I read this and not your father. So that was really hard. But the what had happened was right after that, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I was at the time. Every day, so my sexual orientation didn't matter. My life outside of taking care of her, I didn't matter anymore. It was not really an issue, but on the day she was diagnosed with this type of cancer. I remember her coming, I was at the house. One of my sisters was there. The other one was a young and still in school. And I remember hearing her crying out in the driveway and we were just, we just knew she didn't get good news. Obviously we knew. And I was like, oh, this is obviously my sisters, I was consoling her. But what she was crying about was I, she was crying to my father saying. I cannot allow you and Frankie to not have a relationship if I die and I mean that, to me, she wasn't even worried about herself at the time. She got a death sentence and that, so to relate it back to. After she passed away. I literally started my own business, a catering company as a chef. I named it Tony ans catering, which is my mom late mom's name, Tony Ann. And I started it less than three months. After we buried my mom, which was extremely traumatic for me and just watching her go through what she went through. That was my way of that was where I found my worth. That is the time that I could honestly pinpoint in my story. That work was it, the, her name was on the door. Her picture was on the wall. I didn't need a light. I didn't need anything else. I use this business to take care of everyone. My, both my sisters worked there. My partner worked there, friends from high school, college culinary school. It became the physical manifestation of dealing with my mother's death for six years. So that's the moment in time when that happened. Sorry that wasn't a long answer, but yeah, it's really impactful to my life.
Stephen Box: 28:33
Yeah, I can imagine like how hard that whole process must have been for you. Like you said, it's, by that point, everybody knew but you can't even bring yourself to tell your parents. And it sounds I don't know if your dad like, may have remarked to you or if he just didn't talk to you or whatever, but, I'm sure that moment where your mom is literally knows that, she's going to die now, any worried about herself, all she cares about is that you and him have a relationship. I'm sure that had so much impacting and probably put a lot of pressure on to you to make that business.
Frank Carlisi: 29:14
Oh yeah. Morning and night. That was it. So for sure.
Stephen Box: 29:20
And I think that's something lot of us do, when we're going through and we want to prove ourselves in a certain area or whatever. There's that tendency to really lock in on that thing. And once you lock in on and it's I have to stick with this. So for you, it was your mom, I putting in her picture of having her name on the front door and all that stuff. For other people, it might be, Yeah, Ernie and a bunch of degrees or certificates or something, continuing education. Like it's that constant need to prove yourself. And it all goes back to self-worth because I know from our previous conversation and you can elaborate on this, but I know at this point in your life, you still hadn't actually put two and two together and realize where your self-worth.
Frank Carlisi: 30:13
Had none. Now I really had none because my mom was gone. So my whole motto mantra at the time was I meant to suffer. I meant to feel this way. I, this is it. This is the mind a lot in life. As I used to say, this is the cards I've been dealt and I was. Completely resolved to that for many years. Yeah, that's the truth.
Stephen Box: 30:42
So let's switch gears here a little bit because we've covered where a lot of this imposter syndrome came from, how that impacted your self worth, how that self-worth actually ended up impacting other decisions, how it led to you becoming a workaholic, how, It created issues with relationships with in your life. We've covered all that stuff, but what about the turning point? What was it that light bulb went off and you said something has to change. And what w what were those next steps?
Frank Carlisi: 31:16
It's really nice to reflect on this for sure. There's quite a few, I wouldn't say there was one moment similar, to the passing of my mom. I would say that there's multiple steps to, to this type of. You know where I am today, which is a group in a great place for the first time at 40 in my forties feeling that I'm 100% myself. So that's brilliant. That's fast forwarding to the end of the story, but what got me here is honestly it is. After you lose someone so close to you, peace in when it's your mom, it's a piece of your soul. That is a grace period of allowing yourself to heal. And it's honestly, when I took the time after I sold my business, I waited six years, I sold. That was a really big turning point for me because I made the decision that I didn't want to live my life, where I was, where the business was and eat, breathe, and sleep it. So that moment that I made that decision to do so and break free. Everything, we were really successful our business. It was something I could be doing till this day and doing well, but I knew as a person as a person, I wasn't going to grow anymore. I was still living in that environment. So selling my business was a huge turning point. And honestly, finance, starting therapy was a really big part for me, but also something really interesting is. It's experiencing heartbreak in a different way. I think in a romantic way, for me, I had really never experienced that before. And that. Me and to pieces, but the person that I rebuilt from that was all a hundred times stronger than any iteration of who Frank has ever been. So it was experiencing romantic heartbreak for sure. And then the thing that is, has brought me to where I am today is partnership. I have the best. Most incredible partners in my life, starting at home with my partner, Stephen just the right person that understands me and loves me for who I am, but also we can have a laugh and act, however we want. So finding my partner, which I, would've never been able to find if my heart didn't break into a million pieces and I had to put myself together professional part. My business partner, Karen GaN. Who is my heart and soul. I can't get through a day without her. She's actually in Hong Kong, so we work insane hours still, but at 11, 12 o'clock at night, we're laughing, our air, wants off and it's worth it. It's not that kind of work. It's brilliant. And then the creative. I get to do things creatively and I have an amazing partner. His name is Tim Grady and we create unscripted reality TV concepts that we work on together and we sell to different production companies and networks. So it's that home partnership, that creative partnership and that business partnership that for me, was what made me whole.
Stephen Box: 34:46
Okay. So first of all, you can't just drop the bomb on everybody and tell us if there's a such thing as unscripted, reality TV,
Frank Carlisi: 34:57
it's all in scripted. Actually, I wrote a script for someone today and unscripted reality, mate. Don't let me give away industry secrets here, Stephen. I'm going to get.
Stephen Box: 35:10
But in all seriousness, I do want to, I want to go backwards just a little bit and visit something because it's something I find people do this lot of towns with their own stories where they gloss over this major thing. But I want people to to really take a second to absorb this and maybe think about a time in their life where they've done something similar. Coming out of this imposter syndrome coming out of all of this guilt coming out of all this lack of self worth, you decided to start this business and you decided to get it hit into your mom. You've got her name on it and everything else be there for six years. Now, at some point, the light bulb went off and you said, I can't continue to do. But I want people to actually stop and think about how difficult that decision is, because this is something that you've attached a lot of value to over those six years. It's very successful. You got other people who are depending on you in this business, and let's not forget unless you change the name, your mom's name, still on it. So turning that business away, like just closing that. It's kinda like Fein, I'm getting rid of all this stuff. All those memories, all the self worth, all this stuff that I've attached to this for six years, I'm just getting rid of it. I have to ask what was that really finally helped you to realize it was time to move on and become the person that you were.
Frank Carlisi: 36:33
First of all, you're exactly right. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made in my wife. Most people start a business and don't attach that much emotion to. Yeah. If we're talking business advice, which very briefly, it's not the best thing in the world to do. Of course, and it's a great lesson that I've learned now in my successful businesses as well and, through the trials and tribulations of those, but that decision, was, it was so hard, but it was me. Putting myself first for one of the first times in my life, honestly, like I mentioned, I had my best friend from high school working there, her mother, her, people I met in culinary school, my best friend that I met in culinary school, it was the way that. W I, but that's me piling on more, doing more, lifting, more weight, running an extra mile. That's what I did. I didn't just keep it simple. I brought more into it and that is when I finally decided that I didn't have to do. In my whole entire life. I think that was the moment, honestly, that was when I said I can have a job. I could work a nine to five. I could keep it simple. And I did. That's just what I did. I sold the business and I. Probably should have taken off for longer than I did, but I didn't. And I started working for another very successful company that, where I learned a lot and grew. So that, that was it. It was realizing that my worth wasn't in this business, that's what happened and that I can work. To live and not live to work. It all happened in the same sort of storm. And that's really where I am today. Do I work crazy hours? Absolutely. But it just feels different. It does. Yeah. Yeah. I
Stephen Box: 38:30
can totally relate to that. I worked retail management for many years and putting in 45, 50 hour weeks. And I was just, I was always burnt out. I was tired and I probably put in 60 hour weeks now. I have a job working with the, one of the companies on Iceland certified through I have this podcast, I have a sports podcast. I have my Koshi business. I have so many things going on. I'm like always busy. It's like the first thing everybody always tells me you're always so busy. Yeah, but I love every last minute of it. Like I'm never tired from it. I don't feel exhausted for me. It's actually every bit of it invigorates me. Yeah.
Frank Carlisi: 39:13
Stephen Box: 39:14
Yeah. And so I can totally relate to what you're saying there. It's just it's such, it's just when you're doing something, because it's truly something you're passionate about and it's not all the other stuff, it just changes. Yeah. It
Frank Carlisi: 39:27
hits different. Absolutely. But you can't. I personally, and we believe that you can't find that career trajectory or that life trajectory, if you didn't go through the opposite. That's my opinion, my feeling, I don't think I would have gotten here if it wasn't for. Those experiences did I get a master's degree in healthcare administration? Yes. Do I have a culinary degree? Absolutely. Do I dabble in so many different creative spaces? I do, and I love to do it, but it's learning how to grow. It's not brushing it all aside. It's realizing your self-worth and your power in adapting, everything that you've learned to make the perfect career life you have right now. And that's what I for the first time can say that I've done. And I'm happy to say that I've done it. We'll always be struggling. They'll always be the hustle, but I every night I look forward to eight o'clock it's going to come. And my partner going to call me cause it's 8:00 AM in Hong Kong. And as much as I don't want to work at eight o'clock at night, I've been working. I had cooked dinner. I look forward to hearing her voice every night and that's my barometer. Yeah.
Stephen Box: 40:43
I love it. I love it. Yeah. So let me ask you cause I wanted to start to transition here and really help people to see how can they do this. But I've already, I've picked out a couple of things from our conversation already. But where I want to start is, and now it's kinda getting, trying to see if I can get you to maybe show me this earlier. So let's say right now, someone is in that same place that you were when you still have a catering business, they're living a life that is either based on the expectations, what they think other people want. They've they're living the life that people have explicitly told them, because there's some people out there that they're doing what their family wanted them to do. So when you, when someone is in that situation where they're not living the life, they want to live and they deep down, they know they're not, was there something like, maybe somebody said something to you? Like just something happened. What was it that kind of made you finally have that moment? I have to change this. What is there, was there something that people can actually look for in their own lives? It might clue them to say, you know what, it's really time for you to make.
Frank Carlisi: 41:52
Yeah. There's a lot of content out there these days that speak to this, honestly, from being your best self-help books, all that stuff, but for me, I honestly can say the moment that I, the moment that I made these decisions and was able to grow was in. Paul was in partnership. I really think that was the moment for me personally. It's listening. This is something I speak about a lot. You have to not just work with your blinders on, or just walk around in your own bubble. There is so much going on in this world that can lead you down a road that you would have never dreamed of. I use that as a creative analogy a lot. I take directly from Elizabeth Gilbert. She did a Ted talk many years ago and she said creative idea is not birthed in me. It's out there. All I have to do in my responsibility is to grab it and bring it in, bring it down and put it on paper. That to me is so impactful. And that's all you have to do to achieve what you want to do, whether. Being a creative, a painter, an artist, driving a truck, whatever makes you happy. It's grabbing that idea and making it happen. But listening to the universe and the world around you for the clues, I think everyone's going to have a different experience. I don't think that there's one answer, but listening, just listen and you'll find it somehow. So that's my advice.
Stephen Box: 43:25
So for you w when you were listening, was it that you started to realize that your passion was somewhere else? Is that kind of what it started to happening for you? You started I really would love to do this.
Frank Carlisi: 43:35
Yeah, no, honestly, I love, I wanted to have a catering business. That was my dream. I had my dream. I have it. I literally had it. What I did was I said that. I need to let go of so much in the past and I can't have my dream and I can't do that at the same time. And that's, is that common? I don't know, but that was my experience. And what I did was I had to let go of pieces of my dream only to realize that I've rebuilt my dream stronger than I ever thought I could.
Stephen Box: 44:11
Okay. So for you, it was really listening. To your own heart. And so like when you were getting those nudges from, within you to say this isn't working for you finally stopped and
Frank Carlisi: 44:27
listened, that's it? That is exactly what happened. And the calls were coming from inside the house, as they say, but yeah, it's listening to myself for the first time.
Stephen Box: 44:41
So by the way, no one under the age of 35 gets at joke.
Frank Carlisi: 44:45
I it's from scream whenever I'm,
Stephen Box: 44:48
I'm 43 myself, so I totally got it, but
Frank Carlisi: 44:52
okay, fine. I'm 41. Us young. We've got to reference some things
Stephen Box: 44:56
I left earlier. When you say 40 something, I was like, yeah. That's what happens to you turned 44 8 which year? The 40. Sure,
Frank Carlisi: 45:04
exactly. Like 40. It's such a weird, yeah. Yeah. Listen, we'll go into that another time too. Cause I got a lot of feelings about that for what is 40 carrots? It's still just read your comic books, watch your star track. Who cares? Do what you gotta do. That's it holds up to it all. Yeah.
Stephen Box: 45:25
Let's actually come over the list here for people, right? So the first thing is. Pay attention to your thoughts, pay attention to the passions that you have, because if maybe you're not living your passions like you were, but maybe somebody else isn't right. But listen to what's your happiness meter site, right? That's a big takeaway is what you're doing truly making you happy. The second thing is, start to set your own expectations, right? Start to realize, am I living by other people's expectations or am I living by the thoughts that other people have for me? Or am I actually doing what I want to do? Because it's what I want to do. And I think that's a really big one. Another one that you threw out was in order to. Move past this imposter syndrome and start to actually see your worth. You have to stop making assumptions.
Frank Carlisi: 46:25
Stephen Box: 46:26
Start asking deeper third, asking people, start church, trusting people. And here's the reality. And this is the scary one, right? Someone out there is going to confirm your. For you, it was your father. Someone is going to confirm your fear. You have the power to choose how you respond to that. And it, the end of the day, it's one of those things where it's like, if someone only loves you, because they thought you were a certain thing, but you're really not. Does that person actually love you? They don't, they love what you were pretending to be. Now. That doesn't mean that person can't love you as a person. It's just that what they've come to love about you is this for thought, right? And until you get rid of the facade and you can honestly start to develop that relationship with that person, there's no hope of them actually loving the real you, because they don't know that.
Frank Carlisi: 47:36
Yeah, no, that's true. And I, if I could just say one thing to that I know I mentioned this earlier, but don't lean away, lean in as hard as you can. That is something I didn't do. So did I give him the chance? I don't know. Give people the chance to make their own decisions too, in this process. But when your urge is to lean away and run away, lean in harder than you ever did before. And then, and only then can you make the decision? If that's not something you need to keep in your life, but push and push until you can't push anymore. That's another takeaway. I would definitely watch.
Stephen Box: 48:16
Yeah. And then I think one big one I know for my personal life that I can speak to I went through my 80 pound weight loss journey and I became a certified trainer for the first couple years. I got down to a point where I had lost the 80 pounds, but I was still maybe 15, 20 pounds overweight, but honestly I was just tired of dieting. I was just tired of it. I just kinda hit a point where I was like, you know what, I'm good where I am. I'm just going to stay here. And I always felt like I would do consultations with people. And if they like, look down, I'm thinking like, oh, they're looking at my gut, whatever. I cost myself so much money and so much. We're in about what people thought of me. And I kept blink earning all these certifications and everything else, trying to prove my worth. And then it was like, it was a repeating cycle of I get more information. I get more knowledge, but now it just reinforced the fear. And so for me, what ultimately helped me to break it was. I had to embrace my own. And I think that's really the final key to all of this is to embrace your own worth because. Every single one of us has something really special that we can actually bring to the table. And I'm going to bring up one more thing that you touched on. Cause that was my last point, but I wanted to touch on what you're on this other thing you brought up cause it actually ties to go something I learned about just yesterday actually. can't remember what the name of it is now. It's cause 5g or something like that. Probably butchering that, but it's a it's a Japanese art. Where, what they do is they take a bolt is in broken and they don't try to cover up the cracks and make it look like it used to, they fill it in with gold nature, limited, more beautiful. And you touched on this concept that when we're going through these things, it's not about getting back to who you were. It's not about making yourself perfect. It's about going through the struggle, appreciating the things that came out of it and getting stronger as a result, because we all think that when we go through hard times that we're broken the hard times of what makes it beautiful.
Frank Carlisi: 50:49
I love that. That is the perfect analogy for our whole conversation. Honestly, I related it to a heartbreak that I went to a went through, there is, be the image of the morning. Widow a Sicilian woman standing on the mountain, wailing covered in black and avail and she's screaming and she's so upset, but she gets it out. She cries ugly. She throws a fit. But it comes out of her and it goes out into the universe. And if through that grief, that hardship, that darkness is when she's able to rebuild. So that's that's it in a nutshell. So yeah, pretty
Stephen Box: 51:32
cool. It's analogy that I've given to some of my clients before of when everything is perfect. Yeah. There's no. Because we don't see a need for growth. One of my, one of my mentors early in my career told me that if you don't have a difference between where you are and where you want to be, you don't have a problem. And so my mentality has always been when things are perfect and you don't have any problems, there's no reason for you to grow. It's very easy to stay stagnant. It's not until things start to get hit. And things start to fall apart and all of a sudden the difference between where you are and where you want to be changes. And now you actually have a problem to solve that. You go to work building skills and getting better. And that's why I think going through that process of that heartache or that suffering, I think that's why it makes us stronger because that's when we find out who we really are.
Frank Carlisi: 52:35
For sure. Yeah. Yeah.
Stephen Box: 52:39
Yeah, Frank, I really appreciate the you taking the time to have this conversation today. I know your partner's gonna be con here in just a couple of minutes. I don't want to keep you from that.
Frank Carlisi: 52:47
Under the nose. She's going to love that 7 58. All right.
Stephen Box: 52:53
So real quickly 'cause I know that what we talked about today has absolutely nothing to do with your business. But real quick, tell people what it is that you do, and if they want to connect with you, how did they do that?
Frank Carlisi: 53:03
Love it. Yeah. I actually am the co-founder of the exv agency. We are a PR and marketing firm. We work with small and large businesses alike. You could reach me. I check my website out at www.Exv-agency.com. Perfect.
Stephen Box: 53:24
Awesome. Again, man, I appreciate you coming in. Appreciate you being so open and honest with us today. And I want to just remind everyone that none of us are born unshakable, but all of us can become unshakable.