An extraordinary episode with a man of true brilliance, courage, distinction & genius.
Delighted to welcome South African born Los Angeles-based Designer, Philosopher, Creative Mentor, Professor & Coach, Errol Gerson. A wise owl indeed!
Errol was 'Passed the Golden Baton' through previous Guest, Iain Thackrah.
Part philosopher, part accountant and natural born teacher, Errol has helped shape the creative minds of the world famous Art Centre College of Design in Los Angeles for over 50 years, preparing over 5,350 students to embark on incredible creative businesses and SUCCEED in an ever changing field.
You can also Watch/Listen to Errol here:
And be sure to stick around after the outro for a wonderful post-script story from Errol too!
Errol Gerson is a lifelong learner, who trained as an accountant & has been sharing his business insight with creative people ever since. When Errol was himself at art school, one of his tutors acknowledged that he was a likeable lad but went on to say that, in his opinion, he did not have a creative bone in his body!
Errol had left school with a certificate that declared him not suitable for university. At this point, he may have been down but he was definitely not out. Inspired by people like Joan Baez & Bob Dylan, Errol Gerson learned to play the guitar, wrote anti-apartheid songs and sang them in coffee bars, where the customers applauded but the police took a somewhat different view!
When a visiting American suggested he was possibly good enough to get a record deal & that America might appreciate his talents, whatever his South African critics might say, Errol set off for the USA with a very small suitcase and a tiny bundle of US dollars to match. He arrived 3 months early, in some distress. When he was evicted from his rooms for non-payment of rent, he took his last two bucks to a local coffee bar where, fortuitously, he found a job as a dishwasher, a free meal of sorts every day and even a single bed in exchange for cleaning, reminiscent of Roger Miller’s ironic 'King of the Road'.
Errol Gerson now has half a century’s relevant experience in the USA teaching at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. He himself has been inspired by all his teachers in California, as well as by iconic writers like Wayne Dyer, Stephen Covey, Viktor Frankl and Gail Sheehy. To avoid bearing grudges or allowing resentments to take root, Errol recommends a rigorous programme of prayer and meditation, as well as actively cultivating an attitude of gratitude, with the help of a moleskin notebook, on a daily basis.
Errol continues to be inspired by people like Plato, Socrates and Descartes.
Errol Gerson’s own story is well worth listening to & one of his favourite quotes says simply: “I touch the future. I teach.”
Tune in next week for more stories of 'Distinction & Genius' from The Good Listening To Show 'Clearing'. If you would like to be my Guest too then you can find out HOW via the different 'series strands' at 'The Good Listening To Show' website.
Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW wherever you get your Podcasts :)
Thanks for listening!
Welcome to another episode of the Good Listening To Show your life and times with me, chris Grimes, the storytelling show that features the clearing, where all good questions come to get asked and all good stories come to be told, and where all my guests have two things in common they're all creative individuals and all with an interesting story to tell. There are some lovely storytelling metaphors a clearing, a tree, a juicy storytelling exercise called 5-4-3-2-1, some alchemy, some gold, a cheeky bit of Shakespeare and a cake. So it's all to play for. So, yes, welcome to the Good Listening To Show your life and times with me, chris Grimes, are you sitting comfortably here? Then we shall begin. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a very, very exciting day. Here in the Good Listening To Show Clearing stories of distinction and genius, I have the lovely wise owl that is Errol Gerson here in the clearing. We're also recording live as a LinkedIn live as well as we record. So please welcome, errol Gerson, all the way from Los Angeles. Thank you so much. So what time of day is it for you? Because it's 4.30 here in the UK on the PM.Errol Gerson:
So here it is a balmy, 79 degrees Fahrenheit at 8.30 AM.Chris Grimes:
And good morning to you, lovely man. You did the most glorious post yesterday, something called Lessons in 50. You've very enigmatically written a book to commemorate the fact that you've had 50 years of being a professor in art, science, philosophy at the art center in Los Angeles Art Center College. And rather enigmatically, you did a 50 limited run of the book, 250 only available. No reprints ever and it's already sold out.Errol Gerson:
It's amazing, chris, when we put the limitation, my good friend and partner, Iain Thackrah, decided that sometimes it's scarcity alone that gives things value, and I'm a great believer in that.Chris Grimes:
Absolutely, and indeed thank you for that great segue and link there. Iain Thackrah was kind enough to pass the golden baton on to you, and of course you are a co-facilitator with Ian in his company. You work together, and he said of you that you are a master storyteller. He described you as being incredible and he said he's heard lots of your stories because he works very closely to you, but he always loves the fact because he goes oh, he's going to do that one. So I can't wait, and it's my joy, to curate you through the journey of this. Just before I do that, though, I was really struck with your construct of something called Lessons in 50. Really filmed, very sort of black and white, but obviously in color, but you're sitting there with a really fantastic, huge, I suppose, egg timer, but you impart extraordinary wisdom in a 50-second time zone, and you delivered the most extraordinary lesson about a recalibration of the word fear just yesterday. So have you been doing that as a series for a very long time About?Errol Gerson:
a year ago, ian and I decided that it is time to chronicle all of the things that I've been saying for 50 years, and so I reached out to a very dear friend of mine who is a professional videographer, works for one of the major companies and, thanks to ArtCenter, they provided us a studio, cameras, lighting, and I'm happy to tell you that there will be 24 more on their way on to LinkedIn, and I cannot wait for people to see these. I noticed this morning that the first one must have caught a nerve, because I think 1800 people so far have looked at it, so that's quite wonderful.Chris Grimes:
And what you and Ian are also crafting within what you do at 3.175 together, and the fact that you have taught, you do teach design, and so what's really, I suppose, sumptuous and delicious about what you have crafted is it's not surprising that those films are already getting traction, because it does look very deep in the heart of a Hollywood high production, valued epicenter.Errol Gerson:
I think that's very important. If you're going to do something, do it properly. I just want to be clear of one thing, chris there's not a creative bone in my body that is, entrepreneurship, leadership and management. Because I did attend, after high school, the Johannesburg School of Art. And the reason is because I was such a bloody awful student in high school that they stamped on my certificate not for university, so I wasn't allowed to go. So I went to an art school because I didn't know what else to do. In year number two, the lettering professor said Mr Gerson, you are a jolly nice person, you work very hard. You have absolutely no talent whatsoever. And, chris, not only was he right, but he stopped me from messing up the rest of my life, and I hold him in high regard because I left the art school and then became an accountant, which was the side of me that was joyous.Chris Grimes:
Wow and full circle. There's now some distinctly brilliant art being created in your Lessons in 50 series. Also, very intriguingly, I loved researching you because it described you as being part philosopher, part accountant, and you don't necessarily always put those two very necessary skills together, I have to say.Errol Gerson:
I couldn't agree more. But I don't think I could be who I am if I didn't play on both sides of my brain, Because growing up I was in rock and roll bands, I sang in coffee shops, I sang protest songs against apartheid, which got me into some trouble with the South African police, who didn't really enjoy what I was saying. But there's always been this duality the side of me that can process information, specifically accounting information, and yet at the same time be someone who takes great joy in being a philosopher which is discussing the great issues of life.Chris Grimes:
So here's a bit of a sort of left to fill question with all of that wonderful picture of a longevity, a very different and distinct experience to do with accountancy and philosophy. If someone obviously finds you compelling and says oh hello, you look interesting. What do you do then? What's your favorite way of either avoiding or just answering? So what does Errol Gersten bring to the world? What do you actually do?Errol Gerson:
I'm a can opener. I take the can opener, I put it against your brain and I give it a turn and I pop it open. And then I do something that most people don't do, and it's what I learned from Dr Stephen Covey when I attended his lecture on the seven habits of highly affected people, when he said seek first to understand and then be understood. So I do a lot of listening and only then because I've got a coffee filter brain the next day can I tell you how I think I can add value. I never use the word helping somebody because I think it's an insult. Helping somebody means that they're drowning. They're not drowning, they just don't have clarity. Like Marcel Proust said, you must have new eyes to see the world. And so that's what I do. I open up the brain, I look inside, I do a lot of listening and then I tell you what I've heard and where I think things are out of kilter, and then I try to weave them back together again, and that's why I call myself a management strategist, because that's what I should be doing.Chris Grimes:
And, by the way, I absolutely love it's obviously morning for you in Los Angeles but the idea of a coffee filter brain. Can I just congratulate you for that particular way of expressing that. And so it's my great pleasure and sincerely looking forward to curating you through the various parts of the route map of the Good Listening To Show stories of Distinction and Genius. There's going to be a clearing, a tree. We're going to shake your tree to see which storytelling apples fall out. You're already beginning to give us the texture and the flavour of that, and that's going to be your responses to the exercise 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. There's going to be some alchemy, some gold, a couple of random squirrels, a cheeky bit of Shakespeare and a cake. So it's all to play for. So let's get you on the open road. So, errol Gerson, first of all, what is? Where is a clearing for you, would you say? Where does Errol Gerson go to get cluttery, inspirational and able to think?Errol Gerson:
That's easy, chris Prayer, and it is something I do every morning and every night and every day. For one hour a day, I study with the teacher the five books of Moses, and that is my clearing place.Chris Grimes:
Wonderful. So I was going to ask it's not a meditation prayer? Well, it is, it's meditative, but it's specifically to do with religious prayer.Errol Gerson:
Yes, and I do meditate every single night of my life.Chris Grimes:
Wonderful. What a deeply rooted, profound philosophy. Fantastic. So have you done that already today?Errol Gerson:
The very first words that come out of my mouth, chris, every day, are as follows Thank you, god, for returning my soul to me every day. And because I begin with gratitude, there is only one way that the day can go, and that is beautifully. The second thing I do is I look at a photograph of my four grandchildren, and then that puts a smile on my face, that goes all the way to my ears, and now I know that I'm truly blessed. The third thing is that I'm vertical, and that's a good thing at 78 years of age, because the alternative is terrible.Chris Grimes:
You are 78. You're looking fantastic for 78, I have to say. And when I first met you, by the way, you know how you often like somebody even more because you remind them of somebody my acting teacher was somebody called Rudy Shelley who was an ancient European mystic. I'm not calling you ancient and I know you're not European, but he was Yoda-esque in his acting brilliance and it was a bit like, hmm, acting teacher, will I will, but you have a facial resemblance to somebody brilliant called Rudy Shelley. So I liked you even more from the get-go because of that. Thank you, I take that as a great compliment. It was meant as one. Sincerely, I'm glad you didn't get snagged on the ancient bit there. That was great. I'm glad you talked. So we're in your clearing then, which is at prayer, and if I may and if I'm sorry to interrupt you in your prayer, but I'm now going to arrive a bit existentially, a bit waiting for Godot-esque with a tree in your clearing, to shake your tree to see which storytelling apples fall out, and somewhere I even got a prop. Here it is How'd you like these apples? So we're going to shake your apples in the form of a lovely juicy storytelling exercise where we crunch along on. You've had five minutes to have thought about four things that have shaped you, three things that inspire you, two things that never fail to grab your attention. And borrow from the film up, that's a bit well, squirrels, you know what never fails to grab your attention. And then a quirky or unusual fact about you, errol Gerson, we couldn't possibly know until you tell us. So over to you to interpret the shaking of the canopy of your tree as you see fit. So how would you like to interpret that?Errol Gerson:
If you shake my tree, there are two kinds of apples that come out. There are some apples, chris, that are not so wonderful, and they come from a very deeply difficult childhood. Up until the age of five, I was a happy young man with my sister and mom and dad, and then one day dad took off, never to be seen for quite a long time. Mom is left destitute with two children, and I ended up in a boarding school run by people who believed spare the rod, and so there was such an astonishing amount of abuse physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse and I was in that place until I was 10. That damaged me, but I didn't know that and I could only find that out later on in life. But I will tell you something very interesting Even enduring that place, chris, I never learned to hate. I learned to feel pity for these people that they had to resort to doing these kinds of things in order to quote unquote teach young people. So those are the apples that they don't go away, but I have dealt with them in therapy and have grown because of that. The other apples that fall down are the things that I learned to endure those five years, and they were to realize that my suit of armor was a sense of humor. So when the bullies came to beat me I would beat them with something extraordinarily funny and the minute they laughed they stopped beating me. And then something fascinating happened. They told anyone else, if you lay a finger on him, god help you. And so I learned that sense of humor which has been with me ever since and I credited to my mom, who had the most wonderful sense of humor, born in Dizbury, manchester, and she could always make people laugh, and that is a skill that I hold very near and dear to my heart.Chris Grimes:
Beautiful interpretation. So they sound like a whole clutch of shaping apples, but of course that gets you to a philosophy of survival, and so how else would you like to interpret in terms of shaping apples? Because that takes you to, you know, in the timeline, although you live your life by what you learned. That was when you attend. So what else would you like to say about shaping?Errol Gerson:
So let's move on to high school. The apples of my education were wonderful up until Form 3, standard 8 in South Africa, and then I made this terrible decision Instead of taking Latin in history, I chose art and geography. It sounded more interesting. So what they did in our school is they put me with the dummies because, you see, only dummies studied art and geography. And if you're in a class with dummies, you have two choices you can behave smart and get the crap beaten out of you, which happened daily, or you can learn to become a dummy, which is what I did. And so, in order to fit in, I would say absolutely rubbish, give answers that were wrong. You know, put my hand out, feel the rod, and it ended up in my failing the 10th grade. Having to repeat it, which was one of the most difficult days of my life, was the first day of repeating it, when the boys who were moving on pointed at me and said see, dummy, you're an idiot. And I began to believe it, chris, and it began to take over almost everything I did. I did graduate high school with the lowest possible grades possible and they stamped, as I told you, on my high school certificate not for university, which means I would have to wait till 23 if I wanted to go to study. I walked around like a wounded animal for a long time, and if I attended a gathering and somebody used a word like inflation, I would tell a joke because I didn't know what the hell it meant and that sense of shame I carried around as one of the apples. The only thing that allowed me joy was music, and so I learned to play the guitar. I was in a band called the Pebbles, which is a ridiculous name. We played Beatles covers and then I discovered folk music and I discovered Joan Baez and I discovered Bob Dylan and Peter Paul and Mary, and I said these people are changing the world with their words. And so I began my career at 18 as a folk singer and for three years I performed four nights a week at any coffee shop that would have me for 50 cents, and I began writing political songs that were anti-apartheid. Now those are the apples. That began to have a positive impact on me, because when I was finished a song, the audience would stand up and applaud and I thought to myself wait a second, you're the dummy who can't go to high school, to college. But people are standing up and applauding you. You must have a skill that they like, and that skill was storytelling, because my songs were stories, and so I wrote stories of apartheid and I began to study the works of Nelson Mandela, who became a very important hero in my life to this very day. So what did that do? That gave me another apple called second chances. One night an American came up to me in the coffee bar and he said you're very good, you should go and get recorded. I didn't even know what that meant, and so we became good friends and he said to me what are you doing? And I told him and he said why don't you go to a music festival? Why don't you go to America and study? I said I have a high school certificate. He says I can't go. He says not in America. In America you'll get a second chance. So after spending time with the South African police on a number of occasions and receiving attitudinal adjustments, as they call them, my dad said one of two things you'll either be dead or you'll be in jail. And so I packed my bags and kissed mum and dad and my sister goodbye. On July, the 2nd 1966, began chapter two of Errol Gerson. I went to America.Chris Grimes:
The brave new frontier, almost arriving at Ellis Island as well and going through the whole sheblang of arriving. Is that an?Errol Gerson:
It's exactly how it felt, chris. I knew nobody, I had no place to live. All I knew is I was in New York and I had to get to California because that where the college was, and so I BS my way onto eight different flights for free until I got to Los Angeles and then took seven buses and got to the college only to be told you're three months too early, go away and come back.Chris Grimes:
Wow At least you were there keen. So you were keen, you were early, and what did you arrive with in terms of goods and chattels, if you're being a classic journeyman who's totally changing their life for a second, just walking along with a sort of tramps bag, with a swag bag at the back, and what were you able to bring with you?Errol Gerson:
I had a suitcase, chris, that I think was maybe two feet long. It had two pair of pants, one pair of shoes, two pair of underwear and two t-shirts, and $260 to my name. That's it. Were you able to reconnect with your?Chris Grimes:
parents again subsequently in life? Obviously yes, yes.Errol Gerson:
My mom remarried a chartered accountant, a wonderful man who had a very positive influence on my life and of course they helped me as I stayed in America. But the first three months, I would say I spent more than half of my life in America. I would say I spent more than half of the days either crying or feeling very sorry for myself, both of which are rather silly because they accomplished nothing. So eventually I ran out of money and the apartment kicked me out because I couldn't pay the rent. So I went across the street to a coffee shop and I had $2 left and I bought a hamburger and a soda and I said to the waitress I need a job. And she said we need a dishwasher. Are you a dishwasher? And I said I am now Called. The manager took me to the back, he showed me the machine and he said you're hired Eight hours a day. You'll wash dishes, we will pay you 35 cents per hour and you can have one meal. Hallelujah, I was ecstatic. Here comes the best part. I finished the first four hours and then I go to the chef and I order a steak and french fries and the manager comes over and he says what the hell are you doing? I said I'm ordering food. You told me. He said young man, when the bus boy brings the food from the dining room to where you wash, if someone hasn't eaten their hamburger, that is your lunch. You eat whatever food comes. He said I promise you you won't die. And I did, chris. And then I said to him sir, excuse me, but in the supply room I noticed there's an old bed. In fact it had a wire frame. I said I have nowhere to live. If I clean and vacuum your restaurant, would you let me sleep there? And he said yes, and so at night I got locked into the supply room and that's where I slept for two months. Wow.Chris Grimes:
In your early narrative there are recurring stories of how to overcome rock bottom, almost because just crossing the road, having been kicked out of your apartment with only $2 to your name and the beatings you had in childhood, and la la, la, it's very. All stories of how to be resilient and overcome rock bottom.Errol Gerson:
And here's what I learned, Chris If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. It became my motto when my students graduate in my class. I wish them farewell, and then I wish them two other things, Not good luck and great success. No, I wish them challenge and adversity, because I know if they overcome both, they will become very effective and successful in their lives.Chris Grimes:
A very rich philosophy indeed. So, still within the canopy of your tree, you're interpreting it beautifully, by the way, because it's all multi-textured and all apples together, if you like. Would you like to talk about three things that inspire you now? All the three things that inspire you now?Errol Gerson:
with pleasure. The first is my love of learning. I am an LLL, I'm a lifelong learner. When I'm learning, I am so inspired, I'm on fire. And so the best way to bring joy to Errol is send him a book, and I don't care what subject it's on, doesn't make any difference. That's the first joy. The second is teaching. Now, that's important to get the understory. I go to this tiny little two-year college, and I am so fortunate because I am taught by some of the most remarkable men and women I'd ever met in my life. Dr Miles Eaton taught me economics. Dr Barbara Rush taught me speech. Dr Harry Painter taught me philosophy. Dr Edmund Burke taught me geography. I know them all, chris. I know all their names I've never forgotten. Dr Joe Crowell became my mentor, and so these people, I continually celebrate them, the days of their birth and the days of their demise. Those are my happy days and those are the people that inspire me. So now the question is how do I pay it forward? And the answer was so simple I am a born teacher, and so I, through pure luck, was invited to sit in as a guest teacher at the Art Center College of Design, arguably one of the four most important design schools in the world and teach them business, how to create a business out of photography or illustration. And the more I taught, the more I realized how inspired I was and I became a better teacher and I read courses and studied Socrates and Plato because they were the master teachers. So there is the second form of inspiration.Chris Grimes:
And in crafting your book and also in researching you, you quantified that it was helping preparing over 5,350 students to run incredible, creative businesses and succeed in an ever-changing field, and that's through the conduit of art, science and philosophy of creative entrepreneurship.Errol Gerson:
When they finally lay me down to rest. If someone is reading a eulogy, I certainly hope that the first words out of his or her mouth is here lies Errol. He was a master teacher. That to me, would be the epitome of accomplishment of the most important thing I ever did in my life.Chris Grimes:
We will be talking about legacy at the very end. I don't even mind if you repeat that exact same wonderful paragraph. That's a beautiful legacy, but we don't want to get on to. Here lies Errol at all, yet at all so wonderful? Anything else in the inspirational Apple plumage of the tree?Errol Gerson:
Yes, writing, writing and telling stories not only brings great joy to me, but, as I see it, brings great joy to others, and I think if you can say to somebody that at least during some parts of your life, that you brought joy and hope to people who perhaps were searching for it, then I think you lived a good life, and to me that's very, very important.Chris Grimes:
Okay, now we're going to talk about two things that never fail to grab your attention, and that's where the squirrels come in. Borrow from the film up. So what are your monsters of distraction? What never fails to grab your attention, irrespective of anything else that might be going on for you?Errol Gerson:
The first thing that grabs my attention are people who ask me a question. Because when somebody asks you a question there are two things that going on. One, they must have respect for you or they wouldn't be asking the question. But more importantly, they're saying to you you seem to have navigated what Gail Sheehy calls passages. Life is a bunch of passages and I've been down those and there are some great stories in those. But there's nothing more joyous than when somebody asks me a question. That actually makes me invoke the carpenter's rule. Carpenters rule is measure twice, cut once. Errol's philosophy Think twice, speak once.Chris Grimes:
And indeed that's there on your LinkedIn profile, by the way, as we're recording live on LinkedIn. Obviously, people will be galloping to have a look at that, I'm sure, and I would encourage you to connect with Errol. But yes, it does say that very same beautifully crafted thing.Errol Gerson:
And then there's something else on my LinkedIn site that is of absolute, paramount importance to me, and it is the Latin phrase cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore, I am the concept of incorporating that in my life. As an existentialist which I am, I firmly believe that essence precedes existence, and I have honestly, on a daily basis, said that to myself for perhaps the last 40 years. I think, therefore, I am.Chris Grimes:
A true philosopher.Errol Gerson:
Well, Mr Descar was a smart man. I like learning from smart people.Chris Grimes:
Even that's a great mantra of itself. Wonderful, and was that? Two squirrels or just the one there?Errol Gerson:
You know they really were two, because one is the concept of posing a question and the other is the only way to answer. It is to invest in yourself. And when someone like Brene Brown comes along and says vulnerability is a wonderful thing, that is an asset, it's like, oh, my goodness, where have you been? It's like boom, the back of my head got taken off. So those are days of such joy to discover people like Brene Brown Just incredible.Chris Grimes:
And now a quirky or unusual fact about you, errol Gerson, that we couldn't possibly know about you until you tell us and by the way I forgot there's a way of going through the various gates of the journey by going catch it at number three, please. So we're already now, very excitingly, at the bottom of the tree, the base of the tree, by a quirky or unusual fact about you, errol.Errol Gerson:
The quirkiest thing about me is interesting, chris, because it is still a struggle for self-acceptance when people tell you it goes away, it doesn't go away and it shouldn't go away. But what it does is it doesn't define who I am. Because about 20 years ago, a very dear friend said to me Errol, here is a book for you, and when you're done you're going to feel as if you've walked into a brick wall. And the book he handed me was Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel. And when I read this book I truly did feel like I had walked into a brick wall. And what did I come away with? I came away with this concept that when I'm no longer able to change a situation, then I'm challenged to change myself. And so the quirk is I fight those old demons. They're still there, like from that movie A Beautiful Mind. Those imaginary people were still there. He just learned to deal with them, and so I still deal with it and it's perfectly fine.Chris Grimes:
And with the struggle for acceptance, in the virtue and the joy of being an outlier, because although you're struggling and desiring acceptance, obviously your acute way of looking at stuff is because you're an outlier. I'm not saying you belong as an outlier, but you're able to be a sort of maverick outside looking in, and all of your experience is suffused with quite trial, quite tricky experience. To get to the point you've come to. You've had more trials than many, I would say.Errol Gerson:
Yes, chris, in 2005, I had congestive heart failure and rushed me to the ER and put the paddles on. And then I had 11 heart operations. And I remember very distinctly, just before one of the operations, the same surgeon had done two previous ones and he said to me, errol. He said every time you come in you have the nurses in hysteria who tell them jokes. He says, like this morning they wheeled you in and the nurse has to ask you what are you here for? And I said for a pionile implant. And you had the entire operating room laughing. Why did you do that? I said because it's how I conquer my fear, doctor. And he said to me would you do me a favor? I'm delivering your lecture next week here at the hospital. Would you come and talk to the doctors about this? And I did, and I talked about the word. Fear is simply false evidence that appears real, but when you reconstruct it, you are finally empowered to achieve results.Chris Grimes:
And indeed that was the topic. That acronym of EVAR was the topic of your first lessons in 50, the first of your 25 films that you're going to be bringing to us on your LinkedIn timeline, which is fantastic. And how did that lecture go? I'm sure we already know it went down well.Errol Gerson:
I think we were there for almost five and a half hours, chris. After it ended, in an hour, a bunch of docs came up to me and said to me hey, I want you to come and talk to my patient tomorrow. He's gonna have this operation and I did and I spent a lot of time doing that, and that's the part when I can touch another person and when they can find joy, because, you see, some days you're the pigeon and other days you're the statue. When you're the statue, just brush it off, it's okay. Being pooped on, it's not a problem.Chris Grimes:
If there is that joke about the two statues that, finally, that are stuck in a freeze together and then the day they're set free, rather than running off to get drunk, they go right. This time you held the bird and I'll put on it. Yes, exactly. So we have shaken your tree and now dot, dot, dot, dot, dot dot. We're gonna move away from the tree, stay in the clearing, and next we're talking about alchemy and gold. You've been giving us this by the bucket load in any case, but this is about when you're at purpose and in flow. Errol Gerson, what are you absolutely happiest doing? Teaching? I figured you might say that, and you're all about playing it forward, by the way, as well.Errol Gerson:
Yes, you know, chris, there was an astronaut by the name of Krista McAuliffe and she died on the Challenger Explosion. Very sad day, krista said something that is printed and is in my bedroom and it says I touch the future, I teach. When I read that very emotional. First thing I did was wept and the second thing I did was that's it. That's it, errol. You are touching the future and I can tell you, chris, that there's not a day on LinkedIn that I don't receive an email from someone 20 years ago, 25 years ago, 30, four years ago and they all say the same thing Yours was my favorite class at ArtCenter, not for what you taught us, but the way you challenged us, and that, to me, is the most important thing. That is my job as a teacher To challenge you, to stand on your own. You know, I had a friend once. Tell me, errol, you should congratulate me. I said okay, congratulations why? He said I'm just celebrating 10 years in therapy and I said oh my God, is it ever going to end? And he said what do you mean? I said it seems that you've just replaced one addiction with another. And he said two words to me, four letters and three letters, didn't speak to me for a year, but then later on, called me back and said good God, you were right.Chris Grimes:
And, by the way, the beauty of you getting the wonderful adage you just gave us about I teach and I touch the future and I challenge. You got it from the challenger astronaut as well. Beautiful. Can you just say the quote once again?Errol Gerson:
Yes, she said I touch the future, I teach. It's an astonishing statement.Chris Grimes:
It definitely is, and I'm just going to allow a bit of silence there, and now I'm going to award you with a cake, errol Gerson. So first of all, do you like cake?Errol Gerson:
I do indeed, as long as it's a carrot cake.Chris Grimes:
I was going to ask for the cake of choice. That's good, so it's a carrot cake. I think this is actually probably going to meet the brief. This is great. So you get to put a cherry on the cake now, and this is the final storytelling metaphor it's a multi-layered carrot cake, so you're going to put a cherry on the cake with, first of all, what's a favorite inspirational quote? You've already given us many, actually, but what's a favorite inspirational quote that's always given you sucker and pulled you towards your future?Errol Gerson:
So, if I may, chris, I want to give you two. The first one is from a man who became a mentor of mine and very important person in my life, dr Wayne Dyer. I have read every single book that Wayne Dyer ever wrote and been to probably 90% of his lectures and sadly we lost him four years ago. But the one that had the most impact was when he wrote the Power of Intention and he made the following quote that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change. Wow, when he said that, I was mesmerized, chris. I just sat there because it dawned on me. That's what I have done as I've struggled through life. I have changed the way I look at things. The second quote and forgive me because I'm going to quote myself, because it's what I tell my students who ask me where success comes from, and I give them an answer that surprises them. And here is my quote you cannot succeed unless you fail, and the more you fail, the more you succeed.Chris Grimes:
Lovely. Next, what's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?Errol Gerson:
It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get up. Muhammad Ali, yeah, that concept, chris, for me I can certainly say I got a PhD. But you know what's interesting, chris, I never, ever, learned the concept of resentment. Because, you see, I sort of believe that resentment is like drinking poison and believing it's going to kill my enemies. So when I say my prayers at night, here's the last thing I say I forgive every person I met today who did something, either overtly or inadvertently, that had a negative impact on me, and I wish for them a better day tomorrow. I go to sleep, chris, carrying no grudges. No more bags, no more bags. I'm done with the bags. And that's what therapy taught me how to put the bags down, implicit within.Chris Grimes:
This is just a final question in this series of questions. It is what notes help or advice at the beautiful age of 77, would you now offer to a younger version of Errol Gerson, and you can pick the age at which you tell yourself. Thank you.Errol Gerson:
I want you to go to a store and buy a molar skin, beautiful book. You will never throw it away because it's lovely leather, it's beautiful paper and it's lined and you should call it your gratitude book. And I hear a diet I want to put you on for 21 days. Number one when you go to sleep at night, take your book and I have probably 30 of these and write down for you. Take these and write down three things that you are grateful for that happened on that day. Step number two tomorrow morning, whatever time you get up, get up 30 minutes earlier and read 30 pages of a book you've never even thought of reading before. And number three when you go and brush your teeth before you lay yourself down, ask yourself this question Do I believe that, by the work I did today, that I deserve one more tomorrow?Chris Grimes:
Beautiful. We're ramping up to Shakespeare and borrowed from All the Worlds of Stage, which I'll explain in a minute. But just before we do that, there is the construct now which is called Pass the Golden Baton, please. Having now experienced this from within, who in your network era would you most like to pass the golden baton onto in order to keep the golden thread of the storytelling alive?Errol Gerson:
The name of this person is Marcus Stradivin. He's a Dutchman. I had the great fortune and privilege of meeting Marcus about five years ago. We have become kindred spirits and I consider Marcus honestly one of the most creative people and I'm going to call him a creative genius that I've met in my entire life. He is a remarkable, remarkable human being. I love him dearly, married with two great kids. He's an ad man, but it was just instant bro-manship, just a wonderful human being.Chris Grimes:
Thank you sincerely. So much for passing on. He sounds absolutely staggering. Marcus Stradivin, did you say?Errol Gerson:
Yes, and I'm going to send you his name and contact via email.Chris Grimes:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it. Thank you very much. So now, oh easy time, we end up at Shakespeare now, and based on all the world's stage and all the men and women merely players, when all is said and done, errol Gerson, even though you did deliciously already infer this earlier on. But how, when all is said and done, we're going to talk about legacy now. How would you most like to be remembered?Errol Gerson:
Using, I touched the future. I thought it's that simple.Chris Grimes:
Thank you, and where can we find out all about Errol Gerson on the internet? Obviously, we're here as a LinkedIn live, so just talk about where we can find out all about you on the internet.Errol Gerson:
So on LinkedIn I have been writing for well over 10 years essays. I post at least two, three times a week. There is a website, errolgersoncom, that has some background on me, but you can find me on YouTube and just go to Google, type my name and some interesting things will come up.Chris Grimes:
Wonderful so, as this has been your moment in the sunshine on the Good, listening to Show stories of distinction genius, is there anything else you'd like to say, errol?Errol Gerson:
The key for me that I have found in life that brings me joy is to learn how to enjoy, and once you can incorporate that and make that a part of your daily regimen. To enjoy, to take nothing for granted, because you know, I went this morning and turned on the faucet, was able to brush my teeth, but my sister, who lives in Johannesburg? They haven't had water in seven days. South Africa has descended into a third world country. My sister is 85 years old. They have to walk to the swimming pool to bring water so that they can use the toilet. So when I flushed the toilet this morning I thought of my sister, because she is my biggest hero. My sister is the wind beneath my wings.Chris Grimes:
Thank you so much, earl. So, ladies and gentlemen, you've been listening to the wise owl gorgeous, wonderful, kind hearted human being suffused with gratitude. That is Earl Gerson, the best teacher I've spoken to. Thank you very much. We're just about to do the outro, but do stick around for a post script wonderful story from Earl about how to keep one eighth of an inch ahead of the competition. Also, there will be a bit of feedback from Earl too. But stick around. Beyond the outro, I've been Chris Grimes. Thank you very much indeed. Good night. You've been listening to the Good Listening 2 show here on UK Health Radio with me, chris Grimes. Oh, it's my son. If you've enjoyed the show, then please do tune in next week to listen to more stories from the clearing. If you'd like to connect with me on LinkedIn, then please do so. There's also a dedicated Facebook group for the show too. You can contact me about the programme. Or, if you'd be interested in experiencing some personal impact coaching with me, carry my level up. Your impact programme. That's chrisatsecondcurveuk On Twitter and Instagram. It's At that, chris Grimes. So until next time for me, chris Grimes, from UK Health Radio and from Stan, to your Good Health and good bye. So, earl, if I may, you've just been given a good listening to in this construct. Could I get your immediate feedback on what that was like to be curated through this process?Errol Gerson:
One of the most joyous experiences I've had in a very long time To have a conversation, chris, with someone like you is that my brain's on fire right now. If I was in an MRI machine, it would be on fire. So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to start writing based on our conversation, because the greatest joy in life is to have conversations with people who make me think, and you made me think.Chris Grimes:
So this is a quick post script. With a lovely Earl Gerstin, you were just about to tell me one of your very favourite stories.Errol Gerson:
So, chris, I graduated from USC with about 50 other people. I got my master's degree in business. I send out my resumes, which have been typed because there's no computers and no word processing in those days On Times New Roman, on my Royal Typewriter, on a piece of terrible paper, and I went to have a mimeographed, because that's what they did in those days, and I mailed out 20. And a week went by and I heard nothing. And two weeks went by and I heard nothing. So I mailed out another 20. And two weeks went by, nothing. And I thought what the hell is going on. So I went to the dean and I asked if I could see the resumes of my colleagues. He handed them to me. Every single one was typed on a Royal Typewriter With Times New Roman. It gave your name, your address, your phone number, your education and some BS about how smart you were. And I went back to my apartment and started banging on the wall. My neighbor, who was an architect, came over and said what's the matter with you? And I had a resume and said this hasn't got me a job yet. And she said you sent out that ugly piece of crap and you want to get a job. She grabbed my hand, put me in her car and drove me to a very famous paper company called Kelly Paper. Oh my God, I walked in and I saw the most beautiful papers and a gentleman said this is called Strathmore. It was stunning. I had so little money, I could only buy six sheets, and so he said fine, we'll cut them for you, eight and a half by 11. I said, sir, cut it. Eight and a half by 11 and one eighth. He said there's no such paper. I said there is now. I then went to a printer and had my resume type set, proper type set, and then he ran it on a beautiful Heidelberg press. And then I went in and he said oh, we're just about to cut your paper. I said, sir, don't do that. I said USC has two colors crimson and gold. Do you know the crimson color? He said of course, it's a pan tone. And then he said some number. I said could you mix it? And he mixed it perfectly. And I said now, sir, could you put my resume back in the printer and on the one eighth of an inch put the USC crimson. He said, yeah, I think we can do that. And he did. But he said you know, young man, you cannot fold this because it won't fit in the number 10 envelope. I said I know, but I've made envelopes 10 by 12. And when I was done I took three resumes, put them in this massive envelope, sent them out. Two days later my phone rings. Is this Errol Gerson? Yes, sir, my name is so and so, from IBM, nice, to meet you, sir. He said you know why I've called you. I said yes, sir, I do. He said why have I called you? I said well, hr gave you 50 resumes this morning. You tapped them on your desk to straighten them out and one of them stuck out an eighth of an inch and you pulled it out. He said you annoyed me, young man, but then I realized you must be creative. We're sending you a ticket Be in New York Monday morning. I got four other offers and chose to go and work for a major accounting firm. I stuck out an eighth of an inch.Chris Grimes:
So is it all thanks to you that you and Ian Thacker have a company called 3.175? Now, because you, that is. That is just brilliant. That makes complete sense now. And wow, that's I'm. If I may, I'm going to bank that story for well, all things, personal branding, differentiating factor, what helps you stick out? I knew I loved what Ian was describing anyway, in terms of sticking out by an eighth of an inch, but now I know why. That's almost that. That's the signature story. That's wonderful. Yes, sir, yes and yes, sir, right back at you. Thank you, that was an absolute delight. Stop recording there.