Dr. Richard Shuster Was In A Car Accident And Everything Changed | PoP 319

Have you ever thought about intentionally doing something good and wanting to bring about change? What influence does social media have on the way we perceive ourselves? How has this affected the way people deal with day to day life?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Dr. Richard Shuster about how his car accident changed his life.

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Meet Dr. Richard Shuster

Dr. Richard Shuster is a licensed clinical psychologist and the host of The Daily Helping with Dr. Richard Shuster: Food for the Brain, Knowledge from the experts, Tools to Win at Life®. On his podcast, Dr. Shuster’s guests educate and inspire listeners through their stories, expertise, and passion for helping make a difference in the lives of others. His mission is to make the world a better place. His show’s growing movement strives to get a million people each day to commit acts of kindness for others and post it on their social media using #mydailyhelping®. A sought after media expert, Dr. Shuster’s clinical expertise and podcast have been featured in such publications as The Huffington Post, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Inc., Real Simple, NBCNews.com, Cosmopolitan, Glassdoor.com, Reader’s Digest, and others.

Dr Shusters’s website can be found here: https://www.thedailyhelping.com/

You can also find out more here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Thedailyhelping/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thedailyhelping

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thedailyhelpingpodcast/

Dr. Richard Shuster’s Story

After college Dr. Shuster worked in the technology sector for many years. In his last role in this field, he served as an Executive Director for an Information Technology consulting firm where he provided solutions for such clients as the United States Army, state agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.

During this time he was in a horrific car accident. He considered it a miracle that he survived although he suffered extensive injuries including a broken back. Dr. Shuster healed and went back to work although things were never the same.

He completed a residency in neuropsychology where he worked with patients from the Cleveland Clinic and assessed NFL players as part of the league’s concussion protocol. When Dr. Shuster’s not in the studio recording new episodes of The Daily Helping podcast, he’s working on promoting his non-profit Every Kid Rocks.

In This Podcast

Summary

In this podcast Joe Sanok speaks with Dr. Richard Shuster about how a near death experience after being involved in a car accident in 2001 has changed his outlook on life. Things had dramatically shifted for him and he found himself unfulfilled in his role and was extremely unhappy. Wishing to make a more meaningful contribution to society (but not knowing how), he resigned from his position to seek more altruistic work.

The Transition Period

When you’re in one of those moments where everything is stripped away from you, you change your perspective as to what is important.

While Dr. Shuster was doing his psychology work he wanted to have a platform where people could listen and learn from but also help people on a larger scale, and podcasting sounded very interesting. He then started The Daily Helping just over a year ago. Out of this the #mydailyhelping movement came about, in which the audience is encouraged to go out and do something truly selfless, then post it on social media.

Intentional Activities And Social Media

Whether or not we’re helping or we’re receiving help, the same parts of our brains light up.

Intentional activities make you happier – when you do something good for someone else, you benefit.

Dr. Shuster has looked into the research which shows that as a modern society people are putting all their trophies/accolades on display for the world via social media, and as people start seeing everyone else’s accomplishments there is a feeling of isolation. We live in an era now where we can basically self select the content we are exposed to.

Life Changing Moments

The first life changing moment for Dr. Shuster was the accident, the second was when his son was born. At 31 weeks Dr. Shuster and his wife had a scare when they discovered his wife’s amniotic fluid was low. After a long 6 week wait and bed rest, their baby boy was finally born healthy but in need of a head helmet and therapy. Having had a tough time during the pregnancy, the family was also now going through a difficult time because this specific type of therapy is so expensive.

Following on the experience with his son, Dr. Shuster started Every Kid Rocks to help kids everywhere reach their true potential.

Think bigger and be open to opportunities.

Click here to stand a chance to win a a coaching session with Dr. Shuster.

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Meet Joe Sanok

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Podcast Transcription

DR. RICHARD SHUSTER WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT AND EVERYTHING CHANGED
POP 319

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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok – Session Number 319.

INTRODUCTION

[JOE] Well, I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I’m so darn excited you’re here. Isn’t private practice amazing? Whether you’re a counselor, massage therapist, chiropractor, we get to see people change every single day. And, usually, for the better. And, it’s such an amazing field to just be a helper and to guide people and have their own personal development that we can bring in to such things with people. It’s just so amazing. And, if you haven’t listened before and this is your first time, I’ll welcome you. Thanks for finding us on iTunes or wherever you listen to the podcast. Thanks for rating and reviewing us. We have tons of reviews and it’s just really awesome to help so many people and to do it in the community.
You know, it was when I turned 16, I got my driver’s license like that day. And, my parents, I had a Ford Aerostar Van. And, I went out to this Boy Scout weekend thing. And, it was my birthday’s in December. And so, it was like a week or two after my birthday. So, in early January and my brother, he was a Freshman High School. No, he would have been like 8th grade or so. So, I drove the Aerostar out to this Boy Scout camp and have a weekend out there where we stayed in this lodge with all these other boy scouts. Lots of fun.
When we’re driving home and it was one of those beautiful winter days where the roads are just like super dry and the sun is shining. The trees are glistening. We’re just like going along this road and I jokingly said to my brother, “Man, I could go 80 in this weather. It’s so beautiful out.” And, when I came around the corner, there was this shadow where the ice from overnight hadn’t melted and I didn’t see it. And, I slid to go off the road and me just kind of steered into a slide. We’ve never driven on ice. You kind of steer into it. Then, I was like off the road, so I jerked the steering wheel to the left and there was a car coming. And then, I jerked it to the right. And, the car went right through with the snow baking and smashed into a tree right in front of my brother.
We were fine. We didn’t have to go to the hospital. The car was totaled like a couple of weeks after getting my license. And, the people had a cell phone that we’re in a middle of nowhere. And so, I guess this was before most people had cell phones. But, after that, I was so cautious. My parents actually got me driving right away. They didn’t want me to be scared of driving. They wanted me to learn from it.
And today, on this episode, I’m going to be talking with Dr. Richard Shuster. And, Dr. Richard, he’s been through some stuff and he’s got a really interesting cause and some cool things he’s doing. And, I’m so excited to introduce you to him. I was on his podcast right before he and I had this interview. So, without any further ado, I give you Dr. Richard.
Well today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Dr. Richard Shuster. He’s a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the host of the Daily Helping with Dr. Richard Shuster: Food for the Brain, Knowledge from the Experts, Tools to Win at Life. He’s sought-after media expert Dr. Shuster’s Clinical Expertise in Podcasting. He’s featured in such publications as The Huffington Post, Men’s Health, Real Simple, Ink, Cosmopolitan, and more. Dr. Richard, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[RICHARD] Thanks for having me. It’s awesome to be in here.
[JOE] Yes. Nice to chat with you again. Take me back a little bit. Tell us a little bit about your work and kind of how you got into it.
[RICHARD] So, the story’s pretty interesting. I started out in Information Technology. When I graduated from college, it was during that era that tech-boomed. If you could shoe gum and type at the same time, you could get a pretty good job, which is what I did. And, I parlay that into a consulting business of my own. And, as I was building that business, something pretty formative happened to me, which was significant. And then, I almost died. I’m talking about it a little lightly. But, at the time, I literally was such a different person.
It was an average day for me and I was driving. I was turning left on a day where it was just about sundown. That sun is right in my eyes. I just didn’t see this silver car flying at me. I didn’t see it until literally, it was screaming upon me, which was really interesting at that moment for me. There’s been a lot of research from a neuroscience standpoint on your death experience as in particular what happens when people perceive that they’re about today. We have tons of reports from soldiers dating back hundreds of years, all kinds of experiences where what tends to happen is things, for many people, slow down. You know, it’s not so much that your life flashes before your eyes, you know, this-is-my-life-kind-of-a-moment. For me, what was 2 or 3 seconds, Joe, felt like an eternity. And, I could literally see as this car’s screaming at me. It was just like in slow motion and I said to myself, “I’m about to die.” And so, prior to that, I was in my early 20s. I was really just very focused on material things. I was ashamed of this. In hindsight, not really focusing on the things that one should be proud of and trying to make the world better than it is.
When that car was just about to slam into me, my first thought immediately went to that of my mom and dad. And, they’re going to get this phone call from the police telling them that their son is dead. And, one, I was incredibly ashamed of that. And, two, thinking about what have I really done? What are they going to be proud of that I did? That I went to Europe a lot? No! I didn’t really accomplish anything to leave this planet better than I was when I walked into it. It wasn’t this, “Dear God, please let me live kind of a moment.”
It was really just this reflection on how I have failed. And then, the accident continued in slow motion. I can see the shards and glass flying. I was sent flying back into oncoming traffic. I broke my back. I did a number of things to myself. But, most significantly, I broke my back. And, it took me quite a long time to convalesce. And, when you have that much time to convalesce, you could have time to think and reflect. Still, to this day, you know, I actually have pictures of the crash on my website because it was such a seminal point in my life. I don’t know how I survived it. It was to be one of the two real miracles of that experience in my life. But, what came out of that was the beginnings of the path that I’m on today, which was I wanted to do something that made a difference. And, you know, I did go back to my job.
Although, I was miserable there. I eventually walked away and wound up doing some just free speaking. I started. Because I had this tech knowledge, I started speaking at schools and PTA events, and eventually, teaming up with the Cybercrime Division of the Police Department of the city where I was living and speaking to these people about Internet Safety because social media was just starting to really pop then. You would hear people. Facebook wasn’t even a thing then. It was really Myspace when I was doing this. And then, that led to an opportunity to mentor an at-risk kid in the 7th grade. And, through there, “Wow, this is really gratifying for me. What if I can make a career about of this?” So, I went and got a Master’s in Social Work.
I got exposed a little bit on the practicum to Psychological Assessment, and then went in and got a Doctor in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Neuro-Psychology and Forensic Psychology. That’s really what has evolved over a period of… I think it was 2001 when I had my accident. That’s kind of how that journey began for me.

REHAB AFTER THE ACCIDENT

[JOE] Yeah, so, when you were going through rehab after the accident like you said you broke your back. Could you walk during that time or were you kind of bed-bound, or going through PT? What kind of things were you doing for rehab?
[RICHARD] I could walk. It was a lot of PT-type stuff. You know, there are different grades of fractures. So, essentially, until T5, we’re going to get specific that that was fractured. I picked in a pretty good spot. What they told me was if it had been a little bit higher, a little bit lower, I probably would have paralyzed for life. So, I got really, really lucky. But, there was a ton of scar tissue there. And, it’s just a mess. It was a mess. And, it took months and months before my range of motion has been pain-free.
[JOE] Yeah, I’m always interested in how people make substantial and rapid changes in their lives, you know, such as you. Being in this accident and saying, “Oh my gosh. This life that I’ve been living up until now. I want to change it.” I had Steven Taylor, the author of The Leap on here. I think it was The Leap. Yeah, it was The Leap. He has been studying people that have had kind of spiritual experiences, enlightenment in spiritual and non-spiritual settings where they feel like kind of a veil has been lifted. And, they all described it a little differently. You had a rapid transition during that time. What was that experience like? What were things that you were questioning during that recovery time?
[RICHARD] Well, I think the questioning really started in the midst of the accident. And so, one of the things upon reflection that I thought about after the fact was, you know, why does that matter what kind of watch you have, what car you’re driving. And, I’m not listening. If you’re listening to this and you encourage… I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. But, for me, it was I wanted stuff for just the sake of having stuff saying I have stuff.
I think when you’re one of those moments where essentially everything is stripped away from you except the stark reality of something like the trauma of that nature, you kind of change your perspective after what’s important. And, so for me, that was really where I began shifting my thoughts away from being extraordinarily materialistic. I didn’t ever want to get married at that time. I didn’t want to have kids which that thought is completely forward to me now. I’m now a parent and I can’t imagine my life any other way. And so, it really started this transformation for me where I started thinking about helping others first. That for me was the beginning of that formative change.

GRAD SCHOOL

[JOE] So, when that was happening and then you jumped into grad school, I mean there was very practical needs during grad school like paying for it and figuring out how to go through that process. Why social work? Why psychology?
[RICHARD] So, interesting about the social work, at the time, I was living in Texas and if I wanted to be a therapist, the assessment was not even on my radar. And so, the quickest path that I saw available to me at the time to become a therapist was to get my MS. I also really liked the school I went to. I was in the cohort of the University of Texas at San Antonio. So, that was really cool to have a role in the kind of shaping that program because they wanted the feedback from the students. And, it was a small cohort. So, it was pretty incredible at the time and I really got a good education there. But, I liked that social work appears to be very strength-spaced and that’s something that appeals to me.
I’ve always kind of been labeled by my friends as one of the more optimistic people that they knew in their networks. And so, social work, in many respects, so strength-spaced and that appealed to me. And so, when I was able to then decide that “Hey, the assessment’s really cool when you can apply this layer of science on top of the art therapy.” You can really have kind of a more complete package of a treat. So, that’s why I decided to continue my educational journey and get that Doctorate.
[JOE] Yeah. When did the daily helping? When did that start?
[RICHARD] So, that started almost actually like a year and 4 days ago in terms of launch.
[JOE] Oh, it’s like your birthday or your anniversary.
[RICHARD] Almost!
[JOE] Thanks for hanging out with me during your anniversary week!
[RICHARD] We need a cake or something. Yeah, it’s funny. So, as I started doing this psychology work, and I love it, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to help people especially kids. I mean it’s when you can have a positive impact on a kid’s life, there’s surely nothing more powerful than that. But, I wanted to do something grander. I wanted to be able to help people on a larger scale. And, I thought the podcast is kind of interesting. And so, it seemed like something that is within my skillset at least. I was willing to give it a shot. And so, the daily helping came about because I wanted…
There’re two things that I wanted to do. One is that I wanted to have a platform where people can listen to it and learn from amazing, talented guests, who also are very selfless and want to help the world and make the world a better place. But, I also wanted to tie something into it, something… Because that’s aspirational. Right? You’re not going to get a certificate on Tuesday. “Congratulations, Joe. You’re the best version of who you’re going to be.” Right? It’s an aspirational thing that we never stop trying to be better and we never actually get there, which is trying to be better than we were the day before. But, I wanted to do something tangible that could help on a massive scale. So, I started through my podcast, my #MyDailyHelpingMovement in which I encourage everybody in the audience to go out and do things that are really selfless.
Go and help other people, strangers in particular. And then, post in their social media feeds using the #MyDailyHelpingMovement. So, I wanted to have something aspirational and I wanted to have something tangible that’s easy that people could do. But, in doing so would start creating a shift for themselves to where they’d feel better about themselves because they’re helping people. And, there would be these unintended ripple effects helping the world.
NEUROSCIENCE OF ALTRUISM
[JOE] I mean positive psychology and research which I’ve been reading a ton about lately, I’m launching this new podcast with a friend of mine called the Happytalist Podcast. And, we’ve been really looking to intentional activities and how they make us happier statistically. And, above a certain dollar amount, really putting our time into making more money doesn’t give us the return on investment nearly as well as these intentional activities. One of those in service to others. But, what’s interesting that I didn’t know until I started talking to my friend, Pete, about this more is that even if it’s totally selfish that you’re doing these intentional activities, just because you know you’ll feel better that it still works, which I found kind of counterintuitive. Personally, I’m like “Wow, that feels kind of selfish.” But, I think, we all want to connect with other people. I think the unintended consequence is often that we do feel that our heart’s open up more. We do feel that connection with other people.
[RICHARD] Absolutely, one of the things that I talk about, not so much on my show but when I’m on the media when I’m on other platforms, is the neuroscience of altruism. And, in fact, the research that you and Pete were chatting about is exactly spot on. So, we know through our advanced capabilities that we have today, I mean, how amazing that we live in an era where we can do real-time diagnostic imaging of the brain and see what areas of the brain are light up and what happens when we’re doing certain things. And, what we know through research, Joe, is that whether or not we are helping, or whether or not we are receiving help, the same parts of our brains light up.
These ancient mammalian neuro system fire in either system or in either circumstance rather, if you want to get nerdy, it’s the mesolimbic pathway. But, it’s so interesting because if you think our society, in particular, Western society, in a social media era, we are a very focused society on ourselves. And, it’s almost like a sickle of a thing. I did actually my Doctoral dissertation on the impact of the internet and social media, in particular on Maladaptive Personality Functioning. And, it’s not good stuff.

IMPACT OF INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA

[JOE] Well, what did you find?
[RICHARD] So, what ends up happening is there’s a reinforced… It’s almost like a reinforcing circle. And so, for those of you who are listening to this and you treat Narcissism, in particular, that’s one of the personality disorders I really go and did on. So, there’s a couple piece of research that are striking. And, there was a study done on a massive study done on college students. I believe this was in 2011. Don’t quote on that. But, what it found is that over-all, narcissistic tendencies in young people are starting to increase across the board. And, that study attributed to social media.
What we’re finding is that it kind of came out back in the day when web pages were first out. And, the earlier research referred to what is known as the Trophy Persona, right? So that, you would put your accolades and accomplishments on the internet. But, that’s not really who a person is. That’s a part of it or maybe the part that we want the world to see. So, Facebook and social media, in general, I don’t want to slam Facebook. And, there are good things that it does of course. You know, I don’t believe in throwing up a baby with a bath water. But, what people generally post, now, you do have that dramatic attention seeking my-life-kind-of-sucks kind of post. But, most people are posting awesome food they’re eating. They’re seeing Hamilton.
[JOE] Right. They curated the highlight real.
[RICHARD] That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. So that, now, you don’t know because you only see, you know, the pictures of their fancy food at the restaurant. You don’t know that they’re depressed, or you don’t know that they’re having domestic disputes with their spouse, or whatever the case may be. Kids have problems. But, what you see is, “Wow, so and so’s life is really amazing and my life sucks.” And, so now, you get caught up in this game where you’re also trying to find meaning in superficial things and put it out there. But, in fact, we become more socially isolated from it.
[JOE] It’s really interesting. I’m sure you have more of there. But, would it be interesting if there was like a movement where like for 1 week, people do the opposite of what they normally did. You know, yes. Take a picture of an empty cup of coffee and how sad I am that it’s empty on a gloomy day outside, the wall that I look at, you know, my office window. It would be interesting if as a society for a week, what would happen if people just stop posting amazing things on Facebook or social media for a week.
[RICHARD] And so, here’s what happens the other way. So, the other problem that Facebook is traded for is the society. It’s interesting certainly for those who are clinicians is that we are living in an era now where we can basically self-select feedback. So, if you had a client that had some narcissistic issues, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, what would happen is they would have that narcissistic injury or something like their wife would leave them. Or, their boss would fire them.
Something would happen which doesn’t conform with how they perceive themselves. And then, they would have to come into therapy and really face that. However, what the research shows that happens today is a click, unfriend. And so, basically, you can create a self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself even if it’s maladaptive and untrue, a cognitive distortion of how things would really be simply by being able to control the stream. And, anyone who doesn’t see things the way you do, you can unfriend them. And, we’re not just seeing that in Pathology, Joe, we are seeing that across the board wherein particular in this last election.
I don’t want to get politicized the episode but it’s interesting because what started happening is you started seeing these mass unfriending. “Oh, you voted for Trump. I can’t be your friend on Facebook anymore.” And then, the same thing, you know, people who started Hillary, the Trump supporters… So, what ends up happening is we’re creating this feedback loops where we’re reinforcing our points of view. And, regardless of what your political ideology is when you do something like that, you become more ingrained.
You’re creating deeper entrenched… These neuropathways that are developing, you know, the same way happens to when we develop our cognitive scheme, on the way we view the world, we become more, we dig in, we draw that line in the sand deeper and deeper.

YOURSELF, THE WORLD, AND OTHERS

[JOE] In a sense, doesn’t that kind of mirror what happens in our brains anyway that we… because our brains can only take so much of our sensory input. It kind of filters out based on our worldview anyway. And so, if we have a history of trauma and we believe that the worlds against us, then, the perception we often have unless we do good internal work is something happens and then our brain kind of see the world against us. And, because it can only take in so much information stored away, we reinforce this filter that’s in our brain. So, could it be possible that social media is an external example of maybe what we’re already doing internally?
[RICHARD] You’re absolutely right. And, Judith Beck somewhere would be smiling here as you described her model, you know, Yourself, The World, and Others. Yes. Of course, it’s just like if we go by a white hand and all of a sudden, we notice more white hand.
[JOE] Oh my gosh. When my wife was pregnant, I was like, “Everybody’s pregnant!” You’re pregnant all the time. I just started knowing.
[RICHARD] Right. Right. The pregnancy’s having in craze because Joe’s wife is pregnant. But, yes, your brain is pushing you in that direction. But, the difference… I think the difference now, and there’s a lot that we still don’t know, you know, we have kids now that don’t know how to turn pages in books. They’re trying to swipe them with their fingers because all they know is digital. And so, we’re still learning and it’s probably going to be many years before we really know how our brains have structurally changed from the way that we process data. But, what we do know for certain is that, yes, it is an external reinforcer except its one that we’re consciously self-selecting to reinforce. And, it makes us more dogmatic.
I don’t think there’s any question that we are as a society more dogmatic now than we were 20 years ago. And, generally speaking, you know, my opinion is anyhow that in whereas somebody or two people with differences are probably less apt to want to sit down and actually discuss those differences today because of this feedback loop, because of the cause of information that can also tailor.
That’s another thing we didn’t talk about besides social media. But, we can tailor the media content we get for the world at large, not just our known networks to our own personal, you know, mindset as well. So, I do think that we’ve become more rigid. And, I don’t think that’s a good thing. Facebook is awesome for what it can be. But, people need to know the dangers from it aside from the fact that every time you get a like in your post, you get a little hit of dopamine and that’s the same thing as taking a drug, you know, kind of off a cigarette or something.

FACEBOOK

[JOE] Well, I don’t know if you heard the news this week after Apple had their big conference where all the kind of major phone manufacturers is looking at… And, I’m kind of skeptical when people have a vested interested in people being addicted to their phones, or saying we’re going to help you not be addicted to their phones. But, they have all these kinds of new things that are coming out with future versions.
They’ll make it so that it’s easier for you to monitor how much you’re on your own phone to reduce that time. I think that’s probably a good thing to be on your phones and not have that dopamine in that way. I am wondering, though, because I feel that there are times where I’m with you where there’s kind of curated, we’re siloed in. You know, most of your friends are progressive or they’re more on the gun rights, or whatever. But, I think about some of my friends that they were being trolled on Facebook during the election. And, I just didn’t want to see it. Or, after another mass shooting, things that were saying were just they pissed me off so much. And, it’s just like, “I don’t want to have that in my life either.”
Now, if they sat down and said, “Hey, let’s have a conversation about gun rights. What do you think?” Or, what do you think about the election? I’ll be more than happy to sit down at a barbecue and have that conversation. But, it feels like social media, I haven’t seen too many people say because that person made that comment in that post, I change my mind. And so, how do you find that balance between you know, I just don’t need that in my life. I don’t want those people’s comments that are so just abrasive to hear versus then you just create a silo of people that are in echo-chamber?
[RICHARD] I think it’s tough because, you know, Facebook and social media and all of these platforms have become so entwined into our lives. You know, I think the easiest and obvious answer is turning your profile off for a while and watch what happens. And then, you don’t have it. But, it’s not that simple, right? Like, we use it in so many different ways in our lives. We use it to make social plans. We use it to look at pictures of our kids when they’re at school. There’re all these different things that we use it for.
[JOE] And, there are assumptions that you’re going to keep up with that in the past. So, “Hey, here’s your calendar invite for the barbecue. Why weren’t you there?” It’s like, “Woah, I didn’t see it because I’m not on Facebook this week.” Then, this like there’s whole expectation of the thread that’s going on outside of our face-to-face as well that makes it difficult.
[RICHARD] Yeah, it is amazing how many potential social challenges that come up with this platform.

STARTING THE NON-PROFIT

[JOE] Well, I know, you’ve started a non-profit. You had the accident. You kind of moved into social work and psychology. You got the daily helping and kind of an even greater extension of what you’re trying to do in the world as your non-profit. Tell us about the non-profit and the process of starting it, how you decided it, what you, guys, are doing.
[RICHARD] Thank you for asking. You know, it’s funny because when I started the podcast, the non-profit wasn’t really on my radar. I mentioned my accident as one of, to me, the kind of the true unexplainable miracle of life. The second involved my son. So, when my wife and I were pregnant with our first kid… She was pregnant. I was cheering around.
At 31-week, she collapses. So, I’m on my residency at the time. And, she’s at work pretty far away but 40 minutes from where I am. And so, we get her off at the hospital and preparing the worst. I mean she was just in tremendous pain, can’t get up, can’t move. And so, the doctors do all their routine tests. They said we have good news and we have bad news. The good news is the reason that you’re experiencing this pain is that your child is kicking your sciatic nerve essentially, which is extraordinarily painful for anybody that has experienced that. Here’s the bad news. Did you know that your amniotic fluid is dangerously low? Of course, we didn’t know. It was like this insidiously slow…
[JOE] We just decided to go for it.
[RICHARD] Her fluids were so dangerously low. What they told us we can’t raise the fluids in the next 12 hours. We have to take your kid because he will die. So, literally, if he hadn’t been kicking her sciatic nerve and we hadn’t gone to the hospital, a hundred percent certainty I can say that he would have suffocated to death and she would have to deliver him dead. And so, we’re freaking out of course. And so, a lot of things went into motion on that day. So, one, you know, they stick kind of an IV of fluids in her. And, we have nothing prepared.
That’s 31 weeks. And now, I’m tasked with building a crib which probably could have been like a comedy episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm or something. I am not good at that admittedly. And, that’s all over the thing that’s it’s a two-person job. So, like, in 2 in the morning, I’m trying to put this thing together while I’m just praying like crazy that this thing’s going to work out. And so, 12 hours go by and I don’t know what the metric they used to calculate levels of amniotic fluid. But, whatever it was, it was just barely enough to push it forward another 12 hours. And so, 12 hours became 24, became 36, became 72.
It eventually became 6 weeks where my wife was on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. But, our son cooked in there for 6 more weeks to 37 weeks when he was delivered the emergency cesarean. Now, the thing was while he did enough fluid to live and breathe and all that good stuff, there wasn’t enough in there. They could never get the levels high enough to where he had a full range of motions. So, my son was born, if you can imagine, don’t do this if you’re driving. But, if you’re not and you’re masochistic, turn your head as far to the left as you possibly can until it hurts.
That’s how he was stuck for 6 consecutive weeks with his head wedged under my wife’s ribcage. And so, when he was born, his head was shaped in. And, for those that aren’t familiar with how babies develop, in terms of their sensory and all these other things, it’s all very much connected. So, if you can’t crawl, it just affects everything, motor effects, senses. He had no idea he had a right side of his body at all. And so, again, I’m on my residency earning peanuts. And, literally, I think I did the math. And, I was making like $8/hour. I calculated how many hours I was working in that residency. And, my wife, you know, she had stopped working because she had to go on bed rest. So, we were struggling immensely and took on a tremendous financial burden such as getting a helmet to fix his head, so his head isn’t shaped in and getting him the States will give you when you have a little guy, some therapy services sometimes depending on, you know, they do this testing.
Depending on you what state you’re in, if you score too high cognitively, they might not help you another area. Every state’s a little bit different. But, so, he needed a ton of help. He needed speech, physical, and occupational therapy. He needed all this help and so we really financially crashed ourselves to get him that help. And, what was amazing was the time when he was turning 1, we wanted to transition him. My wife had gone back to work or she was looking to find a new job closer to home with better hours.
We wanted to move him out of a daycare into an actual preschool. And, we interviewed about 20 schools and almost all of them wouldn’t take my son, at least they wouldn’t take him, Joe, and put him with kids his own age. They wanted to put him in the fence for liability reasons that what if he gets stepped on. And, it was so ridiculous. I will, at my own expense, I hired an attorney to draft the document, a waiver saying that if he gets stepped on, we won’t sue you.
The general answer was he has to go with babies, which cognitively is the worst thing you could possibly do. It’s a kid, right? So, one school said, “You know what, he might get stepped on. But, these kids weigh like 10 pounds. It’s not going to break his bones.” And so, they took him, and they put him with the one-year-olds. And now, they did put him with the one-year-olds but his teacher who I have thanked personally, well after the fact, she made such a huge difference in his life when the OT would say he needs more sensory input, she would text my wife pictures of putting his shaving cream.
[JOE] My wife’s a pediatric OT. And so, when it’s like when I hear that, I didn’t use to appreciate my wife when she went through grad school. But, it’s one of her rotations for that was this whole sensory camp they did with kids and it was so amazing to see these kids grow from when they… because I had to stop by a couple of times to kind of see the camp. And, they were like put the hands in rice, and put their hands in shaving cream, just all these sensory things. It’s amazing what that does for little kids to help them reorganize their brains.

EVERYKIDROCKS

[RICHARD] That’s right. That’s exactly right. So, that’s the kind of stuff that he needed in that, this ancillary boost he got. And, he didn’t just catch up that year to his peers. He exploded. And, if you saw my son today, and interacted with him, and watch him on a playground, swinging on monkey bars, and climbing, and running, and jumping, and talking, doing all the things that he does, you wouldn’t believe me. He’s perfect. And, I’m so grateful for how that worked out. So, to bring it back full circle, as I was working my way through the first, I guess, 20 episodes of my podcast, at one point, I got Bob Burg who at the time was my first real big…
Bob was so amazing. And, I was just so inspired after talking to him, just really believing that they show us content to do what I wanted to do and take off. I said, you know, that’s my wife, wouldn’t it be cool if I could cut a check for 10 grand back to his preschool and have that money earmarked just for speech PT and OT, for those kids that just need a boost like our son to reach their potential. And, I got chills. I had a little cartoon light bulb goes off over my head and I just ran. I didn’t finish the statement and I ran downstairs. And, I got on my computer and I searched for the domain everykidrocks.org. And, it was available, and I bought it. And, I emailed my attorney that that instance, let’s start this rolling. So, I’m still in a little bit of IRS hell just waiting for them to OK. I guess purgatory probably.
[JOE] Well, at least you know you’re not going anywhere. It’s anybody’s guess.
[RICHARD] Yeah, that’s probably more appropriate. We expected it’d be a quarter, but you’ll never know. It’s the IRS. But, essentially, that’s what I’m waiting for. But, the infrastructure’s all in place. The website’s all in place. Everything’s in place. And, what we’re going to do is we are going to take donations. And, we are going to give that money to schools. They can reach out to resources within their communities to get kids time-limited speech PT just like my son did. And, what’s kind of unique about it is one, there’s nobody really in the space. And, if you understand the way that these evaluations and services dole about, in the public school setting, what happens is basically because the school collects their resources, not only in terms of money but in terms of staff and time.
Unless a kid is really having a severe issue to where they’re legally required to address that kid in an IEP or something similar, what ends up happening is that the kid that maybe just need 10 sessions of speech, 10 sessions of OT, 15 sessions of PT, whatever, those kid’s kind of just get pass through. And, a lot of the ones who are not problematic behavior in class, they don’t get noticed. But, what happens to those kids over time is if the kid has a speech impediment, stuttering, what-have-you, they’re self-esteem gets lower and lower as time goes on. And, those kids are more likely to be bullied and not really reach their true potentials. So, we are doing these.
We are saying that has to change and there are so many kids we’re going to try to get to school. Our participating schools are going to know how to identify. We have phenomenal, phenomenal people on our team. They’re helping with all of this too so that teachers can identify these kids. And then, the schools will have the resources to dole out to these providers within their own local community. So, dollars are staying locale in helping these kids.
[JOE] Wow, that’s so cool. And, to just see your own son go through that than to give back to help other kids. I mean, you’re right. The schools, at least in our area, usually, it’s when they look and see that there could be a lawsuit, they make sure that they get everything they need versus what does the kid actually need. Part of that’s, you know, little state funding, local funding, all that. But, to have someone that understands the value of that to be having this up, what kind of goals do we have? How much money do you want to raise over what period of time?
[RICHARD] Two million in the first year.
[JOE] Awesome. And so, could people donate now, or they need to wait for the IRS gets you out of purgatory?
[RICHARD] They got to wait. I hate it.
[JOE] Yeah. Are there other ways for them to email us so that when you do launch…?
[RICHARD] Absolutely. You can go to everykidrocks.org and sign-up for it. This is the funny thing about the podcast. One, I had no idea how rapidly it would grow and how much attention that it would bring so quickly. But, it’s blessed me with this opportunity to really be communicating on a regular basis with influence and some thought leaders. And, I talk about it with everybody. I talk about it with you when you came to my show. And then, I talk about it with everybody. And so, I feel really excited because I’m connecting with these amazing people and not a single person has told me they don’t want to help. And, it’s not even so much about the money as it is. These people who are in high places of influence to spread the length around and to help me raise awareness. So, I do believe we’re going to be able to raise a million dollars a year.

VOLUNTEERING

[JOE] Now, if people want to get involved with everykidrocks.org and maybe they don’t have the finances, what are things they can do to help volunteer, what they can do locally, like what are other things people can do? Maybe they don’t have the finances. But, they still want to help you with the mission.
[RICHARD] That is a phenomenal question. I’m so glad that you asked that. So, what we’re going to be rolling out shortly after launch is volunteer opportunities to where, perhaps, you don’t have to fund yourself. But, you really believe that school in your town would benefit from it. So, you know, we’re going to have everykidrocks.org advocates who are able to volunteer their time, help with fundraising events in their communities, and put all the structure together in place for that. You just essentially have to help us pull it together. So, there are so many ways to give and contribute and help kids to this aside from giving money.
[JOE] The puns that you could have with this are practical like “A Rock and Dole” out the money.
[RICHARD] That’s so funny you would say that.
[JOE] “Rock and Dole promoter”
[RICHARD] When I was coming up with the logo, when I was working on the logo, it was funny because I had just been to an event where I got to connect with John Vroman and meet him in person. And, I love what he does with his organizations. His front row foundation is amazing. Talk about amazing charities. And, he does this thing where his logo is the guy putting both arms outstretched with only the index figure. And, I thought wouldn’t it be cool if I could have a logo that incorporated some kind of a hand gesture, not an obscene gesture.
[JOE] What another finger could I use?
[RICHARD] It was funny because, you know, I hired this graphic designer to start giving me logos. And, it was funny you mention the rock because the first thing he sent me back was like a meteor with like a rainbow. It was like kind of ridiculous. And so, he came back to me. And, I didn’t even tell him like I wasn’t thinking about my experience and seeing John Vroman’s logo. But, he sent this logo back and it’s like a peace sign. And, like the kind you would chuck like rocking out or something. I’m like that’s perfect. That’s so simple. So, we do have a non-obscene hand gesture. I’m hopeful one day that as kids go through this and their parents, you know, we could have like for those parents that want to volunteer their stories about how everykidrocks.org has made a difference for them, their testimonial, the picture, the kids like making the peace sign would be really, really cool.
[JOE] Yeah, I just signed up for John Vroman’s Front Row Dads community that he does.
[RICHARD] Awesome. Very cool.
[JOE] Well, if people wanted to connect with you, Dr. Richard, what are the best ways that they can connect with you?

MESSAGE TO LISTENERS

[RICHARD] So, the best way, kind of the mother sheep is the dailyhelping.com. And that’s where all the links to everything that’s going on with us are certainly the latest episodes of the podcast are there. And access to our new coaching program that we recently launched which I’m really really excited about. Actually, there is a bunch of coaches probably listening to this in some respect. I’d like to do an offer to your listeners if that’s okay.

[JOE] Yeah. I would love for you to give a free offer away. That would be great.

[RICHARD] So, part of everything that I do is all about giving back. So, if I’m speaking, I’m automatically earmarking part of that money to be set aside for Every Kid Rocks within their community even though it’s not launched like it just goes on escrow. But we have our new coaching program which I spend a lot of time developing. It’s heavily grounded in neuroscience which is my background.
We are calling it personal helping. So, every month, we give away some sessions because we think it is important to give back. So, you can go to the dailyhelping.com/contest and put in your email address and sign up to win either a session with me directly or a member of my team. We just are always doing it because I’m on other people’s shows. We feel as though from the standpoint of neuroscience, there’s a lot of coaching out there.
In coaching therapy, there’s kind of a fine line between, I know you know this. But, what is so interesting is that a lot of times people they go get the help. They go to a workshop. How many people go to a Tony Robbins workshop and they come out of it feeling like they’re going to set the world on fire. And then in a few weeks, they kind of roll back into their old routines. And the reason for that is a number of things. Habituation is something that is so heavily rooted in neurobiology. And so, we have integrated that so deeply into our personal helping and I really look forward to sharing that with as many people as to wanted to get involve in that to better their lives.

[JOE] Awesome. Well, Dr. Richard, the last question I always ask people is if every practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?

[RICHARD] Think bigger. And don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do bigger. I think, for me, I love being a practitioner. I love working with patients. And the satisfaction of helping people is I’m sure all of you listeners know is amazing. But, if I had just wanted to kind of keep it there, I would never have started the podcast and the profit would never come into my radar. So, think bigger and be open to opportunities because you’ll always be able to find time, resources, and ways to manage and delegate which you are doing within your practice. And if you do that, it opens you to bigger potential and more exciting opportunities to change the world.

[JOE] Awesome. Well, thank you, Dr. Richard Schuster. The dailyhelping.com is his website. If you go to /contest, you can get put into the contest for the free consulting. And everykidrocks.org is the website. So, get involved with what Dr. Richard is doing. Thanks so much for being in the Practice of the Practice podcast.

[RICHARD] Love being here, Joe. Thanks so much.

[JOE] Well, thank you so much for tuning in this week. Next week we have Darrell Darnell who’s going to be talking with us about podcasting. And I love this interview because it kind of goes behind the scenes. And it’s an opportunity that so many of you should be taking advantage of to get your message out to the world. So let’s hear a clip from next week’s show.

[DARRELL] When you approach someone with a win-win then the answer most of the time is going to be yes. And that was a huge lesson for me was taking the time to learn about those people that you desire to go into business with. Find out how you can serve them. And then approach them from that angle. And it has always worked. Again, because of relationship.

[JOE] Thanks so much for letting us into your ears and into your brain. And a huge shout out to Therapy Notes who is one of our newest sponsors. Therapy Notes has the best electronic medical records out there. If you want to try them for free for 2 months, just use promo code joe18 when you check out over at therapynotes.com. Have a great day.

[This podcast is designed to provide accurate and intuitive information in regard to the subject matter covered. It’s given to the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinic, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one. And, thanks to the band Silence is Sexy. We love your intro music!]

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