Matt Newman ON: The Shortness of Life & Surviving Brain CancerApr 18, 2021
Life is an incredibly short experience from start to finish. One thing we get to control, is the choices we make around how we spend our precious time. Some people prefer to drink wine and watch Netflix whilst others prefer to develop themselves and give back to their communities.
Matt Newman is a TedX speaker, a dad and a brain cancer survivor. His story is inspirational, in fact when I interviewed him for this weeks podcast I was very much moved by his wisdom and his passion for life.
Not everybody experiences a mortality moment - that moment when death stares you right in the face. But those who do, generally approach life with a very different outlook than the rest. Matt shares how he responded to the diagnosis of his brain tumour - and how important his warrior mentality was in beating the illness.
This goes out to all you humans who are committed to living a life of purpose.
Not to be missed...
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Life On Purpose with James Laughlin Show. Please note that there may be small moments where grammar goes off track - this is simply due to the fact that the LIVE episode was converted to full long-form transcript. For weekly motivation, please subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Youtube.]
James Laughlin, Matt Newman
James Laughlin 00:00
Welcome to life on purpose. My name is James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician, and now success coach to leaders and high performers. Each week, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you live your life on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show. Sometimes in life, you are fortunate enough to meet a person who can remind you why it's important to live every day with passion and be grateful for the things that you've got. I was really fortunate to sit down with Matt Newman, a brain cancer survivor last month, and talk about his experience of life now that he's on the other side of it. He's published an amazing book called Starting at the Finish Line. He travels the world as a keynote speaker talking to audiences of 1000s of people. He's a father, he's a husband, he's an incredible human. I hope you enjoy today's show. Matt, I'm so excited to welcome you to the life on purpose podcast, you are an inspiration, I came across your work. And I was like, wow, you have traversed some incredible things in your life. You're a brain cancer survivor. You're a best selling author. You've spoke on TEDx, and you're a dad to three kids. So huge welcome, man.
Matt Newman 01:29
Well thank you. So it's an absolute honour, and I was so looking forward to the opportunity for us to have a conversation and delve deep into so many different topics that we all deal with.
ON BECOMING A FAMILY MAN
James Laughlin 01:39
Absolutely. Well tell me first of all, number one priority. Tell me about your kids.
It's interesting. So you know, your life changes. We hear all the time and as you have children, and you start to age you start to look at life differently. My first child was born in September of 2007. And I'll never forget that moment. And it's funny, we learn these amazing lessons in life not to go off on a long tangent. But we learn these amazing lessons that from our parents or from people that we look up to as young children. And it's often these types of the seeds that are planted in us. And they make no sense. But one time when we're older, we correlate directly to them and they bloom. And I remember right before my first son was born, I was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with my wife right in the city, right in this beautiful historic area where we had the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Centre, it was this infectious ambiance of young professionals. And right before my first son was born, I remember my father sitting down with me. And my father was a financial advisor. And I learned all about finance growing up, it made no sense to me till I got older. And it bloomed. And I realised this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to help people, prepare, protect, have a plan in place prior to the negative. Things that school systems don't teach people. I remember my father sitting down with me, and we're getting ready to do what most young couples do when they're about to have their first child, moved to the suburbs. And as we're getting ready to do that, my dad's like, what do you say every day to your clientele. Our job is to be there when things are bad. Our job is to have a plan in place prior to the negative. Our job is to keep people good news at the deepest and darkest of times, they could take on the battle ahead of them. He goes on to talk about that through financial planning. Okay, yeah. Because you do everything you say I got absolutely. We've always talked about that you practice what you preach. So you did the basics. Did you do a will? Did you do your power of attorney? And did you do all your life insurance planning as you're taking on more responsibility? I'm like Dad just ran a tough, I mean, Beast Mode man, like I don't need to do. So you don't practice everything you preach. I nodded my head. And over the next two weeks, I took these simple tasks of imposing legal documentation, as I was garnering more responsibility as a family started to grow to make sure they were protected. And September of 2007, I had my first son Luke, was one of the greatest moments of my life. I'll never forget it in that immediate understanding how life alters and your sense of importance changes. That 16 months later, I had my second son Jake, so we had two kids that were technically only one year apart, going to be in the school system. And we are getting ready to have my third child which is going to be my daughter. Her name is Lola. And right as we're getting ready to have her we're gonna have three kids and 37 months, we had moved to the suburbs, life had changed. Unfortunately, as my wife was pregnant with two kids under two my father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and that was the first aftershock we took as our family started to grow. Have a negative timing of something really coming in and hitting us hard.
James Laughlin 05:02
Wow. That's huge. That's unbelievable. And in terms of being a young family with all of that responsibility, and then this massive adversity hitting you, as the dad of the family, what was your response to that?
TO THE STRONGEST PERSON & THE REAL WARRIOR
You know, I don't take any responsibility for that. Let me explain what I mean. My first cold encounter with cancer happened when I was 15 years old, and I wasn't old enough to truly understand it or digest the ramification of what really happened. But my grandmother, Grandma, Harriet was diagnosed cancer. What I remember is one day she was grandma Harriet. The next day, she was wearing a turban. And the next day she was gone. I couldn't get it. It didn't make sense to me. But I remember what it did to my mother. My mother cried every single day, my mother became a different person. I wish I could have hugged her. I got was 15, it didn't make sense to me. But I saw this evilness of a cancer brought to the table and I saw how it didn't care about our family didn't care about our lives. It did what it wanted to do what it wanted, and it was destructive, and it was evil. My father-in-law, and my daughter and my wife were two peas in a pod very similar to my mother and my grandmother. My wife is pregnant with her third child. We have two kids under two like I mentioned, and she made it her full-time job to do whatever he needed to be there for him. Pancreatic cancer, the reality is you got about six months shelf life. You don't feel the ramifications of it until it spreads all over. He's 60 years old. She drives him down to the University of Pennsylvania hospital. He gets a Whipple procedure. He gets goes through chemo radiation every day, she's taking care of her children taking care of me, driving him back and forth. The responsibility to answer your question was not on me. What I witnessed was the strongest person I ever met. And that was my wife. And what I also saw from my father-in-law, was what a warrior is really like, he never complained. He never bitched. But what he told me is that two goals, one was to see all three of the grandkids born. The other was for them to be old enough to have real life memories of it. That was an honour and an inspiration to be his son in law. But the real strength, the real fortitude, that came from my wife, keeping everything together.
James Laughlin 07:19
That's beautiful. She sounds like an amazing human.
She's strong, without question. And the reality that we all take on as we all have this perception that strength is the size of your arm. Strength is how much you bench press, that's not true. Strength is something that's located deep down in our bellies. And at the deepest, darkest times, we could find it, we can grab it, we can own it, I saw my wife do it. At that time, I dealt with that on my own journey that I took with cancer. But when you have this new perception of what strength really is, you learn to have a new appreciation for those that truly use it, because they have something that others don't. And that's a will to win and a will to be there. And it's something that it's inspirational to be a part of.
James Laughlin 07:59
I love that I really, truly love that you shared that and takes me back to a good friend of mine. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in his early 40s 4142. And a couple of young kids, and he's a real high performer, an amazing individual. And, sadly, he passed away as a young man, and witnessing him and how he attacked, it was incredible, his mindset, and his fortitude, as you mentioned, it's just like those words you describe him and he was a warrior. And he fought to the end, and he fought for a higher cause. And that was inspirational. So I want to I want to turn the spotlight on talk about your personal experience. And I guess, selfishly, you know, I think about cancer, my mom has had cancer, and survived it. And, you know, I've had people around me survive and pass. And I think to myself, that's the scariest diagnosis you could ever have, how would I respond? And I guess selfishly, I want to hear about your journey. And think if I ever had to face that, hey, I want to have I'm not going to call it a formula or a playbook or anything like that. I'm going to call it you know, my learnings, my lessons from somebody a hero like yourself who's traverse that. I want to know how you did it and think, okay, I could take something from that if I ever need to traverse it or a loved one needs to traverse it. So please, if you don't mind share your story.
ON CANCER & HOW HE TRAVERSED IT
No, no, no. And there's something to this. There's a there's a way you adapt to things that's really hard to explain in a vernacular to someone. And I remember sitting back honestly, my father-in-law, Larry's going through all this, you know, cancer. The reality is cancer is like a roller coaster. It goes up, down left, right. It doesn't care what we're doing. It doesn't care about our plans. It doesn't care what your goals in life are. It's going to do what he wants when he wants and it's evil, and it goes the way that it wants to. And as Larry's fighting his roller coaster and it's going up and down and chemo and radiation and The reality is he was pretty well, he gets two and a half years into going through pancreatic cancer which is well above the median right there. And on a snowy, icy miserable day in a town called Bridgewater, New Jersey, which is about 45 minutes. 35 to 40 minutes from New York City, about 45 minutes from Philly. I'm driving and it's miserable. And I see little fender benders all over the side of the road. So they're going, not today, man, I'm in my suit and tie. I'm leaving 25 miles per hour. I don't feel like dealing with this. And as I pull up to a traffic light, my car hydroplanes right into the car in front of it. My car flips over. I'm holding on to that steering wheel. And all I'm thinking is all the working out I've done, all the fitness that I meant to it's for this moment right now. Airbag pops car's roll over, I get out of that a lot of scratch on my body. Please come on over there. Like, dude, you got to go to the hospital right now. I'm like nah man, beast mode I'm okay. When I call my wife up, and my wife shopping in a place called the King of Prussia Mall, which is one of the biggest malls in the country. And taking a little break from Larry's chemo where the roller coaster has started going back down. And I tell her what happens because you get to the hospital. I'm like, Nah, I'm okay. She goes, don't forget about our friend Karen. We have a friend named Karen Manzini. One day is driving into town called Bluebell, Pennsylvania. And she's sitting at a traffic light and a car come flying through the light and T boned her. She's okay. But the police come over and they go we think you should go to the hospital just to make sure everything's good. She's like, yeah, okay, I'll go. So she goes to the hospital. And three hours later, two doctors walk into a room and go we want you to send flowers and a thank you note to the person that hate you. We just found a brain aneurysm you would have been dead in the next few hours.
Matt Newman 11:40
Thought about my wife. Thought about my kids. And like a type A personality got a tow truck to bring my totaled car back home, rented a car and went on my way. That night I get home. My head is killing me. I've never really suffered bad headaches before. My wife suffers from something called chronic migraines. She gets them non-stop. My father-in-law Larry sitting on the couch going through, you know dealing with his chemotherapy. I got three little kids under five running all over the place. And I'm just sitting at the islands in our kitchen going Oh, my freaking head man, this is killing me. My wife, Rebecca looks at me. She goes go doctor get checked out like that because I want to hear about it. Try getting chronic migraines. Over the next two weeks, the pain got more and more severe every day to the point where it was non-stop. But it wasn't about me. It was about being there for Larry being there for our children. I was the furthest one down the spectrum that needed to be addressed. But two plus weeks into it, I lost all ability to sleep. I would pass out on the couch from 830 to 10 watching TV with Larry and I'd wake up I couldn't go back to bed the pain was so severe. About two weeks later, I'm giving a speech. And I speak professionally before I started this type of speaking, I was speaking in finance all over the place. So speaking is easy. I would say let me talk about squirrels for 45 minutes, I'll knock that room apart. It's about the delivery. It's about the connection. And I'm giving a presentation and I go to make a point in front of that called 100 people. And as I go to make a point, I feel a hot flash and me in the face. At that moment, slurring gurgle poured out of my mouth, and I had no idea where I was. I remember seeing myself standing outside my body going, you're having a stroke, you were having a stroke right now. It felt like an eternity. It's probably about five to six seconds. I kind of got myself together. I'm like I'm having trouble sleeping. They have a sinus infection. Let's bounce back into this. Finish the presentation went to my car and I was pretty scared. Over the next called six, eight weeks, I had nine more of these. I had one way I was training for a run called the Broad Street rod is the largest 10 mile run in the United States. It's in Philadelphia and he run right all the way down Broad Street though pass everything. It's just absolutely beautiful city hall. We've been doing it for years, I had one while I was driving. One when I was giving a presentation, another one I was talking. May 13 or 14th 2013. As I mixed those numbers up, I had my 11th one of these types of strokes. As I was going through it, I turned my back on everybody. Because I feel hot flash me in the face to point to a PowerPoint to kill this five to six seconds. That was the moment that said I'm going to hospital right now. Right this second I finished the presentation I let the five to six seconds go off. I finished what I got to do in about 30 hands go up. Pretty good, right? You're giving a presentation. 30 hands go up. People are ingrained. They want to hear what you're talking about. They're captivated. Everyone remembers my head dropped. I answered one question. I said I'm so sorry. I'm running late. I have to leave I got to go. All these wonderful people clients, relationships. Hey, man, I got one quick question. I want to ask you something. This is going through my mind. If you don't get away from me, someone's getting put on the ground right now. That is not me by any stretch of the imagination. Couple people walked me in my car one more question, there was a great point you brought up, I plead out of that parking lot. I don't do that. That's not me. I needed to get away. I called my wife who was again at the King of Prussia Mall dealing with Larry's rollercoaster. Tell her what's going on. And we decided we're going to meet at a place called Capital Health in Hopewell, New Jersey. It's about a 90-minute ride in my head is all over the place. All right, they're going to figure this out. Now it's been going on for you know, eight, nine weeks. Maybe I'm going to die. I don't know my head shoot all over the place. I pull in the parking lot. My wife's there as well, too. We hold hands. We walk in and they go we got to give you a CAT scan. Like the CAT scans like an X ray man, right? So they give me a CAT scan. Three, four hours later they walk and they go Mr. Newman. We know the problem. Like Yes, diagnose it, fix it. What's the deal? Let's get this done. enough's enough. You have a lesion on the left frontal lobe of your brain. Now when I heard the term lesion, unfortunately, regardless of the occupation that you are in, you speak of vernacular that the average person has no idea what it means. It's like when my mechanic talks to me goes, Matt, let me tell you what we're going to do. Here's what's going through my mind, dude, how much does it cost? No idea what you're talking about right now. When I heard lesion, a lesion to me is a cut or a bruise you know what I'm thinking? Car accident. I probably don't remember it. That makes sense. Okay, you are having massive pain. I'm like, this is causing you not to sleep. Yeah. Mr. Newman, you're not having strokes. You're having seizures and your speech and memory because that's what's on the left frontal lobe of your brain. That's what the lesions pressing into. As difficult as this sounds to digest. I was like, Yes, that, uh, yeah. Okay, what do we got to do? Well, we got to do an MRI MRI. I was actually like, okay, let someone they get it. Now, let's fix it. So I go in the MRI to back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. At three o'clock in the morning. They say Mr. Newman, you gotta do one more MRI and MRA, because you have to have contrast in it so we can get a better view. My wife tells me she goes, I'm going to go home. I got to find a ride for my dad for chemotherapy. And I'm gonna make lunch for three kids. I'll be back in an hour. Take your time. I'm going to be in the tube for an hour. And the nurse comes walking in with a wheelchair. Alright, Mr. Newman, last one MRI MRA with contrast. I'm like, no more wheelchair man, I can walk I just did the Broadside Run eight days ago. I'm cool. Mr. Newman liability. Great. So they get me in the wheelchair and they grab the clipboard off the back of the go right Mr. Newman, MRI MRA. Now we're going to do a contrast. So we could see a bigger brain tumour is Oh, my God. I go, it's a lesion. And that was the moment at 39 I was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Didn't expect it didn't understand the vernacular. And they brought me to a tube. And I was in it for an hour and a half. My head's all over the place. And they bring me back. And they plug me into about 30 different machines put me in a bed. And I start to cry. And I start to have retrospective on my life. And I started to think that there must be something I did to cause this I start to think of myself as a father, I start to think of myself as a husband and a friend. And as I mentioned before, when you learn what strength really is, all of a sudden, I saw strength, I grabbed it I owned it was mine. This is my life. Cancers just along for the ride. I will never allow cancer to define who I am, I am me and anything you want credit for, you're not going to get. I didn't know I had this in me. But when I saw it sitting there, I had every right to take it. Everybody has that deep down in their stomach. And once they have that opportunity to grab it, never let it go. Because that's you learn how you can give some type of legacy to others on the fight that you put up. And the way that you present yourself and the memories that you leave. I grabbed it, I took it and I have no problem, I just started cursing my brains out. And the nurses come running. Like oh my god, are you okay? I'm fine. If this is my pity party, I'm going down swinging. And the surgeon comes walking in my wife and my wife's wiping her eyes. Dad's got pancreatic cancer, he's going to die. Reality here. Your husband has brain cancer, he's going to die. And it looks like this. Let me tell you what we're going to do. I go, let me tell you what you could do. You can get this crap out of my head and I'm going to take care of the rest. Because Mr. Newman, you're going to have a major craniotomy on Sunday, it's Wednesday, we're going to cut a huge C in your head. We're going to pull the skull out. We're going to take the jaw back. We're going to take the tumour out. We won't know the severity of it for 10 days. He goes but I want you to read something. If you have some time now, I said yeah, that's fine. So we bring me a study from the American Medical Association on recovery, there's some diseases, they will take us physically, they will never take us spiritually. And if we allow ourselves to be remembered for the disease that took us, like I mentioned earlier, that's on our shoulders, we control our legacy. We control the way we're remembered. We control the memories we leave for the ones that we love the most. But there's some diseases you have an opportunity to fight. Did you have an opportunity to stay present, stay prevalent, and actually survive? What do you think the number one thing that helps people take on these challenges and fight is
Attitude. We've all heard the story of the married couple for 50 years, where the wife is healthy as a horse, husband gets cancer he dies. What do you think happens six months later, she does too. Once you fall into something called the downward spiral. It takes all this fight out of you drags you into negativity. What drags you into that spiral is regret resentment things I would have done this, I should have done that I could have done this. You start to get a new set of lenses on life, you see things differently, you have a new understanding of living in the moment and appreciating the now whatever happens tomorrow, whatever happened yesterday is irrelevant. This is our moment, right now. We get to use it. No one could take it from us right there. And what happens as you go through these and you wish you would have had to you didn't do this, you didn't do that you didn't do the planning for your family. You didn't protect them. You didn't do this. And now you're taking your legacy. And you're tainting it, and you're making it worse and worse and worse. And you start to fall down this all this surge and that is poured kerosene on my fire. If I wasn't going down and I had every bit of strength. I took care of all this stuff. Let's freaking Go, man, let's do whatever we got to do. And my wife looks at me and she goes, our parents were on the way over. Here's reality your parents here your son's got brain cancer, he's going to die. So I said, do me a favour. Give me the iPad she says Yeah. Want to like watch a movie, they'll be here in 20 minutes. I'm like, just give me the iPad. That was the moment I realised I needed to make sure everything was intact, that everything was organised. Because who knows where things are going to go? First thing I did is I pulled up my will. It's done. By the way, A will anybody regardless, you could do it online for like 19 bucks. This isn't about investments or mutual funds or anything like that. This is about legal documentation. So your wishes are carried out the way that you want. The next thing I did is I looked at my power of attorney. What a power of attorney says is I'm going to dictate who could make all the decisions. It's two signatures. It's not a lot. I could avoid probate, there's all these other things I can go through. Pulled up all my life insurance. It's all done. You know, most people want what they can't get. They want life insurance when they're uninsurable. They want long term care when they're on the way to a nursing home. They want a financial plan after this 30% they're looking in the rearview mirror instead of focusing on what's going outside the windshield, having a plan in place in advance. And as I'm going through this, my investments, my mortgages college for my kids, it has nothing to do with the amount of wealth you have. But that was the moment I realised every speech I ever gave was actually about me. I was the shoemakers, kids had shoes, I didn't have to worry about any of that. I was ready to take out any fight at hand right there. Because God forbid it didn't work out. My family will never get over me they will the grieving will have a permanency to it. But they will maintain their lifestyle. They will remember that I did everything in my power to make sure that they were able to be the people they wanted to be avoid this regret and resentment that had built that could possibly build up and define the way that I was looked at when I was no longer here to rectify that situation. And Larry, my father-in-law and my mother in law, Jackie, walked in. Larry didn't say a word. He nodded his head to me. I nodded my head at him. He wasn't my father-in-law. He was my cancer partner. And he was there to show me how to act, how to have dignity, how to have the ability to fight, act like a warrior and to truly express yourself to your family. And it hit me at that given moment that I see my mom dad walk in by that gives me this look. It's like hey, Bob, how you doing? I saw it in his eyes. I saw the fear. So the anger I saw the tears building up. I said that do me a favour. Sit down. He goes yeah. And I pulled up the iPad, and I'm laying in a bed connected to a million machines. And I showed him everything I went through. I took that iPad. I threw it on the bed when I was done. I go down. There's only one thing on my mind. Hey, what's that? Getting better. I don't have to worry about that. Any of that crap. I will fight like a warrior because that's what I am. And there's no way I'm going anywhere. And you can position this any way you want. My father is from the Bronx, New York. He's got a thick accent. He curses a lot. And for the first time in my life, I saw my dad right? And he broke out and I wasn't breaking down. I was in the mode. It was when he was going to beat this. I go No, I'm going to beat it. And these are the stories you're going to share. This is the perspective you're going to give to others. How having that in place allowed you to just fight it not worry about your family and not sit here crying out resent regret, regret and resentment. And that's when clarity sunk in. And this is going to sound odd. I was never scared. I went through major surgery that day, I think health and wealth are directly correlated, let me make that clear. I think too many people separate that.
ON HEALTH & WEALTH
Matt Newman 25:21
I always try to work out and eat healthy and all stuff like that. You don't have to be that rigorous about it. But I got major surgery on Friday. I went home on Sunday. And I 100% attribute that to being in good shape and being fit. Why do I correlate that to wealth and health? I want you to think how much it cost to stay in a hospital connected all those machines per night. That's not what somebody should be thinking you should be there to get better. But the better shape you're in, the more energy you're going to have, the better you can fight, the quicker you can get home. And I remember leaving the hospital, I wouldn't know the severity of this now for about nine and a half, 10 days. And they brought me down in a wheelchair. And my wife gets in the car that I dropped off there six days earlier. And she comes around to pick me up. I get in the car and I've got a second head I look like a train wreck. And she brings me home we all hear the term home is where the heart is. And we pull into my driveway. We have one of the side entrances you can walk through, I walk in. And the three kids are holding signs and I love you, Daddy, thank you for coming home. I start to cry. I didn't cry to fear. I didn't cry out of negativity. I cried out of happiness. This was my moment with my children. cancer has no impact on in any way whatsoever. It's about me spending time with them. And this given moment. Whatever happened yesterday, tomorrow, don't care. We own this. I went up to my bed. I passed out for 13 hours. This is where I wanted to be. And I start to have this new understanding of life of how fragile it can be. And these basic lessons were starting to hit me. Because I went through this shitstorm. These are things I should have known like these are basic things. So I told you the day 10 I would know the severity of it. Day five. I'm walking around my house, I'm a train wreck. And my son, Luke is having his five year old father son picnic at school that day and he goes to a school called Pennington Montessori School at that time, I have a five year old, a three year old and a two year old. And my wife says you do not have to go to the cycle. I will never miss this ever in a million years. I will be at everything for them going forward. So that morning, we take my three kids to school, I can't drive. I'm riding shotgun. And my wife takes my two boys, Luke and Jake to the class. And I take my daughter Lola, my two year old daughter, and she's got her little pink jacket on. And I walk her to the classroom. She takes a little jacket, and she puts it on the little hook. Ang goes, Thank you, Daddy for taking me to class. I love you. I cried again. But I cried out of appreciation because let me tell you what it was in the past. I wonder who's calling me I want to run next meeting. I learned at that moment. It wasn't about me. It was about Lola. And I had been giving her instruction that it's okay to not make it about the person that you're with and make it about herself. And I had to go through this, to learn that this was her moment. And that was taking her to school to be with her. But in the past that was always about me. I had no anger. I had no animosity. This was a lesson I was going to take. I was going to own. I was going to make mine. It's about them. I could separate things. You didn't tell me for five minutes. I couldn't I left my phone in my car. I did that day. And I will always do that going forward. So I come home and I'm talking my father in law and I'm going this is a gift. There are gifts inside of here. There are silver linings that I'm taking that I'm never going to give back. I'm going to own them. They're mine. I earn them. And then 113:0 Rebecca goes you can't go to this lunch you you're a mess. I go I will never miss this, she takes me up to lunch. Luke's waiting at the door for me gives me hug, goes I love you daddy and I am rainbows and unicorns. I'm smiling everywhere. This is our moment. We own this. And we walk back and we sit in the backyard. We get a little brown bag lunch, we have 30 minutes we're going to spend together and then all the dads are going to leave and as happy as I am and as much as I'm focused on him looking him in the eye. I look up and I'm gonna tell you what I saw. I saw every dad like that. That was me. I had a blackberry and an iPhone at that point. I didn't, I wasn't mad. I didn't look at these people as bad. I was like that was me. But I went through a life lesson to learn how precious the moment is, how fragile life really is how we all think we're this Teflon, you know feature where we can get through anything. We're bulletproof. Peace. mode we could do well. We shouldn't have to go through a negative experience to get some of the basic lessons, life offers you a better appreciation and love. And this is something that I was going to take, and I was never going to give back. And it started to become part of my normal life, that regardless where things were going, I was never going to take for granted the gift that I was given. And it took cancer, to make me understand that and here's the crazy part, I was pretty good before this, I wasn't a bad person. Yes, I work a lot. And I was driven and goal oriented, and all that other stuff like that. But it took to go through something like this, to transpose that, going forward, to become better. And these are things that you shouldn't have to pick up on for many, when it's too late to do anything about it. And I was going to make sure it wasn't for me.
James Laughlin 30:50
That is incredible, very, very emotional experience for me just sitting taken that in. It's incredible. And it's funny, because I've talked to a lot of high performing dads, former Prime Ministers, World Champion athletes, and one of the things that they get taught, most of them anyways by coaches is to when you get home just before you get home plot, check all your emails, make your last call, turn your phone off, when you go in the door. For those first five minutes, make sure your phone doesn't exist. So that is not a normal behaviour. And, you know, I see a lot of people hooked on the phone. So how can an individual let's say, dad, because you and I, both dads and other dads can relate to this. How could a dad who hasn't faced mortality, actually embrace life for what it is and live presently and fully?
ON LIVING PRESENTLY & FULLY
Matt Newman 31:43
It's a great question because sometimes it takes the negativity to trigger that that emotional connection. And I'll share something with you that I did. So what I started to do is when I went through this I started to write. Remember I said at the beginning of our conversation, there's these seeds that are planted in you from your children from your parents, and often they will bloom later in life. My father was a financial advisor. I'm always a teacher, that didn't bloom on me till I was 39 years old. So what I started to do, is I started to write, I started to write about my optimism, my new perspective on life, the new lenses, I'm looking through this gift that I was given from cancer. Let me make this clear. I never sat down to write anything. I never had any goal to get anything done. For all the optimism I had, there's negativity and fear that you're pushing deep down into your belly. If you don't find an outlet for that, you're going to combust my catharsis and outlet. All of a sudden became writing I never wrote in my life before. And I would share it with friends. I would share it with family. And I would just get on with it. I could tell you, I never read one after I sent it. It was like vomit, I would get it out of my system. Matt, you have to go for a cancer test. I found it. I had a grade three astrocytoma I had to go through chemo radiation, aggressive cancer. And for three months, you got to come back and get a test and four months. Every time something happened, I'd be sitting in the hospital, I would start writing. I never sat down to write. So the reason I'm sharing this with you is as I was writing more and more, I started a new understanding of life. Four years into it. I had 20,000 people following my emails, I was not on social media. I never cared. Hey, man, could you put this person on? Yeah, whatever. Man, could you just show? Sure No, bro. I started saying like cancer is like buying a car. When you buy a car, you leave the lodge Evernote, we all know the average car, I see this car everywhere wrong car was always there. You never noticed it's in a direct connection to it. I started to have this nuance that cancer was everywhere. But it went deeper. I started to see that people who are depressed needed to read something, I started to see people who weren't treating their children rightly, people who were suicidal. And when I realised it's not the disease you're taking on, it's the issue we all have. So what I started to have a better understanding is people are sick of the stick some dude given them the perspective read from their cue card and a bunch of statistics they don't care about. They want to know they're not alone on the journey that they're on. And that's when I learned the power of inspiration. And I learned that when you connect with people in your read that life is not all rainbows and unicorns, we put up this facade that we're keeping up with the Joneses, and everything is perfect. And our children are great, we all got our scars, we all got our battles that we go through. We all got demons that we fight. That's the way it works. Anyone who says otherwise, you're a liar. Let me throw that one out there. So what I started to have a deeper understand was I would do this for me. It just made me feel better. But I started to understand that when you can use social media in a positive way and find people that give you that little kick, that little inspiration, those little things that you need, don't go too deep. There's an underbelly, that's evil and to us, if you just use it for the right reasons, to be able to find other people that are on similar journeys that you're on and use that tool to give you that little pop in the morning, that pop that give you reminders and stuff like that there's a value to be able to maintain the understanding that others have taken on difficulties. And it won't be perfect forever. And if you understand that prior to the issue, you can fight like a warrior. If you don't, unless you got it in you, and you find it things will go very differently.
James Laughlin 35:27
That's amazing. I'm talking about the book. So tell us a little bit more about the book, I'll put a link on Apple, Spotify on YouTube description for people to go buy it. But please tell me about the book, The name of the book, and the summary of what people can expect to experience.
STARTING AT THE FINISH LINE
Matt Newman 35:43
Yeah, so the books called starting at the finish line, I have no problem telling you this. I never planned on writing a book. I told you writing became my catharsis. So about four years into it as I was getting all these people following me and everything. And that was an email. I forgot to read a book 100% for me, to make myself feel better to alleviate because no matter how well I was doing a matter of things were going Africa in the hospital for three, four months, it continued to get checked out. This is my journey for the rest of my life. And it's my journey. Like I said, cancer just like, you know, ride with me some times. So what happens is, I tell you, it's going to write a book, there was no business plan. There was no ghost writer, I really had no idea what I was doing for the majority. But I use those lessons that my mom passed on to me to convey my perspective and thoughts. And it just made me feel better, but something I can use as that outlet more and more. So my book came out on March 23 2018, almost three years ago, and I called my mom in town called Parsippany, New Jersey. And I go, hey ma, the books coming out tonight. She goes, you know, no one's ever going to read her write me on some jerk, or they can remind me before she goes, but you're going to put three copies in your safe. So when your children are old enough, they'll be able to read the realities of what really happened. I said, Yeah. And the realities are crazy. It's not just me cancer, my father, there's helicopter crashes, there's, you almost wouldn't believe if you didn't read it. One week later, we're number one on Amazon and four different categories. And my jaw hit the ground, there was no expectation. There was no marketing plan. I wasn't even on social media. I was like, that can't be right. Like there's no way. That's when I learned what connection really was. When you hit people in the heartstrings. When you let them know, they're not alone on the path that they've been thrust into that they had no choice on. When you let them know that the battles they're fighting, there's other ones that are out there doing it, I started to have a new perspective on life, and why people want to read it. They want to know what this guy did. And maybe I could do it. And it wasn't just about cancer, it was about any type of disease or obstacle that they had taken on. And I had clarity that kicked in. So I told you, I was in the financial services area. And I always spoke. So I started to get asked to speak. And it's funny speaking’s like being in a band, you know, the first place I spoke at, and I always spoke on these big stages on finance. And first, it was like, it was like a bad you start a bar with like 20 people and I was like, I can't play 20 people, this is so cool. And then a year later, you're speaking in Las Vegas in front of 10,000 people and you're like, I can't believe that this happened. But I got it. I got it of what people are truly looking for. They're looking for that deep rooted connection. To know, they can find inspiration and motivation because it comes from rawness and purity, not from anything canned. And if you give it to people, the way that you feel that you know how to and if you share from the bottom of your heart, and you open yourself up. That's something that changes the connection that you build with someone else. And I always kind of understood it. But like I said, it provided a complete clarity to be at that given moment.
James Laughlin 39:16
Unbelievable. Amazing. It's so interesting map because, you know, prior to our interview, I say okay, I want to ask this question. I want to ask that I had all these questions. And I haven't looked once or thought one.
James Laughlin 39:28
It's a great sign. It's a sign that this is just amazing that you're truly sharing so much that's going to inspire so many people and people that have been doing their cancer journey. People that may or may don't know that they're about to head down that they'll be listening to this and it will hit the right people at the right time.
Matt Newman 39:46
And you share something with you James though real jump everything. You just said something there. I think the reason that that happened was because my catharsis went from writing to talking. It was just a movement when you're doing something somewhat for yourself to get it off your chest with nothing there is, the more events I would be speaking at these huge events, there'd be the person with the PowerPoint in the reading office and you're just gone. There's nothing to that. When you can connect with people, and you're doing it for your own virtue, your own reason. And they know you're just sharing the honest truth with them. It creates something that is very hard for words to encapsulate. Because it gives them that inspiration and motivation to take on the next obstacle that comes on their path. Because they've now witnessed, well, if someone else could do it, I could, I'm nobody special. I'm just the guy who used writing as a catharsis. I'm just the guy who wanted to be there for his family. I'm just a guy who learned what strength was. What's interesting is from all the speeches, I do, everything, the connections I get from others, they don't realise they're the ones inspiring and motivating me and keeping me going. And I wish I could convey that in a better way to them and be more thankful that I am.
James Laughlin 41:08
That's beautiful. I never thought of it like that. That is beautiful. And I have to say, as a young dad, call myself young, I look at you and I see who I want to become. And, you know, like I look at, you know, being a dad as being the greatest privilege. And when I have my own forms of adversity, and I've had them over the years, how do I want to tackle those and when I look at you, it's like, Whoa, you've done what I need to do the next time I get hit in the face with a spanner. And that's amazing. I thank you for taking the time to do that. Because there's many people who wouldn't have the skill set or the desire to share that story in the way that you have with so much vulnerability. It's beautiful. And you mentioned, it's stunning it's stunning. It's a real gift to the world. You mentioned band. I see some guitars behind you that are you a musician?
Matt Newman 42:03
now, and I'll share a quick story with you. And because I think things happen for a reason before I got sick, I'll tell you used to believe in irony. So when I was called 13 years old, I grew up right about 20 miles outside of New York City. And I really want to play guitar. I was a good athlete, I really wanted to play guitar. So my parents gave me Guitar Lessons a place called village music on Route 46. In Parsippany, New Jersey, and I'm all fired up, I'm going to be great. I stunk on the throw that out there. So what happened is, then you move on to eighth grade to go to high school. And sports really started to take off for me. So see you later guitar. Go through high school, get a division one scholarship to college, go play, move on to you know, start moved to Philadelphia start my career in finance. And all of a sudden I meet some guy there plays guitar. And we start playing together. And I'm like, this is great. My career takes off. See you later guitar, nice talking to you. I go through surgery. And I'm just walking around my house. I'm like a zombie like I had, there's no place I can go I can't do anything. You know, I look horrible. And I go in my basement. And I see that guitar right there. And I'm like, we brought that here when we moved here. I had lived here for a while at that point. Now. I probably hadn't picked up a guitar in 20 years. But we brought that here. So I told you about my son Luke, who had the father son picnic. His teacher is a guy named Maroon. He actually owns a music studio and is a gifted musician. And I went one day with Luke to school to drop him off. I said, Hey, Roon. I don't even know how to string guitar. Can you fix this? The look he gave me? Yeah, man. Oh, 100% do that for you. I'm like, I don't even know what I'm doing. I'm like thanks. So he fixes the guitar for me, and brings it over the house. I have no idea what I'm doing. I mean, so I start playing a little bit. And my wife's like, Oh my god, close the door. That's terrible. I never played with the internet. That's how long it had been. I just have to go buy tablature books for all your younger people under you have no idea what I'm talking about. So all of a sudden, I start practising more and I could play chords like I can solo that well, whatever. And I start playing and my wife read. It was really like a study on therapy and therapeutic things. And playing music was one of them. And I remember giving it to me, if it makes you feel better to keep playing and start playing more and more. Next thing you know she's buying me a Fender Stratocaster right over here. And one year she gets me lessons. I'm like, this is the coolest thing ever. I can play I'm going to get lessons so great. So I go there. Look at that guy's make this clear man. I suck. I'm terrible. I'm just so happy to be here and appreciate this and all that other stuff because well, let me tell you what a chord is. I'm like, dude, I know what a chord is going to play barre chord. What? You can play all these I go, yeah. What do you mean? Because you said you suck. I got all I'm terrible. I'm awful. He goes, what do you mean, you know, all these courts I got, why can't solo he goes, you can play these chords. Next thing you know, me and him, are literally sitting there playing Pink Floyd, just jamming out. And I'm like, I literally was like giggling like a little kid. I'm like, this is the greatest thing ever. It was another thing I found that 20 years ago, I thought would never happen again. And now became something I do every night. We all have to find our therapy. We all have to find our catharsis, whether it's yoga, meditation, playing music, something, something you could take for 15 minutes a day, will put your mind in a better spot to help you do the things you want to do with friends and family, because you're almost cleansing yourself. And this was eight years ago, in May I got diagnosed, I still probably play 15-20 minutes every day, because it keeps me on point to be the person that I want to be.
James Laughlin 46:10
That's beautiful. I love and I couldn't really believe it. I was a drumming teacher for 1520 years. You were good that I don't know about that. And I loved it. And I still drum regularly. And it's cathartic. And a lot of people do lift up drumsticks or a guitar for that cathartic experience. And yeah, I want to share one quick story with you about your work. And we'll just we'll wrap up here shortly. But um, I grew up in Northern Ireland. And it had its fair share of challenges and conflicts as you can imagine with different things that happened in Northern Ireland. So I used to sit in the front step, I lived in a small town called Bali, Claire, used to sit in the front step of my house. And in the distance, I can see these big jets taken off from Belfast International Airport. And in my mind as a five year old. I thought every single plane took off and went to New York. That's where Belfast went. It was probably gone to Glasgow, but that's okay. So in my mind, where the New York so from a young age five or six, I had this desire to leave Ireland like I wanted to go to New York, I wanted to go to New York. And so I was about 1314 my grandparents took me to Calgary to see some family up in Canada. And then I got the opportunity to move to Vancouver, over in the west coast of Canada. Beautiful, right? So I spent time there. And then I started travelling around the world, Southeast Asia, all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, I'm 34, and I'm almost 35, I still haven't been to New York City.
Matt Newman 47:51
So I gotta throw something at you, man. I'm going to tell you this and everybody watches. You don't want to go now. Now is not the time to go. I would tell you. It's magnificent. You know, one of the things that happens you get to desensitise to things when you grow up near it. Like if you grow up next to the Statue of Liberty, you don't feel the need to go to the Statue of Liberty or anything like that. New York has this captivating essence to it, that it just never gets old. It's amazing. It's a wonderful place. We love going and my me and my wife would go once a quarter every year we got together, because I couldn't be there. 45 minutes. It's simple. It's a shame what's happening over here right now. And a lot of the major cities Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, you have people flooding out of the urban areas. Due to a variety of things. There's cost of living, there's taxes, but you also have a lot of the opioid problems have become very, very bad during this pandemic. And nobody's really sure what to do. Everything will come back at some point. But it's more going through the negative time. Oh, I wish New York was this way. I wish, I got to learn to appreciate in the now because you never know how things are going to change at some point.
James Laughlin 49:06
That's right. I want to make it to the east coast. I'm going to give you a shout and if you're free.
Matt Newman 49:09
Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Now we'll go. We'll go up to New York and have some fun that will get you cheese steak in Philly.
ON LIFE ON PURPOSE
James Laughlin 49:17
I've got one last question for yourself. What's your definition of leading a life of purpose?
Matt Newman 49:26
It's a great question. And two things just hit me there. So I'll kind of answer in two prongs. The first is being you. Don't be what's perceived to be you. Don't be how others look at you. Be yourself. When you define yourself as being YOU, you're leaving a much deeper legacy than you realise. The other thing I would tell you is find your passion. Whether it becomes an outlet, a catharsis, whatever it may be. Find what really hits you in those heartstrings makes you tick. And utilise it. Because when you want it, it may not be available at some point.
James Laughlin 50:06
That's beautiful man I just want to say a heartfelt thank you for sharing
Matt Newman 50:11
My honour. Thank you for having me.
James Laughlin 50:13
know it's it's an honour to connect with you, I'll be getting your book, I'll be sharing it with my followers, I'll be putting the link below where people can get it. So I want to thank you so much.
Matt Newman 50:21
And I'll tell you this too. I want to give my website for this reason it gets Matthew. M A T H E W - S - Newman N E W M A N Matthew s Newman dot com. The only person that calls me Matthew is my mom, let me throw the one out there with the reason I want to give everyone that website is for those of you going through difficult times, taking on challenges issues, you can contact me directly. There's all our social media, but there's also direct email in that if there's any way we could help if you know a family member going through a difficult disease or something like that. Please don't be bashful. Whatever we can do to pay it forward. It's our absolute pleasure.
James Laughlin 50:54
That's amazing. I'll put that link below guys directly to Matthew's website as well. That's amazing. Thank you so much.
Matt Newman 51:02
Thank you so much for having me.
James Laughlin 51:09
Thank you so much for listening in today and investing your own personal growth. Please hit that subscribe button. I would love love love. If you'd leave me a rating and review as it really helps me to impact more people. I've got some amazing guests lined up in the coming weeks. And folks, it's that time, get out there and live life on purpose.