Most Inspirational Guests of 2020

Without question, the five people in this episode touched us in an emotional way this past year. Something so many needed in what has been a challenging time like no other we have lived through and at what is for some a particularly difficult season of the year these are the people that lifted my spirits, unlike any others. Were able to connect on a very personal level and their stories and work are inspirational.

Mike Acker
Listen to the full episode “Learn to Speak with No Fear

Mike Acker

Mike passionately coaches business professionals to lead and speak with confidence. In presentations, he entertains and inspires audiences using stories of growing up as the son to drug smugglers who turned missionaries. He retells and relates lessons learned on how to overcome insecurity and exclusion in a cross cultural setting. And he unpacks the path from employee to manager to leader.

Mike also enjoys rock-climbing, wake surfing, skiing, church, building Legos with his son, and going on dates with his wife, Taylor. Mike believes in the power of prayer, exercise, journaling, and real community to counter the stresses of everyday life. You can find out more at

Michael Ian Cedar

Michael is an executive and leadership coach, skilled facilitator and keynote speaker, with 20 years of experience helping clients bring their professional and personal lives into alignment. Combining high-energy passion with a nonjudgemental approach, Michael helps clients tap into their potential to lead others, by focusing on their emotional intelligence, interpersonal relations, and managerial skills.

Michael helps leaders at all career stages to gain confidence by freeing them from unconscious limiting beliefs and behaviors, so they can get out of the way of their own success. In individually tailored sessions, he asks deep, unexpected questions that get to the core of the matter, so that clients can connect the dots and obtain new levels of clarity. His well-attuned observations of human behavior allow him to offer his clients fresh perspectives, opening doors that no one else yet knew existed.

Hear more from Michael at the Gratitude Slam

Michael Ian Cedar
Full of inspiration and insight episode “Why Happiness Isn’t a Choice”. Michael showed just how gifted he is. If you are on Linked In he’s begun doing these amazing one-minute videos.

In our Discussion on the “Difference Between Winning and Success” Shawn shares his own story as well as the difference between the C Suite who is taught to win and the majority of the employees focused on success.

Shawn Harper

Shawn Harper is a former NFL offensive lineman who played a total of seven seasons with the Rams, the Oilers, the Colts, and NFL Europe. Since 2004 he has owned and operates American Services and Protection, a Multi-million-dollar security services firm headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. His journey from the grit and sweat of the NFL locker room to the corporate culture of the boardroom proved that he could win in both worlds by using many of the same principles and strategies!

You can count the number of seeds in an orange, but you can never count the number of oranges in a seed. Visit to learn more.

Jeff Harry

Jeff Harry shows individuals and companies how to tap into their true selves, to feel their happiest and most fulfilled — all by playing. He has worked with Google, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Adobe, the NFL, Amazon, and Facebook, helping their staff to infuse more play into the day-to-day.

Jeff is an international speaker who has presented at conferences such as INBOUND, SXSW, and Australia’s Pausefest, showing audiences how major issues in the workplace can be solved using play.

His play work has been mostly recently been featured in the NY Times Times Article: How To Add More Play To Your Grown-Up Life

Right now a web person is twitching somewhere because I insisted on using this picture. It captures the joy Jeff exhibits. Listen to the Importance of Rediscovering Play

My conversation with Joel on “The Journey from Fear to Love” and his book The Eggshell Effect were two very profound things in my life this year.

Joel Holc

Joel is an energy awareness coach and an emerging author in the healing arts. His book, The Eggshell Effect, reveals the story of how he discovered the source of his lifetime of illness, and how he powerfully transformed his health beyond the limitations set for him by the conventional medical establishment. In his book, and in his work with clients, he creates a space for others to become self-aware, in a way that enables them to tap into their energy source, a source that empowers them to choose freely throughout their life’s journey.

https://joelholc.comJoel discovered his approach to self-healing while battling a severe auto-immune disease, one that had conventional medical practitioners diagnose him with a lifetime in a wheelchair. His transformation is based around the altering of his lifestyle, which includes a plant based diet, spiritual awareness and connection, and emotional growth, This is leaps and bounds from his health as a boy. learn more about his work at

Most Inspirational Guests of 2020 Transcript and Shownotes

Tim Kubiak 0:01
Thanks for listening to bow ties and business. I’m your host Tim Kubiak. If you don’t do so already. Please subscribe. If you like what you hear today, we’ve got the top five most inspirational conversations I had this year. Holidays are a tough time. And these are people that brought things into focus for me personally, as we talked throughout the year. I hope you enjoy hearing from them. We’ve got Michael cedar, Joe Hoke, Jeff Harry, Shawn Harper, and Mike achor. So let’s talk about the journey you see with your clients a little bit right? Yeah. So you’ve been there I’ve been I’ve been the train wreck, right? tanked like a rock star myself. How do people come from that place? Where they are their careers? to finding out maybe who they really are beyond that?

Michael Ian Cedar 0:50
Yeah, I’m gonna be I’m gonna be super academic with this answer, right? Because there’s my, wow, this is a hard one to put into words. And then there’s the, you know, man, I can’t sit in front of a high performing executive and just talk about like, okay, what’s your, what’s your life’s purpose? Right. And so I’ve come to the table with some tangibility. So I’m going to go super academic on this. And, and I just, there’s been yet a time where this model did not create a massive move of the, the needle for them. And so I go from the standpoint of I go, hey, let’s, and I and I don’t do this with everyone, right? It depends what individuals are coming to me for. But if someone’s coming to me, and they’re just like, lost my job, really having dark thoughts right now, or, or about to lose my job, and I don’t, I just don’t think I have what it takes to get it, you know, to get back in good standing or whatever it is that people’s values are attached to their their worth is the touching to something else. And even if they’re not in scared, fear of losing something, people who are workaholics, I tell this story, and then I’m gonna come back to it. So one of my favorite moments in coaching history in my life, is I had a super great human being come to me, or was assigned to me, actually, they were assigned to me by their HR department, they were working around the clock, you know, there, if I mentioned the product name, you would know what it is, you know, they’re they’re super high and provide provider for that brand. And the very first meeting, the chemistry meeting, right, the chemistry meetings, it just be like, Hey, we’re pairing you. Just make sure that you guys are good that and I just remember we were over video, and he looks down at his starts by looking down at the table. Look at body language is slumped in. And he just said, Hi, my name is blank. And this is my job here. I was like, I know who you are. I know what your job is there. Most of the world knows your job as well. And who you are, and is not thinking that and he just goes first thing out of his mouth after saying his name and title, right. But immediately, stock is and this is me. This is my job. He looks up at the camera. And he goes, I dropped my 10 year old daughter off at school today. And I drove away. And I realized I have no idea what color dress she was wearing. Can you help me?

Tim Kubiak 3:26

Michael Ian Cedar 3:27
Yeah, right. Super, super. Wow. And I mean, I got the chills, and I don’t have children. So I don’t know what that would be like, but I I just said, yeah. Yeah, I’ve been there. I can help. You know, maybe I don’t have the daughter. But I remember not knowing if I talked to my mom that day, you know, so? Yeah, let’s do this. Yeah. And he’s like, yeah, I’m like, right. Right. And, and so they’re stories like that, that. I mean, how many of us have that where we forget what it’s like to be present with the people we love, you know, and talk about gratitude, right? the gratitude of it. Being great, have been great. I’m grateful. Being grateful. I’m grateful for what you do have now. Because as COVID has definitely taught us, you can lose a lot real fast, you know, and I believe there’s only I’m gonna answer your question, by the way.

Oh, good.

We’re coming for coming full circle, right. There’s only one thing we can control. And that’s it. And man, one of my favorite books is Ishmael by Dennis Quinn. But the theme of the book is basically the only thing you can control control is an illusion. The only thing you can control is your response to everything happening. You could lose your job, you could lose a limb, you could lose a loved one, you could lose a spouse a partner, I love her right? And I can’t control that, you know, I can only control how I show up in that moment. And so let’s go back to your question or let’s go back to that academic thing that I do, and people are wrapped up in their job so much that they, let’s use that analogy don’t know the color of their daughter’s dress, right? And they want to be a good dad or a good mom, right? Or a good family member, whatever. And so one of the first things I do is go play let’s,

let’s talk about

what you do. Like, hey, well, who are you? What do you do? And people generally go out, I’m a designer, I’m an actor, I’m a Broadway star, whatever, you know, and I’ll go, Okay, so what vehicles do you have in your life? How do you deliver yourself? How do you show up and I’ll give the example. So vehicles in my life in the past and current, we’re bringing a full circle Bar Mitzvah and wedding emcee that was a vehicle. Being a company manager for Broadway bus and truck tours. That’s how I worked in 49 of the 50. States. Coach, right, but then I’m also a husband. That’s how I deliver my self that is a vehicle being a husband’s vehicle. I am here as a vehicle to serve our relationship. Being a son.

Mm hmm.

Right? Um, these are ways I these are titles, they’re labels. That’s all they are. Take away the word husband, what am I to my wife, right? How do you like total? That’s why I said there’s some intangible parts here. But if we actually take the word husband away, who am I to my wife? That’s the first time I’ve actually said it like that. That’s pretty badass. If you asked me,

Tim Kubiak 6:37
that’s pretty good.

Michael Ian Cedar 6:38
Who am I to my wife? If we don’t call me a husband? Right? What a neat, right? Oh, crap.

Tim Kubiak 6:44

Michael Ian Cedar 6:46
Who am I without the ring on but my brain back on? All right.

Mike Acker 6:49

Michael Ian Cedar 6:51
So those are vehicles and so people challenge all I’m up. I, you know, you know, and, and that’s hard for a lot of people that’s hard to do is to come up with the vehicles is like, well, well, being a being a, you know, volunteer for the first day, that’s not a vehicle. That’s a purpose, not dude. That’s a way you show up in physical form. in physical form it you have to show up as a vehicle in physical form, and we are in human form, okay. I don’t care what your background is in anyone’s background as a faith we are in physical form, if we’re talking, you know, and if we’re not, please tell me because I need to learn from

Mike Acker 7:32
you. humility, whatever spot you’re at, learn humility, and learn the ability to praise the people around you. One of the biggest difficulties I ever had was learning humility, though, the hard way. And it’s much better to humble yourself than to be humbled.

Tim Kubiak 7:53
That’s a very important point and a great lesson in and of itself. If you don’t mind, can we step away a little bit from the business world? Can we talk about your background? Because you have a little bit different of a path? Do you mind sharing?

Mike Acker 8:07
Yeah. I actually love starting about my background, actually, with my parents, because my dad was a drug dealer, and my mom was a witch. So that was the most what’s the most interesting thing about you, my dad was a drug dealer, my mom was a witch. Or if I want to put this in more like more business terms, my, my, my dad was a entrepreneur. He started his own business when he was in college, and he realized how much money he could make. And so instead of pursuing a, his degree he, he did that. They then had a radical transformation in their life and change their own values. They became Christians, and very involved in helping the world be a better place. So in the 80s, we were helping people with HIV back when you still thought you could catch it by sitting on the wrong toilet. And then we were helping food banks, and we’re going down to the nursing homes. And my parents just felt so grateful for this change in life that they just wanted to teach us how to pay it forward. And so they just did some really cool things that led us down to Mexico where we were serving the poor and disenfranchised and outskirts of Mexico, where a lot of the kids grew up to be the cartel of Sinhala. And so a lot of the people we’ve worked with have been influenced by the cartels and Sinhala, which is where we lived. So I lived there for seven years. And then I was at this crossroads. Where was I going to go in the professional world? or What did I What did I want to do? And at that point in time, I was looking at just, I was just looking at money, I was just looking at that. And so I was accepted to the top law school of Mexico, and you go straight into law school for five years, I was accepted as a big deal. And then I had a change and just in talking to some people really decided that I wanted to maybe be more followed in the footsteps of my parents. So I ended up becoming a pastor and did that for 19 years. did all kinds of church plants and missions work planted schools and churches and feeding centers and Mazatlan and Senegal, built wells, and all kinds of really cool things in the United States and outside the United States. And then, and then I just hit a wall, 19 years into it. I didn’t want to go to church, which when you’re a pastor, and you’ve been a senior pastor for 10 years, and you don’t want to go to church, it’s, it’s kind of a deal breaker right there. It’s kind of what you’re having to do. And I had just, and this is where it comes to that pride. I didn’t so well, for so long. That I kind of thought that I kind of thought I was pretty amazing. And, and it led to some issues. And it led to me stepping down. And just just ultimately, then saying, well, who am I going back to that identity question, maybe a reason why I push into identity so much is because I had to ask that. And so who am I, I thought I was a pastor. And that’s, that’s who I was. And I realized that it’s a classic cliche, I’m not a human doing, I’m a human being and pulled back, be relocated back to town, I lived in 20 years before just on the other side of Seattle, and just took a pause. And that’s when I ended up going into sales and just enjoying the professional life did quite well in sales territory grew at large, and just took a breather and reevaluate why I had been doing different things. And so often, so often when someone goes into ministry, and this is true in other areas, too, is when you start really, really high on passion, and low on skills. But the longer you’re in whatever you do, and I’m aware that it could happen to what I’m doing now is that over the course of time, whatever happens that your passion lowers, and for me, there’s several factors, pride was one of them. But the passion lowers as your skill goes up. And now you’re not leaning into hearts and faith and those internal aspects. But you’re really leaning into your skills and your own ability, which builds that pride right here, you know that you’re not good at it. But you have a heart for it. You’re launching a business, right? You’re an entrepreneur, you’re launching something, and you know that you’re not actually great at communicating. And maybe you’re not great at sales. But you man, you you work hard, you have tons of heart, but over the course of time your skills go up. And that heart those internal values goes down. And and when I stepped away from ministry, and just had a time to really think through who I was, what was important to me revisit the values I had written down so long ago, I’d realized that I had relied more on what I could do, then then really focus on who I was

Tim Kubiak 12:58
a difference between winning and success.

Shawn Harper 13:01

Tim Kubiak 13:02
Right. And you’ve put it in a way I hadn’t heard before. It’s really insightful.

Shawn Harper 13:09
Yeah, to me, and this is gonna ruffle a lot of feathers. Probably, to me, success is a man made construct. Okay, we’re not created for success retreated to win, there’s a big difference between winning and success. Winning is the fullest, fullest expression of who you are mentally, physically, socially, economically, obviously, and most important legacy success tends to focus on one or two things main, mainly economics, we celebrate wealth, too much in this world and too much in this country. And we deem it as successful although, or even though, and other areas of their life are struggling, but we kind of put that to the side, because wealth helps production. But winning focuses not only on production, but re production, there’s a difference. The danger of success is that success is not static, which means you can be successful here. So I’m in Ohio, if I had $10 million in Ohio, I’m doing well. You take $10 million to New York City, your average you take $10 million to Dubai, you’re broke, you owe your average, guys a big difference. And so you’re never on firm footing, because you’re always achieving something that can’t be achieved, because they need you always to chase the carrot of success. Winning is when you know, hey, I’m winning. I’m looking at my family. I’m looking at my health. I’m looking at my wealth. I’m looking at all areas of my life. And I’m doing fairly well. I’m winning, and I’m looking at my legacy. I’m winning. If you can’t look yourself in the mirror in these areas, Hey, are you winning? Are you doing well, but you’re not winning? Yeah,

Tim Kubiak 14:49
yeah. And the part that grabbed me was you use the analogy, I believe in the book of as a kid a foot race, right? You either win or you lose, right? And and I love that you call out And by the way, I’m a reformed corporate guy. So I love that you call out that measure of getting off the wheel and standing out and being different. Because you’re right, you know, so much of the world is about do this, get a job, get a bigger job, buy a bigger house, buy bigger, this buy bigger that right? And it’s not about your happiness, and you defining it on your own terms. And this one, the most powerful parts of your story to me personally.

Shawn Harper 15:25
Yeah, it’s, it’s so amazing. It’s that the executive, the C suites, they’re trained to win. Okay, they’re trained, they’re trained to make the numbers, okay, they’re trained, and even, even even the vice president or the president of a fortune 500 company, you fire him or her, it doesn’t matter. They have a golden parachute there when it’s already built in there. buyout is built in. But middle management in lower they teach success and success. Teachers goals, C suites executives, they teach strategies, they teach edge, they teach a different mindset. And what would happen from if it was the seal from the from the CEO all the way down to the receptionist? What would happen? They all thought winning, they all thought about winning, and what would happen if the C suites made sure that the people under them won. Wow, you have a very, very powerful call, okay? In lifeless destination.

Joel Holc 16:35
If I meet somebody that bring me no value, I’m just waste an hour or a day or a week or months of my life. Because you brought me no service. But sometimes these people just just it’s we did not meeting the right time. Yeah. And we’d still we were supposed to meet.

Tim Kubiak 16:53
I think the phrase you used in the book was tomorrow arrived, and it was yesterday. And I missed it. Is that right? or close to right?

Joel Holc 17:02
So thank you for mentioning that. And so I remember, when I was a barely walking a single parent, my kids were young. And for those of us that live in the northeast, we have basements here. And this is where the washer and dryer is and going all the way down to the basement and climbing up, barely, barely working. And we the kids with the kids clean clothes. And I and we all heard about sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. Correct. This is a statement that we all heard about it and and some of us really live by that. And I did. I said okay, don’t worry about it. Just Just tomorrow will be better, tomorrow will be better. And as I walking up the stairs, I told Chris my mind. sacrificed today for a better tomorrow. And I didn’t realize that tomorrow was here already yesterday. And I miss it all up. Now I’m getting chills just saying this right now. And I wish that at that moment, my life will be transformed. Unfortunately, it took probably another 10 or some years after that for my life to completely be transformed. But the stuff that just or planning in my subconscious mind eventually were blooming. that we do is there is a there is a difference between sacrificing today for better tomorrow that we can be committed we can be a in engage we can be but that the sacrifice sacrifices today for a better tomorrow. It’s almost pointless.

Jeff Harry 18:48
Many different ideas in which you can get there.

Tim Kubiak 18:52
So whether you’re the guy in the hoodie, or the girl in the hoodie in the Bay Area, sitting in front of the computer coding forever, or the button down type in New York, right with the cufflinks on the wall street, and you wake up one morning and realize all you do is work, you’ve lost that creativity, you’ve lost that drive. Where do you start? That’s, that’s a hard place to be. Oh, it’s

Jeff Harry 19:14
a very hard place to be especially when, you know, you bought into the culture right? I speak a lot about this called a affluent deadness. It’s when it’s when you have it all when you have a lot of stuff, but you just feel kind of dead inside. You know, like you have you know, you have your house you have you can go on like trips anywhere you want. You can buy basically whatever you want, but there’s still like this emptiness and a hole in you because you really haven’t like explored who you are Who’s your inner child. So I first start with talking to them about soothing and what I mean by that is my play mentor Gwen Gordon talks about how you can play You learn how to calm and soothe yourself. And a lot of people adopt their nervous system from the person that took care of them the most. Right? So they learn how to calm themselves from that person. So if that person had a lot of anxiety, and a lot of trauma, you’re actually adopting that. Right. So that’s the first thing of like, how do I calm myself? Because you can’t play in an anxiety ridden state in a frustrated state. So that’s the first part of like, Okay, let me figure out how to do that what calms me down, right? Then after that, then I challenge people to get bored. And that means like, remove all the numbing devices, the binge watching Netflix, the social media, I’m not saying forever, I’m just saying for that day, you know, for that hour, just like, get to a point where you can get quiet enough, where you’re bored. And it’s weird as the play person to be talking about that. But think about when you were a kid, that’s when you came up with your best ideas, right? Some of the most dangerous ideas, right? The most craziest ideas, but you’re like, I wouldn’t leave from this cliff. So this cliff, and everyone’s like, Yeah, do it. And you’re like, this is a horrible idea if I were to try it. But yeah, get bored, because that is when that inner curiosity and it’s going to show up as like a whisper, not in a, you know, in a loud screaming way. And it’s going to say something to you, like, write that blog, create that podcast, make that video, reach out to that person that you’ve been always wanting to reach out to, you know, leave the job you’re leaving to go to this other dream place that you’ve always wanted to start taking classes of something that you’ve been interested in for a while, like, listen to that inner curiosity, and then follow that, right. I think a lot of people are like, what’s your passion? You know, and Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how she’s like, let go of that, because that’s a lot of pressure to have someone to be like, I need to know my passion in life forever. No,

just follow that.

That quiet curiosity and see where that takes you while still doing the job. You know, the normal job that you’re doing, and then just see where, you know, the adventure takes you

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