July 2017

Two Guys and a Podcast: Conviction Strong Radio

Author: Courtney Hampson | Photographer: M.Kat Photography


(Pictured left to right)
Craig Hysell (the personality)and Jake Walsh (the strong silent type)

Welcome to Conviction Strong Radio—the podcast that gives you the empowerment tools and subject matter experts you need to navigate that winding and sometimes bumpy road of life, with a strong mind, strong body, and strong spirit. And now, the guys that know the way to Awesometown: Craig Hysell and Jake Walsh.”

“Hey everybody, welcome to Conviction Strong Radio. I’m your host Craig Hysell, and with me, as always, is my favorite wingman and startlingly handsome friend Jake Walsh. Jake, say hi to everybody…”

And then, silence.

A few seconds pass, or maybe it is only one, but Walsh eventually chimes in. He sounds surprised that Hysell has asked him to say hello, even though this is episode 49. Nevertheless, I have come to expect Walsh’s pause each episode. It is as if he endeavors to make his first words quite right and yet, no matter what he has prepared, he is inevitably caught off guard, and that endears him to me.

It’s not fair to single out Walsh, as he and Hysell both let their guard down—substantially—each week, in an effort to shed some light on the issues that we all struggle with every day: our inner demons, our insecurities, our fears—our life.

I’ve known both Hysell and Walsh for years, but just recently became addicted to Conviction Strong Radio (CSR), which is a year in the making. In a fleeting time, they have literally helped change my perspective on life, on happiness, and on how I control both. I guess this makes me a fan girl. Seeing as how I can be a real stubborn bitch, I was inordinately moved by my change of mindset. Hence, the reason we are here today. A story was in order and you need to be listening, too.

We met at FARM in Bluffton. I was craving their burger, and always enjoy an interview over a meal—the conversation always seems looser. And loose it was. I was so excited to see these two that I somehow forgot our lunch was for a story and, as such, forgot my notebook. It sounds silly, but a writer without a notebook (and writing utensil) is like a chef trying to make my burger without a grill. So, I felt like a total idiot. They laughed off my idiocy with a sarcastic comment or two (their sweet spot), and we were knee deep in conversation before I knew it, talking about the random thoughts that flash into your head. “…like if a car comes through this wall and you two die, I’ll feel guilty,” Walsh said. Okay, so this is where this is going to start, I thought, but quickly considered how very different everyone is and how our experiences shape us. Walsh is a combat veteran and medic. I do marketing. Hysell is a CrossFit gym owner and a father. Different perspectives can be enlightening.

So, why these two—who own businesses, write blogs, have families, go to school—would want to add one more thing to their plates was the initial mystery. But, it turns out they had talked about it for four years before they started doing it, according to Hysell. Walsh and his friend Mitch bought gear and used it once. And then put it down for three years. “Initially it was just about fitness, but we always wanted to relate fitness to life, not just what is the right workout,” Walsh said. “We were 13 episodes in before we realized that we were using the equipment wrong.”

They seem to have the hang of it now, asking questions we all ask and offering answers that range from the obvious to the obscure. “We have zero expertise,” Walsh jokes, “but we read a lot.”

Indeed. Last week’s episode (#47) was a book review of, The Art of Not Giving a F&%$, which they mentioned in episode 46 and I immediately ordered on Amazon.

For them, it isn’t necessarily about the audience. “We do it because we enjoy it. It is literally the best part of the week,” Walsh said. “When we put these headphones down, generally we feel monumentally more at peace. We care about listeners, because we care if we help someone. We like to identify a problem.”
“And a solution,” Hysell said, finishing Walsh’s sentence as they often do on air.

Never one to let Hysell get the last word, Walsh is quick to point out their goal: “We don’t want to add to a rant fest; everyone else is doing that. There’s a lot of noise out there. We sift through it and focus on what makes us better people.”

What initially was a quest to help themselves and their listeners find balance in fitness, family, and career became the realization that balance is the wrong word. In fact, this is something I discussed with the guys (who know the way to Awesometown) when I joined them almost a year ago as a guest on episode 15.

I remember Hysell saying, “If we seek balance, we are suggesting that anything else is unbalanced, and that suggests something negative.” So instead, they look for their center, harmony, the great equalizer in their lives. It is so interesting to me that they focus so intently on language choices. As a word nerd, I applaud their effort—you’ll often hear them correcting themselves mid-episode to find the right word for the context. In this week’s episode (49) they talk about the difference between “starting over” and “starting fresh.” Their commitment to finding the positive space is applaudable.

“We want to be positive in a negative space. Why would I want to listen to some other guy talk about what he thinks?” Walsh asks.

“Um, Jake, what makes you so sure your listeners don’t feel the same?” I ask.

“We don’t care,” they both said in symphony. “We don’t have an ego that our opinion matters. When we tune out it lets us tune in to ourselves.” It is this theory that allows them to be a part of the conversation by simply telling people their challenges and their answers. Wrong or right, they are their answers.

“I hear a lot from veterans,” Walsh said (Walsh also pens the blog Veteran Mettle). “Mental health is not thought of when they get out of the service. Instead they focus on the fact that they are overweight, or they have three kids, or their marriage is failing, and I don’t know why they miss the obvious. I want to say, why are you paying attention to that? What is more important than your presence in the world?”

Even though fitness is not the focus, the theme of the episodes does often come back to the gym and being an advocate for yourself. A few episodes ago, they were talking about motivation and I had a major aha moment when Hysell said, “Motivation comes with results.” Simple in concept, but hard for so many to grasp. Until you get up every morning at 5 a.m. for two months and bust your behind at the gym and start seeing results, you won’t be motivated to keep getting up at 5 a.m. every morning and busting your behind. I am not sure why I never it saw it that way before. I’ve espoused that wisdom a couple times (citing my source, of course) since I heard it.

But, like Walsh and Hysell say, “Just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean you never will. Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean you didn’t listen. Our bad day helped us help someone else.”

Consider them your new therapists, but be warned: They are not going to tip-toe around your feelings. They are going to quote a movie (Willie Wonka; Gran Torino; Roadhouse; Dumb and Dumber; Shawshank Redemption; Wyatt Earp; The Matrix; The Sound of Music; What About Bob?; Saving Private Ryan; Stand by Me, just to name a few.) scene for contextual reference. They are not going to avoid the uncomfortable. They are going to be brutally honest.

“I’ll tell you straight up, life is not all rainbows and Facebook filters. It’s your fault you’re not happy. Can you learn from your mistakes? Because that’s how you find the harmony,” they say, stepping over each other’s words (seriously, it was hard to keep up with what was coming out of whose mouth).

“If we cared what everyone thought of us we wouldn’t have had the courage to do this,” Walsh said. And then he quickly showed his vulnerability. “I’ve also said stuff on the podcast that I never would have said in a general conversation.”

Oddly, something about being held accountable via this channel makes these hosts point the fingers inward too. Perspective is an awesome thing.

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