“Because artists and creatives are still learning how to network, one of the great opportunities that I have is to also set a precedent. When they come into our space, we give them the tools and the resources to do that. The best way I can identify what that resource is, is the go-giver mentality. We often grow up hearing that we need to be go-getters, but if you go out of your way to be a go-giver and you put others’ needs before your own, then what’ll happen is a reciprocation in the form of referrals, in the form of testimonials, in the form of introductions to the places you need… it actually builds up friendships and trust.”
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What language do we use to change lives? What’s the vocabulary of healing, the grammar of action, the syntax of support?
Chaz Volk looked out on a world where those who shared an interest of his were being left out, demoralized, disempowered. His reaction was to take a leap into a new culture of possibilities, resources, and networking. He began with just enough of a vision to begin to construct a new approach for creative people who needed a person who was able to say “You belong to a community; I speak your language and want you to claim your identity and mission.”
Look out on the world and we can see evidence of this in encouraging places:
- There are the community-based heritage-language schools that bring youth and adults dignity and community by honoring their ancestral background. (See Podcast 24)
- There are non-profit organizations that engage and serve marginalized populations, bringing them out of invisibility and separation. (See Podcast 28)
- There are educational institutions that place firm bets on the intelligence and potential of young people who live in challenging circumstances. (See many of my podcasts, but in particular Episode 20, Episode 21, Episode 26, and Episode 40).
- There are individuals who have dedicated themselves to inclusion, inviting in those who are left out because of injury, disability, diversion from the norm, ethnic prejudice, and so much more. (See in particular podcast Episode 1, Episode 15, Episode 22, and Episode 31).
Reflect for a moment on what you, personally, do for the world and its people in what you say, how you interact, whom you include. Do you reach out across languages and cultures, whether they are within your own community or around the world? In a world that is so interconnected and yet so divided, what is your role in keeping us all together? In what ways are you a “go-giver”?
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Norah Jones: Well folks, I am really excited to introduce and have a conversation with Chaz Volk today on this podcast. How are you doing Chaz?
Chaz Volk: I’m doing great, Norah. I am so honored to be here. Thank you for having me.
Norah Jones: Well, the pleasure and honor is mine because I’ve really appreciated our work together. I make sure that my podcast guests know that you are the producer of this podcast. And you live in Culver City, California, which should ring a few bells with the entertainment industry people. And it’s just been a delightful experience getting to know you. And because the topic of this podcast has to do with finding voices, becoming visible, getting identities, otherwise making language and culture part of how it is that we recognize that life works, you and I have had some very important conversations that go above and beyond anything having to do with the production of a podcast.
So Chaz, when we start out, what is it that you have done in your life here? You’ve started Mr. Thrive Media, and that information is on my website so people can take a look at that. Potentially, I hope that there are people that need excellent production work in their lives and they would contact you. But you started Mr. Thrive Media because you had a passion about something, a concern about something. Help our listeners to understand what your background is on that.
Chaz Volk: Absolutely. And I also would like to mention just a sincere thank you for putting the resources to my website and my company on your website. The kind of relationship that I’m able to spend with my clients, to the point where we become friends is one that I do not take for granted. So I want to thank you for that. My concern and what really inspired my company. We do two things. We do podcast production, and we also help with networking events for artists and creatives, hopefully across the world one day. Right now, it’s primarily in Los Angeles and California. We have plenty of people from all over the country who come in to our virtual events, but it still is predominantly Californians who are partaking in this. We are always expanding that.
Where this came from was the fact that I’ve had experience networking as a creative, and I’ve also had experience with creating a content that’s designed to build and establish authority. That’s kind of the major important word, is establishing authority. I wasn’t familiar with any business that was able to find an intersection between those two things. And on top of that, in the networking side with the creatives and artists, I have experience in the film industry. Right across from where I currently live, I can actually see where I used to work. And for me, it’s like looking at a graveyard. And that’s actually a motivating factor for me. And what I mean by that, is this terrible company that I used to work for was a place where dreams died.
And that sounds really dramatic, but it was a very rundown place that called itself a soundstage, but really was an empty warehouse. So the purpose of a soundstage is to be soundproof, but because it’s empty warehouse, we were saying cut all the time just so that way the planes could fly over us because it was so cheaply made. Why I bring all this up is because while working there, I saw artists and creatives like myself, who were consistently being ignored, and they were not recognized for their talents and no one could identify what made them special, even though they wore it on their sleeves very proudly. And that was tragic to me. And I realized I’m in their same shoes. Technically I don’t have the authority to help them, but if I at least go through the motions of trying it, if I fake it till I make it, for lack of better phrasing, then I could eventually get to that point and be a resource, not just for my coworkers, but for anyone in Los Angeles, anyone in California, anyone in the world who is an artist or creative.
Norah Jones: What are the doors that you open for these creatives? What kind of recognition and also authority do you give to them? How do you go about that? How do you define that? What is the language that you use? What’s the culture in which you put them or that you try to create in order to be able to have this happen in their lives?
Chaz Volk: Because artists and creatives are still learning how to network, one of the great opportunities that I have is to also set a precedent. And I’m not saying I’m the only person to ever do this. But one thing I see quite often is the fact that these people don’t always know the best practice to network. So when they come into our space, we give them the tools and the resources to do that. The best way I can identify what that resource is, is the go-giver mentality. We often grow up hearing that we need to be go-getters, but if you go out of your way to be a go-giver and you put others’ needs before your own, then what’ll happen is a reciprocation in the form of referrals, in the form of testimonials, in the form of introductions to the places you need. You will get help in a variety of different ways that is unparalleled to if you were a go-getter.
Go-getters, yeah, they might be able to get some short-term resources here and there, and you definitely should take the initiative and do things for yourself. But when you put others’ needs before your own, what people in my network oftentimes learn is they in the long-term find tremendous number of benefits from it that transcends into full on relationships, that actually builds up friendships and trust, that actually establishes careers, even if it’s in the early stages. It at least gives them the foundation they need to start really building this thing that can help them grow as a person and as a professional.
Norah Jones: Now you are actually creating a language around your invitation. You’ve actually building a community into which you invite them. How do you convince people of the importance of the value of being a go-giver instead of a go-getter? How do you talk about that so that people are willing to, ooh, I don’t know, take that risk?
Chaz Volk: Well, I’ll tell you one thing, it’s certainly a challenge, because even though we have I think a pretty decent marketing strategy, I wouldn’t say decent, I would say great marketing strategy, even though we’ve built up authority with our podcast, even though we’re highlighting members through the podcast, the Mr. Thrive Podcast, and even though we have been able to I think host these events and really create an uplifting experience, your question poses a challenge. And that challenge is the fact that we’re only two years young in experience. And while we’ve created a lot of tremendous progress, we’re still a startup, we’re still small and we have a reputation to establish. And we’re doing well, we’ve been consistent. And consistency equals professionalism. And so we are posing ourselves as a resource, but we’re still establishing that trust amongst the wider understanding of masses.
The way that I’ve—I wouldn’t say I, by the way, I would say we—the way that we’ve established that kind of language is we actually have a volunteer committee. And in that volunteer committee, we together make decisions. And these volunteer committees, you can say are the quote-unquote influences of the network. These are people within the network that are well-known in this community, that not only partake in the events regularly, but have experiences and resources that can help people grow tremendously. So we’ve cherry-picked these individuals to come in and truly kind of help spread the message, whether it’s to their friends, people they’ve worked with before, or even on their social media.
So we have a really great volunteer committee that believe in this network. And we’re actually, something that is kind of on the back burner, but also not, is that we are in a little bit of a rebranding in the networking side of things, not in the overall company. But with that rebrand, we are getting closer and closer to the idea of what this network can be for artists. And the language of that really is essential. Michael Liebowitz was on this podcast [Episode 44] and I connected you two together.
Norah Jones: Yes, you sure did.
Chaz Volk: He actually sat with us. We took him up on his offer to do a session with him. So me and my team jumped on, and we talked about the language and the background of what we do, and who we are and what we’re trying to be. It was amazing to see that me and some of the people I worked directly with, like Izzy Salant and Amanda Freelander, we actually all had different answers for what the Mr. Thrive Network does for us. And because of that, we were able to get closer and closer to the solution that we’re working towards, which is why we’re kind of in that rebranding phase.
Norah Jones: Now, when you take a look down the pike, you just talked about a movement there, which took some, not disparate, but at least different ways of defining meaning. Again, referring back to how Michael Liebowitz does his work. It’s very meaningful. You take a look at 5, 10 years from now, what community, what impact is Mr. Thrive Media having? What does it look like, this experience that you are bringing?
Chaz Volk: In 5 to 10 years, people will recognize the fact that, whether it’s in the area of podcast production or whether it’s in the area of the networking events, we are community builders. We build communities in the digital marketing space, like what we’re currently working on, Norah, you and I. We’re currently working on the community for those who care about education and language. But then there’s also the community for artists and creatives that has a very specific focus. And that community is going to be health and wellness. It’s going to be for professional career development. It’s going to be for friendship building. For understanding the resources that you truly have, even if you’re a beginner.
Norah Jones: That’s a very interesting thing. I’m going to even tap on that. Resources you have, even if you’re a beginner, you happen to be talking about media here. But you have been doing a lot of deep thinking as a very sensitive and a kind human being. So when you take a look at those things that you are sharing right now about this particular industry, and you think, and what I am learning can be applied to life, to those I meet that aren’t in this industry, but could benefit from knowing, or from experiencing, or from having what?
Chaz Volk: I think the principles that we really are focusing on is practicing an ethic, a mutual understanding for helping everyone look good, but then also understanding that this network, whether it’s through the podcasting area, whether it’s through the networking area, gives everyone an equal worth. That the number of followers that you might have on social media does not equate to how valued of a person you are. And that’s the thing that modern-day social media and technology is really failing at making a distinction of. Your followers does not equal the amount of respect or love that you get in life. That’s a misconception that’s coming from me, someone who is very much involved in social media and digital marketing content. I very much know that. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have. Shouldn’t matter how much of a celebrity you are. We’re not trying to create celebrities.
We’re trying to have successful lives. We’re trying to build positive wellness for people. Positive wellness for businesses too. And again, the podcasting aspect of what we do, I know that these two things are very much exclusive of each other, podcasting and networking for creatives and artists. The podcasting front’s for businesses. Well, in that regard, we are creating a wellness for these businesses. We’re creating an authority for them. Oftentimes I get asked on the podcasting front, you wouldn’t believe this, but in my sales process, in my sales acquisition process, I have to qualify the people that I may potentially work with as well. And people have started a conversation many a times with, I want a podcast because I want to be famous. And that’s a very vain way to approach that.
And because I know how deep that rabbit hole goes and where it leads to, it leads to peer insecurity, I just do not take those jobs because I am incapable of making you famous. What I am capable of doing though, is opening up doors and resources to areas in your life that you didn’t know were there. And I’m able to give you a tool, such as a podcast, that acts as a super testimonial, as a super sales tool. That’s what I can give you. I can solve those problems for you. What I cannot do is make you famous. And so many people look at a tool like a podcast, and they see it as a fame machine. And that’s never what it was meant to be.
Norah Jones: Interesting. What was it meant to be? What are these things meant to be, Chaz?
Chaz Volk: That’s a great question. And at the end of the day, it really is beauty in the eye of the beholder. It really is everyone sees it very differently. But our approach to the podcasting tool itself is that it’s a leveraging tool. Podcasting you can use to leverage your network, you can use to leverage relationships, you can use to leverage actual sales themselves and create long-term sponsorships. You can have a podcast to project a narrative, to correct a messaging and branding that may have been misconstrued from … If people’s perspective of you is that you are, let’s say selfish, or let’s say you are greedy, and you want to correct that, you may want a podcast. And it’s not because you’re trying to be famous, but it’s because you’re trying to correct how people see you. So you have a podcast that is about the counter-argument of that. And people oftentimes have podcasts to correct that messaging.
And then lastly, it’s a community tool. I, the other day was at Trader Joe’s, and I saw a sign outside of Trader Joe’s that said, “Look at the Trader Joe’s podcast.” I’m like, Trader Joe’s has a podcast? What? And I realized, oh my God, there totally is a local community around every single branch of Trader Joe’s for Trader Joe’s people like myself. I love Trader Joe’s the grocery store. It’s just a grocery store. But can you say the same thing about a Ralphs, or a Vons, or whatever you may have? Does Rite Aid have a community around them? They don’t, but Trader Joe’s does and they have successfully created that. And that’s quite amazing. That really is. And they’re really putting their best foot forward to show the quality behind their brand and the community they’re trying to attract. That’s pretty remarkable.
Norah Jones: The world that our young people are coming into, and as a young person yourself, you have been invited to do talks for adolescents about a variety of topics and their world that they’re merging into. What is it that you have found when you are speaking to and with young people that resonates with their understanding of what community means for their world, what language they’re using to have identity in their world? What do you tell them based on this experience that you have, not only in your business, but maybe your personal experience too, whatever you wish to share?
Chaz Volk: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s a great question, because that’s actually a very new project for me and I’m glad you brought it up. So thank you for that, Norah. And also, a mention to you as well for giving me the help. Leading up to my very first public speaking event, you gave me some great tips for how to shape that narrative, and I am so, so thankful to have had that. So thank you, Norah, really.
Norah Jones: You’re most welcome. Thank you for asking. It’s been a pleasure to interact with you in that way and I’m delighted to see your results. So please, tell us about those things that you’ve done.
Chaz Volk: Well, here’s what I’ve found in these communities, is that the youth don’t want to be spoken to the way that we speak to our pets. And oftentimes there’s a very condescending notion to that. Youth want to be spoken to as adults, which means that it’s not their job to adjust to us, which makes me feel old saying as a 26-year-old who feels very young-spirited, but we have to adjust to them. And that actually is easy, because if we can speak to each other as adults, then we can speak to them and explain along the way things that they might not pick up right away. Here’s what the youth is really struggling with today. They’ve been brought into a world that is incredibly chaotic, that is incredibly frustrating to look at. That they are taught these morals, whether it’s the media, through the family, they are taught morals that they are designed to believe in, but the world around them isn’t practical that in the way that TV is doing it.
So which side of the force are they going to jump on? Are they going to join to the light side of the force or the dark side of the force, if we’re talking Star Wars here? Light side, of course, believing in the ideals that are taught to them from their family, and then practicing that against the current. And that’s very discouraging, and that’s angering and that causes anxiety and depression. My motivational speech and workshop that I created is about the fact that you, as an individual, and I’m not talking to you, Norah, necessarily, I’m talking to him, anyone who’s listening, any youth, anyone of any age, you have the right to be angry. You have the right to be upset. And oftentimes we’re told as a remedy for mental health, don’t get angry, get over it. Just move on. No, I’m here to tell you, as someone who was incredibly emotional himself, get angry, but use that anger and the energy that comes from that anger as a motivating factor to fix the flaws in your personal life, and to fix those around you, if you can, if they are asking to be fixed.
And to use that to take you one step at a time, to get you to that next step that you’re trying to achieve. More often than not, again, we’re told to suppress our emotions. And so suddenly youth grow into the habit of experiencing their personal motions by bottling them up and never seeing the full potential that I could bring them to. And this is a message, especially to parents, there is nothing wrong with being angry. Let your children be angry about something, but make sure they also have the tools and the resources to take that anger and use it to improve their livelihoods. And to relate that to myself, I am angry about a lot of things. And I’m talking just personally, I’m not going to comment on general politics or other factors in my life. But personally, I’m angry at myself for having spent so much of my life at the will of others when it comes to my career, when I thought that I needed to have a job in order to be happy.
Which means that under that mentality, I was reliant on someone else’s success in order for my happiness to exist. And I’m angry at myself for that. I’m really, really angry at that. So when the pandemic began, I took that anger and I took that grief that I had, and I took that ball of energy that was extrapolated from that and I built a business out of it, because not only did I need to in order to protect myself, but it actually makes me happy. And I feel so rejuvenated while working in my business, even when I fail, by the way. And I fail every day at my job. I do. You ask any entrepreneur, and any entrepreneur who tries their jobs is going to fail at least once a day. I fail at least once a day. I’m still happy getting out of that. I’m still happy getting out of the day because it’s my job.
And at the end of the day, I talk to my friends, and my friends who do have jobs, who do work for other people, and they tell me about how their boss kicked their butt that day, how their boss gave them a ridiculous deadline that they couldn’t achieve, how they just worked like a dog. But it wasn’t by their will, it was by their bosses will. And even though I may not be earning the same amount of money that they’re earning right now, I am happy. And there is no salary that can replace that. And I’m thankful that I’ve had that.
Norah Jones: You provide there a lot of insights that young people have, obviously a good pathway to begin to think how about them? How do they put, not positive words like, let’s all make this happy, but per your invitation, be angry and then do something with it? That takes some focus, maturity to identify and to begin to move in a direction, potentially failing every day, to move in a direction that has these more positive outcomes for them as they grow into their full meaning that they’re supposed to be tapping on. When you’re speaking to these young people or when you’re thinking about your own life, how do you go about finding the words to restate what you’re angry about in a way that allows that movement?
Chaz Volk: Well, it takes practice. I can tell you that. And in the same way that I fail every day on an entrepreneurial level, there’ve been plenty of times I have failed trying to productively express myself. Again, I’m not going to hide that. And I think everyone at least once in their life has failed to productively express themselves at a high emotional state. Except for you, Norah. Your specialty is language, and so thus you’ve never failed at that. And [crosstalk 00:23:55] … that’s why you are the queen of language.
Norah Jones: I fooled you, my friend. I have fooled you.
Chaz Volk: I can only say that it takes time and practice. And I think having a good therapist that is there for you, or at least something in your life that acts as a therapist, whether it’s a friend or a family member, or even an activity, having the proper outlet and having the proper resource to kind of guide that direction is incredibly imperative. And I would also say that making sure that you surround yourself with people that are better than you at expressing themselves is really the best way to grow into a proper and productive narrative. Because those mentors, those who have really leaned into that narrative are those who have also failed just like you. They have failed many more times than you, and that’s why they are an applicable mentor. But they wouldn’t be applicable if they had failed less than you and they were trying to give you advice. And that’s why you need to spend time with those who have failed.
Norah Jones: What a great insight. And you have used the word mentor, and even then connected it to multiple failures. What a delightful and refreshing way to bring about the word mentor into our lives and into the conversation. And indeed, mentors, I have shared with you, I believe in a conversation that we have had about people and their effect on our lives. That I once had a professor that asked about mentors, and I had trouble narrowing down folks to write to this professor in my paper about, where then he shared with me that most people say that they’ve never had a mentor. Mentors take all sorts of forms. And so let’s take that word for just a second. That person that is effective, yet has not failed to fail, if I may put it that way. Who has been the mentor or who have been mentors in your life that have helped you create the opportunity for you to grow into who you are now and what you’re offering?
Chaz Volk: I can think of a few. I’ll save the best for last. I have a mentor named Michael Gordon, who’s really in terms of language taught me not only sales, but also just good professional stature to present yourself in. And he himself has opened up some great opportunities for me. There’s also my rabbi, Rabbi Jack Melul. I do come from Jewish faith and I do take pride. And Rabbi Jack Melul is a modern Orthodox Jew who appeals to youth here in Los Angeles. And he runs an organization called AishLIT. And in AishLIT during the pandemic, he took time away from his schedule, he gave me an hour a week, and we had weekly meetings going over Torah study. And the biggest thing that he gave me is gratitude. He taught me gratitude. And he taught me that there’s not a single thing in the world I can’t be grateful for.
The best for last, that’s my father, Joel Volk. My dad built his business. Very much was a diamond in the rough. And he bought his father’s business, and took a typewriter business and turned it into a modern-day office machines business. Became a partner with Xerox and ran this small, but successful company for over 30 years. And now is actually retiring. He just left his old job and is now retiring into his new career path as a business coach, and I’m incredibly proud of him. I would like to brag and say that I was his first client and he was also my first client, so that that’s a perfect little trade there. And I’m incredibly grateful for my dad, and what he has done for me and the empowerment he has granted me. Incredibly grateful.
Norah Jones: Well, the gratitude exudes from everything that you do in your work and in this conversation that we have had today. And one of the phrases that you used earlier, I would like to ask you to ponder what you would say to the audience today. You used the phrase, being true to our word. How did you discover, if you want to make it personal, whatever, the word to which we need to be true? How have you gone about that?
Chaz Volk: I’ve gone about it by recognizing that the emotions that we are born with, that we have some control over, but not complete control over. That they’re not a weakness. And the moment you recognize that they’re not a weakness, you put your values first, and you take care of yourself, and you take care of others as needed and you take care of what’s important to you. And as soon as you begin to do that, you practice your true self. And even more so in that, I would even go as far as to say really to help others. And that’s the go-giver mentality, which is an incredible book if you’ve never read it. The Go-Giver is life-changing. And it talks about the five rules to stratospheric success as it describes.
Norah Jones: Stratospheric success. Okay.
Chaz Volk: Yes. Yes. And it’s written as a fable, so it’s not like a typical business book. But it’s a story. And you follow this main character, Joe. And Joe learns about the five rules of stratospheric success. And I’ve practiced them to the point that I do feel a certain immense form of happiness that I didn’t have before I read that book. That was a life-changing book for me. When you go out of your way to help people on a regular basis, you find happiness in yourself. There’s nothing more valuable than that. You’re still allowed to hold onto your anger from the past and use that energy to propel your life in the correct direction, to actually establish a healthy trajectory. But it has to be just that. You can not use your anger for revenge, you have to use your anger for the energy that you get to help people. I would sum it up, as I say, it’s okay to be angry, go out of your way to help others and don’t be afraid to take care of yourself when you need to.
Norah Jones: Chaz, you consistently point forward that phrasing that you used there just a moment ago, revenge looks backwards, practice being patient with yourself looks forward. That’s very powerfully said. As my producer of the podcast, you know that my last finale is always to say, please turn one more time to our listening audience today. What is it that you want to leave with them? The invitation, exhortation, warning, however you would like to interpret that, what do you want to make sure that people hear from Chaz Volt before we leave today?
Chaz Volk: Well, I want people to know that I may be in your network, Norah, but by listening to this podcast, I can be a part of their network too. I can be a part of your network as well. That I am a resource that you can reach out to at any time and a resource to seek help from, whether it’s professionally or personally. I like making new friends. That’s the extrovert in me. As a resource, it’s really about how can I bring value to your network? Do you need a podcast? Are you looking for an arts and creatives network to be a part of? Are you simply looking for other connections in a variety of different areas? Because let me tell you, I can introduce you to quite the network that extends beyond the Mr. Thrive Network. I’m talking about, I’m a member of ProAdvisors, and CSuite, and JBL, these different prestigious organizations designed to connect people and bring people together.
I’m your guy. I don’t know what to say beyond that. I am a resource. And my business has only been around for two years, but we act like a business that’s been around for much longer, and we’re going to be there to service in any way we can for you and your colleagues. And I want to thank you for listening to me, and giving me the chance and taking the time out of your busy schedule to hear what I have to say. And it has been just an honor to be a part of this podcast. So thank you, Norah.
Norah Jones: Well, thank you, Chaz. And it’s been delightful and meaningful to have you, and it’s been fun. I do encourage folks to recognize that this wonderful, nice person that you just heard from in this podcast is in fact a wonderful person to work with. Please do look on my website, fluency.consulting. Take a look, Mr. Thrive Network. Connect up with Chaz. He does make friends awfully easily. And that invitation that you extended, Chaz, thank you for it because it’s very generous, and also I know extremely genuine, as are you. So thank you again for all. And I wish you the very best, Chaz, as you continue to thrive and to bring that thriving to others and stay your sensitive self. Thanks for sharing your insights with us today.
Chaz Volk: Thank you, Norah.