The School of Moxie Podcast

The Last of Us is a Business Story: Thriving Beyond Comfort Zones with Megan Graves

August 31, 2023 Mary Williams @sensiblewoo Season 1 Episode 4
The School of Moxie Podcast
The Last of Us is a Business Story: Thriving Beyond Comfort Zones with Megan Graves
Show Notes Transcript

After warming up into the series episodes, this week we delve into the post-apocalyptic world of "The Last of Us" by starting our episodic discussions.  This episode centers around the first episode in the television series, "When You're Lost in the Darkness" and we'll use it to uncover the unexpected lessons it holds for entrepreneurs. 

Host Mary Williams is joined by special guest Megan Graves as they explore the parallels between surviving in a world overrun by infected creatures and navigating the complexities of modern business.

Tune in this week to gain insights into recognizing performative behaviors, acknowledging trauma, and transforming fear into motivation. Join the conversation to break free from limiting beliefs and take a courageous step toward self-awareness. By fostering meaningful relationships, both personal and professional, entrepreneurs can create a positive, thriving environment that encourages abundance and resilience.


Episode sponsors:

Guest information

Megan Graves works with CEOs and their staff to improve operations, communication between team members and management, leadership skills, efficiency in tackling projects and daily tasks, accomplishments of both short and long-term career goals, and execution of responsibilities.  Connect with her on her website and LinkedIn.

Show Credits

Support the Show.

I’m Mary Williams, your host and the founder of Sensible Woo.

You can find this show wherever you listen to podcasts and all of the links to resources, guest information, and anything else we might reference in an episode are in the show notes.

We appreciate your support by subscribing and submitting a 5 star review. It helps other listeners find and share this content alongside you, our wonderful listeners.

Like and follow Sensible Woo on YouTube, Instagram, and don’t forget to subscribe to email updates at, which includes a weekly Tarot reading delivered right to your inbox.

Until next week, be sensible, be woo, and most of all, be you. 🤗

very reluctant to get on board with this new mission. More so than Tess, she was like, remember why this is so important to you.

She really had to fight for it with him, and she was smart. She brought his reason for wanting to go anywhere 

[00:34:00] back into the forefront for Joel to motivate him to say yes, to do this thing. 

[Mary] She reminded him of his most recent project, so to speak, where he was like, no, I'm gonna find another way to get this truck and a battery.

Yeah, I'll find my brother. And she's like, like a good coach. No. No. Chop, chop. Focus. You said that you wanted to do whatever and here's, you know, like all the, all the opportunities right here. Um, but he's very slow because he doesn't even really get on board with being comfortable even having Ellie around until episode three.

[Megan] Isn't that like months into their journey too? 

[Mary] Is it? 

[Megan] I feel like it's a ways in a little bit. 

[Mary] They've had some time on the road. They've had at least at least a couple of weeks. Right? Because they walk to Bill and Frank because Bill and Frank live just outside of Boston because they're in Boston.

[Megan] Yeah. 

[Mary] And then they get 

[00:35:00] Bill's car and start driving. 

[Megan] Yeah. 

[Mary] That's longer. But that's episode, that's episode four. And that's got to be, like, days. So, I mean, that's, that's pretty slow. 

[Megan] Yeah. 

[Mary] Poor guy. 

[Megan] Well, and I think it's just such a strong reflection of his guardedness. You can see his scars from losing his daughter, Sarah, in his resistance.

[Mary] Yes. All the time. Um, and I feel like his... Big why comes from a place that is fueled by, I hesitate to call them negative emotions, but they're, um, it's a fuel that runs out more quickly. It leaves you world weary and I've been channeling this energetic note for my community, the people who tune in for readings.

In the last couple of weeks and it has been so strong around 

[00:36:00] finding where your fuel comes from, where your fire comes from, which is a big reason why like all of this is happening, this podcast because I feel like the really big question we're asking ourselves is like, but where do I actually get my motivation from?

It has to come from a quote unquote healthier place inside myself because the other ways are not sustainable. 

[Mean] No. 

[Mary] And you can totally survive and recover your life. through, you know, bouncing out of trauma or fight or flight or whatever, but to sustain it in that state? No. Um, you need to find, you have to find some motivation greater.

And I feel like eventually, you know, one of the beautiful things we see over the course of the season is like we see how Joel's, you know, his relationship evolves with Ellie and she really helps him find that. 

[Megan] Yeah. 


[Mary] Um, which is gorgeous. And, and then it's sort of like that discomfort moment again and it's like, like a rubber band.

I think I'm going to snap back to what I know. And he betrays her in the end, you know, and. 

[Megan] But again, I'm not sure that's fully a, I mean, it is a betrayal to her, but it is a snap back to protecting himself from pain. 

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Megan] And that motivator of protecting yourself from loss is what we're talking about.

That's the negative thing that you can't live in forever that's not going to drive you forward. That's the kind of motivation that does drain you. Only operating out of energy for protecting yourself. It's going to get you nowhere. It's going to get you a little ways, but you're going to get burnt out and worn out, and your journey's going to be so much harder when that's what you're focused on.

So much more dramatic, so much more traumatic, and, you're going to get tired faster and harder. 

[00:38:00] It's a very lonely journey when you're operating out of the space where you're merely protecting yourself and that's what's driving you to make all of your choices. When you flip the switch and stop operating out of the space of self protection, the energy

raises the community around you gathers more readily. 

[Mary] Yes. Thank you for putting that into words. That. 

[Megan] That. 

[Mary] Well, I like that you bring this up because, I mean, really, it brings up so much mental health needs that we are all now, thankfully, talking about a lot more. Just this past week, there was a new story that I think it's the AMA, the American Medical Association is now encouraging all physicians to screen all adults for anxiety no matter what.

[Megan] Oh. 

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Megan] Interesting. 

[Mary] Uh huh.


[Megan] Good call, AMA. 

[Mary] Right?

[Megan]  Finally. 

[Mary] Yeah. While people are like, what time is it? Yeah. And. But what I, I love through looking at pieces of fiction like this is that, you know, the way we deal with trauma as entrepreneurs, it really affects the way we navigate our relationships with our customers and our clients, our collaborators.

You know, I'm wondering, just based on some of like the beautiful nuggets that you've dropped here on the mic today too. Like, how can we as entrepreneurs find more purpose while navigating all of these mental health and emotional needs and become, in essence, smarter survivors, become more, more like Tess in a way, totally imperfect, fully aware of it, and able to, you know, carve out

genuinely a livelihood. 

[Megan] The thing that the show 

[00:40:00] highlights is that the world has ended and all you've got left are the people around you. Your safety and survival, of course, are primary because of how dangerous their world has become, but the people and the relationships. Become the only thing that matters, you know, not to dip into episode two too much, but we see an episode where they're destroying antiques in episode two, the things stop mattering.

And the same is true in business. I think whenever I'm working with business owners who have their eye on the dollar rather than on the people, they're missing the mark. And when you can refocus on the humanity of it all. And remember that what's most important is taking care of people. Then you're going to win every time.

When you can really look out for the well being of everyone around you, including yourself. That's when everyone's not just surviving, they're 

[00:41:00] thriving. 

[Mary] Ooh, here, here. And I was just thinking too, like, when you said you're left with the people around you, and I thought, in that world, there's outbreak day, we get to see it.

And you end up where you end up, based on where you ran, literally. 

[Megan] Yes. 

[Mary] And those are the people around you. And when our pandemic broke out, where you ran to was, you're, you need to stay home in quarantine. 

[Megan] Yeah. 

[Mary] We can use the internets. We can get online. And I saw people who were like, well, shit, I look at the people around me.

This doesn't look like a very good picture. 

[Megan] The divorce rate during the pandemic skyrocketed. Law firms that were in family law were thriving because were like,

nope. I'm out. They had been able to spend enough time away from their spouse that they were continuing to stay married. But all of a sudden, you force two people into a very small space and all of the 

[00:42:00] troubles they were ignoring become impossible to ignore. And it is very much in your face and you've got to deal with it.

And I think that that can happen a lot just in running a business. Your own failings, shortcomings, things that you're not great at are put right in your face and you've got to deal with it or it's going to be over. I think anytime somebody's doing something performative and I feel like this first episode shows us the reality of like how you can't be performative when you have to navigate

a complete change from a system you knew to a system that is completely new. 

[Megan] Yeah. 

[Mary] If you're performative, you are left with like, not a whole lot. And I just feel like we have so much more choice. To choose what communities we choose to end up in a quarantine zone with, so to speak. 

[Megan] It's true. And I don't know what the exact phrasing is, but there's something about you are the 

[00:43:00] combination of the five people you keep nearest to you or something like that.

[Mary] Yep. 

[Megan] This is oftentimes applied socially, but the reality is that it takes business owners who are in their infancy a minute to recognize that when they swim in small ponds with other small, small business owners, not only can the community become kind of incestuous, because nobody has money, but the only people you're buying from are the people that are nearest to you and your networking group.

And as soon as you figure out how to climb out of that small pond... Your business starts to grow too. If you can start getting people who will pour into you that have bigger businesses and you start getting connected to people who have more abundance rolling through their lives, you start to learn what they

grew into that you haven't yet grasped and you start to add some of those new lessons into your experience 

[00:44:00] and you change which changes your business. And then you start to more naturally spend time with other business owners who have much bigger businesses and your growth journey starts to escalate in a positive way.

Some people never make it out of those small spaces, right? In the same way that people a lot of times just stay living in the QZs. I think there's a lot of business owners that they build their businesses up enough that they can survive on it and then they leave it at that. It's good enough. But then there's other business owners who they want more than that.

They want to make a bigger impact. They want to grow. They want to be able to see more audience and they find ways to claw and scrape their way out of that small space into working with bigger people. But I find that that threshold between the small business spaces and the medium sized spaces can be a tricky one to traverse for our small business owners.

[00:45:00] They're in the small business space for a reason.

They don't really know exactly how to like jump the hurdle. 

[Mary] Yeah, I feel like this is, interestingly, it is reflected through Marlene in this episode. When we first meet her and she's talking with one of her like, probably like second in command type people who doesn't really understand what the strategy is, why they've been doing what they're doing.

[Megan] Right. 

[Mary] And she's like, because we're all going to leave and she's like, what do you mean we're going to leave? Like we're the resistance. And she's like, there is a bigger path to follow over here and this is what we're going to do. And I think a lot of our entrepreneurs are like, no, I know these four walls of this QZ.

And I'm the resistance, damn it. And I'm gonna do the thing. And it's like, there's a whole world out there. And yeah, it's gonna, you know, be dangerous. You got to traverse, you know, the great wilderness. But, you know, if you're part of something bigger, and you can make 

[00:46:00] that change, and you've got the resources, which they clearly do, the characters do, um, even though, even though they get to end up getting ambushed.

Um, but I think that our, our business community sometimes forgets that just because you're inside your quarantine zone, so to speak, doesn't mean you have to stay there. 

[Megan] But it is terrifying to think about leaving. 

[Mary] It is. 

[Megan] Because you don't know what's on the other side of the wall. 

[Mary] And like even Ellie tells stories while they're walking.

She's like, I thought I was a mess out here. Everyone said these stories. 

[Megan] Yes. And that is the protection mode that we all fall into around ourselves and our businesses. Like, better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don't. And that can't be any more wrong when you apply it to your business because when you get out of your comfort zone, then you start thriving.

The more you get to grow and change and 

[00:47:00] develop and you learn that it's not as scary as you thought it was. Is it hard? Yes. Is it some often arduous? Absolutely. Are there risks? Definitely. Do you still need to stay alert? You sure do. But we see in The Last of Us through the story arc, there are lots of times when Joel and Ellie go lengths of time without having to fight the infected.

There's a lot of open spaces where they're safe. 

[Mary] Most of the time. 

[Megan] It's most of the time. And that's not to say that they're not staying very aware. They're not, they're hyper vigilant the entire time. They're keeping an eye out. They're keeping an ear out. And you, you see them... Practicing good safety. So they are being careful, but they're also not letting their fear keep them in one place.

[Mary] No. And, you know, it's funny because the show creators got a 

[00:48:00] lot of flack from the gamer community because when you play a video game, the whole point is to shoot the zombies, right? And they were like, there's not enough infected. There's not enough monsters and they were like, that's so boring. Like this is a show you're not gonna just gonna watch that week after week after week. This is not The Walking Dead. Thank God And they're like this is a character drama is about the people and the honest to god truth is in this world like you can be really scared of the infected in they pose a very real risk.

Serious one. But the worst risk, the worst thing, are the other people. 

[Megan] Yes. 

[Mary] Who do horrible things to each other. 

[Megan] Yes. 

[Mary] And I feel like our entrepreneurs forget this lesson a lot. They're afraid of these existential crises or recession or, um, something that is really out of their control and when it's in front of you, you will deal with it and you'll get through it.


[00:49:00] otherwise, there's a lot of stuff happening around you that is human powered, and we really need to pay attention to those kinds of things. 

[Megan] Yes. Choosing your circle wisely is essential in being able to have one experience over another, right? When you're living in a QZ, it's a very violent experience.

It's very dangerous. It's brutal. But later on, as the show goes on, we're seeing different kinds of communities that are not dangerous, at least not as dangerous as QZs seem to be. 

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Megan] And I think the same is true of like building business communities. We talk about it a lot, the concept of finding your tribe.

But don't just find a tribe, find your tribe. Find the people that resonate with you because they align with your values. You don't have to stay in places that feel scary or dangerous or are hurtful to you. But again, this circles back to people's awareness of their trauma and their wounds. If they're 

[00:50:00] unconscious of their wounds, they will flock to what's familiar, even if it's brutal.

[Mary] Yes. 

[Megan] And they'll stay there. Because that's all they've ever known. And it feels comfortable. 

[Mary] I mean, we see that with people who renew for communities that are, frankly, abusive. Coaching programs that are so expensive. And they've been renewing year after year and they haven't made any progress. It's not helping them.

[Megan] But it's all they've ever known. 

[Mary] But it's all they know. And they're like, these are the people I know. 

[Megan] The out of the box thinking isn't always there. And I think a lot of our culture frowns on unique thought processes. Don't pick up your life and go live in Thailand where you can spend three cents to survive for a week or whatever, that's unconventional and ridiculous.

You need to be here and buy a house with a white picket fence and 

[00:51:00] have a dog and two kids. And you know, if you're going to own a business, then it should be part of the community and giving back to the community. And it needs to make a certain amount of extra money and you need to look a certain way and sound a certain way.

And the reality is that we're all making it up. Everything's made up. 

[Mary] It's performative. 

[Megan] There are these rules that are performative and not always good for us. And for people who struggle within the confines of what the culture prescribes, when they can make the brave choice to break out of those confines and go on their hero's journey getting themselves to make a business that reflects who they are.

That's when people start to grow healthy and they get better and they get stronger and it's hard and scary, of course, but they're happier than when they were struggling to survive 

[00:52:00] within the confines of what was expected of them. 

[Mary] I feel like we get to see Joel and Ellie discover more avenues for a not necessarily happier, but a more peaceful existence.

And I feel like I've seen some entrepreneurs discovering this. Recently too. It's sort of this, I feel like we're having a great awakening in our community right now. Where people are realizing, wait, I've been living in a accuse and you're telling me that there's something else out there and that it's not swarming with infected and I can venture out and like what

[Megan] Yeah. 

[Mary] And I'm so curious to see. where the migration leads and how people navigate it. There's going to be plenty of people who want to stay where they're at. Okay, that's fine. But I think some of us are craving something different. 

[Megan] A shift in the dialogue. And I think changes can be subtle in our grander picture 

[00:53:00] of the culture, but I think that we're going to see a lot of switches and how people are conducting business.

Like you and I have spoken offline about how the coaching model that we've been experiencing with the way people run their coaching businesses, where it's one coach, coaching business owners or maybe they've got a program and eventually they grow to where they've got a bunch of employee coaches that work for them and they've got a coaching program.

That model may never fully go away, but I think that we're going to see a shift where it's going to be less of a pyramid model and more of a community model. And this comes back to the peopling of it all. 

[Mary] Yes. 

[Megan] When you can change your focus to the people and everybody's well being and welfare and abundance, then it really shifts the tone, the energy, and the vibe of how people show up every day.

And abundance has no other option but to show up. 

[Mary] Oh, that's such a good quote. [00:54:00] Oh, it's so true. And we see evidence of it in the piece of fiction that we're, that we're watching. We see evidence of it in our world. I'm starting to see some evidence of it in some of the communities that help support right now.

[Megan] Yeah. 

[Mary] And that's very encouraging. 

[Megan] Yeah. It's the beginning of, I think, a much broader change that we're going to be seeing. 

[Mary] Aw, thank you for helping us open up the podcast. I have one last question for you. I'm asking everybody, what does The Last of Us reflect back to you about yourself? 

[Megan] I think we've touched on it a couple of times, but for me, The Last of Us really resonated in how important it is to stay connected to the people you love most and to keep the people around you that you love safe and take care of them in every way that you can and that there are personal, professional, financial rewards for when you selflessly take care of those that are around you and that that's where it matters most.

That's where the 

[00:55:00] value is and I think it's really easy to lose sight of that when we've got these personal professional goals, then we kind of forget that there's other people around us and involved with whatever we're working on. But when you stop and slow down and everything else is taken away from you, all you have left are the people and the love and That for me has been a big part of what I've taken away from The Last of Us and just from spending time dealing with being in COVID and nothing else really mattered once you kind of boiled it all down.

It was just about the people and staying together, keeping our relationships going. And I think happy business owners are in communities of people that mutually support one another. And so I really felt like you see this message in The Last of Us as Joel starts to take care of Ellie, and 

[00:56:00] you see it in the everyday with us running businesses as well.

So when we can slow down and really love one another, as cliche as that sounds, I think that's really, I think that's really what it boils down to when we can really love each other well, even just professionally loving each other, that takes care of one another in a way that you can't do when you're just worried about the financial exchange.

[Mary] Uh, so good. Thank you so much for joining us. 

[Megan] Thank you for having me. 

[Mary] I know that this wasn't a show where you naturally would pick it up unless I was pitching you hard to please, please watch it. So I really appreciate that you did it. And um, I'm sure this won't be the last time that we get on the mic together.

[Megan] I hope not. This is always fun. 

[Mary] This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host, Mary Williams, and special guest Megan Graves. The show is written and produced by Mary Williams. Chris Martin from Chris Martin Studios is our editor and the sound engineer for this episode. 

[00:57:00] The episode was recorded in Vancouver, Washington at the CoLab coworking space.

Additional production and marketing support is provided by the AK Collective, founded by Amber Kinney. I'm Mary Williams, your host and the founder of Sensible Woo. You can watch the HBO original series, The Last of Us on As a librarian, I will always encourage you to check out the companion book, Bittersweet by Susan Cain at your local library.

You can find this show wherever you listen to podcasts and all of the links to resources, guest information, and anything else we might reference in an episode are in the show notes. We appreciate your support by subscribing and submitting a five star review. It helps other listeners find and share this content alongside you, our wonderful listeners like and follow Sensible Woo on YouTube, Instagram,

and don't forget to subscribe to email updates at, which includes a weekly tarot reading delivered right to your inbox. Until next week, be sensible, be woo, and most of all be you.