The School of Moxie Podcast

The Last of Us is a Business Story: Surviving Life's Sh*t Sandwiches with Beth Salyers

September 20, 2023 Mary Williams @sensiblewoo Season 1 Episode 8
The School of Moxie Podcast
The Last of Us is a Business Story: Surviving Life's Sh*t Sandwiches with Beth Salyers
Show Notes Transcript

In this week’s episode, your host, Mary Williams, dives deep into the transformative power of the arts and the nuances of life's challenges with special guest Beth Salyers. 

Join the discussion as we explore the sacrifices and resilience needed to excel in any field, the importance of embracing nuance, and how to navigate life's "sh*t sandwiches." 

Discover the parallels between the characters in the series and our own journeys, reflecting on humanity's monsters and the complex decisions we face. 

From dissonance to resolution, we uncover the beauty of storytelling and the impact of trust in our relationships. 

This episode will help you gain fresh perspectives on personal growth, education, and the art of doing things differently in a world that often seeks comfort in the familiar.

Links:
Links to resources, transcript, show notes, and show information are found on the podcast homepage.


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Guest information

Beth Salyers helps leaders of organizations using business as a force for good and the individuals working in orgs that do not align with their values, passions, and humanity. For both groups of people - Beth helps them learn about, engage with, and co-design their regenerative learning ecosystem... so their impact (and health) is something good for people and the planet.  Connect with Beth through her website, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok.


Show Credits

Support the show

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

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

[00:00:00] Welcome to the School of Moxie podcast brought to you by Sensible Woo. This is the podcast where we break the mold around business podcast conversations. We make it fun around here by using television, movies, and entertainment as a jumping off point for conversations about how we navigate the world as individuals.

I'm your host, Mary Williams, and I've been an online creator since 2010. I've seen a lot of trends come and go over the years, but one thing that has persisted is a struggle among entrepreneurs to connect more authentically with their audiences. As a business systems process and operations coach, I've seen how much my clients and subscribers have benefited from learning how to incorporate their fun sides.

So we're going to demonstrate this for you here on this podcast through analogous thinking. Not only that, but we're using media and entertainment as the lens through which we reflect on our own desires and strengths. Fiction is the vehicle that gives us words to articulate our value systems and tells people who we are.

I find that a lot of my 

[00:01:00] audience, and probably yours as well, struggle to find words for their problems until they start thinking about how to use analogies. Analogies help us build bridges between something we can describe into a new area that we are in the process of developing. As humans, we are a languaged species, which means we find context and meaning in our lives through the ability to put our feelings into words.

This podcast is going to help you normalize this process and see how it's done in real time as my guests talk through their own experiences in relation to the episodes they've been assigned for this show. Our first season of this podcast is centered on the first season of the HBO original series, The Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name.

Consider this your official spoiler alert. On this podcast, my guests are going to jump right into the conversation, and we are going to spill all the tea on the story and the plot. So if you enjoy being surprised, I encourage you to watch the episode first before listening to our discussion. Before we get into this week's episode, have I 

[00:02:00] told you about the weekly readings that I create for entrepreneurs

just like you each and every week. I am an Akashic Records and Tarot reader, and I've been giving clients intuitive guidance coaching for just about 20 years now. That's a long time. I know that most readers out there don't focus on your business needs. So that's where I come in. Readings with me are only about your business development, and it helps you feel more aligned with your intuitive messages so that you can incorporate those gut feelings and inner knowings into your business data for better results.

Click the link in the show notes and subscribe to my weekly email updates, where you can get a free reading sent to your inbox every single week. If you want more, you can subscribe to the weekly extended readings, which are just 9 dollars per month and help you get focused on your business energy every week.

No more Sunday scaries. You've got this better in hand than you know, and I'll help you see it. Now let's get watching and talking. I think it's important 

[00:03:00] to point out that episode 5, titled Endure and Survive, is very much a companion episode to number 4, Please Hold to My Hand. This episode marks a lot of turning points in the Joel and Ellie narrative, and it also gives us the biggest monster scene of the entire first

season. One of the things I love about the series is that they focused on humanity's struggle with doing the right things, whatever those things may seem to be. In the video game, we get lots of monsters because we're playing a game. But in the television series, there are far fewer monsters because then it would just be like any other zombie show.

And yes, I might be throwing a bit of shade at some popular titles out there. Sorry not sorry. This episode proves yet again that the worst monsters are still found in the minds of the people and I have the perfect person to talk about this with. Today we're talking with Beth Salyers who is obsessed with the art and science of learning.

She's a former middle school classroom teacher who got fed up with the difference between the promise of education and the reality of education and decided to figure out 

[00:04:00] how to harness the structures of learning in a way that didn't perpetuate the status quo. After earning her Ph. D. in Curriculum and Instruction, she began helping people build individual and collective agency within organizations.

Her company, Custom Learning Atelier, helps stakeholders focused businesses and organizations create even greater impact sustainability through how their people and audiences learn. Since its founding in 2020, CLA has become a certified B Corp, a business member of the 1 percent for the planet, and worked with certified B Corps, purpose driven companies, NGOs, national associations, state and local agencies, and non profits across several industries.

Beth is Ohio born, North Carolina raised, and living in New Orleans. Beth, welcome to the show and thank you for being one of my very first guests who's holding space for Better Business Conversations. And we're in Nice. 

[Beth] We are in Nice. 

[Mary] I'm so excited that we're over here recording 

[00:05:00] together. I wanted to kick off this discussion with

a key point, and I just knew you were the perfect person to talk about it with. It's just wild that the first time we're meeting and talking in person is in the French Riviera, which is very special. 

[Beth] And today we just met in person like two hours ago. Yes. 

[Mary] You know, we've both been in our little zoom boxes this whole time.

And now we're together in person, I would argue that has added immediately already a different level of connection. Here's where we're going to jump off in this episode with. Basically, like, you can do things on your own. Of course we can. We're, we're independent women. We can handle ourselves. But at some point, all of us need help.

And that involves learning how to trust. So, I usually find that unless you have your back to the wall, you can easily hesitate to engage in trust behaviors. Sort of that survival instinct has to kick in. So, how can entrepreneurs 

[00:06:00] find the motivation to collaborate with the need for less emergency as the catalyst and be able to do it through more thoughtful planning?

And where I picked this up from in our story is that Joel learns very quickly that he has to trust someone else who has knowledge about things that he does not have, which is Henry, and he can't acquire this on his own. So in the course of doing that, he also learns not to judge Henry based on past behaviors and Henry's role in the community because Henry turned in the leader of the Kansas City Resistance.

You know, I mean, it's a pretty complicated. Character arc there, but that's not unlike our entrepreneurial spaces either. So do you think that we need emergencies? You and I were both creating airline stories over breakfast where both of us had canceled flights and how quickly you noticed how quickly 

[Beth] Oh yeah.

[Mary] People bond together. 

[Beth] Mm-hmm. 

[Mary] When you're in a similar situation 

[00:07:00] and survival mode kicks in. But as entrepreneurs, this actually happens a lot to us, hopefully not on a daily basis, because that would just be a lot of drama. But in the course of a year, you can look at all your projects. How can we add in more thoughtful planning around trust?

Because I just think that so many people wait way too long to ask for help because a trust muscle hasn't been exercised. 

[Beth] No, I think it hasn't been conditioned for us to exercise. At least not in the United States, and I can speak in that context only. 

[Mary] I mean, you come from the education space, like, do you think it's something that's defunct in our educational system?

[Beth] Mm hmm. Well, it, one of the reasons why I taught middle school and high school. I liked middle school because you're on a team. So it's you and three other teachers and you all teach the same students. Yeah. So you know the same students. So there's commonality. Some teachers work better with other students.

You learn things, whatever. And I really like that idea because 

[00:08:00] it's really hard work. And I learned very early on in that job that you're not going to get it right every day. You're not going to get it right all day. You're going to screw up. You're going to feel like crap. You're also going to have these like magical moments where you trusted yourself, you trusted students, you trusted your colleagues, and the more and more that you have those and the environment is set up for that we work.

We all had the same schedule. We all had the same lunch. We all the same students. And so it was created for that team collaborative effort than when you go into other work situations, whether it be high school, if you're staying with PK 12, if you're going into like departments and people are very siloed, it's set up like that.

And so you trust people that you see every day. I don't think in the United States, even when we do group work as students at any age, it's always, in my experience, it's usually the kid who really wants to get a good grade does more work. And you figure out who does what to get the ball over the goal line.

[00:09:00] And then you all go your separate ways. It's not about the learning. It's not about cooperating. It's not about collaborating. It's, oh, we need to do all these things on our rubric to get over here. Who's going to do what? It's very goal oriented as opposed to entering into an experience with that trust of yourself, which I think is first and foremost.

And then coming into a space saying, I don't have all the answers. I might be wrong. But I care enough about this to engage in this process. And when I think about, like, the show, I think it was really important, like, for Joel in order to trust Henry. He got to witness him being a human being as an older brother.

And he also got to witness him, which I also love this episode because it had the most art in it. It did. It was very humanizing. It had art everywhere. The kids did art. There was art on the walls. It was very, like, it reminded you. Of these other aspects of yourself as opposed to apocalypse. I think all 

[00:10:00] those things, I think too often, we assume that there are independent variables and I am of the belief that there are no independent variables.

So all those little things added up to the point, the condition, the situation, the people, the experience for Joel to be able to be like, okay, in the here and now, I'm choosing consciously to trust this person. 

[Mary] Do you think that that underground ex community that they find, where you get the legend of Ish, which is the whole thing in the gaming world.

Won't go into that right now. But we see the artwork that some child or children in the past had created. And do you think evidence of people who did exactly what you described just now, they came together? They trusted so much that they were relaxed enough to provide an educational space, a play space, space to create art.

[00:11:00] And by being in that environment, it activates something else for both Joel and Henry while they're sitting there waiting. 

[Beth] Yeah. I think it's modeling vulnerability. It takes vulnerability to create art. And I think in order to be vulnerable, at least in my experience and people I work with. through my work, that if you can create and model vulnerability, people are more willing and able to sit in their own.

It's really hard to come in for folks, especially like corporate, and you come in and it. It's very monotone, right? And there's these rules and silos and departments. And everyone is reading the PowerPoint and going bullet point by bullet point and then they're like, let's be creative. And you're like, no.

You just, you just primed me to create another effing PowerPoint. You didn't prime me to trust people in this room. You didn't prime me to be creative. And I think that that, walking into that scene, with 

[00:12:00] the art surrounding them and then watching the kids who are indeed kids actually be able to be kids and draw and laugh, which you hadn't seen that much of yet.

It reminds us, I think, of our own humanity, and I think that aspect of it, when we translate into entrepreneurship, into work, into anything we're trying to create, if we're not surrounded by it, if we're not modeled it, if we're not practicing it, it's not fair to put someone into a cubicle and be like, be innovative.

It's like walking up to a comedian and being like on the street, being like, make me laugh. It's not how it works. 

[Mary] How much do you think entrepreneurs kind of operate like that? It's like survival state all the time, which is a big reason why I wanted to pick this show to play around with these conversations in the first season of this, because I really feel like I look around at entrepreneurs.

And they are so much operating within fight or flight. And when you're in fight or flight, there's no room to be creative. You can't do what you just talked 

[00:13:00] about. 

[Beth] You want me to go fucking dark? 

[Mary] Yes, please. 

[Beth] It could possibly be designed so people are stuck in fight or flight. 

[Mary] Oh, can we please go there?

Let's do it. I have a whole script of, of points that. We've looked at before sitting down and I will diverge from the whole thing to go down this rabbit hole. This is like the best side quest. 

[Beth] This is very exciting because when I go there when I go fucking dark and I'm like, oh We have a system exactly that was set up. The architects of the system, genius because working exactly how it was set up.

[Mary] Describe to me how it's how it's set up that you see.

[Beth] I speak most about, uh, PK 12 higher ed and corporate education.

So I often think about in the United States, I can't say this country in the United States, let's set up like a factory model, right? Um, and I always think of the Pink Floyd music video, another brick in the wall where the kids are literally on like a conveyor belt and they go through the sausage press and then they come out and I was like, man, it's really 

[00:14:00] real.

And you think about how it's organized, how it's punitive, how they measure success, how they make teacher success. The kind of projects, the number of times, especially students in the United States, take your foreign language for two years so you can graduate. And then shockingly, none of us speak another language.

But all of that has been designed, what we read, what we aren't allowed to read. It's a massive debate going on right now. Those are all choices. I'm a firm believer. And from like day one in my undergrad, preparation, a fabulous professor. And she said, raise your hand if you think teaching is a political act.

And I raised my hand and I was the only one. And I didn't even think about it. It was just like an instinct of like, oh yeah. And she was like, yes. And it has never left me. I was like, because what you teach, how you teach, who you teach, what you measure, what you allow, what you validate is all political, at least

in our country and how it's set up. And so when I think about entrepreneurship 

[00:15:00] and you think about like the behemoths in the business world, the behemoths who control the lobbyists in our, in our government, the behemoths who control all of these things, what's in their best interest, people in power, their first job is to stay in power.

And so you'd use all your resources to keep competition at bay. So even if as an entrepreneur and a certified B Corp, so obviously I want one day the dream, right, is to have the most excellent packages, right, salary, full benefits, health insurance, health insurance for your family, like, let's put away like money so your kids don't have student loans, like all these like really basic in my mind, human rights, really expensive and hard to do.

And because it's really expensive, it's really hard to do to the point of understandably sometimes it's easier to give up. And I think the reason why 

[00:16:00] being an entrepreneur and trying to do things differently is inherently difficult. And when you're trying to change a landscape as strong as business and as strong as how we teach and learn from

our kiddos all the way up to continuing ed till the day we pass, those are really, really old, well funded, normalized institutions. And it's fucking exhausting. 

[Mary] It's so interesting because as you're talking, I keep thinking how institutionalized a lot of the entrepreneurial framework also is. A, it kind of makes sense because we were all, you know, educated and programmed through institutional learning.

[Beth] By design. 

[Mary] By design. And B, also because... As a systems thinker, I believe the human brain is constantly looking for a system to 

[00:17:00] exist within. I think your episode is so perfect because through this work of fiction, we can look at like a fictional world and we can see a world that's gone horribly wrong in Kansas City.

Kathleen, while she has like the ability to rally her people around her, she has massive blind spots. Because she is also looking for a system to exist within so they've just toppled one and put up another and in the show creator extras for your episode, I love that they made a point where they're like the regime that comes in is no better than the one that they just took down and I feel like our entrepreneurial community is a lot like the Wild West where we are largely ungoverned and ungovernable. And people are constantly trying to pull a Kathleen in a way, which is like, I'm going to take down this existing system because it doesn't work for me.

But at the same time, there's an equal number of blind 

[00:18:00] spots. And I just wonder, like, is it possible for us to create a better system or you think so? 

[Beth] I have to think so, or else I wouldn't be in this work. A couple of things came up to me. One is that I'll put you the quote, but the work of Audre Lorde and the idea of housing the oppressor, um, I think comes into play what we carry with us.

We cannot divorce ourselves from that which we have been conditioned to consider normal. And so if we have an understanding of what normal power looks like, and we then find ourselves in a position of power without deep, deep unlearning. We will naturally follow those footsteps. But I also think to do things differently, theoretically and intellectually, we get that.

We have to do things differently, right? Climate justice, food deserts, human rights. the whole thing, right? We're burning, we're sinking. Things have to be different. Even if you could get everyone to agree on that fact, which 

[00:19:00] unfortunately doesn't seem that easy, then what? You need time and space to create something new.

And you need even more time and space to create something new because you have to continually push back against that which you are conditioned. And so I think the amount of time and the amount of space, the amount of play and dialogue and seeing and experiencing multiple ways of knowing and being is we, to our detriment, underestimate how much time and space that takes to truly create something different and to live sustainably in that difference.

Cause not, it's one thing to go out and be like, I'm going to do a rally. It's going to feel different for 24 hours. And then we've all done that, right? We're like, Oh, this is going to be different. And then a week and a half later, you're back into even, even down to personal habits, right? We've all, we've all gone to the gym for a week and then stopped going.

Right. It's like the same thing. 

[Mary] Oh, not me. Never. 

[Beth] I mean, other than Mary. Um, I think in entrepreneurship, like, oh, we're going to go try this. Oh, yeah, that makes sense. 

[00:20:00] I like that. But unless we have that time and space and support and the community around us and modeling, how do we do this sustainably? How do we do this healthfully?

Who do I ask for help? Who can I trust? For me, that's a big question of just about all the work we do is very collaborative. Who do you want to work with? Be very, very careful on who you let into that relationship, because not only are you dealing with your own conditionals, conditionalities, but you also have to be like, they are dealing with their own, consciously or unconsciously.

And that takes a lot of bravery to step into that space and be like, we're both committed to doing something different. We're going to get it wrong. We're going to get it right. It's going to be sticky. It's going to be funky. But first and foremost, we both are willing to step into the space. 

[Mary] So we get back into, you can't do it alone and you have to build trust.

Trust is also built over time. I think one of the things that pieces of fiction show us is this human 

[00:21:00] fallacy, where I think we kind of movie montage it in our minds a lot, where we expect things to happen faster than they do in real life. So in this case, we watch Joel and Henry develop a sort of trust, like pretty quickly.  In real life, hashtag IRL,

it would be a little bit different. It would, it would take a little bit longer than that. However, you made a really interesting point over our breakfast this morning because I was telling you about my flight cancellation story and I was telling you about how, um, it was me and another passenger who both spoke English following these two German passengers through the airport in Germany.

And it felt like we were on The Amazing Race. And we had to get to the first class business class ticket counter to get our rebookings settled. And it was amazing how quickly we 

[00:22:00] bonded. And you pointed that out to me, like, look how quickly you all bonded. And it was, it was. temporary survival state of sorts.

[Beth] But it did its job. 

[Mary] But it did its job. But as soon as we weren't in survival state anymore, we relaxed and suddenly we weren't so bonded. And, and I think is that, is that like just the way the human brain works? 

[Beth] Because it's designed for survival. And so, our brains are designed, one, to keep ourselves alive, two, to find the easiest path, just like water through a depth, like, it'll, the reason why it meanders is that, that's actually the path of least resistance.

And so, unconsciously, all of a sudden, you're in a situation that was unplanned for you, don't like, some sort of threat to you, threat you're going to miss your flight, threat you're going to miss, fill in the blank. All of a sudden, the brains turn on and they're like, 

[00:23:00] I'm assessing my surroundings and resources.

Oh, I've got a fellow English language speaker. Fabulous. We can share ideas. Oh, I've got someone who is native German speaker here, who seems to know where they're going and we're in Germany. Follow that person. And so your brain is like, how can I survive? What is my best case scenario? I think it's interesting to like entrepreneurs a lot that I've talked about seem to have had a lot of not that anyone is I think after the age of 40, everyone can fill in this blank.

You've had enough kind of like, oh, fuck situations in your life where those instincts kick in and you know, if something, God forbid, happened right here and right now, like, very quickly we would assess each other's strengths and weaknesses and be like, what are we doing? And I think when we go into work together, we go into create together, uh, we're still doing the same thing.

We may not have to do so because there is a physical, mental, spiritual, emotional threat. Uh, maybe the threat's being fired. Oh, maybe the threats being like pissing off your boss, 

[00:24:00] but there's something that is uniting a people, but I think when we get to collaborating with people beyond, uh, purely physical or identity risk, what are the other variables and how is that shaping how we come together?

We're really good in times of life and death, but when it comes to, Let's really collaborate to create something that's different. Truth be told, a lot of this in that position, if my business works or my idea works or does not work, I still have a bed to sleep in. If this project takes off or doesn't take off, I'm gonna still get to eat.

And it's very privileged, but it's put your brain in a different way of collaborating. Personally, what do I need around me to keep that tension? So I still, I, I remain engaged because really easy to be like. Oh, yes, I do want things to be different. Do I want them to be different enough that I'm willing to do things differently and be fucking uncomfortable for quite a long time?

Those are two very 

[00:25:00] different questions. And I think the show, obviously, like, is life and death. But I also think at another level, they're also continually... As many people do continually renegotiating their own identity. And that was, that was fascinating to me of how they're, they're co creating together, but they're also co creating for their own, their own trying to make sense of their own situation.

[Mary] Yeah. Everyone's constantly trying to make sense because I mean, the world kind of ended, right. 

[Beth] You could be bit by a. human who's taken over by mushrooms. 

[Mary] I mean, in a, in a less dramatic sense, thank God. We've all been through a COVID pandemic, which caused everybody to, whether you liked it or not, rethink

identity and place and time and everything. That forced us all into mandatory isolation. And the thing that I just keep thinking about while you're talking, and we're reflecting on, you know, this 

[00:26:00] analogous thinking exercise, how much do you think people through a type of survivalism try to sequester themselves into just a solo expression?

I mean, Joel as a character really demonstrates this like to a T constantly. But in entrepreneurship, I would argue, this is my dark side of entrepreneurship, I would argue, I would argue that a great many entrepreneurs desire power through solo expression because they don't want to share it. 

[Beth] Interesting.

[Mary] The act of trusting requires a collaboration that is going to require you to make concessions. And I don't know that a lot of people are willing to go through that uncomfortable part of giving up comforts for the betterment of the whole, 

[00:27:00] when in the temporary immediate period, you personally will be at less advantage, but all things being equal as a whole, 

the rising tide will lift all ships, but some people are like, fuck it, right? I'll go find my own. Where's my boat? I go find my own tide. Right. Screw y'all. And I feel like they, you know, a lot of, I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs operate that way. 

[Beth] I think it's easier to, we have a lot of examples of people doing that.

Yeah. We have people going to space instead of solving unhoused and hunger issues in our country. Oh, I could say so many things about that right now. It's very easy. We have lots of examples. We need more people talking about it, who are trying to do it differently, and when they fuck up, because we all will, and we all do, and we all have.

[Mary] I like that you said that we need more people talking about it because I feel like we see examples throughout this whole season to kind 

[00:28:00] of give us a spectrum of like super shit-tastic places to live where everything's fallen apart all the way over to it's you can tell there's something kind of brewing under the surface, but at least people are safe.

They're not in fight or flight. You know, I'm talking about the scenes with Jackson and you know, there's there's a safer existence out there. So you've got kind of the spectrum. That's happened in a new reality. 

[Beth] They're not all that new though. 

[Mary] Say more. 

[Beth] Has anything new really, like, the world as we knew it ended.

And then, everyone who's still alive, then was like, okay, let's form our own shit, let's try to survive as a community. And we have examples throughout the show of people just filling in vacated positions of power. So it looks new because you can't like Uber Eats and Netflix safely on your couch, because, you know.

But we still have people 

[00:29:00] stepping into the same siloed role. Like we're just backfilling the structures that we're so used to. 

[Mary] Well, that's a good point. Cause even in Jackson, I mean, it's really just a return to a more agrarian existence, which already existed. 

[Beth] None of it, none of it's new. You're like, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

They're, they're doing that. 

[Mary] Okay. So, so here's an idea. So we, we went through COVID. I was coaching at the time during, uh, with a company that. taught course builders like many outfits, by the way. And people were talking about disrupting the industry and doing like, but teaching, you're an educator, has been around a very long time.

[Beth] Yeah. Yeah. People have been teaching and learning for... 

[Mary] And also, the concept of online courses was so far from new, even during that time. But because the larger shared systems were very disrupted, suddenly the entrepreneurial community was like, look how new. I have a new way 

[00:30:00] of teaching you how to pilot a course.

Newsflash everybody. 

[Beth] Not new. 

[Mary] I'm just gonna like... burst some bubbles here, but there's like a very standard formula and it has kind of always worked and it will probably not change for quite some time. So so the only thing that changes is the wrapping. It's packaging. None of it's new. 

[Beth] That's like, I remember the day when I found out what a deck was.

I was like, I mean, obviously I knew what PowerPoint was, not that old. And then Someone was like, Oh, we got to put together a deck. And I was like, I'm going to put together a deck. I think I was doing consulting work for some company. And they're like, Oh yeah, I'm going to send you a deck. I'm like, what the fuck is a deck?

So I Google it and they're like, it's a PowerPoint. I'm like, God damn, it's a fucking PowerPoint. It's a deck. It makes me sound all fancy. Like I'm going to go pitch my deck, pitch deck. And I'm like, 

[Mary] This seemed to change like really suddenly. It went from being a PowerPoint slide to like a deck. They changed the terminology.

[Beth] It's the same boring shit. And so it just, it struck me, and I don't know why that 

[00:31:00] sort of stuff pisses the hell out of me, but it really does. Same as like when I was in... In the classroom teaching and you went to like professional development or professional learning sessions, and they would come in and be like, we're going to teach you how to differentiate like, okay, I'm down like, I know about it, learned about it, do it, like, let's let's learn some tactics.

Let's practice, right? Let me get better at it. And it's a fucking PowerPoint about differentiation. We're all doing the same thing. I was structurally and content wise, it was so antithetical. And I'm sitting there looking around being like, No one else sees this. And everyone has either, you know, put on a plastic face just of like, Oh my God, is it lunch yet?

Or we're dutifully taking notes and playing good soldiers. And I was just like, this blows. This is dumb. You don't know my students. And you teach me differentiation in a room of 100 people sitting looking at a PowerPoint. Yeah, bite me. And 

[00:32:00] so, like back to what we were talking about. None of it was different.

They didn't do anything wildly drastic. They're like, man, we should adopt that in our own society. That's smart. You're like, eh, I know how that's going to play out. Fast forward a hundred years. I know exactly how this plays out because playing out right now. And I think, uh, it's easy. I do things are the easy way out.

Sometimes, you know, we all do. It's easy. People are tired. Let me make it shiny. Let me get a new filter. We literally have a term for that now. You still always like make an app. Now you have a filter, but these are all packaging. Be interesting. It can add to the experience, not knocking it. I dig it. Uh, but fundamentally, is it really changing or challenging or adding to multiple ways of knowing ourselves and knowing each other?

and knowing the world. And I find that those experiences that truly impact those multiple ways of knowing is, are few and far between. And I think 

[00:33:00] in my experience, when you can build up those experiences of coming to multiple ways of knowing and being with others, that's when true collaboration can happen.

I think that is a, conditionality that we have not dug into properly, um, or enough to walk the talk of let's create conditions to be innovative. Let's create conditions to learn better. Let's create conditions. Um, and if you see most, most attempts, it's same old, same old as like a professionally trained, like traditionally trained classroom teacher.

I love watching people teach. Fascinated by it. And most people teach the way they were taught. Naturally, and a lot of times facilitators, especially will do things and teachers because there's so much to do that are actually end up being easier for the facilitator or the quote unquote guide of the space as 

[00:34:00] opposed to what's easier for the participants to step into this place they need because there's an issue of trust.

There's an issue of control. Um, there's an issue of Fuck, I've got two hours with 20 people and the idea is we're all going to do this. But wait, I don't have a PowerPoint to direct me through every single two hours of it. Let me just, let me just make more PowerPoint slides, as opposed to trusting the space and trusting other human beings to come into the space and contribute.

[Mary] How much do you think this is mimicry, where people need somebody ahead of them to show them an example, because the ideal that you described would require someones, plural, to trust in themselves and in each other that they are going to do something people really honestly haven't seen before. Some of it will feel probably mildly 

[00:35:00] familiar for sure, you have to. But to do something that is actually different when the rest of the world is not primed or conditioned to understand what they're seeing is a very brave space to fill I mean if we there's even that you know, there's there's so many books about entre in entrepreneurial space about this. You know the famous one being the red ocean blue ocean thing.

Yeah, and I have heard so many times as a coach, Oh, I need to find my blue ocean. I'm looking for my blue ocean idea. And I'm like, Bitches, I had a blue ocean idea. Can't tell you how hard it is to nurture a blue ocean idea into existence where other people will actually understand what they're seeing.

That is, that is difficult. And to have that kind of new methodology, that new change, people have to see something modeled before them 

[00:36:00] that is so much more streamlined and mature than what they saw previous to it. And, and I don't know that, I don't know that our entrepreneurial community is there yet. I think it's why pieces of fiction like this continue to exist because we're I think each of us subconsciously, at least, if not consciously, fascinated by, but can we change?

But what would it look like to change? Well, what if we were forced to change because we have, you know, a fungal viral pandemic? Let's make it worse than the one that we went through. Like, what if you were actually forced and everything's removed from you? That completely changes the rules. It completely changes what can and can't be done.

And yet, at the same time, we have this fabulous illustration through a piece of fiction of humanity that goes, Wait, wait, but... 

[Beth] That's one of the beautiful things about art. 

[00:37:00] I will take the moment as someone who owes an ingratitude to especially music and the arts in my own upbringing, uh, in my own success through school.

The power of the arts to get people to think and feel different. And what is most often cut or underfunded in our public schools? 

[Mary] Please say more because it's the arts. I grew up studying classical music and it rewired my brain. 

[Beth] Interlochen. I almost went. 

[Mary] Yeah. Yes. I've learned as an adult now. I just celebrated my 44th birthday here.

Um, and I have learned as, as an adult. at this age, how differently my brain is wired sometimes when I get into a room and talk with people and I see things, and it is directly related to musical training. And not only that, but it's also related to what goes into that training, where there is a very unglamorous work ethic that goes 

[00:38:00] into that level of performance of being able to, you know, hang with the Interlochen crowd and do that whole thing.

I mean, that is not a small potatoes place. And, and I mean, you're talking hours in practice rooms and lessons 

[Beth] Giving up things in order to be in that sacrifice. 

[Mary] There is a sacrifice that goes into this and um, I mean we see it in in dancers We see it in actors in the show, um, we see them with you know actors who've grown their career. We’ll hear from Renee during the course of the season talking all about that.

And on the outside, if you haven't done those sacrificial moves, I think it's hard to fully understand, you know, the benefit of it. Because in the immediate moment, there's a lot of really sucky shit. 

[Beth] Who has had the... In a movie, you'll know this, uh, a movie or a book. Or a book in a movie. 

[00:39:00] Fuck. I don't know, but it was on screen or I read it somewhere and I was like, you have to figure out what shit are you willing to eat?

What shit? Sandwich. 

[Mary] Oh shit. Sandwich. 

[Beth] Yeah. There's like a thing, like there's shit sandwiches everywhere, but what are you willing to eat? Yeah. And you have to be able to know that. Yes. Which makes me think, like, I, I told you earlier, I was like, if the apocalypse cut, apo , it's happening. There's too much French.

Not enough. Anyways. Apocalypse. Our brains are so split right now. And tired, like, it's... I am, and I'm also not going to listen to this back. 

[Mary] It's okay. I've been Emily in Paris the whole time because I've had to keep my brain in English so I can do these interviews properly. 

[Beth] I don't know how you're doing it.

I was like, man, I'm glad Mary's leading this. Um, so if, if it happens and we find ourselves in a situation. The Joels and the folks of the world like I'm out like that's not a shit sandwich. I'm willing to take like where's the morphine where's a good bottle of wine and like snap snap play good music like I'm out 

[00:40:00] 

[Mary] You're gonna Bill and Frank it. 

[Beth] Yeah like I'm just not gonna I have no interest at all.

But other things like I'm willing to go and I'm trying to do business differently and do how we help create learning spaces and learning pathways for people who want to engage in life and work differently. 

[Mary] I have a theory I'm just thinking about it right now because I'm such a visual thinker and you know me I'm like channeling little pictures in my head right now. Okay, this is my theory.

My theory is that each of us has the same platter with the same quantity of shit sandwiches. And the question is, are you willing to sit and have a really long shitty shit sandwich meal? Or do you have to like, eat a little bite here and then run away for a while and come back and eat a little, little bite again and then run away and come back and eat a little another little bite.

It's like for me, I will sit and I will be like, it's a four course shit sandwich meal. Bring them. 

[00:41:00] I will sit here until I finish my meal. 

[Beth] I have that drive as well. But I also think that then I find myself thinking I was done and I get up to leave and then I'm like, Oh, we're on the 84th course.

Interesting. 

[Mary] Turns out it's a 100 course meal. 

[Beth] If only. 

[Mary] But I think that is the reality. And that slog that you go through, the shit sandwich slog, if you've never experienced any kind of shit sandwichry, it's going to be real hard to hang in the

game of making change. So you can give lip service all day long, but to be in service, it's a whole other ball of wax. I feel like a reason why, like, I'm friends with you is because I recognize that ability to sit and eat the 100 course shit sandwich meal. 

[Beth] Mm. We're stubborn. 

[00:42:00] 

[Mary] I don't know that it's stubborn.

[Beth] Really? I think I think 

[Mary] I mean, there has to be a little bit of that element in there. Right. But I don't it it's core like you go go five layers deeper and it's not stubbornness. I feel like it's a deep resilience. 

[Beth] Hmm. For me, it feels and I refer to it as. You know, like attention or dissonance, and I've there's been multiple periods of my life where I felt extremely strongly.

There's less so, but that's it's that feeling. And I think my work is how do you help people first identify that that's what's going on. Recognize the variables. And then how do you sit with it long enough to go through? And make something better. And I think we underestimate what that can look like. And I, what we were talking about prior of being able to enter a space and truly do things differently and have someone who can hold that space for others to do differently, those two different levels, you need the development and progression of the person holding the space for others.

Plus you have the space you're holding for others. 

[00:43:00] And so for someone like you, who's creating this podcast and holding this space, you also had to do work with and for and through yourself in order to sit here and hold the space for myself and Peya and everybody else that you're talking with, um, and I think we conflate things and think it's all one skill set, one track, one checklist, um, and that it's static.

Like, all of a sudden we'll be like, oh, well, I'm good. I can go in and do this. I've thought about it enough. I'm like, that's not how it works. Not when you're trying to do something differently. And I think, especially, because we work with a lot of people who then design trainings. And how do we get people out of that treadmill of, This is how I did trainings, here's how we do trainings, here's what podcasts are like, here's what learning pathways are like, here's what objectives are, like if one more person says the objective is just to communicate better, I'm like, that's an ideal, it's an objective, you can't measure that, like what do you mean?

Um, but to help people break that down, 

[00:44:00] into something that is tangible, um, that you can truly experience and be like, Oh, before this experience, I felt this after the experience, I felt new, this, to be able to do that with yourself and then with others to related, but different jobs. It's hard. 

[Mary] It's very hard.

I feel like being able to recognize what you do well and know where you don't have the skill set being humble enough to go, you know, I really don't have the skill set. I love Henry in this in your episode because we see this episode largely from his perspective, him and Sam. And the odds that they're up against is insane.

To have a deaf child is insane in this reality. But he, he, you see him see, watch Joel and he's like, that guy knows how to fight his way out of a pickle. And I do not possess this ability. And he 

[00:45:00] mimics it for a moment. In the previous episode, right before yours, two, they totally go together. And he's like, holding an unloaded gun to you is like the closest I've ever been to being violent.

And I loved that because it's like, I feel like Henry modeled what Joel needed, needed to see to do better through the rest of his journey. I don't think that they would have done as well if they hadn't met Henry and Sam. 

[Beth] Again, so is like, oh, that is possible. Not only do I know it's intellectually possible.

I saw it. I saw it in action. So therefore I have a bigger belief in it. I don't think we can underestimate that. That's why we have friend groups and work groups and that's why if you work for a big corporate entity, you have like your people at work. You actually also see outside of work because they've become more than functional pass the TPS report sort of thing.

Yeah. I don't think we designed spaces with that in mind. 

[00:46:00] 

[Mary] No, we don't, you know, and you know, and I'm just trying to like, think through your, your whole episode here, because I feel like we see a lot of that, you know, Kathleen's upholding this whole, let's pass the TPS report, weirdly enough. And, I mean, it really bites them in the ass.

By the way, I just have to acknowledge that you get the most badass scene in the whole season. The, the monster scene is just, uh, I remember watching that when it aired that night and my mouth was hanging open and I was well aware that my mouth was hanging open watching the TV and I was like, oh my God, they really did it and I love the way they did it.

They used real movement actors and it was just very cool. 

[Beth] I had to look away. I told you before, like, this is not my genre of TV. I was like, only for Mary. I'm intrigued. How are we doing this? I'm here for it. I'm a very good student when I want to be. 

[Mary] I think there's something very special about your episode.

For the people who are 

[00:47:00] listening or watching along with us, I am really hoping that you go back and you, like, have another watch. 

[Beth] And I will. Okay. Was it just me? Or is there a, there's a lack of people of color in this except for Henry and Sam? 

[Mary] Yeah, there's Henry and Sam. And I think a lot of it actually, the way when I did my research, the way that I have kind of put this together is when the video game was created, which is a source material, the video game was, very white.

And the interesting thing, I mean, this would be a whole other podcast episode, but the interesting thing is the video game fans who watched the show being developed and the backlash that the creators got for diversifying many of the characters. So Ellie in the game is always queer and is queer in this show too.

And, um, Henry and Sam, I believe are always black, but Sam was not 

[00:48:00] deaf. They added in that for the show. 

[Beth] For the show. 

[Mary] That's not the original. They upped the stakes. Which I thought was a great creative choice. They talk about it in the podcast episode for your show. Right, right. For your episode. 

[Beth] But the fact that it wasn't about him being deaf, it was just like, no, people are deaf and they are going through life situations.

[Mary] Well, they had to make a creative decision. Speaking of like being creative and breaking the mold on things. Like they had to be creative because to sit and watch gameplay... As a TV show would be fucking boring. I mean, it's fun when you're playing a game because you're the one with the controller in your hand shooting things and throwing bombs and doing all the stuff.

But for somebody is to sit and watch more, more zombie play is just like, no, thank you. And so the show got a lot of criticism because they said there weren't enough monsters. Which is why your episode is really special because you get monsters, man. 

[Beth] Lots of monsters. 

[Mary] Mm hmm. But the rest of the episodes, not so much.

But I love what they 

[00:49:00] point out is that humanity is one of the biggest monsters, no matter what. If not the biggest. And there are so many moments where different characters, there's one in an episode later. The character David. We're having steak tonight. Um, and he 

[Beth] is so messed up. It's so gross, 

[Mary] but he has that great monologue and he says, you know, it loves cordyceps.

It loves wants to propagate. It loves. And when Tess doesn't fight, At her death, it's not violent at all. It's shot like a love scene, you know, and, and so we see a more nuanced quality and you know, the soapbox I'm on this year. I feel like nuance is a space where better change happens and it is a learned skill.

It's not magic. It is something you learn. It's something you practice. And 

[Beth] It’s continual 

[Mary] by having these kinds of conversations and by watching shows like this and allowing your brain to relax and think about 

[00:50:00] difficult things, not for yourself, but through a piece of fiction. It's why story storytelling has existed for a millennia is because we need stories to help us process.

And our business community is just so addicted to TED Talks and documentaries and, you know, one more thing after another and, um, and, you know, we really need to be able to think and look at the world more new in a more nuanced fashion And there's so much nuance in this particular show that it's the perfect vehicle to really dive into those conversations. 

[Beth] Agreed I When you first talked about this idea, I thought was brilliant because I think we don't obviously in the United States we export entertainment real well.

Yeah, but do we use the arts in a way that help move? humanity forward. Some people do brilliantly in their work. 

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Beth] And that's why 

[00:51:00] they're artists, right? And that's what they bring. 

[Mary] Right. 

[Beth] But to break these silos and to think about this piece of fiction and an analogous way to how we run businesses and cooperate with each other and make choices.

I think it's brilliant because you're literally modeling doing it differently, as opposed to writing a blog post and saying, Hey, y'all, here's a list of podcasts you could listen to, or here's a list of TV series you could watch that might give you some insight on your business. Okay, fabulous. If you put a number in, I think get more clicks, but it's not really

giving you the space to practice. It's not giving you the time and space to see what people are saying, to sit in it, to take your time with it. But I think that also you have to not, it's not gonna be for everyone. And then how do we help people say, oh, I want to do that. But I'm not yet ready to do that myself So, what do we what do we create to help people get more used to the idea that things can be 

[00:52:00] different?

Get more used to the idea that this is what different feels like. I don't even think we're that used to knowing what different feels like. Like dissonance feels a certain way And in dissonance in music, the goal is to find conclusion, right? It turns to resonance and you, you end on the, on the major scale, 

[Mary] The C major chord, right?

[Beth] And it's like, Oh, resolution. 

[Mary] I have this memory since you're my Interlochen person. I have this memory of being in the String Quartet Institute in the nineties. And we would play on the radio every Saturday and my quartet, we learned this, um, piece by Bartok. It's wickedly difficult and we performed at the end of the week and it's just dissonant.

And he changes time signature constantly. I mean, it is a brutal piece of music and you get to this point, which is sort of the apex of it all. And you end on a C major chord and it's like the whole 

[00:53:00] audience, you can hear them breathe. 

[Beth] It's like catharsis, right? 

[Mary] Yes, it's amazing. 

[Beth] Yeah, I think we're constantly doing that, right?

We're, we're getting close to the fire and then we step back because we're like, well, it's fucking hot. And then we listen to music and you're like, if something doesn't end on that major scale on that major chord, people tend to be like, Oh, I don't like that ending. You know, like we won't have the, um, Hallmark

rom com happy ever after. And like, Oh, I don't feel settled. Like I was just taking on a journey and now I'm, 

[Mary] Well, I think, I think this is why pop music exists. I think this is why the Hallmark Channel exists. This is why very formulaic, very institutionalized things exist because they're comfortable, but they also keep us stuck in rote systems instead of getting comfortable with the

feeling of dissonance so that we can prepare ourselves. to really make improvements. And I'm hoping that 

[00:54:00] someone, I just have this very deep feeling that there's a few someone's who are listening to this, who are having this huge aha moment listening to you right now. And they're like that because articulation is such a big part of it.

We're a languaged species. We have to get this out of this numbed out space where you're not really putting full words and sentences around 

[Beth] survival 

[Mary] because that's survival. 

[Beth] Right. You're like going out and hunting like Joel and them are killing monster mushroom people because they have to and like we numb because we need to like a survival point.

But I hope so. I hope, uh, And being willing to have conversations of how have you practiced dissonance lately? How have you practiced doing something differently? Have you done it like as simply as like using your non dominant hand? How often do you practice being uncomfortable? 

[Mary] Beth, that is the perfect homework to end people 

[00:55:00] with.

I'm going to ask you a question I ask everybody before we're done. This is the question. What does The Last of Us reflect back to you about yourself? 

[Beth] Oh, besides knowing for certain I will not try to survive an apocalypse, um, that even when you'd assume the stakes are pretty cut and dry, it's still nuanced, it's still complicated.

Even when, from a surface level, you could look at, like, Ellie and Joel's situation and decisions they would have to make, you're like, well, duh, do this, right? And as a viewer, you're like, huh, duh, that's a smart, why would you get, why would you leave there? Why would you? But it reminds you, we're all doing the best we can with what we have in the moment.

Like, it's, it's nuanced. People are coming with their own shit and their own traumas and their own fears and their own everythings. We're all just making it up as we go. Hopefully doing it better and doing it with people we trust and who trust us. I think that's my biggest from the whole show is even in these 

[00:56:00] seemingly cut and dry things this monster is going to eat you or you kill it if you want to survive it's a pretty cut and dry but actually it's not cut and dry at all right you see these characters really deal with some internal shit. A nuance that only they understand before they say something, act, don't say something, don't act.

[Mary] 

This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host Mary Williams and special guest Beth Salyers. The show is written and produced by Mary Williams. This episode was recorded in Nice, France at Nice Sound Studio with Olivier Coppado as our sound engineer. Chris Martin from Chris Martin Studios is our editor and sound designer in Vancouver, Washington.

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 Max.com. As a librarian, I will always encourage you to check out the companion book Bittersweet by 

[00:57:00] 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.

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