The School of Moxie Podcast

The Last of Us is a Business Story: Entertainment Evolution with Stephanie Ayars

November 01, 2023 Mary Williams @sensiblewoo Season 1 Episode 14
The School of Moxie Podcast
The Last of Us is a Business Story: Entertainment Evolution with Stephanie Ayars
Show Notes Transcript

Join host Mary Williams and special guest Stephanie Ayars dive deep into the emotional and thematic aspects of The Last of Us.

This week, the podcast delves into the similarities between the characters Joel and Ellie in "The Last of Us" and the challenges faced in real life, emphasizing the value of stubborn determination and adaptation.

Throughout the conversation, the hosts highlight the impact of storytelling, both in gaming and in business. They celebrate the community-building power of podcasts and the profound moments of gratitude in daily life.

This episode is a testament to the ever-evolving nature of career goals and the inspiration that can be drawn from both entertainment and real-life experiences.

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


Episode sponsors:


Guest information

Stephanie started ALCHIMIE because she has an endless passion for entrepreneurship and a natural curiosity about new ideas. She has been in marketing for more than two decades, with several years running two of her own businesses. Stephanie has had the honor of being a part of brand new companies, companies celebrating an IPO, and world-renowned companies with offices around the globe. During the pandemic, Stephanie followed her dreams to France, where she now lives and works. You can connect with Stephanie 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 sensiblewoo.com, which includes a weekly Tarot reading delivered right to your inbox.

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're 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, 

[00:02:00] have I 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 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.  Today we're going to 

[00:03:00] catch our breath with a little series recap. In case you're tempted to skip through this, I want to point out how important it is that this season's podcast includes a recap episode before we move on to other topics.

Remember that we are engaging in analogous thought processes and as an entrepreneur, one of the most valuable skills you can learn to develop is the ability to dive into the details as we've done for many episodes up to this point. Then, zoom back out and get that 30,000 foot view. It's the most CEO thing you can do. Let's do that today so you can see how all the puzzle pieces fit together.

By now it should be pretty obvious that a major theme is about putting the humanity and compassion back into our businesses. And we have a few more things to talk about that. We are going to put on our CEO pants today, as I like to say around here with Stephanie Ayers, who is a seasoned marketer with 24 years of strategic marketing experience with both B2B and B2C companies.

She has lived and 

[00:04:00] worked around the U.S., serving in marketing leadership positions in a variety of verticals, including payments, luxury, hospitality. healthcare, and consumer packaged goods for brands like Disney and Mayo Clinic. She has a Master of Arts in Communications Management from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from the University of Texas at Austin.

In 2020, she moved to Nice, France where she received her global MBA and is now serving clients in France, Switzerland, Monaco, the UK, and the United States. Stephanie, welcome to the show and thank you for being one of my very first guests who is holding space for better business conversations, and we're on your home turf.

[Stephanie] Thank you. It is lovely to be here. Bonjour. 

[Mary] Bonjour. 

[Stephanie] Um, it's, uh, fun to have you on my turf as you call it, although it's quite possessive of me with, uh, under three years time, um, having claimed Nice, France as my own, but we'll roll with it. 

[Mary] Well, it's more years than 

[00:05:00] I've been on this tour, so. 

[Stephanie] Fair enough, but I hope you're enjoying your visit because it is a magical spot.

[Mary] It is very magical, and on the day we're recording this, not that very many people will care, but I feel like it's important to record it on the podcast, but you and I have birthdays that are two days apart, and this is a very special recording trip because we are recording on the day between our birthdays, and we both lived in Austin, Texas for a period of time, and we would get together and eat at a French restaurant.

[Stephanie] Indeed. Um, I guess the, uh, it was evident even years and years and years ago that my dream was to eventually work my way to France. Um, so I'm thrilled that we're celebrating our birthday sandwich here in Nice. 

[Mary] Yes. An extra special this year because now I got you on the mic. 

[Stephanie] Hmm. Intimidating, but okay.

[Mary] Well, you've been a super champ for watching this very Americana love letter show. 

[Stephanie] But I loved it. It was so good. 

[Mary] It was so good. 

[Stephanie] So good. And you convinced me because it is a show that had been 

[00:06:00] recommended to me by several individuals and I resisted. And finally, you made the best argument and, uh, I've converted and now I am a tremendous fan of the show and the actors.

[Mary] I love that you dove into it wholeheartedly. I want to start our discussion for this recap with our first key point, because the show creators are very specific about a lot of core tenets, and the big one is that it's a show about love and the great lengths we go to protect that love, whether we think it's right or wrong, love is love.

We make all kinds of choices. So in this vein of analogous thinking, my question for you is, what do you think entrepreneurs need to take away from this thought exercise when we think about how we make choices based on love? Like, do you think entrepreneurs sacrifice their ethics or humanity because there's a natural fear of being hurt through failures or, you know, that avoidance of like, I don't want to be hurt through 

[00:07:00] love.

So you like avoid it. Do we pursue projects where we're like, maybe that isn't actually… The One… the project. Because you know, it might hurt. Um, so, so the supporting point that I got through all of this is that throughout the entire season, first season, at least of the last of us, we're shown again and again, that the worst threat is actually from other humans, whether they do it out of

an animal level survival instinct or desperate acts of love. You know, that is really honestly the greatest threat. There's infected people walking around and you would think, I could get sick, but that's actually not the main threat. I mean, it is definitely a threat. People are the worst, man. 

[Stephanie] They can be, but we can also be the worst to ourselves.

Um, so for the context of the conversation and to have a framework is let's define love. Um, is this love for other people or is this love that could be a love that 

[00:08:00] could be for places, for goals, for, um, other kind of intentional thoughts, exercises, dreams, desires? 

[Mary] I think it's really love for the dreams and the desires.

There's idealism in it. 

[Stephanie] Oh, for sure. For sure. And, um, I think that that love, if we're focusing on dreams and desires, no different than having love for somebody, some, some thing, you know, or even a pet, that can be a tremendous catalyst for thought processes and decisions. And I personally, in my life, a dream and a love has propelled me to make some pretty dramatic choices.

And there's been, always been risk, but there's always been tremendous reward. And, um, it's a gamble. 

[Mary] It is a gamble. Part of our thought exercise we did, too, as I tee up our whole conversation here, we 

[00:09:00] also read a book by Susan Cain called Bittersweet. I picked that up. 

[Stephanie] So good. Loved it. 

[Mary] I picked it on purpose because she gave us language for something that I was observing happening and Real time and people were just having their experiences.

So they weren't like overanalyzing it. But she had the analysis and it just to put it in like a really tiny nutshell, it was that people perfect strangers while the show was playing were bonding on social media and in common threads over bittersweet qualities And, you know, the thing that you just described about making big changes, I feel like people who've experienced similar bittersweet things in life, leaving the comforts of a home you grew up in for decades and leaving that behind.

That can be a very bittersweet feeling. You and I both own, I'll just be kind here and say geriatric animals. 

[Stephanie] Yes. And they are going to live forever. 

[00:10:00] 

[Mary] They are so going to live forever. 

[Stephanie] Mm hmm. Of course. Can't even think about it. 

[Mary] And we, we bond harder over the fact that your dog and my cat are kind of the same age and they're both starting to show these signs of like, they're really not going to be here forever.

And that's a very bittersweet. 

[Stephanie] It is, but it's also, it's also a really beautiful thing. I feel like I've, I loved the book first because for me, it puts some evidence based logic, if you will, against some inclinations and observations of my own life and, and spectrum of feelings that I didn't really know how to put into words, but it's this being cognizant and tolerant of and accepting of the pain, and at the same time, You might be in the depths of, of the pain, which would be a negative, but I, you know, you can still see some beautiful silver lining, some moment, some fleck that can pull you back up, even if it's just 

[00:11:00] for an instant and you need to go back down into whatever, you know, that pain may be.

I've had many painful and bittersweet moments. You know, this isn't a psychology podcast, so we don't need to go into the depths of them, but it's an area that I've had to navigate over the decades. And the pain may be small and the pain may be tremendous. You know, everything from losing a pet, a loved one, a father.

To, uh, and moving to a foreign country, not knowing the language and knowing nobody to the pain of, um, getting disappointed because maybe you didn't get a, get an opportunity that you were up thinking excited about. So um, the spectrum is, is great and I think we flow backwards and forwards and through it and around it and, and above it and below it and in it and out of it.

I know those are a lot of words, but that's just kind of how I feel energetically about how humanity approaches life, but I think you could apply that into the business context as well. And if we're wearing our CEO pants, 

[00:12:00] um, that fluidity and that understanding that it's not always forward projection and upward success, you have to be willing to sometimes sink a little and pop back up.

And, and again, that fluidity, maybe, maybe it's the water of the Mediterranean that's drawn me here. And perhaps that the things that I am saying are reflective in my choice of where I want to live and the vistas that I appreciate most in life. 

[Mary] I mean, there's a lot of love in those statements.

[Stephanie] I have a lot of love to give… shocking.

[Mary] Do you feel like, I mean, I can see where the love has driven you entrepreneurially and in your life. Ever since I've known you, you've had this Francophile love for... 

[Stephanie] I have, and it's hard to explain. 

[Mary]It's, it's one of the, I mean, we were talking before we hit record. You know, I'm such an Anglophile, and I'm like, I can't explain it.

[Stephanie] It's okay. 

[Mary] You drop me in the middle of London 

[00:13:00]  and I'm just at home. It's just, my heart swells. I'm super happy. Yeah. You know, and I think people listening, can either call up something where they're like, oh, I know that feeling. It could be a place that you feel like you belong. It could be people you feel like you belong with.

It could be a pet. It could be children. It could be something. Your profession. 

[Stephanie] Yeah, for sure. Definitely that. 

[Mary] Some hobby, something. But you know, to what lengths do we go to protect the sanctity of making sure that we still get to have connection to that thing that we love? 

[Stephanie] I think it's unique to each individual for so many reasons.

I mean, number one, I've learned a tremendous amount in particular over the last couple of years in making a move to a foreign country with the intention of staying there, you know, so, so really a one way ticket kind of mentality about the role that fear plays. 

[00:14:00] An example of that is I've talked to so many Americans that I've met along the way, in, in passing, right?

So, so Americans who might be wherever I've been on the European continent who are visiting. Um, whether it's in Nice or when I've been traveling and encountered other Americans. And a common theme is, oh, I would so love to do that. I wish I could do that. Oh, if I didn't this, that or the other, I would totally do that.

And I think those statements are really fascinating to me. Um, and they're, and they're warranted and they're justified and they're validated and there's no judgment that comes with it. I think the curiosity for me is a response to then say, You know, may I invite you to think about what what are the reasons why you can't or won't do it.

And of course, there are the realities of people's lives where they have dependents who need them. They have commitments, they have aging parents, they 

[00:15:00] have, you know, communities, they have comfort zones, but the individuals who may not. have the same constraints who may actually have that freedom. And, and in particular, those individuals, when I speak to them, it's fascinating because I do think it's an invitation to explore fear

and fear in our own lives. And so if we, if we want to go back to the show for a little bit, I mean, one of the, one of my most impressionable takeaways is the fearlessness of the characters. I can't imagine being Ellie and number one at that age when you can assume that, you know, her brain isn't even fully developed and, you know, there's maturation processes that she's not yet even begun to start

in comparison to an adult like Joel, who is more mature and has experienced things, including incredible things like the loss of a child. What role does 

[00:16:00] fear play? And what role did trust play? And I think It's not even six degrees of separation when talking about fear and trust in the same conversation.

It's more like point 000000001 degree of separation, right? Because I think there's a massive correlation. So I loved the fearlessness and in that fearlessness, I saw trust and I saw vulnerability. But at the same time, I saw a resilience that's like, oh my gosh, they just keep going. So where's that coming from?

[Mary] Yeah, I feel like that's the humanity part. Fully developed humanity, you know, not the stunted versions. We see a lot of stunted versions demonstrated all over the place. And I, I feel like that there's just this like really beautiful thing with that bittersweet quality where we have words now, thanks 

[00:17:00] to Susan Cain.

And then watching these characters go through this developmental process and you're like, it's through this, maybe it's a circumstance of the world they're living in that they don't have the luxury of putting up any shiny wrapping around the reality of what they're in because it is post apocalyptic and they have the ability to fully embrace bittersweet while at the same time navigating sometimes very imperfectly that fine line where trust and fear meet.

Because we see Joel repeatedly just try to push it away, push it away. Like, I don't want to lose another daughter. Like, I can't go through that again. I mean that, the pain, the, the fear of that, and then the inevitability of like, oh, but I have my purpose. Like, I'm really good at looking after other people, even 

[00:18:00] if he does it in a way that really is an unhealthy kind of an attachment style with his brother, you know, looking for his brother.

It turns out his brother's doing just fine. 

[Stephanie] Yeah. 

[Mary] And, and, you know, that's, that's a little bit of a wake up call for him. And just seeing like other people's expression of the same sort of, intersection of trust and fear like we see it with tests at the very beginning where she's pretty jaded, who can blame her. And then she's like, oh my gosh, this kid's for real and then she's like she kind of like the mother in her reactivates. And Henry and Sam cross so it's all these people who like cross their paths. Sort of these intersections, and we see them in these little vignettes, Bill and Frank, we see it again in Henry and Sam, we see it again in Jackson, you know, we see the complete opposite of it with David and the religious cannibals.

[Stephanie] Oh, yes, yes, my goodness. Hmm. No words.

[00:19:00] 

Just not, no words at the moment for that. On a micro level, aren't we all constantly wavering between and navigating these two elements of life? Constantly. Um, and um, you know, our consciousness of it probably, you know, ebbs and flows, right? And it may be, so for example, a really, really small decision in life between, you know, fear and trust.

Do I trust that this barista is going to get my coffee order correct, right? Like, I'm not even giving that another micro thought. It's, it's not an investment that I need or want to make. Um, and truly I'm probably not even making a conscious decision to make that decision. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum, you know, something like, uh, Sophie's Choice, right?

Extreme example, fear and trust and having to make a massive decision. And there's always context around us, right? So be it other humans involved, other dependencies, other things that are going to be influenced by the decision that we make. I mean, think 

[00:20:00] about the mechanics of the number of variables and data that that we're processing to make all of these decisions constantly as human beings.

You know? 

[Mary] All of them. I mean, by the time we get to the end of season one, and this ending has been debated for 10 years, since you and I were still both living in Austin, Texas in 2013. 

[Stephanie] Oh, I thought you were going to say since we were like 18 years old. 

[Mary] We were totally 18 in 2013. 

[Stephanie] Yeah, it was. Wow, we've come a long way.

[Mary] The very first part of the video game came out that year in Naughty Dog's base in Austin. 

[Stephanie] Oh, how funny. 

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Stephanie] So I mean, truthfully, I walked into the show with a lot of ignorance. I really did no research. I did not even know that it was coming from a video game. I don't know if that's a function of the fact that I live in France and actually it was very, very difficult for me to access even streaming the show.

And so I didn't have a lot of those. kind of, um, pop culture influencing 

[00:21:00] kind of data points that that others may have had. So I just kind of took it on blind faith at your word and the word of others and said, Okay, I clearly this is something that I might enjoy. And then, of course, it became a binge with possibly a really nice bottle of Bordeaux.

I mean, if we're being honest, um, Saint Emilion region, you know, happens to be my favorite. Anyway, it was unbelievably captivating, even from the first episode. And the pull right as a marketer you talk about push and pull a lot right push marketing and pull and so so this is a framework that that my headspace often goes to so the pull was very very strong it was it was magnetic I didn't even have a moment of wavering to walk away.

There's another show, I don't want to, no disrespect to it, and, and truly there is none, but I remember watching the first episode of Breaking Bad. 

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Stephanie] And 

[00:22:00] I, I, I thought I was gonna walk away because there was just something that was just for me too much. Um, and of course, I was encouraged just, just keep going, keep going, keep going, which is so funny how we talk about shows now.

Keep going, keep going, keep going, it's a marathon. Um, and of course, Breaking Bad, I think is, genius as well, right? And an incredible show that I absolutely loved. But, um, Last of Us, it, it, it had that pull and the continuity of character from episode to episode for me. Um, the story arc, you see Joel really, you know, go from kind of life is good, life is status quo, not that they're taking life for granted, but then into some serious steps, um, which probably, COVID is the closest thing in a pandemic is the closest thing that any of us in today's world can even begin to start to imagine what an apocalyptic world might look like.


[Mary] Right. 

[Stephanie] Um, and that's like a scratch. I think a pandemic like COVID is a little scratch on the surface 

[00:23:00] compared to what we're talking about in Last of Us. And then, you know, him having to be resilient and pull himself back up and pull through and find a purpose and find a goal, find a mission, be, you know, you know, the protective nature that he has, and then really starting to make a connection and build some love and build that trust and build that paternal, well, I guess he always had the paternal instinct.

And even to the very, very end where he, his vernacular turned into future speak. 

[Mary] Didn't it? 

[Stephanie] And that was just a really beautiful progression. 

[Mary] How did you feel about the way he makes his choice with Ellie at the end? Because this ending has been debated and debated, but this is where the nuance comes in.

And this is where I am hoping that our entrepreneurs who follow us on this journey like, really recognize how fucking complicated it is to make decisions. We 

[00:24:00] get them so oversimplified. They are oversimplified in our marketing materials to get us to buy something, some programs, some consulting services, whatever.

[Stephanie] Right. 

[Mary] But it is so much more difficult than that And I mean, this decisions.  It’s hard for everybody.  You can see Marlene’s conflicted.  She’s been there since Ellie's

birth you know, and they're going to kill this kid. And meanwhile, we never, at least for the moment, really understand what Ellie would have chosen if she had known. Would she have sacrificed herself? Who knows? But Joel makes the, you know, CEO in the moment decision of like, hell no, she's not dying on my watch.

And he destroys people. Mows them down. 

[Stephanie] Well, I think it's relatable. I have a lot of thoughts. Okay, sorry. First, um, I think 

[00:25:00] that, that phrase comes out of my mouth a lot. I have a lot of thoughts. Long pause. 

[Mary] Uh, I mean, it's, it's, it's one of those moments where it's like, yeah, I got a lot of thoughts. 

[Stephanie] So first, I'm a, I tend to be a title agnostic individual, right?

So for me, the decision that he made, it was kind of a leadership decision, right? If we want to put it into the framework of, of the, of the business world, think about how many leaders on are constantly having to make decisions now, and they may not be life or death decisions, although sometimes they can be depending, you know, um, healthcare was a really eye opening experience to be a part of, but they are making decisions that will have massive impacts on another person's life, be it financial.

or career progression or a decision that might impact staffing levels, you know, something that may break up the cohesion of a really great team because maybe you're making a structural change and then that's going to shift all of the dynamics. And then what does that do psychology to all the different players?

Um, some of it may, they may be in a better [00:26:00] position, some of it, they may then really have some new struggles. And, um, the other thought I was thinking about is if we are going to keep with the analogy of a business. I mean, I had a small chapter in my life where I actually launched a passion project and tried to make it into a business, which was an e-commerce based rum cake business.

So very, very niche. And it was in Austin. 

[Mary] I loved your rum cake. 

[Stephanie] Oh, thank you. Thank you. That's very nice. I loved them too. And I don't know why I sing song it, but for some reason maybe it taps into a happy place. 

[Mary] Listen, your rum cakes were drenched in rum. It deserves sing song. 

[Stephanie] Some sing song. Okay. That's great.

Sober sing song. Here we go. Um, I think that's a new topic for another podcast. Okay. Um. I bring that up because I, I started it and it was my baby, right? I put everything in my heart and creative energy and, and whatever I knew at the time about marketing and business. And I launched this thing and I grew this thing.

And then 

[00:27:00] because of the circumstances of my, my family and, and my dad getting a terminal diagnosis. I had to make the choice and I chose that for me it was more important to shut the business down and to spend more time with him. And it's a choice that there's not a moment of regret or hesitation, um, even in the moment when I was making the decision, but closing down a business

is it's a tremendous loss. There is a grieving period. The fear is can be overwhelming. There's fear in launching it. There's fear in closing it. And the trust comes into play because you have to either trust that maybe this will circle back at some point in my life again, or maybe this is that chapter.

And I am closing that chapter. And I trust that I am going to move on, or we, whatever the situation is, and moving on to something that is hopefully going to be equal or better, right? And I think mostly it hurt me in the 

[00:28:00] process because it was the loss and it was the grief. But you, you make a, you have to make a choice.

And for going back to your original question about how, how did I feel about his choice? I think there's, there's one consideration in my response that people should understand is I have never been a parent to a human child. So I really do not know what that would feel like. I do not know that the gravity of that bond.

And what that loss might feel like, of course, with animals and dogs in particular, in my case, um, there have been several in my life and, and that'll, that's painful enough, you know, so I don't know that I wouldn't make the same decision he made because you only have so much information in the moment that you are making a decision, and I think that this is where that paternalistic protection maybe came in, and in his judgment at that time, whether it's a good or bad judgment, um, he was doing it in what he felt were the interests 

[00:29:00] of Ellie.

[Mary] I want to point out, you used the word sacrifice earlier, and this has been coming up. 

[Stephanie] I didn't even realize I used to , so it was, well, 

[Mary] I, I don't think it's a coincidence because you are, we were recording these episodes out of order than people will hear. So you are, you are the ninth recording out of 12 guests.

And up until now up until now, the concept of sacrifices come up again and again. 

[Stephanie] Interesting. 

[Mary] And as entrepreneurs, as CEOs, sacrifice is a really huge part. of everything that we do. You will sacrifice something for something else. And because this is an analogy, I want to take it out of the parent space.

Even though I know that we've had some parents who have already recorded their episodes and, you know, and they have cited that parental 

[00:30:00] bond was, you know, a major factor for them. 

[Stephanie] Sure. 

[Mary] That they felt. But as entrepreneurs, I mean, you talk about your rum cake business as a baby. We use a term, at least I do around the coaching circles, we call it business baby all the time.

We talk about birthing projects. 

[Stephanie] Exactly. You're raising it like a child. 

[Mary] We talk about the life cycle of, of business. And in so, and you know me, the woo part of Sensible Woo is very energetic and we love the woo. And, and I feel very much that there is an Akashic energy to everyone's businesses and they have their own sort of soul.

And it's just like when you do have a child, you know, that kid doesn't belong to you. They are their own individual and they're gonna grow up and walk around out in the world, outside of you, away from you. And your business kind of does 

[00:31:00] something very similar too. My business has certainly gone through shifts and changes where I'm like, that is not how I would have controlled it.

You are maturing in a whole other way than I expected. 

[Stephanie] You are becoming a snarky teenager. 

[Mary] Yes. Yeah. My business is definitely in the snarky teenager phase right now. 

[Stephanie] Well, there's beauty in the snarky teenager. 

[Mary] Right. And I feel like in that vein of being a CEO, a leader, decision maker, I like that you point out that Joel exemplifies a certain kind of ruthlessness that is not going to be nearly as dramatic, at least I hope not, in anyone's like real life lives, but the emotional feeling that we have can be very similar to emotionally what we're seeing on the screen.

Sure. Our emotions can feel similar emotions, totally different contexts. 

[Stephanie] A thousand percent. 

[Mary] Yeah. And, and. I, I don't know how many CEOs are willing to be that singularly 

[00:32:00] focused and that ruthless and willing to sacrifice in that way, which was why I think the air at the top is rarefied. 

[Stephanie] I agree with that.

I mean, I, I'm in a position right now where I'm a co-founder myself and a CEO in a different capacity myself, and then I'm working with two startups. One is post series A, pre series B funding, so they're a little bit further along, um, out of Switzerland. Um, another one is in the U.K. trying to get the first real capital raise because it's a capital intensive business that he's looking to launch.

And then I was working with a different one in the U. K. that is now, with no due respect, but it, it, it, it was, I suppose in the business world we would say it was a failure. So I've had the time. And the, the continuity over two plus years to be working with, in, in some cases, two of the three of these businesses.

So I've seen that leader, I've seen that CEO. 

[00:33:00] In all three cases they do, they are males. And I've seen their journey. And it is fascinating. And there are intellectual decisions that I'll call data decisions or evidence based decisions that are constantly being made for any business, right? But then there are these emotional decisions that are also being made and in some cases I've seen them made in pure isolation with doubt sounding boards or influencers having a voice.

And sometimes they're a success and sometimes they're not. I've also seen them where it's more of a decision by committee and wanting multiple points of view to help in that decision making process, either to validate or justify the decision itself or to perhaps help with the processing of the emotion or perhaps clarification or understanding of the data or the validation.

It is such a human process. It is such a human process. It's been fascinating to kind 

[00:34:00] of watch on the outside and until asked, you know, it's not really my place. Um, typically I do always have opinions and if solicited, I'm typically very happy to share them, but sometimes it's not what people do want to hear, you know, because then it starts to rattle.

A vision, a direction, a dream, or, you know, and, and these are these kind of snarky years decisions that, that you're kind of, you're, you're navigating. And maybe the reality is something is happening with the business and that it's sort of organically taking direction A, but you're, you always thought it was going to be B.

And so how do you reconcile? the reality of what's happening with letting go or coping with, um, and I know I'm using a lot of emotion based words, but like, if you think about it, this is where the humanity comes in. Um, and how do you as an individual leader reconcile that with a reality of what is more of a kind of a multi car train, right?

[Mary] Yeah. I like that you're using the emotional based words because my, you know, 

[00:35:00] current soapbox as a coach in business is how much we need to willingly add that back in. We do need the data. We do need the evidence based things. I am a systems person, systems thinker to the end of time. And at the same time, I've always had this feeling that the emotions are the driving force.

I've seen it with people in the systems world in the way they operate with, say, just pieces of software. Hmm. How emotional they get. And you would think, how, how is that emotional? And I'm like, sit in my chair for a couple of days and you're going to see it. And I think that we know we need more humanity and compassion back in our world in general.

I feel like entrepreneurs are always the canaries in the coal mine. They're always the ones who are furthest out ahead of the pack. And it's, it's our time. We're up to bat. And being able to do these analogous thinking exercises and look at a very dramatic story with this very dramatic ending 

[00:36:00] and a very conflicted ending is completely analogous to the emotional journey that CEOs go through

when they are navigating this, like, life cycle of whatever their businesses are going through. 

[Stephanie] Yeah. And think about Joel. Joel made, unless there were things that I missed, which, you know, there are subtleties in the show that easily I could have missed, but unless I missed something, my impression is that he made that decision in isolation.

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Stephanie] And think about how often a CEO, right, is doing that. The ones. in the air, the clear air, you know, on the peak of the Alps, right? So they're sitting in Chamonix and they have all the answers. But the reality is, you know what, they're human too. And are you making the decision alone? And then for some reason, there's a massive link in my head that I want to bring up the word loneliness.

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Stephanie] I can tell you in the time that I did have the rum cake business and even my early days in France and trying to get restarted 

[00:37:00] in a new country and rebuild the consulting back up. And loneliness, by the way, I, it doesn't always have negative connotations for me. And I don't know if that's the way that I'm built, but I think there's an unbelievable beauty and peace and calm and rejuvenation that comes in loneliness.

[Mary] I think this is where the bittersweet qualities come in. 

[Stephanie] Yeah, I think so too. 

[Mary] I don't believe that you can do that innovative thinking, that deep channeling work in a noisy social space. There is a quality that comes through loneliness. through the bittersweet that is required for creativity. I mean, it's in Susan Cain's book, she lists, you know, actual lab studies where people who are put in a state of bittersweetness.

have higher creative output. They solve problems more creatively. They do things in a way that you can't 

[00:38:00] do when you're just sort of doing with a crowd. And I think we need that. And I think what's interesting is I don't think Joel would have been able to make a decision like he did by the time we get to the end of the show.

We see all the events that transpire before that. If he hadn't been in a space of loneliness. 

[Stephanie] Yeah. 

[Mary] It's required. And Not only that, but, you know, Ellie's kind of always been in a space of loneliness. 

[Stephanie] True, yes. 

[Mary] And I feel like the reason why... At least me, I found her character always so fascinating and rather endearing.

I think probably because I recognize it in myself, but I'm like, she has a lonely existence. Her mother died shortly after she's born. She was plopped into an orphanage in the middle of an apocalypse, has no friends. And then her one friend that she did have, who she's in love with. Is about to be shipped off.

So she's about to be ditched 

[00:39:00] again. But then they both get bitten and her friend. She has to kill her friend. I mean, that's implied. She has to kill her friend. She somehow survives alone again. Gets taken and it gets dumped in a room alone. She's constantly being put in this place of loneliness and I feel like Joel has been self isolation.

Lonely through other factors, you know, we don't know what happened to his daughter, Sarah's mother, but he's a single father, right? Then his daughter dies. Then his brother ditches him for the fireflies. He's with Tess, but now she's dead too. And it's just like one thing after another. And these two, you know, kind of come together, but it's a very fragile pairing.

And I think that sometimes our entrepreneurial community, our CEOs, because there's that loneliness factor will seek out these pairings, kind of like Joel and Ellie. And I think we have to recognize that like, it is a fragile pairing and that when you are a leader making leadership decisions, 

[00:40:00] you don't necessarily get the luxury of like, I'm just going to live in the QZ and like, have my squad around me.

[Stephanie] We're just going to reset up, like, 

[Mary] I'm not going to live in Jackson with like the sheep and the horses and all that, like, no, you know, we're kind of like hanging out to dry. And, and the qualities of leadership are shown up again, like Joel is clearly somebody people are afraid, like they're afraid of him.

He's that kind of leader, you know? And then Ellie gets the talking to from her. you know, superior in the school, the FEDRA school, who's like, listen, you've got two choices. And he's like, and you're smarter than the average kid. Like you could be me, you could be a leader. So she's been given this note that you're, you're a leader.

These are different kinds of people existing in this world. And this is why I think it's such a great story for us to like, sit and think through and talk through because we can recognize qualities that it's a lot harder to do and you sit down and like self assess. 

[Stephanie] For sure. 

[Mary] I don't know. I don't know what to.

[Stephanie] I 

[00:41:00] mean, there are those of us who, who do love and appreciate a little bit of therapy, but, but I understand that that's, um, that's very individualistic choice, but I do think it's interesting you touched on, uh, on a few things. So, so. I think there's a creative liberation that can happen in loneliness. And again, this is where that with per the book, you know, you, you kind of get into this yin and yang of these two things coexisting, right?

Because, um, there might be the pain, but there's an energy that can free up from whatever the source of pain may be. Because I don't think any of it's singular, so you have a source of pain, and then let's just say it's this one thing. There's kind of a bouquet effect, right? Like it's the collective stems.

And then as all the flowers are kind of blooming out, typically it's touching multiple aspects of either your mental space or your circumstances. And so it becomes, you know, kind of a cluster that you're dealing with. And sometimes when that source is taken away, the rest, some of those other... 

[00:42:00] pieces of the clusters fall away.

And then what do you do with the residual energy? And I think sometimes it can be a just tremendous gift and a tremendous positive, um, from some of the things that might be heavier and pulling that energy away from you. I also think loneliness is kind of an interesting thing to take at the top and deconstruct.

And then have at the bottom and build back up. And what is that? What can that look like? And this is why, again, I just think the book really, really resonated for me because, you know, we talk about loneliness, we talk about CEOs, there's always this assumption that it's depression. Susan even touches on this in the book.

[Mary] It's not depression. 

[Stephanie] It's not depression. 

[Mary] And we have to get better at recognizing what is depression and what is bittersweet. 

[Stephanie] Yes. And I do believe in some cases it very well may be. be depression, but I certainly do not believe that that's a fair generalization. 

[Mary] Okay, I want to take like a slight left turn here because in this vein of is it depression or is it bittersweet, I also feel like our entrepreneurial community 

[00:43:00] needs to get better at the conversation around trauma, which is having its moment right now.

And it's like, is it trauma? Is it true trauma? 

[Stephanie] Right. 

[Mary] Or is it fuel? 

[Stephanie] Or is it a spectrum that they both coexist on? 

[Mary] Yeah, I think, I think it might be. I mean, this show as an analogous exercise demonstrates like trauma to the nth degree. When you're trying to sort through whatever traumas you've had. That gets into a therapy space that is difficult to work within a business context and also not the right place to deal with that in that context.

That's a therapy thing. So when you want to deal with it in the business context, I find that looking at a piece of fiction helps you get the reflection back about what's sticking out to you or what are you avoiding and like, those are the places we need to go. So here was my thought. My thought was that mental health is becoming more widely 

[00:44:00] acknowledged and also incorporated into our professional journeys.

But what I really want to kind of unpack a little bit is like, where are we still falling short in the area? I feel it's a lot more about letting the emotional journey be reflected back to us and less about comparing things apples to apples. Because Susan Cain even talks about that in her book and this has come up through multiple conversations now in the preceding episodes, two years for this podcast, and everybody seems to really love this point in the book where she goes to this group and she recognizes that she can't compare her three level problem to somebody else's ten level problem.

And I find that because so many of our CEOs go to a very literal space. And it's like, we got to get out of the literalness of it. Everything's not so black and white. It's not so absolute. 

[Stephanie] Gray is such a beautiful space. And I honestly never even appreciated 

[00:45:00] gray until a lot of therapy in my 20s. Yeah, that that's when the concept literally from a therapist was first spelled out to me like Stephanie. Seems like you're spending a lot of time in black and a lot of time in white may I invite you to understand that there's this beautiful rainbow in between of gray and that was a game changer for me, right?

In terms of heightened awareness, I do think it's, it's, it's really interesting because I think the dialogue that we're having and I think some of the points that you're making, um, and I, you know, I love it. I also think you give a lot of people a lot of credit that they're able to even reflect and see something in a piece of fiction. 

[Mary] I'm hoping that we can model this because I feel like not enough people have seen evidence of it. So they don't know how to do it. And I figured that out when I was writing the analogy, sending them in weekly newsletters. 

[Stephanie] Mm, interesting. 

[Mary] Where I would get replies back where 

00:46:00] somebody would tell me, that's my favorite movie, you know?

And, and I was like, okay, clearly certain things speak to certain people and then they can hear the analogy in it and they have this like, aha moment, the light bulb goes off. Through this project. Because just like most, you are not the only one, most people are like, I would never watch this show. And one of my things is that I'm trying to model for everyone is that in our entrepreneurial journey, how often is the thing that we need to solve something that we have?

engaged with before, that we would have willingly engaged with before. And I feel like the act of entertainment and being entertained is the perfect vehicle to practice this because it's a safe space. The stakes are so low. It's a TV show. You can watch the TV show. 

[Stephanie] I think it's a beautiful kind of parachute for, for starting to train our brains to think a little bit more in that direction.

[Mary] And, and by engaging in a TV show, you're like, Oh, I wouldn't normally watch apocalyptic 

[00:47:00] shows or zombie flicks or whatever. And it's like, so give it a try and sit down. It's nine episodes. Which has been, at this point when we're recording, nominated the heck out of in the Emmy Awards. 

[Stephanie] So I've heard. I'm very happy for the entire cast, crew, writers, production individuals.

It's so exciting for them. It's great. 

[Mary] And we're recording right now. There's a writer's strike and an actor's strike. And, you know, it still hasn't taken away the shine of like, how their work has been acknowledged. And that makes me very happy to see. And I feel very much that I think credit should be given to, if nobody gives you credit that you are capable, changing the way you think and changing your approach, then that's that more, much more of a heavy lift that you have to do on your own because you're like, well, now I got to prove it.

[Stephanie] Right. 

[Mary] And it's like, no, I'm going to always assume that you're going to be fully capable of that 

[00:48:00] act, because to me, it seems very obvious. And I'm like, okay, I'll be the one with the torch out front, but there's plenty of people following behind. 

[Stephanie] And I love it because you're, you're building this community.

And in the community, we can help each other extract these things. Because I have to admit, normally, if somebody recommends a program, you know, I'm intellectually engaged to some degree, but sometimes it is pure escapism. And I watch it with this in a Kind of mentally vacuous space where I am just sort of like, Had a long week, just gonna tune in, have my wine.

[Mary] It's just numbing out. 

[Stephanie] Yep. 

[Mary] And, and there's a, I feel like there's definitely a time for wine and numbing out. And then there's a time for, let me engage with something just a little bit differently. And you know, there are a lot of people who go back to the same shows or movies again and again and again.

And there are some interesting psychological studies on that because I work with a very neurodivergent population. 

[Stephanie] Love that. 

[00:49:00] Neurodivergence is beautiful. Love that you're using the term. 

[Mary] It's a thing that neurodivergence will do for comfort. 

[Stephanie] Interesting. 

[Mary] And as an anchoring point. 

[Stephanie] Sure. 

[Mary] And I think if we know that, like, I can always go back to my comforts and my anchoring points, but I can, and also, we live in an and also world, both and, and also, I can try something else.

I don't have to like it. I might not even finish it, but the act of trying the other thing is going to help you in your business more than you think. And I feel like entertainment is one of the easiest ways to do that. 

[Stephanie] No, I love that. I mean, it's probably, I think, well, music is part of entertainment, but I think music is probably a really common, tool, if I, is it appropriate to maybe use the word tool?

Um, but, um, I love that, um, I've always enjoyed foreign films where you, you know, you're reading subtitles, 

[00:50:00] but now I'm appreciating them on a whole nother level, being in a different country, right? Because number one, it's helping me work on my French, um, and I'm learning. And number two, I'm seeing sort of the, the art and the culture and the history and, um, some of the, the, the politics and the humor of

maybe French produced things that I never would have noticed if I hadn't lived here for a little while to kind of to see how they also play out, you know, on the sidewalks of my everyday life. Right. So it's, it's really interesting. I fully support and embrace and love and adore and, um, applaud you for, for creating a space and a dialogue like this, because I know your intentions are pure.

They're always pure for, you know, helping people to just keep moving through what is a really, just a really fucking challenging existence sometimes. And it's fatiguing. 

[Mary] It is fatiguing. You know, one of the things I kept thinking 

[00:51:00] was. How do we connect? I mean, a lot of this was born out of how do we connect better with our audiences?

The number one question is always, how do I find more people? Everyone always needs more people. 

[Stephanie] It's volume. 

[Mary] It's volume. 

[Stephanie] But if you have, think about it. If, if we had, you know, a movie theater where 80 percent of the people, um, were asleep. Who cares if the chairs are full? They give zero value to effectively your brand equity and, and your probably what are the overall goals, which, you know, in the director or producer's case, it may be the financial rewards.

But of course, on the entertainer's side, it may be more of that. I'm bringing entertainment to you and you're enjoying my performance and everything in between, right? Um, you know, the light directors wanna know that, that it was comfortable to watch and they enjoyed it. The sound producers, you know, did, did I strike the right balances?

And was everything optimized. Um, and just think about even just a movie theater setting alone. How many things are happening and at play? 

[Mary] Well, we as CEOs are creators and 

[00:52:00] we are also consumers. We already live in a both and, and just that population alone, if more aware and willing to sit not asleep in that theater, proverbially speaking.

Can you imagine how much more engaged all of our audiences would be? 

[Stephanie] Yeah. 

[Mary] It seems like it would be such a small, simple thing. And to me, I was like, no, this is a really huge thing. I mean, you and I both worked for entertainment companies. You and I both worked for Disney. It's funny that we both worked at the same time and didn't know each other.

[Stephanie] Different departments, though. Very different. Because I was um, consumer products, e commerce, catalog. 

[Mary] And I was in Animation. 

[Stephanie] Before the catalog was retired. 

[Mary] And Animation gets sequestered in it to its own little gold. 

[Stephanie] Well, for a while at the time, the years that I happened to be with, with the, the, remember when it was called Walt Disney Internet Group?

It was WDIG. 

[Mary] That's where I first started in North Hollywood. Yes. Wild West. 

[Stephanie] And we had one Italian restaurant across the street 

[00:53:00] and then finally a Starbucks came in. 

[Mary] Yes. Well, you were at WDIG before me. Okay. Because I came in, in at sunset. Because I arrived and they were already starting to shut down and they made my move over to Animation.

So were you in Burbank? My office was in Glendale because I was in the animation library, so we were in the vaults with all the art. And then I would hop back and forth between Burbank on Riverside, the animation building and our little library. Okay, so we were in Glendale off of Flower? Yes, so you were down the street.

[Mary] Right near Imagineering. 

[Stephanie] Yes. Yeah. 

[Mary] Yep. Imagineering has the best commissary. 

[Stephanie] Oh, they did. That's where I would go if I ever, well, I don't know. Those, those were some serious days where it was lunch at your desk every day, which don't get me started on the work culture in American life versus French life.

Um, because that, that could be a podcast. 

[Mary] Oh, I love these stories. And, and then there's healthcare to talk about. 

[Stephanie] I know. Maybe we need a whole separate season for that. Yeah, we might, we might. Maybe it's an expat series where an American interviews, you know, people who have made the jump across the 

[00:54:00] pond. As they say.

It'd be so lovely. Lovely. Yes. Um, but yeah, no, um, I, sorry, I took us down that rabbit hole and now I can't even bring it back. 

[Mary] Oh no, it's okay. But, well, I mean, speaking of, okay, look at us bonding over bittersweet things. Yeah. I mean, I'm, my initial thing is like, let me tell you about the tendonitis I still have in my right arm from working at Disney.

[Stephanie] Like, I mean. Let me tell you that my neck never popped until Disney. 

[Mary] Oh, the. Overall, like work injuries, I haven't, and I remember they sent me, so wrong, they sent me to, they sent me to one of those like corporate doctors or whatever, and he just handed me a bottle of Vicodin. He's like, I don't know what it is with this company, but they just keep overworking you guys.

And he's like, you tell them you only work eight hours a day. And I was like, so young. And I was like, yeah, 

[Stephanie] Me too, young. 

[Mary] Uh huh. I don't know. I don't even know. 

[Stephanie] Well, let's bring the word fear back. Yeah. Fear. You know, young, female, and in my case, what was still a 

[00:55:00] relatively male dominated environment. 

[Mary] Very.

[Stephanie] Um, and, and this is not to, to pooh pooh the working at the Walt Disney Company. Truthfully, this is where the book comes back in. I learned more on that job. 

[Mary] Oh, so much. I got an MBA working there. And I learned so much, and my eyes were open to so many things, and I had so many tremendous opportunities.

[Stephanie] Yeah. But, but it's, again, it's, it's coexisting in that world of pain, but in that world of beauty. 

[Mary] It's both and. There are both and. 

[Stephanie] Yeah. 

[Mary] So, you know, there can be these, like, really hard moments, and also, there's some, this is where my entrepreneurial start was born, because I realized during those Disney years, I do not belong in an office.

And back then, entrepreneurism was like a really big leap. That was a big thing. And it wasn't so online the way it is now. But. 

[Stephanie] Absolutely. Absolutely not. 

[Mary] But I started blogging 

[00:56:00] during those years. And my blog taught me content marketing. 

[Stephanie] What was your blog platform? 

[Mary] It was, I've always blogged on WordPress.

I've always been a Wordpress person. 

[Stephanie] You were actually ahead of that curve. 

[Mary] Yeah. And thanks to my technology roots, because I was on a software engineering team building proprietary software. So for me, it was not a stretch. So I had all these skills. So there's all these transferable skills. Now I'm learning that.

All the production experience I had from those years is feeding directly into this project and all the things people are asking me for watching it be produced. And they're like, how are you doing that? And I thought everybody knows about getting to the release date. Well, apparently everybody does not.

[Stephanie] No, not everybody does. But yeah, I think that's so funny because my, my path was a little different and maybe some of the other individuals that you've interviewed, it'd be so fun to kind of hear, hear their journey too. Because at that time, at that age for me, I was convinced that, no, Stephanie's path is let's keep climbing that 

[00:57:00] ladder and I wanted the titles and I wanted the salary and I kind of wanted that internal recognition and, you know, have a big team and that's what I thought I wanted and, you know, life is life.

Fast forward now. I achieved some of those things in some ways and some of those things I no longer wanted and continue to no longer want. And some of them, you know, I just say I'm so grateful I had that learning opportunity because it got me where I am today. But it's just so funny how it changes, you know, 20 years later, right?

[Mary] 20 years later. 

[Stephanie] Which is, which is truly about 20 years later when I was at the age when I was at Disney and then, you know, tomorrow hitting 46, it's this, this is really, yeah. 

[Mary] Well, I feel like it's a factor of we changed. We grew up. And also, the world has changed around us, and the factors are different, and that's gonna influence how we decide to navigate.

[Stephanie] Yeah, and I'm grateful I've never had to make 

[00:58:00] apocalyptic level choices, and I hope that in my lifetime I'm never put in a situation where that does have to happen. That being said, I have some battle wounds, and I've had, I have had to make some hard decisions in life. But again, it's all maybe this is where at the end of the day, the gratitude kicks in, right?

Because for me, I choose to look at it and look in a retrospective way and just say, I'm even though there were, there have been so many difficult things along the way. I'm beyond grateful because it's, I do feel like I'm exactly where I should be right now. And I hope that Joel and Ellie. Right? Feel that at least the closure of season one, not knowing what maybe these genius writers are going to create.

[Mary] I have to tell you already now because game two is already on. I won't tell you. Okay. Okay. 

[Stephanie] Let me live in my little foreign bubble and then binge it when I know I can hit play on all of them all at once. But it's just, it's kind of funny how you just look back and, and just say, you know, I'm grateful 

[00:59:00] for, for literally this moment.

And then who knows what's going to be on the next season. I think we're all very excited. 

[Mary] Yes. And hopefully production kicks up again soon. 

[Stephanie] Yeah. I have friends as, as you do, I know in, uh, roles and companies and spaces where they're making a contribution to the industry, um, and their communities are massively affected.

And I hope it's a time. Maybe for, for the collective to pull it all up into a space with more equity. And, uh, positivity and, and optimism and hope and. I feel like it's inevitable they will come to conclusions and agreements. I'm sure they will be making not apocalyptic level decisions, but emotionally tough decisions.

And it is fascinating seeing the intersection of business with a fictional story property, and I'm excited for season two 

[01:00:00] to start picking up production again. They were just starting to write, I think like about a month ago. 

[Stephanie] Do you know how many writers are on the show? 

[Mary] Craig Mazin seems to write most of it.

Um, he is pretty liberal in sharing his writing process, which is very cool. And then I think they also sometimes have other writers who help, but primarily. Written by him. 

[Stephanie] I love that and I don't I don't know much about the world of writing I can't ever take credit for knowing a whole lot, but it seems like in that space

a lot of people do keep the process guarded. 

[Mary] Yes, that's kind of fun that he's he's pretty generous. He shares his scripts. I have a copy of the script from the Bill and Frank episode It's beautifully written. 

[Stephanie] That's the one that did make me cry. 

[Mary] Oh god that episode. It was really beautiful. My, my story throughout this whole thing has been, I don't usually cry at shows and movies.

It'd be like a little tear here or there, but like, 

[Stephanie] Same, but the ASPCA 

01:01:00] commercials can still get me. 

[Mary] Well, that's a whole other level there. That's a whole other level. That's a whole other thing. But you know, I've sat through so many rough cuts, especially in animation, they literally talk about the process of, frankly, manipulating people's emotions.

They want you to cry at this point, and then they want you to walk out feeling like you can conquer hmm.

So I can see it in a lot of stories, and if it's very heavy handed, I'm just like, check out. I'm like, yeah, yeah, nope, not going to happen. And then this show, it was so elegantly written and thoughtfully produced, and I could feel it the whole way through. There was a lot of tender, loving care put into it.

And um, I was very reluctant to start watching it at first. Actually, like there was so much marketing that went into this thing. And for the first month, it was just marketing, marketing. I was like, yeah, I don't want 

[01:02:00] to watch another like zombie show. 

[Stephanie] Yeah. And therein lies the inner conflict I sometimes have with my own career path, right?

Yes. Because as a marketer and, and I'm, I'm very happy in my field, but I understand the ways in which we're trying to influence the human psychology. And, and I feel like the reason why the fans are so rabid about this, or as Renee has said, feral, feral fans, which I love, I think the reason why they're so feral about The Last of Us, whether they're gamers or viewers or both, is because The game was created with this high degree of TLC, tender loving care.

The show was created out of the same vein and you feel it. And I feel like we actually strive for that in all the things we create in our businesses. And that is a very difficult thing to do. 

[Stephanie] Yeah, it really is. And I don't know 

[01:03:00] why, but I'm drawing a parallel to another pop cultural reference that's, that's very, very current would be, I wonder if at Mattel and the original visionary of the Barbie could have ever imagined the day that is the look, the, the, the box office of last weekend.

[Mary] That was phenomenal. That was very exciting to see because it's been hard to get people back into the theaters. Post COVID. In between Barbie and Oppenheimer, our lovely Barbenheimer. 

[Stephanie] Oppenheimer's another one. I, I haven't seen either, so no, please no spoilers. 

[Mary] Well, same. I've been over here traveling with you.

Very to it. So, both of them premiered as I was leaving U.S. soil, and I was like 

[Stephanie] It's a sacrifice you had to make to miss opening weekend. You're trading rosé all day for, well, it could be rosé all day at Barbie, depending on your outfit and your choice of beverage while perhaps viewing the movie.

[Mary] Oppenheimer, I'm, uh, it's gonna be a little bit more of a sobering, I think, storyline. More of a scotch and soda kind of movie. 

[Stephanie] Yes, I, oh, you're right. That very, perhaps a pipe or a cigar. 

[Mary] Oh, 

[01:04:00] cigars are good. I do enjoy an occasional cigar. 

[Stephanie] It's interesting. Yeah. 

[Mary] But like, look how fun it is to talk about movies and TV.

And we're connecting dots in our businesses, and I just wanted to have this recap episode and I knew you'd be the perfect person because I've known you so long. 

[Stephanie] I don't know about perfect because I'm not sure I believe in the word, but, um, but I'm grateful for the opportunity and it has been very much fun.

And I, I love it. I know you are brewing so many more ideas, and I cannot wait to see them manifest. Because I know they will, because if anything I know about you, it is that um, when you have, uh, what do they call it? A bee in your bonnet? Is that the saying? 

[Mary] Yes, I use that term all the time. 

[Stephanie] Okay, is this a Midwest thing, or a Southern thing, or a Pilgrim thing?

[Mary] Like... An American thing? 

[Stephanie] Perhaps. Okay, so you have a bee in your bonnet. I know that at some point that bonnet, you're going to rip the bonnet off in the wind and there's just going to be this 

[01:05:00] beautiful hair. Well, we are Leos. So there better be good hair. 

[Stephanie] That's true. Oh gosh, I disappoint all of my fellow Leos as I sit here with no makeup and a ponytail.

[Mary] We love the post COVID world, though, don't we? Oh, God, it's comfy pants, man. Comfy pants. 

[Stephanie] Oh, joggers all day long, baby. 

[Mary] Okay, I'm going to ask you a question I've been asking everybody. What does The Last of Us reflect back to you about yourself? 

[Stephanie] That's a good question. I'm not going to lie, I heard the very tail end of the recording of your previous guest.

And, um, so I, I, this is not a question that is a complete surprise. So perhaps I had a few moments to reflect. 

[Mary] You're allowed. 

[Stephanie] Um, thank you. Give me that grace. I think what I could see in Joel and Ellie both, I can see in myself in terms of almost a 

[01:06:00] genuinely stubborn determination. And stubborn's not always a bad thing, right?

Because it can keep you tied to a dream. And in my case, Um, so out of pure stubborn determination, I fought my way to fulfill what has been a pull to a particular geography, right? With no other explanation than it's like, you can call it, you know, spiritual, you can call it, you know, culinary. Which of course it is.

You can call it, you know, cultural, whatever you wish. But it's made me think back on that and perhaps take a moment to appreciate all of the tears that have gone into it. All of the impatience, all of the forced patience because of, uh, foreign administration paperwork, all of the missteps 

[01:07:00] and all of the moments where I've used completely the wrong words and embarrassed myself and, and just all, all of the things that have gone into it.

Just like I think I would never fault Joel for any decision that he's making in his adult brain and maturity to move through his journey with a dependent that may not have been a chosen dependent, he's doing the best he can. And I think, not I think, I know. I just wake up every day and try and do the best I can.

[Mary] Oh, that's so good. I think you're doing pretty fucking fantastic. 

[Stephanie] You know, I'm happy and I don't at all discount the gift it is to wake up and feel happy. Yeah. Because I realize that so many people aren't in that same headspace and I would love to see all of them get to that headspace. 

[Mary] Well, maybe we helped some people today.

[Stephanie] I hope so. 

[Mary] Yeah. I hope so. 

[Stephanie] And thank you for making it happen. And thank you for the vision. 

[Mary] Thanks, friend. 

[Stephanie] That's really exciting, friend. 

[Mary] All right. Let's go eat. 

[01:08:00] 

[Stephanie] Fabulous. We're going to have dinner on the beach. 

[Mary] We are. 

[Stephanie] Oh, we're going to have some moulet frites or some fish or some burrata cheese. Everything.

Some, some, un verre verre de vin blanc, um. 

[Mary] Keep saying things in French. 

[Stephanie] Maybe some champagne. Hopefully our sound engineer's tummy is growling at this point. Hello, Olivier, um, who's been awesome. So thank you to you and, and the gifts that you bring to sound engineering. He says thank you. We appreciate him.

It's been fun. Thank you so much. I will see you the next time. 

[Stephanie] Okay. Fabulous. Bye. 

[Mary] This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host Mary Williams and special guest Stephanie Ayers. 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.

[01:09:00] 

Chris Martin from Chris Martin Studios is our editor and sound designer in Vancouver, Washington.  Additional 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 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 sensiblewoo.com, which includes a weekly tarot reading delivered right to your inbox.

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