Boys to Men & Beyond
With Co-Founder Joe Sigurdson
Welcome. With all due respect. Your co-host Rick right on the East Coast that we have on the west coast Jim Ellis. Jim how are you. Doing good here and there but that’s what life’s about you know typically it and then keep on rolling. Exactly we had it how do you know this week I’m doing good I’m doing good. On East Coast here the weather has been really pleasant and grateful for that. Just feeling good halfway through a coffee and course that’s kicking in so that’s always good. And when I’ll do is what I want to do is when I handed off to you to do the whole I’ll hang up and call back I actually don’t actually you know I actually know you’re sounding good right now just so you know that I will do the bio and do it you need to so I’m excited. Today’s guests. We are welcoming Joe Joe Sigurdson he’s the co-founder of the boys to men mentoring network it’s a nonprofit organization supporting boys who are a challenge in today’s society check it out with thirty three centers across the globe the vision of boys to men is to create communities of men who teach support mentor and encourage boys to become compassionate and accountable men show as a teenage father he and Nancy is wife of thirty nine years of two children and seven grandchildren. He’s and he’s an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous a twenty year twenty seven years of sobriety he has been active in the Mankind Project doing in a personal work for the past twenty one years his experience in both these programs have given an insight into what he believes is lacking in our society especially teenage boys he’s worked with thousands of men and boys around the world I mean this man he’s amazing and I’ve actually been part of some of his boys to Man Group as a mentor and I know he’s done a lot of great work so. If you’re ready Rick remembering Mr Joe on the line a job as a go on. A Good afternoon so thanks for having me on. Three intro. You know I’m sick I will be miserable but. You know this is important work and this is important to me and you’re important to me Jim so so here I am I’m going to do my best so. With all due respect Let’s roll. Really appreciate bad yeah I just got a text from you and we’re going to talk for a little bit you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck we talked earlier about it which isn’t moving for an hour like talking about hitting trucks and moving forward to thanks for you know seeing it through and being on the show really appreciate it. Thank you appreciate it. Rick nice I meet you to go Yeah yeah I know which you’re so we’re very this time we’re going to fly by with the Can we want to get in as much as we can with you can you give us in our listeners and by the way our listeners are you know all over the you know we saw this through three weeks ago that we are international and it’s all about you know dealing with men’s topics and for all audiences including women we just want to know can you give us a glimpse of your background like what your childhood was like because what is that childhood like that leads you into a path where you’re working with so many young men and men as well. Well you know I had a wonderful childhood. My my dad was a sociology professor at U.S.C. and our home was a very very open loving welcoming home I’ve got three sisters three older sisters and younger brother. In fact we’re in high school I’m fifty eight now but when we are in high school our friends called us the Waltons because we were so kind and nice to each other and and people there was a place of love and the safety and we had each of my brothers and sisters we were all kind of in the center of our different groups of friends so every afternoon after school it wasn’t it wasn’t unusual to have twelve to twenty kids at our house it was a pretty awesome child. Yeah yeah and. So I think we learned a lot of values you know my parents were activists we watched a lot of precincts and we advocated for causes and we advocated for. Change and politicians and. My dad taught at U.S.C. So it’s during the. More we went to a moderate anti Vietnam war rally site I remember seeing a very young Jesse Jackson and Tom Hayden and. Jane Fonda Joan Baez. Yeah so I had my parents were kind of these I guess but responsible hippies in a good way so that was how I was raised really no excuse for me to turn into a drug addict and a drug dealer and collection agents for cocaine. Not those beginnings but I did. Wow So so what we’re. Going to do Flash forward and what we’re talking is OK just to talk about that lifestyle that you were in I mean it’s not like yeah you know made a path of and what how dark drink it or how bad did it get you know is it you know you know I don’t know how much time I got but this is I have got I went to a men’s eight spiritual retreat last weekend and I actually. Did some need to meet you know one on one dyads with with that with a fellow alcoholic and and he got pretty clear on what was going on with that eighteen year old kid you know and this is this is what came to me from a thirty year perspective of sobriety is that I I was programs in my mind to be a juvenile probation officer and then a public defender. And I fell in love with my wife. And married her and she had a true year old and I dotted my daughter and and started hustling and working and I worked nights in a printing company and I were days doing landscaping in. Then. Within a couple years I had I started drinking a lot and smoking a lot of dope and then I couldn’t really afford it so I started dealing it and then that set me down all kinds of different pass or success in my mind which was to provide for my family and be a hustler so but so by the time I was twenty five I was I was working two jobs doing landscape under day running the printing press and night and slip and pounds and then making a little extra money by being in and fortunate for a coke dealer and. I was twenty five years old I was driving a slide series B.M.W. I had a Westphalia cancer we had a vacation house down in Mexico and I was making eight bucks an hour in the printing press and I want I so I thought I was successful now I was going to go that route through school and by becoming an attorney I didn’t do that but I was driven to do that and then the things I was doing I was so conflicted about that I hated myself and the more heat in myself the more I drank and the more you use it you know. I remember I was doing a big deal in my living room I had Mexican Mafia guys we had several pounds and several thousand dollars exchanging hands the money came late the guy showed up late with the money. Fixing tinkering tonics and playing Billy Joel and singing to entertain these Mexican Mafia guys and I was scared shitless and then we got the deal done I want to kill my friend who showed up late with the money and then I just had a I had a physical. Psychotic episode a breakdown saying. The Mexican Mafia knows more about it and they know I’ve got kids and you know I’m I’m the fuckin devil I’ve turned into the fuckin devil and. And and I remember I had. Guys stand with me and studying I had met I was traveling in a stray and I met this guy and knowing him standing over behind me and pat me on the back and saying Mate cut out for this and he was right and I had to do something and that’s when I got sober and then that put me on a path to I got some mentors in A.A. You know and and I and I learned what it was like to be you know unconditionally loved and unconditionally accepted and just listened to and accepted and encouraged to do something you know that nobody cared about my background they didn’t care where I’d been or would it just want to know what was I going to do to clean up my mess and move myself forward and so time I hit. Thirty eight I was ten years sober and that’s when I can feel you know you know I had met some some like minded men through the Mankind Project I had done the new warrior training adventure week and met some guys and I said be sure the guys that can change the world man and team up with these guys and we’re going to start a mentoring program we’re going to start giving kids what they need at fourteen instead of what I needed it. You know twenty eight. That’s kind of it. That’s a great story and it’s. It’s amazing how you went through all that to get to creating that weekend and that inspiring you to say hey you know what maybe having tools at a younger age is better off in China acquirement I don’t leverage you know here’s here’s the point of clarity that. In my life with the past I did take a kind of a am a juvenile probation officer and I kind of am a public defender you know kind of do stand up for the I’m going to try to influence change and. Use use my my my my power for good instead of for evil. So I so then that’s when and that was the revelation on the weekend where Sorry I started forgiven myself for who I was and recognize that that was the path I had to be on in order to be doing what I’m doing and I just kind of give myself a little bit of a break on like not being good enough not having done it that kind of feel like I am and I have to and that’s a good feeling. And I’ve actually been in some of the groups that you’ve led boys to men and I walk away I talk about my body if I got a master and you know the way you are with the men the way that you don’t give advise that way to your present for the. Challenging but not. For Terry and it’s very such a fine line can you talk about how the boys to men organization started and you know what it has become. Yeah yeah well it started like I said I. Knew we were training in one thousand nine hundred four and I had been in a coma eight years at that now and are six years and. And. I. Was and OK Oh yeah yeah I was in a board and. We had a monthly like board meeting for New Warriors and somebody had brought in an article from then in the paper from then Governor Pete Wilson he and he was looking to have recruited trained two hundred thousand mentors by the year two thousand so this was in one thousand nine hundred six and my dad was still alive in ninety six and I gave you a backgammon my dad so I stood him up in that meeting I said dad you’d be perfect for this so let’s let’s do this and we’ll follow you and my dad said OK in one that wants to try to form a mentor program let’s me to chose to. Same night that following Tuesday a guy showed up at my house and one of those guys was my my partner and co-founder Craig Maclean and. I want to say partner in crime. Craig MacLean just for clarity’s sake. And. Craig Craig and I carried that torch my dad died within about nine months of that meeting and Craig and I saw the mission through to the people are calling me sir Anyway we started mission three and we said we started we had our first boys some men we can experience in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight and. We told the rest of. The Manhattan Project communities about the work we were doing out here in San Diego on a group email and the guy started coming out here to man what we are doing and had to do it and they went home and started communities and we’re like from two thousand and one to two thousand and seven Craig and I you know Craig and I together Craig and I separately were playing to another city to help train mentors or helped run a weekend and now we want someone poised to men center to. Twenty in those six years and now we were on a plane like twenty five weekends a year we’re flying somewhere to. Help start boys to mention Indian It’s I was young and it was fun and it was exciting and. It’s just part of doing that now kind of there’s me out just to think about it but you know that was then and it was a good. Yeah I guess that’s a just a quick question that I listen to and just it’s amazing like it is pretty public how you you know how you started you know how it started with a conversation and you know then a group of men and then it’s just like it’s sort of you know. And yes part of spread out so the quicker the course. And I have what’s coming to mind is you know. I belong to mentor discover inspire and it just seems like it’s it’s so hard to have a conversation with a man and and just let them know that what out there like let men know what is possible like I see men all the time and I see them and I’m operating by themselves or I see them I could tell in their faith that they’re you know that there’s something going on or they’re struggling and you know we all have our our beer buddies in our sports guys in our workout you know whatever it is when circus guy how do you how did you get up so how did you spread the word how did how did it yeah I’m so they can’t do it just get all like one around yeah OK so this is it so it’s so. You know I’m not that I look I love because because because Jim’s part of India and Jim brought his crew in and they’re supporting our mission and and boredom are part of the mission and that’s awesome it’s so so I thought you know you might ask Jim that because I think he was inspired by what he witnessed and then jumped in but here’s what here’s here’s here’s my explanation is that this this work that we do on the new warrior training is a very deep transformational it’s a motion only charge. Work where we have to really take as honest and hard look at what is and is not working in our lives in the process that that we go through to to to look at that and then make some some decisions and some changes about the kind of men he want to be and how we want to show up in the world and how we want to set the world so that was a powerful powerful experience for me and that it has been for the sixty or seventy thousand guys that have done that we can so they did an annual meeting and in two thousand and one Craig and I took what we had developed for training. Enters our weekend we do we can call the Reclaiming Your teenage fire that gets men back in touch with who they were as adolescents what their struggles were what their choices were the price they paid for the choices they made the belief systems they took on about themselves and to get a better understanding so they gain compassion and empathy and connection to themselves as teenagers so they have a place a connection with the boys when the boys show up they remember what it was like OK so we wrote up that weekend experience for training them to we wrote up the weekend that we developed for the rights of passage for the boys and then we wrote up a pen we. Process for you know introducing topics and continuing to have discussions off for the weekend and we put it in a three ring binder and we went up to Glenn Ivey resorts in Corona and there were probably one hundred fifty men from the thirty five forty. Man Kind Project centers around the planet. And we did a presentation and we handed out those three ring being binders to all the sen actors and center administrators around the planet and said Here this is yours if you want it and if you have if you’re looking for a mission of service for your community this is what we’re doing here and we gave it away. And mends picked it up and said tell us when you look schedule a mentor training Let’s get a job or weekends when you come help us and that’s when it started that’s how it started that’s how it got going we gave it away. The feller got to get it out of pocket which is a modular for a you got to give it away to keep it man it’s a you know we share our experience strength and hope you know and freely give away what was given to us you know so there’s some. Projects stuff in there there’s some Native American stuff in there there’s a stuff we took different elements and created a. Twenty first century rites of passage experience for middle school and high school kids. Feel like to me when I talk to in the past that you’re like a fire starter like you have this idea you create this you put so much energy into it and but you let it go like that you’re saying you give it away you let it go and we even have one conversation where you’re saying what there’s a Santa is a chapter right now I mean you. Grow the grow and even though you’re the you know right charge of this or big thing you’re not in charge you’re allowing it to go yeah yeah yeah you know the one down in Georgia the same way did you know I’m having We’ll have a nice boy given us a car was gone the third. One Georgia asked how long you’ve been doing this three years I gots What’s your name ah ah yeah you got to give it away to keep. That spirit of all great me you know. The other thing that comes to my mind is that there’s a gigantic need to the gigantic need that by this now I understand according to website thirty three percent of teenage boys today are fatherless the other the seventy eight percent of the young men in your programs are fatherless. That is that a main event a main reason that the need is so strong for boys Yeah Gary to have a group like this. To have we did not will not set out to prove that. We did not we you found that out you know we just when we started this thing with my son was. Fourteen fifteen years old and and our you know I had. He had like there is for kids when they’re in the third grade eight years old and I coached their Little League and then. Those shorted Brett my house every day for the next ten years and. None of them had dads but I was they found out I was their coach and I was gaves dad so they came to our house not unlike the way kids came to our house when we were kids so so so those those four guys were the first guys to do the first training and then some of the other men that were involved in creating this so we can experience brought their sons and step sons and nephews and we just we started this as a neighborhood program with ten boys in June of one thousand nine hundred eight we did our first week when adventure earned. And we and then we said to the boys so what worked what didn’t what sucked What should we do differently and they they said No certainly told us what was stupid and what we needed to change to tell us what was core and and then I said OK if we do another one will you guys bring your friends and will you help us and I said you are and so they they invited their friends and we did the second one and that we got a little better at that and then Columbine happened. And Craig and I were doing some pop radio and we got a lot of calls from moms and wanting answers for their their their boys that were struggling and you know we we thought this is great we’re going to get you know sponsorship we’re going to get a bunch of mentors out of this and over the next three days we got one hundred calls from single moms looking for solutions for their kids and that they’re training we did we know any of those kids and they were I was all mom’s book and looking to help their boys out and. Holy smoke we didn’t know any that we thought we were filming good our down to these this was very present there was not a breeze there was fights there was kid all the kids were medicated they were all on you know ha ha you know eighty. Medically and we’re going to get this. It’s big this is big this is this is for and over and over and but you know what would be the Jeopardy and learn from that cloth and said OK we got to do this different. On the we can only you know the thing keeps evolving you know you know no to weaken the rule of like we have a basic structure we have a basic outline we have all the protocols all written them we’ve got ways. But different different communities have their different culture and their different flair and they they big take the intention and implement what works for them and it’s a beautiful thing. Joe I got a question for you because I just it’s you know what really inspired me to join him with this this project that we’re doing is you know it seems like there’s the young men that are coming up today they seem like they’re you know there’s it’s a different generation it’s almost like that I don’t recognize the kids anymore and I’m just trying to figure out the kids like what it why do you think that’s happening and then do you still think you know have with the set up that you have for your weekend is that still relevant for the D.S. young boys that are coming up like these young men yeah yeah grep a great question and and like with a group in a process an evolution and about and could this very reason really excellent question we restructured the entire group. Scryer process we when we started going into the schools instead of trying to sustain a community off of a group weekend experience what we did instead was we started preparing for those weekend experiences demographically and we we started working with the kids in the school and we would work with them for you know three or four months and and and using the model of. Sharing our stories about the choices we made the price we paid leave sisters we took on about ourselves you know and the boys would hear us men being over. But an honest and vulnerable and they’d feel safe and then they’d start talking about the choices they’re making now they still we still do this the price they’re paying and how they feel about themselves and and I said well what do you we help them identify what they really want and and then ask them what are you willing to do different and they make a new choice every week and then that choice gets supported by a man who follows up with a text or Facebook message or a phone call or and says Hey man you know like a lot of them are ashamed of the way they treat their moms OK they don’t but their moms are an easy target and the moms aren’t going to go anywhere so they’ve got all this unresolved anger and grief and it manifests in these horrible ways that where the mom takes these transference of this unresolved anger and so so that you know would say well what are you willing to do to improve your relationship with mom and then said Well I’ll take out the trash without being asked and then one of the mentors will support that kid in that choice during the week and check in with them to make sure he’s doing what he wants to do and then when he comes back at the farm we can get the accountability of the group to say OK he said you want to better relationship with Mom you said you’re going to take out the trash without asking did you do that yes how did that work you know how did that work and we don’t judge it we just say and what do you want to do this week what kind of man do you want to be what do you want to do different so so in those weekly meetings they they start identifying some of the things in their lives that they’re angry about and frustrated with and sad about and want to change and then then after doing that for three months then we go up to our sixteen acre ranch up on Mt Palomar and we do our our retreat and then all that groundwork they’ve done in group now we start the week and they have already you know why they bear they already know what’s up there and they’re willing and they’re ready. And they they both wide open instead of having Mike an hour and a half to talk about the stuff we’ve got three days to really come up with a plan and so so that is how we’ve had to change the model keep them engaged because they’re all in before they even come and when they complete the weekend they get a. Little. Disk that they can wear around their their new their neck it’s a talisman it marks them as having completed their weekend adventure and they get a new status in the community as journeyman their on their journey towards their manhood and so when they come back in and they share about that we can experience in the other kids see their their talisman around their neck they’re going when can I do mine Boughton trip well what can I do the next one you know the big jump and. To have this weekend experience in order to become the good men they all want to be next That’s great I know what I heard in there too I just I think words were get short on time I heard in there too it’s like it would be accountability piece you know they keep in their word and for me you know the integrity you know so like I really didn’t understand integrity I was thirty eight years old I’m a good artist on that so it was great to be able to say you’re be your word in your honor so nominal thank you for sharing it it’s with so are the other better do and that is available and so you know across the globe take care of our young men I want to make sure before we but wait you let the audience know how to get a hold of you or boys to men and how to get more information can you give that it well you know go yeah yeah you can go to Boys to Men dot org and then you can there’s a in the drop menu for locations in and the seventeen U.S. in the dozen or so other international locations are all listed there and you know we’ve got. Beautiful committed talented unbelievably talented men all over. The country that are coming together to do this work and in fact we’re going to gin you might want to think about this we’re doing our boys to men us a a conference in Tucson in a couple of weeks October twentieth through the twenty fourth and all of our all of our center director is and leaders from around the country are gathering and we’re going to continue to you know share best practices share information. Develop branding develop you know we just we just put in one hundred million dollars MacArthur Foundation grant called one hundred and change and it’s twenty million a year for five years that if we get that will be rolled out nationwide to help support and. You know the centers that are struggling and given the resources to take our programs into more schools and go wider and deeper you know that the metrics show that we we increase attendance we raise grade point average and we reduce discipline issues and I don’t have my little booklet in front of me to what degree but I think you might have it Jim. But yeah we know that this program works and we’ve we coalesce the nation and we’re going to be going after Department of Justice and Department of Education funding so we can take this program wider and deeper into our schools and into our. Our country. So they don’t have. People don’t know that they’re the boys crisis that’s going on right now and we can’t go for a man or right now but. To Men dot org That’s the Web site to go to to reach to get more information boys to men and go to their ways to men USA dot org Boys to Men USA dot org He’s geared for the nation and we’re talking to the world voice and other authorities the scene so go good. Boys to Men you as a dad or a G. and greet and then and then you can connect with you know are of the president of boys to men USA Michael want to hand out of Hawaii vice president Greg Squires added to so on our brand developer in Houston Terry Ward our curriculum development in Prescott Arizona Charles Matthews I mean this is now a national effort and we’re coalescing the talents and efforts of men around the country to make this a powerful and impactful. Experience for young men and I You haven’t mentioned everybody because. You know that there’s a there’s a bunch of good men doing this work including Jim Ellis showing up every week and it King job as an English is being an example so bless your heart John Alice. Something for that they were given Aber and I have one last burning question but I want to read do you have any of the course of their burning. No or at least I’m just it’s great I know we’re getting close I just I just Joe I just appreciate you and the work you’re doing it’s just it’s phenomenal Grant thank you. As well you know you have to try one last question if you could laser this great because really you got like a minute what would you look at how to directly directly to the parents what would you say directly to the parents and then after that what would you say as a message directly to the young men. Of the world. OK directly to the parents this is a. Ways can afford to tell you everything they need on calls we provide uncles uncles can listen and say things parents can’t hear or say parents are way too attached uncles get it so we do on calling OK that’s that’s the parents to be the boys look if you. Got questions if you’re you’ve got challenges and we all do and the only voice for listening to is the one in your head you’re going to fuck yourself so come get some feedback that we this is what we do we give kids you know a safe place to get feedback on their lives and to just be a sounding board for what’s happening and when they do that when they when they start talking about what’s happening and they find out they’re not alone and that other kids are struggling with their parents split in that are struggling with an alcoholic mom or struggling with an abusive on call or father or coach or you know there is some universal truth that happens to us as young men that those those those are the hard things that nobody wants to talk about those things we talk about so if you need a safe place in a sounding board for your life come to good join a Boys to Men circle in your school. On behalf of the well for the parents and on behalf of with all due respect thanks for being on our show thanks for all of your thank you thank you your weather thank you OK back. From So every go reckon other with all due respect good job and can’t get out you have an excellent show great show and now we could like talk for hours I know it’s you know and I just want our audience to know that we’re here next Friday we’re here Friday at one P.M. Pacific Standard Time four P.M. eastern standard time next week so we have Phil Cook Phil Cook on the show and he’s going to be talking about he’s a member of a committee to create a White House Council on men and boys so a White House Council on men and boys there’s one for women and girls so we’re looking for a White House Council on men and boys will look forward to that and any office through right now it’s and I have a great weekend and we will we will be. And I will catch up soon. All right thank you thanks for joining us I’m going to take everybody. Out.