Playboy Publishes Complimentary Exposé About MDI

Doug Ernst


Readers throughout the world are reading the current March/April edition of Playboy Magazine for the article (!) by Mickey Rapkin about an MDI team meeting in Los Angeles last December.

“Help Wanted – How Do We Fix Toxic Masculinity?” is the title of the 2,000-word essay about the truth that MDI men bestow upon each other.

“Time and again I hear a similar refrain: The team saved someone’s marriage, financial future, even life. It had helped men quit smoking or watch less porn,” writes Rapkin.

The author admitted that before he attended the team meeting he half-suspected that MDI was a “cult,” but during his encounter with Team Arrowhead he witnessed “grown men confronting some of their ugliest fears and worst memories.”

The nine men on the team, he wrote, “appear to be unified by the feeling of having missed out on something, be it an essential life lesson, rite of passage or guide to a life well lived. MDI helps them fill in those blanks.”

Rapkin said some of what he witnessed was “corny as hell,” for example:

“At one point during the MDI meeting, one man stared another dead in the eyes, put his hand on the other man’s chest and thanked him for living his truth. But it can also be seriously humbling. It takes balls to be so emotionally naked.”

The response to the article from MDI leaders has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Purposeful, courageous and committed men serving their families and communities all over the world deserve this acknowledgement and recognition that we collectively are making a difference,” said Abe Moore, Regional Coordinator of the Southwest Region. “As an MDI man I am honored that we were given the opportunity in such a prestigious publication to represent mature masculinity and a declaration of what we stand for.”

Tomlinson, MDI President

MDI President Geoff Tomlinson responded to the publishing of the Playboy article as “truly exciting.”

Rapkin, he said, had no contact with MDI prior to researching the article, but “clearly saw us the way we see ourselves, and is extremely positive about who we are and what we do.

“I’m also enjoying hearing from men who have read the article and observe how, no matter where they live, the team meeting looks very similar to what we all experience weekly,” said Tomlinson, who advised MDI men to prepare for more positive press attention as a result of the article.

The Playboy article was a year in the making. Last February, Rapkin e-mailed Jim Ellis, at the time MDI’s VP of Media and Public Relations, about freelancing a story about present-day masculinity. Although GQ passed on the story, Playboy expressed interest.

“There was some concern about what type of article would be published, but the overall benefit of a story fully outweighed any concern, and we moved forward,” recalled Ellis, who worked with Moore to invite Rapkin to a team meeting.

“Ever since I started in my position, I held the context that MDI was going global,” said Ellis. “I didn’t know how. I just stated it. I imagine some men scoffed at the idea, but I knew it was possible with the right intention and consistent pursuit. It feels awesome to see these seeds coming into fruition.”

Ellis said the Playboy article could spur renewed interest in MDI among men seeking excellence in their lives.

“The time is right for men all over the world to know about MDI, and for them to find their own circle of honorable men in action, pursuing success on all levels,” Ellis said. “Masculinity has been under fire for years, and it’s time men stood up, stepped into their power, and made a difference for themselves, their families and communities.”

Rapkin’s work has appeared in GQ, Elle, Bon Appetit, the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and Details.

His first book, “Pitch Perfect,” about the competitive world of collegiate a cappella groups, was published by Gotham Books in 2008 and immediately optioned by Universal. The film adaptation, starring Oscar-nominee Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”) and Rebel Wilson (“Bridesmaids”), was produced by Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games”).

Rapkin’s second book, “Theater Geek,” was published by Free Press in 2010 and was featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in Vanity Fair.


10 thoughts on “Playboy Publishes Complimentary Exposé About MDI”

  1. MDI ha’s really been a godsend for me stepping into my power a’s a leader as the team captain of Stop the Bus and being on the LD training team for the Western Region.

  2. Wherever I go in public, I wrestle with how much connection I am willing to have the with masses. Many of those potential exchanges are with casual male acquaintances in whom I sense longing and desperation behind their masks of bluster or defense. But my own cowardice and fear gets in my way to be willing to meaningfully connect with them anyway.

    This article has given me pause to consider just how pivotal delivering my experience with MDI to another man could be in their life. Heck, I was so impressed with what I read, I sent links to my wife and my mom – PLAYBOY links! It gave voice to what I find so difficult to tell my own family. I’ve yet to receive their comments, but hey, the act alone is testament to a fundamental change in my context. So, how big of a deal would it be to deliver my truth to another man.

    The answer is that it could be a big deal indeed. Well done to my Men of MDI!

  3. David Wainwright

    MDI men live by a code of honor to which they are held accountable. That process furthers trust, the keystone of all successful relationships. Accountability occurs in those men’s team meetings. It starts with the 1st premise, commitment before ego.

  4. I loved the article and was glad that MDI was finally put on the map. Other men’s teams were mentioned, but the focus was on us.

    There was candor for sure (I’m not sure how many wives and mothers want to hear that a man shared that he hadn’t had sex with his wife in “x” months with other men on his team) but the major take-away, the support, love and personal growth was all there.

    I’ve been waiting for MDI all my life; I just didn’t know it existed until one serendipitous moment (when I least expected it, for sure) presented an MDI man into my life. Have there been times during (or outside of) a meeting that I’ve wanted to “run and hide?” You bet your sweet ass there were, but every moment I think of what the men on my team, in my division and region mean to me, I say, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

    The men on my teams (past and present) are like brothers to me. I wish I could have that kind of relationship with all the men in my life, but some are just not “there” yet. (I’m hopeful that one day they will be; I’m doing my part to enroll them.) I spend about 45 minutes yesterday in one of the deepest, “masks off” conversations I’ve ever had. I can’t tell you what it means to me.

    Recently, I owned a meeting and prepared a CPR which just didn’t feel right. I was confused and it showed. I had no real focus, at least not one that was authentic. I called one of the men on my team (a real blessing to have him in my life) and he said that regardless of whether I chose to move forward with my CPR, my confusion was going to come out. I took his advice to heart and when I led the exercise, I told my men of my struggle. My context had morphed into “Authentic. Vulnerable. Coachable.” It was one of the best meetings I’ve ever attended. And judging by how long after the meeting other men stuck around and hung out, I would say it was the same for them as well. I don’t know many other places I could find such insight, raw honesty and brotherly love. Its a blessing.

    I probably talk to other MDI men about 5 – 7 times a week — and its NOT about MDI business. As a MOF, I don’t think we mention it at all.

    I came to MDI thinking I knew everything and that I was there to give the “gifts” I had learned to other men who “needed it.” HA! What frigging arrogance!!! The MDI men in my life have held me up to a mirror that does not lie, and for that I am eternally grateful.

    For whomever gave Rapkin permission to write about the meeting, I say “Thank you.”

  5. ever since I was first introduced to MDI what I have discovered about my self has been truly earth shaking for me as a man I have been introduced to the raw truth about who I am and my short comings as a man the men on my men’s have always told me the blind truth about me as a man, as a result of my experiences with these men I have constantly improved my self as a man with the one purpose of giving back to humanity. I am eternally grateful to the men of Maine for guiding me through my journey in life , while I have not always been at my best as a man, these men always told me the brutal truth about myself, since 1996 the men of MDI have always supported me to be successful in whatever I took on, thank you to a great organization for all the support in the last 21 years, you have made a difference in how I perceive the world today.

  6. I’ve rejoined MDI , Mentor Discover Inspire weekend called LD, Legacy Discovery, training team for their SF based Western Region. Quite amazing gifts for both us on staff and the new Men. It’s been quite supportive of youth work, too. Join us April 13-15!

  7. Peter Hymans

    MDI has provided me the launch pad, the fuel and much of the structure I needed to launch into a richer and more rewarding life. I had been financially successful before joining MDI. AND–there was something missing. Over the years, through the interaction with MDI men, “steel sharpened steel” and I have grown to where I can have more and better successful relationships with men of all walks of life, skill sets and convictions. I have the skills now–to work with almost any man (or woman) to achieve common goals, designed to help individuals, their families or the community. Having been on the Legacy Discovery Training Team for over 20-events, I have a place where I grow more at each event, while helping to lead the new participants to create a trajectory and means to measure progress.

  8. Becoming a member of MDI came at a time in my life where I was struggling with an aging demented parent. Through five years of membership I was able to handle the situation with “honors”. Some people would like to claim this and other self help groups are soft cults. That statement is just not true. MDI lets members put there balls on the line and live up to being a man. In today’s complex, micro-managed world, I personally like a place to go and absorb and share my experiences. The community service projects that I have been involved with have given me great satisfaction and a feeling of making a contribution. This is a big part of meaning and purpose in life for all of us.

    Michael Darovec
    Southeast Region

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