Posted on Leave a comment

About-ish 2: About Dr. Z, Zachary Brooks, The 6As

Who is Dr. Z, Zachary Brooks? In episode 2 of About-ish, I share the principles that guide Dr. Z Podcasts: The 6As. The principles are based on a book I’m writing called “The 6As: A practical philosophy for living life with meaning and purpose.” The interview was conducted by Mitch Pisik.

Dr. Z Zachary S Brooks
Dr. Z Zachary S Brooks

MP3

M4A

About-ish 2: About Dr. Z, Zachary Brooks, The 6As

Transcript

Hello Hello This is Dr. Z of Dr. Z’s podcasts and I thought since I’m doing a podcast, I might as well make an “about” section with a Podcast.

I call it “About-ish” in which I will share a few things

But today

Today

Today the tables are turned …

Instead of Dr. Z, That’s Me, asking the questions

I have a special guest who will be asking me the questions …

You know, to see how I like being asked questions and honestly it might be a bit hard

The special guest who will be asking me questions today is none other than Mitch Pisik (PEA-ZIK)

Who is an award winning Executive Coach and Business Consultant

Who has worked with, coached, and consulted with over a hundred executives in dozens of industries …

How did he get to do that?

He did that by being the CEO of 4 different companies in 4 industries in 3 states …

At this point, I feel like the I should ask Mitch some questions but let’s go ahead and start the show

About-ish by Dr. Z, Zach Brooks, that’s me …

 

Zach

Hi Mitch ~ how are you today? 

Mitch

Good morning Zach.

I’ll tell you it was really looking forward to this I know that your your army of listeners are really been giving harassing you about they want to hear more about you and so the tables have turned I’m usually the guy that’s being interviewed and today I’m going to be the interviewer.

Zach

And I’m the interviewee …

 

Mitch

And I think it’s just going to be great. I think it’s it’s really exciting.

In fact, for the very few people out there they don’t know about you let me just give an introduction.

At one point in your life you were a B-level Hollywood actor.

 

Zach

That’s correct, not A, B.

 

Mitch

OK I rounded up to B, that that’s fine then you actually were big deal in Silicon Valley think cutting edge

 

In the meantime you found the time to master four different languages and I believe English might be one of them

 

Zach

Yes. English is one of them.

 

Mitch

You also, this is very impressive, you earned your doctorate in second language acquisition and teaching with concentrations in cognitive science and management at the University of Arizona. Your research interests center on how decision-making may vary as a function of language competence and the importance of decision-making and cultural exchanges.

 

One of the reasons I always enjoy our conversation is that you have that very rare combination of huge success in academia, you got a tremendous success in cutting-edge technology, you have tremendous success in different cultures, you have terrific success in both large and small business and very few people bring that to the table so we have been teasing your your listeners long enough I think we should get into this okay?

 

Why don’t we start out at the beginning. Where are you from and how did you end up here in Tucson?

 

Zach

That’s a good question. The answer could be meandering so I will try to keep it on point. I was born in Denver, Colorado. My Mom is from Denver originally my Dad is from small town in Missouri so at age 1 my parents moved back to the small town in Missouri called Tarkio where my grandfather was a professor at a place called Tarkio College. My parents went back there to finish up their degrees. They both had about two years finished at that point so I was a little baby and then throughout out my growing up I was going up in Denver but in the summers in the Midwest in the small town so that’s where I was born there but at age 10 we moved  to Salt Lake City and live there for seven years until my first year of high school so I was one of these kids who had to move halfway through high school and so I moved from Salt Lake City where I had really grown up from ages 9 to 16 then back to Colorado to a suburban place near Columbine High School in southwest Denver which was called Chatfield High School. Anyway, that was the first 18 years very quickly. I guess I grew up in four states (I misspoke during the interview, it had only been three at that point: Colorado, Missouri, and Utah)  at that point in the Midwest and West and I very much identify with both the West and Midwest.

 

Mitch

How did you end up in Tucson?

 

Zach

In Tucson … I was living in Los Angeles for about seven years pursuing acting and to support my acting habit I was teaching ESL classes in the evening and that got me into a master’s program in Applied Linguistics which got me into the PHD program at the University of Arizona and I came here because of the PHD program at University of Arizona.

 

 

Mitch

You know that’s great. Just real quickly I’ve moved eight times myself for business. Every time I had a new business to run or a promotion there would be a move so my kids moved eight times, we usually took them with us and like you they moved with a lot of different moves and it really helps to make someone that much more interesting and I’m sure in your profession it also helps you to find a common ground very quickly because you have lived in so many different parts of the country.

 

Zach

Yeah, I think that’s true and maybe you too have some affinity towards military people who moved a lot so often times I’ll talk to military personnel who will ask me “were you in the military” and [I say] “no,”it just feels like it because I have moved as much as they have and so the skills you have to develop I think are showing up in new place and making friends quickly and finding something that you have in common.

 

So I’ve got pretty good at that definitely through the podcast am doing I really enjoy people. I think everyone’s got a really interesting story to tell and I’m interested in finding those consequential moments in their lives and then you know asking about their life so that that probably helps me in the thing I’m doing now, the podcasting.

 

Mitch

Let me ask you because I can see real line develop. You can connect the dots between you moving a lot, having a passion for different cultures, and then also knowing for different languages so it sounds like you’ve really been able to really mesh in such a positive way all those different skills, attributes, and passions.

 

Zach

I think so. I didn’t learn my first language until I was 19 which is actually very late some people say it’s too late to even learn a language but that’s not always the case. I think moving to new places help me embody and inhabit a new cultural and linguistic space which was very much an extension of what I’ve been doing my entire growing up. Going to a new place, being the outsider, figuring things out. Okay I have to learn some language and cultural things on top of that so the moving the culture and language part to me feel very much connected.

 

 

 

 

 

Mitch

And then in turn sparked your in your interest in furthering education, a PhD, that’s a real commitment in in all kinds of ways to go and to achieve such a prestigious PhD.

 

Zach

Well thanks. I don’t know. I have always have really enjoyed education, but I was never traditional. I wasn’t groomed. You know some people are sort of groomed. They know from their family that they are going to do a PhD. In my family, I definitely knew I was going to do a bachelor’s degree. My parents both did bachelor’s degrees and my grandfather was a professor so it was always there but it was a process to do a PhD a little bit later my life. I started after I’d had a couple careers, B-level Hollywood acting in and (working in the) Silicon Valley. I always wanted to do education and then I was able to do it at the highest level that I can imagine. For me, it was a personal quest something like at Mount Everest. Could I do this and if I did it no one could ever take that away from me.

 

Mitch

That’s true. That’s a really good point. Do you think you’ll ever do any more acting?

 

Zach

I would love to. If it makes sense. I think my SAG[1] card has expired. SAG is the Screen Actors Guild I got that from doing background work on a movie, The Rock was in the movie. He was on set one day and he just said hey boys and that’s all I remembered. I got my SAG membership through bunch of background work that day. I would love to do some acting. It’s a lot of fun. It’s really the most fun you can have. I’ll just tell you one story.

 

I made a movie called Bloodshed by Jim McMahon made the movie. I think he raised $40,000 and used some of his own money. My roommate was the main character and I was asked if I would play something and if I wanted to be the bartender and I said “sure.” So my main day on that set was an 18-hour day. It was an incredibly hard day. You wake up at like 3 in the morning you barely sleep the night before you would get there at 4:30 to get makeup and rest of it and we’re on set until seven 8 p.m. at night or whatever that the time frame was and I got residual check about a year later for $2.32 and I just I didn’t cash it I just framed it on the wall that I wrote on the check “The most fun I ever had making money” because acting really is like some of the most fun you can ever have in your life it’s just being a kid and being in the backyard with the other kids, you know, just play-acting. We will have to see what the future holds.

 

Mitch

You seem very opportunistic in your career. Terrific opportunities comes your way. You grab them and you leverage them. And it’s very impressive and not everybody has that kind of flexibility and adaptability.

 

Zach

My friend has always called me, in German there’s a word for it called “anpässungsfähig.” It means adaptability but it sort of means a little bit more than that. I think it’s the moving a lot growing up. It’s the same thing. I don’t know if I was born that way but you develop the skills to be adaptive in the course of your lifetime and you have to choose to be adaptive too which means putting yourself in the moment and be willing to make lots of mistakes and look silly for awhile it’s in order to get better.

 

Mitch

It is often said that those people and those creatures in life that flourish (who) are not the strongest, the smartest, or the fastest, it is those who can adapt the best and you’re clearly you’re one of those creatures that keeps adapting.

 

Zach

Thanks Mitch. I don’t know if that’s the case or not. I think it’s just about … In the world of decision making there’s this idea of regret and people who try something in life whether they fail or not have less regret later so adaptation to me is a lot about not regretting later.

 

Mitch

Sure.

 

Zach

I don’t want to look back and say I could have tried that and I didn’t. I would rather and fail than not do anything at all.

 

Mitch

It’s a great point. They’ve done a lot of research in the greatest regrets people have is for most people it’s not what they did, it’s what they never did. From your acting career, I’d rather be a has-been than never-was.

 

Zach

I was definitely a has-been as a B-level Hollywood actor which was fine because I learned a lot. It was a great experience.

 

Mitch

One of the keys to your success in your personal philosophy: The famous and infamous 6As. And I don’t think it’s fair for us for let your listeners wait any longer. Let’s get right into so would you share with us the infamous 6As?

 

Zach

Absolutely. These are one of the things that people that people stumble upon in their lives but in my case stumble upon, but it is sort of stumbling systematically so you you come across things and you observe it once, you observe it twice, you observe it three times and at one point the Stumbling, tripping over the same rocks, you say there’s a pattern to why I’m stumbling over things so what I am referring to is the 6As are the 6As that I have always been drawn to the most and I think the things that people get the most satisfaction from in life certainly things from which I’ve gotten the most satisfaction from.

 

The first one I call Athletics.

The second one is Adventure.

The third one is Academics.

(The fourth one is) Art.

(The fifth one is) Advocacy.

And the last one I call Human Algorithm.

 

ATHLETICS

 

Each of them is not about being (the best) for example Athletics. Athletics is is not about being an athlete completely but it’s about movements and to be human is to move and so if we’re not moving we are not you know fully examining and giving ourselves an opportunity to be human and so growing up I played soccer, I raced bikes, played in the volleyball team, basketball, subsequently I compete in world and and domestic transplant games, I can talk more about that in a little bit, and I’ve competed at multiple levels where I’ve won over 30 medals at this point. I definitely enjoy Athletics, but I enjoy what it teaches us as is humans is that to try is to fail to but fail is also to win.

 

Mitch

It’s learning.

 

 

Zach

It’s learning. It’s waking up daily, and doing the process, and repeating it, and seeing what you can learn out of it and competing and having fun with other people but sometimes, for some people who just got out of (the) hospital, (athletics) might just be walking around a (hospital) warn one time. I’ve certainly been there and counted my steps after a major surgery and that to me it’s just as as big of an accomplishment in life then running a race and doing very well at it so that’s the first one Athletics.

 

Mitch

Oh that’s great, so it’s what I will call “stumble with a purpose.”

 

Zach

“Stumble with a purpose.” I like that one. It’s better.

 

Mitch

Like you said, you’re not going to get there unless you move.

 

Zach

Exactly. It’s about movement.

 

Mitch

So the best thing that can happen is that it’s a huge success and the worst thing that can happen is that you stumble, and then you learn something which makes the next success an even higher one.

 

Zach

Absolutely.

 

ADVENTURE

 

Mitch

Well that was brilliant, please tell us more, let’s go to adventure.

 

Zach

I think the precursor to adventure is movement is athletics. And so I think about where most scientists have traced our origins to Central-East Africa, where Ethiopia is, the Horn of Africa. A lot of people trace human origins to there. And I calculated this once, I don’t have the number in front of me, but people moved in a course of 1,000 years to China about 40 meters per day which is about, in a regular suburban neighborhood, two houses down. (That’s) not your next door neighbor, it’s your next door neighbor’s neighbor.  And we moved that far and each day … people moved as a group of tribe looking for the next resource. It was through that movement that they found Adventures. Obviously they’re doing it for survival reasons and so forth but you know Adventure is partly survival. It’s putting yourself out there …

 

Mitch

It’s risk.

 

Zach

It’s risk. It’s absolutely risk. You put yourself out there. It’s survival. And it’s through that desiring and action of adventure you actually learn something else about yourself (and) about others so first there is Athletics and then there is Adventure and they work very closely together but the adventure is a little bit more because then you’re putting yourself right at that edge. It’s that risk.

 

Mitch

So let me ask you doctor. You know, some people have a thirst for travel. In fact, they get edgy if they are not traveling and other people hate it. So what do you think it is that some people love adventure and others don’t and if someone doesn’t enjoy it, what advice do you have for them, how they can really start to appreciate and enjoy it and not dread it and really expand their life experiences.

 

Zach

I think this comes back to regret. People have higher or lower tolerances of regret. I think that’s a big part of it. Some of it is fear. Some are less ambitious in that way than others and that’s not a problem because you can have adventures in your own regular day-to-day life. Maybe people have read these kinds of stories. Taking a different route to work or you do different tasks in the middle of the day which is also an adventure because you are slicing up the world differently in the course of your day. Just a decision to do something a little bit different gives you a different perspective. Your brain has to process the world differently and in that processing, that’s an adventure.

 

Mitch

Well an expression that you authored that the ancient Chinese installed is it every trip starts with a step so just to get it started and never know where you end up. So we have covered athletics and adventure. Please share with us Academics.

 

ACADEMICS

 

Zach

Sort of like athletics, I don’t mean that a person has to be an academic it’s just that they reflect on an action that they’ve taken or a mental activity or and emotion and they try to learn from that. That is as basic as I can make it. Certainly academics are fascinating case studies because they asked really obscure questions that they certainly think are important, sometimes they’re not when it comes to theoretical type of learning but sometimes it’s very practical and applied. Engineers are really well known for being a very much applied learner so academics is about applying yourself in this world and reflecting on it and then trying to apply that reflection towards something and maybe it’s just a theoretical question again or more often than not it’s an applied thing. Look at most of the world has much better sanitation systems now in 2019 than it did in 1919 and those sanitation systems have been built a lot of the civilization we know now in 2019. And that comes only through academics and learning.

 

Mitch

I love the way you use the word “reflection.” You’ve got applied learning, right? And then you reflect on it and it (becomes) the sophomoric method[2], right in which you don’t see a lot of anymore in which students get to ask and reflect on what the professor said. Now you’ve also taught?

 

Zach

I have taught.

 

Mitch

Is there any specific method that you use to assure that the students not only learn but reflected on the wisdom you’ve expounded upon.

 

Zach

That’s a great question. I have taught six (6) different subjects — psychology, linguistics, film editing, German, (English composition, computer skills classes) and my basic principle, from time-to-time as a teacher you are asked to write your teaching philosophy and I always have a really hard time with that. The reason why is because mine is so simple which is just show them love.

 

And if you’re able to connect with a person and believe in them then often times their brains are very well equipped to ask themselves questions and then answer those questions and through that process and engaging with them and and listening to them you can help that lerner with what they’re really good at so you know that’s a good question I don’t know if I have a great answer for that but that’s really my philosophy and when I do teach it’s just show people love.

 

Mitch

I see why you ended up with awards as one of the best teachers UofA had. I like what you said about engaging and really finding a common foundation and just showing (love) … I’ve done a bit of teaching also and when the students see that you sincerely care about them … it matters to you, it’s a passion you have that they flourish, most of them will really gravitate.

 

Zach

Absolutely. They absolutely will.

 

ADVOCACY

 

Mitch

So those are great points you made. So this is an interesting one. This could go in a lot of different directions having to do with Advocacy. And in this day and age, advocacy is often times not viewed as enthusiastically positive as maybe (it was) at some point. Share with us how you basically have made have made that a success in your inner core.

 

Zach

I will give you a few examples from my life, just two that come to mind so when I was in college I started a youth exchange program based on the philosophy that if we’re talking we’re not fighting. This is sort of the Cold War end of the Cold War times and I just thought in order to do my part in the world so that people could peacefully talk, if they wanted to go to a boxing ring and fight or play soccer, then great, that’s a great way to get some physical aggression out but not really have war. I thought that was such as a waste of human resources by and large and so you know my advocacy at that age was to connect two countries, in this case Germany and the United States.

 

When I was doing my PhD at the University of Arizona, I served as the four-term Graduate Student Body President so I (had the opportunity) to represent to me, one of those most fascinating groups of people I could ever represent. People who never made excuses for themselves than these are like hard-working people but people who happen to be vulnerable at this point of their lives because they are in PhD programs or academic programs and they are very much dependent on professors and they have a hard large debts and they have me all the real-world problems of anyone. They have kids and the rest of it. I think advocacy is so important because it’s important to give voice to the voiceless when they don’t have it because you might be in a position someday that you might need someone else to step in and your behalf. I think it’s just the essence of being human is to to give voice to people who don’t have a voice at that moment so advocacy has always been very important to me. (Growing up) I would look around and I always admire people who step up and say I’m going to help this person and sometimes there’s no reason whatsoever to help a person other than I have a human, I have a spirit, and I’m going to put this human spirit together towards another human.

 

Mitch

That’s interesting you talk about talking, about a voice. I love what you said about if you’re talking you’re not fighting. In the Middle East, they (say) it’s hard to have someone as an enemy if you’ve had tea with them three times.

 

Zach

Oh wow, I like that one.

 

Mitch

It’s funny. In travels, and you’ve traveled all around the world and if you really know somebody, not esoterically or theoretically but actually know them and have broken bread with him, and talked with them, it’s hard to demonize them.

 

Zach

Absolutely.

 

Mitch

As you always say, they don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

 

Zach

I like that, too.

 

ART

 

Mitch

So, as far as art, as far as the more ethereal, and where you go beyond the basics, your listeners have to hear about your philosophy on art.

 

 

Zach

I think Art belongs very much in the vein of adventure. You’re assembling the world in a different way. Maybe you’re painting something, putting color to a paintbrush, playing with positive and negative space. (It’s the) same thing with music, you’re playing with positive and negative space, same thing, in my case acting. I think Art is a full expression of being human. It doesn’t mean you will be good at it. One time I picked up painting because I really liked painting, but I was horrible and I don’t say that in any unfair way. Sometimes in life you’re just not very good at things. But it is through that process I really appreciated power and excitement and the incredible abilities that painters have when they put paint to a blank canvas and so I think that Art is a really important 6A because it belongs in the vein of adventure. You’re assembling the world in a different way and you’re applying yourself to the world and (through that) you make the world different through your art. Think about Art in the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco and a lot of homosexuals moved in at a certain point and what they did is bringing art and different ways of looking at the world and suddenly this became a place to go. And now it’s so expensive most people can barely afford San Francisco.

 

Art is next to our heartbeat. There’s a heartbeat, then there’s art and through those two we can actually generate and iterate towards greater things.

 

Mitch

So you’re saying that art helps create diversity which in turn expands people’s minds and acceptance?

 

Zach

Absolutely. I think (Art) is a great precursor for business. I think a lot of business is very artistic because someone is trying to figure out a solution to a problem and through that … It’s a very creative expression … I think business and art are very closely related. (For example) people who do science would say “now I’m at the edge of science, now I’m bridging toward art.” If you talk to a nephrologist who deals with kidney problems and you talk to them for about 20 minutes about one particular disease and all the current treatments, at some point, you’re going to get to the bridge between science and art. So Art has so many incredible components to our lives and it’s a bridge to so many things and in my case the bridge to all the other 6As.

 

Mitch

You talk about science and technology and you mention business and you talk about diversity. A company’s employees really need to mirror their customers and the customers they want. “Male, pale, and stale” can’t be the answer to everything.

 

Zach

Mitch has all these great pithy little lines. I can’t wait analyze these more.

 

HUMAN ALGORITHM

 

Mitch

Alright. You’ve had everyone on the edge of their seat about Athletics, Adventure, Academics, Advocacy, and Art. You have to share the one with us that is not as clear perhaps which you call the Human Algorithm.

 

Zach

Yes, the Human Algorithm. So this is maybe closely related to Advocacy because there is very much an applied type of thing. The way I think about Human Algorithm is this: If you think you don’t have the power to change the world, think about any big religious figure. You know, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Confucius, or Buddha. Those people in history came up with a new set of practices. Humans have been around quite a while. We are not fundamentally different than 10,000 years ago but people at one point in time reflected on something and thought “I want the world to behave differently,” “I want society to behave differently” and so they thought through a series of actions and behaviors and words and the rest of it and they changed the world fundamentally. In the 20th century in the United States Martin Luther King is held up as a huge example and he should be, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, these are three names. These people are example of the Human Algorithm. When we change our thought process and our behavior and we apply that toward others we can change the world and hopefully we are changing the world for the better.

 

The Human Algorithm is really about distilling the other 5As but towards a super applied and better world.

 

Mitch

That’s great. That really does tie it together. I’ll tell you Dr. Z as you big deal actors always say you get off stage leaving them wanting more so do you have any final pearls of wisdom for us to reflect upon until we meet again?

 

Zach

I have mentioned this twice and I’ll say it for a third time. Whatever you do in life, do it, don’t regret it because I don’t think you want to go later in life and have the regret of not trying. I think that feeling is not a feeling you want to live with so I would say do something in order not to regret something.

 

Mitch

That’s wonderful. Dr. Z, thanks so much for your time. We can’t wait to hear from you again.

 

Zach

Thank you very much Mitch. Bye bye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] SAG = Screen Actors Guild

[2] The intended expression here was “Socratic Method.” The Socratic Method, named after Greek philosopher Socrates is is “a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.” See more at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method

This text/markup is included in all WP Posts.

Hits: 121

Leave a Reply