This episode of the Better Man Podcast features Eric Bandholz, the founder of Beardbrand (a men’s grooming and wellness brand also based in Austin, TX) and we talk about the importance of creating a positive impact with our businesses, living an intentional life, and sharing our struggles to help let others know they’re not alone.
Beardbrand boasts over 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube, and has helped hundreds of thousands of men with grooming, lifestyle, and self-improvement. Eric is a living, breathing example of what it means to live an intentional life, and talks about how he integrates this into his business and his life in this wonderful episode.
Eric was mocked, ridiculed, and told he wasn’t allowed to grow facial hair while working as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch. So, he quit his job and started a beard business.
In 2012, Beardbrand was born, and the company has been providing educational and inspirational content to help men ‘Keep on Growing’ ever since. Their grooming products for beard, hair, and skin, support a growing online community of 1.8M+ YouTube subscribers.
I wanted to talk to Eric because he has built a business dedicated to serving men. So, who better to talk to about becoming a better man!
In this episode, we discuss the difficulty of entrepreneurship as a dad, how your relationship with your wife evolves post-kids, and how to intentionally build a life that you love. If you’re looking to live a more intentional life, to create more of a positive impact with your professional life, or you just want a better life, then listen in on this inspiring episode!
The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!
Use the RSS link to find the Better Man Podcast on other apps: http://feeds.libsyn.com/404744/rss
Watch a Clip From Episode 005
Key Takeaways with Eric Bandholz
- Breaking through business burnout and plateaus.
- Looking in the mirror and loving the man staring back at you.
- How to live in the present, overcome adversity, and focus on what matters most with The Book of Reminders.
- How to live a more intentional life.
- Opening up about struggles with infertility.
- Balancing fatherhood and entrepreneurship.
- How your relationship with your wife changes once you’re a Dad.
- What is your role as a husband/father in the first 18 months of parenthood?
- Carving out quality time with your kids.
- Understanding your role as a parent.
- Why there’s no quick fix to improving your health.
- The importance of mental therapy.
Eric Bandholz Notable Quotes
- Everything’s gray in the world, it’s not black or white. And the more we can build a society of people who understand that the world is gray and not black and white, I think the more likely it is to mend and heal.” – Eric Bandholz
- “Seek to understand.” – Eric Banholz
Dean Pohlman: Alright. Hey, guys, what’s up? It’s Dean, welcome to the Man Flow Yoga podcast. Today, I have Eric Bandholz with me from Beardbrand. Eric’s been a friend of mine for a few years now, so I’m excited to have him on the show. How are you feeling today, Eric?
Eric Bandholz: What is going on, Dean? I’m feeling great. Excited to do the show with you, man.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, thank you so much. So, let’s get into introducing you a little bit. So, you are a self-described husband, father, entrepreneur, world traveler, Gamecock, not camecock as I put in our initial notes, and capitalist, used to be a financial advisor. Then you quit, got passionate about your hair, and started Beardbrand. You’ve just celebrated 10 years of Beardbrand. I met you in 2015 when you were leaving, you were moving out of your office then, and I had just moved in my first office, and I think I had been there for about two or three months. And I realized we were both YouTube people. So, I said, hi, and I think we’ve been on and off talking since then.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, it’s seven years now, and that’s crazy to think about. To be in any kind of space for that period of time, a lot of times, you always hear about people building businesses and selling, and very few businesses make it past two years. So, to be able to have any kind of wins, I guess, typically, you’re winning if you’re going to be in it for more than a couple of years. Unfortunately, I’m not as much of a world traveler as I used to be, just it’s a whole lot to contemplate.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah.
Eric Bandholz: But given an opportunity, I’ll hop on a plane and go anywhere.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, me saying that. I don’t think any of us are doing much well traveling at the moment. But yeah, so you, what was I going to say? YouTube, two years, seven years. Yeah. Honestly, I can’t imagine selling. Like what I guess I would sell me, and then someone else would tell me what to do with me, and I can’t imagine. I mean, you have a lot of ambassadors who you feature very prominently. But I mean, you’re one of the people that’s front and center. You’re in the photos. You’re in the videos.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, I have this thought a lot about building a business, selling a business, and I think if you’re an entrepreneur or you identify as an entrepreneur, one of the holy grails is to build a business and sell it for all these multiples and make your money and brag about it. But I think, like you have to ask yourself, why are you selling the business? And a lot of times, it boils down to like, you don’t think you can do what you need to do for society within your business, and that or you’re having partner problems or you don’t think the company can grow anymore. Like, I guess there’s a lot of reasons, and it always boils down to like if I can’t fix it with this business, like if I can’t solve the problems that I have with Beardbrand, then I’m not going to be able to solve those same problems with the different business down the road, like changing the business doesn’t fix my issues.
So, being able to figure out how to kind of like break through those plateaus with their own business is really kind of my goal. And sometimes, those business problems aren’t so much like sales or generation, it’s like how to be excited about it. How do I keep that energy going? Because when they say a carrot never grows if you dig it up to look at its root, so sure, I got to do that with your businesses, you’ve got to stick through it.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that really resonates to me a lot because I think a few years ago, I kind of ran into this. I never admitted it. It was burnout, but I think it was. It was like this feeling of burnout. And I had this plan to get back into fitness by joining a bunch of group classes and just doing stuff to make myself more excited. But now, I’m kind of, and this is one of the reasons I’m starting this podcast is because I want to have different conversations than what I’m creating on YouTube and stuff. So, I felt like doing this would be a better way to create different focuses of content. But I think about mental yoga in probably the same way as you think about Beardbrand. I was actually going to ask you that in a second, but a lot of what my personal goals are fit in with my goals with Man Flow Yoga. So like fitness, how do we live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives?
So, that starts with a big part of that is working out, obviously, but also, how do we have just healthier, emotional base? How are we more mentally fit and less stressed? And I’m finding that all of that fits really well into my overall Man Flow Yoga goals. So, my question for you is how does Beardbrand fit in with your personal goals aside from finances, aside from money, but how do you fit in with your personal goals?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, like Beardbrand to a certain degree was always kind of like an extension of myself. It was like kind of a call out to the wild issues I was dealing with at the time. So, back in 2011, when I grew my beard for the first time, people call me Grizzly Adams or ZZ Top, and it’s always ingested, and I didn’t…
Dean Pohlman: Oh, you had that really long beard.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I had a long beard.
Dean Pohlman: Yes, I just remembered that. Okay, proceed. Now, ZZ Top makes sense.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. And those are cool dudes, and there’s like no offense taken, and it’s all in good fun. But the reality is like, I never identified as that kind of guy, like I always identified as more of like a business professional, an entrepreneur, a designer, like these are the kind of identifications, the tags that I go with. And it was attending this event where I started to meet other people in similar walks of life as me, similar kind of personalities that didn’t fit the traditional stereotype that I got the inspiration for Beardbrand as a company to kind of like unite those.
And then as I’ve invested more of myself into the company, I’ve realized there’s just so much benefit to looking in the mirror and loving the man looking back at you. And I believe in a grassroots kind of like individual, a whole bunch of individuals who invest in themselves and become better people will ultimately make society better. So, rather than coming from a top-down perspective of like, oh, we need to do this, and I’m the king tyrant president or whatever, we do this and the world is going to be better. I think the better solution is like, how do we help inspire people to become better individuals? And then when everyone starts investing in themselves, becoming healthier, working out, loving themselves, then the world is going to be much better that way than trying to force people to behave a certain way. So, that’s kind of been our mission and really like, for me, something that I’m really passionate about as well, and fortunately, we’ve been able to build a small team here who align with those core values and the work that we’re trying to do for society.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I like that a lot. Sorry, I’m pausing.
Eric Bandholz: No, that’s fine. For us, that catalyst can happen in a lot of different ways. And for us and our customers, that catalyst is growing. So, your hair, your beard, typically your beard, like growing out your beard is going to be like, oh man, I just got dumped. I’m a loser. I’m a fat slob. I’m not treating the people in my life well. I want to grow my beard out. I want to get my sh*t together. I want to get in shape, whatever that is. And then, level up in life.
And for some people, I would imagine for your audience, yoga is that catalyst that helps inspire people to get better. And it can be a lot of different ways. It could be woodworking, it could be cooking. There are so many different avenues of self-investment that help you really start to develop that confidence and become a better person. So, just our fish in mind is that grooming to be able to bring people in through that.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, it’s one vehicle to self-improvement that can just start the catalyst to helping us be better people. I remember what I was going to say. And you have this, this is very well illustrated or exemplified, you live this through action in your product fulfillment. You send out a book with your products that– can you tell me a little bit about this book, Book of Reminders?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. So, the Book of Reminders, calling it a book I think is a little ambitious, like this is a book. What I wrote is like a little booklet, but that was the intent, so it’s…
Dean Pohlman: It’s easier to consume than a long book.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. So, for anyone watching it, you can kind of pause here and read the nine different reminders. But I was flying really over the Grand Canyon many years ago, and I don’t like to buy Wi-Fi when I’m on the plane, I kind of like, this is my time to decompress, and actually, I like to just look out the window, and it was flying over the Grand Canyon that I kind of recognized the enormity of life and just got my mind turning. And I’ll just kind of go down these rabbit holes. And I was just thinking about like, what are the kind of reminders I need to tell myself as I face adversity, like as I get worked up, anxious about the future or depressed about the past, and how do I bring myself to the present? And how do I just face adversity and be able to persevere?
So, I wanted something that I could just quickly digest, like you said, like you can read this book from cover, again, and like maybe 10 or 15 minutes, it’s only 40 pages and a big old font. And the intent is like, I just want to have this out, and then if I’m getting wrapped up in consumer goods or trying to buy the next new thing or focusing about things that aren’t really mattering, it helps bring my focus back to the present. And I think about like our mission and how we want to grow the company and how we want to make an impact in the world. And for me, like, I know not everyone needs us or they’re going to find value in that, that’s okay, but it does give us an opportunity to put it in the orders and kind of get it in the hands of people who maybe they do need it, maybe they are kind of at a rough spot in their life, and they do need reminders to love themselves. And life is pretty simple, just love yourself and love people around you and you focus on the present because a lot of kind of my lessons in life and not to get too worked up and all the granular things that happen.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, what I was thinking of when you talked about flying over the Grand Canyon, getting into that space, getting into that mental space where you’re able to think about things to step away from worrying about the past or worrying about the future. What are some things that you would recommend to people? Or what have you done that helps you get into that mental space to think about life, think about how you want to approach life because so many of us are just doing stuff day-to-day and we’re just rushing through everything like a to-do list, and then we get home, and you’re a dad, so you get this, but you get home, you take care of your kids, and by the time you put them to bed, you’re so tired that you’re just like, okay, let’s just lie on the couch and let’s just watch some TV and veg out. But if you’re busy with other stuff, that’s the time that you actually have to create some vision in your life, to actually look at things, and to figure out like, where am I going? Like, what am I doing all of this for? How am I going to move toward where I want to be instead of what am I doing right now that I don’t like doing? A lot of us are just on autopilot. So, what are some things that you found helpful to getting into that space where you can work on clarity with your vision with life?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I’m a creative person by default, kind of like an ideas guy. And so, my mind is always churning. There’s always something going on in there, and I tend to be a little philosophical. So, I’d like to kind of think about philosophy and that will include my own life’s philosophy. But in terms of the action that helps me get there, one of them is just like going on walks with music, not talking on the phone, your phone is put away, and then you’re kind of in nature or hopefully, you’re in an environment that allows you to kind of disconnect from the distractions of the world and be able to do that.
A couple of things we also do is I have a quarterly strategy session with my business partners, and that’s another good way to obviously focus on the strategy of the business, but we do have time in there to talk about our personal quarterly goals and what we want to do. So, that’s more of like a short-term thing. And then I don’t know, I just have this like freedom is one of the things that have been driving me for a long period of time and I’m working towards certain things in my life that will give me more freedom. So, trying to work towards getting a second passport is one of my long-term goals and living internationally and kind of immersing myself in other cultures.
So I kind of have this long-term vision for what I want my life to be like and I just kind of built it in my mind. And I’m not one of those guys who says, like, you’ve got to write it down, or it’s not going to happen. I’ve been able to kind of just think of my mind, like, these are the things that I want to do. And then I think about it obsessively, and then I do it. If I’m not thinking about it obsessively, it’s probably not something I should bother doing.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, agreed. I mean, you definitely don’t have to write something down. I mean, I’m thinking about a lot of the self-development world, and one thing in particular, smart goals sounds like a great concept, but it doesn’t have anything about excitement. There’s nothing about excitement in a smart goal, like, I mean, it could be in there, but it’s not part of it. It should be a part of it, the smart goal, because if you’re not excited about it, you’re not going to do it.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. Well, for me, in addition to that, like kind of going back to freedom, I don’t want to be chained to some kind of goal that turns out is not something I really want to do or brings enjoyment into my life. Like you said, the excitement, there’s an excitement to do something that I thought I wanted to do like the past self wanted to do, but the present self doesn’t want to do it. Then it’s okay to pivot, as I like to say and the search or the business world, so.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, so one of the first books that I read when I was starting business, when I was first getting into the self-development world is Start with Why, Simon Sinek, and I would read that over and over. I think I read that probably five or six times. And you can change what you do very easily and you can pivot that, like you said, but the reasoning why you were doing that, that doesn’t change because you want to be more fulfilled, you want to help more people, you want to have more freedom. So, I think that was a really cool concept for me that it’s older concept now, older, right? And I was in this world. But yeah, that’s a really important one. So, Denmark, it’s like, why it’s the same Denmark? Because Eric is clearly a Viking, you’re 6’3” or 6’4”?
Eric Bandholz: 6’5”.
Dean Pohlman: 6’5”. So like, I’m 5’10”. So, anybody who’s like 6’2” or taller, just a giant to me. So, you must have seen some Denmark here, but I bring that up because you spent months in Denmark a few years ago?
Eric Bandholz: Yes, about six weeks, so five months and a half.
Dean Pohlman: Six weeks.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah.
Dean Pohlman: And that coincided with something that I’m going to bring up, which is I don’t know if you’re ready for this yet, but it’s part of me getting ready to do this interview. I did kind of a small deep dive on you to just try and get to know you a little bit more. We’ve had a bit more conversations and– go ahead, sorry.
Eric Bandholz: A small deep dive. Is that just a shallow dive?
Dean Pohlman: That’s true, yes. It felt intensive, though, so it was a short, intensive dive. Yes. And we’ve had a few more conversations over the past few months, but I went into the YouTube channel and I found a video that said you were leaving Beardbrand. So, I watched that and I thought it was going to be, I don’t know what I thought was going to be. But in that video, you got really personal and you talked about your wife’s and your struggles with infertility. And I just want to say, first off, that I really connect. I know it’s a recording, but I really connected with you on that video. I thought the audio was going out, and then I checked back and I was like, nope, oh, wow, he is collecting himself because you’re talking about something real. So, first off, I just want to say that I felt really privileged to share that with you. And I think that was just really touching. So, thank you, first off.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I’m different than my wife, and that like for me, to kind of work through my issues, I find that talking about it just to anyone is good. And I’m not ashamed of what I’m going through or no details too gory. So, it’s just like, gory is probably not the right word, but just like too embarrassing. So, I feel like to a certain degree, I was almost put on this planet, and maybe, again, that’s not the right term, but one of the values I bring to life is just expressing myself and then sending out messages for those who need to hear it or looking to hear it or haven’t been able to hear it. And I’ve kind of got a higher tolerance of criticism than most people, so…
Dean Pohlman: Yes, you do.
Eric Bandholz: So, subsequently, I tend to say, yeah, some stupid things from time to time, but I’m kind of okay with it because there are people who are thinking that and they feel alone and they feel almost imprisoned with their thoughts because they don’t feel like anyone is going through that, especially with infertility, just like it’s this unspoken thing that so many couples are dealing with, and you can’t talk about it. And it’s just this huge burden that you think everyone’s having babies and everyone’s having a good time. And here we are with miscarriage after miscarriage or month after month of not getting pregnant. And I just felt like I kind of wanted to open up so that any guys who are dealing with that could hopefully have a little bit of online therapy, I guess.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And circling back to why I brought up Denmark in the first place, so Denmark turned out to be the magic cure for you guys, being there to help get you through the first trimester or something.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. So, I mean, for those who haven’t seen the video, which I would assume is many of you, we struggle with infertility. We ended up getting an egg donor for my daughter and we were very fortunate to have her in our life. And since I’ve had several other miscarriages, I think I told we’ve had nine lost pregnancies and I wanted to just get out of Austin and just kind of change of pace and live internationally in. So, we spent six weeks in Denmark, and I don’t know if it’s the water or just the relaxed lifestyle or just kind of like getting out of the norm, whatever it is, but we were fortunate to kind of bring a stowaway back with us, and that’s my son. So, we got pregnant naturally there and a lot cheaper to get pregnant naturally than the IV, perhaps, so.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I can imagine.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, we are very, very fortunate and very blessed for that. And then, of course, my boy will be two pretty soon. And he’s a healthy boy. So, we’re very, very fortunate.
Dean Pohlman: That’s great. We need to get our kids together.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah.
Dean Pohlman: Well, my child, I only have one, which feels like a lot. He’s 19 months as of this recording. So, in January 2022, he’s 19 months, which leads into my next question. You have two kids. Your daughter, Eleanor, is nine, ten.
Eric Bandholz: She’s eight years old.
Dean Pohlman: Eight.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah.
Dean Pohlman: Okay.
Eric Bandholz: And my boy, he’ll be two. And Klaus is my boy, he’ll be two in March.
Dean Pohlman: How has that affected you? How has being a father affected you as an entrepreneur?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, it’s hard.
Dean Pohlman: I don’t even know if it’s…
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard. I think there’s a very driven person in me who loves my job and loves working, who I think if given the opportunity, I would spend from 8 a.m. until 10 o’clock at night, every single day working or thinking about my business and how to grow the business and how to solve the problems that we’re currently facing in the business. And then there’s the person in me who wants to be a good father and someone who can help the generation improve, like I do believe in families. I think families are a great way to raise children and how do I make sure that I’m not neglecting my children? And one of my reminders is if you’re not giving your children love or they’re not receiving that love, then they’re going to fill it with other vices. They’re going to seek that love out from something else.
And that could come in the form of drug use. It could come in the form of just like insecurities or anxiety or just a lot of different ways that people are trying to fill their body with love. So, it’s just like finding that balance where I can be that foundation of love for my kids. And it’s challenging, like what is the right amount? Because personally, I love the work, I enjoy working. And children can also be very exhausting for me. I’m definitely not a nurturing person. I don’t get off on feeding them lunches and changing their diapers and cuddling them when they’re hurt and stuff like that.
So, my role as a father, I feel like I really bring a lot of value, obviously, in providing for my family, but also in teaching lessons and helping them think through problems and seeing the world in a different way, like I feel like when they get older, I bring a lot more value. So, it’s been a challenge, especially the first child was really challenging, like making that transition. And the one thing that I think for anyone who’s married and wants to have kids who haven’t had kids, I think one of the most challenging things is you get your wife, and this is not all cases, but in a lot of cases, you are child number one with your wife, and she’ll take care of you. And if she’s a motherly person, she does all those things for you, and then when that kid comes out, you are no longer considered a child and…
Dean Pohlman: You’re number three.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, you’re after something…
Dean Pohlman: There’s something else, number two. Yeah, there’s a little divider.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. So, the dynamics of your relationship changes with your spouse. And I think that was something I was not prepared for or not something that I expected, and it was very challenging to move from this kind of like husband who is the number one in your wife’s life to number three or whatever it is.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, all of those points resonate with me.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I kind of wish I heard that or knew about that before I had my kid. I think I would have been a better husband, I think. I certainly wasn’t the best husband because I was going through those things emotionally and kind of what it was, but I think if I was better prepared for it, I definitely could have been a better husband, I was a less selfish husband too, so.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that was kind of a shock to me, too. Not a shock, but it was definitely, I had to think about the evolution of that relationship a lot in order to kind of move forward with it. I think I wrote a blog about like two months into fatherhood, and it was basically kind of a reflection of a lot of things but also the evolving relationship with me and my wife. And I don’t think we never had this relationship where she kind of she didn’t take care of me in the sense that she was doing my laundry and making my food and things that your mother would or I don’t know, whatever you want to think about that. So, I never thought about her as like really taking care of me significantly.
But when she focused most of her energy on Declan rightly so, because he needed her, but it was interesting getting used to that. And I definitely agree with you what you said about the father being more valuable later. I think you took a few months off when Klaus was born. I took three months off when Declan was born. I would work a little bit at home, but I wasn’t going into the office at all. And despite that, here we are now, 18, 19 months, and Marisa’s taking care of Declan, mostly, but I’m around the house, I feel like I’m here just as not as much as her, but I would say probably 75% of the time she’s watching Declan, I’m with him or I’m cleaning up dishes or I’m picking up toys or I’m getting Declan ready for something somehow. And despite that, I feel like he’s just in the mom phase right now. So, I agree with you. And I’ve heard also that the father becomes more important later in the child’s life, except for that first initial dad phase that they have when they’re a baby, which is great.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I think it’s kind of like that really first 18 months or something like that, it’s really the mom’s keeping the baby alive and that’s what needs to happen, maybe like 12 months, something like that. And then your role as a father should be in supporting the wife’s needs and kind of like helping her when she’s exhausted and really like being a support to your wife more so than like a father to the baby. I don’t think a lot of guys really– I never had this connection with the baby, like I can’t feed the baby. I mean, I can do a bottle and stuff like that, but you don’t really feed the baby like a mother would feed a baby. Again, I’m not this nurturing person, and I would imagine there are a lot of guys that kind of fall into that, but naturally, it’s not to say all guys are. There are certainly a lot of guys out there who love babies and nurturing them. And that’s okay, too. Like, you don’t have to feel one way or the other, but I just kind of want to speak to the people who maybe see the world the same as me.
And then as that baby starts to walk and jump and understands what you’re saying and communicates with you, then that bond for me, at least, really starts to strengthen and grow. But it is one of those things I found, like the more I put into it, the more I listen to their needs or make them lunches or kind of like support them, the more they give back to me and the more they come to me for help. And so, like you do definitely get out what you put in, which can be challenging from time to time as well.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, at least for me, I really found that I was able to create a better connection with Declan when, first off, it has to be one on one because if mom’s there, it’s really tough to because he’s going to look at her or she’s going to. She just has that connection with him that I never will, or maybe I will later, but right now, at least I don’t. So, I found that if I’m alone with him, I can get one-on-one time with him and I can focus not on what we’re doing together, but if I can focus on him, there’s a bit of a difference. So, if I can really focus on him, not just what he’s doing, not what I’m trying to do to get his attention, if I’m in it long enough, then we can get to the point where, okay, now, we’re having some real connection. But if I’m there, if I’m just like following him, making sure he doesn’t fall on the sidewalk or making sure that I can build his toy so he can destroy it for me or whatever it is that he’s– we call him Declan the Destroyer very frequently. But I found that, yeah, if I can really focus on him and get really immersed and really have that one-on-one, that’s when I’m able to have the best connection with him.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. And I don’t know, I think the challenge for a lot of guys is like, how much time is it that you need to be really present with their kids? I would argue that it’s probably not that much time, maybe even like 10 or 15 minutes, where if you’re just super present with them, like really engage with all the distractions, the phones are away, you’re not making dinner, it’s nice to be in the same area in the same room with them, but for me and my daughter, it’s kind of like playing cards, like if we could play cards together, the screens are off, we’re kind of working together or even like car rides. Car rides are great because in a lot of times, they don’t have any other distraction, I kind of hear you. I know my mom, whenever she drove me off to college, she would always give me the toxin, it’s like, you can’t get out of the car, there’s nothing you can do, and then she’s going to go and kind of preach to yourself.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I realize that. Go ahead, sorry.
Eric Bandholz: Oh yeah. And it gets through, like with my daughter being eight. She’s like, I know, dad, da da da. Like, I’m not listening, da da da da, but that stuff does get through. So, every once in a while, I’ll be amazed, like, oh, okay. Yeah. There’s this something that’s true.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I’m not at the point where we’re having those long car rides and talking together, but I actually did sidetrack with my wife. I know, we drove back and forth to Houston. She’s from Houston, and we live in Austin. So, we would go to Houston every other month or seemed like every other month or every three months or so. And for the first three or four years or five years of us dating, and there were those long car rides, where we really had the opportunity to have those more serious conversations or those more intimate conversations. And so, it’s kind of just a good example of doing something mundane together can lead into going into a little more emotional depth, like I have this with my parents. I don’t do a ton of stuff with them. I want to have more emotional depth with them, but it’s really hard to just go straight into like a let’s talk about something really deep. I haven’t seen you in four months, but let’s just go straight into hey, I want to talk about the way you raised me or like this particular event. So, having those mundane activities that lead into something with more emotional depth, I found that to be. Anyways, it’s just brought that up for me, so.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, road trips. Everyone is going on road trips now, so.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, the cost of flying is offensive anyways, but then you have to cast it with a– you can either sit in the car with the child for two hours. So, I don’t know.
Eric Bandholz: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but that’s just kind of like, there is suffering in life because it’s just kind of like once you realize that and then accept that, then you’re able to resolve the issue, I guess.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, one of the things I wanted to get back to when you were talking about dad as an entrepreneur, so we have different work modes and kind of thought processes than other people. So, my wife, for example, she’s a physical therapist and she has one-on-one appointments, mostly, at least that’s how she works right now, but she’s in it from nine o’clock. Let’s just say nine o’clock until four o’clock, just ran a range of times, and she’s working while she’s doing that. But for me, I need to have X amount of minutes and I have a creative process that involves breaking up work with YouTube videos or like breaking up work with a walk or doing some stretching. So, we have different kinds of creative or work modes than other people.
So, getting used to, okay, Declan’s going to sleep now. I have from 10 o’clock until two o’clock to get my work done. I don’t know about you, but that was really difficult for me to try and do my work within those new confines within those new schedules because if you’re a dad, if you’re a parent and you’re present, you go from having all day and all weekends to do things to only having time on the weekdays from 9:00 until four o’clock. So, I don’t know with you.
Eric Bandholz: Well, with my first daughter, that was a lot of anxiety because the business launched in January of 2013, and then she was born in November of 2013. So, the business was like 10 months old, something like that. And obviously, if you’ve built a business before you know how fragile a business is at 10 months old, and my goal was to have a business, I could support the family because I didn’t want to go back to work for the man.
So, when she was born, we weren’t making enough money for me to just focus on Beardbrand, and she stayed at home. So, she had to work, and I had to work, and we ended up both working four days a week where I would watch the kid for three days, and then she would watch the kid for three days. And then we had like somebody watch the kid on Friday or something. I forget how the math worked out, but it was essentially like that. But when I was watching the kid, the baby, I guess, from like three months to nine months or whatever it was. And I would put her down for a nap and then I would kind of hope to be able to work for another hour or two hours. And then, of course, you’d wake up with a wet diaper or hungry or whatever. And then that would distract my flow, and then I would get frustrated. I would get a little resentful that I had to take care of this baby and I wasn’t present and I just felt like I was a failure of both by trying to work on the business, build the business, try to be a good husband, and then, of course, trying to be a good dad, which I was not good at. I was just not good at all three. And something kind of has to give.
And I think, I feel very fortunate that the second time around, the business has been established, and I have secured income and I could take off the time and I could be present. I could just be like, alright, the company’s not going to go down to zero in three months. I’ve got a good team in place. And it really allowed me to be a lot more present with the kids. So, I have a lot of empathy for people who are trying to deal with that and trying to make ends meet, it’s not easy. Like the reality is you’re going to perform at a lower level and either across the board or maybe you’ll be the best dad ever, but then your work really suffers or your relationship with your partner suffers or whatever it may be. So, you always have to kind of find that balance.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, and it’s a lot of hats to wear. It makes me think about kind of the expectations of the modern mom. She’s supposed to have a job. She’s supposed to take care of the kids, do all the kid’s stuff, all the laundry, all the cooking, all the cleaning, and also have a full-time career, and then also time for the husband. Like this is just impossible. I mean, I don’t know, as men, I think we feel a little bit less pressure for that from society, but in the reality, I mean, yeah, like you said, we deal with a lot of the pressure ourselves.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, I think everyone should achieve the type of life that they want to achieve, but I do think there has been, from my perspective, less of an emphasis or celebration to the women who make the decision to focus on their family and focus on being a mom. And I understand the downsides that comes with that decision, like you really are tied to your husband. And if your husband’s a loser or if your husband cheats on you or your husband controls your finances, this puts you in a really bad position. So, it is kind of challenging.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, there’s a lot of trust there.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, a ton of trust. And I think maybe that’s where a lot of that route of feminism comes from and wanting to have a career is, like so many women who have been in abusive relationships in the past that they kind of get out of it.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah.
Eric Bandholz: That they wanted the freedom, but like a lot of those roles haven’t changed where guys are not, and I’ve fallen to the traditional role, like I grew up in a family where my mom was a stay-at-home mom. That’s kind of what I was used to. My dad worked, he made the money, and he would do sports things or coaching or whatever, and he did a little bit of like dishes and stuff like that, but he was never cooking the meals and checking the temperature. He was never the primary caregiver for the family, and I think, I’m continuing that, and me, personally, I prefer that. I feel the value I bring as a person to the family is through the provider and kind of like that coach type of license.
But again, it’s not to say that everyone should do that, but I do think you need to have clear expectations with your wife or your spouse to what those roles are going to look like. And then if you do want to have those traditional roles, you’ve got to put a lot of stress and pressure on yourself to be able to provide for the family and do it, like take back that burden of being able to feed family and being able to create a loving environment where your wife feels safe and she doesn’t feel like she’s going to lose everything if you turn out to be an as*hole.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, I think…
Eric Bandholz: Don’t be an as*hole.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that’s a good start. I mean, I think having those conversations is really important to get on the same page. And unless you’re living identical trajectories with your career, you’re also going to be making different amounts of money, then you have to make sure that you’re equating both of your jobs, not just based on how much money you’re making, but also based on how much does this mean to me? And I can’t just tell my wife, “Hey, you shouldn’t go to work because your time there is not as valuable as my time at work.”
Eric Bandholz: Right.
Dean Pohlman: Because that leads into the feeling of superiority in other areas. So, you have to be really mindful of that. And I kind of grew up in a household that was not traditional. Both my parents are really career-focused. So, we had a full-time babysitter for as long as I can remember until we didn’t need her anymore in lieu of child care. And so, I was, I don’t know, six years, maybe. But yeah, my parents both got home really late, my dad would get home at like 6:30, 7:00. My mom was getting home at 5:36, throw a Stover’s in the oven or throw some sort of easy-heat thing to make for food, which now, as a fitness snob, I’m like looking at it like I can’t believe I survived, but…
Eric Bandholz: Microwaved hamburgers.
Dean Pohlman: I lived.
Eric Bandholz: Microwaved hamburgers, like the bun and everything, it was the grossest thing ever.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, honestly, I don’t think that you have to. If you’re a child, I don’t think you need adequate nutrition. I think as long as they’re eating food enough and they’re not hungry, they’ll– I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure I’m wrong to some extent, but I’m not convinced that you need to feed child vegetables in order for them to grow up and be healthy, functioning adults.
Eric Bandholz: I think it just sounds like you’re just patient, and their palates are just so sensitive as children, they’re not going to like brussels sprouts, they’re not going to like broccoli. But don’t create this trauma in their lives where they just build up walls and they’re like, “Oh, my dad forced me to eat broccoli, and I hate it, and I’m never going to eat it again.” Like, it’s okay to try it, and then when you’re ready for it, we’ll be here for you. And it’s tough for us because our daughter is a selective eater and she has a very limited…
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I sympathize.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, it’s hard, but she’s still growing. So, that’s kind of the thing is she’s growing on them.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, I’ve got a couple more questions. I’m going to try to bundle into one, but we’ve talked a lot about the idea of mental wellness in this discussion so far. I also want to mention that if you ever want to get to know Eric better, you should follow him on Twitter. He’s very active and he’s very vocal. And something I really like about you is you’re– not vocal, that’s not the right word, you’re honest. Something I really respect about you is that you kind of share your beliefs, you just do it and you don’t feel the need to write an asterisk for every thought that you put out. I still feel very– I don’t know, but I still feel like if I want to say something bold, then I have to write an asterisk and say, like, this doesn’t apply to the following people. Also, I am aware that this, this, this. Also, I’ve had the experience of this, so I’m not blamed. So, it’s hard to put out just a blank statement, not a blank statement, it’s hard to put out a belief. And you do really well of doing that. And when I asked you about it, how are you? So, how do you have kind of the courage to do that? You said you’re a gamer. That was your explanation, right?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, like in college, I spent a lot of time playing Half-Life. Especially in the early 2000s, there is not a very PC culture. So, I’ve seen everything, I’ve heard everything. There’s pretty much nothing you can say that will be offensive to me. And I think it has gotten challenging, though, because like 20 years later, I’ve got a lot more to lose. Like if I say something wrong, I’ve lost customers over the things that I’ve tweeted before and…
Dean Pohlman: Oh, yeah. Same.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I’m very fortunate that my business partners also aligned philosophically, and they kind of support me. And they know who I am and kind of like the intent, like they know the real Eric Bandholz. They know what my goals are. They know that I want to help people be better. But I also see different pathways of getting better than maybe the mainstream. Narrative is going to see things like very, very relevant experiences like I believe in health, eating healthy, exercising. I think it’s not only great for respiratory infections, but it’s great for heart disease, it’s great for energy, it’s great for self-love. There are just so many benefits to it. And it just overwhelms me as to like, why are we focusing on these solutions that solve one thing when we could ask them to do, inspire them to improve their health, and it’s going to help in so many different ways? So, I don’t know.
Dean Pohlman: I’ve seen that conversation. Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen that conversation. And I would love people to live healthier lives. People don’t want to uproot their entire lifestyles and do all this change. That’s just what modern medicine here has evolved into, I know I could do all of that, but is there like a quick fix? What’s the pill?
Eric Bandholz: Give me the pill, give me the shot, I’ll be good.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, like, let’s talk mental therapy. Going back on Twitter, so you’ve tweeted about the importance of mental therapy. Can you talk about, do you participate in therapy or has it been helpful for you in the past? Or why do you think it’s helpful?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, like there’s a– I don’t know, it’s like the four-burner kind of strategy. You’ve got your relationships, you’ve got your work, you’ve got your physical health, and then you have your mental health and if you have like one, two of propane going up to these burners and you put one burner all the way on high, the other burners aren’t going to get enough gas to heat anything up. So, it’s about finding that balance of allocating the right amount of fuel to each burner so that you have a healthy burn.
And mental health, I don’t engage in any kind of like in the mainstream kind of therapy in terms of going to a therapist. I tend to recognize mindfulness as something that identify, which is going to be like my walks and my alone time and just being able to kind of work through my issues and then, of course, a public therapy, like sharing my problems. I found that one of the greatest ways of learning is to say something publicly. And if I may say something wrong publicly and I’ve got no problem leaving it up there as a record of, oh, yeah, you know, I said this. Either the way I said it was misinterpreted or my beliefs were actually wrong and…
Dean Pohlman: And you’ve evolved because you’re human and you change.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. And I think there’s a lot of pressure in today’s society to never say anything wrong, to always be perfect. And you say something wrong five years ago, then people are going to dig up your tweet history and be like, oh, look what you said. And I’d like to think that there are certain things that I’m never going to be wrong about, try to love people. And I’m sure maybe I’ve said things where it’s like, these types of people are bad, but I don’t know. Everything’s gray in the world, it’s not black or white. And the more we can build a society of people who understand that the world is gray and not black and white, I think the more likely it is to mend and heal. I don’t even know how to answer the question about mental therapy.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, to your response about mental therapy and mindfulness. So, I have a weekly therapy session and I find that our conversations are, it’s a mindfulness practice, and it’s not like he’s not giving me advice, he’s like, here’s what I’m hearing from you. And he’s kind of like a mindfulness coach in a way, like he’s asking me to dig deeper into, well, here’s a theme that I’ve been hearing from you today or here’s a theme that we’ve heard in our past sessions. So, he’s kind of helping. He’s a mind observer and he’s helping me to kind of get into maybe some mindfulness aspects that I wouldn’t be able to pull up myself.
Eric Bandholz: Almost like a coach.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, exactly. So, I have all these extra questions that we don’t have time for, so I’m going to try and pick a couple of them that I think would do well for what we’ve discussed so far. What do you think is one habit, a belief, a mindset, or a practice that has helped you the most or helped you a lot significantly in terms of your overall happiness? So, something you do, something that you continually think about, something that you enact in your actions that’s helped in your overall happiness.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I think there are two primary ones. The one for business is Nike’s slogan of Just do it. So much is like trying to have the perfect this or the perfect pitch or the perfect ad or the perfect product or the perfect whatever. Sometimes you just got to do it and then learn from what you’re doing. So, that’s a reminder to me to, like, not get hung up. I think for the first 10 years of my life, I followed what the societal blueprint, what college was telling you, build the business plan, pitch to investors, and then I was very fortunate to kind of get exposed to the Lean Startup mentality and kind of like startup weekends and more action-based strategies, and I found that that’s made a huge impact on my life. And it’s with everything, your fitness to start eating better, just start exercising, don’t dole out this wonderful plan, just do it.
And then the other thing is more for just kind of like. Despite being able to say really stupid things on Twitter from time to time, I do still struggle with this wanting to be accepted and wanting to be liked by people, strangers on the internet. And one of my taglines that I repeat to myself is haters going to hate. So, I just got to remind myself, like, there’s just people out there who aren’t going to see it, aren’t going to get it. They don’t view the world the same way and they’re just going to hate, and haters are going to hate and then just kind of keep on going. So, to a certain degree, I kind of repeat that whenever I want to say something that I’m feeling internally and I want to share it with the world and I know it’s not going to be well regarded by everyone, so.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, personally, I found in those situations, the haters are going to hate situation, is that they’re coming into that in such a different context, and the one that you came into it from, like you just made this, like for me, I would make these big, long posts about like 500, 1,000, 1,500 words about something that I had been ruminating on for hours. Or a blog that I wrote, it took three hours to write, and I went back and triple-checked it, and somebody reads the first sentence and they’re like, well, this is my experience. You haven’t even read my experience, they’re like, or they’re just like scrolling and they saw one thing and they didn’t have any of the contexts or they’re just not even thinking about it or they have zero importance on it, whatsoever, maybe they were just being sarcastic like, so you don’t know, like, it’s just…
Eric Bandholz: Or they’re having a bad day. I mean, like all sorts of things. Yeah, I had a tweet that I deleted the tweet and I don’t have any problems deleting tweets either, but I deleted it because I was really frustrated that the message I was trying to make was not being conveyed, like they’re focused on, like, I kind of set up the point that I wanted to make. And then the counterpoint, like, here’s the setup, here’s the tie, here’s kind of like the hook, the grub, and then everyone just focused on that hook, not the point I was trying to make. I can’t blame them because ultimately, it’s on me to be able to craft a message that people can understand and get. And that one stuck with me for a while. Like dammit, I thought I had something good and I wasn’t able to convey it in a way I wanted, but…
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve definitely been there, where you’re like, well, this is what I was trying to convey, and then that’s what other people, and yeah, you’re right, you can’t blame them. Or like having a conversation about my website, and someone was confused. I’m like, well, if you’re confused, I know you, you’re an intelligent human being. So, it must be me. Like, I’m probably not conveying something, and even though I think it’s queer. Yeah, that’s a big problem. I think that if it’s in my head and it’s clear and I explain it to you in one sentence, then like, okay, I have shifted everything in my head to your brain now and I don’t have to explain it any further. And if you don’t get it, then what’s wrong with you?
Eric Bandholz: I mean, it goes back to the whole communication, like 90% of it is like nonverbal or whatever, and then tonality and then the actual words and then like, you’re blowing Twitter down to just the words. And not only that, you only have 170 characters or 300 characters, whatever it is. Like, man, that’s really hard to accurately convey. So, almost like when you’re reading tweets, I take that and a grain of salt to that you’re not getting that perfect translation of what is in the author’s mind to your mind and trying to figure out what that is, maybe ask questions rather than assuming because it would have been a lot nicer if someone asked the question rather than going on this rant about what that is. Seek to understand is always a good philosophy.
Dean Pohlman: That’s what I was going to say. If I’m upset about something on social media, I find that the best way to get out of that is to imagine it coming from, if I try to get in the head of whoever left the response or the comment, if I try to empathize to where they were coming from, that’s been like the most helpful for me rather than something else. Alright, so next question, what’s one thing for your health that you do that you think is really overlooked or undervalued by other people?
Eric Bandholz: I mean, I think the basics of health are– this is a foundation I’m trying to build. Real meat, real veggies, real fruit, as few processed foods as possible. Sleep at least eight hours, and then lift heavy things, put it down, and then get the heart rate up. I think like if you’re checking those four boxes from a physical standpoint, I don’t know much of what you miss out, I guess, like you probably stretch a little bit more than me. I’ve never been a big stretcher.
Dean Pohlman: Probably. I do so, I’ve been known to do some mobility work from time to time.
Eric Bandholz: Yes. You should probably do a little bit of that, too.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, the basics. Alright. And my last question, what do you think is the biggest challenge facing men in their wellbeing today?
Eric Bandholz: I mean, I always think the challenges, societal expectations which are a construct of your own mental perception of what society expectations are. And being able to ultimately be the person you want to be and be okay with that is the hardest thing for a lot of guys. Everyone thinks different things of what society thinks they should be. And then once you realize you can just be yourself and work to become a better version of yourself or to improve that person, then life gets a lot more interesting and a lot more fun, and you’re able to accomplish a lot more things.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I agree. That’s a huge one. Alright, so I had a bunch of grooming questions, but I’m going to have to just text you about those later.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, you can go to my YouTube channel. I got a lot of these.
Dean Pohlman: Yes, my questions are, if you’re curious, like what’s the difference between shampoo and washing my beard with different stuff? And how can I avoid ingrowns? And how can I help with flakes? So, I’ll have to look those up. But how can men get started with understanding their basic human needs and then understanding kind of just some basic grooming products they should have with Beardbrand?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, if you text us, contact us through text messaging. We do have a style consultant like a real person, Sylvester. You might have met him when you were in the office. Sylvester, he’ll give you advice. But we started that conversation with kind of like how-to basic, a little PDF that we’ve put together to kind of give you the basics or join our email newsletter, and we kind of walk through what we call like a grooming boot camp that kind of touches on all these basics.
If you don’t want to give up your information, you can just head over to our Beardbrand and just search for whatever you have issues with like, I got beard flakes, Google that, we got a video on it. I’m trying to grow my beard long. The wave’s gone, I’m trying to fill in patchy hair, I’m trying to– like whatever it is, we’ve got over 1,000 videos. We’ve created content on it. So, it could be a video or even a blog post if you’d like to read it. So, Beardbrand, whatever you’re searching for, we’ve got articles on it.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And your YouTube channel is up to how many subscribers now?
Eric Bandholz: The big channel is about 1.8 million. And then the small channel, I think, is over 150, which is probably the small channel is more true to what I feel like the company is about, and the big channel is more creating entertaining content for a mass market. So, it goes a little more broad than our core values and things like that, but it’s not so much about those numbers. I found it’s more about like, who’s really engaged and connected with the brand that you’re talking about.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Okay, so definitely check out, it’s called Beardbrand Alliance. It’s the smaller YouTube channel.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, I mean, that’s where you’re going to get more of our vibe and what we’re about. But the Beardbrand channel is great, too, if you want to watch people get their haircut.
Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Now, I have so many thoughts about who’s like, maybe I have to try it out, but I’m wondering, is there a type of person who just obsessively watches grooming videos?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, like, well, the thing is like, I end up on YouTube, the weird parts. I watch these like, they’re not vets, but fairies, I think they are. And they’ll just clean the hooves of cows and stuff. And it’s like, I’m never going on a farm. Like, why am I watching this guy get a stone out of the cow’s hoof? But I’ll just watch all the videos, it’s just like, I don’t know. And I think the same thing with our hair kind of videos because it’s like this transformation, the before and after, and the barbers are relaxing, and it’s just a similar kind of thing that you end up on YouTube from time to time.
Dean Pohlman: Gotcha. Alright. And so, what’s the best way for people to follow you and what you’re doing?
Eric Bandholz: Yeah, Twitter is pretty much my only social media platform. It’s my last name, Bandholz, B as in boy, A-N-D-H-O-L-Z. And then, of course, head over to Beardbrand.com, check us out, and there are products to care of yourself.
Dean Pohlman: Sweet. Alright, Eric, thanks so much for joining me. Glad we have covered the questions that we did. Maybe we can have a follow-up to discuss those ones that we didn’t, but thanks for being a great interviewee.
Eric Bandholz: Yeah. Pleasure’s all mine. Thanks for having me.
Dean Pohlman: Cool. Alright. Talk to you soon. Thanks, guys, for listening to the Man Flow Yoga podcast. I don’t know how to do an outro. Talk to you later.[END]
- Eric Banholz on Twitter
- Book of Reminders by Eric Bandholz
- Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
- How to Deal with a Crappy Life with Eric Bandholz
- Fatherhood – 2 Months In
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
- YouTube: Beardbrand Alliance
- YouTube: Beardbrand
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