Nonprofit founder and author Bob Goff has a four-letter secret to his success: love.
Goff, whose new book, “Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People,” will debut next week, joined Glenn in the studio today to talk about “extravagant love” and the need for “courageous people” in a difficult world.
Goff uses his experience as an attorney to bring justice to places where crimes are overlooked by the culture. He shared the story of a little boy who was kidnapped by witch doctors in Uganda, brutally maimed and left for dead – but survived.
With Love Does, the nonprofit he founded in 2003, Goff gets to fight for kids like him. He pursued the death penalty for the witch doctor who nearly killed the little boy and won, sending a message to the rest of the country that kids will be protected.
Relying on a “childlike faith,” Goff has been able to show love in unexpected ways, and his message on today’s show was to encourage everyone to do the same in their own lives.
“Make your next courageous step, whatever that is,” Goff said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: So here’s the thing: I’ve given up on politics. Because we keep playing this thing over and over and over again. And expecting different outcomes. And it seems to be the same outcome.
And I’m more of a believer in the individual and the individual going out and doing something. And just saying, you know what, I don’t care what people tell me what I can and can’t do. I don’t care if they tell me that it’s ridiculous.
Because it’s not. If we just decide to do it. I want to introduce you to a guy, Bob Goff, who I think has a similar attitude. Welcome, Bob. How are you is this
BOB: Thanks a million for having me on. Good to be with you.
GLENN: You’re an attorney from the San Diego area.
BOB: Yes, 30 years.
GLENN: And you’re a best-selling author now. You have a new book out now called Everybody, Always. But your last one was Love Does.
I want you to give the audience, for anybody who doesn’t know you, a sense of who you are. And start with — start with the fact that you have no television in your house. And what happened on September 11th in your house with your children.
BOB: Yeah. Well, I was practicing law. Had — I can’t tell you about me without telling about sweet Maria Goth, my bride of 33 years, and then we have three kids. And this whole idea, living a purposeful life, like we’re confronted with so much information, so much tragedy around us, one of the things that I decided to do was I was just going to start with my family. And so we decided to get rid of the television.
And when the — when September 11th happened, I came home and I told the kids, there’s something horrible that happened in the country.
And we sat around this table we have in the kitchen. And I said, if you have five minutes, in front of a leader in the world, what would you say to them? And I love — my son was seven at the time, he said, you know what, I would invite them over for a sleepover. And that actually makes a lot of sense.
GLENN: It does.
BOB: Put your hand in the goldfish bowl. See if it makes a B. And it works.
So my 9-year-old said, I would ask them what they’re hoping in. Because I would say, like, if you find out what people are hoping for, you find out a lot more about them.
And then our 11-year-old, she was the precocious one, she said, I would say this, if they couldn’t come over for the sleepover, I would ask this leader if we could come over to their house and do an interview and ask them, what are you hoping for? And get a message of hope to pass on to another leader.
So we downloaded the CIA website. We felt like we were hacking into NORAD. We got the name of every leader in every country, figured out their addresses, and wrote them.
And we got a post office box. Because we didn’t want Ahmadinejad to know where we went. (laughter)
And so we sent all these letters. And after school every day, we would go over. And so they would get the mail out. The kids would be in the backseat. They would ask me about these countries.
I’m like, I don’t know. That’s east of here apparently, but we always got the most pleasant notes. It was Tony Blair at the time. He said, like a jolly good show. Like forget it. But jolly good show.
BOB: But then they got the leader of Bulgaria. He wrote to them. And he said, if you’ll come to the palace in Sophia, I’ll give you your interview.
Then the prime minister of Switzerland said, if you come to Bern, I’ll give you your interview. Then the president of Israel said, if you’ll come to Jerusalem, I’ll give you — we got 19 yeses. So I pulled the kids out of school. Their teachers had a cow. I’m like, sue me.
So there’s something just really beautiful about that. And I love that it’s this idea of a child-like faith. That idea — look to your kids. You want to do something awesome for the world, plug into your family.
GLENN: Because you would — as an adult — and the older you get, the secret to staying young — I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said, come to me as a child.
BOB: Oh, bingo. Totally.
GLENN: You still believe. You haven’t been worn down by the world to say, it won’t work. It won’t work.
BOB: Yeah. And if you’ve been convinced that it won’t work, get a puppy. Literally, just —
GLENN: No, because then I’m convinced potty training doesn’t work.
BOB: Yes. I worked it right in the middle of that. The only thing our dog has missed is the lawn so far.
But one of the things is that, let the children kind of lead us. And we’re seeing that in society. We’re seeing that over and over. Go do that with your family. So we went.
And there’s this one country. They had just been involved in all kinds of stuff.
And the leader walks in. And he said, children, you know, I’m more nervous meeting with you, than if I was meeting with the president of the United States right now. And then he said, and when I get nervous, I get hungry. And he claps his hand. And all these servants come in with jars of candy and ice cream. It’s just really beautiful.
There’s something about this idea of leading with love. And it takes a child-like faith to get there. Not childish.
Because most of us guys have childish nailed. But child-like, to just remain hopeful, even in the face of overwhelming difficulties.
GLENN: One of the places you went to was Uganda, right?
GLENN: And we’ve done some stuff? Uganda. Because there’s still sacrifices. Human sacrifices in Uganda with these witch doctors. And they kidnap children and they sacrifice them. And it’s horrifying. And horrifying. And then you stop it in one place, and then it pops up in another place.
Because it’s still part of their culture. But you being an attorney, you found that for a long time, there wasn’t a law. But then like three years before you got there, they had passed a law to stop all this, but nobody was enforcing it.
Is that right?
BOB: Yeah, that’s it. Because people were afraid. The judges were afraid. Everybody was afraid.
But it just takes courageous people to make big change. That idea to just — and we don’t measure. God doesn’t compare our leaps. I would say for everybody listening, make your next courageous step. Whatever that is.
For me, I was a lawyer. Knew how to try cases. The problem with me, there’s always child sacrifice. There’s always a victim, but they’re always dead. And it all changes.
A couple years ago, a little boy — we’ll just say his name is Charlie. He was walking home from school and gets abducted by the leader of all of these witch doctors.
And they — they try to do this sacrifice. They cut off all his private parts and leave him for dead. But the kid doesn’t die. So for the first time, we had a victim survived. We got the witch doctor.
So I asked, could we try Uganda’s first death penalty case. And they said, you will never get a judge who will touch that. But then we found a judge. And we tried the case. And the word of this conviction went to 41 million people. And here was the message: You touch a kid. It’s over.
There’s something beautiful about that idea of like, there’s no love without justice. But there’s also no justice without love.
So after this conviction happens, the boy is all torn up. This attack happens with a machete. A doctor in Los Angeles, here’s what happened. And he calls me up at home. He said, Bob, I heard what happened with this little kid, and I can fix him.
And I’m like, buddy, you didn’t hear what got cut off, you can’t fix that. And he’s like, I’m the chief of surgery in Cedar-Sinai Medical Center. I can fix him.
And I said, what? So I drive up to Los Angeles. He takes out a piece of paper and he starts drawing out what he’s going to do, which is way too much information.
And I asked him — if they find that at the TSA, I’m going to jail.
And I said, how much would that cost? And he said, it would be staggering. But I’ll do it for nothing. I’m like, I can afford nothing.
So I fly back to Uganda. We find the little boy in the bush. And my first stop is court, and I become his legal guardian. And we’re flying back for this operation. And I get off the plane in London. And he’s holding — and he said, Father, can we just walk the rest of the way? I’m like, oh, buddy.
And I open up my laptop to see if there’s any messages. This is the time when Obama is in office. And there’s a message that says, White House. And the message is really short, it just says, we’d like to meet, Charlie. I thought it was some of my friends, like you guys, that would just pull a fast one.
And it’s legit. And this kid that was standing in the bush in Uganda is now standing in the Oval Office. And I think, why does this happen? And here’s the deal: It’s that child like faith. And no matter what age you are, you can actually start thinking about what might be possible.
And I just want to continue to live into that. Even against all of the horrific things going on, to remain hopeful and engaged. Not just to put smiley faces on it. But, what’s my next step? What’s my next leap?
GLENN: So here’s the thing that I think of all the time: If I have cancer — for instance, go to a doctor over and over and over again. Something is wrong, but the doctors can’t find it. If that’s happened to you, you get to a point to where, I don’t care if it’s cancer. I just want to know, you know.
And I think there is hope, when — when there is knowledge that there is something you can do, that — whether it works or not. Is unknown.
But once you know — I have no hope in a doctor who says, oh, you know, it’s just a little spot on your lawn. And, you know, it’s nothing. And he knows it’s cancer. Don’t tell me that. I’m hopeless.
Tell me it’s cancer, and I can find hope.
We have to — we have to not just be putting smiley faces on things and going, oh, no, it’s not so bad. It is. It’s bad. It’s bad.
But now, take us from, it’s bad, to how to find that hopeful place, when we come back.
Name of the book is Everybody, Always, by Bob Goff. G-O-F-F. Bob Goff. We continue in just a second.
GLENN: We’re with Bob Goff. Amazing man.
Not a — you know, not a Tony Robbins kind of guy who makes his living being a motivational speaker, but is truly motivational. And everybody that I’ve ever seen him in. Because it’s — he’s infectious. Courage is contagious, and so is hope.
And Bob just made the point that we need to find hope. So how do you do that? How do you find real hope? In a sea of despair.
BOB: Yeah. No simple answer for anything. But the first thing that strung to my mind is, it’s a life of engagement. And an idea of engaging the people around you. Engaging the issues around you.
But not necessarily with the petition, but engage it with everything that you’ve got, with your love, with your hope, with your energy. Find these things.
We were talking about a wrong that was done in Uganda. Engage it.
If you’re good as a lawyer, go do a bunch of that. If you’re good at loving people, go do a bunch of that. I don’t want people to meet just my opinions, I want them to actually meet me. And the way to meet me is to be curious about them.
GLENN: So you — when you sat down, I told you, you passed a test that almost no one passes. I think there’s maybe been two people. And we’ve had great people in a career of 40 years. I’ve had great people around that I’ve interviewed.
I think — I could honestly say two. Maybe there’s been five, that have walked into the room, said, hello, to me and then said hello to Stu or the other people on the air.
But then the important thing, looked at the people who are holding the camera, doing the makeup, introducing yourself, looking them in the eye, and engaging with them. That rarely happens. Rarely.
It’s sad. But to me, it’s a test of, who are you really? And — and you pass that. And from what I understand, you were out in the greenroom and you were out in the hallway and you were having conversations. You came in here and you started looking around. You’re very observant. Which I think kind of passes all of us by, sometimes. We just kind of — we just engage in the moment and do what we have to do with that person.
BOB: Yeah. I think each of us are looking for these same things in our life, like love and purpose and connection. And then authentic relationships. We just start skipping across the disk, we just turn our life into a bunch of transactions. And I just don’t want to be — I’m not a touchy-feely guy. I’m a trial lawyer.
GLENN: You don’t seem like a trial lawyer.
BOB: I’m the only guy trying a 100-million-dollar case with a Mickey Mouse watch.
But I’ll tell you, it will be the third month of the trial. And somebody in the box will say, Mickey Mouse watch. I’ll be like, I just want — but this whole idea, this overarching idea that we’ll be known for our opinions, but remembered for our love. So I think each of us need to ask, what are we going to be remembered for?
GLENN: I want to — I could spend a day with you.
But I want to come back here in a second, and show me how you remain optimistic, as a trial lawyer. I can’t think of a worst job. I can’t think of a worst job.
GLENN: You’re surrounded by dirtbags, lying, the system, and yet you hold it. So give me some real life examples.
BOB: Well, I would say —
GLENN: Wait. Wait. When we come back.
GLENN: Welcome back. We’re talking to an incredible guy. I could spend the day with. And he’s just invited me to TP some houses for the rest of the day. His name is Bob Goth, the author of Everybody, Always.
And one of the happier guys that I think I’ve ever met. And you’re a trial attorney! And I want to get into that. But we’re going to run out of time. So let’s start off with one of your philosophies, one of the things that you take away from the Jesus story. And that is, tell no one.
BOB: Yes. I love that big moment. It’s this Simon Peter — you know, Jesus says, who am I? And some say you are a teacher. And actually, he was an awesome teacher. Some say you’re a prophet. And he was actually an awesome prophet. And then Simon Peter says, you’re God.
And Jesus said, you nailed it. But I love that he said flesh and blood doesn’t reveal that to you, but the spirit. And we have a lot of people where faith is important to them. And they’re trying to, like, do the spirit’s work. Like, just, they’re trying to tell everybody what Jesus is.
Two verses later, he says, tell no one.
I love that. I don’t think it’s supposed to be a secret. I think he means, show them, don’t tell them.
So show people what — we’ll know what we believe, when everybody sees what we do. I don’t care when somebody says, I got a lot of things I believe. But see what I do. See what you do. You’re doing this, you’re just spreading a lot of hope for people.
GLENN: So you are — so — but do you set out to — you know, another Jesus thing, and it kind of reminds me of you, pay no attention to what’s going to happen tomorrow. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about where you’re going to lay your head. Don’t worry about any of it. Just go and do it. That seems to be your mantra.
BOB: Exactly. So know why you’re doing what you’re doing. So, for instance, I’m married. Got three kids. Two of them — two of those are married. And I want to be a grandpa. Like, what more in the worst thing in the whole — I just want that so bad.
GLENN: It’s great.
BOB: I’m expecting. They’re not expecting. I’m expecting every day.
My son actually with his wife went to Hawaii. He said it rained all week. I’m like, yes!
BOB: More wine to the cabana.
BOB: So one of the things, if you know why you’re doing what you’re doing — and I just want to be — we were talking about being available. So I put my cell phone number in the back of a couple million books. And I get 100 calls a day. I can’t get —
STU: It is legitimately the last sentence — of the book, it talks about, if you ever want to talk about any of the ideas, my phone number is, give me a call sometime, if I can be helpful.
BOB: Isn’t that awesome?
GLENN: It’s crazy.
BOB: People don’t follow vision. They follow availability. And I’m never the smartest guy, particularly right now, but I can be the most available guy in the room.
And so if you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
GLENN: So how — how do you do that?
BOB: I just get constantly interrupted. Like literally just constantly — Jesus was constantly interrupting. People are tugging on his shirt, calling his name from trees. Just — just live a life with constant interruptions.
And what it reminds me over and over again, is not to be efficient in the way that I love people, but to be extravagant. That was one of the hallmarks.
GLENN: What does that mean?
BOB: Just not giving people a little bit, just give them your best.
I got — we took all the money from Loved Does and just gave it all away. And so we’ve been going around, building schools in countries. Which cracks me up, because my worst subject in school was school.
But we’re actually pretty good at starting them. So we’ve got one in Uganda. One in Iraq. One in Somalia. We’ve got one going into a country that doesn’t do that. That’s in two weeks. What could possibly go wrong?
I’ll check back in with you in three.
So one of the whole ideas is to fail trying. Don’t fail watching anymore. Fail trying. So if you see something, don’t just identify with that. But just say, what’s my piece in that?
GLENN: We had guys yesterday, they were up in Indianapolis. And they had potholes in their town.
And they were reading — you know, they knew how bad it was. And they were reading in the newspaper, that the state couldn’t afford it. The city couldn’t afford it. It was $700 billion or whatever to fix all the potholes. So they went to — they took 50 bucks. They went to the hardware store. They bought asphalt. And they just started fixing potholes.
GLENN: Right. And what is amazing about this is so far the city knows about it and hasn’t stopped them. I would think, immediately, oh, you’re — they’re going to come — they just didn’t stop. They just went out and did it. But they’re in their 20s too. They haven’t lived a life of, don’t do that.
BOB: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. What if the — as you’re constantly thinking about, what do you want to be remembered for? And I just want to be remembered for someone who is engaged. And here’s the crazy part, like God isn’t dazzled when you go across an ocean. He’s wowed when you go across the street. This idea of loving your neighbor. I don’t think it’s just a metaphor for something else. I think it actually means love your neighbor.
We’ve got a mailman on our block. He’s lousy at it. He’s not a detail guy.
So we get everybody else — actually, one of my neighbors was getting audited. I had to bring it over. Like, stinks to be you.
So Art, after 20 long years finally said he was going to retire. I’m like, praise the Lord.
And so we decided to make him the grand marshal of our parade. We have a parade on our block. Our block is only ten houses long on each side. And so 800 people showed up to see Art to let him know, just how much they loved him, even though he was a lousy mailman. Everybody in the whole community knew it. We got a convertible. We filled it full of envelopes. We just said, Art, throw them in the air. Do what you do every day.
STU: That’s a great insult right there.
BOB: And there was such an outpouring of love towards this guy.
He called me up the next day and he said, Bob, I’m coming out of retirement. I’m like, no!
But what will happen, when people know that they’re loved, when they actually know they’re respected, this idea of being ready to make a defense for the hope that’s within you, it doesn’t mean to point bony fingers at people. They forget the last sentence. It says, with gentleness and respect.
And if we could just treat people with gentleness and respect, knowing that you’ve got beautiful things in your life. And God might be doing something different in your life than my life.
Last Saturday, there was a wedding planner that was praying for sunshine. And there was a farmer praying for rain. Right?
And it’s just to assume that God is up to different things in other people’s lives, and be a little more patient with them as we get there.
But to do the things, we can hope for a lot of things, but hope on the move. People say like love is a verb. I think hope is. I don’t know about my grammar. But I’ll tell you, hope on the move is unstoppable.
That’s what your — your guys were doing with the potholes. They’re saying, that’s hope on the move. I’m not waiting for permission. Your life is your permission.
Somebody like birthed you and said, go. Now go do beautiful, immense things, but do it with gentleness and respect. I can try death penalty cases against witch doctors, but that whole idea of loving your neighbor and loving the people, love your enemy. Right?
So after the trial, I started meeting with witch doctors. I sent out word on the bush radio that the consul general for Uganda is here, and I command every witch doctor to meet with me. Glenn, they came. I met with a thousand witch doctors. And they are creepy.
BOB: They make dolls that look like me and stick stuff into them. No wonder I always have a headache.
So I asked these guys, what do you need? And they said, we don’t know how to read or write.
So get this, I started a witch doctor school. We go teach them how to be witch doctors. They already know.
We teach them how to read and write. And the only books we have in witch doctor school are the Bible and Love Does. So this whole idea — you should see our graduation ceremonies. I mean, they’re awesome.
GLENN: Oh, I bet. It’s unique.
BOB: Yeah, so I grabbed each of these witch doctors by the face, and I give them a kiss on the forehead. I want be every witch doctor’s first kiss. And I just whisper to them, like, do good. Live your life in a way — they’re already the leaders in the community. Live a life in a way that gives great honor and respect to people.
GLENN: Okay. So I just want to take this back, as I understand this story, here’s a guy I introduced to you 40 minutes ago. And it started at his table with his children on September 11th. They wrote a letter.
He first asked, what would you say to the world leaders? They respond. Most people would stop there. He said, let’s write. And let’s invite them to come here. Or we’ll go there and interview them and find out what they hope for.
And 20 — no, 19 of them said yes. Most people would go, okay. Well, we’re not going to go — they went to all 19?
GLENN: Went to all 19. Interviewed. While he was in Uganda. Finds problems. He’s an attorney, he says, well, maybe I can just help. He starts to help. They invite you to be the — they invite you, you think to be council. Meaning they wanted you to be a counselor and an attorney there. But you’re actually an ambassador. Not of — wait. You’re not the ambassador from the United States to Uganda. You’re the Uganda an ambassador to America, right?
BOB: The consul, yes.
So now you’re educating witch doctors and teaching them how to do good.
That’s a remarkable 15 years.
BOB: What if you just lived a life engaged. It wouldn’t be any different than other people. Like, this whole idea of living an engaged life. We’re not graded on a curve. Just engaged with the people around you, engage the people you love.
But engage them with love. Like, engage them with that child-like faith. And to see what would happen — we would finish each interview with these world leaders. Like, what do you bring to some of these guys? Some places the chocolate would melt.
And so the kids brought the key to our front door. And they gave it to them in a little box. And they said, you know, we came over to your house. If you ever want to come to our house, here’s the key to your front door. And you know what, somebody — I’m going to tell you who, but they emailed from the embassy to our kids. Because they don’t have my email address. It’s the kids doing this. And they said, we’d like to use our key. And they did.
GLENN: Oh, you’re kidding me.
BOB: Just engage people. See what will happen. Do a cannonball. Don’t put your toe in the water. Grab your knees. And then just see what will happen. Start with your family. Let these concentric rings go out. If faith is a big deal, do it because faith is a big deal for you.
But don’t try to talk everybody into it. God will let people know that he’s around because he’s there.
Like, it will just continue to reveal himself. And not in mystical ways.
It will just be by meeting loving people. So I want to be that guy. And I’m trying. And I’m not quite there. I always get my first call. It’s always 5:00 in the morning from some dude in Atlanta. Because it’s 8:00 in the morning there, and it’s 5:00 in San Diego. I got my last call at midnight from two witch doctors in witch doctor school.
And they said, a little boy has been abducted. And this new witch doctor has taken them into the bush for a child sacrifice, but we know where he is. Should we go get the kid?
And I’m standing on my bed in my boxers, yelling into the phone, get the kid! And four hours later, I get a text message from these two guys that used to be bad guys, and they said, we’ve rescued the child, he’s with his mother. And the last two words of the text message, Love Does.
I’ve spent my whole life avoiding the people Jesus spent his whole life engaging. And I’ve just said, I’m not going to avoid people anymore. I’m going to engage the people who creep me out. I’m not going to just avoid them, but I’m not going to engage them —
STU: Is that what this interview is about?
BOB: Oh, you want to know something great? The cover of Everybody, Always looks like a bunch of balloons. I flew over to Uganda after — you know what it’s like when you get a book cover, and they send all these samples. They all look hokey.
So I flew over Uganda. I got the witch doctors to make the cover out of their fingerprints.
GLENN: Wow. Wow.
BOB: But engage people. Engage people. They’re like, what’s this about? Actually, I’m going to write a book about loving people and loving the people that creep you out. And you guys used to creep me out a lot. You still creep a lot of people out. But I’m learning from you. You’re actually teaching me more about love. Because I’m learning about you and your life. And I see who you’re becoming. Not who you used to be. And it’s starting to change me. They’ve actually taught me. I don’t know if I’ve taught them anything. They’re teaching me a ton.
GLENN: I have to tell you, Bob, and I don’t know if you take this as a compliment or not. But I have worked — but I’ve been around and worked with some of the biggest spiritual leaders of multiple faiths in the last 20 years.
And have met the worst and the best. Billy Graham. One of the best. I won’t list some of the worst.
You may be the best preacher I’ve ever met. And it’s not because you’re preaching. It’s because you’re doing it. And that’s the secret.
If we just stop preaching to each other and we stop trying to get each other baptized or trying to fix everybody’s life by selling you X, Y, or Z, just live it yourself, it — people change. People change.
BOB: You know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
I dressed up to come visit with you by taking off my baseball cap. I wear this Boston Red Sox hat, not because I’m a Red Sox fan. I haven’t even gone to a baseball fan.
But one of the reasons I wear it, my neighbor across the street was a big Red Sox fan. And she was going to be with Jesus by the end of the week. So we made a deal. I said, I will wear your Red Sox hat for the rest of my life and represent the Sox here, but every time Jesus walks by you, you need to mention my name.
That’s the first thing if I hear, I knew you not, I’m like, Carol!
So if you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, why you’re engaging people in conversation, why you’re doing it, it will give a lot of clarity to your life.
GLENN: You’re amazing. Thank you so much.
BOB: Oh, thanks so much for having me and for making me feel so welcome and for spreading a lot of joy and hope to people.
GLENN: You bet. Thank you. Bob Goff. Everybody, Always. If that doesn’t sell everyone in this audience on buying this book, I don’t know what would.
Boy, one of my favorite interviews of all time. Thank you, Bob.
BOB: Good being with you, thank you.
GLENN: You bet.