By Ben Sherwood
GLENN: We have Ben Sherwood on with us. He is, he's just I mean, he is a guy who really opened my eyes and set my feet on the right path in many ways with a book called The Survivors Club. It's out in paperback today. Welcome back to the program, Ben, how are you?
SHERWOOD: Hey, Ben, great to be back. I'm doing well. How are you?
GLENN: Good. You know, I've strangely found myself in your circle of friends. Do you know this?
SHERWOOD: I've been tipped off to that and I think you are the only person who noted sort of a convergence of these three different friends and these three different ideas we've both been working on for the last few years.
GLENN: Right. Ben, did you see that?
SHERWOOD: I did not. I absolutely did not. And I said to one of my friends the other night, only Glenn Beck would have spotted the thread that lined or links the three of us.
GLENN: And it's bizarre. I mean, it's so bizarre. Just real quick, one of your friends is the author of America's Prophet, which is the story of Moses and, you know, the chosen people and the way, you know, you've just got to go through, you know, the desert to be able to get the laws and the role it played here in America. You are the author of The Survivors Club. And a third friend of yours is the author of another one of the books that really kind of opened my eyes and that is
GLENN: Yeah, The Unthinkable which is, you are living in the Age of the Unthinkable; think it. And you've got to look at the unthinkable right now. And I can't believe you three didn't sit down and talk about it because they all tie directly together.
SHERWOOD: Well, Josh is in China, Bruce is in New York, I'm in LA and while we talk to each other all the time, it's usually, do I have the right title, am I going in the right direction. No one sort of does the synthesis that you always do which is pulling disparate ideas together and connecting them.
GLENN: Well, we'll have to it's a conspiracy! We'll have to get the three of you together and talk on radio or TV because it's fas I think the way the three of you look at the world, you have the problem and the solutions. It's amazing to me.
All right, let me talk a little bit about the Survivors Club and the way this book impacted me was if you think the unthinkable, if you think, ye, how do I for instance, Pat, we were talking about your car. He's got Pat doesn't have a Toyota. He has a Lexus. And Toyota's been recalled.
PAT: And initially they said Lexus wasn't part of that. And then so I was feeling pretty good. And then I was reading an article yesterday that one of the things that was the final straw for Toyota was that a Lexus ES 350 went through an intersection, lost its brakes. The guy was on the phone at the time when it happened saying I'm in real trouble here, I don't know if anybody can help you but maybe you can clear the way, and then I went through an intersection and he wiped out and all four people died. And so that was the final straw that kind of formed a recall. And so I started thinking, okay, Lexus is obviously involved. And so I started thinking, all right, if this happens to me, if my accelerator gets stuck, you know, put the thing in neutral, turn off the key, you know, my brakes go out, steer uphill. You know, you start thinking about all the things you can do to maybe save your life if it happens to you.
GLENN: And that's exactly what your point that you found in studying survivors. Pat's a survivor.
SHERWOOD: That's right, Glenn. The story that Pat just described is the story, incredible story here in Southern California involving Mark Saylor. So he is an off duty California highway patrol officer. He's with his wife, his daughter and his brother in law. He's in a loaner from the local dealership. He's in a loaner 2009 Lexus, and he's on Route 125. He calls 911. He's going 100 miles an hour.
SHERWOOD: Now remember this guy had been trained in high speed driving.
PAT: That's exactly what I was thinking.
SHERWOOD: As a highway patrol officer. But it's a new car to him. He's never driven this car before. And so some of the gear shifts and some of the things that you would do in this new car aren't familiar to him and while he's on 911, he says we're approaching an intersection. And then voices can be heard in the back seat saying, got to pray, you have to pray, hold on, pray. And that's it. They hit an SUV and everybody in that car died. What I took away from this crash is the terrible story that the most trained people in the world facing a crisis like this may not be able to get themselves out of it. It's why your listeners, it's why Pat, it's why people who are alert to the things that are happening around them, who have what's called situational awareness and who have a plan and think about it can save their lives, which brings me to this quick story of a guy named Kevin Haggerty in New Jersey, he's a 45 year old salesman, he's a firefighter, he is driving a 2007 Toyota Avalon right after Christmas last year, he's on Interstate 78, he is going about 65 miles an hour and the car just takes off on him. But he had watched a news report about what you're supposed to do. And so he very calmly shifts the car into neutral and manages, believe it or not, to drive this Avalon right to his Toyota dealership. And when he pulls in, the engine is smoking and the tires are smoking, but there it is. There's the problem with his car. And he used this nugget of information he had heard on television to save his life.
GLENN: You know, let me see if you think I'm on the right track or the wrong track here, and we have a conversation that maybe we should have on radio but you are such a smart guy, I don't mind having this on because if I'm wrong, I don't really care; you can help me out, find the right way. My approach this year, because I think we're just headed for trouble, you know, I think we have economic woes headed our way, I think we have terror woes headed our way, we have political woes obviously here. All these things. And everything, it's just the perfect storm. And my feeling, my gut has been to focus on history, learn history. Because you can learn from the past on what you're capable of. What people have done, what the sacrifice was. You'll get a sense of, is it worth it or not. Make the decisions on who you are.
The other is and people just, you know, they will make fun of me a lot and not as much now as they used to. But, you know, when I'd say prepare, you know, go down, and our grandparents used to have a fruit cellar. If things would fall apart, our grandparents could survive for a while because they canned. You know, I can't can now and my wife doesn't can, but you can you know, you go buy two for one, you put one box downstairs in, you know, what our grandparents used to call a fruit cellar. Is that, does that sound reasonable? Those two ideas sound reasonable to you?
SHERWOOD: Well, you know, I'll leave it to you to do the forward thinking and the predictions and that's sort of not my specialty.
SHERWOOD: But I'll tell you kind of what I learned from talking to the world's most effective survivors and thrivers. These people have two qualities that really are at the core of what you're describing, Glenn. They are adaptable. That is, they see new situations arising and they change their attitudes and their actions in response. Adaptability sounds really easy, but adaptability is actually a really hard thing because as you know, most people just want to keep doing what they've always done. They just want to hope for the best. It's known in this field as the normalcy biased. They are biased to believe that things are just going to be okay, that everything's going to turn out all right. Adaptable people are survivors. Across history people who adapt and see threats, see challenges ahead and change their attitudes and actions, they are the ones who make it out alive at the end. They are the adapters.
GLENN: It's really why I like, for instance, and I think you've written for the New York Times. So I'll make the statement. It's why the New York Times in the end, if they don't get it pretty soon, or CBS or, you know, NBC, if they don't get it pretty soon and realize, well, times have changed, I can't operate either electronically the same way that I have been or, you know, with papers and just try to do the same thing over again. Or if I don't change my behavior in some way or another, I'm not going to make it. It's why, it's why socialism really doesn't work because it doesn't force the adaptability. Right?
SHERWOOD: So it's a couple of things. If you look at your success across so many different ways of communicating with people, I would argue that you have taken a look and you and your team have looked at the way in which a communicator reaches lots of different kinds of people. And an adapter to this to this new media world realizes that there are people who read books, a small few, there are people who go to shows, there are people who watch TV, there are people who get their information on the Internet, there are people who listen to the radio. And yet the modern communicator has to adapt to the fact that the old way of doing things just doesn't work in this world and you have to face the new reality. It's the same thing with old media, it's the same thing frankly with people who have worked in a factory for the last 30 years and have counted on that job being there and they do not want to look at their 401(k) papers when they come in the mail because they don't want to see how much that 401(k) has dropped. Unless they adapt, unless they do things that, I've met people in the last six months who are actively going through retraining during their free time, their precious free time. They are trying to learn new skills so that when that factory tells them there's no more job anymore, that that job is going overseas or down south, they are going to have a new set of skills so they can do something with the next ten or twenty or thirty years of their lives and pay their bills. Those people are the adaptors we're talking about. There's one other strength that I think is critical and it's twin pillar of survival and again I think it goes to a lot of the things that you've been talking about for a year, which is resilience. And resilience is the quality that when you get knocked down, when you get pushed all the way to the bottom, when you get fired from your job, when you get attacked by a mountain lion, whatever happens to you, can you quickly rebuild yourself, pick yourself back up and keep moving in a new direction. And that quality, resilience, there are lots of things that go into that, and some of it is genetic, some of that is how you were raised, some of that is a lot of experts believe your relationship to the people in your neighborhood, your relationship to the people at your church or your synagogue or your state. But that ability to bounce back, that's the other pillar of adaptability. You've got to be able to change your actions and then when you get knocked down, you've got to be able to pick yourself back up and keep going.
GLENN: I've said this several times, that alcoholics are going to save the country. And I don't mean there's going to be a bunch of drunks. Well, I mean, we've already got that. But I mean the people who have everything that I learned on the way down and then on the way back up is everything that the country needs right now. That, you know, you're in such denial until you destroy yourself and then you have to say, live or die. And when you choose live, the ones that are successful, the alcoholics that are successful and successful in recovery are the ones that say, okay, I know that didn't work, so now I'm going to try something entirely new. And that is really difficult to do. But that is the secret to success.
SHERWOOD: And resilience. And the people right now struggling with alcoholism and other kinds of addiction, those are mind boggling challenges. Resilience for many other people, people who do not have those addictions.
SHERWOOD: Resilience is something that is learnable, Glenn. It's not something that you've either got or you don't. And it's not something, by the way, that is just sort of constant in your life. Resilience is a thing, and this is according to the top scientists and experts who studied resilience around the world. They say that you can do specific things to boost your resilience. It's almost, one doctor in New York calls it the resilience prescription. They're steps, and I lay these out, steps that you can take to make your muscles, your ability to bounce back stronger and to overcome job challenges, to overcome economic problems, to overcome medical challenges.
GLENN: Give me one of them. Give me one.
SHERWOOD: Well, one of them, and this is a strange one, is called practice realistic optimism. Realistic optimism is kind of a complicated idea but it's twofold. The realistic part of realistic optimism is you have to face the blunt facts of your situation. You have to really face them. But you also have to be hopeful that things are going to eventually turn around. You know when James Stockdale, the highest ranking military officer in Vietnam, prisoner of war, was asked who lived and who died in the prisoner of war camps, Stockdale's sentiments, famous Stockdale paradox said, the optimists died first. That's confusing. Why would an optimist die first? You think that the optimist would make it, and he said that the optimists blindly hoped that they would be released at Christmas or they would be released from captivity at Thanksgiving or they would be released because there were new talks going on in Paris. He said that it was the realists, the realistic optimists who never lost faith in God, in their country, in their fellow men, they were the ones who were able to ride the ups and downs of captivity, bearing that burden with steady train, they were the ones who made it through.
GLENN: Right. And they were the ones that new, I'm in a prison camp and that's just the way it is and it's going to get ugly.
SHERWOOD: It's going to be really ugly.
GLENN: You know, Ben, I'm going out to Los Angeles next week. I'm there all next week. I'd love to have you on the show next week and maybe we even do an hour with you and you can prepare some things like this to be able to share with America. Are you around next week?
SHERWOOD: I'm around next week and I'd love to see you. Bring your earthquake kit. You are going to be on the San Andreas fault. You might want to prepare for that.
GLENN: Hang on just a second. If I'm in the San Andreas fault, I may bring four of my fattest friends with me just to do jumping jacks during the show. No, I'm just saying. No, I'm looking for an investment. You buy, you buy some property in Arizona and come on.
PAT: Glenn Beck's trying to dump California into the sea! We're going to get that.
GLENN: Okay, Ben, we'll talk to you soon.
GLENN: Bye. Somebody's got to.
PAT: You know, four fat people jumping on the fault wouldn't really
GLENN: No, I'm an optimist.
PAT: But are you
GLENN: I'm an optimist.
PAT: Are you a realistic optimist?