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Johnny Elsasser | The Power of Perseverance

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Hosted by
Mike Ayala

On this episode of the Investing for Freedom Podcast, Mike is joined by Johnny Elsasser. Mike and Johnny discuss a range of topics including transitioning from the army into everyday life, the power of perseverance, lack of communication and real conversations in today’s society, the importance of choosing to be selfish, and much more.

0:00 – Intro
2:33 – Mike shares that he is a visionary and how that can sometimes get him into trouble unless he stops and asks himself the questions Johnny taught him
4:11 – Johnny talks about how his uncle has had the greatest impact on his life
8:55 – Johnny states that perseverance is the one thing that has had the greatest impact on his success
9:52 – Mike shares a personal story about an army ranger that he worked with who taught him so many valuable lessons
12:21 – Johnny discusses how transitioning from the army back into life was tough because he had to go from always planning for the worst into just living everyday life
18:39 – Johnny shares his advice to people who are helping ex-military to transition back into everyday life
21:39 – Johnny mentions how when he was transitioning out of the army he didn’t even know how to structure his own day without a goal given to him by the military
23:41 – Mike states that he doesn’t think there’s enough communication going on in the world today
29:50 – Mike asks Johnny if it is hard to ask for help since leaving the army
30:11 – Johnny states that receiving is a feminine attribute and so it was hard for him to tap into his femininity
35:23 – Johnny reiterates Mikes statement and expresses how he feels we need to start having real conversations
37:33 – Mike advises you to listen to the Art of Masculinity podcast which you can find on all major podcasting platforms
39:02 – Mike asks Johnny what his greatest setback was and what he learned from it
40:30 – Johnny states that the piece of advice he finds himself sharing the most is ‘make the choice to be selfish
45:21 – Mike asks Johnny what is he excited about currently and for the future
48:11 – You can contact Johnny through his website; You will also find all Johnny’s offerings such as the Wild Man experience, a 12-week course designed to help men shift their perspective on masculinity, and a soon to come 7-week course called The Savage System on the website
50:48 – Johnny states that the most prized real estate that you have is the six inches between your ears



Are you looking for freedom? Freedom from the daily grind and hustle, or just finding a way to live the life you always wanted. Then join us on the investing for freedom podcast. Our hosts Mike Ayala will help you discover new ways to find freedom. With tips, insights, and interviews. You’ll learn the exact systems he’s used to travel the world and live his best life. True success and happiness are all about freedom. And here’s your roadmap on how to find freedom on your own terms. Welcome to the investing for freedom podcast. Here’s your host Mike Ayala.


Mike Ayala: Thank you for joining me on the investing for freedom podcast. Today I’m really excited about where this episode is going to go. I’ve got a guest on the show named Johnny, who I met you know, through a couple of different masterminds and groups that we’re connected with. I believe I originally met his wife in Chris Harder’s mastermind, but then obviously, you know, the groups kind of intertwined. And then I think the first time I really talked to Johnny was that Kyle Depiesse’s. One of Kyle’s experiences and, you know, I really appreciated our conversation there. Johnny’s one of those guys that, you know, he’s just a gentle giant. I don’t know if you’ve ever been called that, but Johnny’s one of those guys that like, I feel really safe with him on every level. Like if anybody wanted to come hurt me, I feel safe, but also I feel safe as a man, as an individual sharing my heart, authenticity. So I’m really excited to just have this conversation with Johnny today and see where it goes and introduce you to our family, Johnny. So thanks for being on the show.


Johnny Elsasser: Dude, Mike, I appreciate you brother. And likewise, man, I love the energy that you bring and that conversation’s always stuck in my mind of just an authentic, amazing, I mean, I think we talked for like two hours or something down there that night and it was just absolutely fluid. It was awesome. It was genuine. So I appreciate you for how you show up and how you show up for your community. So thank you for having me on man.


Mike Ayala: Yeah. You know, I’ll never forget that because I was kind of in this place where, you know, what’s next. And I was talking about the HVAC fund, which most of my listeners know, you know, I’m full forced on the other side of that. We’re raising capital for it and looking for deal acquisition and all that. But at that point in time, you were like really challenging me. You’re like why? And I’m like, I don’t know. It just sounds fun. Like it really caused me to just really stop and reflect. And it’s so important I think. So I honor you for that and I appreciate it because it’s so important, especially I’m a visionary when it comes to like business and all that. And I’ve gotten myself in trouble before because I’ve just dove headfirst into something, not really thinking through those questions that you were asking me, the deep probing questions about, you know, what’s the reason for this and what’s the, you know, deep calling the purpose behind it. And so that was very good for me. Thank you.


Johnny Elsasser: Yeah. I know brother, it’s always beautiful to have those conversations and then to where a guys take them after that and how it impacts them. Like obviously you took everything into action, but it made you think a little bit about it and maybe it changed a little bit of your perspective or even your next business.  Cause you’re a consummate, you know, business professional, who’s going after more things all the time. So like maybe it challenges you to think differently or maybe it even challenges you to see something differently that you didn’t know you wanted or desire to have. So I love those conversations man and I’m really humbled to have been part of that with you.


Mike Ayala: And you know, I usually don’t spend a lot of time talking about my transformation, but you brought up Joe Dispenza’s book breaking the habit of being you and I devoured that book and I’ve hired a coach that really helped me do a lot of deep work. I think, you know, a lot of what you do with guys is around the same stuff. But I don’t know that it was directly correlated to that, but it opened up like really I want to say a can of worms, like, you know, just me thinking about being me. And so yeah, once again, just amazing. So let’s jump into the four questions. So Johnny, who has had the greatest impact on your life?


Johnny Elsasser: Man, this one was so easy for me cause it’s been my uncle my whole life and he and I are really close. Just a blue collar guy, you know, lives, paycheck to paycheck. So not that quintessential, like, you know, setting up for the future kind of guy, but he taught me to be the man that I am today and a lot of my foundational pieces of integrity and honor and holding value for human life. So he taught me a lot of the practices of, you know, defending those who can’t defend themselves and standing up for injustice and being a man of humbleness and being able to make fun of yourself, but in the same breath, still treat other people with respect and treat yourself with respect. Like he just balanced masculinity in a way that really impacted me to be a better man. And I’ve incorporated a lot of that to who I am. So I have to give full credit to my uncle. He’s also my godfather. So he and I spent a lot of time together, but he taught me the value of hard work. He taught me the value of holding any person, no matter what stature they are in life, holding them with respect and giving them the respect until, you know, they burn that bridge, but you at least allow them to have that upfront. So he gave me a lot of things and tools that I’ve grown with as a man and helped me when I was in special operations. It helped me when I was doing protection, helped me with so many different things in my life. So he was easily the most impactful person that has been around in my life to this day.


Mike Ayala: Wow! That’s impressive. I’m sure we’ll get more into this, but did he have a military background or was he just a good like solid guy?


Johnny Elsasser: No, he was, and he was a fricking degenerate growing up too.  He was fighting all the, like he was in, I think he was in four different high schools because he would constantly get into, he was kind of the enforcer for his family. So anybody messed with his family, he fought. He grew up in the fifties, sixties, like hard times where, you know, fighting people didn’t tell on you for getting in a fight. You got in a fight and you came home with your face beat up and stuff like that. People didn’t even, they didn’t call the cops. It was like, all right, get cleaned up. So he grew up in those times. He wasn’t a military man, but he grew up in hard times was a boxer, fought his whole life. And just somebody who did hard jobs his whole life. So he knew the value of hard work. He knew the value of respecting yourself and he knew the value of being able to stand up for yourself, but not in a way that just put random people down. He never did that. And he always gave, like I said, it was just, he always gave to anybody that was around him. As long as they didn’t, you know, insult somebody or act like a jerk, right. Like he always gave them so, no military pedigree whatsoever in my family actually, really.


Mike Ayala: You know, this is just, it’s kind of a side tangent. I’m just curious about it. Cause I’ve never been in the military. I’ve got some family that has been. Having that kind of influence, I know a lot of times people go into the military and there’s like, maybe this is a misnomer, but in my mind, the military has to break you down in order to build you back up. And when you’ve got somebody like your uncle in your life that kind of has instilled some of that in you, did it make it easier?

Johnny Elsasser: Yeah. I mean, that’s why I made it to special operations, to be honest was because a lot of the values that he taught me you know, I wasn’t somebody that gave up because I had been doing hard work my whole life and always told that, you know, if it hurts, keep pushing further. And I know sometimes now that that’s not always the most positive mindset to have, but at the time that really helped me to push more and further than I ever thought I could. So a lot of what he taught was, taught me and a lot of what he taught, you know, all my, my cousins and stuff like that. Cause he was very much a teacher to all of us was the fact that, you know, you can continue to push yourself and you can outlast any type of hard environment out there. And it helped me to persevere for sure and becoming a ranger and doing all this stuff that I did. But you’re absolutely right though, the military does break you down, so it’s not a misnomer. It does shred off a lot of your preexisting expectations and understandings of yourself. And then it does build you back up and it’s very strategic in that. So and it does it for good and for bad, right? Like it doesn’t really translate very well into society, always when military people are transitioning, but to be a functional soldier, it really does help people stay alive, to be honest.


Mike Ayala: Wow. Interesting. If you could narrow it down to one thing that has had the greatest impact on your success, what would that be?


Johnny Elsasser: Oh man, I would have to be the perseverance of you know, making it through special operations and being there as an elite soldier and perseverance was the one thing that’s always helped me through anything in my life, no matter how hard it got, even when, you know, I had a failed marriage and was struggling with how I was transitioning out of the military and out of, you know, doing protection. When I was coming back to the states, after being there for almost 10 years, it was a struggle and perseverance, you know, putting one foot in front of the other, always knowing that tomorrow is a blank slate, knowing that everything that happens can be different the next day. So just keep going and keep going. And eventually those steps turn into you climbing a mountain. And that’s been the biggest lesson I think I’ve ever had in my life that I hold to this day.


Mike Ayala: Wow! You know, I’ve really appreciated. There’s a couple people that I’ve worked with throughout my career. There was an army ranger that I worked with at Denny’s actually when I was a teenager that you know, he had gotten hurt. And so when he came back we started working together and that guy taught me a lot about work, but more recently, there’s a guy named Jason that ran my construction company for a couple years. He’s running, he’s doing his own thing now has his own construction company. But working with him was super interesting. He was in the army and he was in some special, I don’t know if he was a ranger. I don’t think he was, but I should connect you two, cause it’d be an interesting conversation. He’s just a good, genuine guy. But I remember working with him and he would get so serious. You know, number one, he’s running, the way our construction company worked and it doesn’t really matter, but you know, we’ve got communities all across the country and in 13 states. And so he was running these crews all over the country and he would just take things so serious. And this guy actually got shot in battle and had to crawl for like 14 hours. He was shot like five times, threw himself off of a cliff because he was getting chased by I think it was in Afghanistan. And you know, he told me these stories about like the only thing that, the only thing that kept him, he was literally laying down, ready to die one time and the thing that kept him going was his little kids back home. But then the reason why I’m saying all this is, you know, we would get in conversations at work and I’d have to tell, like it was just perspective, but he took everything so serious. And one day I told him, I said, Jason, nobody’s dying here man. And he looked at me and it was probably, I don’t know if it was the right thing to say or the wrong thing to say, but we had so many good conversations after that. He said it helped him, like, because he took everything from that perspective, like everything was so serious. And he said that it kind of like slowed him down and made him realize that like, it wasn’t that serious. But he took everything so serious. Is that normal or was that something that after you go through what you guys have been through, does it just automatically reflect that way or was that just kind of normal to him?


Johnny Elsasser: Absolutely. I mean, for anybody that’s been, especially when going through what he went through, which he actually sounds like the guy from lone survivor. And I can’t remember his name off the top of my head right now, but that actually sounds like who that is. But ultimately, yeah, when you transition out of these hostile environments, when you’re transitioning from a lifestyle of always planning for the worst, then you end up carrying that over into regular life. And at the end of the day, you’re planning for the worst because if the worst happens, I’m losing my buddy Mike, right. Or I’m getting shot myself or blown up. So if the worst happens and I don’t prepare for it, I don’t know what to do at that moment. And more than likely, I’m not going to be able to assess and come up with a route to get out of something if you get hit. But when you take that into normal life and you’re running a construction business, or you’re just living any day-to-day atmosphere, you end up sitting there and thinking that everything is against you, you keep having these negative mindsets and a lot of judgments. And all of that does is bring all this negativity into your life as well. And you constantly put yourself in a sympathetic nervous system. So you’re sitting there in that fight flight or freeze mode all the fricking time. And when that happens, you’re not putting yourself in a good mindset. You’re spiking cortisol, you’re spiking, you know, all of this negative response system in your body, which then can have long-term effects. I mean, none of it becomes positive, but it’s a tough transition for us. That’s what I struggled with. I spent 10 years in and out of the middle east when I did, I finished up in 2013 and that’s after I did five years of doing protection on the US ambassador to Iraq and everything I did for those five years was assessing everybody as a potential threat. What do you think that does to you when you’re going out on a date with your wife and she just wants to have a good time? So, you know, people and you’re out with friends and they just want to have a good time and you can’t stop scanning the area and you can’t stop taking life so seriously because you’ve seen the bad shit that can happen. You’ve seen what can really go wrong. And so all of a sudden you’re just looking and waiting for that. Although the chances of that happening in normal everyday life are so slim that you end up ruining your own happiness, because you’re constantly in this negative mindset. You’re constantly in this highly stressful, taxing mindset and situation that you’re constantly driving up in your own mind. It’s not even real. You’re making it up, you’re making the story up. And so it becomes a really bad for military guys and gals for law enforcement, for anybody that’s doing these jobs where they’re insignificant threat on a daily basis, it’s a tough transition. And if we can’t get ahold of it, it drives people. This is why suicide rates for veterans is high. This is why drug usage for veterans is high because of the fact that they can’t break from mindsets like that. And they’re not able to say, whoa, maybe I can laugh a little bit. Maybe I can joke and let my guard down with friends. Maybe I can enjoy my time out and not think of every worst possible scenario happening. You know, if we can’t transition out of that, it becomes, that’s where we start to see a lot of these negative things happening in people’s lives.

Mike Ayala: Wow. You know, when you back to the answer to question number two, when you were talking about perseverance, that’s what made me think of Jason. Cause I was kind of mirroring what you were talking about, which is, you know, obviously that’s the greatest impact on your success is that perseverance. But it kind of tied that together and it kind of blows my mind because not only planning for worst case scenario, but that perseverance, I mean, you’re there to see anything through, no matter what it is good, bad, or ugly. And I saw that in Jason, like he would take a problem and we’re going all the way through it. And sometimes even adjusting, which is one of my simple things. I mean, if something’s not working, let’s adjust, but he did like, and I don’t, again, I’m not a military guy, but sometimes I feel like he would get so focused on a certain outcome that there was no adjusting. And I’m like, dude, it’s fine. Like we failed. Like, let’s go this way and no we’re going to get it done.


Johnny Elsasser: Yeah, there’s no such thing as failure and that mindset, bro. You end up seeing it in a lot of guys. And I see it with myself sometimes when Taylor is talking to me about like things that maybe we need to do. And I’m like, okay, here’s the end state. And we got to get to the end state and she’s like, Johnny, I’m already over here. Like we don’t have to go there anymore. And I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. That’s the end state we picked. We have to get there. So I still find it in myself sometimes that I have to break that habit of the objective is the objective. And yeah, I can pick different routes, but that end objective needs to be the same. Right. You can’t move the goalposts, but that’s not real life. Like we can be adaptable. We can change. Some of the biggest successes have come from failures and then adapting, right? Like we see that time and time again with success stories in businesses. But for us that come out of that mindset of the military and like here’s the one objective and it doesn’t matter what happens like that objective has to be met. We get fixated on it. We get super myopic and then that ends up driving us to really not see what’s around us and the other endless possibilities that could be.


Mike Ayala: You know, this might be, I don’t know that there’s an actually a like an answer to this question just from a macro perspective. But I said this already, but I’ve worked with multiple people over the years that were military guys. And I just, I love the work ethic. I love the drive. I love just the energy that is there usually. And so, but I never really thought about it until working with Jason. Cause I got to work with him so intimately, I mean he was again running my construction company. Do you have any advice for us, you know, business owners, civilians too, because really working with military people, I mean, you can’t find a more loyal, dedicated, you know, and I know that’s a generalization, but that’s what I’ve seen. Do you have any advice for us on how to like help even if they’re new, coming back, Cause I know the transition and bringing them back in is important. Do you have any advice?


Johnny Elsasser: Yeah. I mean, honestly I have to say the biggest thing that  anybody can do for military personnel transitioning or police officers. Cause we’re seeing a lot of them come out of the police force nowadays with everything that’s going on. You’re seeing this transition. And the hardest thing is we were given four corners, right? We were given a four corner box and that was where all of our operations went in, right. Everything that we did, our goals, our purpose, everything fit in that four corner box. When you get out in the real world, those four corners aren’t there anymore. SOP aren’t there to guide you. So what happens with a lot of people coming out and transitioning? It’s, you know paralysis by analysis, right? They don’t know what’s available for them to do. And they’re like, where’s my SOP. Like where’s my standard operating procedure. What is telling me where I need to go, they don’t understand. They get to write that story for themselves. So the best thing that I can say to anybody that’s out there and helping any type of military person with their transition or bringing them on, or police force is teach them the value of writing their own story and own possibilities because there’s nothing restricting them anymore. There’s no Uncle Sam standing at the end with the goalpost that you have to go to, the mandatory goalpost. There’s no SOP saying after step one, here’s step two, here’s step three. There’s none of that stuff. They get to write all of that for their own life. They get to write all that, if they want to make a business, that’s the other thing. They think that they have to be a cog in the wheel and they don’t, you know, they can be successful entrepreneurs. And for anybody out there, if you, especially people like yourself who are highly successful entrepreneurs, show them that they have that possibility. Because when you give somebody with that work ethic, the freedom to do what they want to do, they’ll create some really cool stuff and they’ll create massive wealth and success for themselves. They just need a little push into that transition because they don’t know what’s out there. They don’t know that they have that ability. And they don’t know that those four corners don’t exist anymore.


Mike Ayala: Wow. As you were saying that, I was just like picturing, I remember I was never one that like color in the lines. Like I hated that detail, just, you know, going around the edge of the coloring book. And I’ve always been one that kind of colored outside of the lines and you know, we’re so programmed to color within the lines that yeah, I like that, that’ll stick with me forever. The four corners, the box because you know, I never really thought about it, but this is how you do things. There is no, you don’t stray from that. There’s no variance.

Johnny Elsasser: Dude. That’s really like, that was what I realized about myself. I was like, holy crap. Like there’s nobody writing this stuff for me. I say this out of experience. I’m not saying this to generalize. I say this out of my own experience. I was like, holy crap. I don’t know what to create. I don’t know how to create something for myself. I didn’t know how to even structure my own day without a goal given to me from the military. So like your whole day is structured around the goals. You got to get done for the military, but go ahead and hand somebody and say, Hey Mike, you’ve lived this life in the military and paramilitary that gave you your goal and it gave you your objectives for the day. Hey Mike, your day’s free. What do you do? Not only is today free. Every single day is free for you. What do you do every day? How do you make money? How do you go out and do something for yourself? How do you structure your day? You can’t sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day, but what do you do for yourself? I didn’t realize this. I still end up having to, I have my internal conversations with this almost every day. And I’m getting better about structuring my day, but I’m still not great at it because I’m still breaking those patterns of, you know, what was engrained in me for so many years. And that’s, what’s powerful when you guys allow, when you guys allow us to see the way that you guys are able to create massive success and wealth and support for others. Cause you’re such a giving guy. See it in you all the time when I’ve seen your posts and we’ve had our conversations. And I know so many people that are close to you, you’re such a giving person. When we see that we’re like, oh, that’s the kind of life I can have. That’s possible for me too, cool. And it’s great when you guys share that, because then it ends up allowing us to break, open that box to figure out, oh, I can structure my day. I’m the one that decides what my day looks like now. I’m the one that decides the goalposts that I’m going for at the end of every single day. That was what I struggled with. And that’s where I see is another huge way that you guys can really, really help with anybody coming out of that type of structured lifestyle.


Mike Ayala: You know, this is so valuable to me. And I think the reason why working with Jason was so valuable because it just gave me a glimpse into working with that. But this has kind of taken it to the next level because I don’t think there’s enough communication going on in the world today. I mean, I know there’s not right. We’re not having conversations like this where, you know, I mean, even whether it’s military and police and entrepreneurs and investors or anything, just communicating, you know tearing down these boundaries and these borders between the way we think about X and Y there’s probably so much more that we’re actually aligned around. We just don’t take the time to really understand it. As a side note, before you respond to that, I was picturing you asking Taylor, Hey, what time should I get up? Hey, what time do you want me to make the bed? Hey, I’m wondering how that goes over.


Johnny Elsasser: Oh my God. Yeah, no, man. I would sit there and my wife is amazing at structuring her day. I mean, she’s just a boss. She’s done it for so long now. She’s great at it. And I just, I would sit there and she would go into the office and she’s got like her morning routine and it’s like 10, or about 11 o’clock. It’s like it’s game on for her with work right after she gets through her morning routine. And so I’m sitting there and I’ve been, you know, trying to work since like 7:00 AM and I’m like, huh, what do I do for my business right now? What do I do? Somebody tell me, you know, and I’m just sitting there and she’s like hammering out work. And I’m like, how do you do this lady? And I’m like, you used to be special operations, bro, you can’t figure this out.


Mike Ayala: That’s crazy. Sorry, I didn’t mean to derail us, but that’s just what I was thinking about when you were saying all that. I think the communication piece is so important. I think we need more of this. Like you bring up, you know, with everything that’s going on in the world. Just even, I don’t think people stop and think what are police officers go through on a daily basis? You know? Obviously military, cause we don’t even, I can’t even understand, like I can’t understand what you guys went through. Like, you can kind of see what the cops go through on a daily basis. I mean, I’ve rolled up on accidents where people were dead and you know, they go through that stuff every single day and trauma and having to see, you know, kids abused and all this stuff and the narrative that’s going on out there right now. Like, you know, painting, I don’t want to get too political here, but there’s just no communication. There’s no understanding.

Johnny Elsasser: You know, no, there’s not. And it’s hard because on one end of the spectrum, you have all of us who have been in these jobs and we not necessarily actually, I would say majority of them don’t want to talk about it. Like it took me forever to even tell people publicly I was part of special operations because it was so ingrained in me that we were the quiet professionals, that was our saying, quiet professionals. And so like, we didn’t brag about what we did. We didn’t do it for thanks. We just did it, Cause we were bound to our mission and our purpose and we were very good at it. But the quiet professionals what we were. So like, we don’t to talk about this stuff. Not because, I think some people there’s a block. The trauma is there and they can’t talk about it. And then there’s another thing that there’s all of us who were taught, Hey man, you’re a quiet professional. Don’t talk about it. Because if you do either one, people are going to be like, dude, you’re just bragging at how bad-ass you are. Or two people are going to be like, dude, just humble yourself, man. Like, you don’t need to complain about what you did or you don’t need to talk about things that you did. Like we all get it. You guys were military. You’re like, so there’s that whole feeling that barrier of like, wow! Do I really want to talk about this and open up a communication and dialogue with the other side and the other side, I mean just the general public, right? Like letting you guys kind of get a glimpse of what we do and what life is like, and it’s not all, you know, bullets and battle, right. There’s a lot of mundane times in the military. There’s a lot of mundane times in the police force, but it’s the fact that, you know, we don’t open up about what it’s like to live in the four corners of a structured life that you don’t really write your own story. We don’t want to talk about what it’s like to have to, you know, potentially go into a life-threatening situation every day or multiple times a day. Like we just don’t want to talk about those things. And I think that’s where the communication breaks down. So there’s a barrier there. And then there’s that barrier of people really understanding like, you know, yeah, you may be able to understand some of it. Right. But there’s a lot of people are like, it’s just going to go right over their heads or they’re just going to have a blank stare and you’re going to be like, all right, well you’re not really listening. So why are we even having this conversation? So really what happens, and this is, I can speak in generalities because this is pretty much what happens. People with like-minded you know, information stick with like-minded information. So vets stick with vets, police officers stick with police officers, police officers stick with vets, right? Vice versa. We stay because it’s safe, it’s safe in those fields. We all speak the same language. We all, you know, can understand one another to certain extents. So then we leave that big gap and lack of communication. And that’s really, I mean, it’s great that you highlighted that because I agree there’s a huge, massive miscommunication or lack of communication between the two perspectives, for sure.


Mike Ayala: It’s such a great point. And yesterday, so we’re in the middle of moving and for whatever reason, my moving company won’t let me take all my alcohol. So I have all this bourbon and a buddy of mine came over. I’m like, dude, come get this bourbon. Cause he loves bourbon. And when he was taking it, he said, you know, this feels really awkward to me taking all this bourbon. Cause it’s like a lot of nice bourbon. And he said, I’m the one that’s used to giving. I’m not used to taking or receiving. And as you were saying that, I just remembered that conversation. And it kind of, this is a question, not a statement. I think a lot of times too, you know, you guys are out just serving, serving, serving, and never asking. You’re always the one that’s helping, not just military, but police and everything else. Is it hard to ask for help? I mean, is that a challenge?


Johnny Elsasser: I think that’s inherently in men. So men in general and men are predominantly who are in these, you know, more high level hostile positions. Men have a hard time asking for help. Men have a hard time receiving. You know, receiving is a feminine attribute. So for us men to be willing to receive, we have to be willing to step into our feminine. You know, you got to be able to put on that feminine hat and it’s a very hard trait for us men to learn. I know it was incredibly hard for me and still, I struggle with it sometimes, but I’ve gotten so much better by learning and in kind of working through it myself, but to receive is not something that we’re inherently okay with because what happens is especially with men. And so you have to remember too, these guys that are coming out of these high octane fields, a lot of them are alphas. And a lot of them are these highly masculine men, even if they’re not predominantly like true alphas, they might be highly masculine men. Well, the problem with that is if I say, Hey, I’m going to give you something Mike, you’re like, I don’t need anything from you. I can buy what I need. And then all of a sudden it feels like emasculation, right? And so guys get emasculated by receiving gifts from people we don’t, most of us don’t like it. And it’s just because it makes us feel really uncomfortable. So I don’t know if that’s necessarily much of a military thing as it is a masculine thing and as it is with, and even the women too, because most of the women that are in these fields are more in their masculine than in their feminine. So they have a struggle with that same thing that us men struggle with. We don’t receive very well, man. Like I said, I truly still have to work on that because I don’t receive very well. And then I also holding space for my wife is that kind of other thing of receiving, and that’s something I’ve had to work with. I know that you’ve probably been doing the same in your marriage and we just don’t do that very well, man, we don’t, receiving’s not a strong attribute that we have.


Mike Ayala: That’s such a great point and segue, I guess as well. Cause this is a lot of what you do is work around masculinity, right. Which is an interesting topic because I know this is a thing, but like the whole concept of toxic masculinity and all this stuff. But you brought up something before we dive into the masculinity thing, which I think that’s probably one of your core skillsets and whether that has to do with military or not. I’m just so curious when I’m in front of it, you know, that’s, I probably shouldn’t make it all about the military, but when you said that you know, it made me realize that there’s a lot of men that are, and again, this is just men that are just hiding, like we’ve lost our masculinity completely. And so like I was curious about the whole military aspect. So I’m kind of going down that road, but the reality is a lot of men are just hiding. Like there’s not a lot of conversations happening, period. I was talking about lack of communication between, you know, certain segments, but really communication is just lost period.


Johnny Elsasser: Yeah. There’s I mean, when it comes to men there’s, so when we look cross, when we look, you know, globally, right, and we start to look cross culturally in a global aspect, most of the, you know, kind of what people deem third world countries have initiation processes for their men and their community. They typically go through a Rite of passage, right? And it teaches them what are expected of the men in the community, how to treat other people, what’s their role in society. And then they create a symbiotic environment. And most of those cultures, the funny thing is a lot of those cultures are ran with matriarchs, which is funny, but their rights of passages for men teaches them the way of the man within that culture. Well, over here in Western culture, we have no right of passage. The only Rite of passage we have are really two. And it’s either the military and it’s either gangs and neither of those create a great positive masculine in a lot of ways. A lot of ways, it kind of presents  what’s called hegemonic masculinity with power and control and dominance and follows down these old ways of thinking. Well, as men, we have to evolve, like if you’re not going to evolve, you’re going to get left behind, I promise you and evolution is why we’re even here today. So if guys want to sit here and say stuck and not talk to one another or not talk about what’s going on and they don’t want to evolve into this healthier version of masculinity, then they’re going to get left behind. They’re going to be stuck in pain. They’re going to be stuck in frustration and sadness and depression, all of these things. But if they’re willing to start having true conversations, I have again, on my podcast, I’ve had some of the baddest dudes on this planet, fricking other spec ops guys hop on there and they talk about their vulnerability. They talk about the struggles with their family, the realizations they had to come to. This stuff does not, It doesn’t exclude any male. Every guy out there has had issues they have to work through. It doesn’t matter if you look up to them as the pinnacle of what a man should be, or it’s the guy sitting next to you, every guy has had struggles they’ve had to deal with. And we need to start talking about that. It’s not just about like, oh guys can cry. It’s not about that. We have a lot more feelings than just crying, Guys. We need to talk, like you said, we need to start having real conversations. I honestly love the fact that I could go to a golf course with you tomorrow and you and I could talk real stuff about life. I don’t want superficial things anymore. As soon as you open this can of worms, this is a man where you have real conversations about what’s hurting you. Where you’re struggling in life, whether it’s your sex life or your work or finances, whatever it is. If you start opening up about that, all of a sudden you crave those conversations with your friends, you start calling in a new group of people and then that permeates out to other men. That’s how we build this, but we have no rites of passage to show us what a real man or what true men should be in our society and how we symbiotically connect with everybody else and work in cohesion with society. So we need to start creating that ourselves. And we need to start by having real conversations. That’s where that communication needs to be had. And I’m a huge proponent of that,


Mike Ayala: Man, That’s so good. My coach has been talking. There’s a  book that he brought up and I haven’t read it yet, but he said, you know, one of our core needs is really to just know that we’re going to be okay. And he’s, whatever this, the book is called I’m okay, You’re okay. And he said at the end of the day, like that’s the conversation that we need and that’s what you actually said. So once you open up those flood gates of, you know, authenticity and trust, I’m being vulnerable. I can have genuine contribution, those feelings, those words, Like I don’t want anything different than that. I don’t want shallow, Like you said, even going golfing, it’s one thing to go golfing, but even on the golf course, like I want to have fun. I want to have genuine, you know, conversations. And once you’ve seen that, once I know I’m okay and you’re okay, then that’s really the connection, like together, as long as we’re open and there’s trust and we can go deep and we can be authentic. I’m okay. You’re okay. And that’s what I really appreciate about, you know, who you are, your message real quick, where do people find that podcast? Because I want to make sure that if somebody dumps off, they find you.


Johnny Elsasser: Oh yeah, no, I appreciate that brother. It’s just the art of masculinity. So if you guys find that anywhere that you guys listen to podcasts, Spotify you know apple, wherever, Stitcher, whatever you guys listen to, it should be on every platform out there. So you can find it there. But yeah, I mean that’s what it should be about. It should be about, I’m okay, Only comes with confidence in yourself. That’s where we’re finding a lot of issues with men. Men are not confident, they’re lost right now. So many men are lost and they’re not confident because they’re running their life off of a prescription that was given to them, not written by them. That’s the problem we’re finding, men are not writing how they want to show up in life. They’re basing their masculinity and how they show up in life off of preconditioned and preconceived notions that were given to them by society, by media, by, you know by movies, by TV shows, by all these things that are penetrating our minds every day. And they’re writing their story based on that. They’re not writing their story based on their own authenticity. That’s the hardest part. And until they write their story based on their own authenticity, they won’t have the confidence to be okay to allow you to be okay to have the vulnerable conversations.


Mike Ayala: So good. What was your greatest setback and what did you learn from it?

Johnny Elsasser: So I really thought hard about this cause I had two points in my life that I would consider, two of my greatest setbacks. And the first one, I was about 19 years old. And I had just gotten back from ranger school and I got back to battalion and we had lost all my guys were out on deployment and I was back home because I was in ranger school. So when I came back into the battalion, they were still overseas in [39:32 inaudible] and we lost Bremm and Barraza and these guys were superheroes in not only our platoon, but our battalion, like people knew who they were. They were like elite. Like we were all elite, but we all looked up to them.  And these guys got killed and it was, I’ll never forget because one, I saw what it did to their families. I saw what it did to their best friends who were in battalion as well, who I was friends with. And I saw what it did to us as a unit because of the fact that we saw these guys as superheroes. And now we realized we were all vulnerable, that there was no promise of tomorrow, no matter how good you were. And it didn’t matter at the end of the day that you succeeded anywhere in life, or you were capable of anything in life, you know, a bullet is a bullet and it can take out anybody. There’s things in this world that aside from hostile environments can take us out in a second that we never see coming. And the rest of our life doesn’t matter. All that matters is the day that you’re living. Cause it’s truly not promised. And I know that sounds cliche, but that was what hit me. That was a setback because it shook me in my own foundation of who I was at the time, a very competent ranger. It shook me in my own foundation. It shook a lot of my brothers. And I don’t think any of us were the same after that day. And it took us a lot to remember that, you know, we still had to move on and we still had to be a successful unit. And we still had to take the fight to the enemy every day. And we still, most importantly, had to live our own lives because these guys didn’t die for nothing. They died for what we all believed in. And if we were going to sit there and drink our lives away, they would have been. So we needed to live our lives. And that was a big setback, a huge realization for me. And then the second one was, you know, when I had my failed marriage, after coming back from doing protection and being in the military and that was something I never wanted. I thought that was the pinnacle of like a failure of a man. You couldn’t keep your wife, you couldn’t keep your marriage together. I was like, that was the story I wrote for myself. And then all of a sudden that all fell apart and I was like, whoa, what does this mean about me? Like, how am I going to be a man tomorrow, Now that this is done? Like, what am I going to show up as? Because I’ve already deemed this kind of man of failure. And I had to restructure my own mindset and I had to reinvent myself, but that was a huge setback in who I was too. And I had to grow a lot from that too. So those were two pinnacle points in my life for sure.


Mike Ayala: Powerful lessons, man, appreciate you sharing. What is the piece of advice you find yourself sharing the most?


Johnny Elsasser: I have a few, but the one I share probably the most is make the choice to be selfish. I think so many people have a negative connotation of selfishness, but you have to understand that you can’t give a hundred percent to your kids, to your wife, to your friends, to your coworkers. You can’t give a hundred percent to everybody If you don’t give yourself a hundred percent. If you’re not, if you’re walking around 50%, because all you do is give, give, give, and you never put into yourself, then you’re actually giving them 50% of who you are. You’re not giving them a hundred percent. So take time to actually be selfish, to fill up who you are and to make sure that you bring yourself back to center, into purpose with who you are, because when you do things like that, that fill you up, all of a sudden you show up differently, you radiate differently to everybody else. You impact everybody differently. And that’s where the power really is, selfishness isn’t a negative feature. It can be used just like what people want to say. Toxic masculinity. There’s no such thing as toxic masculinity. There’s behaviors that follow masculine traits, but people can use those negatively or positively just like in femininity. And it’s the same thing with selfishness. You can make selfishness completely negative where you’re disregarding and you have zero empathy, but that’s not the selfishness I’m talking about. I’m talking about be selfish for you by making sure that you fill up yourself inside. If that means that, you know, it’s great conversations on the golf course or hiking with your buddies, like on a Saturday, then make sure you do that. So you can show up every day after that until the next Saturday as your highest self, right? Because if you constantly just draw down and draw down and draw down, you’re just giving a diluted version of yourself to everybody.


Mike Ayala: So good, man. Wow! I’ve got about five more minutes left and we’ve got about like probably an hour or two hours, 10 hours’ worth of conversation. So I love what you’re doing with the art of masculinity and just kind of piggybacking on what you were just talking about. I think this conversation is so needed and maybe we’ll circle back and do another segment at some point in time. What are you excited about in all the work you do with the art of masculinity? And by the way, as a side note, Johnny has these they’re called the wild man experience, right? But Johnny has experiences, which I’ll let him tell you here in a few minutes where to find those, but you get together and just do man stuff. It’s like super cool. So you got to check that out if you’re interested in that, I’ll give you a minute to share that, but with the art of masculinity and all the work that you’re doing with the experience you’ve seen in everything that’s going on in the world today, what are you excited about?


Johnny Elsasser: Dude, I am truly excited about the fact that I have the opportunity to open this door and this conversation for men, this lack of communication that we were talking about, that you were, you did a great job opening up. I have the ability to open that and I’m excited that men are starting to listen. I’m excited that men are starting to say, let me take a look at who I am and how I’m showing up in this world. And it just takes one guy at a time, you know, and as soon as one guy does it, then he tells two, three friends. You know the story on this, everybody knows the story on this in business, right? Tells a couple people. Those couple of people tell a couple of people. And all of a sudden we have a movement of men really taking themselves seriously because right now most men are taking themselves as a joke. They lack integrity with who they are. They lie to themselves. They don’t actually take themselves seriously, but I’m excited that men are starting to take themselves seriously. They’re starting to say, let’s have the real conversations. Let’s have better relationships. Let’s have better relationships, not just with our wives and our families. Let’s have better relationships with ourselves. That’s what I’m excited about. That lights me up. When I see guys that take that stuff and they put those tools and techniques into their lives and they reap the benefits of starting to see pure joy and living every day. That’s what excites me. That gets me fired up, man.


Mike Ayala: Rightly so because there needs to be a shift. And I think that you know, guys like you leading the way and teaching us how to step into that because we’re just not taught. We just don’t know it. It’s been such a degraded thing for so long. And having guys out there that are, you know, leading the way. And I love I said this at the beginning, but you’re such a soft, gentle, approachable person. It puts my guard down. And but then you’re such a good example of it too. And so I appreciate you showing up and really being an example of that in the world. So tell us a little bit about some of the things that you, you’ve created some programs obviously some experiences, how do people find you? How can they get involved and how can they become you know, more of a, like I guess, tap into their masculinity?


Johnny Elsasser: No, I just want to acknowledge you for one second, man and just tell you how much I’m appreciative of you, of our friendship, of being on the podcast and just being the way that you show up. Cause you are truly a nurturing, loving man, and it’s great to be in your presence and your energy because you’re always willing to give and that’s not something that’s super common. So thank you for that. And thank you for how you treat your community and the information you give them. Like I said, you’re always here for people’s success and that’s really cool to watch. So thank you for that, man. As far as for me guys, you guys can find me at That’s where you can find all my offerings. I have the wild man and experience. We have a 12 week course called the Dawn of masculinity, which is a deep dive into helping guys really shift their perspective and start writing their own story and giving them the tools and the techniques to really be that man every day. Because at the end of the day, we’re not going to win every moment. We’re not going to win every day, but if we have the tools and techniques to come out of it and realign back to the guy we know we want to be, that’s where strength and power is and masculinity that’s where strength and power is and authenticity. So that’s what we do for 12 weeks in the Dawn of masculinity. And then I’ll be releasing, If you guys go check out my website, we’ll be releasing a new seven week course, It’s called the Savage system here pretty soon. That’s coming up at the end of August. Cart will open and you guys will be able to purchase that one, but that’ll be a really fun seven week foundational piece to help us identify the Savage within and show up as that guy and savagely just attack life, everything in it, you know, because I think we need to be ferocious in how we attack every day, because like I said already, tomorrow’s not promised, it truly isn’t. So we need to take the present moment and live it to that fullest that we can. So those are really the offerings in the wild man stuff. If you guys are interested, we have a couple more spots for the October 21st to the 24th event. So if you’re interested, shoot me in a message on IG or shoot me an email through my website and let’s talk about it.


Mike Ayala: So like flying in helicopters, Shooting guns, learning, like

All the stuff.  Plus, obviously getting into some, you know, man stuff. You know, I had a little thought and I want to number one, thank you for your service. You know, this is the investing for freedom podcast where we talk about, you know, time freedom and all of that. And I’m looking at the flag behind you and, and, you know, we have freedom because of guys like you, but as you were saying that you’re so passionate about returning men to their masculinity. And what I realized in talking through this with you, I think this is going to open up so much more for me, to have our financial freedom and our time freedom is one thing to have freedom as a nation because of people like you is another thing. But ultimately at the end of the day, finding our true freedom is as you were saying, all that about, you know, tapping into what, who we really are, our true self and finding that masculinity that’s freedom.


Johnny Elsasser: Well, you know, I always say the most prized real estate that you have is the six inches between your ears. So that is where pure freedom is. Nobody touch that unless you allow them to. So if you want freedom, you need to find yourself first, you need to identify that freedom. You need to identify that sovereignty that you have first before anything else can come. Once you do that, then you can start living in true freedom. Then you can start finding the external ways to create that freedom of money, freedom of time and all of that. But you got to find the inner freedom first, because if you don’t, you’re just building freedom on top of a false foundation or a shaky foundation. And that’s never going to hold. You’re eventually going to have to come back to yourself.


Mike Ayala: Wow. So good. Johnny, thank you for your service. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your energy. I’m happy to know you man.


Johnny Elsasser: Yeah brother, I appreciate you. Thank you for having me on.


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