Square One Show: with Dave & Jess

Return to Radio: Joel Natalie of TalkErie.com

September 07, 2021 Jessica Lewis
Square One Show: with Dave & Jess
Return to Radio: Joel Natalie of TalkErie.com
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Show Notes Transcript

In this fun and laid-back interview, Joel shares his journey from Erie to Nashville and back to Erie as well as how he got started in radio and why it is important for our community today.

"I feel like the Lord gives you what you need for the season that you're in. And that we navigate, anything, if we trust and if we pray and if we, lock in and focus on.

Why was I uniquely put here on this planet? "  - Joel Natalie


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Thanks for listening!!

Joel:

I feel like the Lord gives you what you need for the season that you're in. And that we navigate, anything, if we trust and if we pray and if we, lock in and focus on. Why was I uniquely put here on this planet?

Dave & Jess:

Well, Joel.. We are so excited about having you on the square one show. Thanks for joining us.

Joel:

Oh, I'm, I'm so excited. I've been listening to this show for many years and I just love. The whole concept of square, one of, of you know, kind of getting off the dime and, and moving forward with your idea. And that's one of my strengths. I, I'm a, I'm a big believer in identifying your strengths. And ideation is one of those things where it's like, how do we make this idea come into action. And I feel like this square one shows all of them. Action about activation or you're activating these ideas. And so I was so grateful to have you guys ask me to come on.

Dave & Jess:

Good. I we're so excited to have you, and you have quite the history too, as far as being in radio and behind the mic. So can you dive into your story a little bit and tell us kind of what your passion is, how you've ended up back behind the microphone.

Joel:

Well, I'm an old man. Yes. So we got to start that way.

Dave & Jess:

My boss, you were my boss, what? 20

Joel:

years ago now over 20 years ago. So we've

Dave & Jess:

actually both worked with Joel before, so we've got some great experiences. Oh, we have lots.

Joel:

We have the three of us and definitely add some grades, like a little bit like a matchmaker.

Dave & Jess:

Ah, yes. I know Joel somewhat responsible for us being together because that's how, if you hadn't produced that show and you had kingdom bound by the Bay in 2000. 1 0 1 and brought down here in first show, Dave and I wouldn't be here sitting with you talking today. Three kids would not exist. Our three kids would not be playing Minecraft.

Joel:

Well, we might also want to give a little bit to the, to the father. Father is in charge of a lot of this stuff. But no, I honestly, I I've wanted to be in broadcasting since I was 11 years old. I don't know how that has come upon me. I, I want to say that I used to watch sitcoms on TV and there were always was a Joel in the credits. I remember watching that girl and, you know, there was a writer named Joel and, you know, you know, a little kid like that, you know, middle schoolers, like, yeah, maybe I want to be in radio. Seriously. That's weird. But then, then I just kind of everything I did yes. That whether it was doing high school theater or doing the announcement yeah. At school and, and then of course then going into communications in at university, it was all kind of towards that end and I thought it'd be in television, but I have a face for radio. Didn't have the looks for teammates, suave,

Dave & Jess:

Italian, come on. Well,

Joel:

they don't call me an Italian stallion anyway. No. You know, you go like when you graduate and think about this 1984, unemployment's like 16%. It's ridiculous. Trying to find a job. So you go for the first job that you can. In your field. And for me, it started at a, and this is the classic radio story. It all started at a thousand watt am station in a little town in upstate New York. I mean, literally that's my narrative and how it started. Right. And. And I just started doing evenings. I w I would write commercials and produce them. I did the evening show spinning all these and, and adult contemporary music. I would board up the New York Yankees, and that was my first full-time gig. Right. We would DJ dances and in 1984, that's what I get. And I, then I was able to get back. To Erie and do pop radio. And I ended up doing a morning show at a station that then got sold and lost my job. But meanwhile, I had transferred. I had got hooked up with a company based in Nashville, which you guys obviously know a ton about. And it was the number one television production company for producing commercials for radio stations. And so I know that sounds confusing, but we literally made 32nd TV spots to promote radio stations, literally around the world. Everyone from a kiss FM in LA. Two Z 100 in New York to why 100 in Miami and, you know even, even jet FM here in Erie. And I mean, think about the heritage stations from. The eighties. We, they were generally clients of ours and I had clients in Canada, in Montreal and in Toronto and Buffalo, and that was my territory. I was a sales person, but then I had an opportunity in 1990 to move back to Erie, to. I left as a disc jockey. I was coming back as a manager and I was going to manage Erie's Christian music station WCTL. And up until that point about 25 years into its existence, it was pretty much like a family run family, mom. Rural station and what my, I was commissioned to bring it, to become a metropolitan station for the Erie community. And by the time I left, 14 years later, we had achieved basically. We were the number one commercial Christian station in the Northeast, number eight in the country in terms of audience. That's awesome. Yeah. I mean, and, and basically we just kind of pursued A connection with our listeners and, and it's, and you know, there's the, the, you know, one of the big takeaways is. Understanding your audience. And how do you have visceral, you know, from, from the total insides of you connection with your audience, say, you know, you've heard books about raving fans, how do you create raving fans? And so on? We, we did it the old fashioned way of just kind of knowing people. And, and, and engaging them. So you, we, you guys mentioned kingdom bound by the bay, which was basically a family reunion type of event, free music. At the big amphitheater on the bay in Erie, Pennsylvania, we did that for six years. And, you know, you have these top Christian artists, whether it was down here or whether it was apologetics or Judy Owens or you know, out of the gray was the first headliner that we had her camera. Her Cameron. He was a very low talker though. And, and Dave, you'll you'll think this, you know, you know, that gave you taught me the difference of the two types of PAs, right? There's like the Cedar type of PA. And then there's like the long throw. What do you call that? Is that the liner? The liner, right? Exactly. Well, we, we, we thought we are ordering the right thing cause we spend enough money for it and they brought the wrong one. They brought the theater run. So it basically was feeding back with, on port Curt for the entire speech. Yeah. Of course it, I didn't have a problem cause they could hear me cause I'm super loud. But we had feedback though, anyway, you know, I mean, you just deal with these and you have these stories, right. But you know, 10,000 people showed up for Cameron and anointed was was a big, was a big one there. And I mean, it was just a great, great show and and it was, it was more than a show. It was an ability to have people People understand. That, Hey, I'm not by myself, in my love for this music and in my connection to God and, you know, again, we were a Christian radio station. And so it was, it was really a magical moment. And again, very expensive, you know, exhausting to put on, but at the end of the day, you're like, I'm so glad we did this. How do we, yeah. And

Dave & Jess:

how do we pull that off? That was amazing. And there was a lot of volunteers. It was home too. Yeah.

Joel:

Two years. Yeah. And again, we're, we're, we're still just little teapot station. W you know, we weren't this corporate entity, we are owned by a small non local nonprofit, but we pulled off that amount and, and, you know, it's easy to talk about the big, the big events like that, but also the day in and day out. Of of praying for people of connecting with people of calling for volunteers or calling for extra help financially, and people rising to the occasion. You mentioned you know, Some of the tough times. And there was definitely some tough times. So I'm thinking two years before we started doing those big concerts and it would have been a little bit earlier before you came to work for us, Jess 1998. And you probably heard this story. We were on the brink of bankruptcy. It was just like we had just had a couple years of just not yet hitting our targets and. You know, life gets expensive and you know, things happen. And we, we thought we thought we could lose it all. And in fact what happens in those times is that they become stressful on an interpersonal way. And so my communication with my board of directors went south. They got angry at me. I got angry at them and we had some really tough times. And but I, I, I do think that you can navigate those things with honesty and a willingness to come to solution. And then a little bit of help from the big guy, because by the end of that year, by the end of 98, we had our biggest fundraiser in our history. We had, we had generated so much revenue. We could pay up all of our bills and do initiatives that we had long sought after. For example, it was after that, that we were able to go online with our online stream, which bef you know, which was a hugely expensive. Oh yeah.

Dave & Jess:

When it first came out.

Joel:

Yeah, it was like, it was like five grand minimum. You had to buy all this equipment bandwidth up above you know, and so we were able to do that. We were able to it was just a bunch of things that we, we had back-burnered and and so I guess, and again, another huge takeaway is are you willing to walk through the trial? As opposed to try to avoid it. I don't, you know, I don't think Justin, David, I don't think we are exempt from trial. No, we really are not, Nope, you pretty much are we willing to have the grit and tenacity to walk through them?

Dave & Jess:

You know, and I want to pause here for a moment because our culture has been really good at avoiding pain and avoiding that, that those tough conversations are walking through something really tough, but those are the moments where your character grows. Yeah, the perseverance to what you're meant to do,

Joel:

right?

Dave & Jess:

Yeah. It produces those things that you can't get any other way without those, those trials and those things you have to have to struggle through. So

Joel:

yeah. You know, it's, it's 23 years ago that that happened and I could still feel the pain of that. Oh, wow. Yeah. I remember at the end of that year, I. Had to give an annual report for our for our corporation. And he said this past year has been like a country song, you know,

Dave & Jess:

lost my dog.

Joel:

Exactly. It was just that just horrible. But, but we, you, you make it through and so, but you're changed by it and hopefully you grow through it. You don't want to be, you don't want to repeat the. The bad choices that gets you into that hole. And and so, yeah, I, I feel like we went into an arena of growth and what's, what's interesting that, that like six year later in 2004, I left the job. I had been, I had been at the radio station as its chief executive for 14 years when I started, I was 28 and I left at 42. And that's a lot of growing, I mean, and your family too. Yeah. Oh yeah. I had, I had all of my kids. Right. yeah. But do you know the idea of. Of making this an assessment. Hey, I think I've accomplished everything I was called to do. And now it's time to turn a chapter. So is that

Dave & Jess:

yes. And I think, I think I perpetually feel that in some sense, are we on the next chapter? Yeah, I guess maybe I always feel like I still don't know what the big, next thing is. Like the thing that you're in right now that you're experiencing, I don't feel like, I don't think either one. Yeah. Totally feels that we're at that point yet, but there's plenty of those things that we've done and accomplished. And I'm like, yeah, that was great. That's what we were. That was the time we were supposed to be there. That's what we were meant to do now. What's next. But still kind of always feeling that like what's, what's the major. Big thing coming still. I think we feel that way sometimes, but so Joel, I

Joel:

mean, can you imagine being in a, like a band, like your band mates at, down here, and then they finally have to say. You know what I think our season is over. That's gotta be really tough. Oh yeah.

Dave & Jess:

That's hard because that was not that we made that our identity, but that's what we did. That's what we knew we were comfortable with. That was our family. Yeah. And there's a lot of things that go into that to make that decision. You're right. Choices. And some of it's a sacrifice and some of it is just timing and energy level and all kinds of things go into those things, obviously. But, so what was it for you making, I mean, you made a transition out of that station and kind of not necessarily left Turner, but you moved into more full-time ministry at the church. So how did that come about and then why did you end up coming back?

Joel:

I had an opportunity that, you know, I had, I had established a relationship with who would be, become my, my boss. And he was actually doing some consulting for us just on leadership that we would get together for lunch and we'd talk leadership. Right. And. And he tells me one, one lunch, Hey we've been really, we've been really growing and we're feeling like we're losing connection with these new people. We need to figure out a way we need an expert to help us communicate to all these new people that are coming to our church. And I had had that sense that boy, you know what I've accomplished. Writing schools, I've accomplished the, the, the phone connection with the audience with this radio station. We were on solid financial footing. I wasn't like leaving a train wreck, you know what I mean? And hugely important to me that, that, that if you're going to make a transition, you do it, not with your tail between your legs, but in a responsible good to announce. Yeah. The terms. Exactly. I don't burn bridges. I don't. So anyway, there was this opportunity and so at 42, which, you know, he used to be never trusted anybody over 30 at 42

Dave & Jess:

I'm 43. So I'm there finally

Joel:

go. I, I turned the page and I became a communications and technology director for this large church in Erie county in Edinburgh. And And talk about you know, a learning curve because I didn't know any graphic design. I've never opened up Photoshop once. And I had to fully immerse myself in this new ecosystem of like the Adobe creative suite. And I went to a couple of. Classes. Thank God we had the, the ad club was very active back then and they used to bring in a guy that would teach you Photoshop. And I learned that's

Dave & Jess:

incredible. That was pre YouTube. So that's the only way.

Joel:

No, you sure could. Yeah. And and so I learned InDesign and Photoshop and and premiere pro I was editing videos. I learned, I learned how to. To video, tape interviews and things and set up a camera. I mean, I knew that stuff from college, but that was technology from the eighties, right? Yeah, yeah. Yes. We had three quarter inch. You Maddick, you know, was what we use. And so I did that for 14 years in that job really. I did a lot of different jobs. In fact, at one point they gave me a a, a chant of what is that, that good stuff like that stuff that fills in the holes cracks great stuff. Yeah. They put it, they put it on it. On a plaque and, you know, to Joel for filling the holes, because one plate, one of the broke his knee and I had to help fill in the holes for that and this and that. I was kind of like a utility player and that's always been my Mo I really am a generalist. I'm not a specialist in anything. Honestly, I like to learn a lot, a little bit about a lot of different things. What do they call that? Yeah. It's an injury. Yeah. So

Dave & Jess:

Jack of all trades and a master of

Joel:

none. Amen. And so, and so what that allowed me to do is at some point we had a pretty major restructuring at the church and I, I went into a position where I got out of communications and I was more into operations. And you remember that, David? Okay. Yeah. And again, very trying, you know, very grit filled time, but a rewarding time, because again, you're trying to accomplish that mission and, and by the time I was ready for my third chap. Which again was 14 years into it. And it's weird how it's 14 minutes. Yeah. It's wild. I had, I had completed a building project that had been had been going on for like, Five years we got it done. We got some financial stuff done and, and I was sitting on a, on a stable playing field and this opportunity came up to go back into radio. And it's that super interesting? I mean, so, so this is 2018, right? And and that a year prior. I, I started dabbling in and I, I asked the local Christian station, which I had worked for said, would you ever need a little sales help? I mean, just something on the side. And they did. And they were glad to have me back. And so I started building a little list you know, just for some extra income. And meanwhile, I started pitching this idea because I heard that they were, they were going to buy it and additional station. They didn't know what to do with it. They're just going to throw satellite format on it. And just because. W what the new station was allowing the big station to do WCTL is to move closer to town, closer to the main city limits. Right. But, and they needed this little station to stay in the town of license. And so so what are you going to do with that? And then I proposed an idea. And again, like I told you, I'm an idea guy and it's there like crazy ideas that are great, but sometimes they're pretty good ideas. Right. And so we said, what if we were to take this little daytime only am radio station and make it into something that could be. That could meet a mission. I'm really big on, I don't care if you're commercial secular organization or if you're, or if you're a, you know, a self proprietor. Right. I think everybody has to have some kind of a mission statement or a mission of how they thought was, right? Yeah. So, I mean, there's a mission to the square one podcast, right? Yeah. I mean again there's a mission to GE you know, to maximize shareholder value, right? I think there's, there's something that delineates, Hey, this is what we're. This is what is a priority for us. Well, I found. And and again, there's, you know how this all works. There's concurrent lanes going on. So while I was still at the church, I started getting involved in like some of the civic conversations going around in my hometown of Erie, PA. There were, there had been a lot of what do you call it? There's there's a lot of like group. Yeah. And also I think comprehensive planning, you know, doing these plans. So the big region had a 25 year plan that they were seeking input on and the city had a plan to school district added land that they were developing. And I just kind of jumped in on these things and I'd go to these think tank the Jefferson think tank seminars and in conversations and focus groups and fill out the little post-it notes and. Kind of becoming this, just this guy that kind of was just a regular dude, regular citizen, but they said, Hey, they're looking for public input on public, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. You asked for it whether

Dave & Jess:

you like

Joel:

it or not. And then, and then in watching, like, you know, social media, Obviously it came into its own and in the, in the 20 teens. And it's just awful when it comes to especially media social media. So like you're. You know, your TV stations and your newspapers and their Facebook pages in Erie and my hometown, they're just full it's assessed pool of negativity. Oh really? Yeah.

Dave & Jess:

It's entertaining. I have, I have read through a couple of times she was like, oh my gosh. All right, turn this off. This is not helpful. Yeah.

Joel:

And so it perpetuates this really super negative narrative. Yeah. But what I was finding out through all these meetings and doing my own investigation is that there was a lot of really cool things happening in my town for sure. But there was, there was nobody effectively communicating that or if they were, it just got 600 words in the newspaper or two and a half minutes on TV, but there's a, you know, here I take this radio passion and the ability that you can go full long form. On on the radio. I can talk for an hour and a half about one subject,

Dave & Jess:

which is impressive. That's a skill. Yeah, that's a really good draw. I'm

Joel:

serious. But, but, but, but to use the strengths of them, B. To be able to have a true substantive conversation about the issues of the day and to educate the audience if they're willing to be educated. And so that was basically the game plan and the, the idea behind not just not throw a satellite format on this station, but let's have a local radio show. That has a mission that is produced. That is, that is that is going after this idea that we are singularly focused on Erie and that we would try to advance the narrative of the Erie region. And the other thing that was happening at the tunnel. We have been visited by these national media types. And I remember the, the worst one was CBS news comes to town and basically it was, it was this story that came out that you might as well just lock the lock, the keys of Erie away. Cause there's nothing. Oh, wow. Yeah. Cool. You remember that one? Oh

Dave & Jess:

yeah. Thanks for visiting.

Joel:

Yeah. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks for visiting the classic drive-by of journalism and it even, it sparked a hashtag my Erie just as a push as it was so unfair. But you give you get all of this context going and then. In, in January of 2019 here enters my show and guys in the last two and a half years, I've literally talked to hundreds of guests everyone from Bernie Sanders Sanders, but to. To the, to us, just, you were, you were early get on my show and we were, you know, we talked entrepreneurism and again, that's a pretty smart and significant topic to have because the entrepreneurs, I think about your stories like you guys could do what you do. And you were, but you choose Northwestern, Pennsylvania because your visceral ties to, to the region and that's, what's going to fuel that's what's going to fuel growth, right? The narrative here, which is a real narrative, we have to be clear-eyed about our challenges. Right? You gotta be clear eyed about your challenges, but the narrative here of areas that we've been navigating 60 years of decline, basically the peak of, of, of Erie was when I was born and then it went south after that. Right. So that's the correlation there. I think that that's not too narcissistic, right?

Dave & Jess:

So you're single handedly bringing it back with the radio show. That's the mission.

Joel:

At least I'm able to put a spotlight on, Hey, look at what this organization's doing. Look at what this, this person that's putting their money, where their mouth is, is doing. Look at what the schools are doing. Look at what our elected officials are doing. And again, Do I throw softballs? No, I actually. I usually ask some pretty tough questions. And but you, you do it in good shear. You don't, again, I don't burn bridges. I, I want everybody to be satisfied, you know you know, the music to my ears is boy, that's a really good question. I mean, that, that's what I'm after. And again, if I bring any kind of skillset to the table, I learned early on back It, you know, at, at, in the seat CTL days in my twenties and thirties, I loved interviewing using artists and always kind of throwing them a curve ball. Like I remember asking one guy I think it was one of the Australian bands. Tell me. Tell me, tell me the difference between playing in a club versus a church, because when you're, when you're in the UK or in Australia, you, you play at pubs. I mean, that's the gathering place, right? And so, I don't know. I can't remember who it might've been, but Yeah. Yeah, it was exactly, it was Paul Coleman. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Welcome. And he loved the question. And so you like, you like that kind of, that kind of thing, Jess, of like how do we keep, you know, how do we tickle creativity into the listener's ear? Cause there's a, there's a part of this too, that if I was just dull, if this was all you know, public affairs programming. That is a, keep an audience that's for Sunday morning, right? That's for the, for the Sunday morning slots on trying to create audience create some drama, maybe a little tension but also in good cheer and just something. And I feel like I have a good gauge of what's interesting to the listeners now, do I hit it home? You you don't every best baseball player, you know, has is average is three 50, right? You're an amazing baseball player. I would hope that I, I average a little bit better than that, but if I'm averaging seven 50, that's probably pretty good. You know, not every conversation is going to be interesting to every single listener, but. Yeah, I

Dave & Jess:

think it's great. I mean, we, we listen and I think you're doing a great job and really engaging people that need to be having their stories told in the show. And I think that's really cool. I think people are engaging with it. It's it's done really well from our perspective. Yeah. And of course you're focusing on low the locality as well. You know, it's the niche market of Erie. Great. So what was needed there? So I want to ask you,

Joel:

there's a couple, there's a, there was a couple of things that built into the planning. And one of the huge priorities is underrepresented voices. And I got to say this very carefully, but unfortunately, even in our town, oftentimes people of color are not highly represented. In media, you know? And, and so I go out of my way to make sure that I hear from a lot of different voices, not just. Not just the, the, you know, the, the top the top of elected officials or the top corporate executives or something like that certainly on, but it, I mean, there's a lot of voices that we need to hear from, and a lot of stories to tell.

Dave & Jess:

Yep. And that's great. Joel, I want to ask when you came back to CTL in the beginning, This recent iteration. Did you have any goal or desire to be back on air? Was that part of your plan or did that just kind of naturally progress from you taking all these steps, these baby steps, maybe even like getting involved in the community was that ever in your idea to get on arrogant or that just kind of

Joel:

happened? Honestly, it was. I something that I've learned really late, like way too late is that I am I have a creative spirit and I, I do have a performer. You know, I have that, that in me, I, you know, I used to do theater. I love being a disc jockey back in the day. And so even though I have a lot of managerial responsibilities, I love being on the air. I really do. And and, and so again, another takeaway, especially for old people, is that sometimes the Peter principle. Elevates you out of what your core competency is? I am, I'm a good enough on air personality for Erie, Pennsylvania. I would not make it in New York. I wouldn't make it in Nashville. I wouldn't make it in Columbus or probably any other place, but for Erie I'm. Okay. And and I'm, I'm good with that. And so you know, we, we, we built this station and. Found out that we're the most listened to talk or sports radio station in terms of the number of listeners per week in a key demographic of 2035 to 64, which is our target. And so Adam, Adam, the thing we were we've been able to build something. And so so again, there's another takeaway. What are your metrics? What are you really trying to measure? You know, I'm not great at social media, although we use it a lot. I'm not great at I mean, we, we create everything and it's a podcast, but I need to be, there's a lot of things in the job that we need to get better at. But, and I, and I want to become a better writer. I mean, these, I mean, there's still a lot of growth that can happen here, but I'm pretty satisfied. At what the first 30 months have looked like. Yeah.

Dave & Jess:

Especially through a pretty challenging time with the pandemic happening and still getting guests

Joel:

awesome. Mixed bag, honestly, because for one thing, it totally changed our programming philosophy because literally last spring in 2020 in April, we were literally. Breaking news on an hourly basis. These, these issues coming down from the governor were just like sucking, wind, trying to keep up with it. Oh, he's closing all of the he's closing all of the businesses, except some, we got to look at the list and see who's in the list. What is going on is exactly right. Yeah. Oh, the school the schools were said, oh yeah, we're going to stay open,

Dave & Jess:

open, open.

Joel:

No, we're not. We're closed.

Dave & Jess:

The head have been kind of exciting time though, to be part of that. It was,

Joel:

it made us, made us a lot more relevant right away. And that, and that one, that one blog post that one news post on our website about the list of who was in and out. That was our number one. It's been still our number one most visited page. But what, what also elevated us is that our county executive here locally started doing a daily. News conference. And again, part of my role is, is not only am I our talk show host, but you know, there's a journalistic bent to this we're breaking news. And so so I was on those conference calls, asking questions every day for like three months. And then it was, it's been every week until the end of may of 2021. So literally, you know, I was on hundreds of those calls and. That again, a very, a very appreciated compliment that I would receive is as I'm talking to, you know, pretty big people in town love. When you ask your question, you always ask the most, you know, insightful questions and things that people need to know about. And, and again, I really worked hard on making sure that I asked the things that I was interested in. And that I felt was the most important of of what the situation, the daily situation was. And and yeah, you just, you just, again, do you lean in on your experience, you lean in, on your, your, your hunt, your hunches and your. And then you kind of, you try to do your best in unprecedented territory that you've never tried before. It's it's, it's amazing what you're able to do. So I gotta do one more 14 for you. So it was 14 years from when I was 28 to 42 for the first go round at CTL 14 years. 14 years doing. If I do this for 14 years talk Erie I'll be 70. Wow. You can do that. You can do it. Yeah. I want to, and again, what I'm working on is I need to do more writing. I w I want to I want to do more writing and, and I think there's something that comes with maturity is that. You don't give a rip half the time I

Dave & Jess:

hear, I hear that, but I'm not, I'm not getting closer to that for sure. We care less. I give less reps, fewer. It's fewer. Right.

Joel:

I mean, if I write something and everybody hates it, but I wrote it for the sake of writing it. If the tree falls in the forest and nobody, you know, I mean, if I write something and nobody likes it, that's okay. It is, it's more for my own benefit to prove that I could do so

Dave & Jess:

criticism is not. So it doesn't steam quite as much anymore. It doesn't matter. Yeah.

Joel:

It feels things I got to tell you, you know, I'd get that, I'll get that one wacko comment on Facebook and, and you know, it kind of wipes out 30 good ones. Right. But, but honestly Yeah. I mean, this is the time where I really want to pursue the things that will bring life into me. And of course there's a whole other part of my life that seems much more balanced as far as, I mean, I'm working harder than I ever have in my life. I'm working 12 hours a day, five days a week, plus weekends. Yeah. I, I am, I am having so much fun and I'm enjoying my grandson and another one coming on the way there. My kids are grown, you know, I mean, like I'm past all that.

Dave & Jess:

Thanks for

Joel:

that. It's really hard. And, and so, I, I feel like it, and I'm going to be spiritual here, but I feel like the Lord gives you what you need for the season that you're in. And again, anyone that's has has that faith connection can understand that that we navigate anything if we, if we trust and if we pray and if we you know, lock in and focus on. Why was I uniquely put, put here on this planet? And I feel like more than ever I'm locked in on that. What my, why? What is, what is the Joel and Itali? Why is it for this season?

Dave & Jess:

Yeah, that's great. That's the way we try to focus on here. A lot. The square one shows the wine as personally. We're always asking that. Why do you think your, why has changed though? Because it sounds like. You've had different Ys at different points, you know?

Joel:

Well, I didn't know anything about any of this stuff. Like I couldn't have formulated a, a cogent argument for, for where Erie needs to go in any regard. Probably 20 years ago, I wasn't interested in it. I was probably a chief complainer. I would have been one of the. Nasty grams on socialist social existed. Right. You just turn the corner and say, I could be a part of the solution here I can be. I could I can contribute to. Yeah. You know, I think attribute to growth and, and healing and hope.

Dave & Jess:

Joel, when do you think that might cause it's really a mind shift? When do you think that happened? Was there a certain time or moment where you felt like, you know, I'm tired of this, I need something to hold onto and impress toward,

Joel:

you know, what was shocking to me, Jess, honestly, and this is, this was kind of real transparent. When I saw that people would actually listen to me, I never really had the the self-confidence that I was worthy of being listened to. Oh, wow. Yeah. And when that happened and they heard me and they thought, Hey, That's a good idea, or that's a, that's a strong insight or what have you, that, that gives you enough confidence to, to, to try it again.

Dave & Jess:

So it really comes from a lot of that feeling insecure and not shoring, but stepping beyond that and just here's my voice. Take it or leave it. And then people responding to that.

Joel:

There's a structure in our society that doesn't usually give them. A lot of voice to kids that grow up in the inner city. I mean, you have your place, right? I didn't, I didn't go to you know, Ivy league university you know, I went to hometown university, which I got an incredible education, but you know, you, you kind of have your place. And so to be heard, to be able to contribute and actually. To give something so decent that it's actionable, but is that rewarding? Wow. Yeah. Okay. That's awesome.

Dave & Jess:

Well, Joel, our time is probably up and I know you have a million things to do, but can you kind of give a couple of thoughts to someone who either feels you talked about yeah. You dove into this spiritual aspect, or maybe they feel that tugging at their heart that I really feel God calling me or something is pulling me to do something, but I don't know what to do next. Like how do I take those steps? Like what would you tell someone who is in the middle of a transition or is about to embark on this journey? What would you tell them? Or encourage them?

Joel:

Yeah. You know, I used to be a big, if you build it, they will come thing I'm not there anymore because I find that the, the best place to be is in community. When you want to build something. And so if you have an idea, if you, if you're looking for that next chapter, I would, I would look around and see if there are other like-minded like equally passionate people in your sphere, or maybe slightly out of your sphere, maybe kind of push yourself a little bit and, and see what opportunities are out there. To, to maybe make a difference to maybe be heard, to maybe contribute your unique gift myth. To go, you know, to go to that next level. And again, doesn't have to, you know you know, I'm, I'm a very low risk taker. I, I, I would not, I'm not a big entrepreneur like you, Jess and Dave, you know, where, you know, you're putting all the money on the line and try and something. I can't do that, but I, but in team, in community, I thrive. And and maybe there's somebody out there. You don't have to reinvent all the wheel, but you might be able to add value and, and, and really be a part of that one. Plus one equals three kind of. A team effort to grow something, to really make a difference. And, and you get your passion. You're not duplicating anything in that point. And then you're, then you're growing. And, and another thing I would say is just keep reading and learning about cool stuff, stuff that you just just be curious, you know, let your don't, don't put your curiosity. Under a bushel. Yep.

Dave & Jess:

Oh, that's awesome. Thank you so much joy. I loved hearing. I've heard a lot of your story, but it's nice filling in all those, all those gaps and love here. I always love hearing your take on things, too. You're very passionate about what you do. You're excellent at what you do, and we appreciate you being on that.

Joel:

Thank you guys so much. It was such a pleasure. And I love you guys. You know, I, you know, I do.

Dave & Jess:

And if people want to get ahold of you or want to listen in, is it talk erie.com? Is that you got it, brother? Yeah. So definitely get online and have a listen. There's some great stuff on there. So yeah. Thanks so much, Joel and great advice and we'll hopefully see you soon.

Joel:

Take care.