Back at the end of November, I wrote a post titled “It’s not about me,” in which I mention that I want to make a point of having conversations with people and sharing their stories here on Kindred Road — not just famous, influential people, but anyone who’s interested in engaging in a conversation (contact me if you’re interested!). The idea is that we all have a lot of interesting stories inside of us, but most of us never get the opportunity to share them in a spotlighted, featured way; I think more people should be afforded the opportunity to really showcase their best selves.
I like the word conversation – it’s warm, inviting, and most importantly, it just feels good. I want conversation on Kindred Road, not inquisition. I don’t want to put too much emphasis on labels, but labels do carry weight; so, I want to be accurate with the ones I use. That means each dialogue here on Kindred Road — written, audio, or video — will be known as a “Kindred Road Conversation,” and each Kindred Road Conversation will be an important part of this site’s ongoing effort to showcase great people with unique perspectives, ideas, and most importantly, stories.
Starting off on the right foot
Today, I’m proud to give you the very first Kindred Road Conversation. It features Bryan Skavnak — PGA professional, teacher, entrepreneur, author, and, without a doubt, the world’s happiest go lfer. Bryan also happens to be a very good friend of mine, and someone for whom I have the utmost respect. Basically, he’s just one of the nicest, most grounded people you’ll ever meet — an all-around great guy.
This past Tuesday, January 10th, Bryan released a book titled The Happiest Golfer on Amazon.com. I had the privilege of reviewing an advanced copy of the book, and I must say, it’s a great read with wonderful life lessons relevant to everyone, not just golfers. Bryan’s humor and lighthearted tone give you some laugh-out-loud moments, even while exploring some serious and personal topics. I could go on at length about the book, but there’s no need to do that because…
Bryan and I had a chance to talk at length just before the release of his book, and what resulted is the conversation below. I’ve included our full audio conversation, as well as a full transcript of the audio. I’ve also included a table of contents to help you navigate the conversation — although I would recommend listening and/or reading the dialogue in full to really get into the “flow.”
As this is the first Kindred Road Conversation, I ask that you go easy on the imperfections and “rawness” of certain aspects — we were simply “keeping it real.” And real is good, yes?
Anyway, I hope you enjoy our discussion … and be sure to check out Bryan at the following locations:
- The Happiest Golfer — Bryan’s book (on Amazon.com).
- thehappiestgolfer.com — Bryan’s site devoted to the book. Watch some great videos related to the book.
- bryansgolf.com — Bryan’s main site. Learn more about Bryan and the golfing services he offers.
Note: Each numbered heading 1) lists its respective location within the audio recording (time format — hh:mm:ss), and 2) links to its location within the transcribed text (below the audio recording).
- Introduction: Cook and Skav, Skav and Cook – (00:00:00)
- Skav wrote a book – (00:01:12)
- Tragedy + perspective = personal evolution – (00:03:35)
- Get happy – (00:19:53)
- Nickelbacking – (00:26:03)
- Stealing Santa Claus – (00:29:19)
- Playing games – (00:31:45)
- Get in my belly – (00:34:40)
- The K-I-D (and some storytelling) – (00:39:21)
- Pondering a podcast – (00:50:28)
- Keeping score (or not) – (00:52:18)
- In a parallel universe… – (01:00:13)
- Wrapping up: Hoping to help – (01:02:18)
Listen to the audio:
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Audio length: 1 hour, 5 minutes, 19 seconds.
Audio size: 44.8 MB
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Mike: Alright, this is Mike Cook from Kindred Road. This is the first interview I’m doing for the Kindred Road website, www.kindredroad.com. I’m here with Bryan Skavnak today. Bryan is a friend of mine, dating from way back in the day from when we grew up in Brooklyn Park, MN. We went to high school together at Park Center. We went to college together at St. John’s University. And we were actually friends before that. I think I — I don’t exactly know where we met — I think our moms knew each other before we knew each other. But anyway, Bryan’s here with me today. Say “hello” Bryan.
Bryan: Thanks, Mike. Can I call you “Mike”? I want to call you “Cook” because that’s what I call you. Hi, everyone!
Mike: Hi, everyone! I don’t know, we could just do “Cook” and “Skav” if you want.
Bryan: Alright, that sounds good. That’s what we call each other anyway.
Mike: Yeah, that’s what we call each other anyway. Again, I’m Mike Cook — I guess I haven’t even really said that yet [actually, yes, I already did say that] — and I’m with Bryan Skavnak. Cook and Skav — that sounds better. Maybe there’s a ring to that.
Bryan: That kind of sounds like a radio show — I like that.
Mike: “Cook and Skav.” “Skav and Cook.” Maybe we’ll put you first — you’re a little more credentialed, I think.
Bryan: I don’t know about that.
Mike: So we’ve got Bryan here today. Bryan’s got — and now I switch back to Bryan, look at that — Skav’s got a book coming out here on January 10th: The Happiest Golfer. Do you have a subtitle on that?
Bryan: “Stories, Insight, and Inspiration to Make You Happier on and [stumbles a bit] off the Course.” I can’t even say my own subtitle.
Mike: There we go. But if people want to remember it, just The Happiest Golfer.
Bryan: The Happiest Golfer, yep.
Mike: That’s a heckuva subtitle. I suppose any good book has a very substantial subtitle, maybe.
Bryan: It kind of describes a little bit of what the book does, though. Hopefully it inspires; there are stories, so that’s good; there’s a little insight in there. If you’re not happier [after reading it], you’re dead inside [Bryan laughs].
Mike: Right. So, this book — even though it’s called The Happiest Golfer — is not so much about golf.
Bryan: Yeah, not really. I struggle describing to people what it’s really about, but I kind of call it “a life book with golf stories,” because my background is as a PGA pro; I’ve been teaching for 13 years. Right out of college, I started my own [golf] teaching business early, and that’s what my background is — it’s the stuff I know. That’s where I get everything from — where I get all my inspiration from, where my stories come from. So I know there’s more to golf than just the score. I guess the goal of the book is to try to relate it back to “life stuff,” and try to figure out how people can grow; even if you don’t play golf, how can it [the book] benefit you?
Mike: Right. Good, that’s stuff everyone should know. Tons and tons of people play golf. Tons and tons of people seem to make golf one of their dreams. If you asked half the population of Minnesota, it seems like their dream life is–
Bryan: They’re always golfing.
Mike: They’re always golfing.
Bryan: The coolest part is that even when people have read my stuff in the past, or seen a couple of my videos… I like it when non-golfers see my stuff, too. Hey, you like my stuff, and you don’t even golf!
Bryan: So thank you if you’ve read or watched my stuff and you’re not a golfer — thanks for that.
Mike: Sure. Your “stuff.” You mention your “stuff” — and writing. “When people read my writing,” “when people see my stuff.”
We maybe haven’t kept in touch as well as we maybe should have over the past few years. People are busy; that’s how things go. I was across the Pacific in Korea; you were raising two kids and everything. But you’ve always had a lot of “stuff” related to golfing, things that you do related to golf — not confusing “stuff” with things, but stuff that you do. But this new “stuff” — this “writing stuff” — this is more of a new element to you. This is more of a new element to what you hope is going to be more of a business venture — or a life venture — going forward. When did this new “stuff” start? When did this new writing chapter begin?
Bryan: I guess when I started putting things out more was last year. But I actually always wanted to — well, I guess everybody always says they want to — write a book. I actually started a book in college, and I didn’t even know what I wanted to write; I just wrote. It was kind of a personal diatribe almost. I just spewed stuff out. There’s a story in the book about a fake newsletter I did in college — it was kind of like The Onion, but The Onion-meets-corporate-culture. It was for one of our classes. But I guess the big thing was last May, when my mom died, it was a way for me to spread my emotions in a way that–
Mike: Stop for a second. Your mom died?
Bryan: Yeah. Last May — May 24, 2011. She was diagnosed with cancer/lymphoma on Halloween 2010. She went through chemo and all that fun stuff for seven months, and really never got better; she ended up passing away last May. It was a shock more than anything. You have a person around for so long that supports you and keeps you stable, and, you know, pushes you to do the things you want to do, and all those things — and now they’re gone. What do you do next?
I guess that’s kind of where this whole “happiest golfer” thing came from. When stuff happens to you, what do you do? You can lie down and think the world’s against you; you can have people feel sorry for you. But I don’t know if that’s a good way to live. If you still want to do something, you have to move on. So what I did was write an email just telling people what I thought, giving a story about my mom, even if you [the people reading the email] never met my mom before. There’s something in the book called “Laughing and Crying.” I sent out a “Laughing and Crying” email and basically just told people what I felt.
Mike: Was the “Laughing and Crying” email — was that the beginning? With all these little things that you started writing back in college, and the things you maybe kept to yourself or whatever — was this email, the one that went out to everybody, your big coming out party, in terms of writing to the world?
Bryan: Yep, that was the one. I had things bottled up for a while, but that was the one where I said, Alright, I’m going to just do this. People may love me, people may hate me, but it’s real Bryan. And that’s what I’m going to tell people, and inform them that this is what this one person did for me — this is what my mom did for me. A lot of people threw out the word “legacy” after I was done. I wasn’t really going for a legacy of, you know, showing how awesome my mom was. I guess it [the email] was almost selfish in saying, This is how I feel.
Bryan: So yeah, that was kind of the way it started.
Mike: So you sent out emails and did other things before that, but they were usually about golf.
Bryan: Yep, it was all golf. It was all, hey, I’ve got this camp coming up; I’ve got these lessons coming up. Hey, try this clinic…. But it was almost fake.
Bryan: It was selling, and — I don’t know — I want to establish a relationship first.
Bryan: If you don’t like me, I don’t want you to take a golf lesson from me. Here’s a way for me to share with the world who I am first, and if you like me, come out and take a golf lesson. If you don’t like me, hey, I’ve got some friends that can help you out.
Mike: Right. So these new emails — I’m on the list too, I can see them — they’re pretty much no-strings-attached emails. They’re… this is what’s going on, this is an interesting life fact — something I feel, or a way I deal with something, that can possibly help you out. And it isn’t marketing. It’s just like, hey, every Tuesday I’m going to get something good, and there it is.
Bryan: Yeah. Some people might call it marketing, and some people, you know, might not, but really it’s just a way to… if this helps someone else, great, and if it doesn’t… I’ve had lots of people unsubscribe from my stuff, too, because they just don’t like it. And that’s OK. I don’t feel bad about it; it’s just not their thing.
Mike: Sure. Well, that’s good, man. I obviously know the story of your mom. We got to sit down at one of your favorite places, Buffalo Wild Wings–
Bryan: If we keep saying “Buffalo Wild Wings,” do you think we’ll get free wings?
Mike: [Laughs] Buffalo Wild Wings. Buffalo Wild Wings. Buffalo Wild Wings.
Bryan: Buffalo Wild Wings.
Mike: Who knows, man. Maybe we can have the owner of Buffalo Wild Wings, Plymouth [Minnesota], on Kindred Road some night. That’d be pretty awesome.
Bryan: I like it.
Mike: Saddle up, and we’ll go from there. I just wanted you to give a little background on your mom, and what caused you to open up like you have. I knew Bryan’s mom, and yeah… She was one of the most energetic, positive, great people who you could know — just always happy to see you, always had something good to say about everybody, and just really… I can see why she was such an inspiration to you; she really was [an inspiration] to the people around her.
Bryan: On a side note, most people, whenever they met her — if they didn’t know her — they always thought she was drunk.
Bryan: She was so bubbly and happy all the time. The first time my brother’s wife met my mom, it was, Was she drinking? And my mom… she never had a sip of alcohol. People just thought she was hammered.
Mike: Right. So, your mom talked a lot.
Bryan: [Laughs]. That’s an understatement.
Mike: But you… you didn’t necessarily talk a lot.
Bryan: No, I was a quiet kid. I still consider myself a quiet kid. I like talking in front of people, but … I don’t know — I still consider myself pretty quiet.
Mike: Maybe you’re just more polite than the rest of us; maybe you’re just a little smarter than the rest of us. Maybe you think before you speak a little more — I don’t know. I don’t always do that [think before I speak] well, sometimes. Do you think that you’re quieter now? Are you shier these days?
Bryan: I don’t know about shier, but I think I’m more introspective now.
Bryan: I don’t know if I really think before I talk, but I do think before I write. That’s why I like the video I did the past few days. With writing, you can write stuff down, and then go back and say, That doesn’t fit there… change things around, or use a different word. But with the video, I was like, I’m just going to talk for ten minutes, and if it comes out correctly, great; if it doesn’t… It’s just another way to be vulnerable, I guess. Just kind of show people, if you want me to talk for you, this is how I’m going to talk for you.
Mike: Right. If your mom didn’t pass, do you think this stuff would’ve come about? Or do you think this new evolution would have just taken longer? Or–
Bryan: Yeah, I think it maybe would’ve taken a little longer. It [my mom’s passing] was definitely a nudge, definitely something that caused me to think about things. I actually remember the chair I was sitting in, in the hospital room. She was in one room — in hospice — and we were in, kind of like the family waiting room. And I remember sitting there and just thinking about stories. And story after story were just piling through my head. And it was… I don’t know if it was because we knew that she was going to die soon, or if it was because… I don’t know what it was. But I just had so many things go through my head that… My mom did this for me, I remember when I was with my mom there, I did this… And I think that’s what kind of nudged me in a way to share the stories.
Mike: Right. Well that’s good. We all have stories. In my family, we definitely have stories — we always reminisce. My mom has this… She always says that — and I think this is true — we have all these great stories, but we don’t think about them; we don’t think about them all that often. And when we do think of a situation, we think about, maybe, what went wrong with that situation — or what didn’t go quite right.
Mike: I don’t know if that’s a testament to the fact that maybe we all have it pretty dang good — that maybe most of our lives are actually pretty good, and the bad things stick out because the bad things don’t happen all the time? I… I don’t know.
Bryan: But don’t you think that some people look and say that bad things do happen all the time. There’re those other people that go, Oh, this bad thing happened to me today, or This thing happened that was bad.
Bryan: I think it takes a special person to go the other way and say, Look at all these good things. I’m not the expert on this, but I think that as far as sharing stories… I think once you’re not scared of yourself, and you’re not fearful of sharing what you can do, and what you know, and the things that you’ve been through, I think that’s when relationships start happening a little bit better, too.
Mike: And if you’re happy.
Bryan: And if you’re happy, yeah.
Mike: You’re self-professed one of, if not the, happiest person you know.
Bryan: Yeah, you’re right: I am. I’m self-professed — it might be a little cocky — but yeah. I’m pretty happy.
Mike: Based on your 2011… In your video on thehappiestgolfer.com — we can plug that too; that’s where your stuff is going for the book.
Bryan: Buffalo Wild Wings. Buffalo Wild Wings.
Mike: [Laughs]. Yeah, Buffalo Wild Wings. thehappiestgolfer.com, where you can go see Bryan. Bryan has a few videos out there about his book. He has some information about the book… I’m sure there will be more things as well, as he gets ramping up on that.
Where am I going with this? [Laughs]. I lost my train of thought for a second there.
Bryan: It’s alright — those things happen.
Mike: So you’re one of the happiest people you know.
Mike: Oh, your 2011 — that’s where I was going with this. In your 2011, you had some bad events happen to you. Your mom passed; you said your grandpa passed; and one of your playing partners?
Bryan: I referee basketball. So I refereed basketball with him [the man who passed -- not a playing partner] for 12 or 13 years.
Mike: Right. So you had every reason in your 2011 — I don’t know — for your attitude to take a turn for the worse–
Mike: –if and so you chose — if you let it. But you’re still coming out of 2011 saying that you’re one of the happiest people you know. How did you get to that point? How did you just… Did you go to the Zen studio and sit there and meditate for hours upon hours [Bryan laughs], or if your profession is golf, does that automatically make you that happy, or–
Bryan: I think it’s one of those things… I think you have to make yourself happy. I think you have to do things when things happen in your life… if it’s a pivotal moment in your life. And everybody has these pivotal moments in their lives where you have to choose. And you have to say, you know, I have to do something about this situation; I can’t mope. And that’s… with the “Laughing and Crying”… It’s OK to cry about things; it’s not a bad thing. It’s OK to let out emotion. At the same time, you have to continue on laughing. You don’t want to be in a depressive state for years and years when things happen. And I’m not discounting that by any means, but you have to find a way to get yourself out of things, get yourself going in the right direction again. It’s [a depressive state] not the way I want to live. I don’t want to feel bad all the time — or feel bad about myself. But I understand that people can look at 2011 — my 2011 — and say, That was crappy. But I like being different, so I kind of choose the opposite stance. I don’t want to let things get to me. And yeah, there’ll be times at night where I cry myself to sleep because I think about all the memories and things that happened with these people. There’s the tidbit I haven’t shared with people yet.
Mike: Right. Well, that’s good. That’s good, man. Was this past year when you put your stake in the ground, and you kind of made that choice [to be happy], or was that something that happened a long time ago — in 2010, 2009, well before that… were you still the happiest person you knew? Or is this a relatively new phenomenon?
Bryan: No, I think it’s a thing I’ve been working on for a while. You can’t… I guess you could also one day go, OK, I’m going to be happy from here on out. But like I said, there are the pivotal moments that will nudge you in that direction. The pivotal moments that will stare you in the face, and you have to choose something. You have to do something because it’s a big life event.
But there are small things too. You have to realize you can’t control everything. You have to drive defensively, so you can’t control all the other cars on the road — and you have to realize that. Just the small things, too, that build up over time. But yeah, I really have been happy for a long, long time, and I don’t have any reason not to be happy. I mean, I have a great family, I have great friends, I have supporters, I have… You know, I don’t need the things. I need the people. I want the people around me that make my life better. So, I think that once you have the mindset of realizing that you have it better than you really think you do, and realizing that you have more good things than bad things, then it’s easy to be happy. It’s not a thing you have to work at very hard.
Mike: Right. You talk a lot about people. You have a lot of good people in your life. In your videos out on thehappiestgolfer.com — and in the book, which I’ve had the privilege to have read already — you give three steps to happiness … sort of. We don’t necessarily need to give those away if we don’t want to.
Bryan: We can — I mean, they’re in the video; it’s OK.
Mike: [Laughs]. OK. The first step is Surround yourself with good people.
Mike: And … what are the other two? I’ll let you say them; I remember them….
Bryan: Yeah. Surround yourself with great people; embrace perspective; and choose. Those are the three things — they’re high-level things — but they’re things that I try to do to make my life better. And there are some days where it’s hard. Some days you’re surrounded by people you don’t like. And some days it’s hard to see through to the good stuff. Those are kind of the three rules I go by. The “people” one is huge; my dad gave me that. There’s a story in the book about when I learned that. I remember the exact moment I learned that.
Bryan: It’s kind of like when you’re on the golf course. If you’re playing by yourself, yeah, you can have fun, but you’re probably more focused on the golf then, unless you’re focused on nature or spending alone time, and thinking — and that’s great, too. But it’s really fun playing golf with other people.
Bryan: It’s really fun playing golf with your friends and family who you can joke around with, and goof around with, and go out to eat with afterwards.
Mike: Absolutely. What if you’re a person, though, who doesn’t have a lot of good people in their life, for whatever reason? Or maybe they’re at that point where they need to make a change — or they want to make a change — to surround themselves with good people. But when step number one is to have good people in your life — and you don’t have that — what do you do? Where do you look? Where do you go?
Bryan: I think you go to step number three, then. I don’t think you have to do them [the steps] in any kind of order.
Bryan: I think you choose. And you say… I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of good people support me, and I didn’t get into a lot of trouble or anything like that… But if you’re around people who don’t influence you the right way, you have to man-up and choose. You have to say, You know what? This is not the way I want to live. These are not the people who are going to show me how to live and help me out. So you have to choose, and you almost have to cut them off.
Mike: Right. And that’s not an easy thing to do.
Bryan: No, not at all. But at the same time, if you’re constantly surrounded by negativity all the time, why would you want to stay like that? Unless… And I completely understand if people are caught in a cycle — caught in a trap — and kind of scared to do it. I address that in the book, too. A lot of it [choosing] is based on fear; not making a choice is based on fear. There’s a fear of something. So whatever it is — fear of rejection, fear of looking stupid, fear of loss, whatever that is — you still have to make that choice if it’s important to you. And then you just weigh the options. So, what’s more important? Is it more important for me to be unhappy? Or is it more important for me to choose a different path and become happy?
Bryan: I guess I look at it in simple terms like that … and I completely understand that it’s not that simple. But, that’s the way I look at it.
Mike: Alright, well… Man, some heavy stuff. Look at that.
Bryan: Yeah, I know. I didn’t think we were going to get to the heavy stuff, but it’s alright.
Mike: As you can see, there’s some depth to the book. The book is relatively short — very readable — but still, it talks about real stuff.
Bryan: But it’s kind of funny, too.
Mike: Say what?
Bryan: It’s kind of funny, too.
Mike: Absolutely it’s kind of funny! Right. So I wanted to get to that point… I mean, this is a serious thing for you–
Bryan: Oh yeah.
Mike: It’s releasing a book. I don’t want to, you know, pawn it off as a big joke about Nickelback or something.
Mike: But, there is a lot of humor in it [the book], too. And anybody who knows Skav — anybody who knows Bryan — knows that he has a very, very good sense of humor… a very varied sense of humor… very varied? In some ways, everything’s funny.
Bryan: I think everything has to be funny.
Mike: Everything has to be funny.
Mike: Where did you get that from? Where did you get the “funny” thing from? I remember everybody in your family sort of being funny to some degree. I mean, your brother’s funny, you’re funny, your dad’s funny, your mom was funny — everybody’s kind of funny.
Bryan: I think you can’t take yourself too seriously. That’s really what it’s all about. If you take yourself too seriously, then I don’t think you’ll be very funny. I think all humor has to start with yourself, and you have to be, kind of, self-deprecating, and if you can make fun of yourself and let other people in, then you can be funny. I don’t think there’s, I don’t know … any equation to it or anything like that.
Bryan: It’s not a bad thing to laugh at everything.
Bryan: It’s not a bad thing.
Mike: That’s true.
Bryan: I don’t know… There’s no reason. I’m the guy who will try to make jokes just to lighten things up. And it’s not to pay any disrespect; it’s just to show people that this is the way we live. Things have to be funny, things have to be sad… It’s kind of just an all-inclusive thing.
Bryan: It’s not that bad.
Mike: One of the things you make fun of consistently — if it’s not in an email one week, it’s definitely in an email, probably the following week — is Nickelback. I’m actually up in Canada at the moment–
Bryan: I’m sorry for that.
Mike: –the home country of Nickelback. [Laughs].
Bryan: And the Barenaked Ladies.
Mike: And the Barenaked Ladies. Everything awesome [questioning tone] comes from… Canada? [Laughs].
Bryan: My brother says that Canada is America’s hat.
Mike: [Laughs for a while]. OK. Nickelback, though. For those people who don’t know Nickelback–
Bryan: You’re welcome [Mike laughs]. Don’t listen to them. Don’t Google Nickelback if you don’t know who Nickelback is.
Mike: Well, if they did want to Google them, you would specifically recommend going to YouTube and Googling… What was that video? Ross and… and somebody…
Bryan: What was that? It was…
Mike: Two high school kids…
Bryan: Bloomington Brothers.
Mike: The Bloomington Brothers!
Bryan: Google the Bloomington Brothers on YouTube, and they have a good parody of “Photograph,” a song by Nickelback. Nickelback — I hate Nickelback, by the way — that’s what Cook’s getting to here. [Laughs].
Mike: Yeah. Is there any reason… For someone who’s so happy, it takes a lot for you to, say, hate something. [Laughs].
Bryan: Yeah, you’re right. It’s more of a joke now. You know how you kind of have that thing that sticks with you… This is that thing that sticks with me. I just do not like Nickelback’s music at all. There are a lot of people whose music I don’t like, but… it’s one of those things where… right when that first little note comes on the radio, I have to turn the channel because I’m not listening to them.
Bryan: It’s one of those things I just throw in now — it’s what I’m about. They could be super nice guys. I could be completely wrong — I mean, I’m not completely wrong with their music ‘cause I still hate their music [Mike laughs] — but I could be completely wrong about the guys. They could be super nice guys, and if they are, I want to hang out with them then. But … I just don’t want them to sing when I’m hanging out with them.
Mike: Would you tell Nickelback to their face, Nickelback, you suck.
Bryan: Absol–… It’s funny you say that because I — I didn’t even tell you this — I wrote a letter, an open letter, to Nickelback [Mike laughs]. I didn’t send it out to anybody or put it anywhere yet, and I probably won’t–
Mike: thehappiestgolfer.com — I hear that’s a website that’s open to everyone. [Laughs].
Bryan: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s going there. It basically says, Nickelback, I hate your music. My ears bleed when I listen to it. But you could be really nice guys, and if you’re nice guys, more power to you. If you’re good people… I will surround myself with you if you’re good people [Mike laughs]. Leave your guitar at home.
Mike: I would love it if Nickelback became one of the biggest fans of The Happiest Golfer.
Bryan: I would love that, too.
Mike: I think that would be… that would show–
Bryan: Especially if you’re in Canada.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
Bryan: That’d be a little ironic, wouldn’t it [Mike laughs].
Mike: That would show that anything is possible [Bryan laughs]–
Bryan: Yes it would.
Mike: –if that went down. Speaking of “anything’s possible,” is it possible that a Santa Claus — or other Christmas decoration — could survive in your childhood home’s front yard without getting stolen.
Bryan: No. My dad didn’t even put out Santa this year… because every year he gets a Santa, or a Rudolph, or a Frosty stolen from his front yard. A couple years ago, they [the villains] took bolt cutters and cut the — he started chaining it [the lawn ornament] down — so [Mike laughs] a chained-down Santa… People used bolt cutters to cut the chain. He doesn’t even put them out anymore; it’s not even worth it.
Mike: Yeah, we grew up in Brooklyn Park. Brooklyn Park is certainly not the poshest suburb of Minneapolis, but we also grew up in Minnesota in a suburb. It’s not like we grew up in South Central.
Bryan: No, and it was great, and it was safe, and it was fun. I think it was more of a game. Hey, what’s the guy going to put out this year that we can take? [Laughs, along with Mike]. I want to know what they do with it. I want to know if they have a garage full of Frost’s right now.
Mike: Maybe — I don’t know — there’s a pawn shop for Christmas decorations or something.
Bryan: [Laughs]. Yeah — get ‘em all back. They’ve got my dad’s name and phone number on the bottom, so someone’s got a lot of them. [Mike laughs].
Mike: That’s awesome. It might be a game, it might be a game. But you advocate games — you’re a big fan of games–
Bryan: I do. I’m all about games. My wife makes fun of me all the time for making everything into a game–
Mike: So are you taking the Santa Claus and just not telling your dad? And one day, you’re just going to–
Bryan: We did buy a tiki [torch] from Target once and threw the tiki in his front yard, and then played a little “ding-dong-ditch” and ran away. That was pretty fun. [Mike laughs]. But no, I don’t have a garage full of Santas.
Mike: I guess it wouldn’t surprise me if you did.
Bryan: Yeah, that’s true. But I’m not a clepto; I don’t steal things.
Mike: Well, that’s good…. You steal happiness, I think.
Mike: You steal happiness, but then you give it away tenfold.
Bryan: I’ll go “Robin Hood” on happiness. [Laughs, along with Mike].
Mike: You steal happiness, but then you massage it and give it away tenfold.
Bryan: Yeah, good — I like it. [Laughs].
Mike: Games. You play a lot of games with your golf camps.
Mike: You play a lot of games with your golf lessons. You play a lot of games with your own family, just to get things done. And when I was teaching in Korea, that [games] was always the thing that everybody wanted to do most. Games! Gimme a game! Games! Games! Games! Games are sort of similar to stories in that way. You’re a big storyteller now… Well, you always have been; now you’re just writing them down.
Bryan: Now people know about them, yeah.
Mike: So games and stories — they seem to be the two things that always help people remember. I don’t know… That’s what people are always wanting. Oh, tell me a story! Let’s make this a game! Why is it that they’re [stories and games] so much more exciting for people?
Bryan: They’re [games] playful. There are a lot of elements involved. There’s competition, strategy, being with your friends, making up your own rules… You really go through a lot of stuff when you’re playing a game. The cool part is that most people don’t take it [a game] that seriously. Most people are like, OK, you won and I lost … but it’s not that big of a deal. At the end of the day, we’ll all just go home and have a Jolly Rancher sucker anyway [Mike laughs]. I don’t know… It’s just a fun thing. It’s hard to explain it. It’s the way I’ve always learned. You learn so much through games that… It’s kind of the best way to do it [learn], in my opinion.
Mike: Well, your mom played games.
Bryan: Yeah, everyone… My mom was the ultimate game player. She was in, like, 12 different card clubs and… My mom joined a bowling league just to be with her friends, and she hated bowling. [Mike laughs]. She was in a bowling league for four years, and it was always, Aw, I gotta bowl tonight. But hey, I get to be with my friends and play cards after!
Bryan: That’s just kind of how it was.
Mike: I thought it was funny in your book… Well, your mom loved “500” — the card game 500. And she loved it so much that she would often play 500 by herself even.
Bryan: Yep [Mike laughs].
Mike: Not that she had to, because she knew everybody.
Bryan: She’d sit in bed, read the paper, and play 500 on the bed. That’s one game… I still don’t know how to play 500 very well.
Mike: I think I knew at one point, but it’s one of those where you play once or twice and you kind of forget.
Bryan: You kind of forget it, yeah. There are little things… She loved that game. I did learn how to play cards when I was, like, eight. I played poker when I was eight. Cards are kind of a thing in our family.
Mike: We’ve got games, we’ve got stories, golf, writing — we’re checking off the list that defines you these days. But we haven’t talked about eating at all [Bryan laughs]. Ever since I’ve known Bryan, eating has always been such a huge component of any event. You go to play golf, you have to eat when you’re done. You go to the casino, you have to eat. You go anywhere and… the meal is… I would venture to say almost the focal point of the event, not–
Bryan: Absolutely it’s the focal point [Mike laughs]. I do not disagree one bit.
Mike: And that’s awesome. Now, you’ve trimmed it up a bit since you had your gall bladder situation.
Bryan: I have.
Mike: You’re sitting slim and trim these days, but you still love food.
Bryan: I love food. But I just exercise more now, so it doesn’t look like I love food as much.
Mike: There you go. But you’re not a heckuva cook.
Bryan: No-o-o. But I can make desserts. I was a baker… not a baker. I worked in the bakery in college freshman year, so I got to tray bagels, I got to make Rice Krispie bars for 1,500 people [Mike laughs]… Yeah, I can make desserts, but that’s about it. I don’t do too much with other foods. I can make fajitas. I can grill… most of the time.
Mike: Well, that’s all you need, right? The two food groups — you’ve got dairy, you’ve got meat.
Bryan: And candy. That’s the third group.
Mike: Ice cream pie.
Bryan: Ice cream pie’s another one, yeah. But you’re right though: As far as the food goes for the focal point, I think the reason it’s the focal point… It’s not really the food you eat… Yeah, it’s good to go to a restaurant you like and everything, like Buffalo Wild Wings… But that’s where you can share the stories. That’s where you can talk about what you just did — the game you just played, the event you just went to.
Bryan: I tell the parents [of my students] that. If parents are taking a golf lesson with their kids or playing golf with them, go out for ice cream afterwards — because that’s the part the kids are going to remember. And if you really want them to like golf, go take them out for ice cream, because they’re going to go, Oh cool, I get to go golf … but I get to go out for ice cream!
Bryan: My dad used to do that every Saturday night. He’d go play golf with his buddies — I guess he still does it — but every Saturday night, we’d go out to eat afterwards. He’d play golf, I’d work, and then we’d meet up for food afterwards. He’d tell about his round and all that stuff, and — I didn’t really care what he shot or anything — but he’d share some of the funny things his friends did… It’s just kind of the way it works for us.
Bryan: We’ve always been food-based, I guess — that’s a nice way of saying it.
Mike: That’s good. It could be worse. There’re certainly far worse things in life then eating.
Mike: There are certain things that every person needs to do. We need to drink water; we need to eat; we need some people in our lives — some camaraderie, or whatever. It seems like those things are always going to be things that people gravitate to, because everybody needs to do them.
Mike: Not everybody wants to study engineering. Not everybody loves animals — I think they should. Not everybody likes computers. Not everybody likes golf. But everybody needs to eat, and likes to eat, and that’s why you can always find some common ground.
Bryan: It’s another way to share.
Mike: Yeah, it’s another way to share. And you know everybody’s going to be interested.
Mike: No offense to the vegetarians and the vegans listening, but [Laughs] you guys have a different idea of breaking bread.
Bryan: Yeah, I’m not going to Buffalo Wild Wings to get some salad — I want some chicken [Mike laughs].
Mike: But we love the vegetarians and the vegans [Bryan laughs]. I’ve tried both of those eating styles before, and I didn’t last exceptionally long — let’s just say that.
Bryan: We were a big meat-eating family when I grew up. I guess everyone our parents’ age kind of passed that onto their kids.
Bryan: Steak, pork chops, chicken — everything. It’s kind of the way we did it.
Mike: Right. You gotta go with what ya got. But I’ll respect it [vegetarian and vegan eating]. It takes huge discipline, and obviously it’s a lot easier on the environment.
Mike: Kid Rock. We haven’t gone that route yet. That’s not his real name. Do we want to get into a special Kid Rock quote at all?
Bryan: No, let’s leave that alone. We’ll keep people intrigued.
Bryan: If you do buy The Happiest Golfer, you’ll read about it in the book. I’m a huge fan of Kid Rock.
Mike: Yeah, there’s a little something you’ll figure out. Even if you don’t like Kid Rock; even if you hate Kid Rock; if Kid Rock is the last person you would ever want to see, hear… whatever. If you want to just kick him right in the butt and say, Get off the planet!… You are going to want to read Bryan’s book because there’s something completely unexpected in there that you’ll probably find very interesting. Let’s just say that.
Bryan: Yeah. It’s a quote of Kid Rock’s that… I don’t want to say I live my life by, but I definitely think about it a lot. It’s one of those things that pushes you.
Mike: Do you think he thought of that [the quote]?
Bryan: I… I don’t know.
Mike: Or do you think he stole it?
Bryan: I think he stole it, but if, Kid Rock, you didn’t steal that? Awesome, because that’s a great quote. If you did [steal it], I still like it anyways. If he said it though, I’m all for it.
Mike: Absolutely. Now we’re not going to sit here and say, Now, you should model your lifestyle after Kid Rock, or anything like that.
Bryan: No, not at all.
Mike: Absolutely not. So anybody out there listening with families and whatever else… No, that’s not what we’re advocating. There are good qualities in everyone, and each person has their own brilliance … even if they have their own demons and vices and all the rest of it.
Bryan: Everyone does. Everyone has their flaws, but everyone has their talents, too.
Mike: Absolutely. The affinity we have for Kid Rock, I think, probably goes back to that junior year trip… I mean that’s when it started for me–
Bryan: That’s when it started for me, too, yeah.
Mike: So our junior year of college — our junior year of university, as the Canadians like to call it [Bryan laughs] — Bryan and I, and his roommate… roommate for all four years, actually — whether you guys lived in a place with more than two people or just you and him… Gabe — we rolled down to Florida. That was the year… your dad was there, too, right? No, was it?
Bryan: No, I don’t think so–
Mike: I feel like there were more than just us three, though. I don’t know; it doesn’t matter. We went down there… This is the spring of 1999 — spring break 1999. And we went down there to — oh, what do you know? — play golf. And… No, you definitely had your dad down there. The first year we used Gabe’s graduation present to stay at the timeshare, and the next year your dad got that Hilton — didn’t he?
Bryan: Oh yeah, you’re right. You’re right. And you slept in the nest in the corner.
Mike: And then we had a reunion a few years later. Anyway, we went to see Kid Rock at the House of Blues in… not the House of Blues, the Paradise–
Bryan: Yeah, House of Blues — House of Blues at Pleasure Island.
Mike: The House of Blues, on Pleasure Island, in Disney World — yes. What I think is hilarious — I mean, Kid Rock was in full form — it was an all-ages show, wasn’t it?
Bryan: Yeah, it was.
Mike: I really think it was an all-ages show.
Bryan: We walked up to the door, spent our 12 bucks or whatever, and got in right away. And do you remember who opened?
Mike: Say what?
Bryan: Do you remember who the opening band was?
Mike: Staind [With silly pronunciation].
Bryan: Staind [Laughs].
Mike: Absolutely. It was Staind, doing all their hard stuff before they mellowed out a little.
Bryan: Before they Nickelbacked.
Mike: Yeah, before they [Laughs] Nickelbacked. But we went down there, and we’d never heard of Kid Rock before. We didn’t even really know what to expect. Your brother, who’s a big music buff — or at least he likes to think he is — right, Steve? [Laughs].
Bryan: Yeah, I’d say he is… He still is. [Laughs].
Mike: Steve… if you’re listening to this… no, he is. So, he kind of gave you a little bit of a heads-up, but we went in there and were… Is the right word “blown away”?
Bryan: Yeah, because it was, OK, wherever Kid Rock’s playing next, I want to see that.
Bryan: It was one of those things where… again, it’s the pivotal part — a pivotal part of your life, where you look back and say, I really remember that. I guess the pivotal parts are the things you remember really clearly, and I really remember that [the concert] clearly.
Mike: Yeah, I really remember that. It was everything… It was rock. It was rap. It was country. It was… craziness–
Bryan: He just put on a show.
Mike: It was a show. And you could tell that he was doing it because he loved it, you know?
Bryan: Oh yeah. He was so confident in what he did — because he loved it. There weren’t a ton of people there, but he did it anyway … and it was cool.
Mike: The interesting thing I remember, too… The people that were there — I think he might have hit in the South a little before he hit up North –… People were singing, man. People knew–
Bryan: Oh yeah. And me and you were going, This is cool, but I don’t know any of these words. [Laughs].
Mike: Yeah, I don’t know any of this.
Bryan: I do remember he said his name a lot, and he was from Detroit. [Laughs].
Mike: We left, and we were like, What did we just experience? On the way home — we had driven to Florida all the way from Minnesota –… Well, I slept on the way home; you guys drove.
Bryan: Yeah, while you were driving. [Mike laughs].
Mike: Well, that was the year before, but we won’t get into that. We stopped at Target on the way out of town because we were like, we have to have Kid Rock’s CD to listen to on the way home. And Gabe went in there… Was it Gabe? Was it you? Basically, there was only one left, and you guys got the last one on the shelf. And we listened to it all the way back to Minnesota. Yeah, ever since then, it’s kind of been like… Kid Rock… No matter what the man does, it’s as if he can do no wrong… That’s not the right way to say it. I’ll always be a fan. I’ll always have forgiveness for Kid Rock’s sins.
Bryan: Right. You always want to hear what he says, what he sings, what he puts out — anytime he does it. Anytime he does something, you want to know about it.
Mike: Absolutely. He’s not the smartest individual in the world, not the most likeable guy in certain instances. He definitely says the wrong things maybe more often than not. But–
Bryan: He seems like a good guy. He seems like he does the right thing for his kids.
Bryan: But don’t you think that… Part of the “Kid Rock” thing for me, too, was… Don’t you think it’s kind of a bond now that me, you, and Gabe have that, because of Kid Rock… We can all listen to Kid Rock in the same room, we can all talk about him. It’s not just Kid Rock. It’s one of those things that brings people together. Some people that play golf… Golf brings them together. Some people go to concerts, and the event brings them together like that.
Bryan: If you look into things a little deeper, that [the trip] might be one of the reasons we’re friends — why me, you, and Gabe are friends.
Bryan: That common bond over something cool.
Mike: When I think about it, if someone were to say, Hey, you remember that Kid Rock concert?, what I actually think about… I guess there’re like two images that come into my head. The one image is kind of just being in that House of Blues and having that concert feel around and seeing the stage, or whatever. But the other one is Gabe’s… What was that — a turquoise Isuzu? Or what was that SUV that we drove down there?
Bryan: Oh, that’s right.
Mike: A Toyota 4-Runner? What was it?
Bryan: Let’s ask Gabe — I don’t know.
Mike: But it was, like, teal — wasn’t it?
Bryan: Yeah, it was.
Mike: It was a teal, smaller SUV.
Bryan: That thing was a chick magnet. [Laughs].
Mike: Getting to your point, if someone says “Kid Rock,” those are the two images I have. One is of the concert, but one is just of the road trip and car, and us driving down the highway.
Bryan: And that’s the cool thing about it. And to go full circle, that’s what I thought about again when my mom died — those stories are so cool.
Bryan: And… Do you have to go through some big life-and-death thing to remember those stories? Or can you just sit down for an hour, shut off the TV, and go, Hey, remember that? — and write it down. Or, Hey, remember that? — and record it. Or, Hey, remember that? — and tell someone else.
Bryan: Those are the cool things for me.
What do you think is the most important part when you tell a story? We just told a story right there, and I don’t know if people liked it, or are interested in it, or stopped listening… But some people can tell stories really well; some people can’t. Everybody can tell a story, but what’s the most important part or thing that you subconsciously do when you tell a story? Or when you listen to somebody else, if you were to say, Wow, I was really interested while listening to them because… When you’re going to tell a story, what’s the most important part?
Bryan: I guess writing and talking are different for me. Writing, I — I don’t want to say that I make it suspenseful — but you can pick and choose your words a little better. So, you can form it a little bit better and create a story a little more. It’s a true story, but you can choose the correct words to use when telling the story. I like throwing in humor when I tell a story. If I’m just talking with someone, I want to throw in something funny — something that’s more of that “under your breath” funny. That sly little comment… It’s hard to explain when I’m not telling a story. You have to throw in something funny, some kind of humor that disarms people. That’s my way of telling a story.
Bryan: Then there are times to tell serious stories … but you can still throw humor in serious stories.
Mike: Totally. Oh man — this is good! Man, this is going OK, I think.
Bryan: Pretty good for your first interview. Can I do your second and third interviews, too?
Mike: Yeah, maybe. That’s what I’m telling you man — a podcast! Think about that. Oh…
Bryan: I’m in.
Mike: It would be awesome.
B. The radio show, like we talked about at the beginning — we’re doin’ it.
Mike: Skav and Cook, Cook and Skav — I don’t really care who’s first; it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever works. I just think it would be so cool. This is what you do once a week, twice a week, whatever… once a week, once every two weeks… I don’t even know. Put it out there. What do we have so far? How long has this already been?
Bryan: I have no idea.
Mike: I have no idea either. I think we’re–
Bryan: I don’t know if we’ve hit an hour yet. Hey, how about this: People who are listening — if you’re still listening to this, you can tell us if you liked it or not.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. But I think there’s something to be had there. And how fun would that be? Just put it out and you just talk about the whatever-of-the-day, right? How ‘bout those Vikings?!
Bryan: I’ll talk for an hour.
Mike: Say what?
Bryan: If people want to listen to me talk, I’ll talk for an hour.
Mike: Yeah. Absolutely — it’s too easy. Too easy, too fun, and I think valuable; we’ve covered a lot of ground here, man. Yeah, we finished up with Kid Rock and storytelling and whatever else, but–
Bryan: We just talked about a lot of different things. Yeah, we started out serious, then we kind of went on a lighter note… That’s kind of what this whole thing’s about. That’s the way I live my life, I guess. You have serious stuff, you have happy stuff, you have funny stuff — it all blends together, and it all makes up “you.” And there’s nothing wrong with being you and sharing that with people.
Mike: Absolutely. Can you have good without the bad, though? Can you have happiness without sadness? We always had this saying — at least I did — when we were running: You never knew what a good run felt like unless you had a bad one.
Mike: So, do you need both?
Bryan: I think you need both. Maybe you don’t need both, but… You’ll stabilize at a certain point if you don’t have both; you can’t get past that barrier. If you only have all good stuff in your life, there’s only so much good stuff you can know. But if you have that one bad thing — or lots of bad things — or those small, minor inconveniences that happen, you can crush that barrier and keep going past it.
Bryan: So you probably could just have good things, but you probably wouldn’t be as happy as you would want to be or think you could be.
Bryan: Find someone who hasn’t had a bad thing happen to them.
Mike: You can’t. When you know you’re not in that place [bad place] anymore, you still know physically, emotionally, and mentally what it’s like to be there, and so you appreciate it when you have that happy feeling, when you have that good time.
Mike: Because if you’ve never had “the bad one,” it’s like you don’t have a baseline. You don’t even know what happy is.
Bryan: It’s like when you’ve played a round of golf, and you thought you played really, really well. You might have shot 100, but if you’ve only shot 110 before — and now you’ve shot 100 — it’s the greatest thing ever. But hey, you can shoot a 90, 80, or 70. You have to have the bad rounds first before you can understand what a good round actually is. There are times you can play really bad but have a good score.
Mike: Right. You’re a guy who’s definitely going to advocate that score shouldn’t be the most important thing that you think about.
Bryan: Score is definitely not the most important thing. If someone wants to take a golf lesson from me, and they want to lower their score — and that’s anywhere on their top ten [list of priorities] — I’ll help them find someone else to take a lesson from. Score should not be the driving force of why you play golf. There are so many other factors involved that are way more important than a dumb little number.
Bryan: It’s good to measure something, but you don’t have to measure that number. You can measure other things.
Mike: Right. But we have to measure things. Is it bad to keep score? It’s not that it’s bad; you just can’t let it fixate how you feel.
Bryan: Exactly. You can’t let your score determine how you feel about yourself, or how the day went. You have to look at the bigger picture on those things. Really, I don’t remember a lot of scores I’ve shot. Yeah, I remember some scores I shot in college and high school, and in tournaments or whatever, but I remember mostly the goofy things — the funny things, like the time the golf cart went into the pond, or the time I hit myself with a golf ball. I remember that stuff more than I remember what I scored that day. I do remember that I got a hole-in-one and an eight in the same round on a par three — that was kind of fun. I don’t know — the score shouldn’t matter much, put it that way. At the end of the day, that little number on the scorecard does not matter. It’s a hard thing for golfers who have played a while to take that scorecard and throw it away, to say I’m not keeping score today. You might have an idea where you’re at in the round; you can kind of mentally keep it [score]. But I guarantee you, if you throw that scorecard away — if you don’t keep score for the day — you’ll have more fun.
Mike: I agree. I don’t think I’ve had a round with you… I used to be the angry golfer, too. I wasn’t that good at golf. I was good at a lot of sports — I was pretty solid at most sports, even if I wasn’t the greatest. But golf… I just wasn’t ever very good, and I’d always get really mad. Inevitably, I’d always take an “X” on at least one or two holes. I’m a big fan of the “X.”
Bryan: Think about how you play other games — the other sports you played. You can have pickup games of baseball and basketball pretty easily with your friends. You can play “21,” and whoever wins, wins — but you’re not really concerned about it; you just play with your friends. But golf… that’s a hard thing to do; it’s hard to have a pickup game with your friends. The culture is Play nine holes, play 18 holes; keep score. And there’s so much more to it [golf]. It just shouldn’t be taught that way. It should be taught that you should experience the situation first and see what’s going on with it. And then you realize that, hey, this golf thing could be kind of fun.
It’s like when I take my kids to watch the Twins play. They have no idea what’s going on on the field. They just like eating peanuts, watching people walk around in the crowd, cheering for the songs that play over the intercom, and watching “TC” throw burritos at people — or whatever he shoots from that gun. [Mike laughs].
Bryan: You have to have the experience more than the little finite score. That’s one guy’s opinion, but… I don’t even keep score anymore.
Mike: And that’s absolutely amazing. When did you decide that you were done with score? Now there’s a spot in your book where it seems like you kind of reveal that [moment] — I don’t know if you want to bring that up at all — but was that the moment?
Bryan: I don’t know if there’s one perfect moment where it happened, but yeah, that story was a huge part of it. If I did have a score goal now, it would be to birdie every hole I play. I want to shoot 18-under par if I’m going to keep a score. So, if I don’t birdie the first hole, I don’t worry about it. And even if I birdied the first ten holes, I don’t know if I’d worry about it too much.
Mike: You have that one story — and again, I don’t know how much we want to get into it — when you–
Bryan: When I walked off [the course].
Mike: Yeah, when you walked off. And what’s going through my head isn’t like, Wow, this is a confident guy, cool like the other side of the pillow, who doesn’t keep score. What’s going through my head is Man, you are an idiot. I don’t care about all this “happiest golfer” stuff. You are an idiot. [Laughs, along with Bryan].
Bryan: I had more important things to do. OK, maybe I was an idiot. Maybe I was scared to play the last four holes because I didn’t want to double-bogey every one of them. But I was rollin’. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to get home, and I went home. You’re right: It might have been a stupid move. But it was the choice I made. I guess I kind of showed myself that, when I did go home, whatever I just shot there — or if I would’ve gotten the course record and gotten my name up on the wall so people could’ve seen I got the course record — that wasn’t important to me. It was more important to go home and spend time with the people I love.
Mike: Yeah. Well, kudos to you on that. I obviously would agree that’s [spending time with your loved ones] more important, but woo… I don’t know. You have to read the book to figure it out, I guess.
Mike: So I don’t know, we’ve been rollin’ pretty good here, man. I’m just going to throw one last one out from my end — well, two more. If you didn’t teach golf, what do you think you’d do?
Bryan: I’d do one of two things — I’ve already thought of this. I’d be a baker. I want to make cakes, and I know that sounds really dumb.
Mike: No man!
Bryan: But that’s what I want to do. I love cake, and I love desserts. I don’t even know how to make cakes. But if money didn’t matter and stuff, I would learn how to make cakes. I would make super cool cakes.
Mike: That’s awesome. After we graduated from St. John’s, I went to work. I was doing management consulting for Ernst & Young — which became Cap Gemini Ernst & Young — and I was in Chicago. I had to fly down there every week for a period of time. And the manager that I had down there — his name was “Ian” — what was his last name? Doesn’t matter. Ian. Before he came there — the insurance firm I was doing some work at — that’s what he did: He was a baker.
Mike: How he found his way into that job, or who he knew in order to get into that level — he might have owned the bakery, if I remember right, so that might have given him a little experience business-wise–
Bryan: I wouldn’t mind owning a bakery, either. That’d be a good job. I don’t care… I wouldn’t mind getting up at 3:30 in the morning to make stuff.
Mike: Yeah, it would be cool. I was floored; I thought it [my manager having been a baker] was the coolest thing in the world. I was like, Dude, why’d you come back and do this? [Bryan laughs]. I don’t know.
Bryan: I’d do that [be a baker], or I’d be a radio DJ. That’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do, too. I’ve always wanted to, you know, talk for a little bit and then play music.
Mike: Oh, that’d be so awesome.
Bryan: Sit on a chair and listen to music — that’s one of my dream jobs. And I guess I did do that a little bit in college at our station there [St. John’s]. I’d be a baker by day, and a DJ by night.
Mike: That would be amazing. We’d have our own version of the Drew Garabo Show. [Laughs, along with Bryan].
Mike: Maybe not exactly… Alright man, let’s start to wrap this up. This is the last one I have. What are your goals for the book? Do you have any? You’re a guy that doesn’t advocate keeping score — maybe you don’t have any goals for the book. What do you want for this first book of yours?
Bryan: You know, I want people to buy it. To be honest, if this [the book] sounds like something you would like, I would really like you to buy it — that’s what it comes down to. On a deeper level, if people like it so much to where it’s going to help them, too, that would be a good goal for me. I like talking in front of people, so I guess another goal would be if you really like the book, I’d like to come into your place and give a little talk, to kind of help you out. What I’ve learned over the last few years is that it’s about giving back everything. It’s more of finding what you’re good at — and I’m not saying I’m the best at these things — finding your talent, giving back to people, and hoping it helps them. Sharing what you’ve got, sharing what you know. If it [the book] helps you in any way, that’s cool; I like that.
Mike: Right. That’s great, man. Do you have anything else?
Bryan: Go buy The Happiest Golfer. Go to thehappiestgolfer.com if you want to check out the videos. Go buy the book — you’ll like it. And if you don’t like it, I’ll… Come find me; I’ll give you a hug. [Mike laughs].
Mike: Do you want to throw out the address for your regular website too?
Bryan: Yeah. bryansgolf.com. And that’s where I do all the summer instruction here in Minnesota. I do juniors, beginners, adults — basically if you want to learn how to play golf, come find me, and I’ll help you out with that.
Mike: That’s perfect. So we have two [websites]: 1.) bryansgolf.com, where you can go learn about Bryan; and 2.) thehappiestgolfer.com. The Happiest Golfer is the book coming out on January 10th. Again, Bryan Skavnak — my good friend — and indeed, the happiest golfer. You will like the book. It’s not all about golf; it’s about life. A lot of really great points in there mixed with humor. Bryan, thanks for being on.
Bryan: Hey, thanks for having me. This was really cool.
Mike: First interview for Kindred Road.
Bryan: Congrats — that’s cool!
Mike: I’ll put some text and stuff around it [the interview], if I get on my horse here. Maybe we can get some of this transcribed, I hope [yep, got ‘er done!]. I guess we’ll go from there. You’re guest number one. And I hope everything is awesome with the book this second week of January and the months going forward.
Bryan: I appreciate it. Thanks.
Mike: Alright everybody, we’ll talk to you later. Bye!
See you on the Road,