The Hulk Transcript
Season 1 Episode 20

This is a written Transcription for the episode: You Can’t Be Incredible Without The Hulk.

Full Written Transcript of The Episode

Matt Tompkins: You cannot be incredible without the Hulk. Now, don’t worry. You didn’t accidentally stumble upon a marvel fanboy podcast. This is the Omaha podcast where Omaha’s most successful entrepreneurs help you grow your business. I’m your host, Matt Tompkins, of two brothers. Creative. But yes, I am using the Incredible Hulk for an important analogy today. And I’m not being facetious. I’m not trying to be silly. I promise you, if you stick with me through this short episode today, there is a major takeaway for your business and your life. I want to share with you today a moment I haven’t perhaps shared with many people publicly because it’s the moment that I died. Literally, and how I came back from that.

So let’s start off with The Incredible Hulk. First, if you don’t know the Incredible Hulk, here it is. It’s Dr. Jekyll, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That’s that’s The Incredible Hulk, really, in a nutshell. You have Bruce Banner, who is this brilliant, brilliant scientist. He has like seven PhDs and he’s just amazing. He can speak all these languages. And Gamma gamma radiation is his specialty. And he has this dark, dark secret, though. He has this weakness. And that is The Incredible Hulk. He hates it in the movies. They describe it as it’s like a raw nerve because he has no control over this weakness. He has no control over the Hulk. And when his weakness, when the Hulk is is unleashed upon the world, it is a path of sheer destruction left in his wake.

Matt Tompkins: Innocent people and bystanders are hurt. And the best case scenario you can hope for is to point the Incredible Hulk in the direction of your enemy and hope he’s angry enough. To just take them out. That’s what the Hulk does. Hulk Smash. It’s a terrifying character. I know that any time the old man or the old TV show about The Incredible Hulk with Lou Ferrigno, any time they show clips of The Incredible Hulk, even though it’s kind of cheesy by today’s CGI standards, my wife, Wendy, she’s still terrified because as a kid, this was this terrifying beast in the comics. He’s 10 or 12ft tall, just these bulging, ridiculous muscles.

And he’s terrifying. I think that’s how we feel about our own weaknesses. Our own weaknesses in business especially, we don’t want to tell other people because it feels like this raw nerve. We’re humiliated by them. We feel shame, we feel guilt. And so we don’t talk to other people about it. We don’t open up about it. We don’t ask for help. If we can’t even tell people about this, how are we going to ask them for help? We have our our moments in our life. And I like to refer to these as our crucibles. Everybody has a crucible, at least one, if not multiple in their life that defines them from that point moving forward.

Matt Tompkins: For me, my crucible was my addiction. Now, while I was doing the TV show Omaha Live, it was my first run at being an entrepreneur. Being self-employed and I failed on every front. I had no clue what I was doing. I did everything wrong you could possibly do except the TV show.

The TV show came before everything else in my life. As I’m sure you put your business above many things in your life, including your own health, that you probably shouldn’t. We probably shouldn’t do that, right? But we do it anyhow. We give it everything. And that’s what I did with the TV show. It was a hit TV show. It did great. Local TV show. Yes. But it had great ratings. Did a great. It was great. Compliments galore. The acclaim, the credit. It felt amazing. But I had this beast I had, as Matthew Perry describes in the title of his new book about addiction, this. Horrible, terrible thing. This big, terrible thing. And it was a secret for many years.

Now, while I was doing the TV show, I let myself just do everything wrong, as I mentioned. And then I did the ultimate stupid thing. I started supplementing these pain medications I was taking for multiple surgeries I’d had on my body. I’ve had eight altogether. I started using them not for the physical pain, but for the emotional strain, the anxiety, the stress. And this happens with business owners, I think, more than many other professions, because there is so much stress, so much anxiety and so much pressure not put on us necessarily from the bill collectors.

Matt Tompkins: Yes, it’s there from the the least you got to pay to the vendors and everything else. But. It’s put on ourselves. By ourselves. It becomes this beast. It becomes our Incredible Hulk. But it’s not incredible yet because just as in the comic books, Bruce Banner, he viewed this green monster, this beast, as this terrible thing to be ashamed of. He viewed it as his weakness. So my big, terrible thing was my addiction.

And I remember honestly, I don’t remember this. I was told this after the fact. My lowest point in my addiction. And that was when I. Died, as I mentioned. Now, was I legally legally pronounced dead by paramedics?

No, but it’s as close to death as you can get. And I’ll take it. I don’t want to get any closer. I was went over to my drug dealer at the time, went over to his It wasn’t even his house. Think it was his brother’s house. He was just crashing at in his basement, did a massive amount of cocaine and fell over like a tree that had just been chopped down. Hit the concrete floor. And he this is what he told me after the fact, because I don’t recall any of this. He told me that you were as stiff as the concrete floor itself.

Matt Tompkins: Your eyes were in the back of your head. You were foaming at the mouth and then you just stopped breathing. And it felt like an eternity that you just laid there. He said, I was pounding on your chest. It was like hitting concrete. It was so hard. And he thought I was gone. It felt like an eternity for him. And then out of nowhere, I sprung up. I said to him, Well, see you later. And I ran off out the door, went on with my day. It wasn’t until a week or two later that he told me this, that. It really terrified me. I mean, to this day, there’s still underlying trauma from that because I don’t know if it’s worse to have a near-death experience that you can remember or to have a near-death experience that you can’t Not remembering it is terrifying.

That is my moment of shame, that that is a moment that epitomizes my addiction. It was kind of like that movie, the movie Pulp Fiction, that scene where John Travolta has to use the adrenaline needle to, like, resuscitate Uma Thurman’s character. But it didn’t feel like a movie because it was real. It was it was terrifying. It wasn’t a cool scene and a Quentin Tarantino movie. It was my life. And there are many times my life shouldn’t have continued, and I’m thankful that it did. I am very grateful for that.

Matt Tompkins: But that was that was my weakness. My addiction was my weakness. And I say was past tense because. It was my weakness until I realized after years of therapy and treatment and I’m coming up on eight years in recovery in January, I realized that my greatest weakness is not my weakness at all. My greatest weakness has become my greatest strength. And I mean that sincerely. In the movies, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Incredible Hulk and Bruce Banner eventually become merged.

Together, they become this character known as Professor Hulk, where he has the best of both worlds, as he describes it in the comics and in the movie. He’s super smart. He’s this genius. He has the rippling abs and, you know, the muscles and all that stuff. If you’re into that sort of thing, I mean, I don’t know who is I don’t know who would want that at all. No. But he combines them together. He figures out a way to merge the two together. And that’s the lesson. I know it’s a comic book movie. I know it’s it’s for fun and entertainment. But as I was sitting there in the theater, I was watching this. And so I’m a few years in, you know, I think I was like maybe 4 or 5 years into my sobriety at the time. And I didn’t really feel like it had clicked. I still felt ashamed. I didn’t feel like I had the confidence to speak publicly about it as I am now.

Matt Tompkins: I felt there was an immense amount of shame and guilt that comes with addiction. Just as I know there’s an immense amount of shame and guilt that comes with your big, terrible thing. Your weakness that you perceive it as a weakness right now, that thing. You’re in debt to the bank. Six figures. You don’t know how you’re going to make next month’s payroll.

Maybe you’re struggling with substance abuse. Maybe you’re struggling with family issues, losing a loved one, letting down your spouse because you’ve given everything to this business and you’re not giving anything to them and you know it. You can see it, but you don’t feel like there’s anything you can do about it. Because if you detract your attention away from the business for just a second, it’s going to crumble like a house of cards. Cards. So I’m sitting there in the theater, I’m watching this Marvel movie. And yes, I’m a marvel nerd. I’m a fanboy, but bear with me. The Incredible Hulk Bruce Banner,

They have this this scene where they reveal Professor Hulk and he talks about how he has the best of both worlds. It clicked with me. It was this aha moment. And yes, you can roll your eyes at me if I had an aha moment sitting in the AMC movie theater watching an Avengers movie. Comic book movie. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound any better as I say it coming out of my mouth right now.

Matt Tompkins: But it was it was an epiphany. I said, why am I running from this weakness? Why am I running from this? Why am I not embracing this? And the moment, the moment that I embraced my weakness, the moment, the moment that I said, you know what? There’s the whole saying, I know it sounds cliché about not don’t be a victim, be a victor. But I didn’t really look at it that way. I looked at it as, There are two mats here, there are two mats. There is Mat who struggles with this addiction, who goes out and does things he should not do to his body. He almost died in the basement of his drug dealer’s house.

That’s not good. There’s this other man who’s fun and he’s funny and he’s entertaining and he has all these talents and has so much potential. But these two mats are at odds. They combat with each other over who gets control for the day. When I stopped looking at it that way and I looked at it like this these both are me. My strengths and my weaknesses are both me. And when I merge them together, I become the best version of myself. I really do. And it’s really the only way forward. To be incredible. You have to embrace the Hulk. You have to embrace your weakness, I feel, to be incredible, not just professionally, but personally.

Matt Tompkins: If you allow yourself to hold yourself back by ignoring the things you perceive as your weaknesses, it will lead to true failure. It inevitably will. There are all kinds of different exercises. There’s the Myers-Briggs, there’s strength finders. There’s all this these different ways to find out what your strengths and your weaknesses are. And that is very important.

I do believe that you need to know what your strengths are. You need to know what your weaknesses are. You can build off of your strengths. You can shore up your weaknesses. But I also believe there’s this extra thing that we we aren’t encouraged to do enough of, and that is to embrace our weaknesses and turn them into strengths. I will tell you right now, I can say this with 100% sincerity.

Honesty. Absolutely. That if it were not for my addiction, I would not be the person that I am today. I remember a few years later I was hosting a news talk program. I was like the three hour Monday through every day, Monday through Friday, three hour talk show every day. And I remember a couple of weeks into it and I thought, there is no way in hell I could do this had I not gone through my addiction, which sounds so weird. It sounds so bizarre, but I would not let you take away my addiction, my greatest weakness. I would not let you take that away for anything in the world.

Matt Tompkins: And that yes, I am considering the torment it put my family through, my friends and everybody, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it has taught me grace. It has taught me humility. It is humbled me as a human being, and it has given me the tools to overcome other adversities, other adversities that we all face, that you’re facing right now as a business owner.

So don’t shy away from your weakness. Embrace your weakness. Brené Brown talks about the power of vulnerability, how vulnerable vulnerability is a strength that is so, so spot on. Being vulnerable, being open, it not only helps you, it helps everybody around you in your circle. I mean, I started doing my one of the very first podcasts I did was for myself, and it was a podcast all about mental health and addiction. And I would I would get these messages from people that I knew or didn’t know, telling me about the stories of their kids, how one woman I knew her son and we we sadly lost. We lost him to alcoholism.

And she said, I wish my son and you could have shared this sooner. You could have helped each other. And that’s true. Now, to to bring this around to the important point of what you can take away from this today for your business and for yourself for growth overall.

Matt Tompkins: If you open up if you first step one, embrace your weakness. Don’t shy away from it. Step two, open up about your weakness to other people. When you do, you will be astonished at the response you actually get. We have this again, Brene Brown.

The story that we tell ourselves in our head that if I tell them I’m horrible at finances, if I tell them that I don’t know what ROI stands for, whatever it might be, return on investment. By the way, if you want to know, most people know that maybe I’m slow to the uptake. I don’t know. But my point is, if you just ask, if you just open up about it, if you set your pride away for just a minute and you talk to people, you open up, you ask for help, you know what’s going to happen. It’s the craziest thing. They’re going to help you. They don’t see it as a weakness. They’re not going to roll their eyes.

They’re not going to make fun of you. I mean, sure, there are percentage of human beings who are just total dicks, but I can guarantee you I haven’t had that experience and I don’t think you will either. You know, Joe and Chris and I, we talked about this early on about these episodes where. In fact, we alluded to this on the last episode where there are too many business owners who don’t speak up, too many entrepreneurs who who don’t say or share the reality of their situation.

Matt Tompkins: We try and live through this avatar world on Instagram where everything’s amazing. Everything is awesome. Everything is perfect. No, I’m a successful business owner. If that’s the case, then why do 75% of businesses fail in their first 1015 years? It’s because people don’t open up and a embrace what they perceive to be their weakness and then ask for help. Share it with other people.

That’s that’s true growth. It is. And the same thing that happened to this fictional character of Dr. Bruce Banner and The Incredible Hulk when he embraced the Hulk. No longer was he this beast, this hideous thing, this horror, big, horrible, terrible thing to be ashamed of. All of a sudden now is an equal part of him. And he became his greatest self. I’ll conclude this with sharing and I’m sharing this last because it’s a very it was a very emotional moment. And that was the first time outside of my immediate family, my brother and my parents. And Wendy, when I first shared that I was struggling with addiction, which was one of the hardest things to do. But I remember my my boss at the time, my general manager of the radio station I was working at at iHeart Media, and I remember that he came outside. I was standing outside and was just not in a good space and he could tell he came up.

Matt Tompkins: He said, Matt, what’s going on, man? He’s like, You’re not, you’re not yourself the last, you know, six months or more. What’s going on? And I was at the point where I just I didn’t care anymore. I was at the point in my life where I had major suicidal ideation. I was at one of my lowest points. I wanted it to end. By it I mean me because I couldn’t take this suffering anymore and I let it all out. I said, I’m struggling with opioid addiction. I’m, you know, I’ve been clean for 30 days or whatever it was at the time, but I keep relapsing and I don’t know what to do. And I am struggling with major depression.

And and I, I don’t see a way out of this. And instead of seeing an eye roll, instead of seeing him chuckle or walk away or any of those things that we imagine people will say, like if you said to somebody what your weakness is, you said, Hey, I’m I’m really terrible at math and I need someone to help me with my books. We think they’re going to laugh at us. They’re going to go make fun of us.

And the networking groups that said, no, they’re not. They’re going to do what They’re going to do what he did. And that is he gave me the biggest, longest bear hug I’ve ever received from another man in my entire life. And it’s still it’s.

Matt Tompkins: Still.

Matt Tompkins: It it’s emotional today to think about because the moment I did that and he followed that up by saying, Matt, get his hands on my shoulders, he said, Matt, my brother went through the same thing.

Matt Tompkins: Do you know how many people you work with struggle with addiction and substance abuse and mental health? Obviously, he couldn’t tell me there are laws that prevent that for good reason.

Matt Tompkins: But you are not.

Matt Tompkins: Alone in this. You are nowhere close to alone. I’m here for you. How can I help? Do you need some time off?

Matt Tompkins: Do you need.

Matt Tompkins: What do you need?

Matt Tompkins: That is how good people respond to you. So I go back to how we.

Matt Tompkins: Started.

Matt Tompkins: This, this short episode here. To be incredible. You must embrace the Hulk. What is your Hulk? What is your greatest weakness? In air quotes I’m doing right now. What is it? See what happens when you share your greatest weakness with somebody else.

Matt Tompkins: Bring it up in your networking group.

Matt Tompkins: See how many people and I would guess it’s probably going to be everybody sticks around afterwards. To offer their help. Especially in a community like this in Omaha, which is unlike any other in the country. Go. Be incredible to be incredible. Embrace the.

Matt Tompkins: Hulk.

Matt Tompkins: Now, caveat to all of this. Don’t literally hulk out in your own house, because.

Matt Tompkins: If you are a small business owner, you.

Matt Tompkins: Probably can’t afford to remodel your entire living room if you smash it all to hell. So don’t take that literally. Go embrace the Hulk and be incredible, because you are.

Matt Tompkins: Thank you so much for joining me here today on the podcast and thank you for letting me share this with you.

Matt Tompkins: I appreciate it greatly. Subscribe so you never miss an episode. And we’ll see you next time.