ep190-erik-stolhanske

Ep190: Transforming Your Disabilities Into Superpowers | with Erik Stolhanske

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“I never wanted anything to stop me. Not even having a wooden leg.”
– Erik Stolhanske

Erik Stolhanske is an actor, writer and producer probably best known for his role as ‘Rabbit’ in Super Troopers 1 and 2. And if you’re one of the many P90X junkies like me, you might also remember Erik as the guy with the prosthesis in the plyometrics video (yes…the guy with a wooden leg in the jumping workout!). No matter his role (and he has a lot), Erik always brings his unstoppable mindset and a tenacity to pursue the most challenging goals, no matter the obstacles. And given Erik was born with only one leg, he’s had to overcome a lot.

Whether you are battling a physical, mental, emotional, or circumstantial disadvantage in your life, this episode will leave you feeling empowered to go after your own S.T.U.P.I.D. goals (and you’ll learn all about what that means). If you’ve ever felt as if a specific disability in your life has been sabotaging you from achieving the life you dream of, you’re going to love Erik’s advice on how to not only to accept your disability (and yes, we ALL have one) but how to turn it into your superpower.

Erik will teach you how to better respond to every ‘no’ you encounter in your life (whether it’s coming from yourself or others) and frame it positively. We’ll discuss Erik’s ‘red light, green light’ game (and you’ll get to witness me in the hot seat) that is an exercise geared towards not only building resilience against the word ‘no’, but learning how to use it to activate new ideas, and you’ll also hear the inspiring story of how Super Troopers took a decade to become a reality. This is a light-hearted and humorous conversation that will no doubt leave you feeling inspired to make whatever the ‘wooden leg’ is in your life your superpower.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Erik’s story of what it was like growing up as a child with a wooden leg
  • The mindset it takes to aim for toughest goals in life when you have a disability
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: Everyone has a disability or something holding us back, but instead of letting that stop us we can find acceptance and even learn to use it as our superpower
  • Why you shouldn’t believe you can actually do anything you set your mind to
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: You are going to fail in life, and that’s ok
  • The rise in “Toxic Positivity” and how it’s affecting us all negatively
  • What it means to set S.T.U.P.I.D. goals (and why we should all be doing it)
  • How the movie Super Troopers went from an Independent Film to a Blockbuster hit
  • The two things it actually takes to reach your loftiest goals (neither of which is luck)
  • The difference between a challenge and a disability
  • The one thing it takes to embrace your disability and make it your superpower
  • Why Erik originally wanted to hide his wooden leg, and what happened to change that
  • The story of how Erik got on p90x and how it helped him embrace his disability
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: The only way to get big results is to go for big goals (and embrace big failures)
  • How to make hearing ‘No’ a positive moment that only leads to more growth
  • What the game “red light, green light” is, and how you can play


Useful Resources Mentioned:

P90X

Eric Stolhanske

Red Light Green Light Game

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Episode Transcript

Zack Arnold

My guest today is Erik Stolhanske who is an actor, a writer and a producer probably best known for his role as Rabbit in Super Troopers one and two. And if you're one of the many P90X junkies like me, you might also remember Erik is the guy with the prosthesis in the plyometrics video. Yes, the guy with a wooden leg in the jumping workout. Now, no matter his role, and by the way, he has a lot of them, Erik always brings his unstoppable mindset and a tenacity to pursue the most challenging goals no matter the obstacles. And given that Erik was born with only one leg, let's just say he's had to overcome a lot. Whether you are battling a physical, mental and emotional or a circumstantial disadvantage in your life, this episode is going to leave you feeling empowered to go after your own S.T.U.P.I.D. goals. And you're going to learn all about what that means in our conversation. If you have ever felt as if a specific disability in your life has been sabotaging you, and stopping you from achieving the life that you dream of, you're going to love Erik's advice on how to not only accept your disability, and yes, we all have one, but how to turn it into your superpower. Erik is going to teach you how to better respond to every 'no' that you encounter in your life. Whether it's coming from yourself or from others, and frame it positively. We're going to discuss Erik's red light green light game, and you're going to get to witness him putting me in the hot seat for a change, which is an exercise that is geared towards not only building resilience against the word 'no', but also learning how to use it to activate new ideas. And you're also of course going to hear the inspiring story of how Super Troopers took over a decade to become a reality. This is a lighthearted and humorous conversation that is no doubt going to leave you feeling inspired to make whatever the wooden leg is in your life become your superpower. All right. Without further ado, my conversation with actor, writer and producer Erik Stolhanske. To access the show notes for this episode with all the bonus links and resources discussed today as well as to subscribe, leave a review and more simply visit optimizeyourself.me/episode190. I'm here today with Erik Stolhanske who is an actor, a writer, a producer, but he's probably best known as playing Rabbit in Super Trooper one and two or if you are one of my many fitness friends that might be listening. You might recognize him as the guy from the original P90X, who had the prosthesis in the plyometrics video. So yes, today we are talking to the kind of guy that has a wooden leg in his jumping up and down and the hardest workout known to humankind. Erik it's such a pleasure to finally get you all on microphone today. Thank you for being here.

Erik Stolhanske

Hi, Zack. I was the one legged man in an ass kicking contest.

Zack Arnold

And you kick ass. And what we're gonna talk more about how that evolved and kind of the mindset and philosophy behind why are our mutual friend and mentor Tony Horton might have put you in that position for sure. Because there's there's a lot of lessons to be learned about that. But essentially, today, you and I are just going to have a conversation about life and failures and obstacles and disabilities and all the things that are stopping us from our goals. Because boy, did you have a really good excuse to just kind of throw up your hands early in life and be like, Well, I don't know, here's the handout was dealt with guess I'm not going to amount to much. So let's get started with a little bit of your origin story. So we can contextualize this beyond the guy from Super Trooper.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah. Yeah, it's funny. Some people still to this day, they'll be like, Oh my god, I had no idea. A wooden leg, I always kind of want it that way. And Tony kind of changed change that we can get into that. But I always wanted to act and comedy films and movies without ever kind of coming out about having a wooden leg. And then eventually, Tony changed that. But the reason the reason I have a wooden leg is that I was born without a fibula in my leg. And so for those of you who are not biology majors, below the knee, we have two bones. The front is the tibia, shinbone. And the back is the fibula. And that's the growing bone. And as some weird genetic fluke, I was born without a fibula, which is semi common, and it's not like a unicorn unusual, but it's not. Probably a lot of people don't know people that happened to but it's not the most unusual thing in the world. But I was born without a fibula. So I always think this is the most interesting thing if I put myself in someone's shoes is that my mom at age 26, which is pretty young, had to make a decision when I was born without a fibula to either see what would happen, born without a growing bone or amputate my foot and have your young kid, have his foot cut off and then grow up on you know, I couldn't walk for about two years so my mom had to drive dragged me around in a red fire wagon for two years. I just think that would be such a hard choice to have to make at 26 when you're not really fully formed.

Zack Arnold

That's a hard choice to make it any age but at 26. Yeah, that just seems inconceivable. But as we're going to talk about you put yourself in impossible situations, you can either fold and say I give up or I'm just I'm going to figure it out. And I would assume that from my understanding, she decided to go with the amputation. Yes. Yes, she did she make you safe assumption. Am I

Erik Stolhanske

Safe? Yes, good. Good call your man of the Mensa crowd. But it's funny. I was in elementary school with a kid who, whose mother must have made the other choice because he walked around with a shoe that had a gigantic heel. I don't know if you've seen that in kids in elementary school or the piano. And I think he had a much more challenging time than I did. I mean, I'd run on the playground and I had my share of like, interesting stories because kids used to tear off my leg, and then throw it over my head and play pickle in the middle with my leg as I'm trying to grab it on the playground. So you talk about a lot of kids getting bullied growing up, I certainly had my share. That's well, I don't know if they were still a shoe and threw it over his head. But they definitely used to do with my leg. But I don't know it builds it builds character. I guess I would never want my you know, anyone that I knew bullied like that on a playground. But

it is what it is.

Zack Arnold

Well, you just took you took playground bullying to a whole new level. Because I would guess that most of the most of the people listening today are similar to myself, and that grew up very creative, somewhat introverted, not everybody. But I would say the lion's share, we all have our story about being bullied. Every story I ever tell, I'm never going to be able to tell which is much bigger again, because I'm thinking, Yeah, but they didn't tear off my leg and play pickle with it. So you've ruined all of my bullying stories.

Erik Stolhanske

That was a good one. Yeah, I remember pretty clearly, it's pretty, pretty regular on the playground.

Zack Arnold

So from there you're born with without a fibula. And your mom makes this really challenging decision at a very young age. And I think as you would agree, and she would now it actually was, it was the harder decision. But it was the simpler one that it's like, alright, we figure out what to do. If you don't have the bottom half of your leg versus Well, we're going to kind of adapt and maybe we need the shoes or the braces or whatever it's like, let's just let's just get rid of it. And let's figure out how to deal with this. And I think it actually probably made a lot of things simpler for you. But I know that growing up from very early in life through middle school, high school, college and whatnot. One of the choices that you made, which I think is going to be very interesting to a lot of people was not well, because of the leg. I can't really do anything physical. So I guess I'm gonna sit around where I don't need a leg. You indeed became very, very athletic, did you not

Erik Stolhanske

I did, I was very active kid. And I think that was a, something my mom always kind of grappled with. As you know, this kid who I got, I started I started having a prosthesis when I was, I guess I had my foot amputated when I was 18 months old. So I probably had my first prosthesis I was about four. And as you know, four year olds are pretty active. So I was cruising around running, I did a lot of hopping. But I grew up in Minnesota, and I always wanted to go ice skating, I believe pictures of my mom taking me ice skating when I was like, really small. And my dad taking me skiing when I was really small. And so my parents obviously, thought it was important that I get out and do it all the other kids in the neighborhood did a lot of kids in the neighborhood. So instead of like having me just stay in and play break the ice, or sorry, or connect for all day long, you know, they they definitely got me out trying, I'm sure they're trying to get me to burn off some energy, because they probably wanted me to go to sleep. But I don't know, I guess I really took to it. And I had a lot of kids in the neighborhood. And I just wanted to be like everybody else. So even though it was hard. And you know, I often tell a story if I travel around and get my speech is that I love playing baseball. And eventually I my mom signed me up for Lily as a little bit later. It's like nine years old when I first started playing Lily, but I really took to and love baseball. And back in those days, you know, this was the dark ages of prosthetic technology. Now, you know, things are so much more advanced, especially currently with all the veterans coming back and the medical technology advancing but back and I was growing up in the 70s. And all I would do is throw a gym sock over the end of my leg and that put it in my wooden leg. And so when I ran, what happened was it you know, rubs like this, and so it's called piston Ng, and my skin would just tear. I mean, technology back in the 70s is pretty basic. So I don't know, I never want to really stop playing baseball, I do the kind of things and so my skin was turned off my leg, I would just throw some ointment on a bunch of band aids take about 20 Tylenol and just get out and do what other kids did. And I don't know I just always wanted to be active and I never wanted something to stop me even having a wooden leg from being active and not achieving what all the other kids in the neighborhood were doing and just going out and

I guess accomplishing things. I don't know if that was you know, the goal when I was eight or nine or 10 years old, but I guess that you know, there were these goals that you don't talk about like we do as adults but the goal was to play baseball and to be like other kids and I remember I signed up for football in fifth grade and my mom and dad freaked out, right? Because they were like, alright, you only have one good leg. You know, if that leg gets hurt, well, then what? You can't have a walk, right? So we started compromised on football, even though I played for a year and loved it. And during the playground, I still would be that active and tackling and stuff like that. But baseball, basketball, skiing in the wintertime skating in the wintertime, just being active like every other kid.

Zack Arnold

So basically, it's been a pattern your entire life of let's find the most difficult version of a sport that requires most lower body athletics. And I'm going to do it. Yeah. Which now the whole, you know, plyometrics p90x Will dirt totally make sense. But it's not a matter of you know, I'm choosing the sports that are still sports and still active. But I really need to adjust and compensate for the fact that unfortunately, my life doesn't work. And you're just like, eff it. Let's pick the hardest stuff.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, should have been a chess player.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, right. Chess, very active, very engaged. That would have been the way to go. But what I'm curious about, and you alluded to this a little bit, when you're eight, you don't know any better. You just want to get out there and you want to run around. However, I think that even at that age, there are conversations that happen in the house, there are unwritten rules and mindsets that are written in our brains, voices that we get in our head, that compel us to become these kinds of people that make the tub a harder decision versus the easier decision. So it sounds like a lot of this came from a very early age when your mom was having to make hard decisions. So what are some of the whether it's conversations, the mindsets, the things that have you, you have learned from a very young age that you feel that even to this day, are still the scripts or the voices in your head? That every time there's a challenge, you're like, I'm gonna choose the harder version instead of the easier one?

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, I can think of one specific

incident when I was young I, I would always we had a park at the end of our street and I loved to go ice skating, but everyone else in my neighborhood and growing up in Minnesota, there's a lot of snow, we wanted to go skiing. And so I remember talking to my mom and dad one day saying, Hey, I'm gonna go skiing, and they're like, oh, man, wow. Okay. And so they took me down to a local ski place in Hill, Minnesota. They're kind of hills, one of the mountains, but they fitted me with outriggers. Are you familiar with that, like you were they had the things that are there, like training wheels, kind of, you know, it's like, it's like a crutch with the ski on it, right? So you're skiing, but you're having your arms out, and they have skis on the front of the crutches. And you're bracing yourself on that and going down the hill. I'm talking this little kid doing this. And I just remember thinking to myself, like, I don't know, I think I can just do it with skis. And it was the hard choice. And my mom was like, well, whatever you think you can do all support? No, you'll try it. And she would say to me, you're going to fall down. Right? And I'm starting to get kind of choke up a little bit. But um, she will be like, you're gonna fall down. And that's okay. You know, it's soft, the snow is soft, and like, it's going to be hard. But if you want to try it without just skis, you can. And I think it's really important lesson we can take away as human beings, so we the effect we can have on other human beings. You know, I'm talking about myself right now. But like the impact that my mom had on me of supporting other people and saying, I have your back. I'm gonna be there for you. It's amazing how much you can lift up other people and you actually support other other people. And she was saying, let's try it. Let's do this. You know, you

want to try this cool. Okay,

you know, first time I'm black, you know, Yardsale skis are all over the place hat gloves or whatever, try it again, why, you

know, fall down, fall down.

But eventually, you know, I made it from the top of the hill to the bottom of the hill, with a wooden leg. And I thought was the most exhilarating, coolest thing in the world, you know that I didn't have to wear outriggers, which is nothing wrong with people do I know, I love helping people do disability skeet clinics, but I just want to try it, you know, and if I couldn't do it, I would have gone by outriggers. But like I made it down one time, after falling much times getting back up. And that was this sort of like simple habit that I learned early that you're talking about was, hey, let's try it. Right. It's a challenge. It's gonna be hard. Let's see if we can do it. You never know if you can do it. And so we gave the goal was exhilarating to me. And then cut to 10 years later, I'm skiing double diamonds in Colorado with a fake leg. So sometimes when you feel like you have those challenges or things you know, like, yeah, it's hard. I don't know. Can I do it? I don't know. I

mean, direct the movie, can

I edit the movie? I have no epic experience. Like let's try it, you know, make your first cut might not be what is perfect, but you know, you keep doing it, doing it doing a directing or acting or sound or whatever, you know, anything in industry and you got to fall down a bunch, but eventually get from that top of the mountain to the bottom mountain or hill in my case, and it's pretty exhilarating.

Zack Arnold

You and I are definitely on the same page with all of that. I love the story. And there's one additional thing that I want to just emphasize says a little bit more, which is that if I were to make a tattoo out of that entire story, what I think is the most important thing to have in front of me all day, every day and part of my identity on my skin, you're gonna fall. But that's okay. Yeah, that's what it's all about. That's the everybody always asked me because I've talked to hundreds of people deconstructing success and mindsets. They're like, well, you know, if I don't want to listen to 300 hours, how do you distill it down, fail as fast as possible and fail faster than everybody else. And that's how you're going to become successful. That's it, if you can just fail faster than everyone else is failing, you're gonna be successful, you have to be okay with it, you have to accept it, it took me a long time to figure that out. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist, where you know, I'm the Straight A kid and you know, the valedictorian of high school and top grades. And then the real world hit me and I really wasn't prepared for failure. I can't blame my parents, because they did all the things right that they needed to. But it wasn't until the first time I really had to manage failure that I realized, I have no tools to manage this, because I've always been successful at everything I've done. And it wasn't until I learned how to fail that I really started to succeed. So the fact that your mom very early, encouraged something and said, you're going to fail, be ready, but you know what, it's okay, if it happens, that to me, kind of encapsulates everything that we're going to talk about with you today for this entire conversation.

Erik Stolhanske

That's awesome. Zack, I also wanted to ask you a question. Um, I kind of touched upon this in my talk, but I want to ask you if you felt the same way as like, I sometimes find that some speakers are disingenuous when they say you can do anything that you put your mind to. I agree, right? Like when you when you say like, you know, just fail and it's all good, right? Like, I tried waterskiing grew up in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes and

Zack Arnold

Do you have any video of that, because I bet that was entertaining.

Erik Stolhanske

Well, yeah, if you like those Wipeout, America's Funniest videos. I mean, I spent so much time on my face, that even as a kid, I said to myself, I don't think this is for me, like I just couldn't quite do it. Even though I could ski down a mountain on snow. I just fell, fell foul tried, I couldn't get the bounce thing. It was just something I couldn't always do. And sometimes I say you can't be six foot five and be a horse jockey. But what I the story that I like to take away from that is like, I tried it, you know, I gave it a go. My dad, my uncle evermore kind of tried to do the best they could to support me to get me up and all these kind of things. But I just couldn't get it going. You know, my friend's daughter the other day said, When I grew up, I want to be a draft. You know, I said I was hate to hate that hate to break into sometimes, you know, you can't always do what you set your mind to right. And I think sometimes if we tamper that expectation that, you know, we give it a go we try we fall down we fail. Sometimes it's you can't do anything you set your mind to I don't know how you feel about that on as i

Zack Arnold

Oh, my God, I totally agree with you. And I do think that it's, it's the there's a concept now. And there's a title for this that has just been coming around recently because it's become so prevalent. And because you and I are in kinda sort of similar circles, you've probably heard of it, as well as the topic of toxic positivity. People online are never negative. They're never saying bad things. Everything's always positive, and you can do your best. And that can be just as toxic as negativity, you have to be realistic about the things that you can and can't do. The difference is I think people's barometers of what's realistic and doable are vastly under shooting what they're really capable of. So I really believe the vast majority of people undersell their capabilities. But there is a limit or there is a ceiling. And I'll give you an example of how I teach this. I haven't I haven't really talked about this on the podcast at all. But you that's such a good question. I love it. So I'm sure that you've heard of the concept of SMART goals S M AR T, right? Make them specific and measurable and actionable, that that that I write very corporate speaky if you want to set yourself some quarterly goals, set SMART goals, right. So it's not the SMART goals don't work. I think that smart goals are incredibly, excruciatingly boring, right? Because you're trying to just set this framework that everybody else is using to set very, very similar goals in a different context. So I've actually turned that on its head, and I have my students set stupid goals. Okay, acronyms still applies, but it's a stupid goal instead. And here's how it works. By the way, PS spoiler alert, most of it is stolen from the SMART framework. It's almost the same, but there's two key differences. Number one, it's specific, exactly the same. And by specific, I mean, measurable. tee time sensitive needs a deadline. Here's where it starts to deviate you. You better be uncomfortable pursuing this goal. Because if there's a level of comfort, and there's no fear your goals not big enough. But P you still have to be practical. Like is this something that I can actually achieve? Not that it's not going to be crazy hard, or nearly impossible, but let's be practical. I can't grow up and be a giraffe and find four foot eight, I'm not going to be a center in the NBA. But if I'm four foot eight, maybe I can be a ninja warrior instead, because I can find where in one context, my height is a disability, versus it's a superpower. And then the AI is that it must be inspiring. If you're not inspired to go after this thing, just like not being uncomfortable. And it's probably boring. And then most importantly, if you're going to properly set a goal that you can achieve, you must put yourself in the driver's seat. If you're setting a goal that requires all these outside circumstances and things outside of your control, you set yourself up for failure. So yes, you and I could not be more on the same page about this idea of toxic positivity. Put your mind to it. Just I want you to create a vision board. And I want you to manifest your affirmations and you can make anything possible. But I also believe that the vast majority of people have vastly undersell what they're capable of and what they can achieve.

Erik Stolhanske

I love it. Yeah, I was listening to the Jocko podcast which I also really enjoy as a Navy SEAL. And he's tough, tough guy. And he said, Set unbelievable goals, unbelievably hard goals. And I really love that like, you know, really, you know, pushing yourself to try things you think that you might not be able to do. But then also not like getting so crushed, perhaps if you can achieve it by at least trying.

You know exactly what you're saying is?

Zack Arnold

Yeah, absolutely. And that's the story of the last five years of my life as you're you know, a little bit of the story, because we've talked about it a Tony's but it's the difference between the SMART goal is I want to lose 10 pounds in three months. The stupid goal is I'm going to become an American Ninja Warrior. I love it. Yeah, also losing 10 pounds in the process, right. But the framing of it totally changes such that instead of I just need to reach this short term goal and cut some calories and you know, skip a cheat meal or two versus my entire lifestyle is going to transform and change who I am as a person had I not set that goal. You and I wouldn't be talking. I wouldn't know Tony, I wouldn't know all the people in a circle. But by setting that one stupid goal, my entire life has changed. And I'm surrounded by different people.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, I love I mean, it's a it's a ridiculously hard goal. And it's amazing what is human beings we really can do when we set our minds to it, like you said, Set those sorts of smaller goals, long term goals, but like really setting that bar high and and not being so crushed. You know, all you You did it, which is a great example. And you know, Jack was a Navy Seal and doing like these incredibly hard things.

I don't know, I just find inspiring, I like being around those kinds of people that have that energy that like, think I'm gonna go to outer space, right, like you can do it. Right, if you set your mind, it's crazy. I mean, it's really hard and insane. You tried to get three o'clock in the morning, but I don't know, I just wanted to surround yourself with those kinds of people that really push you to do interesting things.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, I mean, it just brings up this quote that has been used ad nauseam in our world over and over again, which is that you are the sum total of the five people you surround yourself with. I believe that, you know, I know you've never heard that. That's funny. It's a very, but it's they've actually done science, scientific studies on it. And they have found that they did it in the context of weight loss specifically. But if you're surrounded with a bunch of people that are all working hard to lose weight, or get in shape, or whatever, by default, you just adopt those habits and you just start losing weight, as opposed to you have all the same goals, all the same habits, you're eating the same foods, et cetera, et cetera. But you're surrounded by people that either aren't interested or actively trying to sabotage you. If you're never going to do that. You can't stick with it. They don't reach the same goal. So it's all about who you surround yourself with. Which I'm the same way like I just the energy of somebody that's very practical and down to earth, and oh, I shouldn't do that. That's not that's too hard. That's not for me. It's just boring. I want to be surrounded by people that are like, You know what, screw it. I've got a wooden leg. And I'm gonna play in Division One baseball in college. Why not?

Erik Stolhanske

I tried.

Zack Arnold

I know. And you failed, but you tried. That's what I love. Yeah, that's the part that I love the most. So I think that we've we've done enough of the teasing of the mindset stuff, and those that are listening. Many of them are like, when are we going to talk about Super Troopers? Let's talk about Super Troopers. So how do we apply all of the things about failure and challenges and setting big goals to the journey that was creating Super Troopers?

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, talking about achieving goals. I actually have a friend who won the lottery, which is insane, like he went in one day went into a gas station and bought a lottery ticket. And one I mean, the odds are greater than getting hit by an ashtray, I think is what the statistics are. But I feel that same about Super Troopers, right. Like, we made Super Troopers as an independent film. So we had to we were a sketch comedy group, we perform for many years, kind of like the Beatles in Germany, like we performed in small clubs in Greenwich Village, like five years before we made a film and nobody had ever heard of us but we had you know, done our time for years and years and years developing ourselves as a sketch comedy group. So we put in a lot of practice a lot of hard work. But you know, we had to go make the movie independently make it so it was strong enough to get into the Sundance Film Festival. And then

we may have been the only movie that got bought at the Sundance Film Festival and actually put in theaters, there may be another movie of I blanking right now. But um, the odds of that are kind of similar to winning the lottery or getting hit by an asteroid in the sense. But I think that all goes back to lesson I'm trying to say is that, to me, it all goes back to that one day when I was skiing, and my mom said, You're gonna fall down. But just keep getting back up again, again, again, and again. And it was just years of rejection and hard work and.

But keep going. You know, it's

like what you're talking about, as you just you set that goal, you set the goal for the American Ninja Warrior. We set the goal that we wanted to have a movie come out in theaters. So what happened was weird sketch comedy grew up in New York City, performing live shows just scraping by, I mean, totally scraping by. And there were movies that were starting to show up in theaters that were coming out of this thing called the Sundance Film Festival. And there's Reservoir Dogs, and there was clerks, and El Mariachi and all these like great independent filmmakers, were making these very low budget films, going to Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, getting bought, and then putting these theaters and we were in New York City, and they would come on the theaters make a watch. And we were like, we are going to make a movie that's going to be on that screen. And you know, sure everybody laughed at us, like, what are the odds that that can happen. But we worked really hard. We wrote 20 drafts of the script, we shot a half an hour feature film, I mean, it's not a feature half an hour film to kind of learn. And then we shot a feature film for $100,000, that we scraped together on credit cards and borrowing from aunts and uncles, and we shot it at the University of Kogi universitari went and that was all training, kind of the learn how to do this creative stuff that most of the people that are watching this podcast, you know, work in a creative field. So that was our film school in a way. Nothing happened with those things. But it was a way for us to learn how to do it. And then so Super Troopers was our second feature. And by then we were kind of learning the craft. But we still had to make it independently and then cross our fingers that it would get sold. And in 2001, it got sold at the Sundance Film Festival to Fox Searchlight, and ended up in theaters. But I do believe that all of that belief that I could do something What was that challenging all started from when I was a kid that one day and it's on this scale?

Zack Arnold

Well, the piece of this that I found so interesting is you started with the analogy of I've got a buddy that won the lottery. And this happening to us was kind of like winning the lottery. And the the natural progression from that from somebody that doesn't know the story. And I want to dig in maybe even a little bit deeper. But I bet more than once you've heard Oh, man, you guys got so lucky. Everybody got into Sundance and got you like you were so lucky. But how much of it was really luck versus perseverance and absolutely blindly with all the grit and determination possible, just forging ahead because you hadn't achieved the goal you wanted to achieve yet?

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, that's what it was. I mean, it really was mostly determination, perseverance. I mean, obviously, luck involved, right? You have to kind of catch lightning in a bottle when you do anything creatively. I think anybody's watching this that works in the field understands that. We made films that we didn't catch lightning in the bottle. But you know,

you do the best you can you try, right? Well, a lot of people it's interesting. After supergroups came out, they said, Well, you guys just came out of the blue. You're lucky you got into Sundance, and you know, like they thought it was luck. But they didn't understand that we

we were scrounging along, writing and performing sketch comedy in a Cabaret Club in Greenwich Village. For five years. Like we would have

to lug a TV from our apartment and a VCR and a stand and they were tube TVs, and we'd have to shoot a hair. So here's what we did. We did live sketch shows, right? We unlike SNL, you do a live sketch, and then you'd have like one of those SNL shorts, and we wanted to be able to change costumes in the stairwell, the only thing we had was a stage of piano and a five step fire escape on the side of this camera club in Greenwich Village. And so five of winter piled in this staircase where we change outfits but you had to have little three minute movies or whatever you want to call them in order to change costumes because you had to have some time to change so we would shoot at it.

Put it on a VHS tape.

We'd love this gigantic tube TV put it in a che would have to get his car in a garage pull in front of our apartment. We tear it down the stairs, put it in his car drive through Greenwich Village, which you know how packed was on Friday night I try to park in front of this cabaret bar where they're doing drag shows, and I'm standing on the first level, we go through that crowd up the second floor to small little cabaret room. We bring this gigantic tube TV VHS, plug it in, plug big cords in the back, put a VHS tape in it, and the remote on the side stage. I mean, now with YouTube, um, it's so ridiculously easy, right? But we would have to do this every show. And we perform that for three months. We do a sketch, show a short video, do a sketch show short video. And that's how we sort of learned the sort of technique of film, and then call me right so we we also was to drink minimum, you had to bring five people. So we'd have to go around New York City and handle flyers and ask people if you'd like to laugh if you'd like to laugh. We walk around Washington Square Park or NYU. And we're handing out flyers trying to recruit our own audience. So yeah, it was a hell of a lot of grit and determination. Like everyone thought it was overnight success, but man, it was pounding, pounding the pavement,

Zack Arnold

There's always years and years of those kinds of stories behind what most people consider an overnight success. Every once in a while there is somebody that is legit and overnight success. They go in and they have lunch at the right place at the right time. And an agent comes up and says you'd be perfect for this movie. And then all of a sudden, you know, you become the next elite star right? happens once in a lifetime, probably even less than people winning the lottery. The rest of those stories where it looks like somebody's an overnight success story, and they got their own career lottery tickets stories, just like that one. And I think what what so many people miss when they're in it? And I would guess that maybe even you did I know I'm guilty of it as well, when you're in it doing those things when you're actively carrying the cart. You're just like, God, this is such a pain in the ass. Why do we have to keep doing this, what you don't realize those are going to be the moments you missed the most. Those are going to be the stories that you love telling people Sunday, it's not. I'm so successful. Now. Now I can easily make a movie and I have millions of dollars, like the stories about lugging the cart in and out of Greenwich Village. Those are the moments that so many people get frustrated by and they don't realize a lot of that's the best part of the story.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, you didn't realize at the time, but it's it's great. Great. I think that's a good word to describe it.

Zack Arnold

Yeah. So one of the stories. Yeah, totally. And there was a story that this brought up that I don't think I've ever told before. I haven't told this for years and years. But the idea of you lugging something really, really heavy up and down the steps triggered memory in my mind, that's perfect for everything that we're talking about here. It's a perfect segue. When I was in college making my first scripted short film, one of the members of our group had a physical disability, he had muscular dystrophy, and he did have use of his arms or his legs. And we were shooting the short film on the third floor of a student apartment building, with no elevator. Every single day we were shooting, he was our producer, he was doing, you know, permits and paperwork, and like just all the producing type stuff because he couldn't physically lift anything. But he was still very much actively contributing. And I will never forget the memory of all of us at the beginning of every shoot every shoot day, we had to physically carry the wheelchair, up three flights of steps. And then we would have to carry him back down at the end of the day. And that, to me is one of those stories and those moments were at the time. I mean, hooked. If they just had an elevator, it would save us like 20 minutes of our day, like, time is precious, we got to get these shots, we got to get these shots. This is so frustrating. That's probably one of my 10 most cherished memories in my entire life. And the segue is he became my best friend. And I ended up i Yes, I ended up spending eight years of my life, creating a documentary film that was a biographical retelling of his entire story. I didn't know it at the time, because he was just a kid in our class with a wheelchair and I say to him, looks like nobody else wants to have you in their group come to our group, you come work with us, we'll figure it out. I had no idea how much that would change my life. I found out throughout the course of getting to know him better. He was the first quadriplegic to ever become a licensed scuba diver. And because of him, there's now an entire industry of teaching scuba diving to people with disabilities, which is probably very similar to the scheme that you were talking about as well. Yeah. But he had a saying. And that saying is going to be the perfect segue to what I think you and I both agree is kind of the crux of this conversation is saying was everybody has a disability. And anytime I talk about this, I get some weird looks. Some people get a little bit offended by this first those that think they don't have disabilities, but then people that do have disabilities. So I'm curious having heard this phrase before we dig into it. What's your first reaction to hearing that everybody has a disability? What does that even mean?

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, well, interesting. Enough, I'm starting to work on a book and the title is called, everyone has a wooden leg. So same thing different words,

it just that to me, it's the idea that you might not have a prosthetic body part. But we all have some sort of thing that gets in our way. Or some challenge that we have, right can be physically emotional, physical in certain cases. But we all have something that mentally with

something we find as a handicap. Right? It could be you're not. I'm not great at sports, I'm

not great at art I'm not. There's something that we find that we're not good at. And we place obstacles in our own way. Right. So mentally, we sort of have to try to overcome something that we find hard, right? So for me, I got overcome running. But somebody else might have depression or somebody else might have cerebral palsy, somebody might feel tired all the time, somebody might struggle with weight loss. I mean, so we all I have to every time I get my talk everybody at everyone, that's kind of exaggeration. But a lot of people will come up to me and tell me what their wooden leg is, when I kind of have that saying they struggle with my husband has cancer. And it's been really hard because I'm working full time job and I have to go to doctor's appointments or, you know, something that is their sort of challenge. I think everybody has a challenge. I mean, not likes so freaking hard, right? Like Buddha said, Life is struggle, right? So even that definition of Buddha saying life is struggle is that we all have something that we struggle with life's hard,

Zack Arnold

Yeah, all existence is essentially suffering. If you want to get really Buddhist, everything that we do is essentially suffering. So it's not about alleviating the suffering, it's about better managing it, having strategies to manage it, because that's essentially what we're doing. And to go even one layer deeper, because I've really, really analyze the word disability to better understand people's reactions to it. And what I find is most common, is that when people hear the word disabled, the immediate first image that goes into their mind, person in wheelchair, yeah, right. That's pretty much it. I mean, we've even got the signs, the blue signs that are there for the good parking, right? Disabled, you get to good parking, you have a physical disability, and what I try to help people better understand because this is one of the parts of my program is that disabilities and challenges I find are slightly different from somebody coming from your perspective, I want to workshop this, because I'm really interested in your perspective. I think that when it comes to a challenge and a disability, the difference is that with a challenge, you can you can find different ways to to circumvent it and achieve it and overcome it. However, with a disability, the first step, you just have to accept it. Right? I don't think that you having a wooden leg is a challenge as much as a disability because you can't say, well, there, I could find a way to grow a leg and have one i Whatever it takes, if I put my mind to it, I'm growing a leg. Right? You've accepted, I don't have a leg. Thanks to modern technology, it's almost kind of a non thing for you at this point. It was different in the 70s. And there were challenges caused by your disability. But there is no changing the fact that biologically, you don't have part of a leg.

Erik Stolhanske

I'm only laughing because one time I had sort of an astrologer type person telling me that if I thought about it hard enough, I could grow my leg back.

Zack Arnold

See, because if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. But to a certain extent, to a certain extent, yes. But to a certain extent, no. So I always say that when it comes to a disability, and again, it doesn't have to be physical, mental, it could be geographical, it could be ethnic, like, you know, in certain contexts, the fact that your skin is a certain color becomes very much a disability, right. But it's something that first of all, can't be changed. It can't be fixed, it just is what it is, and you accept it. But it's only a disability in a certain context. So an example would be that in the context of being able to run a marathon, you not having a leg is a disability doesn't mean you can't do it, but it's certainly going to make it a lot more challenging. However, in other contexts, let's say for example, in the context of being a public speaker, is having one leg a disability for you know, in a way, I would argue, it might actually give you a tiny bit of an edge and a little bit of an advantage, because you have something that's more motivational and inspirational to talk about, than just some regular guy with a normal life that wants to be a motivational speaker, would it not sure. I agree with you on that. Yeah. Yeah. So I feel like that's what I'm trying to do. And there's a whole lot of things that I'm doing with this program, but one of them is helping people reframe things that they feel are making them less than others, why I'm less than others, because I'm missing a leg or because I'm in a wheelchair or because I have ADHD or I deal with mental health and depression issues. I'm less than others. But if you change the context of it, sometimes that disability or that kryptonite can become a superpower. And I think you're the perfect example of somebody that said, here are the cards that I was dealt. I'm accepting that this is my reality, but let me turn it into a superpower rather than use it as a Excuse me. So speaking to somebody that is in this world, am I on the right track? Because like I said, every once in a while I bring this up and I get weird looks. So if I'm saying something that is in some way offensive or construed the wrong way, I want to know that but I truly believe in this because this is what the subject of the film, Christopher, what he believed in. And I mean, the he literally he was the first person that always make the joke. Yeah, and the cripple in the room. And people be like, Oh, my God, he's in but then I dug into it. It's like, Well, I do that because it breaks the ice. It takes the pressure away from Oh, you're different. And I don't know if I should approach you like he used humor to kind of break that ice and just accept Yeah, this is my reality. I'm cool with it, which means you get to be cool with it.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah. I mean, that's where I think, I hope that as we evolve, and I think as it's changed a lot since when I was growing up, like, instead of being such a anomaly are like, you know, pointing and like, I think I told you sorry, camera, if we recorded recording, we were talking about it, but when I was on the playground, kids would take my leg off and throw it over my head, we're playing pickle in the middle as I'm trying to get my leg is are throwing it around. I mean, it was such a

an oddity,

I guess, like, in my school that I was the one kid that I wouldn't like that, for some reason kids felt the need, they thought it was funny to take one kid would take off my leg and go chase the girls all over the playground with it. And then some would take it off and play pick on the metal and the teacher would have to come out and help me go back to class. You know, I can kind of laugh about it now. But um, I hope we get to a place where we just say, and everyone's got something right, everyone's disabled, everyone's got some sort of handicap, we can talk about depression, we can talk about, I don't know, whatever it is, you know, just like, why can't we all just admit that we have shortcomings or disabilities or challenges and like,

just be out out in the open about

it all? I don't know. I hope that we can ever kind of evolve a little bit to that place where like, we just say, Yeah, all right, everyone's got something. Who cares? If you're that kid, it's got the wooden leg, who cares? If you're the kid has missing two fingers, or a kid doesn't have any hair? I don't know. I mean, it's just that just get to a point where not like laughing and making fun of people and like that's the odd person out or have to have these committees for disabilities. And I appreciate all those are great, but I hope we can evolve past that where you have to have all that just accept it. Here here kind of widely agree. You know, I one of the reasons if you want to get into this, I can, if you want to drill down on that more we can, I was going to just kind of bring it around full circle as I was saying before, that I used to always want to try to act in movies and not ever say I would like I purposely never talked about an interview as I mean, I think I did about four or five films, major films, with Fox Searchlight, Warner Brothers, movies, or major studios, theatrical releases, and I never told anyone out of an artificial leg. And it was very specific because I never wanted to be pigeonholed is only getting cast as somebody who came back from a war and lost their leg and was in a wheelchair and like, I just never felt Hollywood was evolved enough. And this was before all this kind of diversity stuff that's happening right now. And then, I was I was doing it, I was acting in movies, and I never talked about it. And I was able to play and able bodied norm bars. That's what we should be able to do. Right? But then I, I wanted to get in shape for a movie. And I was at a gym and there's a flyer and it said, come be part of the hardest thing you'll ever do in your life mentally, emotionally, physically. We're putting together a test group, this thing called p90x and I would go to gym but I want to work out probably as hard as I could because I don't have any really buddy pushing me as hard as somebody. So this group, so it's gonna be hard for me six days a week, 90 minutes, you got to commit. He can't miss a day you got to follow food plan, all this kind of stuff. And I was thinking to myself, well, you know, free trainer, I'll work harder. I'll get in shape this movie. So I go and I be in this test group for p90x. And at the time, there was no real Extreme Home Fitness movement. Right? It was Richard Simmons or Cheryl Tiegs, Jane Fonda, you know, I mean, it wasn't really like there's no CrossFit that the idea that they were making this video was they were thinking that professional athletes or people really high at athletic level would do something that really made them better athletes. It wasn't really meant I don't think at the time to be something that went out to every home in America, it was going to be kind of a niche idea. And I said get in shape. So I did a test group about 60 days into it you know, it's really freaking hard. And I was falling over and yoga all these like balance positions. Plyometrics I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it. So like 60 days in I realized I kind of overcame something and I was able to I was stronger, getting in better shape. And I would always wear sweatpants because I was embarrassed about being handicap and I just wanted to just go in there and get a workout in I wasn't trying to do anything else but just try to get a workout get a better shape this movie, but about 60 days in and I was starting to do with plyometrics I was able to hold the balance poses i was able to do a lot of these really hard physical activities. And one day I showed up I said screw a mammal or shorts today, because I was starting to get this stuff down. So I show up in shorts and and I just see heart and looking down like what that was at that point. And the class is like looking at me like,

I got a fake leg. And he's like, What? You've been here for, like 60 days, and you now just show up in shorts. So

you've been doing this whole thing with one leg? Like, yeah, I don't know, I just kind of collect them. It's great. I love working out this hard and really being a dude. He's like, alright, and he just treat like everybody else. Everybody else is cool. And then we finished 90 days at a test group and he said, still henskee Hey, we became pretty good pals. And after that, we were hanging out on the beach working out and he was like, hey, I want you to be in the plyometric video as I was in the video, like on a in a background person, like Suzanne Somers thing. And he's like, Yeah, it'd be really cool. If you are doing Plyometrics, which is I think the hardest discipline of all p90x is a kid with one leg.

Zack Arnold

It's quite possibly the hardest 60 minutes of any home fitness program ever created ever. Plyometrics is just as he calls it, death by jumping for a reason.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, it's, it's hard. I mean, just bottom line. It's a really hard jumping, exercise, relax. And then I was like, Nah, I'm good. No, thanks. I don't want to be in an exercise video, trying to be an actor. I'm in movies. And he's like, he's like, Oh, well think about I mean, like, there's a lot of people that struggle with diabetes, overweight, depression, all sorts of things. Like, maybe you having a wooden leg, I know you probably think of as a disability or handicap or maybe it's something that isn't positive that you could

help people. And I was like, Damn, you, damn you horse.

That was waste putting it that way. I thought about a form like, I don't know, I'm trying to not be the guy with a wooden leg. And it was the first time in my life. I think that I got pictures. I sometimes when I tell my story I show when I was growing up, I go to the beach, not wear pants. I used to wear like jeans like my family, we went down to Florida one time for spring break with my mom and dad, sister and down the beach wearing jeans. Because I didn't want to be a handicapped kid. And I had to make like a life decision that's like, I can embrace this having a disability or I can be the person who's trying to hide from it. I said, you know, when I've been in these movies, all right, I'll do it. I'll do it. Now. Don't be on your p90x video. And so I did it in shorts. And I think that was the first time that I ever was sort of on film doing anything where I exposed my legs, sort of the mass audience, and then went on to be like the number one home exercise video in America and just took off totally unexpected, what they thought. It's a really great workout. And Tony obviously talks to talk, walk the walk, and it's the real deal. And that, so now I and now I accept it. I hope that we get to this place where everyone's like, Oh, yeah, okay, it was I mean, that was, I don't know, I mean, we should even be talking about in the sense like, it should just be like everybody in the world just says, Yeah, I have a disability, I got a challenge, I got a handicap. And we all just want people when I'm younger, like one type of humanity. Who cares?

Zack Arnold

Unfortunately, we just have so little time in our days, because we're spending so much of it trying to prove to everybody that we're perfect. And we have all of our figured out. There's no time left in the day to be vulnerable and share our struggles and share where we're human. Right. And that this is, I'm not going to get on the soapbox, I have many soap boxes, I actually have in addition to the house that holds all of my soap boxes. This is what I'm not going to bring out. But just social media has the power to get us to the point where you and I are talking and is doing the exact opposite. Because we spend so much time creating this false perception of all the things we have figured out. Here's the perfect day. Here's my perfect breakfast, I had the perfect workday on my laptop outside doing my own thing, hashtag live in the hustle life, Hashtag blessed life. And it's creating this environment where we don't feel accepted, if we're posting something that is ugly or dirty or real or vulnerable. But imagine the power and how quickly we could change this. If we just flipped the switch on social media. And instead of here's all the stuff that you're kind of making up or just exaggerating, that's BS versus let's just be real. I really think that that's an area where we can we can make this much more of a reality. And I think some people are using it the right way to do exactly that. So I know some people that have really leveraged social media and today's technology to be able to amplify the idea that yes, I might have a disability in one context. It's an ability in another so I'm always trying to help people to identify first, what's what you consider the disability. Let's accept it. Now. let's reframe it. So the kryptonite becomes your superpower.

Erik Stolhanske

I love it. Brilliant.

Zack Arnold

what I'm curious about next is we talked about how you've gone from this kid that was really athletic loves baseball, football, basketball, couldn't play the football but still loved it. Then you decided you wanted to go far as you could in baseball, and you got there, made the switch to acting. And if we have time, I want to dig into that piece a little bit further because it's a pretty damn good story about how you decided to go from athlete to acting. But then ultimately I want to talk about public speaking. So we're going to take a little bit of a detour, because I don't know how much value it has other than it's just such a good story. Talk to me about how you made the transition from athlete to actor because you told this was almost on the floor.

Erik Stolhanske

Oh, yeah, the true story of how I got into comedy.

Zack Arnold

Aha, the leg story. That's it. They're not all like stories. This is one of the best stories I've ever heard.

Erik Stolhanske

I was at Colgate University and I, it's division one sports. So I was captain, my high school baseball team. I always loved baseball spring came around and I wouldn't try it out for the baseball team. And you know, surprise, surprise, I wasn't big enough fast enough to play division one baseball, it's pretty hard. And so this was the time when I could have become become introverted again and stay at home and not gone out. But I said hi, you know, I was depressed for a little bit. But I was walking by the campus University Theatre Department and the doors open. I looked inside and they were rehearsing. And there's this girl on stage. You know, I thought she was cute. I kind of stuck my head and then I sat in the back and I watched and I thought, wow, you know, I always love Caddyshack and Animal House and flat and all these comedies growing up. I was like, Man, I want to try getting on stage. Again, stage of that girl. So I don't know, I started auditioning for theater productions. But man, the truth is, I never got cast in one show for like two years. And I kept trying and trying and I said, if I if I really want to make this work, I probably should sign up for an acting class. So I finally signed up for an acting class at school. And the first thing they made us do was show up on a Saturday morning and build sets and how that's supposed to help you as an acting amateur. But it was free labor. So I didn't know I just do what I did to get a grade. And it was Saturday morning and it's college. So I was hungover and I was tired, early morning. So I'm just hammering away at this set. And I look over and there's this tall skinny Indian guy, East Indian and he's also hammering away tired too. And next thing you know, we start talking and start talking about where we're from. And he said he's from Chicago. I say I'm from Minnesota. He's like, Oh, Minnesota. Is that where the Vikings play? Because I what? This guy's coming hard this morning. So I was like, oh the Vikings Okay, yeah, okay, the bears are dumb errors. And an ASA said the Vikings is a lot tougher than the bears crushed you guys. And he's like, oh, okay, Purple Rain. Why don't you come back and talk to me after you guys win a Super Bowl. Now, my Vikings are all in for the Super Bowl. Anybody's a Minnesota Vikings fan can feel the pain. So I kind of got bearish

Zack Arnold

fans can feel the pain too. So and just for a point of reference, born and raised in northern Wisconsin, cheese head and Packer fan, so just get a full disclaimer put that out there. But continue.

Erik Stolhanske

You guys got Super Bowl rings.

And he was always wearing to make man jersey. And so I was just like, oh, okay, Chicago. You so thank you. So tap, you think you do this, I reached down, I grabbed that hammer that I'm going to start with and I just go can I smack that on my ankle as hard as I could? And he was like, what? And I was like, thank you so tough here. Can you do this? And I stick out the hammer to him thinking that was it? You know, I mean, in my mind, like, that's it. But I didn't expect it when he's like, Oh, you

want to play that game, do you? And he preaches, and he grabs my hammer, and he goes

down his ankle. He's like, Oh, Holy Jesus, and he grabs his ankle. And he starts squirming around the floor. I was like, Oh, I wasn't

expecting that to go in this direction. Now, and I look around as like, Oh, okay. And I see when you know a theater percentage of March, right? You got this event, arch over the theater and I go all right. Hey, Chicago, you just talking to those that run across the stage and I kick the cement wall as hard as I could straight on with my foot. And I think and that's it right? I think he's gonna be like, Okay, I'm done, you're nuts. Instead, I here. He comes, he's wearing Birkenstocks to a comes flying across the stage. And he kicks the cement wall as hard as he can. And he drops down the ground and he's rubbing his toe and he's like, that's not so bad. else have you got no Mike. This guy's crazy. And I'm thinking this game of chaos key and as much as gonna be finito. But it's not. It's not we're this for City Pride. Right. And so now I gotta find something that's gonna make him bail out of this game. So I look over and I see it. I'm like, Yeah, I got it. This is definitely going to be it. And I reached down and I grabbed a pneumatic staple gun, as well. Use pneumatic staple guns to build sets and that Mike shikaka Are you this tough? And he goes, you don't have the guts. And I said, Oh, yeah, you don't think I got the guts? He's like, You can't do you know, you're not going to do that. Right? Like, he's like, you know, as like, you don't want to do this. He's like, I

don't know. Anyway, anyway, I'm getting out of my story. I checked into my staple gun. And I say Chicago is tough. And I put up to my lady said, you don't have the guts. I'm like, oh, yeah, I go. Hi, now brown cow. And I put a pneumatic stick with a staple gun into my leg. Now he comes running over and he's like, there's no way it's real. And he starts inspecting my legs, pulling up my pants. And then like, for sure there is a staple into my leg. And he's like, Oh, my god, does it hurt? Like, yeah, it hurt and pregnant taking the hospital afterwards, man, you don't want to do that. He goes, I don't want to do it. I have to do it. And now I'm thinking Oh, my God, this guy is like either Plumb Crazy. He's definitely tougher than me because he grabs a staple gun. But he starts searching for like, the fatty meat is like, I know that my shin right on the back of my leg. But he starts like, grabbing different parts of his leg that he thinks have more fat on it, that is not going to hurt as much. They finally sells like on the back of his leg and he's pulling out he's like, I could probably do it here. And he takes a staple gun. He puts it up the back of his leg. And he's about to pull the trigger. And I'm thinking man, at the moment, I'm like wrestling like you know, he was making fun of my Vikings. I'm like, I should let him do this. But I'm like, my reason and kindness. Minnesota kindness got the best to me like, oh, man, hold

on. I got what do you know your friggin mind. And like, somebody's been award, I got one leg and

I pull it off and I show it to him and thinking he's probably gonna like strangle me or kill me or just be totally pissed off. But he's breaks down laughing he's like, ah, ah, because as Derek I guess we were kind of cut from the same cloth, ultimately, and he sticks out his hand. He said, Hey, I'm Jay Chandrasekhar and I'm like, Hey, Erik Stolhanske. And we became best friends after that. And ultimately, he put together the comedy group at Colgate University and he asked me if I would come audition for it based on our time building sets that day, when an audition for the sketch comedy group cast, we were called char goo speak at Colgate University who performed the next two years. And then after that we moved to New York City became broken loser. Here we are 30 years later, we just finished our a movie called Quasi which will be on Hulu in 2024

Zack Arnold

Nice definitely gonna have to make sure we check that out. But the the story is amazing in any context, but seeing it via zoom doesn't do it justice because to watch you perform it live seeing the whole body and like the animation and everything else. Like I just I remember my face hurting after you telling that story, the first time that I'd ever heard it, like it's really hurt. And it's it's it's amazing. But what's what I love about it, the takeaway is that it wasn't just, you know, this macho thing, you found somebody that was cut from a similar cloth. And a lot of it has to do with the exact direct path to get you to where you ended up getting being a filmmaker and producer and director and actor and everything else. Would you not have gotten there if that story hadn't happened? Of course not. But it did become a part of that path.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, it's kind of funny. I don't even know like, you know, the kind of weird serendipitous moments for two fortuitous things that kind of bring us where we are sometimes it's just that interesting person you meet somewhere. intersection or workout class or on a zoom or you know, I mean, you never know sort of I was reading the director I always mispronounce the name, but he directed the latest Thor movie. And it was a YTC Yeah, talk about TT Allah, which such a big fan. And he was, you know, he collaborates like with Jermaine Klamath, and then a couple other people's read about the paper today that he just kind of he kind of meet somebody and he finds a mentioning and collaborates with them. And then they make a project, which I thought was kind of cool. Like, you just never know who you're going to run into. Or some happens one day when you kind of just hit it off with somebody. And the next thing you know, you're collaborating, making a project together.

Zack Arnold

And that's where I think we can get back to this concept of finding lightning in a bottle. Because there's one side of the coin where it says lightning in the bottle is all luck. There's another side of the coin that says, to a certain extent, not to a full extent, but to a certain extent, I think you can create that luck. So I want to dive right into something that you do in your speaking engagements that you call the red light green liking. Because I feel that you can get yourself closer to creating lightning in a bottle if you opened your mind to other possibilities, as opposed to this is the path. This must be the path. I shall not deviate from the path and nothing's going to stop me. So talk to me a little bit more about this concept of what you do in your speaking engagements with the red light green light game and just what it is.

Erik Stolhanske

Well, I think it's keeping an open mind to being open minded to when something opportunity arises. Right. And what I like to say is always jumped the fence. And the idea of that is, you know, you've heard the expression The grass is always greener on the other side. And that people often say that, I think is a comfort level or some like saying, you know, don't jump over there, you know, the grass is greener on the other side.

And I think it's supposed to mean that you're not supposed to

jump that fence and go try it for yourself, right? But then how do you know if you don't take that opportunity and take that opportunity to go try something. And like we talked about, like, you might get over there and be really unhappy. It's dusty, and dirty, or the astroturf too hot. And but, you know, you can always jump back over the fence and outside, but if you don't try something, or take the opportunity, when you have the green light, how do you ever know?

What's the possibility. And so even though we all might have a wooden leg or challenge or disability, and sometimes you think I can never do that, well, let's try. Tried waterskiing, it didn't work, tried snow skiing, and it was awesome. And had I not tried either of those, I never would have got to experience either of them and decide which one works, which doesn't.

Zack Arnold

So now let's dive into the nuances of this game. Because even though you use it in a slightly different context, I think it can actually change somebody's perspective on when they have a goal. And it has to work out this way. I think we both made it very clear that when you set the destination, you want to make it really, really difficult, shouldn't be something that's impractical and can't be done. But let's not sell ourselves short. But I think the challenge that so many people fall into then is not only is this the goal, this must be the path that gets me there. And then as soon as something gets in their way, well, that means I can't get to the goal. Whereas with the red light green light game, that's a very example in a slightly, you know, more comedic and fun context of training your brain to say, well, I can't go this direction anymore, I can still go forwards. But I'm going to have to deviate. So if somebody were to ask you, how do I play? What is the red light green light game? And what are the rules

Erik Stolhanske

they were talking about? I was thinking of different talks that you had heard me at red light green light is a game that I played with a communication company called Game on. And at Game on, we work on communication skills, with large groups mess, with corporations, military, all sorts of different universities and stuff. And the idea with red light green light is is redefining how you give and hear and know. So you're telling a story. And if somebody says you tell you tell a sentence, if somebody says red light, you have to change how you tell the story. And, and the thing is, the thing about that lesson, the takeaway from red light, green light is all day long, we are given nose, and we hear nose and either it can shut you down, or it can take you in a new direction. And creatively. If somebody if like if I'm in a writing meeting, and I throw out an idea, and someone's like, not stupid, I get shut down. And then I might like sit down in my chair and not want to express ideas again, that I might not want to express ideas like a further idea. But instead, you could say like, oh, okay, I see where you're going with that. But let's try something else, you have something else that we might go with? And it's still saying no, but it's reframing in a way that's trying to pull something more out of me. Right. So then I continue to throw in another idea on there, like, what else have you got? Say something? Another idea? Like, what else have you got? Right? You're still hearing No, but it's encouraged you to keep going. And often if somebody encourages you to keep trying something new again, and again, and again, often that fourth or fifth time that you try, you might get the most creative, interesting idea.

Right? So

you could give someone a hard, no, that's dumb, and it shuts them down, you may never get to that fifth idea where you get something really interesting and creative out of it. So that's the red light green light game that we pay with game on communications, where it's often very fun and encouraging. And when you're giving a no, it's easy with a smile on your face, instead of saying, No, it's dumb. It's like, no, what else have you got? What else have you got? And you're still giving? No, but we can encourage them in a positive way. So as a person who's delivering a pitch meeting, marketing, meeting, sales, meeting, whatever it is, you know, we can be encouraged to keep trying a new idea, a new idea, a new idea, until finally get to one it's like Yeah, that's great. Now that's a fun idea. Let's run with that one. And so that's the person who's giving it you're encouraging that person to the red light you're giving there's a no is a positive No. And also as someone who's playing it when you're hearing and no, you're not hearing and no so negative shuts you down, but you kind of try to reframe how you hear and know, to try hearing in a sense of someone saying, what else have you got instead of No, that's dumb? Because no, that's dumb, makes you retreat and sit down and become introverted and shut down where if you hear it, it's like, oh, they're really just saying, hey, what else have you got? And like, Hey, okay, I can come up with something different, right? So it's how we hear and given No. And we remember we talked about earlier about, you know how powerful it is to support somebody and have their back. So like when my mother when I'm growing up, and she says she could have when I said, Hey, let's go skiing, she could very easily have been like, No, we're not going skiing. You know what I mean? That's the easy thing to do as a parent, like, we're not going skiing. It's you got to drive there, you got to put on a close, it's expensive. You got one leg, you know? No, we're not going skiing. But instead, the very powerful thing that she did was she supported me? And she was like, Yeah, all right, let's try this, you know, I'll support you. And that changed my life, right. And it's the same kind of thing. It's in a very daily basis, the red light green light idea is when we give and support somebody. And we have to give notice all day long, we have to hear knows all day long. But can we do in a supportive, positive way that encourages people to get to that fourth or fifth idea, instead of shutting them down,

Zack Arnold

I'm going to make sure in the show notes that I put a link to a video where you're actually demonstrating this live. And just as a little teaser to really compel people to do it. It goes from this woman talking about Christmas morning, versus her grandmother jumping in the backyard on a trampoline. Of course, it's all fictional, on its fun, but just the trajectory of one place to the next in a couple of minutes is amazing. I actually want to demonstrate this very quickly. But I want to, I want to tweak a little bit of it. I'm going to tweak it to your liking because it's your game and not mine. But how can we change it slightly and actually demo how it works. But a little bit more related to here's the path that I see, to get where I want to go, I've got a goal. And I've got points A and B, and C and D and E and F and G and it's all in my mind, and I just have to do these things. But then we're going to throw 10 Different wrenches in the works. And I'm going to have to innovate. And my choices are the goal no longer works versus goal is the same, the path is different, and I got to figure it out. So how can we demonstrate how this works in a slightly different context?

Erik Stolhanske

Do you want to play red light green light,

Zack Arnold

I want to play red light green light right now. And I want people to hear this because this is one of those things that in five minutes, you can completely rewire the way that somebody sees obstacles.

Erik Stolhanske

It's a really cool game. Yeah. I really love working with a consultant, this company game on. And we gamify the idea of teaching communication lessons, right? So you get to physically get up on your feet, you get to play a game, and then talk about the lessons and the takeaways. And so it's really fun to physically see how it works. And like you said, it's not you can pre think about how the story's gonna go. But when you throw out a red light, do you have to take it a new direction? And oftentimes, it's like you said, it goes from Christmas morning to somewhere completely unexpected. There's always a lot of laugh by the joy and fun with it. Even though you're giving a no, which is going to happen in life, right? You said there's gonna be a lot of wrenches thrown in your direction you can still like perhaps like we talked about, I couldn't play baseball. I couldn't go waterskiing, I still you can still move forward with your life, and do interesting things, even though your life sometimes gives you a no or a red light.

Right? So yeah,

Zack Arnold

let's do it. How do we play if I wanted it to do this with my students, or I want my students to do this with each other. demonstrate how this works,

Erik Stolhanske

demonstrate the

demonstrate some concepts, I will start and you will, you'll be the person who will be on stage. And you'll be telling me simple thing about your day. And I will simply say yes or no. And if I give you us if I say no, you'll have to take your story of your direction, in a new direction. And so you won't go backwards. So for let's say, for example, if I were to say, Zack, what do you have for breakfast? And you said this morning, I had eggs? And I said no, you would not go backwards and say no, I did not have eggs, you would simply move the story forward by saying I had watermelon gum. Right? You would just you don't have to be crazy. You're not trying to go for the laugh. The only rules are I have your back, you have my back. And we're going to work in agreement. We're not going to try to punk each other right? Or simply trying to have each other's back and make each other look like heroes. And we're not trying to go for the laugh or anything like that. You're just you're going to me and ask you simply by your day. And if I say yes, you just continue with your story. If you hear no, you just taken a different direction. And normally if I'm doing this, I will be the person that goes up on stage to make the other person feel comfortable. So if you prefer, I know that you have experienced that creative field so and for the sake of time, I thought we would just try one but normally I would go up on stage and say, Look, I'm the person who will look like a fool. I don't want you to be nervous. I don't want you to. I'm here to make you look good. And you can ask me about my day when I try it like that to start.

Zack Arnold

Well I was gonna say that in the spirit of making hard choices as opposed To the easy ones, the easy choice is to have you warm it up and demo it. The hard choice is to throw me right in the hot seat immediately, especially for the sake of time. I have one quick question for you. What's the result that I'm working towards? Is it that I just want to be more comfortable with adversity is that I'm still trying to get to an end result you said the goal is not to make people laugh. So what is the general goal that I'm working for, they can show whether or not the exercise was successful or not successful.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, I wouldn't even put too much pressure on anything about being successful or trying to have an end goal. Really, we're working on the idea of all all day through life, all of my we're gonna get know as well, we can take that know and turn to a positive direction. So for example, you're driving down the highway and a car stops in the right lane, you don't just pull up behind and stop, right, you go on the left lane, you

go around, you keep going forward.

So it's about moving forward, being innovative, working on creativity, working on adaptability, change anything. So if you get a No, it's not stopping you. It's you moving forward in different direction and saying that oftentimes I forfeit choice is something that is a fun, creative choice.

Zack Arnold

All right, and let's do it. I love it. All right, very clearly understand this. Let's let's do it. And then I'm gonna throw this into into my students as well, because this is going to be so much fun.

Erik Stolhanske

Okay, so Zack, tell me what's your favorite holiday?

Zack Arnold

My favorite holiday, I can tell you what my favorite holiday is not is definitely Halloween. But as far as my favorite holiday, that's actually a really tough one. Because I don't have an answer. I don't have a favorite holiday. Because you know what, I don't enjoy holidays, as much as I enjoy what I do every day. And oftentimes holidays, kind of take me away from just being in my zone and doing my thing. So I don't have my least favorite holidays and Halloween, it's my birthday, which circumstantially happened within a day of each other. Favorite holiday.

Erik Stolhanske

That's beautiful transition. Well,

just I want to hear just about your day to day. And if I give you a nice one to eat to keep the story moving forward in a positive direction. So just tell me about your day to day.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, so I woke up this morning, a few minutes afterwards, made myself some coffee. And, you know, to me, I feel that in the morning, what I want to be able to do is have the freshest focus possible. So I usually fast and it's only the coffee, I stretch for 15 to 30 minutes, do some basic strengthening exercises, do some VR work just to kind of get the focus going. And then I dive right into my day. And I get a notion calls. And I started working with my students. But unfortunately, this morning, my internet went out and I couldn't work with any of my students. So I had a whole mess of people on Slack saying, Zack, where are you? I paid you all this money to be in your coaching program. Where's the link for me to get refund requests. This is not what I was promised. So it was a total disaster of everybody being so so appreciative of the fact that I've worked so hard, and they understand technological issues. And a few minutes later, they realized, oh, wow, this is not the community that I thought I was going to be a part of, because this guy has no idea how to run technology. So what I did was I started reaching out researching frantically. How is it that I can get another job editing a TV series, because clearly I'm a giant failure as a coach and a mentor. But then it then it dawned on me That's stupid. I don't want to fail, especially because at 1pm I've got a call with Erik Stolhanske. Yeah, if I show up to that call as a failure. Yeah, well, then I not only a failure, but I'm a hypocrite. Because I decided to quit on something that was hard talking to a guy who says that everybody has a wooden leg. So today this morning zoom happened to be not my wooden leg. But I realized that after I was going to be done with this call with Erik Stolhanske Yeah, that I was going to be exhausted. Now the guy put me through the wringer now, but I summoned the courage and the energy to realize that I can put myself on the hot seat and I can nail it to not only by doing that, I can inspire people listening to also pursue their goals, even if they're really really hard and really, really scary. Yes.

Erik Stolhanske

Nice. Nice. All right, there you go. Perfect.

Zack Arnold

So that's fun. I can tell you've done some improv before. This, I would guess this must have something to do with the improv comedy world.

Erik Stolhanske

Most of my background is in Sketch, but I love the idea of it. Having worked with the game on it, it's all getting up and improvising with people working at Google have never ever experienced and just so much fun to try to encourage people that Yes. And moving forward the positiveness of it. You might hear nobody gonna take it forward in different direction anyway, like you were great, because you didn't pause on any of it. Right? As soon as I gave, you know, there wasn't any like the idea of going backwards or stopping or pausing. It was like instantly, just taking it forward. You have a smile on your face. Like when I gave you a no it didn't like shut you down. You didn't like frown. It wasn't like oh, okay. It was like, okay, yeah. And then right. It was instantaneously just moving forward in different direction. Yeah, it was great. There's grace in it. And it seemed like you were happy to try something different, which I liked.

Zack Arnold

And one of the reasons I wanted to do that is because I think that through years and years of conditioning, of just being in a place where I'm like not only trying to avoid obstacles, I actively put obstacles in my life I pay to have obstacles in front of me and work with some of the world's foremost experts to make my life as difficult as possible. Even though I've never done this game before. I just think I've rewired my brain to be like, Alright, fine. What else you got it, let's figure it out, as opposed to immediately shutting down. It's funny because it also reminded me of the story. I swear to God, I haven't thought about this since high school. But we had an activity that we did in forensics, I was in forensics, doing like, you know, skits in public speaking. And it's like a, it's like, basically acting competition for nerds. So if you don't want to be in sports, and I mean, in northern Wisconsin, as you know, probably the same in Minnesota, it's all about high school sports. But I wasn't really into the sports, and I was into acting and whatnot. And there was an exercise where you basically had to get up in front of the entire class, starting with absolutely nothing. And you had to tell a story and see how long you could tell the story and entertain people before it just started to become a mess. Like you could use any details you want. But whatever it was, it had to constantly be engaging. And when as soon as you started to fill it with fluff, or like, Oh, this is dumb, or I'm not interested anymore, they say stop. Interesting. So I would just go for minutes and minutes and minutes making up the craziest shit. And for some reason, I don't know why. But my brain is just wired to, you know, make up all the BS. But I think the combination of that, and again, just really actively putting obstacles in front of me, when you were doing it, it wasn't a matter of oh, man, that was stupid. And, oh, how can I change the story, it's just like, bring it right. I just I love I love that challenge. And that's why I believe a game like this is so beneficial for creatives. Because when you're stuck on an idea, there's always another idea out there, you just have to be willing to find and have a bunch of really crappy ideas first,

Erik Stolhanske

and I was gonna ask you like in the editing world, do you get that where like, I'm not gonna get studio notes. But someone's like, no, no. I mean, in a sense, it's probably not that hard. But like, you know,

we're not going to do that change that.

I didn't, that I'm not I'm not see where that's going, let's try something else. And like, you might be like, ah, you know, stuck, but then like, Okay, I'll try it. And you find out that actually, that second or third or fourth, fifth cut actually does get something creative and interesting.

Zack Arnold

Yeah. So as somebody who works in Hollywood, you're probably no stranger to studio and network notes. So you definitely know what those look like editors are no stranger as well. But what I often find, and this is, it's very important for me to collaborate with the right people that are on the same page, is that I want to work with people where they're not giving me the solutions, they're giving me the problems, and I get to come up with the solutions. So if somebody says, This sees the scene isn't working, you need to make it 37 seconds shorter. And you need to make this wide shot to close up. And you need to take four frames off of here, I'm like, don't tell a brain surgeon how to do brain surgery, just tell me that you're having trouble thinking and let me figure out the problem. It would be like me going to a composer and saying you should do four bars of A and then you should go to 12 bars of C flat. And at this point you should bring in the strings are like, no, let me compose the music. Just tell me what you want to feel. You know what I want to feel happy in the scene. All right, now I can do my job. So as an editor, it's my job to interpret what is the result that you want? And how are we not reaching that result. So if they say, like I just an example will be on Cobra Kai, this happens all the time. And they're perfect with this, they don't tell me how to fix things, they tell me the problems, they will say that this scene doesn't have enough energy. In my mind, this thing is just an 11. As far as energy, right now, it's feeling like a seven. That's the only note I get it's not take these four shots out and make it 17 seconds shorter, and use this piece of music. Instead, it's give it more energy. And it's my job to interpret what that means knowing their tastes and figure it out, which to me makes my job a lot more interesting. Because as an editor, when you work with people that give you solutions, you're just an extension of a keyboard, it's my job to execute your vision, but I don't get to be a part of it. And I don't get to collaborate, versus Oh, I see your problem. I think I've got an idea. Because ultimately, and this is getting very existential. And something I talked about with my students as well, is that as you climb higher in the ranks, and I'm sure you can attest to this, it's not like all of a sudden now that you're making movies, as opposed to desperately trying to get one made, you don't have less problems in your world. You have different problems in your world. And I want my world to be one where it's full of problems that I have fun solving. So if somebody says these are all the challenges and like, oh my god, that would be awesome to solve that problem. I'm having fun versus do it this way. Yeah, I don't even agree with that. And that's dumb, but I'll do it anyways, like that, to me is the difference between a show I will work on and what I won't it's just am I going to enjoy solving these people's problems.

Erik Stolhanske

Awesome. So that's a perfect example of all the nodes you get live every day, right? The nodes are red lights, you get a red light but can you think of it and frame it in a positive way? And we can apply that in life right like when you get those red lights can we think okay, yeah, we'll move forward and come up with some fun and that's what you're doing in

the exercise and doing a great job with

Zack Arnold

Yeah, and the other thing that I'll I have become a very ninja like you're doing to to use that phrase is that oftentimes, and this is always my goal, when somebody has a note or a thought or something isn't working, I feel that somebody that's really good at their job is going to deliver what that person expects. What I do is I deliver something that's far beyond their expectations. So they say, This thing doesn't really have enough energy we wanted in an 11, it's in an eight, I want to deliver them a 14 night. So my goal is I'm gonna give them something that's so far closer to what they want that the note I always want this Whoa, dude, like, bring it back a little. So anybody that a watch a finale and Cobra Kai, they're like, oh my god, this is balls to the wall. It's because my goal is that all of my notes should be this is too much. You need to scale back and slow down. But I never ever get that. No. But that's the goal is to push it so far beyond the boundaries that the note is alright, you need to back off. This is too crazy, even for us, but I've yet to get that note.

Erik Stolhanske

I love it That's what I'm talking about setting goals high right? At the beginning. Yeah, absolutely.

Zack Arnold

One of my favorite quotes don't know if you've heard or not, but it's actually a James Cameron quote. So it's apropos to our industry, which is that if you set a goal so ridiculously high and you fail, your failure is going to still be above everybody else's success. Absolutely. If that guy doesn't live that quote to a tee, I don't know who does? Oh, yeah. Because that guy fail spectacularly. But his failures are so far above where anybody else would consider a success.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, so amazing. I I was making I was shooting a film with Bill Paxton. And Bill was telling me early story, that he was a painter. And Cameron was art director. And they're hanging out one day painting sets and building and he and Cameron said, I got this script bill, I think you'd be good. And it's, it's about cyborgs. And then it comes back in the future. And you know, maybe it could be ways guys the beginning and Bill's like, well, we've got cyborgs, you know, he's explained it to him. But Cameron had this vision that one day he was going to make this movie but cyborgs and cut to

change cameras setting his goals high.

Zack Arnold

Yeah, no kidding. Right. Cool. I want to be very, very respectful of your time. And I realized that we're coming to the end and actually to one of the the new challenges and obstacles in your life. Which is you talk to me that? Well, what is the challenge that's coming up in about three minutes that precludes us from recording any further?

Erik Stolhanske

Yes. Kids coming home from school, for sure.

Zack Arnold

But not just kids coming home from school, there's a little bit deeper insight into these kids that are coming home from school that day. If you don't want to share, that's fine. But I just think it's an interesting capper to everything we're talking about where you're making the harder choice. Yeah.

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, I foster children because I think it's wonderful to have create a safe home for children that need food, good nourishment, to try to give positive influence and a safe environment so they can strive and do interesting and great creative fun things with their lives like you do and everybody out there that's listening. Everybody deserves a chance.

Zack Arnold

And those are the kinds of people I want to surround myself with people making choices like that. So even though might be digital at the moment of pleasure meeting you at the the events that we met each other at and hopefully and again, so I've gotten into Erik Stolhanske. But if anybody else listening today is inspired by you. They want to learn more about you beyond watching Super Troopers about us specifically, what's the best way for them to connect and learn more?

Erik Stolhanske

Yeah, well, I mean, I try to stay active on social media. Sometimes it's hard. I don't take I don't put a ton of focus on social media, I try to stay off screen as much as possible. But I do have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, where I try to give updates and then I have erikstolhanske.net. That gives updates on if I am speaking to or something like that, or new movie or some like that. But mostly social media probably keeps the most current up to date. So Instagram, I'm probably on the most if anybody wants to kind of interact more. It's probably on Instagram on social media. Erik Stolhanske.

It's hard to spell. So

Google Google how to spell.

Zack Arnold

Pretty easy to find their challenge. Yeah, start with Super Troopers. And you'll find find the spelling very quickly. Erik, really appreciated the you and I connected and you're you're a part of my circle and that you were willing to take the time today to to share your insights and your story with everybody here.

Erik Stolhanske

I am proud to be in a circle. Thanks, Zack. I

really appreciate appreciate your friendship and great talking today. All right.

Take care, everybody. Thanks

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


Guest Bio:

erik-stolhanske-bio

Erik Stolhanske

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Erik Stolhanske is a Hollywood comedian, actor, writer, producer, and member of the Broken Lizard Comedy Group. He is best known as “Officer Rabbit” from the 2001 cult-classic comedy Super Troopers and the 2018 sequel Super Troopers 2.  As one of the five principal members of the famed sketch comedy troupe, he has starred in all of the Broken Lizard films including Beerfest (2006), The Slammin’ Salmon (2009), Club Dread (2004), and Puddle Cruiser, as well as performed in The Sweetest Thing (2002) and The Onion Movie (2008). On television, he can be seen on the HBO critically acclaimed series Curb Your Enthusiasm and Six Feet Under, as well as the Comedy Central special Broken Lizard Stands Up.

Erik has written, produced and starred in all the Broken Lizard comedies, including all the Super Troopers films. Together, they collaborate on the screen-writing, acting and productions of all their films.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared by Debby Germino and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

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Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”