Minter Dialogue with Dan Egan
Dan Egan is the world-renowned skier and pioneer of extreme sports. He is known for skiing the most remote regions of the world, and has been named one of the most influential skiers of our time. He has been a central feature, along with his brother, in a number of amazing Warren Miller films, including “Born to Ski,” “Vertical Reality,” and “Future Retro.” Dan’s also the author of the book, “Thirty Years in a White Haze: Dan Egan’s Story of Worldwide Adventure and the Evolution of Extreme Skiing.” In this conversation, we discuss his upbringing, some of his feats and experiences, including how he spent 38 hours trapped 17,000ft high in Russia, how he balances adventure, risk and safety, the nature of flow, the battle of freestyle to gain legitimacy, and much more.
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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).
Full transcript via Otter.ai
skiing, cave, kids, bigger, life, ski, moment, feel, talk, sport, years, persevering, dan egan, dan, book, flow, hard, knowing, people, love
Dan Egan, Minter Dial
Minter Dial 00:05
Hello, welcome to Minter Dialogue, episode number 546. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast, a most proud member of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information or to check out other shows on this network, go visit evergreenpodcasts.com. So, this week’s interview is legitimately a roller coaster. It’s with Dan Egan. Dan is the world-renowned skier and pioneer of extreme sports, and specifically extreme skiing. He is known for skiing in the most remote regions of the world, and has been named one of the most influential skiers of our time. He’s been a central feature along with his brother in a number of amazing worn metal films, including born to ski, vertical reality and future retro. Dan’s also the author of the book “30 years in a white haze, Dan Egan story of worldwide adventure, and the evolution of extreme skiing.” In this conversation with Dan, we discuss his upbringing, some of his feats and experiences, including how he spent 38 hours without food and water, trapped 17,000 feet high in Russia, how he balances adventure, risk and safety, the nature of flow, the Battle of freestyle to gain legitimacy, and a whole lot more, you’ll find all the shownotes as usual on Minter dial.com. And if you have a moment, go and drop in a rating and review. And don’t forget to subscribe to catch all the future episodes. Now for the show. Dan Egan. Well, I am privileged to have you on my show. I got to meet you thanks to our mutual friend Simon Kelton. So, I got to hear your story live in a one of the quirkier spots in London. And you have had quite the life. I also lucky enough to have a signed copy of your book “30 years in a white haze”. Then, at this point in your life, how would you say? Or how would you describe who is Dan Egan?
Dan Egan 02:40
Yeah, that’s a good, good question. You know, as I think you can understand some, you look back, and I’m lucky man, I’ve lived multiple lifetimes, in multiple different situations, mainly around the things that I’ve really, my parents taught me before I was 10 years old, you know, to ski to sail to kick a football soccer ball, I’ve been lucky to be able to sort out a living pursuing those passions. And of course, there is no sort of book or, or roadmap for how to do that. It’s a high wire act, actually. And so, I when I look back, and if I describe myself, I, you know, I’m just a guy who’s good at a lot of things. And, and I’m lucky enough to love a lot of things.
Minter Dial 03:31
Well, yeah, it’s somewhat similar to me, I tend to say, I’ve done a lot of things, but I’m not great at any of them. You are a master of what you do. And the expression of a cat with nine lives seems to seem appropriate. How do you describe the or do you think about that?
Dan Egan 03:48
Yeah, you know, I think that you know, all of us are born for a certain time, Destiny. Fate. I believe in that and surviving the things that have survived mountain storms that at altitude, avalanches, cornice breaking sailboat, sailboat journeys through storms. Yeah, it’s never been my time. I’ve always felt like, secure in those situations that that there was I was going to make it through it somehow. Even when it looks darkest. And and so I feel that sort of thing. And, and I love it. I think it’s about people. It’s about the people you journey with the people you trust the people you get to know during those adventures?
Minter Dial 04:35
To what extent would you say it’s the people you know, who allowed the destiny to be that truth?
Dan Egan 04:43
Yeah, of course. There’s all different types of messengers that you bumped into along the way and I think that you know, when you when you talk about persevering. You You just can’t persevere when things are good, right? The whole idea of perseverance is when things are hard. And what I found with a lot of projects, whether it’s been traveling to the Arctic, or when we would go and behind the Eastern Bloc, when it first opened up, which, you know, going to altitude, at some point, it looked like the trip would be doomed. And, and not work, a sponsor would pull out or something would happen. And usually, at that point, I thought, wow, you know, this is going to be okay. Because at that moment, when it was at the dark, I’m like, well, it can only go up, it can only get better. And, and typically it did. So, whether something got lost on an airplane, or somebody missed a flight or, you know, all those sorts of things that can go wrong, at that moment was actually the point in which it turned and kind of we broke through, because we persevered. And I think that’s, that’s kind of the key to it. You know, I talked to as you know, I do a lot of speaking and talking to younger people. You, you have to find joy, not happiness, it’s joy, right? Because it’s easy. So, I’m not happy, or I want to be happy, but but what’s the joy? What’s what’s what’s the journey bringing you what, where’s the adventure going, and, and persevering in those moments where it looks, looks bleak. That’s the joy.
Minter Dial 06:27
If I’m to understand you correctly, then joy is something bigger than happiness.
Dan Egan 06:33
For sure, you know, knowing what your joy is, you know, and what it’s anchored in. Happiness is fleeting, of course, you know, happiness, particularly if you type material things, or people expectations, it’s going to let you down, you have to anchor your joy in something greater. It’s been a, it’s been a mission statement of mine since a very, very long time that to attach myself to people in things that are bigger than me, that’s always been the goal. It can’t just be me, I need to anchor to something that’s, that’s bigger than me, that’s going to bring some sort of transformation, some sort of expansion, something bigger. As a professional skier that was either a sponsor, or a filmmaker, right? Who had an audience, that that allowed me to expand in business, partnering with people that had other expertise that brought other things to the table. So, I think that’s a really big one for people. A lot of times, people don’t want to partner with things that are bigger than them, they’re intimidated by that.
Minter Dial 07:44
Is there an element of humility in that acceptance?
Dan Egan 07:48
I mean, it. It’s amazing, right? Ego, because we need it, we have to survive, you know, it sort of keeps you going. But the humility, humility, that you don’t know at all, that you’re going to learn something that somebody’s going to provide a pathway for you. I look at that as non-judgement. As long as I stay without passing judgment on people, places or things, then I might appear humbled, but actually, I’m seeking something else. And I try not to let the judgment and of course it’s brutal, right, it’s hard. It’s hard not to wake up and judge the weather. But staying non-judgmental allows that pathway to open up because I don’t know what I don’t know. And if I judge it all sudden, it looks like I know!
Minter Dial 08:48
You’re sitting on top of it. So, I want to go back to let me sit down which is that the way I interpreted it is that your survival has been linked to Destiny, which I am thinking means you don’t probably believe in free will. It’s like It’s like these are I survived because it wasn’t my time because there’s some bigger force that is deciding all this and then but I have to also believe that some element of determination some element of skill came into this and verve and courage you know. It doesn’t feel like that can only be destiny.
Dan Egan 09:39
Well of course that’s the secret sauce. Right? It’s the secret sauce everything that you just touched on. Confidence, becoming an expert, trusting yourself. You know, all those things matter. Doing the groundwork matters to allow Destiny doing fault. And I think that those are big things, including your own ego. You know, I’ve been, I’ve been blessed. I’ve had great mentors in my life, great coaches, men that have helped me, pull me up when I make serious help, like, pointed things out to me that like, Hey, kid, you this is not good for you, you should shape up. You know? And, and really, I tell you that I was at an event last year, and all of my soccer slash football coaches were there. All my ski coaches were the end, you know, I mean, really, that’s, that was amazing, right? And I just tried to do what I do what I learned from them. And these days, you know, now that was on a radio show the other day, and the guy said to Dan, it’s amazing it you at your age is still doing started the left. But my mentor, my mission statement is to help others do what I’ve already done. And I think that that frames in gives me a purpose to why I do it. Because I know that the ones that helped me really helped me in life in sport. But they were teaching me something else. Right? They were teaching me something else. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were teaching me something else. And they’re my friends today. I mean, that’s, that’s unbelievable. To stay in touch with people, I think is part of that, that sort of Destiny path to pay homage to people can’t forget the ones so I think it’s a May you know, of course, it is the secret sauce. You know, in my book, “30 years in white haze,” I talked about surviving a storm, 38 hours. 11 people in Russia at you know, at altitude at 17,000 18,000 feet. And 11 people perished. And my friend and journalist died in a snow cave alone. In the exact same situation I was in. He did not survive. Somebody discovered my snow cave and saved my life. But nobody discovered Claudia’s webs cave, and he didn’t survive. And so that’s like, it’s the veil is very thin. The veil is very thin. And I don’t know that he was meant to pass that day, but I know that we were in the same situation. And somebody stumbled upon me.
Minter Dial 12:48
So, that would seem to indicate that there was an element of luck.
Dan Egan 12:54
I think of course, there’s always that element of luck. Or, Yeah, luck or life, element of life. That happens. And you know, we all owe a debt of gratitude to random acts. Right. And, and things that have kept us going, whether it’s a car accident or whatever. But I know now and in looking back at my time, in that snow cave, having believed that I was dead when Sasha found me thinking that I and knowing that I had met my guardian angel and now kind of understanding what the messages were, you know, like you know, the messages for me were, you know, Follow, I will lead you. And I came to realize they, those spirits or whatever, they lead me through the Crossfield and I come to believe that maybe they’ve always been doing that I just was too arrogant to see it.
Minter Dial 14:10
So, you were, as I recalled, born up in Boston, yeah. Right. And I’m wondering, how religious are you? It’s, as this made you come closer to God, or…?
Dan Egan 14:24
You know, my family, we are baptized in Catholicism, and there’s a lot of precision in the family throughout the generations and and, of course, my parents were devout Catholics, and they dragged all eight kids to church, you know, but to me, you know, as a kid, you know, you don’t you don’t appreciate that, or you don’t know why you’re there. You just thinking about the jelly doughnut that’s coming afterwards, you know? Like you and after, you know, and like all kids, you know, I went off on my own search. I went off on my own search. But after Russia I went back to the church. You know, my dad had gone. My dad, it was a physician. And he led pilgrimages to Lourdes France. And as a very young boy, he would bring me on these pilgrimages, and I would be have total care of cerebral palsy, palsy children, that I had to feed, change the diapers, live with him 24/7 and care for these kids. And I was a young teenager, when I did my first trip. And, you know, there I learned so much about life and fragility of life. And I learned to be grateful, and I learned to communicate with kids that were nonverbal and change their diapers and feed them and become friends with them. And, and I get to see them have hope. I get to see them have joy, I get to them, see them respond to, to the holy water at Lourdes to walk into the grotto at Lourdes. That That left a huge impression on me. And so, you know, I definitely am somebody who believes, you know, and, and I know that I’ve seen the benefit of that for myself, you know, but, you know, in a lot of my talks, and, and when I talk on spiritual things, and when I give lectures on or talks on faith matters. You know, Jonah is my favorite teenager, right? Because Jonah converts through disobedience. And he converts through obedience. So, you know, I always tell kids, every time he talks, look, you can do what you want. But you’re going to, somebody’s going to want you to screw up and get better. And somebody’s going to watch you do something good and get better. So, you get to decide what example you want to leave, right? And that’s an exciting thing in life, to realize, yeah, I failed, but somebody’s learned from that example. And I too, can be redeemed, right? I can be the belly of the whale experience, you know, for me was Russia. And fine, you know, I’ve had that in business. I’ve had that in relationship as well. So, I think at those moments, you have an option. You can despair, or gaze, gaze to the heavens.
Minter Dial 17:30
What since you’ve mentioned it, let’s just talk a little bit about that Russian experience. Yeah. I mean, for those who don’t know, you, you’ve basically you and you, essentially you and your brother, as I read it, he invented extreme skiing, or at least you brought it to the world you in this capacity you went to do the most documentable, wildly outrageous things on skis, which included jumping off walls, as opposed to just precipices and yet, it seems like somehow the crowning experience in some ways seems to be the deepest pit of falling in this class for spending 38 hours by yourself before getting found by someone you I suppose at the end of the day believe was in a KGB agent. So, spending 38 hours by yourself I’ve spoken to a few people have survived outrageous things. But it’s your loan. Very isn’t there’s no companionship there’s no light there through that. How do you what do you bring out of that? And what when you are talking to somebody who is in maybe not a cave, but in a dark place? What lessons are what light can you shine for them?
Dan Egan 19:05
Well, the the hero’s journey is one of self-discovery. The Hero’s Journey, we all have to slay our dragon, right? I mean, that’s, that’s the rite of passage that’s been in every civilization. The Rite of Passage to slay a dragon to go on the hero’s journey and return but not the same. That’s the key right? Is to return not the same. A new perspective a new paradigm, a new belief. And that says old is time itself. I was thinking about this very topic today out on my run. I don’t I don’t listen to music when I ski. I don’t listen to music when I run. I want to be alone. I want to see where my brain goes. I want Do I want to do battle? Can I persevere? I do that when I swim, can I make the next lap? I that is the name of life. And so those opportunities is what we should I think seek, I think that this is what’s taking it away. Yeah, the mobile and technology. So, you know, we’re never alone, we’re never without noise. We’re never without something but what happens when we travel within. And I know for me in that situation in the snow cave, I was alone with myself and I had been before. Now maybe not for 38 hours. But at sea sailing on endurance runs, I’ve been pushed and tested before those voices those situations, coaches saying, you know, finish what you started my mom saying, be home for dinner, all those voices, all those, all that energy is there for me to tap into, and they listen to and, and to, to move. And I can tell you, I’ve been depressed, I’ve had to pick myself up when I didn’t want to pick myself up, I’ve had to get out of bed when I didn’t want to get out of bed, all those things, right? move a muscle, change your thought. So, in those times, of focusing on keeping my hands warm, or my nose, or my feet, the intention of that task is itself a form of prayer and within itself, a form of transformation. And, of course blacking out, passing out having an elucidations having visions, all of that you start to wonder over time, what’s real, what’s not real. The other climber I spent time with, that I helped rescue the next day and was in the hospital with who came to visit me 25 years after that accident. All he could say was I kept talking about this experience I had in the cave. And I kept talking about it. Because when you have those experiences, you don’t know if you’re crazy or not, because you don’t know who to tell, nobody’s there to validate. So, it either happened to you or it didn’t happen. You imagined it or you didn’t imagine it and which is true. And does it matter? What what’s real, the transformation? What…Who are you upon the return of the journey of the hero’s journey. So, for me, the perspective was, you know, I’ve got a, I’ve got a shot now, my entire adult life, everything I’ve accomplished stem from that day. Because it was such a radical change of perspective. And I didn’t know that all at once. It was revealed to me over time, I just know that that perspective changed me. I started to make other changes. And those changes, that energy became something else. And I tie it back to that.
Minter Dial 23:20
Well, I guess, I suspect that your survival was also somehow informed by some techniques and some knowledge as well. Because if it were me stuck there, I wouldn’t know whether it’s my toes or my fingers. I should worry about first I wouldn’t. I don’t I wouldn’t know how to make water out of snow or you know, kind of thing. You must have some kind of techniques, survival techniques to help.
Dan Egan 23:48
You know you do but of course at altitude. It’s hard, it’s hard to think straight. It’s hard to do, you know, as the story goes, I built the snow cave for for three people, my other climbing partners that abandoned to me. So, I do think in doing for others, there’s a benefit. Now they didn’t. They didn’t want to be my cave for whatever reasons, and they’ve never explained to me why. Although one guy did say you didn’t build a very good cave, I thought you were going to die. So, maybe that’s why he didn’t choose to come. But who benefited from all that extra activity I did. Because I stayed warm. Because I kept working to make the cave bigger, not knowing that they weren’t coming or they had already left. So, you know, there is benefit some time in that. And I remember thinking because my brother was on this trip, that my death was going to be really hard on him. And I came to understand in those moments Those hours in the cave, that death is a human thing that I was going to be okay. I felt secure, I felt warm, I felt looked after. And then I was scared of death. I wasn’t scared. And I’ve, I’ve said this, and I’ve written about it a lot. I was actually happy. And I was okay to use your word, peace of joy. I was at a place of joy, I was content. And I had that real clear vision was like, wow, my brother is going to have to go home alone. That’s going to be hard for him.
Minter Dial 25:39
You talked about these two people who abandoned you. I mean, I can’t help. But imagine if I were in your position, I would have felt a little bit of an antagonism. Or something negative about the two who abandon you at that time. Did that go through your mind? And where are you with that thought?
Dan Egan 25:59
Well, when the storm settled down, Sasha, who found me, we then rescued a group of 14, of which those two were part of that group of 14. And, and 25 years later, one came to visit me. And he came with his wife, and I did what I would do at any with any guest, I took them on the lake, and I took them around New Hampshire, and I showed him the mountains, and I brought him in my home, and I made a dinner. And I made dessert. And I bought him a cup of tea. And when it was all said and done, at the end of the day, I said, you know, I’ve always wanted to ask you a question. Why? Why did you abandon? And it was one of those times where, without malice and I clearly demonstrated throughout the whole day, okay. Yeah. He, he did not remember, which was my memory of him. So, it validated my memory of him that he was freezing to death himself, he was passed out, and the other guy must have taken pity on him and taking him. Now the other guy who was the lawyer of the sponsor, who said, the next day, I’m surprised to see you alive. You didn’t dig a very nice cave, who later after we rescued him and get him down, said to my brother, that he saved my life. And then went on because 1990 perestroika and USSR, you couldn’t just leave, you had to leave on the date of your visa. After we got the medical clearance to get an A, the visa change, he talked his way onto the medical flight to Europe, back to Paris. And then showed up the next day with his child to say, and to point to me and the other. These are the boys who I saved their lives. I have to tell you, I broke a Coke bottle and mugged him for his money and kicked him the hell out of that room. That was arrogance for him.
Minter Dial 28:31
I mean the stories in his mind you wonder and he’s a lawyer.
Dan Egan 28:35
And he’s a lawyer. So, you know, was he protecting the company or whatever? And so, of course, you know, we never heard from him again. So, look, there, you know, his loss. Yeah, I you know, and on so many levels on so many levels. And, you know, wait use you with you, you were with, you know, in London at my presentation or in other situations. I don’t know sometimes in life, you don’t need to go far for validation, right? You just look around and you see it. So, it’s for him. I don’t know what his life’s like.
Minter Dial 29:12
Indeed, I saw I want to Dan, thanks for sharing that. Skiing. Yeah, thrilling activity. I certainly feel like I was a decent skier I skied a month a year for basically 20 years. So, I got myself knowing how to ski and there’s this idea of a you as a youngster skiing. And I think of me as a youngster and the stupid stuff that I was doing. And you know, whoa, what could have gone wrong kind of thing. Right? And then and then you go back out there and you sort of somehow a little bit invincible. And then there’s this other thing which is need for a bigger rush to something bigger. This idea of adrenaline and you would have thought you could learn from his stupidity. But as you’re when you’re younger just keeps on pushing you and you go further and then you want to do more and do bigger. I mean, is that sort of like a slippery slope? Or when and how do you curtail that? Or is it just a nonstop need to always do more and better? And when does age kick in?
Dan Egan 30:30
Well, near what’s it called? They’re called, it’s called Near Death Syndrome.
Minter Dial 30:39
Near Death Experiences.
Dan Egan 30:41
Yeah, right. Right. What’s the age? It’s 16 to 28, right? Typically. And there’s like, three, my memory of this is like, there’s three cures right. Death near death and, and kids, right? Like, there’s there’s a dose of reality that comes with that. I think that the adrenaline piece. Look, I love it. That that might like look like a business deal today that that that might look like a morning run with a sunrise, whatever it is, like, I’m still, I’m still open to it. I still want it. You know, I still I want the endorphins. And it does make me actually more sane. It makes me easier to deal with. If I do it, if I don’t do it, I’m kind of a pain in the neck, you know. So, there’s that. And I think I think when you’re when you’re young. The belief that you’re invincible is why so many people do so many great things. And they conquer great things. I think of a musician, artists, adventurous, adventurous, they’re there. Right. And they’re so young, and they’re going and you’re like, yeah, right, made like sport professionals. footballers. They’re all there. Right. And they don’t know. And not knowing is the key. I always say the beauty of youth is not knowing and, and good that you shouldn’t know, actually, you shouldn’t know. Because once you know, there’s really no going back. Whether it’s an IndyCar you know, it’s you can’t unknow it, you felt it, it hurt it, you question it, you know, the, the knowing is hard. And so of course age creeps in. And, and you start to know a little bit more. But when you look at I love this question, because when you win a gold medal at the Olympics of which I’ve never done, but I’ve interviewed a lot of gold medalists. And they’ll tell you know, I was just in the moment. I was just in the moment and came together. It was the unknowing, right there was the magic, what’s the magic sauce, the next four years later, when they win the silver, they all say the same thing. I trained harder this time, I was more prepared. Preparing doesn’t equal winning. Preparing doesn’t equal excellence. What was different, the different was the knowing, knowing that they might not win, knowing that they had something to lose. And it’s what’s why it’s so incredible, to repeat anything. And it really your hats off to anybody who’s been able to do it because they’ve been able to enter into that space where, whether it was the not knowing of that not caring, or I’m going to get it done or the expertise and the non judgement. I’ve spoken to athletes who have been in the starting gate of the Olympics, yelling at yourself at themselves. Where are you, I need you back I need you now. Because there’s a separation between that youth that didn’t know and didn’t care and one and the veteran who’s been training hard. And so, it’s a very fragile thing. All things that are value are fragile. And a lot of times it’s either the coach or somebody that needed to justify their own belief system and ruined that sauce. You know, there was something about the technique that some expert won to change which they never quite got right. Or my favorite one is you know, Hannah Kearney in Sochi didn’t repeat her gold medal. Mainly because the boys went first that day in the moguls and the girls went second and the course was a little longer a little retro little diff and she had one bobble cost her the gold it was one bobble, but in her analysis, it was you know that that was just a touch off And that’s all it takes. Whether she knew that going in or what I don’t know.
Minter Dial 35:05
Well, so I taking another sport where, which I know well is tennis and yeah, you win, let’s say a Wimbledon and then you have accumulated the experience that it takes to push through and get over that mistake you made in the first game back wild backhand or whatever. And though the winner mentality to, you know, when the hard the, you know, the decisive points. How does that work in, in skiing, because the problem is with skiing is that every slope is going to be a different slope, the flags are going to be put differently, the rut will be bigger, a smaller, the moguls may be a little bit more compact or not, you come into it at five kilometers faster, and then you changes directory, then you have to invent as you go. I mean, of course there’s invention in every sport. But what about the knowledge that you know how to win?
Dan Egan 36:08
Champions, champions, you know, tennis, any sport where there’s a trend champion? There’s a belief that, that they will win. And there’s, there’s some times where that belief carries them through. And there’s some times of course, where they don’t. But the span of the career tells the tale, right? I tell, you know, and in some sports, Americans aren’t great at this, by the way, we’re one hit wonders, hey, we got it a cash in I’m out, you know, or I didn’t do it again.
Minter Dial 36:47
Get my sponsorships and my advertisements.
Dan Egan 36:49
Yeah, I see athletes from around the world and multiple sports, persevering, and that’s who they are. They are that track star. They are that sprinter. They are that swimmer. And that’s who they are. And I tell a lot athletes go back and do it again. Like, go back and do it again, don’t be a one hit wonder, dominate, dominate. And we see that in tennis, we see the ones that have dominated, and then they have killers, you know, they can be down, but they come back. They know when to hit they so that that’s a whole other level. Right? And we see it in skiing, too. We have, you know, whether Michaela Schifrin or others are dominating. And really good at peak performance. I mean, you and I spoke briefly about this. But peak performance is a really special thing, right? You one you have to have a purpose. You have to have the will the commitment and the technique. Which comes first. Which comes first. And the peak performer kind of knows you need all four.
Minter Dial 38:05
Yeah, this idea. You talk about a fair amount in the book is the idea of getting into flow. Yeah. And my I mean, occasionally I’ve dabbled with flow in sports. But I’ve certainly have I’ve, I’ve experienced flow more in an intellectual exercise, typically on psychedelics, when I’m, you know, flying on some LSD or something. And but I also have had flow without intoxication. And it’s a beautiful thing. I always I can feel it. I don’t know how to make it happen. Others have much better at that. But when you’re in, in flow, I mean, to what extent can you make flow happen down when you’re skiing?
Dan Egan 38:54
You can you can make flow happen when you don’t judge yourself. See, this is the key, right? So, how do you enter into the flow state? In a non judgement it through observation, not judgment. So, what does that look like? Well, it’s a perfect day. It’s a perfect day. For what? For finding my flow? It could be it doesn’t matter the weather, right? I’m not going to I’m not going to judge that. So, the flow state when you when you see athletes entering the float state, multiple times, champions, the best, you know, they understand a couple of things. One, whatever happens. This is if they win, they’re the best that day. They were the best that day most top athletes understand the moment was theirs. They may have a track record of repeating that moment, but they will break it down. Most other athletes that describe that flow state, they come from a point of observing themselves in the action Not doing not react, they’re actually just what Wow, I did it. Hey, I got it. I can’t believe Whoa, hey, another one, right? All of that is flow state. So, understanding what my best skiing is when I’m hovering above myself observing myself do it. It happens less and less, I must say, these days, but a couple of days a year. I’m like, Yeah, this is the day back. This is the day, you know? And then there’s other days where Yeah, it’s not. But for the, for the athlete, for the champion who enters into that space. I think there’s a place where they go, where they’re just trusting their body, they’re trusting their body, they know that the body will do it. Skiing is very interesting because of speed, and touch of the ski, the length of the ski, the feel of the ski golfers with tennis players, they’ll tell you, they can feel it. When they’re hitting in the sweet spot. They feel when the golfers and there’s something going on. They don’t they just know it. Today’s my day. I’ve talked to a lot of athletes today, it was my day. I knew I was going to win when I woke up. And so, you know, that sort of experience is really quite something. It’s not to say that’s the only way to win. But specifically around flow state, the non judgement, the observation is kind of key. So, what does that look like? That looks like failing, and not being upset? Because that’s where you really need to not judge. You know, was it a bad shot? I don’t know. Give me the next one. I’m going to get the next one. So, again, going back to that idea that its darkest before the dawn, you know, and of course, Henry David Thoreau said, you know, I don’t want a cabin passage, bro. I want to go before the mast. You know. And, and that whole idea of put me before the mast, bring it on. And I think that’s part of it.
Minter Dial 42:17
Having a front row seat getting towards the end here, Dan, thing I do you want to talk about the notions of safety and risk. But just before that there was something you said in your book, which is, I never have a contingency plan. Plan B is Plan A, and I want to mix that with your upbringing with your parents, obviously, also the life or the partnership you had with your brother. But what about hunger? And? And is that something that you feel? Also carried you? Not that you were hungry, but that you were things didn’t come to you on a silver plate?
Dan Egan 43:05
Yeah, I think I think again, all accomplishments that are hard fought, are, are appreciated. You know, my folks, you know, that if they had had their choice, their boys would not have been prosecutors, you know, they did other things in mind for us.
Minter Dial 43:28
But he was a doctor. So, you imagine a lawyer?
Dan Egan 43:31
Yeah, you know, my mom always said, look, my mum charged me rent. So, like, there was no free living, you know. And she said, You go make a business out of this year, don’t be all talk, you know. And I went to my professors and my colleges, and I asked him for help, and I sought advice. So, hungry, as you know, in most sports, they’ll tell you in boxing, they’ll tell you in cage fighting, wrestling, you know, look, growing up with an edge on the streets, that helps. Survival helps. Being in that position of survival helps. You know, this year, you’re fighting your way out of this situation, bro. Like, that’s kind of the goal, right? And that gets you so far in life. It can win you some matches, but it’s not going to bring it home. You did needs to be some refinement in that, right? So, yeah, you got to be hungry. But this idea of life without a net. I mean, I talk about it a lot from a guiding point of view. In the European tradition of albinism, albinism in Europe and the European guides, they are their own rescue. They’re their own rescue. So, they’re making all their decisions based on that, that is hungry that that is a hunger of survival for the client, and others. There’s an issue in Alaska where the heli-skiing is and all this sort of thing, those guys are relying on Halley’s for rescues, not the guide. There. That’s a different approach. That conversation I always have on my annual trips up there, I don’t know that it really lands with them. But when I’m in the Alps, I am my own rescue, I recognize that I have friends, I have radios, I know where the other guy groups are. But they’re looking to me to take care of business. And I think that’s the respect you need.
Minter Dial 45:27
What’s the level of responsibility, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the legal or the lawyer has a as a part in playing on having a safety net, as its, it seems, and that was the conversation you and I had. And I wanted to go back into that this idea of, of safety because I don’t know if you’ve ever read the coddling of the American mind by Jonathan Hite or who coined the term safety ism. And the notion that not only are we trying to write small print to protect our assets on every little thing from a litigious standpoint, but we are making five-year-olds go out on a tricycle with a helmet. We worry about a kid scraping his or her knee. Or don’t go into the street because it’s dangerous. Don’t talk to strangers because they’re dangerous. And it feels like we’re coddling so much. And of course, there’s responsibility. There’s sensibility, you know, being sensible about it. But how do you evaluate risk? And obviously, when you got clients, you take you have responsibility, that’s a heavy load. But they’re also going to say, Well, hey, listen down. Let’s do something you’ve never done before.
Dan Egan 46:59
They love that. Yeah, of course, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you know it these days, we see a lot of accidents in the Alps, from expert guides with long term clients. So, what’s going on there? What’s going on there is there’s a lot more accessibility. And the long-term guides with long term got clients are stepped up and out a little bit more to deliver that untracked piece of snow, right? We want one more, one bigger we there’s an obligation that that sort of like, well, they paid me and I’ll go take a look, right? And that’s a real thing. And the hardest people to guide our family and friends. I mean, those are the toughest ones. Oh, come on, mate, you know, that sort of thing. And that’s very hard. When you see technology being marketed, it’s isolating. Somebody’s on a beach with a computer that has connection. Well, that’s not my idea of being on the beach, quite honestly. But that’s how technology being sold. So, we’re raising generations now of kids that feel that connectability is, is responsibility they can acting is safety. They checked in with mommy before they bought up, whatever, you know, they don’t know you talked about freewill. Forget about freewill. They don’t have the power to make decisions for themselves. So, that’s really crazy. What we know in America is that obesity and video games are on the polar end of this of the polar opposites, right? The more extreme sports are doing double backflips, the more kids are doing it on computers. But both is doing the same thing. They’re identifying look at the video gamer saying, Look what I did the guy doing the backflips on the bikes. Look what I did, right. But we see the computer and the obesity tied together, okay? The mentality, they both think they’re doing is super interesting. But what’s missing from that is the middle. The ball fields are empty with spontaneous games. There is no cricket matches, there’s no baseball, there’s no pickup games. Everything’s organized. Right. So, the middles kind of fell out in this struggle. And I’ve got a project with all this in mind. And I think it’s super important. So, you know, what we spoke about in London that night was how do you provide an authentic hero’s journey for a generation that doesn’t know it exists? Or for parents that think it’s too risky for the kids to become self-actualized that’s the real issue. They don’t want the kids to be self-actualized. I say look, I you know, parents come to me all the time. Johnny got in trouble. I say Thank God. Right, thank goodness because we’ve you don’t have a big confliction you’re not going to have a strong conviction and the conflict of Do you love me? Will you love me if I screw up Will you stick with me mommy and daddy, if I’m a screw up, will pay dividends because in the end is going to be a very convicted kid that I know that I’m anchored in love.
Minter Dial 50:12
There is this notion I was talking to a neuroscientist a couple of days ago about the need to embody the emotion and the experience. And if the experience is, is virtual you’re not accumulating a tapestry of resilience to deal with the next big piece of shit when not if it happens. And one of the things that you know, of course, is amazing about skiing is freedom. It is one of the things that skiing truly makes you feel like you have and every turn you make. You have the freedom of the to cut here to take this line here and this sort of agency in this moment, and you feel the air whizzing by you maybe with a helmet, maybe not. But this freedom of agency, and when it’s all sort of prescribed, how you have to do things, this lack of freedom. I’m not going to say lack of free will, but sort of over protectionism. How do you see skate? What’s happening on your slopes? How, how, what happens when you get to parents here? Well, you don’t take my child to do anything, you naughty or?
Dan Egan 51:33
Yeah, well, I want to tie that back to a question you asked earlier about being raised. And and having faith. What? When I talked to parents, and they they’re teaching their kids, they can read before they were to they can do this and know they can math? No. But they know, they’ve never talked about anything about God. I pretty much say well, don’t teach them science either. Like, give the kid a chance, a foundational chance to know right from wrong, I don’t care how you frame that. For me, it’s God or you can frame it spiritual, however you want to frame that. But give a kid a chance to understand right and wrong. Give a chance a kid to understand what that means, okay? Because from all that thing, when they go through those confliction years, those teenage years where they’re testing boundaries, the conviction that they’re going to have when they get out of that, that in their early 20s. And hopefully, the mid 20s is based in right and wrong and self-perseverance, and self-care and self-love and building a life for themselves. It’s not the goal is not to have 29-year-olds living at home. Right? So, how do we launch these kids? And what belief system do you want? Because to your point, it’s not if it’s when you fall off the high wire? And how do you pick yourself up? So, here it is, right? It’s not if it’s when and then that comes to how, how you’re going to do it. Because you know what you and I both know, around every corner, there’s not somebody willing to help you. In that cave, in that belly of the whale moment. You are the one that has to know how to move forward when it looks dark. And of course, we want kids to ski to sail to do these individual sports, where they have the freedom to succeed and fail and make the choice to do it differently the next time. I remember being a young kid five, seven years old, out on my little dinghy, in irons pointing into the wind couldn’t get the boat back to the dock. When the instructor came out. He did not tell me what to do. He said it’s getting late dude. Get that boat in, figure it out. And you know, I had the bear off. I had the back wind I had I had a sail back to the dock and he was not going to tow me. And I did. I did. And in those moments, you realize I can and it felt like I never could. So, at what age you want to do that early as early as you can for any young boy or girl to realize, Wow, I’m not failing in this moment. I can succeed beyond this moment. That that’s really the lesson that all Sports teaches. All sport teaches that.
Minter Dial 54:37
Absolutely phenomenal last words. Great way to wrap up an absolutely delicious conversation, man. Love your energy. I admire your journey. I love what you continue to do and as you so rightly say you are aging like fine wine. Dan Egan, How can anyone go get your book, “30 years in a white haze,” catch up with what you’re doing, find out how to learn if there’s an opportunity ever to hire you to ski and have that experience, go to your resort? What are some of the links you’d like for me to put in the back end?
Dan Egan 55:17
I appreciate that. Just check me out at Dan dash egan.com for the main website with all my activities and all the books. And of course, you can always find me at Skiclinics.com For my worldwide adventures.
Minter Dial 55:33
Yeah, and you are in not a few, many films as well. Dan, absolute pleasure. I do hope there’ll be another chance to cut the or not shred some slopes because I would be way way behind in your exhaust fumes. But another time to share so much. So, many thanks for coming on down.
Dan Egan 55:53
Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. And I hope we do ski. Super.
Minter Dial 56:01
So, a really heartfelt thanks for listening to this episode of The Minter Dialogue podcast. If you liked the show, please remember to subscribe on your favourite podcast service. As ever, rating and reviews are the real currency of podcasts. And if you’re really inspired, I’m accepting donations on www.patreon.com/Minterdial. You’ll find the show notes with over 2100 blog posts on minterdial.com on topics ranging from leadership to branding, tech and marketing tips. Check out my documentary film and books including my last one, the second edition of “Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence” that came out in April 2023. And to finish here’s a song I wrote with Stephanie Singer, “A Convinced Man.”
I like the feel of a stranger
Tucked around me
Precipitating the danger
To feel free
Trust is the reason
Still I won’t toe the line.
I sit here passively
Hope for your respect
Anticipating the thrill of your intellect
Maybe I tell myself
There’s no use in me lying.
I’m a convinced man,
Building an urge
A convinced man,
To live and die submerged.
A convinced man,
In the arms of a woman
I’m a convinced man
Challenge my fate
I’m a convinced man
A convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
And struggle to see
Live for the challenge
So life’s not incomplete
What’s wrong with challenge
I know soon we all die
I’m a convinced man
Practicing my lines
I’m a convinced man
Here in these confines
A convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
I’m a convinced man
Put me to the test
I’m a convinced man
I’m ready for an arrest
I’m a convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
I’m a convinced man… so convinced
You convince me, yeah baby,
I’m a convinced man
In the arms of a woman…
Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.
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