In this episode, I talk with Jay Foss, radio and podcast host of Raising Your Inner Voice. His show highlights people doing exceptional work in the world through work, volunteerism, activism, and even simple self-reflection. Jay is passionate about having better conversations, seeing the good in others, and actively listening to those with different opinions. His career in radio has positioned him to grow where he is planted and sow seeds of good in the best way he knows how. As a prior guest on Raising Your Inner Voice, I have Jay to thank for inspiring me to get started on my own podcast. He is a self-proclaimed cheerleader and typically his work as a wedding DJ and radio show producer puts him in support roles; however, his new show brings him into the spotlight where he gets to facilitate conversations that cut through the noise of the negative news cycle. This is an episode not to miss!
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Jay Foss is the host of “Raising Your Inner Voice”, a podcast/radio show that broadcasts north of Boston on North Shore 104.9FM. Jay is also a wedding DJ, audio-book producer, and daddy-o of 2 young boys, a dog and 11 chickens.
Find Jay’s Raising Your Inner Voice podcast anywhere you listen, or here.
Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
JK: Welcome to the You Are A Philanthropist podcast. Today I’m introducing Jay Foss. He’s the host of Raising Your Inner Voice, a podcast radio show that broadcasts north of Boston, on Northshore 104.9 FM. He is also a wedding DJ, audiobook producer, dad of two young boys, a dog, and 11 chickens.
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JK: Jay, welcome to the show.
JF: Hey, thanks for having me, Jenn. I’m really excited to talk with you.
JK: Jay. I’m so happy you’re here because I was a guest on your podcast, and this is how this all got started. People were saying, oh, I loved your episode and I want to hear more from you. So thank you for being here.
JF: It’s my pleasure. Yeah. I mean, thank you for also being on my show. I feel like it’s– I’ve been surrounding myself with positive people and people who are just really, I feel like, raising the vibration, raising my vibration, which helps in kind of that mirroring reflection way. So it’s good to be around good people.
JK: I totally agree. I find myself thinking about what I learned from my guests as I go throughout my day. I can think of Paul Ott and how he is just nice to everybody. And when I see the mailman, I think of, oh, let’s go an extra step and really ask him how his day was. And then our last guest, Jason Dobbs-Hyer, really challenged me with thinking about my faith and how every interaction can really be a way for me to touch someone’s life.
JF: Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s actually what spawned my show, too, is, I think, being intentional about having better conversations with people is so crucial at this day and age. I mean, given the pandemic, everything else that’s going on, it’s really important for us to not only have more conversations with more people but be intentional about the fact that we’re trying to elevate and have better conversations.
JK: Yeah, you and I have similar podcasts. We both go kind of deep with our guests, don’t we?
JF: Yeah. Isn’t it great? I feel like it’s a way that I’m a weirdo and I don’t mind going down these random rabbit holes because, to me, it goes back to, I mean, kind of the raising your inner voice, right? I mean, we all need to be listening to ourselves more. I think most of us, there are exceptions, of course, but most of us want to help other people. And we also– I mean, we should be rewarded likewise. So finding that balance and we’re all, I mean, we’re all in this weird life together. So actually connecting with people and staying inspired and motivated is a good thing.
JK: Yeah. And especially now with the pandemic and just the negative news cycle all the time to kind of break through that noise and remind us that in our everyday interactions, for most of us, particularly in America, we have these wonderful opportunities to be having nice interactions. And so some of that negativity that is going on in the world doesn’t affect us in significant ways. Of course, I can’t speak for everybody. But just it’s nice to remind myself that, yes, when I look at the news, I can kind of compartmentalize it and realize that thank God I’m so blessed that I’m not dealing with all of this stuff.
JF: Oh. And that also leads to a gateway of if you can see that there’s a need there, then there’s a reason for you to be more engaged and involved. I feel like it’s it’s symbolic of– this is very cliche but the Wizard of Oz, right? Like all along in the movie, Dorothy had the shoes with her the whole time. She could have gotten home at any point but she still went on this journey and I think that’s so symbolic for all of us in life. And we want to search the world and go on this big, long adventure but really, it’s we heard that inner voice the whole time, we were just kind of chasing and running from it. And we need to look around and see, “Oh. Oh, I can actually help out right here. Let’s do it then.”
JK: Yeah. And I’ve been blessed where I’ve traveled to 17 countries in my life. And just recently, I started to realize how much I liked America and what a blessing all that travel was and experiencing those cultures. But to realize that I really like where I am now too was really reassuring that I’m in the right place and that the things I have in my everyday life are really meaningful to me.
JF: That’s so great. I mean, that’s great to hear because then you’re starting off on a level of gratitude and I mean, being thankful for where you’re at. What else more could you really hope for in life? In that way, then you can give back. I mean, to me, it ends up turning into this whole cyclical thing of we’re hanging around better people or having better conversations, which is only going to make the more conversations even better. So it’s kind of like the tide that’s rising all boats example.
JK: I actually had a phone call just before this with Tanya Gauthier, who was my first guest on the show. You might remember her. She is the founder of TV Incredible, a nonprofit that supports individuals who have been the victims of a traumatic brain injury. And she called me her shero.
JK: And I have never been called that before and it was a real blessing. And she’s such a positive person and to have stumbled upon her on the internet in some way was also another blessing in my life. And I’m here to coach her for her fundraising efforts for TV Incredible and yet she’s giving back to me. And it’s just so nice to have that synergy of love, mutual love for each other.
JF: Well, and again, I feel like almost every conversation in my life these days, to me, it keeps on coming back to like, “Well, that’s the whole raising your inner voice thing.” You’re finding things that you’re passionate about and then you’re going to mirror and see that mirrored reflection come back at you. And I love paradigm shifts because basically, I mean, it kind of goes with that thought that you don’t need to leave and flee your life in order to have a better life. It’s looking at things differently. And people who do that, I mean, you’re redefining philanthropy, right? So that causes that same paradigm shift of “Wait. It’s not just people who give tons of money that can be called philanthropists, it’s people who are helping other people. It’s people who are giving of their time, talent, and treasure. All of it is philanthropy.” And I find that, yeah, I mean, paradigm shifts and moments of breakthroughs are– I just love talking with people about that because it inspires me to actually keep my eyes open in my life when I start to get frustrated with my kids or, I mean, with anything in life because life can be grueling. It’s a great reminder for me to kind of keep my wits about me and not go too far down these dark attitudes, and, yeah, just ways of thinking, right? So it’s changing my thinking because– and that’s why I love the paradigm shifts, because it’s just like, oh, there’s just a little twist on that. And that opens up this whole new world of possibilities, which then can get you to living a better life in a more meaningful, purpose-filled life. And not that it’s all roses, but I think changing our thinking about so many things is crucial.
JK: Well, to be honest, and my guests haven’t mentioned this when I interview them, but some of them say off-air with me, I don’t really feel like I’m a philanthropist. And I said that’s okay. You don’t need to feel that way in order to be a guest on my show. I just like what you’re doing and I want to showcase it. And I believe they’re philanthropists. That’s why they’re on the show. That’s why you’re on the show. So even though they’re a guest, they maybe haven’t had that paradigm shift. But hopefully, I’ve planted the seed for them to feel really good about what they’re doing too. I think it’s okay when things go unnoticed. But it’s also nice to be really recognized sometimes, too.
JF: I would actually take that even a step further. It’s not only nice to be recognized, it’s going to create more behavior because that’s what we’re encouraging. So if we’re a society that values humility, which sounds like– I mean, from the guests that I’ve heard, they’re all very humble. So I’m not surprised that they would say– because I feel the same way. I don’t think of myself as a philanthropist. I just want people to be experiencing better lives. And for us to all remember that this is the life that we have. So whether that’s modeling yourself after Christ or if that is too steep of an example for anyone and it’s easier to say, well, Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Teresa or whomever fills in the blank for you, this person is someone who I can actually achieve maybe, what, a little fragment of what they’re doing. If we start focusing on that, I think we’re actually getting to work on our life. And it’s affecting other people, but it’s also affecting ourselves. I love the duality of things, I think, because it’s a weird mirroring thing that we don’t expect. So I would only assume, right? How do you make the world a better place? Well, you just get out there and you start doing it. But if you actually start doing inner work and figuring out how you can make your life better, taking accountability and responsibility for yourself, but then being also gracious with yourself, kind of gentle. I end every show with please be kind and gentle with yourself and share that same grace with others because when we focus too much on ourselves, there’s issues. And when– I mean there are so many people that are out there giving and giving and giving. I think of moms in particular, right? It’s like they’re just constantly giving because they’re so focused on family, on their kids, that it’s like, well, you need time for you as well. So where do we find that balance? How do we find that balance? I mean, I think that’s the journey of life.
JK: I went to the grocery store yesterday, and it was the day after I had interviewed Jason Dobbs-Hyer, who I had such a great episode with, and I went to the small mom-and-pop grocery store that is in my town. And I was excited. They have a lot of good organic food there. And so I’m at the checkout and I’m excited about everything I got. I know it’s going to be a little more expensive than the Market Basket down the road. And I know that the benefit is that the people are really nice. So I get up to the register, and I’m kind of chit-chatting with the woman, and I have a singsong voice as I’m leaving, like, have a great day. And she reflected that same singsong voice to her next customer. And I thought to myself, there it is. That’s the ripple effect. And so it was just a split-second thing of me staying positive in my core self and seeing that immediate reaction of her feeling that high vibration, high energy, and passing that on, too.
JF: Absolutely. Well, and passing it on is so crucial. Yeah, that’s great to hear. I love hearing, too, of when people are charitable, anonymously. So whether it’s something simple, right, like buying the coffee for the next person in line before even leaving them five bucks, something simple is even fine because, I mean, it goes back to the humility of your prior guest of just like, “I’m just doing what I can do. There’s nothing special about that.” But at the same time, there is because so many people don’t do that, that when we celebrate it, when we acknowledge it and encourage it, I mean, that’s– I continually view things back in a familial sense. It’s just like, “Oh, well, how is this going to affect my kids, and how can I encourage them in the right way of values that I hold dear and true?”
JK: Wow. Yeah, and as I was leaving the grocery store, and I kind of had this aha moment. Oh, there’s the ripple effect. And I took the flip side of that coin as I’m walking out and realized, oh, like when I’m having a bad day, I kind of put that negative energy into other people, too. And they do it to me, too. And it’s just this negative cycle. And so, I studied psychology. So when you said we encourage the positive things happening, it reminds me of positive reinforcement, which I studied in college.
JF: Yeah. And so, to me, it goes back to the paradigm breakthroughs because even extending grace to other people, it’s okay. So if we all know that we’re imperfect beings, we’re all human beings, when you encounter someone who seems like the grouchiest grouch that ever existed, that could be the best human being on their worst day. And so, how do we continually remind ourselves of, well, they need love, too? In fact, if anything, they probably need love more in this moment because they’re struggling with something and they’re just projecting junk everywhere, just utter, utter negativity. I mean, we can’t change other people at the same time. Right? And that’s where I think kind of the need to spend time working on ourselves is so crucial. Not that I’m perfect. I’m not there yet, but it’s something that I think we should be aware of. And I think our culture, things are shifting, or I’m just surrounding myself with people who inspire me, is the other thing. I mean, the fact that we can have conversations like this and be encouraging to one another– I had another radio host that I– I’ve done production behind the scenes on radio for a long time. And Raising Your Inner Voice is the first time I kind of stepped out behind the microphone in this regard. And one of the other shows that I had produced, the woman is a big fan of the arts, and she used to always refer to herself as being a cheerleader. And I very much view my role in that same regard because, look, I’m just here to help people. However I can do that is how I can do that. And then as I got thinking about like, “Well, where am I putting my energies now with the lack of events going on because of the pandemic? Where am I putting my energy and that’s where it came out of like, “Oh, well, I love deep conversations,” and having these conversations that not only inspire me, but I think really will help other people and speak to other people. That’s where I want to put my energy. That’s where I want to put my time and hopefully, the treasure will come in at the end of that.
JK: Wow, well, that really got me thinking when you said that you’re a cheerleader because when I was a teenager, we were going about in our church trying to figure out what our gifts were. Some people’s gifts are music, and talented in different ways and I couldn’t really pinpoint what exactly I was really good at, but I said I’m an encourager. And so it’s always just been something I’ve had kind of innately and something that I have nurtured and enjoy about myself. And I’m curious, have you always felt like you’re a cheerleader, or did that kind of develop later in life as you started working on yourself?
JF: Yeah, I mean, there’s elements that have always been there for sure. I felt like I’ve always been kind of between worlds. So I grew up Catholic, but I always attended– or, in youth group attended this very charismatic, non-denominational youth group. So kind of between those two worlds. I was always a cool kid to the geeks, but a geek to the cool kids so I didn’t quite fit in either world in that regard. I have felt like an encourager, more like a translator, I think might be the better way of phrasing it for me, because, I mean, even with politics, right, I mean, we’ve never been more divided with politics. And there are good things about conservative politics and there are good things about liberal politics. And it’s because we get into our bubbles, it’s hard to see other people’s sides of things. So I guess I encourage people to continually try just listening, right? I mean, it’s really hard to do, especially if you’re disagreeing with someone but if you’re listening for the sake of understanding instead of listening to get your point across, I think that’s a very different way of functioning between people, because then– I mean, I view it like honoring the divine in other people, finding Christ in other people. And so that’s how in being a Christian, it’s not necessarily that therefore all I do is understand my interpretation of Christ, it’s that I’m continually looking to see where he is going to reveal himself next to me.
JK: That reminds me of the many times where I’ve done yoga and you kind of fold your hands and you bow at the end and what you’re saying is the divine in me honors the divine in you.
JF: Yeah, there’s a lot of lessons that I feel like I’ve been gravitating more towards, not directly. I’m not pursuing any Zen practice or Buddhist practices or anything like that but Christian contemplation is kind of what I do and it’s, I think, similar to yoga in that regard. Yeah. I mean, to say that other people in this world are divine and that there’s an element of them and therefore of me too, I mean, that’s the whole– I’m a big picture person, but I know that the need for the detail in the nitty-gritty, it’s that we can see the divine in ourselves. So, I mean, I think that’s the importance of the fact that God became man in Jesus of Nazareth, is so that God can become and can shine through all of us. I mean, that whole concept to me kind of blows my mind.
JK: Yeah, it’s definitely God’s plan is this idea that we can’t comprehend. And there’s part of me sometimes I start thinking about how things, like you were saying, can seem totally different, like conservatives and liberal politics but the fact is that maybe they could both be true because I’m not God and God can think that way. God can think two seemingly polar opposite things could both have value and both be true.
JF: So some of the work that I’ve done, I’ve taken some marketing courses and there’s a guy out of Austin, Texas, Roy Williams, and he has this phrase that the opposite of a deeply and utterly profound truth is an equal but opposite deeply and utterly profound truth. So it’s not necessarily that the opposite of the truth is a falsehood. It’s that the opposite of the truth is an equal truth. Think of it in terms of gravity, right? So are we standing up on our own? Are we being pulled down to the earth? It’s the friction of both things happening simultaneously. I love politics as an example because by and large, I mean, I tend to vote third party. So I say that to say I don’t have skin in the game. I don’t really get offended when people say crazy things politically to me. And I think that we need both sides of the coin. So the vast majority of the American people benefit from an extremely liberal Democratic side in an extremely conservative Republican side. And we need both. I mean, that’s like asking what’s better. Is it better to be socially free or gracious, or is it better to be fiscally responsible in making sure that–? You’re taking care of your own household. We need to do both. It’s a both and situation which goes back to– I feel like that is kind of in and of itself, that’s the whole philosophy behind zen – right? – is that there’s a little bit. They’re intertwined for sure.
JK: Wow. I just feel like there’s a lot of villainization on both sides, and that’s not productive. And it’s not God-inspired is this villainization of people. And so it really is the ugly side of politics is kind of pointing the finger. And that’s where our government gets in trouble, is when we don’t work together.
JF: Yeah. When we don’t work together or when it’s all done via deals that are made that benefit a certain group – right? – that aren’t actually for the American people. I mean, even just how we define the American people. I think the left and the right have two definitions. And generally, going with the philanthropy theme, my understanding is, the benefit of the American people is the definition would be the least of these. Right? So if the weakest people in our society are being benefited, then everyone else is rising. It’s a given, right? But that’s not how it’s always viewed. We get into this kind of tribal us versus them thinking instead of viewing, “Look, we’re all the American people. It’s all of us.” So again, for me, if the least of these– if the people who are struggling the most in this nation are benefiting from a certain policy, everyone else will see that because – I don’t know – it’s a weird inner-outer duality thing.
JK: One thing I have never been able to really share with people in a public platform is that, in regard to philanthropy, I see Democrats as wanting the government to help the less fortunate. And I see conservatives as wanting to keep their money to be able to do it themselves. And there have been some studies that have been controversial and debatable in the philanthropy world that Republicans are more generous than Democrats. Some people are going to be angry to hear that. Like I said, it is controversial and debatable. But there has been evidence of that. And I think some of that is because many conservatives are evangelical Christians, and they practice tithing 10%. So they put 10% of their profits for the year back into giving to either their church or the less fortunate.
JF: Yeah, which makes sense. I agree with you completely on that I think Democrats, by and large, view it that individuals are not generous enough so, therefore, we need the system to take care of that generosity but that creates a scenario where, therefore, individuals don’t need to be generous because that’s why we have this kind of big national system. Yeah.
JK: And that actually happens. My husband is European and he said in some European countries, you don’t go to your neighbor and you don’t ask for eggs because it’s just assumed that you are going to get it yourself through the government. So there is a division there between the relationship side of people if you are taken care of but might need something and you don’t want to ask because maybe you should have it or it’s just something that we don’t think about here in America because I mean, for me, if somebody asked me for eggs, I’ll give it to them.
JF: Right. But the danger. So again, it goes back to so what’s the danger in that? The danger in that is that if I’m relying on people to come to me then it’s really a control issue, right, and that I’m not taking care of actual needs. I just want the control to be able to say who I can divvy out eggs to. What’s funny is that could be used both for the Democratic side and the Republican side. I also have friends on both sides of the aisle. So to me, I mean, I don’t know. It’s not surprising to hear certain responses one way or another. Because I grew up Catholic, I had a lot of evangelical friends that weren’t necessarily trying to convert me but I think that they couldn’t understand my existence because it was in this kind of gray, unknown area. And I mean, literally, I had friends say to me, Roman Catholic in and of itself is a contradiction because Roman is a specific place and time and Catholic is universal, worldwide. So just definition-wise, Roman Catholicism doesn’t make any sense. And I’m like, yeah, to me it answers exactly everything of what you’re talking about. God loves all of us but he also loves us each individually. So to me, there is no issue with the statement. But it spoke to my friend in a way that was just like he could not wrap his mind around it because he’s like it just making no sense. And I’m just like, yeah, that’s kind of the point. It’s paradoxical. And that’s why I can easily say that we need both extremes in politics, right? I mean, this is why I can use it as the example, politically, we need both extremes and I think that it benefits us all. However, those extremes are taking something too far, right? They’re extreme for a reason.
JK: So you’ve mentioned that you were the kind of the cool nerd. That’s how I used to define myself in high school. So you’re the cool nerd or the nerdy, cool guy.
JK: You were kind of in between a Catholic belief system and an evangelical belief system. And then now vote third party. So I’m just seeing this pattern that you’re kind of always the outsider in a way.
JF: Oh, yeah, very much so. And I’m okay with that. Or, I’ve come to be okay with that, I should say. I don’t know that I would always have said that I was okay with that. But yeah, to me, people who are on the outskirts of society that’s why I cherish and value them so much because they’re still people at the end of the day. Every single person is a person. They may be a person with mental issues. They may be a person with financial issues. They may be a person with whatever the issue is. And maybe they’re not even the one with the issue. They could just value something that isn’t the cultural norm and that is what makes them an outsider. But we as people, we all have issues. So, yeah, I mean, people on the kind of periperal of society I think are not– I don’t know what the actual answer is as far as including them goes, as far as being more generous towards them, I just know that the need is there.
JK: Well, I want to talk a little bit about your podcast, Raising Your Inner Voice. How did that come about and why did you start that?
JF: So at the radio station, we were talking about just different ways of maybe we should switch our format altogether, go to a talk. My background is actually a WBZ in Boston. So I used to produce for David Brudnoy, Paul Sullivan, and Dan Ray for a short while. So these are really solid talk shows that I had produced. I also did some overnights with Jordan Rich, Steve LeVeille. So I’ve produced a lot of talk radio. When we were having this conversation at the station, it just really dawned on me, I missed really good conversations that are able to be shared. And then that multiplied with the pandemic. I wasn’t having them in my personal life either at the time because I get Zoomed out very fast. So I’ll sign up for Zoom stuff but then it’s just like, “Okay, I’ve hit a brick wall, I can’t take more of this.” There’s something about being in people’s presence that it’s– I mean, to me, it’s a real craving. And thankfully, we’re opening up more, vaccinations are continuing to roll out. There’s an overwhelming sense of hope and relief that we’re moving in the right direction. So all that to say. So it got my gears turning. If I were to do my own talk show, what would it look like? And because I’ve already established that I’m more of the cheerleader type, I like raising up and listening to conversations. And what’s the best way of encouraging people to actually listen to themselves more taking time, to be still, to be quiet? It’s the proof in the pudding. So the way that I did that was started this talk show. So the show was a result of wanting to encourage people to actually kind of quiet down and figure out, So if this pandemic is causing people to rethink their lives, how are we going to figure out moving forward? I just view this as one small example. It’s kind of like the Olympics, right? The Olympics are this great feat. And not that me starting a radio show is the same level of endurance there, but it’s just a smaller example. The Olympics are so important for us as humankind to see what human potential is. Does that mean we’re all going to go and become bobsledders or endurance runners? No, but it does give us hope. This show kind of came as a natural extension of wanting to give people hope.
JK: Wow. Wanting to give people hope.
JK: That is awesome. And I’m so humbled that you asked me to give people hope.
JF: Are you kidding me? As I said, I really value and cherish paradigm shifts. It’s people who are thinking differently about things that we’re all thinking about anyways and redefining philanthropy. I think this is– I mean, all of your guests have said this to some degree, right? You’re going to go somewhere with this that you can’t see yet. I mean, that in and of itself is hopeful. It’s looking around at our society, looking around at our lives for people who have a lot to be thankful for. Look around at your life and be thankful for that. For people who have a lot that they would love to just start reaming and complaining about, then you need to change something and you need to know that your current reality isn’t all of your life. The other thing that I think is funny about either political views or whatever the views are, views are fluid, right? So they’re changing. And we think of views as being set in stone and concrete. But so many people have changed their political affiliations over the years. So many people have either come towards Christianity. And so many people have left the church because they’re sick of dealing with people and the politics and yada yada yada. So our views are something that are fluid even though we think of them as being set in stone and concrete. So how then can we– how do we get– how do we make a better world? I feel like I’m answering that question of, “Well, it’s by taking stock of where we’re at and knowing that our external reality is an extension of how we think and view internally. So let’s start thinking about our better world and eventually, we’ll get there.” And there’s hope for that.
jK: That’s why I have this crazy idea to do my T-shirt and merchandise company is because I thought to myself, “Well, we’re not getting this done fast enough. There’s people dying of hunger. We’re not getting this done fast enough.” And so I thought about how we need to be doing more and we all need to be contributing in little ways that we can and that we all do have the capacity to do that. I mean, one of my guests is housing insecure and he’s making a difference on the street corner where he’s talking to people. He’s putting positive energy out. He’s able to make an income for himself where he’s able to afford a room and he’s able to provide for his children and he’s selling a homeless newspaper. And so that’s an example of just the least of us having the ability to put the good in the world, to put the philanthropy in the world, to be giving and our society doesn’t value it. But I’m hoping that my merchandise can become “life is good” because instead of selling optimism, I’m selling giving.
JF: As a receiver of that, I view it the same. So I’m a big– I’ve already alluded to this. I’m a big-picture person. So to me, positivity is positivity and love is love. So because of my background, a lot of that has been people kind of within the Christian culture. However, there are just as many people outside of Christianity who are spreading what I view as the gospel that you would not ever expect to find that in. And so to me, it comes– I mean, so I’m a deejay by trade. The way I interpret that is it’s having conversations with people about what’s your favorite song. So looking at songs that are going to speak to you, songs that really they either get you up and dancing when you need to be dancing or they have you thinking about something when you need to be thinking about it or it’s carefree, it’s like bubblegum, and it just has you singing along because there are different elements of our lives. So what your favorite song is has nothing to do with things that are going to get you down. It has nothing to do with things that are going to have you spiral out of control. So the fact that you went ahead and did that, yeah, of course, life is good and you are a philanthropist.
JK: So now that you mention how people outside of the Christian faith are making a difference and spreading the gospel, it does remind me about a class I took at Gordon College, where I’m a graduate from and I know you are, too, which is how we know each other. I studied a man named Cornelius. I don’t know if you remember his story. He was a Gentile. And so he was the first Gentile to believe in Christ. And so if you study- if you carefully read the scripture. It says, “Go to this man’s house.” And he was the first person the people in the house received the Holy Spirit. And so God talked about how Cornealious was someone who he was personally excited about. He wasn’t part of the Jewish faith but was God- honoring. And so, Cornealious, when I think about him, I think about these “outsiders” who maybe aren’t in the church, but they’re doing so much good. And they, like you said, are doing what God has asked us to do, which is to be loving people.
JF: Yeah. I mean, be fruitful and multiply. Be a blessing to other people. Many times when we’re faced with someone who looks, acts, and is very different from us, I think that can be intimidating. Particularly, people of faith– I mean, it’s weird. It almost seems like some people of different religions seem like they’re in competition with each other, when, in all honesty, if you view it, I mean, more of kind of this reflection, right? Raising of the inner voice, people are people at the end of the day. And how I can help someone will help me. It’s kind of like that stereotype of when people go on mission trips, that they end up being blessed so much more than the people that they actually helped. Because you’re going to give, but then you end up receiving. I mean, there are so many things in life that seem like they have this weird reciprocity of when we’re looking for something, we end up finding something. Yeah, I won’t go too far down that rabbit hole. But it, again, is just very encouraging for me to keep my eyes open and to not– I grew up in probably a more lower-income middle-class family. So I had this notion about rich people that rich people are greedy, they’re selfish, all of this other stuff. After college, my now wife was actually living with a family as an Au Pair, and they were some of the most generous people who I would clearly define as being rich. And I loved it. I love it when my thinking gets broken open because, to me, those are Godly moments. Those are moments of, “I thought I knew what was best.” And then, poof, there is something else there. A deeper reality is showing itself. And so it only would make sense that, yeah, of course, there are people who are selfish who are rich. However, there are people who are poor who are selfish. And same goes for those who are generous. Whenever I find the generous people, it just blows my mind open, especially if I’ve already put them in a box, right? I mean, we’re all moving towards– no one wants to be judging others, but I think that’s where bias comes in, right? We have instinctive conclusions about people. And yeah, when those get broken open, those are clearly God moments for me. I mean, it goes back to my kind of love of paradigm shifts of when I think I have this life figured out around the corner, forget about it because there’s a surprise coming.
JK: That’s so interesting that your wife had that experience because I did, too. And that’s actually why I’m in fundraising.
JF: No way.
JK: Yes. So we went to Gordon College. It’s on Boston’s North Shore. It’s a very affluent area. It’s in Wenham. And I used to babysit for a family for several years in Manchester by the sea. And so I fell in love with a Catholic family who were raising their three children. I’m in the Catholic faith. And they were a part of their community. And the father, Tony Dicroce, was on the board of St. Mary’s of Lynn. As I approached my senior year, just started talking about what I was going to be doing. And I was just the type of person who was like, “I don’t know. I just want to help people.” And they said, “Well, you’re a grant writer. I mean, you’re an English major, so you’d be great at grant writing.” And so that’s how I fell into it. And just that one family made such an impact on my life. They’re the reason why this podcast exists.
JF: That’s so cool. Wow. That’s awesome. And looking around at where you are and what your skillset is is so crucial. I feel like it’s generic advice to people to say, “Look around and look where you are, where you can be useful, where you can do what you can do,” right? But I mean, it’s good generic advice, but when it actually hits home for someone, I mean, it transforms lives. And I think that is so cool. I did not know that we kind of shared that connection. That’s awesome.
JK: That’s really cool. So we’re talking about how there’s this reciprocity of us giving and us receiving. And I’m just as I have shared, I receive in many ways from my guests. And I’m always having that listening ear when I’m speaking to them to see what I can be learning. And I know you have that same passion, too. And I’m wondering, what are some of the guests who have been most impactful in your own life and that you’ve enjoyed learning from.
JF: Oh, goodness. So obviously, you’re going to take yourself out of that. That way I don’t use you as the example.
JK: Thank you.
JF: I mean, I have had some really amazing conversations with people. One guy, Dave Seymour. He started off as a Lynn firefighter and then ended up going to some real estate classes. And so now he is a venture investment capitalist. But I had him on the show to talk not about what would make sense, venture capital, but rather our conversation really delved around personal development. And he was someone that I didn’t really expect this to get this deep into. But like I said, any time conversations surprise me, I think surprises are what keep us paying attention in life. When I work with couples in deejaying for weddings for them, I always talk about, “What are ways that we can make something special that’s a reflection of you as the couple that’s getting married happen both organically and preparedly?” So I do custom first dances with them where I interview them ahead of time to really just add in their personality. But it’s at a moment where most people aren’t expecting them to basically be giving their vows to each other over the first dance. So what are ways that we can pay attention to more surprises? Dave was a great guest. Karen Nascembeni. She had lost her husband to COVID. She lost her father-in-law to COVID. And she herself was in the ICU for 35 days and then recovered for an additional 30-something after that. So she has had this huge transformation in the last year and she is still one of the most positive and upbeat people. And to me, it’s just like where is this sense of faith coming from that exudes your existence? And I mean it goes back to kind of that sense of taking care of ourselves while we’re taking care of other people and making sure that we’re doing both of those things. Because if I’m not taking care of myself, I can’t help take care of anyone. But if I’m only focused on taking care of myself, I’m forgetting about the fact that there are other people in this life, people who really need in this world. I mean, those are two other conversations that just spring to my mind. Yeah, there are so many. I mean, so I enter almost every conversation hoping to learn one thing. If I learn more, that’s all the better.
JK: You mention that sometimes if we get too caught up in the self, we forget about other people. And I always like to say that I don’t call it fundraising, I call it “funraising” because I do feel like fundraising and giving is fun.
JF: This life ought be fun, but it also ought be serious. So to me, it’s kind of looking for that balance. It’s where am I surrounding myself? What what are my conversations? If they’re constantly going out and having fun, then I need more seriousness, and if they’re too heavy and heavy and serious, and we think we’re all going to take this all for granted, then I can have a little fun. Yeah. Absolutely. Fun-raising, I like that.
JK: My son came up to me the other day and just kind of out of the blue, he goes, “Does God like candy?” And I had to think about that one. And I thought about how he is excited when we’re excited and about good things. And so I had to say, “Yes, He does like candy. He just likes it not– He likes it in moderation.”
JF: Was this the five-year-old? Because my five-year-old he’s all about the candy. All about it. Yeah. Moderate, it’s a hard lesson to learn, right? I mean, that’s no different than an alcoholic in their mid-40s trying to learn the same exact lesson. The lesson is, “Hey, too much of a good thing is not more of a good thing. It’s too much.”
JK: Wow. That’s good.
JF: Yeah. Kids and their candy.
JK: Well, that’s another example of lightening the mood, is thinking about things that give us excitement. And for a child, Halloween is like his favorite holiday because it’s so fun to go around and get lots of candy. But the cool thing is that– I don’t know if I shared this yet. The other day, we were at a neighbor’s house, and the grandmother came over and planted lollipop flowers. So she had wrapped lollipops to make it look like bouquet, like a tulip coming out of the ground. So my kid just thought that was so cool, and It was cool. It was a great idea. And so we go home, and they got the lollipop in their mouth, and my son says to me, “I want to do this for other people. I want to do this for our neighbors.” And I was trying to figure out how to logistically do that because he said he just wants to do it for everybody. And so I’m thinking about like, “Well, that doesn’t really work out because people are going to be like, “What’s this lollipop doing here?” and just think it’s garbage or something. So he keeps asking me for about a week. And so I’m trying to figure out how do I do this? So finally I get the lollipops and I said, “Okay, we’re going to go to these specific houses,” and I text the people that I know who are living there, and I say, “Okay, the boys planted some lollipop flowers in your garden,” and they were overjoyed. They were overjoyed that my sons went around the neighborhood and planted lollipops for them, thinking about them at five years old. And a couple of our neighbors are older and have grandchildren of their own. And so they had this specialness about a child doing something nice for them. And they took pictures and talked about how sweet my boys are. And then one of those neighbors ended up hiding Easter eggs on our property for the Easter Bunny to come. He was like, “Who did this?” And I said, “Our neighbor, Diane, did it.” And he’s like, “I want to go take this candy that I just got and hide it in other people’s yards.” So, again, it’s that ripple effect. It’s the little joys that come along the way that we’re not expecting. It’s just something that I’m not going to forget. I don’t think those people are going to forget because it’s when a child does something so impactful, and I have my guest, Audrey Blankenship, who is doing so much for the world at nine years old. So you can be any age and be making an impact.
JF: People are so surprised when kids do it because there’s thought that’s put into it. And the logistics of it happening for a kid seem even larger. But at the same time, kids are also the ones with the energy and with the crazy enough thinking of saying, “Hey, I can spread a little joy here. Let’s go ahead and do these lollipop flowers.” I think, we as adults, are the ones that then dropped the ball. And we forget to pay it forward. It’s just like, “Oh, isn’t that sweet? He thought of me.” But yeah, kids are great sources of inspiration and play, right? I mean, it goes back to kind of taking it serious. “This is the only life we have. Make sure you’re using it wisely. But at the same time, don’t make it too serious either because you’ve got to have a little fun. Enjoy running around.”
JK: Well, I’m thinking about how my dad calls my mom Sue fun Fisher. That’s her middle name. That’s just how she is. My five-year-old was saying, “Oh, I want to be an adult.” He wasn’t really liking whatever maybe I was taking his, candy or something. And I said, “You know what? We’re going to call Meme right now.” And I called my mother. And I said, “Mom, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And she goes, “I want to be a kid.” And so, it is a way to teach my son, “Know who you are, what you’re doing. It is really cool and is something to be admired.”
JF: Yeah. We all end up as elders. We are more kid-like. But we’re more dependent on people. I think there is a different level of seeing. I guess what I want to have on my show is an older person with a lot of wisdom to share our culture. I don’t think we value elders and what they can share. But, to me, it’s the same innocent joys of younger children as well, not to infantilize elders, but to say that there’s something that’s pure and precious there that we aren’t honoring in a similar way.
JK: I went to a wedding many years ago in Texas, and I was chatting with an older woman who– she was probably in her 70s at the time. And she was very nice. And she was sitting next to me. I didn’t know her. And she talked about how, when you become a senior, you kind of go back to being a child, not in the being dependent way, but being excited about the little things again and realizing that play or nature and all those things that we forget about as we age and have to do our responsibilities. As you get older, you kind of go back to the basics of what is enjoyable in life and what you want to be doing.
JF: Nature is a way that I use to recharge. I’m continually trying to get my boys to go on hikes with me. And usually, it does involve bribes of candy. But just being out in– I don’t even know what it is. It’s one of those things where I can acknowledge it while I’m there and being in nature. I can’t tell you why nature kind of feeds the soul so much. I just know that it does. It’s not dissimilar to– I know when someone’s telling a really funny joke, I can’t craft jokes myself. I’m not a comedian, but I can really appreciate a good joke.
JK: Actually, my husband takes my children hiking actually every weekend. And we live near conservation land and can just go walk in the woods from our house. And my son said to me one time, “Can I hug this tree?” And I thought, “Oh, that’s so beautiful.” There are those “tree huggers” out there. I was like, “Sure. Go hug the tree.” And like you said, there is this beautiful thing about nature that’s indescribable, this feeling that we get. And even scientifically, there’s been studies that people who are in hospital beds get better if they’re positioned by a window and looking out at something– a tree or something, which is quite remarkable.
JF: Yeah, or even thinking about– I feel like I’ve seen a lot of photos from the last pandemic of 1919 where there were hospital beds and tents outside of people just being out in the sunlight to get fresh air and being outside that– yeah, it is very restorative for sure.
JK: Wow. I only looked at one of those pictures. And I remember the kids were having school outside. And this is something my town has talked about, is outdoor classrooms. Definitely, a safety thing involved. And they’re actually getting a grant from the state to create outdoor classrooms. So there are benefits that are coming out of the pandemic.
JF: Yeah. Societally, we are valuing things differently and more because collectively it’s affecting all of us in that regard that is causing people to think differently. And so even though there are many people who have more serious situations, there are some people who are kind of affected but barely affected, or I have some dear friends in construction, it’s like they are busier workwise than they have ever been. They’re booked out 9 to 12 months. But normally, they’re only booked 6 months out. But it’s creating this collective shared experience that we’re all going through. And I think that that in and of itself, it’s going to have this more unifying effect on us all, which is good.
JK: Jay, I think we’re running out of time. And I’m so sad because I know that we have so much more to talk about. And I’d love for you to be a guest on the show again. But I’m thinking about what your World Vision is, what you want to see in the world more. And I know you mentioned deep conversations is really important to you. What else?
JF: Yeah. And honestly, it’s not even just deep conversations. It’s better conversations. I actually pulled this out when I was preparing to talk with you today. But is a prayer that is associated with Saint Francis of Assisi. It’s either the peace prayer or the serenity prayer. But I would love to read that kind of as a last thought if that’s cool with you.
JK: Please. Yes.
JF: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. Oh, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying of the self that we are born to eternal life.”
JK: Wow. Thank you for sharing that.
JF: Yeah. I think we can all view getting outside of our own perspective more. To answer your question is what I think that really is at the heart of it. And that prayer does that for me. Since I was a kid, I was always fascinated with that prayer because I think we all have something to learn. And hopefully, we’re paying attention.
JK: And I always like to have an empowerment piece as well. And I’m curious what you would say to my listeners and to your listeners about how they can get started with doing more good in the world and raising their inner voice.
JF: It’s looking at your situation, right? Anything that is causing you despair, anything that’s causing you darkness, be the light so that that is your gateway. That is your chance, your opportunity to become more engaged in your own life. The way I’m doing it is with the radio show. But I’m hoping that people understand that that’s just because of the functionality and opportunities that I have. We all need to take the moment to look at our lives and you’ll see– start looking, look more, think better thoughts and you’ll see.
JK: That’s so great. And how can my listeners find your podcast?
JF: It’s on pretty much all the platforms if you just search raising your inner voice or you can search Jay Foss, that’s J-A-Y, F as in Frank, O-S-S as in Sam, you’ll come across it and yeah, yeah, check it out. I would love to get some feedback or ideas. I’m really always open to ideas because like I said to me, I could learn from anyone. So yeah, I’m always interested in hearing about new ideas. And congrats to you because I think that what you are doing is phenomenal.
JK: Well, Jay, I probably wouldn’t be here without you. If you hadn’t asked me on the podcast, these two people that are in my life who are female entrepreneurs, one being Jessica Brand who was on my show. She said that that podcast really exemplified that my message of doing more philanthropy is better received in the audio voice rather than in the written voice, which is what I had been doing, which was blogging. So my listeners can go read my old blog posts. But I’m hoping that the podcast forum will allow people to be changed, especially by my guests. I mean, I just love having my guests and hearing their story. And I, I feel like they speak for themselves and it’s even more powerful than– I just feel like I’m the conduit to be able to give them that platform. And I really hope that my guest, not necessarily me, but my guests, can be helping people have those paradigm shifts and like you said, and change their negative thinking and start getting excited about what they can do. And I hope that they go buy my T-shirts, too, because I’m wearing one today and they’re really cool.
JF: Yeah, absolutely, of course. Yeah. You’re going to see that come back because you’re so genuine and earnest and wanting your guests to be the spotlight, that’s going to be why it’s successful. Right? It’s because it’s a passion project, so.
JK: It is a passion project, and it’s one that I get excited to go into my cold, dark basement to do.
JF: Well, thanks so much for having me, Jen. This is phenomenal.
JK: Jay, thanks for being my guest. I’m so excited about sharing what we talked about today with my listeners. And I hope they can hear more from you by going to your podcast and finding it on the internet, Raising Your Inner Voice.
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