This is my favorite book I’ve read all year. It changed my life, truly. Philip McKernan’s One Last Talk. And it’s about speaking your truth. The question is, if you were about to leave this planet, what would you say and who would you say it to? I was truly blown away by this book. I read the book in less than two days, and I cried for 50 pages straight because I was so moved.
One of the things that Philip believes is that our greatest gifts lie next to our deepest wounds. In other words, your gift is next to your greatest source of pain, and we tend to cover those things up. We tend to run from the things that we’re ashamed of or that were painful parts of our lives, and yet, when we share them, it makes other people literally fall in love with us, as Philip says.
This episode, I believe could absolutely change your life. If it motivates you to write your One Last Talk or to read the book, your life will not be the same. Again, I give this book my highest recommendation possible.
This is not an option. For people who are ready, you must read this book. It will change your life.
Philip McKernan: I absolutely believe in this book. I said to somebody recently, they said, “Well done on the book.” And I said, “Yeah, I’m really proud of it.”
And this man stood up with tears in his eyes, a guy called Clay. Clay stood up with tears in his eyes, put his arms around me, and hugged me. And I was thinking, “God, that’s a pretty big reaction.”
And when he let go of me, he said, “I’ve never heard you use the word proud in a sentence unless it contains your children or your family.”
The First Last Talk
Charlie Hoehn: How did this originally really begin?
Philip McKernan: I think I start a little bit more in a more advanced place, and that is out of, to some extent, frustration. I do public speaking. I don’t do a lot. A lot of people assume, for whatever reason, I do a ton of public speaking, I don’t. I don’t want to get on the tour, I don’t want to be on the road all the time.
But as I traveled the world and spoke in various different countries in different cities around North America, I did see some things that emerged that I found that were frustrating, were unnecessary, and were not necessarily serving humanity.
For example, I would meet a lot of speakers who I assume set out with great intentions, but became very lost in the speaking world, which can really elevate you, put you on a pedestal.
You become lost, and your own ego starts to take over. And I met a lot of speakers who I felt had become quite disconnected from the original path. Not trying to judge them. I mean, that was never intentional, I’m sure for many of them.
The second thing is this, the multi-speaker events where you just have speakers standing on stage, sharing with the audience, hopefully, sometimes dictating to the audience, sometimes preaching to the audience, like, “This is how your life should be, or could be.”
And it was very one way. The dialogue was too one way for me.
And then this real belief that I have, that the greatest gurus in the world are ourselves. Not that we shouldn’t seek guidance externally on occasions, but the audience have arguably the greatest wisdom.
“I wanted to change that dialogue. I wanted to change that dynamic.”
I wanted the audience to be on the stage. So 80% of the speakers have never spoken publicly before in their lives. Never believed they have the capacity, the capability, or the story or their truth to actually share in the first place. So I wanted to like disrupt, I suppose, an industry that has been somewhat stagnant for a very long time. And I believed the way to do that was through the lens of One Last Talk.
And also, I’m a massive advocate of conversations that go deeper. Not all the time. Yes, we should talk about the weather, yes, we should talk about football and soccer and all these things, but not all of the time. I want to create a little bit of urgency and really focus people, focus their mind and blow their hearts open, and allow them to realize what is important to them.
Charlie Hoehn: I love that you noticed that about speakers because I’ve noticed it as well. I do some speaking, and I’ve seen it in myself too at times. It’s a glimpse into how humanity operates. That’s why I think your book is going to strike such a big chord.
Philip McKernan: And again, Charlie, I’m not sitting here in a high perch preaching and saying this is happening to every other speaker, not me. The reason I can sense and feel it is I’ve witnessed it in others and I also witness it and feel it myself. And it’s arguably my greatest fear, is that I’ve become very disconnected. I start to believe some sort of hype.
I believe that we have a responsibility as speakers and as public figures, if you want to call it that. And also, we all have a responsibility as people not to elevate people onto a pedestal because it’s a twofold thing. One, is we allow it, and two, is the audience do it.
We are all standing shoulder to shoulder, and before you know it, we’re being elevated and elevated, and then suddenly we’re on top of the pyramid looking left and right, feeling we’re on top of other people.
Secondly, we’re very alone because there’s nobody beside us. And there’s only one way down, and it’s a long, long, painful fall.
I work with a lot of very successful speakers, many of which, sadly, don’t want to work with me in a public space like in a group environment or a retreat environment because they don’t want to be seen to not have their shit together, which I think is part of the problem.
Some of the greatest speakers or community leaders that come and do my work are the ones that are prepared to sit in a room, in a retreat, and put their hand up and say, “Hey, I struggle to be a dad. I struggle being a mom. I struggle with my ego. I struggled with depression,” or whatever happens to be. They’re the people I want to follow.
They’re the people I want to be around because they not just can inspire us with their wisdom and their strategies and their life hacking tools or whatever, but their also willingness to show us the other side of the coin, the human element of who they really are.
The Draw of Vulnerability
Charlie Hoehn: Why is it that we’re so taken with vulnerability, and why do we resist it so much if we know that it can give us the thing that we seek the most, which is to be seen, understood and connected to others?
Philip McKernan: I think we’re afraid of rejection. I think if we allow the world to see all of us and they reject us, then there’s nothing really left. In the same way that a lot of people will come to me, and I don’t think I’ve ever shared this with you, Charlie. People will travel thousands of miles, and in some cases pay thousands of dollars to sit in front of me for the clarity that they don’t actually want.
People will go, “What the hell does that mean?” If I’m going to engage in a coaching capacity with you, I want the clarity that I’m seeking. I want to get my money’s worth here, type of thing.
And that’s true to a point, but when you start to dig into somebody’s story, when you start to get past the blocks that they say are getting in the way and you start to get to somebody’s truth—in other words, the thing they desperately want, whether it’s clarity around a relationship, clarity about what they’re meant to do, clarity about their gift versus their talent, or whatever it is—often, there’s a hesitation. Often, there’s resistance.
I really believe at a very basic level, I think it’s easier to fail doing something you don’t really want to do in this world, as opposed to running the risk of uncovering who you are, what you’re destined to do, and failing doing the very thing you’re meant to do in this earth.
Because if you fail doing that, there’s nothing but darkness beyond that. There is nothing but the greatest, deepest black hole.
“Subconsciously, we protect the shit out of ourselves.”
That’s what we do as human beings. We’re designed to protect ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. So we don’t fully commit, we don’t fully step in, because if we don’t, we can always subconsciously say, “Well, I know the business failed, but you know what? It wasn’t really my passion. It wasn’t really what I was meant to do.”
I feel that we hide because we’re afraid of judgment.
The analogy that people often refer to or the science or the research that public speaking is the greatest fear. I don’t believe that for one second. It’s ahead of death and spiders and being burned alive or being buried with snakes, whatever other stats that people have used.
I appreciate that’s what the research shows, but if you dig below that, the reason people are afraid of speaking is they’re afraid of making a mistake. The reason below that is they’re afraid of being judged, and the reason below that is they’re afraid of not being loved by other humans in this world, by being seen and not being accepted and loved at a deeper level. That’s why public speaking is such a fear, but it’s not the public speaking. That’s just a representation of some deeper inadequacy that we have within all of us all of the time.
Charlie Hoehn: I feel like this episode could be five hours long because I just want to dig into like so many different things you’re saying. I wonder how much of that is the human experience, versus how we just disintegrate our communities and so we’re always feeling like, “Who do I belong to?”
Philip McKernan: Yeah. And community is an interesting thing. I think we need to understand and take a step back and start to really understand what really community is, because a lot of us think of Facebook group as community. It can be. It can be a part of the community, but it’s not the essence of community.
I’m not suggesting I have a community that’s better than anybody else’s. The one thing I will say is our, what we call as our clan, and I know clan is a very sensitive word. Clan an old Celtic terminology to talk about little small villages and communities.
Within our clan, I think people talk about this willingness and freedom to be able to be vulnerable, some of the time, not all the time. In other words, you can show all of you and without that judgment. I never set out to create a community, but that’s the feedback we get within our new case, our units, whatever you want to call it.
I think we need to take a step back and really reimagine what community is for us. There’s a lot of communities out there, but I’m not sure they’re really … I don’t think they’re necessarily all supporting the real human experience. I just think there’s something off—missing. And I think if we had to simplify it, I think that missing piece is vulnerability. It’s the ability to be able to stand up and say, “I’m sad,” and stand up and say, “I’m successful,” on different days or even the same day for that matter.
Waking Up to Passion
Charlie Hoehn: Let’s jump back to what you said earlier about playing it safe, basically. Like, “This business failed, but it wasn’t really my passion.” You went through something along these lines, right? Like your career before, what you do now, you were working in real estate, I believe.
Philip McKernan: Yes. And before that, wine, and before that, coffee, or vice versa. On the surface, that’s definitely how it looked. And on the surface, that’s essentially what I told myself as well.
Charlie Hoehn: How long did that go on for? And when did you start to wake up?
Philip McKernan: Until I was about 37, I felt my entire working career was trying to find what it is I wanted to do, trying to show up and prove to the world that I matter. You know, just a lot of trying. And also, I had this story that some people might still hold onto and believe that it’s going to serve them. I don’t.
I believe it’s a fundamentally flawed story, and it certainly was for me and many people I see. And that is, when I make enough money, then I can go and do what I want.
But I felt for me, that everyday that I betrayed myself doing something I didn’t want to do that was out of alignment with who I was, that’s an extra day that the universe almost looks for payment.
Because you can’t just flip the coin or flip the switch or turn the corner and say, “Hey, I’ve done that for 20 years. Now, I’m just going to go and do what I love and what I’m destined to do.” It just doesn’t work like that. But yet, that was the story I was telling myself.
I take full responsibility for that story, even though I went to conferences and that was the key messaging at the time, certainly at the conferences I went to. I still sat in the audience and I chose to believe it, so I take a lot of that responsibility. And on the surface, these were all passionate things, these were all things that I was “passionate about,” because they were exciting.
Like wine is fun. It’s a fun industry. Forget about the alcohol itself, but it’s actually fun industry. Coffee’s cool. I was traveling the world to different coffee plantations around the world, producing really unique coffee, doing something innovative in the world, looking after farmers, paying them above average. All of these things I can list as being really passionately driven things. And then I went into real estate, and I was passionate about real estate.
What was really interesting is that I think that was the underlying pattern. I got in touch with stuff that was exciting, but I wasn’t passionate about.
And what we do in society is we mix our passion with excitement, and we’re now getting passion stickers and slapping them on anything. We’re slapping them on wine, we’re slapping them on bumper stickers on cars, Harley Davidsons, hiking, whatever these things are. And my ask is, are they really the passions or are they just excitement? An excitement runs out, but passion doesn’t.
How to Think about One Last Talk
Charlie Hoehn: I want to start at the beginning with this book. When you open up, the first section is called How To Think About One Last Talk, by Tucker Max, our mutual friend who has written many bestselling books that are not in the vein of One Last Talk. How did you get linked up with Tucker and why did you decide to let him help you with this book?
Philip McKernan: I went to a conference called Mastermind Talks with Tucker a number of years ago. He was speaking and I was speaking at the same event, and our formats were a little bit different. I think he had 15 minutes on stage, and for some reason, I was given an hour. And the organizer, Jason, kept extending my time or whatever.
But when I first heard Tucker speak I’d be lying to say I didn’t judge him. I did. And I think likewise, when he heard me speak, I think he was judging the crap out of me as well.
Charlie Hoehn: Oh yeah. He talks about how he didn’t like you for a while because he knew you were good at speaking, but it rubbed them the wrong way for some reason.
Philip McKernan: Yeah, I did actually. In fact, one thing I know because he mentioned in the book, he won’t mind me saying, but I remember, we were sitting at lunch the day after I spoke. And Veronica, his wife, who is absolutely incredible, said something along the lines of, “You need to go and work with this guy.”
And he goes, “No, I don’t need to do that kind of thing.”
He was chatting about this thing, and he was going on and on and on and on. He was trying to convince me and the whole table of his perspective, his intellectual perspective of a particular philosophical aspect of life.
And he stopped. He says, “What do you think about that?”
And I said, “Well, that’s a really great intellectual grasp of that, but I find that people can sometimes understand that intellectually, but they’re not living it emotionally.”
And Veronica had her head down was kind of cutting or steak or something just goes, “Yeah, I told you so.”
She’s very similar tone and presence and strength as my own wife. But that’s how we got to know each other. I got to know the man as opposed to the persona. And the way I would describe Tucker, and I hope he doesn’t mind this, is that Tucker is, “judge me for the books I’ve written, for how I speak, what I say. Dislike me, even hate me, but don’t you dare like me and don’t even think about falling in love with me.”
I think his persona and what he’s created is because of his own story, which he actually shares a lot of that in his own One Last Talk, which I won’t divulge now. But actually, he’s got a huge heart and he cares deeply. And what ended up happening was he pursued me not from the point of view of getting me as a client, certainly that’s not what I felt, and not in terms of just getting a contract for Scribe, obviously the company that Tucker runs.
He began to really fall in love with the concept of One Last Talk and what he was hearing about it, and my description of it. Where everything turned was when we were halfway through the book and struggling to really conceptualize this in written format and to see if we can take the power of what the live event is and put it on paper.
So anyone in the world, anywhere in the world can create their own One Last Talk, deliver it, and have a very similar experience and outcome. And he basically said, “Listen, I’ve got to do the talk myself.”
That showed commitment for me, but I think once he did his own One Last Talk and realized how difficult and challenging it was, and the power of it, everything changed.
Energetically, he was 99% in or maybe a 100% in, but once he did his talk, he was 135% in. And everything changed around the book. He saw the power of it. And we built a great relationship, I believe. He’s still a complete and utter pain in the ass, I’ll say that to his face or behind his back, but I say that in a loving way. I think we’ll be friends for a very long time.
And if nothing else, I’m just using him to get to his wife, Veronica, who’s really cool.
Charlie Hoehn: Man, I’ve known Tucker for 10 years and he and I have good friends throughout. I’ve lived with him for a year at his apartment and I’ve never seen him invest so much in a book because he believed in it this much. I sent him a message after, saying, “I know this is Phillip’s book, but this is my favorite thing that you’ve ever worked on. I’m so proud that you were involved with this book. It’s going to change so many lives.”
Philip McKernan: I’m glad you acknowledged that because I decided I’m never going to sign a copy of this book ever. I’m never going to sign a copy of this book, and my people might think, “What an odd thing to say and what an odd thing to … When someone comes and asks you to sign the book, you’re going to say no? It’s a bit obnoxious, it’s rude, it’s dismissive.”
“I’m not going to sign a copy of this book because I don’t believe this is my book to sign.”
I’ve written this book on behalf of the brave and courageous men and women who have given their One Last Talk and who are going to give their One Last Talks in the world, and the healing that that is going to create both within them and the greater humanity on a bigger scale. So that’s it.
And the other part of this is, I honestly believe this book would not be here right now without Tucker. It was his belief and his drive because we all doubt. I love the idea of the power of one more person in your life who believes in something that you either don’t believe in to the same extent or find it hard to believe in or won’t give yourself permission. And I give a lot of credit to Tucker.
Yeah, my name’s on the front cover, but I believe it’s representative of the men and women who have given their talks and will give their talks, and Tucker has played a massive role in this book and it would be unfair to even suggest otherwise.
Why One Last Talk?
Charlie Hoehn: Let’s talk about the book itself. Why speak your truth? Why does that matter?
Philip McKernan: Let’s use a book analogy. We all have a part of us that we have a lot of judgment towards, we have a lot of shame around, we have a lot of pain around. If we look at our life through the lens of a book, let’s just say, the book has 15 chapters. Let’s just say, 20 chapters before you’re gone, you bite the dust, you’re buried, you go to wherever you feel spiritually you’re going to go to. You’ve got 20 chapters now, wherever you are in that book, whether you’re 15 chapters in and three quarters the way through your life, whether you’re halfway through 10 …
Everyone I’ve ever met has a couple of chapters in there that they’d rather forget or they’d rather not acknowledge.
Or they’d go, “Listen, chapters one to seven, oh my God, that was great. Chapter eight and nine, not so cool. In fact, I want Charlie’s eight and nine. I want Phillip’s eight and nine. I want Tucker’s eight and nine.”
And then, “Ten was okay. God, I love eleven. Twelve is fantastic. I’m on fifteen and I’m excited,” or, “I’m apprehensive,” or, “I’m scared,” or, “I’m in the next five chapters,” Well, what that basically means is, we’re walking through this earth not accepting all of who we are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, the light and the dark.
And why it’s important we speak our truth is, number one, it allows us to begin to accept the parts of ourselves and our stories that we have forgotten about, that we don’t value, that we don’t see purpose in, the pain and what we miss in that moment, is this opportunity to realize the greatest pain that we’ve had, arguably, leads us to some of the greatest impact we can make. That’s a huge part of this, is about acceptance.
The other thing is that when we share our One Last Talk and the minimum requirement, the minimum ask, the minimum challenge for anybody who reads the book is to deliver their One Last Talk to at least one other human being in the world and perhaps more in the future.
“When you release your truth into the world, it frees you.”
You feel lighter, you take that heavy rain jacket off. I’ve heard various examples of this. I had one woman who after sharing her One Last Talk physically, these spots that were showing up in her body that no specialist on earth could find the core, started to literally disappear because a lot of our stresses and our pain and our traumas manifest themselves physically. People lose weight literally by not changing anything, by not changing their diet or their physical activities.
When we send our story into the world, it allows other people who have experienced the same pain, maybe the circumstances are different, but the same pain go, “Oh my God, I’m not alone.”
Then they start to kind of move into this place that, “If I’m not alone, maybe … ” And then maybe they pivot into place and goes, “If that story matters, it has allowed me to believe I’m not alone. Maybe my story matters too.” They then get the courage to share their story and then the ripple continues to feed and to inspire and to move the world, and that’s the whole idea of One Last Talk.
The World That’s Possible
Charlie Hoehn: What’s your vision for what the world could become, Philip, if everybody’s speaking their truth?
Philip McKernan: Well, I think there’s two things. I created this concept called soul set. And soul set to me is, to some extent, the opposite of mindset. A mindset is important, but to me, the mind, the brain is simply a MacBook, it’s a laptop. It’s something that should be used to analyze, to strategize and so on, but we can start living from a slightly more intuitive place.
This is a huge business obligation. The business owners and the entrepreneurs and the leaders that I work with, who begin to bring more intuition into their lives and more of that gut, that raw gut back into their lives from a business context, have all reported better decision making—significantly better decision making.
Decisions that makes so much sense on paper, their COO is going, “Nail this, sign this contract,” and they are going to, “It just didn’t feel right,” have subsequently found out that that deal would not have made sense for the business. Whether it’s from a profitability standpoint or basically a purpose standpoint or really a value standpoint, whatever it happens to be. If we want to eradicate most, if not all of the world’s communication challenges…I work a lot with couples, entrepreneurial leadership couples, and one of the challenges they come to me with is like, “Oh, it’s a communication thing.”
If we could just tell people how we feel, it would eradicate most if not all of the communication challenges in the world, because it’s the most disarming way in which you can approach another human being. A real life example, and it’s not a significant example, but it was from my life was, I lived in a place called Edmonton in Canada.
No disrespect to the Edmontonians, beautiful people—didn’t get the place, didn’t get the landscape, didn’t get the city, didn’t really enjoy the climate, etc, etc. I was very unhappy there, and I tried to convince my wife and I tried to sell it to her. I tried to do the almost a PowerPoint presentation.
Then we sat down and did the pros and the cons. And then one day, I just was awoke at a different level at the gym. I remember getting in my car, I didn’t strategize, I didn’t think about it. I didn’t say, “I’m going to come back and give the feedback sandwich, walk in the door to my wife, say, ‘Hey honey, your hair looks amazing,'” even though she might look like a scarecrow, and then give her the news that I want to move out of Edmonton and finish it with a beautiful top slice of compliments.
“These strategic ways in which we communicate are really about manipulating the outcome.”
I walked in the door and said, “I’m done. I cannot do this anymore, I have to leave.”
She looked at me, and because I was sharing how I felt, she could see the pain in my eyes. She could feel the pain from my body, and we had been strategizing and trying to sell this for months and she looked at me and said, “Okay, cool. Where are we going?”
I said, “Calgary,” She said, “Vancouver.” I said, “Done.”
We were gone a few months later. And it was the next step in our journey. But up to that point, I was trying to sell it. I was trying, period. That’s the word. That whole feeling of soul set is what I want to introduce to the world. I believe that we will be happier, more congruent.
I think people will see us, they’ll feel us, they’ll see all of us and they will accept us in ways that we can’t imagine and we’ll begin to accept ourselves in ways that we have never done so before.
Let’s Break It Down
Charlie Hoehn: Wow. I love that. You know what that made me think of, is Charles Bukowski’s grave.
It says, “Don’t try.” That’s all it says. And I think that speaks to feel, stop intellectualizing. It’s when the chatter comes into play and tells you to start strategizing about everything, that you get offset in who you are and what your truth is.
Philip McKernan: Charlie, I want to give you a real life example of this. I did a couple’s retreat, and I had this couple sitting there. My wife began, she joined me for the first time in this couple’s thing and basically, one lady raised her hand and says, “What do you guys do with money?”
And what she wasn’t asking, “What do we do with our money, with the investors? How do we make more money?” It was really physically, “What do you do with your money?” Like joint bank accounts, separate bank accounts, etc. And I said, “What do you do?” And she goes, “Well, we have separate bank accounts.”
And I said, “What do you want to do?” She goes, “Separate bank accounts.” And I looked at her husband and he goes, “I want one bank account.” And you could see energetically, this was an issue for them.
I said to her, “Why is this separate bank bank account important to you?” She said, “Independence. I want to remain and feel independent.”
And I said, “Great.” Now we just hit the stop button, the pause button, the period button there. That’s a very intellectual perspective. And I could go, “Well, here’s what you could do. What about a hybrid, where you have one joint bank account where all of your bills come from, but you have your own separate savings account and so do you.”
And that’s an intellectual response to an intellectual question. The problem is, she was asking really, she was looking for an emotional solution, but looking forward in an intellectual capacity. I said, “Okay, talk to me about independence.” And I looked at her and I said, “Before you open your mouth, I want you to take a breath. You have your separate bank accounts right now, do you feel independent as a woman?”
And she paused and she teared up and said, “No.”
I said, “This has nothing to do with bank accounts. You could have 25 bank accounts in your name solely, and millions of dollars in it and it’s never going to make you feel independent. Now, let’s go to independence and what does that mean? Let’s break that down.”
And then we got into the real stuff. We started to get into the me’s, and we got into the reasons why this lady, this woman, this beautiful mother, feels insecure in her own skin and she thinks that an intellectual solution is going to sort out her emotional challenge, and it’s not and it never will.
When I work with people, it’s about getting to the core, these patterns that continue to repeat themselves as opposed to the surface solutions, the Bandaids, which I believe work temporarily, but not in a longer capacity.
The Power of Weakness
Charlie Hoehn: The first time we met, Philip, you told me that people are afraid to talk to you because you ask these piercing questions. Did that ability come from you flipping to being a more feeling person later on in life or have you always been able to do that?
Philip McKernan: I think I was always like that. I think as a kid, I was just a big bundle of emotion walking around the world. I felt that over a long period of time, I began to suppress that, I began to shut that down. I didn’t get rewarded, I didn’t get seen in that way necessarily by society, by people close to me. And I started to shut that down.
I started to see that actually, you get more rewarded in the world when you’re strong. Whatever ‘strong’ is, whether it’s through movies or whether it’s at home.
I think also, and it’s not a direct criticism, but in one way, it is a criticism, that I would have loved to see my parents more vulnerable. I feel that as parents, we feel that we should be strong for our children, and yet, we all would want our children to come to us with the challenges that they face so they would not feel alone.
I don’t believe there’s any greater way than doing and cultivating that over a period of time than allowing your children to see your weaknesses, allowing your children to see your pain, allowing your children to experience a sport or a game that you are shit at and they crush you, or that the you’re both shit at together.
“I think we have a tendency as parents to try to play this strength, this role.”
It is trying, a lot of it is trying. And we should be pillars of strength for them on occasions, but also it’s okay to let your kids know or at least see that you don’t have your shit figured out, because that strengthens your relationship with them.
And looking back, I wish my parents were a bit more vulnerable. I think it would have set me up and allowed me to be okay with my weaknesses, and with my pains, and with my challenges, and with my insecurities, and not necessarily seeing them all as weaknesses. I think that’s probably part of the point here.
Breaking Down Fear
Charlie Hoehn: I’d imagine you get a lot of resistance from people who are like, “I’m freaking out, I’m just scared.” What do you tell those people?
Philip McKernan: Well, it’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s your story, but it’s not about you and it’s not for you, it’s for the world. If you want to create an impact in this world, if you want to leave something that has real meaning. If you want to free yourself and the rest of the world from their own suffering, you have a moral obligation to show both sides of the coin.
That’s the invitation, that’s the challenge, and some people might disagree with that. I don’t really care anymore. I know the power of this, I know what this does, and not one human being has ever been able to either write down our draw a vision or creative a vision board of what they’re going to receive on the back end of this.
With respect, Charlie, I guarantee you, you didn’t know what the outcome of this One Last Talk was going to be, but if I could ask you a question—this is not rehearsed, we didn’t cover this.
If you knew that this was the outcome, the freedom that you would feel, shedding that rain, that heaviness, that rain jacket, that analogy that you’ve described, how it would allow yourself and your wife to connect, how it would allow you to let go even more and show up even more as a man, as a father, as a partner, etc, would you have read the book? If you knew this was going to be the outcome? Probably.
But the thing is, none of us know what’s going to happen, how we’re going to benefit from One Last Talk in advance. And what happens is, the fear that we have that is invoked is almost never the case on the back end.
Another challenge that people face is they think, “What if my dad, hears the talk? What if the person who caused the pain hears my talk?” Think about what people are saying, what if the people close to me hear my truth?
A Story from One Last Talk
Charlie Hoehn: I do want to share this one story of the man who gave his talk in front of his father. Could you share that story?
Philip McKernan: I met Brian at a coffee shop in Florida, and Brian knew about One Last Talk and said to me, “Listen, if there’s ever a possibility to stand on the stage and share the talk, I’d love to do it.” And I said, “Okay. What would you speak about?” And he said, “The five F’s.”
This is a big point as it relates to One Last Talk. I kind of rolled my eyes, not in a deep judgmental way, but almost in a way, “No, no Brian, you don’t get it.” And they didn’t get it because I’ve never explained it. That’s not what One Last Talk’s about it.
So his five F’s are things like freedom, finance, family, whatever all the five F’s represent.
A great philosophy, great framework to live by, and maybe a great framework for people to learn as he teaches and so on, but One Last Talk is not about leaving your lessons and telling the world what it should do, it’s not about speaking about global warming or politics or Donald Trump or any of those things. It’s a bit sharing a part of your personal narrative, but a deeper part of your truth, a deeper part of your story.
I explained this to them. And I shared bad story, bad stories is in the book. And the minute I shared the story, he teared up and he was almost vibrating with fear, both at the same time.
I’ve known Brian for like 10 years. I’d never seen him react to this.
He goes, “Okay, I know what I speak about and I could grade you in.” And he goes, “But I haven’t explained it to you.”
“I said, “You don’t need to, I can see it in your face.””
No, I don’t want people to push themselves to the end of the earth, right to the edge of a cliff, where they’re so uncomfortable and so afraid. That’s not what One Last Talk’s about, because you’ll deliver the talk, you won’t feel it, you won’t work your way through it and it will feel very disconnected because you haven’t done the work to process that.
I’m asking people to push the gauntlet a little bit, to push them further than perhaps they want to go.
Brian stood on the stage and shared in front of his father, who is, I’m not very good on terminology, but is a priest or he is a chaplain or is very religious, let’s just put it that way. And he talked about going through multiple times, where he got somebody pregnant and they had abortions. He talked about being a drug dealer, literally, and so on and so forth.
And his father had never heard any of these stories.
And the reason his father never heard these stores and was never going to hear these stories is because Brian was so ashamed and he was so scared of the man that he seeks validation from the most and wants love and acceptance from the most, judging him.
And at the end of the talk, I remember looking out into the theater in Vancouver, in Canada. I knew his father was to my right. And Brian basically … You could feel the pain of Brian, and you could feel his apprehension. And I remember just saying, “Listen guys, Brian’s father is in the room.”
I didn’t look at him, “I just want to acknowledge a name, without using his real name, just name that he’s here and it must be really difficult for this man to be in this room.”
And at the corner of my eye, a hand went up, and I looked over, and it was Brian’s father, and he wanted the microphone. So we sent a microphone over to him.
He held the microphone, and people assumed that the microphone was dead, or that we had a technical issue.
He could not speak because he was uncontrollably crying, shaking, vibrating, tears pouring out of his face. And the next words were something along the lines of, “I am so proud of the man you’ve become and the father that I see you are.”
And the whole room just like melted, and Brian completely collapsed because he had waited his entire life to hear those words from this man, and felt that they were never going to come ever. And they came in the place, in the location, in the context, in the environment, in the energy, that he least imagined it would show up.
Charlie Hoehn: You’re giving people something even deeper. The core of their soul is brought out and you’re giving them a safe place for it to be seen and accepted and loved, and it’s just, it’s astounding.
Philip McKernan: And what’s really important, Charlie, is what people have chosen to do as a result. So when they free themselves of this truth, of this pain, of this story, of this, whatever it is, your creativity starts to grow.
You start to see parts of yourself that you never imagined. You start to see possibilities that didn’t previously exist. This is not just a one off, deliver your One Last Talk and that’s it. Number one, is because you can come back and do another One Last Talk maybe 12 months later or six months later, because there are always new chapters and new areas within your body. As you shed one layer, there’s another One Last Talk that starts to emerge, but I wouldn’t ask people to obsess about it. Every year, maybe revisit the book and reread it and go through it again.
But what we’ve also noticed is that the amount of people that go on to do stuff that has been on their peripheral, executing stuff that they never imagined they would do, that’s the exciting part.
It’s not just about kind of a healing and cleansing and letting go, it’s about the immense clarity that you start to see on the other side of this, and the acceptance that you have and the permission you give yourself to step out into the world and deliver something with a bit more venom, a bit more impact.
That’s the thing that excites me even more, because what’s beyond your One Last Talk is also intriguing and incredible for me as somebody who gets to sit back and watch a lot of these things unfold.
Philip’s Favorite Story
Charlie Hoehn: What’s been your favorite example of somebody who delivered their One Last Talk and they started going out and doing incredible things in their world and in their business?
Philip McKernan: For some of us, it’s completely intangible, we can’t even measure, but report of just a lightness, a freedom, a lack of fear, and giving themselves permission to do the thing they’ve always wanted to do.
Brian is an example of that. Brian wrote his book, his philosophy around the five F’s and published his book. That was something he was scared shitless to do and perhaps may never have done. I don’t know, I’m not trying to take credit for that. I’m giving him 100% credit because of his courage, but he would put it down to a lot of it to that experience. To my surprise, we’ve had other people say, they’ve gone out and set up professional soccer teams.
We’ve had somebody else who talked about suicide and wanting to take their own life and it was the part of the story that they were most ashamed of. And when they share their One Last Talk, they end up getting phone calls and start advising people who had suicidal thoughts, not on a deep psychology way or therapeutic way, or psychiatric way, but just basically giving their perspective, and people reached out like cousins and friends and they were shocked that people would reach out to them.
Another woman who spoke about her son committing suicide, had parents reach out to her. She’s now volunteering and working with parents and working with kids.
It’s been endless, it’s been absolutely endless. These are just the ones we hear about. There’s also other ones that we don’t know about, and also the intangible ones that we can never measure as well, which has been amazing.
Charlie Hoehn: I can’t imagine the ripple effect that this book is going to have. Truly, I have not been more excited to witness a book coming out and just spreading.
Philip McKernan: There’s one other area, I believe this whole thing with teams and companies, and without going too far off on a tangent, there’s a lot of research to show us companies that build a team in order to build and scale a business. That’s what the founder or the directors or the board of directors or the shareholders want.
“There’s a lot of research to show that the people within the organization want to truly connect.”
They want to feel authentic and they want to feel competent in what they do. And what we’ve done is we’ve experimented with bringing this into the workplace even, without getting off into too much detail, what I’ve done is I’ve created a whole concept called team deepening.
And going back to this vulnerability piece is that, companies are nervous of bringing emotional conversations and deeper vulnerability conversations into the workplace. I think they’re missing an enormous opportunity, because say, John who works in accounting and everyone’s scared of John and John is rude and John’s a bit of an asshole. John wasn’t born an asshole—I’m exaggerating to make a point—John has become an asshole and has become defensive and has become angry because of his story.
And when you can create an environment where you get to hear John’s truth—not a story, his truth, because your story can be so very peripheral.
You get to hear his truth, you get to hear how he grew up. What happens is people literally start to fall in love with him, and they started to let their guard down.
He lets his guard down, you have cohesiveness and connectedness and a sense that people will go to bat for you. I brought an executive team to Ireland for four days for a team deepening experience.
And one of the exercises I did was I got people to write their one last letters. The founder of the company wrote his one last letter and chose to share it in front of his team. He shared his one last letter with tears pouring down his face. Everyone in the room, there were seven of their senior executive team with me, they all started crying.
I could have just put them on a plane and sent them home. Because in that moment, all of the politics, all of the bullshit, all of the subsidies, all of the nuances that get in the way of them executing every single day as a team and building a business that matters, just went away.
I’m not saying they’re not going to have challenges, but they got to see the essence, the core, the soul of this man, and all of the little judgments and the little nuances and the frustrations, just melted away. And in that moment, they came together in a way that they’d never been able to do so before.
So the application for One Last Talk, I believe is bigger and wider than individuals.
It is within organizations that I encourage people to take this concept, bring it into your organization with or without us and deliver your One Last Talk, how Peggy who makes the tea, and John who cleans the toilets, next to Mary, who’s the CEO of the company and next to Henry who’s the COO, and they all deliver their One Last Talks maybe once a month, once a week, whatever, over a period of time. I’m telling you, if you want to do that, you will deepen the team spirit in a way that nothing has done before.
No clay pigeon shooting, no going out and drinking, no bowling, no, any of these types of things that we typically do, team building has done before. This will do it for you, I can promise you that.
Connect with Philip McKernan
Charlie Hoehn: How can people get in touch with you or use that format? What’s the best way for them to do that for their company?
Philip McKernan: Well, we can support them in that, but they can reach out to us through onelasttalk.com. And we’re coming up with creative ways to support people and we’re not attached to having to be part of everything. We’re going to create PDFs and little manuals so people can take this.
And we’re not trying to monetize every part of this. This is a movement, this is a gift to the world.
It’s very difficult sometimes because if you think about a concept or something that generates a lot of interest, the typical way of looking at is, “How do we monetize this?” We’re choosing to begin to roll this out and we’re trying to do it in a way that we’re not even thinking about monetization at this point.
I’m not saying we won’t monetize aspects of it, because we need to pay for bills and lights and all that kind of stuff. My vision is that companies can do is with or without us, so we want them to bring it in, we don’t want to be scarce around this.
This is too important for Philip McKernan to hold onto, to grab, to squeeze, and to be scarce about. It’s way bigger than me. This is way more important than me and my ego and everything that I want out of this. We have to let this go in a way that we can imagine and in a way that we can’t.