137: Longevity and Purpose with Billionaire Dwayne Clark
Today’s guest is Dwayne Clark. Dwayne is the founder of Aegis Living, a national leader in senior assisted living and memory care, and the winner of Glassdoor’s Top 50 Companies To Work For award. He’s also an author, playwright, sculptor, podcaster, and much, much more.
Dwayne lives what I call the Job Optional lifestyle. He continues to do the things he does because he loves doing them – and has built his life to ensure that he gives back to those who helped him along the way. In his newest book, 30 Summers More, he shares bite-sized wisdom and research to help us live our best lives as we move into our senior years.
Today, Dwayne joins the podcast to talk about what it means to give back and create for the greater good, how to escape ruts of boredom, and the actionable steps we can take to live longer, happier, healthier lives.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- The profound lesson Dwayne learned from having to steal potatoes as a teenager – and how it led him to create the Potato Soup Foundation to help others in times of trauma.
- Why billionaires have a responsibility to give back and create for the greater good – and how repaying your debts to friends, family, employees, vendors, and customers helps you find purpose in life
- How people working long hours can divorce themselves of “noise events” and fill their downtime with activities that are more personally beneficial and productive.
- How to keep support networks for older adults – and what Dwayne has learned from working with so many individuals with memory loss.
- How interviewing Carlos Santana revealed one of the greatest insights Dwayne has learned in his adult life.
- “Purpose is the longevity elixir that we should all be drinking.” – Dwayne Clark
- “I need you to let go of the past with the one hand that’s holding onto it because your future is going to be so heavy. You need both hands to carry this out.” – Carlos Santana
- Aegis Living
- My Mother, My Son
- Saturdays with GG
- A Big Life
- 30 Summers More: Adding Time Back to Your Aging Clock
- 60 Years of Wisdom – YouTube
- Walk This Way Podcast
- The Earthing Movie
- Strategic Coach
Offer valid in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, to first-time requestors. During the offer period, receive one (1) in-stock book per request. Limit (1) book per week per household. Limit three (3) books total each calendar year, between January 1 and December 31. Offer valid while supplies last. Howard Bailey Financial, Inc. reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify this offer at any time. Void where restricted or otherwise prohibited.
Casey Weade: Dwayne, welcome to the podcast.
Dwayne Clark: Thank you. I’m really excited to be here.
Casey Weade: Hey, it’s exciting to have you. I’ve had the opportunity to dive into your book and you just have such a wide range of life experiences to share with our audience. And you’re in that age group. You’re in what I call job optional, but you continue to work because you love what you do. And so, we’re going to get into purpose. We’re going to get into some health habits. We’re going to talk about some of your books. And I can’t wait to get into some of those things. But you’ve got such an interesting background. I want to make sure we get there first. And I want to kick it off with something that I’ve seen in a lot of different areas. And doing my research on you, Dwayne, potato soup seems to come up a lot. And I think to you, potato soup means something a little bit different than it does to the average American.
Dwayne Clark: Yeah. Well, this was an incident that occurred many years ago, probably 45 years ago when I was in high school. I was raised by a single mom, kind of a poor working family. I was the youngest of four children. I was kind of a juvenile delinquent, to be honest with you. And my mom took me out of public schools, moved me 100 miles to a private Catholic school and started – I had to retake my sophomore year over. Because my first sophomore year, I decided it was more for racing cars and dating girls than it was for school. And so, I started my life over in this small Catholic school in a town called Walla Walla. It’s now more famous for its wine than anything else. And my mom came home from work one day and she was kind of solemn. She walked in the door in our small studio apartment and she said, “We have no money.” And smart Alec, sixteen-year-old kid, “Well, what’s new?” And she walked over to the refrigerator. She didn’t spar with me. She opened the refrigerator, looked in. There was like a half a can of condensed milk, a cube of butter, and an onion.
And she said, “We’re going to have to steal some food from work.” And I looked at her. My mom was like the most ethical woman. She never stole anything in her life. And she said, “I think we’ll steal some potatoes so we can live off potatoes for a couple of weeks. I’ll make potato soup.” So, that was a very weird experience for a high school kid to experience. We made like bank robbers at 4:00 in the morning. She went in. We took a five-gallon bucket of big white bucket of potatoes and made off like a bank robber and I would say, “I’ll take steaks.” She actually gave me a good whack across the face. “I’m not going to take anything expensive and I want you to know I’m going to pay these back and I’m going to pay them back with interest.” And we did. When she got paid, she paid the potatoes back and even more. But it was a profound experience for me during those two weeks where she would say, “Hey, I know you’re going to reach some level of greatness. I know you’re going to have employees that work for you. But never underestimate the fact that they could be going through some severe hard times. Always be in touch with your employees and they’ll be there for you.”
And that was a profound lesson for me. I’ve been in business 35 years now and probably no greater words have had an impact on me. So, when I started my company, we started the Potato Soup Foundation, and it helps people in times of trauma. I mean, we’ve helped people in cases of domestic violence where people’s homes burned down, when people have medical tragedies, when people’s parents die. And so, the fund has been incredible. And what I’m most proud of about the Potato Soup Foundation is that our staff started contributing to it. So, staff that are not highly compensated people, there’s over 500 people that even if it’s $5 a paycheck, they contribute to it. So, we created an organization of sustainability where our employees care for one another, which I think is amazing.
Casey Weade: Yeah. And that potato soup, I take it you haven’t stolen any potatoes since.
Dwayne Clark: I’ve been potato-stolen free. No, I think our company’s done very well and now is just my time to give back and hopefully no one else will be in that situation ever again in your life that knows me anyway.
Casey Weade: Well, I know your mom’s meant a lot to you and she’s helped get you to where you are today with a lot of the lessons that were taught along the way. And one of the things that came up in some of my research is you just striving to live, in your words, the greatest life possible.
Dwayne Clark: Right.
Casey Weade: And I wondered that’s kind of a difficult thing to wrap our head around. And that’s a different definition for everyone. How do you define greatest life possible?
Dwayne Clark: I think the definition is different for everybody. Correct? I mean, your greatest life possible may not be my greatest life possible and vice versa. I think one of the things my mother gave me and I now have nine grandchildren. I only have two children but nine grandchildren and when they talk to me about parenting, one of the things that I advise them to is I say, “One of the greatest gifts my mom gave me was confidence.” Every day she would tell me, “Hey, you’re going to present the United States. You’re going to do this. You’re going to be a CEO.” Your program center of your brain starts believing this stuff so you don’t think that it’s weird that you accomplish these incredible feats. You just think it’s your path. And so, when I thought about my greatest life possible, what I wanted to avoid is boredom. A lot of people wanted to reach material success and have a huge balance sheet and stuff. I’ve accomplished those goals. Our company owns almost $3 billion in real estate. So, been very successful that way but that’s not for me the greatest life possible. For me, it involves having a variety of things that you’re very passionate about.
So, I own a film company. I’m writing my sixth and seventh book right now. My book that I wrote about my mother called My Mother & My Son is being made into a Hollywood movie right now. I wrote a play that’s traveling. I took up sculpting a year ago in Italy. Every year I go to Italy to be taught by a master. So, what I never wanted to happen for myself is to be bored. And a big part of that is I feel like I have a duty to give back. And so, all the books I write, the movies I do, everything, all that, all those funds, the profits go to charity. We have a chain of coffee shops called the Queen Bee coffee shops that were dedicated to my mom. A hundred percent of the profits go to charity. We’re building our fourth one right now. So, I think a lot of people say, “What’s my greatest life?” And people think, “Oh, I’m going to have this great boat and go fishing and golfing every day.” And for me, there’s an absolute corresponding statistic about what you do in your elderly years and how long you live. And so, there’s good studies behind this that if you retire at 62 and you just go golfing, you’re going to live less than the guy who has this passionate career, maybe works a little longer and gets into philanthropic endeavor.
And the greatest example, that’s the presidents of the United States and we can talk about a study that I did with presidents and why Jimmy Carter is still building houses for Habitat for Humanity houses at 95. And his brother died of pancreatic cancer at 52. His sister died at 56. His dad died at 57. All of pancreatic cancer. Here he is, 95, climbing on roofs and so on. And it’s purpose. That is the longevity elixir that we should all be drinking.
Casey Weade: You know, was there a transition point for you throughout your life where you realized, “Okay. Now I do have enough. Maybe it’s not about money, but you had been focused.” We all need to feed our families. There’s this Maslow’s hierarchy of needs thing that happens throughout our lifetime. And at some point, we go, “Okay. I do have enough. Maybe I don’t need to make any more money and I can focus on more of these philanthropic pursuits or focus on some of my passions.” Was there a transition point that you went through at some time during your life where you realized it wasn’t about money?
Dwayne Clark: Well, I wouldn’t use the word it’s not enough because enough for what? You know, the greatest longevity programs in the world right now are being done by Google and they’re being funded privately by the founders of Google. The greatest health care initiatives in the world right now are being done by the Gates Foundation. You know, so enough for what? And I don’t want to wax political here but when we say there should be no billionaires in the world. The issue is I think billionaires have a responsibility to give back and to create for the greater good, for humanity, and so on. And Bill Gates lives half a mile from my house here and he has done so much good in the world. He’s ending diseases. He’s changing sanitation standards and so on. People like that, they’re incredible. And he’s not driving around and buying six new cars every week. He’s a guy that really has the greater good at heart.
So, I don’t cap my potential either in terms of my intelligence, my net worth, my passion but I think there’s a responsibility that we have. And I think a lot of that comes with parenting. I mean, my mom talked about of philanthropic ventures a lot. We didn’t have a lot of money but she would give to the church. She would do things like that. But I think it’s incumbent if you do well, and you have to understand, if you do well financially, you’re not the only one that did it. Your friends, your family, your employees, your vendors, your customers, all of these people that helps you get there, you have a debt to them and that that’s the way I view my life. I think that’s how you have purpose in life.
Casey Weade: Well, I think there’s a lot to be said about all the things that you went through there and, one, being living your greatest life possible, living within your purpose. The purpose itself might mean something different to everyone but I have seen time and time again that the biggest downfall for retirees is boredom. And that is not isolated to just one individual. That’s not a unique thing. Everyone needs to make sure they have a lot of ponies on the track, if you will. They’ve got a lot of different things that they’re involved in that keep them excited. And for some, maybe that’s golf. But let’s make sure it’s not just golf. There’s other things and passions that you’re involved in. And one of those things for you is the assisted living facilities that you’ve built through Aegis. And can you talk a little bit about Aegis and why you founded that company, why you really focused so much time on those efforts?
Dwayne Clark: Yeah. Before I do that, I want to ask you a question, Casey. So, God forbid, you walked out the door and you got hit by a semi and entered the pearly gates tomorrow. What would you consider are your three living artifacts, the things that live beyond your place on this planet, your alive place on this planet? You have three living artifacts.
Casey Weade: I’m going to go with my children and my business and then maybe this is too high level but I’d say all of those families that I’ve touched personally throughout the years.
Dwayne Clark: Yeah, excellent. So, one of the concepts I’m trying to get through to people is to think more about your living artifacts. And I say living because you create them when you’re alive. So, my social-worthy documentaries are a living artifact for me. My books are living artifacts for me. My play is a living artifact for me. The buildings I built are living artifacts for me. The businesses that I’ve built is living artifacts, employees that I have affected, the sculptures that I’ve created. And so, what I think around this topic of purpose is, is we’re all in this spinning ball for a very short period of time. And you don’t know if it’s 40 years or 110 years. We don’t know. So, we should spend a lot more time thinking about how do I make my own place in this world? How do I make a sustainable place in this world with my living artifact that’s going to affect humanity in a positive way? And I think people think about making money. I think they think about buying a house. I think they think about being good parents. But I don’t think we think about our own personal living artifacts, which I think is huge.
Casey Weade: And when we say artifacts, are these items, are these fiscal things we can touch? Could this be humans as well?
Dwayne Clark: Sure.
Casey Weade: It makes me also think along the lines of what we’ve made our BHAG, our big hairy goal over here at Howard Bailey is to become a company that continues to make a positive impact in the lives of our clients, our employees, and our communities in the next 100 years. And that could be an artifact but then you’ve also got the books. You’ve got the TV shows, the podcast.
Dwayne Clark: The only thing I would say about that, Casey, is I think to be a living artifact, it has to be measurable and it can’t be too squishy. And it’s got to be something outside of the norm. Like I think being a father and a grandfather is an incredible artifact but I think it’s the expectation. It’s not a BHAG. And so, I think in terms of creating whatever, hey, I built this phenomenal building. This person had an incredible sense of, they developed this song. They did this movie. Whatever it is, those become the living artifacts of our culture and community. And what is helpful then is then when you leave this planet, the place is a better place than when you entered the world because you created these things. So, I think we would be better as a society, as a country, as a race if we thought this way and that then starts to define purpose because you go, “Well, what are the things I’m passionate about that could be a living artifact?”
I think we got caught in this rut of boredom and I’m going to go heliskiing. I’m going to go golfing. I’m going to go fly fishing. And you retire at 62 and you do those things for 15, 20 years and you’re like, “Yeah, this is my life.” I think if you really want to have incredible longevity and purpose, you’ve got to step outside those lines of comfort. You know, in my conversations, I spent three days with Bill Clinton about three weeks ago and did an interview with them and had lunch and dinner with him. And here he said, “Dwayne, no one in my family has ever lived as long as I have.” He’s 72. He said, “No man has ever lived as long as I am.” So, they have heart problems and other issues and so on. And he said, “The reason that we’re living as long as we are is one reason. It’s purpose.” I mean, that guy needs very little sleep, which I don’t agree with, because I think it’s foundational but his memory is super and his memory is 10 times better than mine. And he could talk for three hours about the most interesting things in the world, that he’s flying around the world speaking and meeting people and involved in international events. The Clinton Foundation is doing great things. Jimmy Carter, the same thing. He’s 95.
Now, here’s an interesting factoid for your listeners. If you look at the average vice presidents who have not become presidents, they’re living about 15 years less than presidents, and you would say, “Huh? What’s the deal there?” We as human beings need to get acknowledged and recognized for our accomplishments. And the vice presidents have a stigma that they’re never fully recognized that they were second fiddle. They’re always under the shadow of the president or whatever. And they’re living fifteen years less than the presidents. So, on average, that’s a pretty significant difference.
Casey Weade: Well, if I’m a V.P. and I’m listening to this right now, if I’m Mike Pence, I’m going to be a little concerned. I might go, “Okay. Dwayne, I get it. But what can I do about it?” What are the things that we can do as a V.P. or just like just an average, ordinary, everyday individual that’s retiring from a factory job, stepping into retirement, going, “Hey, I want to have longevity. I want to live as long as the presidents but I’m never going to get that level recognition. What can we do?”
Dwayne Clark: I think that’s where it comes into what bubbles up inside you in terms of your passion. It doesn’t mean you have to be president of the United States, but it does mean that you have to find this defined purpose beyond work. Most people’s job is not their passions. It’s not their purpose. They have that job because it has benefits. It pays the rent, mortgage, whatever, but it’s not their passion. They’re not living their passion. And so, you have to really sit down with yourself and say, “Hey, what am I passionate about? Maybe I’m going to go rock crack babies in the hospital because it’s just so incredibly powerful for me.” You know, I’ve interviewed I don’t know how many centurions and above and all these people do something. I mean, again, not their typical gardening and so on, but they have some purpose that they go to. I interviewed I think he was 97 years old and he was a shoplifter and he wanted to go and every day he got up, rain or shine and he just wanted to put the shot of an eighth of an inch further than he did the day before. He was 97 years old. It didn’t matter if it’s snowing outside. That was my goal. That was what kept him alive.
I interviewed I think he was an 88-year-old sprinter and he just went up a tenth of a second off his time. It didn’t matter what the weather was. He was out there practice and training. And I think what happens, I’ve cared for about 60,000 elderly with Aegis Living and throughout my career in other companies. I think what happens is we give up off those goals when we retire. We give up on our passions and we just do life and we put it on automatic pilot. And so, for the average listener that’s out there, you have to have some goals that are measurable. You have to have some goals that you’re passionate about. And hobbies are great. Golfing is fine, fishing is fine. I don’t want to get letters from the trade association saying I’m down on golfing and fish. They’re fantastic, but they’re not purpose. They’re hobbies. And you can say what my goal is to get a stroke off my golf score every day. It’s great, but it’s not really helping the world in a greater sense. And so, I think you have to think much more globally about what you do, and that’s going to help you live longer. That is an absolute key in terms of affecting your immune system and helping you stay healthy and living longer.
And what if you found this thing? What if you’re one of the lucky individuals who sat down, you really identified your passion. And if you’ve got any insight on how you might help someone kind of work through figuring out what those passions are, I’d love to hear it, but once you’ve figured out what that passion is, how you’re going to make a positive impact in the world, how you’re going to leave behind this lasting legacy in the way of artifacts, do you define it? Do you come up with a mission statement? Do you put it on your wall, your mirror? How do you utilize it on a forward basis?
Dwayne Clark: Well, I think it’s how things make you feel. You know, and I’ll just give you, for instance. When I wrote this play, it’s called Seven Ways to Get There, and we did, I don’t how many, 60 shows or something, I would sit in the audience almost every show and I would just watch what kind of emotion I would invoke with the way things were written. So, I watch where the laugh line came and when people cried and so on and I’m like, I’m impacting that person’s thought process. And that was really magical for me that I’m impacting how they are viewing a certain topic. So, for me, I got these butterflies in my stomach that says, “Man, I really like this. I’m really all in here.” The same with making a documentary. You know, I’ve made six now and they’re all kind of social worthy films I’ve made once on immigration. I made one on a Hall of Fame basketball player. I’m making one now on an NFL football player. I made one on a women’s Afghan cycling team.
You know, I’ve made one on 80 to 100-year-old tennis players called Gold Balls. I made one on a Holocaust survivor called Big Sonia. And when I watch these movies and the impact it has on people, it’s moving these people in a profound way and that stimulates my passion. I get passionate about it. So, it may be somebody saying, “Hey, I used to play the saxophone when I was in my teens and maybe I just take up the saxophone and start my own band and go out and play for fun.” It’s that butterfly in the tummy feeling that, “Oh, my God, this really lights me up.” I have a variety of charities and one of the charities that I started was one called D-ONE and it’s underprivileged kids of color that are really good athletes that needs some mentoring, some fathering, and some perspective on life. I only take five kids in at a time every year and teach them everything from credit scores to how to build their balance sheet to how to invest. I mean, we talk about FICO scores all the time. I mean, we talk about what to post on social media, how many people don’t make it in pro sports, and so on.
And that the impact that I have on these young men gives me butterflies. You know, I see their lives changing in front of me. And you asked me a question here a few minutes ago about, Aegis Living and why I did it. I always loved to plug and promote my company so I wasn’t trying to avoid your question. But that’s the same feeling I get with Aegis because people come to us with their 83-year-old mom and our trustiness to do an incredible job. That’s incredible worthy work that I feel very blessed to have that responsibility. And when you see a person that comes in and is not very good condition and you turn their health around and their families are so grateful to you, they’re like, “Oh, my God, thank you for running this company.” That’s magical. That’s pretty incredible. And our company has a culture that’s second to none. We were a year-and-a-half ago won the Glassdoor Top 50 Companies to Work For out of almost 700,000 companies nominated.
We won the Top 20 Award again out of 650,000, 700,000 companies for workplace culture. So, the place that we spend time at is so significant and if your work environment is toxic, if it’s bad energy or whatever, that’s going to affect how you feel about life. It’s going to affect your immune system. It’s going to affect your longevity. So, we try to look at this in a very healthy perspective in terms of our company or culture.
Casey Weade: Now, some might be listening that’s going, “Dwayne, I just want to relax, though. I’ve been working to the bone day-after-day and it sounds like Dwayne’s got his hands in a little bit of everything. You must be working 18 hours a day. And I’m just looking for a relaxing retirement. I want to have a meaningful life. I want to have a positive impact in the lives of those that are around me. However, I do want to take some time off. I do want to relax. And I don’t want to feel like, well, I’ve got to get up at six. I’ve got to get to the office by 7:00. I’ve got to get X, Y, and Z done. Then I’m not going to be able to leave until 7. I got to think about it over the weekend.” People want to escape that. What do you say to those individuals that want to escape that, but they still want to have this full life that you’re living?
Dwayne Clark: Yeah. I’m going to respond to that, Casey, in a variety of different ways so hang with me on this. I love cars. I’ve loved cars since I was 7 years old. So, I’m a big car guy and have a car collection and so on. So, let’s say you go out and buy a brand new car. What’s your favorite car, Casey?
Casey Weade: Let’s go with a BMW V12 7 Series.
Dwayne Clark: All right. So, we’ve got this BMW, big, big engine in it. We take it out. We drive it for a week and it’s 20-20, and then we go park it in the garage. We say, “Yeah. Kind of bored with that. I’m into the new Mercedes hybrid now and I’m just going to leave it in the garage.” And you come back in five years and start that car up. It’s well-rested, right? You’ve let it lay on the couch in the garage, so to speak. And, wow, well the tires are flat. The battery’s dead. The belts are corroded. The battery is overflowing with battery acid. You know, everything doesn’t work on it. We as human beings are not that much different than cars. So, the expression is sitting is the new cancer. The fact is our bodies are meant to move. We’re meant to move. And what has happened with the advent of things like this iPhone technology, now from my BarcaLounger, I can turn on the TV, turn on my Sona System, open the gate, lock the doors, turn on the lights, order a pizza and call my cardiologist all at the same time without moving more than a few fingers. That has changed the trajectory of longevity for the first time in almost the history of man. We’re starting to go backwards in longevity. This last year, we dropped about three months. That is significant and that’s a trend that’s going to continue to go backwards unless we start realizing our bodies just like that car, just like that BMW are meant to move.
Now, you don’t have to go out, run a race. Hey, if you can get 8,000 to 10,000 steps in every day, you’re going to be fine because that’s going to ward off all the bad things but your bodies are meant to move. The second way I would answer your question is one of the most important things for me is what I call the morning flow, okay, and think about I know you did your CrossFit this morning. But think about how much time we spend on our morning flow. And let me give you an example of my morning flow. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is I drink about 12 ounces of room temperature water that’s on my nightstand. Now, during the night, your body has secreted anywhere from 12 to 20 ounces of fluid. But what do most Americans do? They get out of bed. They go to the bathroom. They head right for the coffee pot. Well, guess what that does. That dehydrates you.
So, when you drink that 12 and even as much as 20 ounces of water, first thing before you go to the bathroom, your body has released all these toxins during the night. That’s why we sleep. Your body has two purposes when you sleep. One is to get rid of bad dead cells that cause things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, whatever. Your body then expels those bad cells. You’ve got to create this way for it to expel it while we sweat but then you’ve got to replenish it so you create this flow so these bad cells go away. But the second reason we sleep is to regenerate the good cells. It’s the factory. Typically, we need seven hours for the regeneration process to take place. So, the first thing I do is drink that water. Second thing I do is I wake my body up. I don’t leap out of bed. So, I wiggle my toes, wiggle my fingers, stretch. I do a stretch in bed for about five minutes. Then I get up. I go to the bathroom. I let in natural light into my house. I give gratitudes.
“Oh, God,” even if it’s raining, which often it does if you ever been to Seattle, I give my gratitudes. “Oh, wow, the step flowers are really coming in. That’s blooming great. Oh, the lake looks fantastic. Oh, the sun’s out today. That’s great.” I give my gratitudes. By then, before anything else I then go into a 20-minute meditation. So, about half-hour to an hour after I wake up, I do 20 minutes of meditation. And then depending on the day, I’ll go work out and or go for a walk or lift or whatever. And then I take a long shower where I end it with a cool bath that actually invigorates me. A cool shower bath, I should say, where I turn it on, nothing but cold and your body and your brain actually wakes up. It will get rid of the brain fog and you start your day in a much clearer day. Now, I say that, I offer this to you and you may go, “Where is he going with this?” That is how you can have a really fulfilling life. If you just get out of bed, go pee, and grab a cup of coffee, you’re not experienced in the fullness of your brain and your body in that way. So, that’s critically important that you do that.
The third thing in terms of I just want to get up and rest is that you’re not going to live a long life by doing that. And you can rest in a variety of ways. I’m not saying book your day 6 to 6. What I would tell your listeners is avoid the noise in your life. And let me give an example. I was just having this conversation with one of my staff yesterday. They were asking me how I get so much done and I say, “Well, I avoid a lot of the noise in my life.” “Well, what do you mean the noise in your life?” I said, “Well, things that that you get drag into that are absolutely a waste of your time.” And it could be a family drama. Somebody calls you out, “You know, did you hear about so-and-so?” And next thing you know, you’ve spent 24 minutes talking about something toxic and negative that you don’t want to get drawn in. So, you just cut those out of your life.
And the next thing it may be an employee comes in your office, “Hey, did you see that movie? I don’t know what was going on.” And the next thing you know, you’ve spent 18 minutes talking about this movie that you don’t want to see. And you start adding these things up in your day. And I’ve actually had a person do this at a very famous pro-athlete who I banter is doing this right now as we speak. I said, “I want you to log how many of these noise events happened in your life.” And he’s like, “All right.” And so, his calendaring these for one week to see how many of these things unconsciously comes into his world. It could be somebody just ragging on you and then you add this that to say, “Well, hey, that was a six-minute event. That was a 20-minute event.” Wow. There was an hour and 48 minutes in my day where I had noise that really wasn’t productive for my life. Now, I know this probably sounds a little nitpicky to your listeners, but you start adding it up and you say, “Well, there’s 10 hours a week I just found.”
And so, you just divorce yourself of these noise events. Super helpful and then you can take that and put in this stuff that’s really productive, that really has value. And it sounds silly in a sense, but it really works. That makes sense?
Casey Weade: Oh, it makes a ton of sense. We’ve got a lot of similarities with our morning routine. I think the only thing that I’m missing is the bed stretching. I’m not doing the bed stretch, but I’ve checked every single box on everything else that you’re doing there in the morning, just about a slightly different order, but I’m making it all happen and all the same. And so, you said, number one, just move, right? Just keep moving. Keep your energy level up because you’re moving. Number two, maintain a routine. Have a good routine from sleep to your morning routine. Number three, avoid the noise. And I don’t think that’s nitpicking at all. Judging by I’ve got a friend of mine that won’t mind me sharing his name, Jon Vroman one time was sharing with me how much he just hated looking for the saltshaker. And so, for me, it was I said, “Oh, my gosh, how much time do I spend looking for my toothpaste.” So, I went out to Costco and bought about 30 bottles of toothpaste. I put them everywhere. He added up how many hours over his lifetime he’s going to spend just looking for that saltshaker. I did the same thing with the toothpaste. Oh, my gosh, I’m going to spend days of my life looking for toothpaste. In the end, I better knock that thing out and get more efficient.
And it’s really about looking over your lifetime too. I think how much time do I have left? How much time am I going to be spending on these little activities that I could eliminate from my life? There’s longevity, right? We’ve added days, months, years, ultimately, if we pay attention to those little things to our life. That is adding longevity. And some of your spaces you have, I know in Aegis you have a countdown clock. All that goes along these lines.
Dwayne Clark: Well, at our corporate office suite, we took the average lifespan of an American man, American woman we’ve blended together to that 79 years of age and we put it in hours and days. And so, I put a countdown clock that goes backwards. I’ve actually seen people standing in front of it and crying. They’re just looking at it and they’re going, “Oh, my God,” and then below it, it says, “Make today count.” And what we’re really trying to do is wake people up, shake them out of the shoulders. Wake up. You know, come on. This doesn’t go forever. It’s not a linear track until infinity. Your life has a certain time span that it has an endpoint and you have to realize today and I’m going to maximize that. And so, I mean, I love going on vacations and love laying on the beach and hanging out and so on but I budget myself for those things as well.
Casey Weade: And is that along the lines of conscious longevity?
Dwayne Clark: Well, I think everybody’s longevity should be conscious, right? I think most people’s, you know, I interviewed so many people for my book, 30 Summers More, most people thought the average age of people in America was 85, not 77.6 for men and 79.8 for women. Oh, it’s going to live to 85. Oh my God, well, no if you’re a guy, it’s about 77. They’re like, “You’re kidding. I felt like you just took eight years off my life.” But it’s also doing the things that you know can add to longevity. The average person in Japan goes to the doctor 13 times.
Casey Weade: A year or over a lifetime?
Dwayne Clark: A year. Yeah. 13 times a year. In America, we do about four-and-a-half. Now, the interesting part of that is, obviously, Japan is one of the healthiest nations in the world. They live the longest in the world and they’re doing things. They have doctors who are now writing prescriptions for people to do what’s called forest bathing. So, if you come in with high blood pressure before they give you a medication, they’ll say, “Okay. Casey, four times a week for one hour, I need you to go walk in the forest.” And what we found, there’s a concept called biophilia that some hospitals actually found by accident. Are you familiar with this concept?
Casey Weade: No.
Dwayne Clark: So, what we found is nature actually affects our immune systems. We’re people from the Earth. And when we’re out in nature, it has a positive effect, that’s a calming effect that oxygenates our bodies, helps ourselves and it ups our immune system. And so, there was an experiment done in a hospital, I just can’t remember the name of it, but it was done by accident. They had two rooms that were post-op rooms. One faced the garden and one faced a brick wall. And they found continuously the people that came out of surgery that faced the garden were healing twice as fast as the people that went into the brick wall group. And I thought, “Wow, what a coincidence.” Well, it wasn’t a coincidence. It was biophilia, which is really the life of living things. And so, what they found is that I’m looking out, I have a garden of this room that I’m in right now and it is incredibly empowering to look at this. There’s also this whole movement now called earthing. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that where people are actually walking even in the wintertime, barefoot out on the grass and they’re grounding themselves.
And if you think about what happened in the 60s, we got away from being more nature. What happened in the 60s is we started building skyscrapers. I mean, the 60s here in Seattle, we built the Space Needle and had a dining room on top, and everybody wanted to dine in the clouds. The other thing, I’m a lot older than you, but in the 60s and I was a little boy, we used to have these tennis shoes called PF Flyers. They were rubber, big, thick soles and you could run fast and jump high. Well, in the 60s is when we started creating these synthetic soles with rubber and so on. It took us further off the earth. And then we developed things like thick pile shag carpeting and everything. We got further and further and further away from nature and natural products. And so, now the theory is, well, we’re getting further, further away from our natural elements as human beings and that’s having an effect on our health and our longevity. And there’s actually a very good earthy documentary out right now that where they’re showing it’s changing diseases and everything else.
Casey Weade: You know, by any chance of the name of that? If not, we’ll look it up and we’ll put it in the show notes.
Dwayne Clark: I think if you google Earthing Documentary, you’ll find it.
Casey Weade: Okay. Yeah. I’ve been really interested in the whole grounding piece. I’ve got the kids running outside and they’re barefoot in the winter. And now I’ll get home and say, “All right, guys, let’s go outside, walk around barefoot for a while.”
Dwayne Clark: Yeah.
Casey Weade: You’re talking about longevity. You’re talking about 75, 85 years old, and then you’ve got this countdown clock. And I wonder what your thoughts are. I don’t know if you know who Dan Sullivan is of Strategic Coach. It’s a business coaching group that I attend every quarter. And Dan is one of those who believes he’s going to live to 156 years old and he’s currently 75. There are other individuals that are in this group that are in the longevity field, in the biology field, the research field. And they believe they’re going to live into their 150, 170s. Do you feel like there’s any validity to those types of claims? Given that we’re going backwards.
Dwayne Clark: Yeah. Let me answer it in a variety of ways. Is it possible to live to 170? Probably not. I think if you lived in a perfect environment, you could probably live to 120, 130. But the reality is we don’t live in a perfect environment. Let’s say you eat the best foods and everything else. Well, even the best foods are polluted. I went on an all-fish diet. I was going to give up meat. I just ate fish and I did it for three months. My mercury counts went through the roof.
Dwayne Clark: Right. Tuna and swordfish.
Dwayne Clark: Well, I wasn’t eating high mercury fish. I was eating fresh salmon and sole and halibut, everything else. The problem was our waters are so polluted and the things we’re flushing into our waters that they had immense mercury and lead. And so, I wasn’t eating high mercury fish. And so, my doctor said, “Stop eating fish for two weeks and see what happens.” I stopped and my mercury count went right back to normal. So, even if you think you’re doing absolutely the greatest things, the environment is ruining our bodies. So, it starts with food, extends to your dry cleaner, the air you breathe, the water you drink, everything. I’m very picky. You know, I drink oxygenated water. I drink Essentia. I have all organic food. I mean, I do all those things. Do I think I’m going to live to even 100? I don’t. I think I can live to 93. In fact, on my vision board, I have a big 93 in the middle of it and that’s where I’m going.
Now, here’s the thing about your friends with wanting to live. I think your brain, again, is part of that huge programming center. So, if you say I’m going to live to 150, you may live 100 and you’re fine. The body is really built to live to about 120, 130 years old. I mean, it is manufactured too but you better be in an incubator by the time you’re one day old to avoid all those pollutants and toxins that our world has out there for you. And so, the oldest man in the world just died yesterday. He was 112 in Japan. So, is it possible? Yeah, maybe. I think, again, some of these guys that own these large companies like Google and the Gates and so on, I think they’re going to do a tremendous amount to advance longevity. But, Casey, look, right now, I have had four major trips planned for the summer. I was on the phone with our executive travel agent an hour ago and she’s like, “Well, we have a pandemic. I don’t know if any of these are going to happen.” So, I mean, you could be running every day and eating organic and your blood pressure could be 100/ 60 and your cholesterol 110 and you get hit with a pandemic and it’s like it’s over. So, our world’s imperfect from a health standpoint.
Casey Weade: Well, we should be focusing on our purpose every day. However, we still want to live a long life. And so, I’m curious, we talked about you struggling with eating fish. All of a sudden, you can’t eat fish. Fish, you’re supposed to be what’s good for you and maybe there’s research out there saying the same thing about vegetables. I don’t know. But it seems like everything can be really good or really bad for you next day. And so, what does your dining regimen look like? What does your diet look like overall? Maybe you want to throw in there a little bit about supplements as well?
Dwayne Clark: Well, I think everybody’s different, right? I don’t know if you’ve got into any of the blood type eating and so on, but I think that has some real interest and significance. So, especially with blood type eating tells you if you’re A or B, AB+, or whatever, you can go down and check your blood type and it tells you what foods interact with your chemistry. And I think that’s significant. So, I tend to fall blood type eating, which means I don’t need a lot of dairy. Very little red meat. Try to avoid sugar. I think sugar is bad for everyone but particularly bad for my blood type. And you know, there’s also blood type exercise. And so, certain people are built to exercise certain ways. You know, I played football in high school. I was on the track team in college. I was a shot putter. And so, I was never meant to be a sprinter. I mean, I graduated high school. You know, I played nose guard on the football team. I weighed 243 pounds. So, I’ve never been a little guy. You know, I’ve always been a big kind of bulky guy, lifted a lot of weights and so on.
So, I think you have to eat for your body type and stop looking at the fashion magazines saying, “I should look like the guy on the cover of Men’s Health.” It’s probably not going to happen. But look at your vitals and see what’s happened. What’s your cholesterol? What’s your blood pressure? What’s your blood sugar? How are those things happening? I think the height/weight chart should be lit on fire because, I mean, I know pro athletes that are 5’9 and weighed 235 pounds and they have 4% body fat.
Casey Weade: They’re obese.
Dwayne Clark: Yeah. So, You got to lose 55 pounds. So, I think that’s a big deal. So, you just have to eat for your body type. You have to eat for what’s good for you.
Casey Weade: And when it comes to exercise, do you believe you talk about your body type being different. You need types of different types of exercise. Is there a general theme as we age? We go from our 30s into our 60s. Should we be exercising differently in our 60s than our 30s?
Dwayne Clark: Absolutely.
Casey Weade: What should that look like? How should that evolve? Then what if you’ve never exercised before? Where do you even start?
Dwayne Clark: Well, first of all, I hate the word exercise because it has a negative connotation, “I have to go exercise.” I live in Europe two to three months of the year. You never hear people talk about exercise. In fact, it’s very hard to find a gym. But what you see everywhere is people riding their bikes, people playing soccer in the parks, people walking, people climbing stairs. You see this everywhere. And they’re much healthier than we are. They live in Italy two years longer than Americans. So, you look at that. You say, “Okay. Well, maybe we got it all wrong. Maybe we shouldn’t be in the gym. Maybe we should just go walk for an hour-and-a-half every day.” And I used to lift very heavy. I mean, even into my 40s, I was bench pressing over 300 pounds. And I thought, well that was the thing. I would have a big chest, big biceps playing to my ego. Well, now I have shoulder problems. I have elbow problems because I lift too heavy at the wrong age.
Now, I use bands. I use very lightweights, do more reps. I hung out with Sylvester Stallone a year ago and was interviewing him about his exercise regimen. He goes, “I don’t lift weights anymore. I do Pilates, I use bands, I do yoga.” So, the older we get, the more flexibility we need. And the big, big thing, Casey, the big thing, and this is something I’m hugely passionate about is balance. Because with the number one way that people die when they get old is they fall. They fall. They break a hip. They go in the hospital. They’re on their back for 30 days. They get pneumonia and they die of respiratory failure. So, if you look at how people die, they’re like, “Oh, they died of respiratory failure.” Well, that’s terrific but it’s not really truthful. What they died of is poor balance because they tripped or they just fell.
That’s why drinking water when you get elderly is so incredibly important because a lot of people don’t consume enough water, that the 80-some generation consumed a lot of coffee. Again, dehydrates your body, makes you dizzy, and it caffeinates you so they feel good. They feel energized. But drinking water is one of the most powerful things you do. And then doing balance exercises. When you’re brushing your teeth, stand on one foot for 60 seconds. When you’re watching TV and the commercial comes on, try to stand on one foot for three minutes while the commercial is on. Do that. Program your brain to balance and you’ll be glad you did.
Casey Weade: Well, I could probably stay on this topic with you. I know I could on health for a long time, but I got to get in to with nine grandkids. I just really want to get into that. I’ve got a lot of grandparents listening and you’ve written a couple of books for children and maybe even for your grandchildren here. And so, I want to get into that. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in those things and one is Saturdays with GG, and that is a children’s book on dealing with grandparents with Alzheimer’s. Why did you decide that that was a book that needed to be written?
Dwayne Clark: Well, I think there’s a lot of fear from little kids about Alzheimer’s. All of a sudden, your grandmother or your great grandmother starts acting different and you don’t understand it. It’s difficult for a parent to explain, well, she has a brain disease that’s affecting her emotions and the way she talks to people and so on and so forth. So, I wrote a book. GG was what my kids called my mother, a great grandmother, and so they would call her GG. And so, I put my mom as a character in the book and tried to explain what was going on in the process of Alzheimer’s. And again, I think it’s a great book to kind of say, “Hey, this is still a person you love, but they’re going through a little disease problem that may make them act a little different now.” And the book kind of goes into how some of those patterns typically manifest. So, that was the first book I wrote and then…
Casey Weade: Well, and what can parents learn from that as a parent or as a grandparent? I mean, you know your mind’s failing. I mean, you’ve had this diagnosis. What do you think you should be doing at that moment and communicating to your children, grandchildren?
Dwayne Clark: Well, one of the things I often see because we deal with this problem all the time with Aegis Living but one of the things that parents will try to do is keep the children or grandchildren away. That’s the worst thing you can do because they’re fearful that they may say something inappropriate and it will shock the kids or whatever. And one of the things that parents can do is you got to educate your kid. This is part of life. I mean, we used to do the same thing with Down Syndrome kids 50 years ago and say, “Oh, those are different,” and call names and some. But the key to success here is this integration about how we communicate and educate our children, that these are still part of our family, that’s still part of our neighborhood, our community, part of our loved ones. But here’s what’s happening with them now and that’s going to make your kids smarter.
You can do that even at the age of five years old. You can tell them. You’re not going to give sophisticated scientific terms to them. You’re not going to say, “Oh, your grandmother’s experiencing Lewy bodies disease today.” You’re going to talk to them about, “Hey, she’s a little confused right now and here’s what’s happening and that’s okay. You can still love grandma and so on.” So, I think education and that’s what the book strives to do is educate and be used as a teaching tool for more parents to help their kids.
Casey Weade: Well, there’s also some benefits there for those who might be suffering from Alzheimer’s. You wrote in your book that you should have friends that are 20 years younger than yourself. Well, making sure you continue to bring those kids and grandkids around grandma could lead to a better life. I’m sure you’ve seen that in Aegis.
Dwayne Clark: Well, yeah. Well, that’s the support system, right? And when a person is going through that disease process, you need the biggest support system as you can possibly have. The last thing in the world you want to do is start whittling away the support system and the things that bring that patient the most joy and smiles on their faces, their grandchildren, and you start separating them and say, “Oh, kids can’t go anymore.” That’s a devastating impact for the person who’s afflicted.
Casey Weade: If you get this type of diagnosis, you might begin thinking, “Well, what can I do today to make sure I retain some of this memory?” Some of these things that I want to pass on to my children, grandchildren, maybe their grandchildren that are only two or three years old. Maybe they aren’t born yet and you want to make sure that you pass on the wisdom that you hope to impart on that next generation or the generation that follows. Would you do something like you did? You wrote that big book, A Big Life, wisdom for my children. That seems like a good step to take in that time of your life.
Dwayne Clark: Yeah. Because my life has been so dominated with people who have memory loss, I wanted to say, “Hey, if I have to write down 100 things that I want my grandchildren to know, what would it be?” You know, I think ironically, Casey, I thought I would write this book in a week. I would sit down or write down 100 things. It took me about two-and-a-half years to write this book because first I’m like, “Well, that’s not that important. I’m going to go back and change that. Oh, I forgot this.” And even now I go back and I go, “Oh, I wish I would have put these five things in that book and so on.” And so, I wrote this book called A Big Life and it was just originally meant for my grandchildren. It’s going to be circulated in my family. And I showed it to a few of my friends, and it became so popular that people said, “Well, I want to give that to my children or my grandchildren. I want to show them how our family does it.”
And what ended up happening with the book was really kind of an interesting thing. We made it into a game where you can buy it now and has dice and you roll it and it corresponds with the page and you open the page and you tell the story of whatever it is. And it makes no difference to me if you think my words are profound or resonate with you or whatever. What happened is that it created a storytelling stimuli. And so, now families open up and they’ll say, “Oh, always buy the dirt, not the curtains.” That’s one of the expressions in there and it’s about buying a home. You know, it’s like really focus on the location, not the prettiness inside. And so, now people will say, “Well, I remember when my grandmother bought this house and now it’s been in our family for, you know. And she wanted a house down the street. And grandpa said, ‘No, this is a great location.’” So, I get now what is really fulfilling and this goes back to our living artifact conversation. I get these emails or text or phone calls or whatever, like I found out about this about my husband’s family and I’ve been married to him 25 years and I never knew this existed.
So, it’s bringing up all the storytelling. And now people take the book on vacation. They take it to the beach. They take it on road trips that and they’re creating this dialog with their children that they would have never had had had the book not stimulated this conversation. And that’s been really, A Big Life has really changed a lot of people’s relationship with their own family because of that.
Casey Weade: Now, if you could just impart one piece of wisdom onto your children or grandchildren, what would that be?
Dwayne Clark: Oh, man, you’re putting me on the spot. I would just say be kind. Be kind. I think that can serve everybody well. Just be kind to other people. And it’s harder sometimes than it sounds but just be kind to people.
Casey Weade: Yeah, that’s good. That’s great. If I may, as we wrap up with a couple of minutes left, maybe I can just get into a couple of general, little more philosophical questions.
Dwayne Clark: This has all been philosophical.
Casey Weade: I was going to say, it really has been but you’ve met so many people. You’ve had I think it’s probably more than this now but over 60,000 residents through Aegis in the assisted living facilities and you’ve got to spend some quality time with a lot of your guests. And I wonder, do one of those residents stand out to you? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from one of your residents?
Dwayne Clark: Well, I mean, I’ve had some incredible people from the guy that worked on the Manhattan Project that created the nuclear bomb to the woman who invented Cheerios, to the woman who played Jane in Tarzan movies. So, I’ve gotten to know some incredible people. But I think what they’ve taught me has influenced the things that I’m doing to a great degree. One, your life will go by very, very fast. They say that it will go by so fast that when you hit 80, you go, “How did I get here?” So, don’t waste a minute on the noise as we talked about or doing something you hate doing. If you’re in a job that you hate, if you’re in a marriage that you hate, if you’re in a friendship that you hate, don’t waste a minute because those will be your regrets. So, don’t do that. I think the second thing people talk about is always what we would think they talked about is family, the moments that you have with family, the special moments that you created these lasting memories that you’ll laugh about, talk about for generations. I think that’s important. You know, I mean, they’re talking to these people that are 100+ years old. No one ever says, “Oh, I wish I’d done that deal. I wish I made another $100,000 or I wish I’d spent more time with that.” I mean, that just never happens. It just never happens. So, I feel very blessed. I call my residents, my oracles.
And in fact, for my 60th birthday, I’ve made a video that’s now gone viral on YouTube called 60 Years of Wisdom. You can find it on YouTube. And it’s me narrating what I learned over 60 years from all these people. And I think that’s been a profound gift for me. It’s really shaped my life and probably shaped my legacy and my children and grandchildren’s lives as well.
Casey Weade: Well, that’s really made. We’re going to make sure you put a link to that in the show notes so that people can catch that video. I’m surely going to go back and give it a watch myself. I know you’ve interviewed some amazing people. You mentioned some of them here. You know, Stallone, you’ve interviewed presidents of United States, actors, and athletes. If you could pick one of those individuals, who stands out the most, who’s made the biggest impact?
Dwayne Clark: Oh, man. Now you’re going to have people mad at me. You know, I interviewed Carlos Santana and it was funny. I asked him to speak. And I said, “Carlos, I don’t want you to talk about anything that you’ve done before. I don’t want you to speak about anything. I want to be vulnerable on stage.” And I tend to tell a lot of people that because like you, Casey, I don’t want a canned presentation. And he got out. Well, first of all, he was in the green room and he was really nervous. I’m like, “Carlos, this is like 150 people. You don’t have to be nervous.” He’s like, “Yeah, but I don’t have my guitar. I don’t have my band.” And he was like visibly super nervous. And I’m like, “Wow. This guy’s a human being and he’s got a great soul. I love this man.” And he got up and talked about his first marriage and how his marriage had broken up, and he got very emotional about it. And he didn’t say he was suicidal, but he said it was kind of at his wit’s end. And he’s having this conversation with what he kind of termed to his greater being, whether that’s God or whatever.
And he said, “I was ready my life to be over,” and he said, “I had this conversation,” and he said, “I need you to let go of the past with the one hand that’s holding onto it because your future is going to be so heavy. You need both hands to carry this out.” That was so – and the way he told the story was so profound and just so emotional that I think a lot of times we go through life with one hand carrying some baggage that maybe it’s trauma, maybe it’s a bad relationship. Maybe it’s a broken heart, whatever. But that one hand is behind your back so you don’t have both hands available to have this incredible future. And that left an indelible impression on me.
Casey Weade: Yeah. That’s beautiful. That is profound. Thank you so much for sharing that. I wouldn’t have thought that would come from Carlos Santana. So, that’s awesome to hear. I actually came across you for the first time when I was walking through the airport looking for my book, Job Optional, and I noticed 30 Summers More sitting right next to mine on the shelf. And I said, “Who’s this guy?” So, I started looking you up. I said, “Boy, this would just be a great fit for a podcast guest,” and I have gotten the book. I said, “Well, this is a great book that can add tremendous value to a lot of individuals’ lives out there.” And you were so gracious as to send us some books over here at Howard Bailey and we are going to give those away. So, if you’re listening, you want a copy of 30 Summers More, all you have to do to get that copy of the book is write a review for the podcast. You can do that right on your podcast app, scroll down to the bottom, leave a review there or you can go to RetireWithPurpose.com. Click on the podcast tab. It says right there on the top that says, “Leave A Review.”
Leave a review on iTunes, an honest review, and send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org your screen name, and we will send you out a copy at no cost obligation of 30 Summers More from us and from Dwayne here to your doorstep. So, we hope you take advantage of that. I know Dwayne does as well. Dwayne, anything else that you would like to mention where people can connect with you or anything that maybe we missed that you want to hit on before we wrap up?
Dwayne Clark: No. I have a website. It’s DwayneJClark.com. And so, you can find out about where the world I’m in and what I’m doing and projects and so on that I’m around. Follow me on Instagram @DwayneJClark and I tend to do videos and podcasts. I have a podcast called Walk This Way and I have another one called Wellness Warriors. So, Walk This Way is more business-oriented and Wellness Warriors is health-oriented.
Casey Weade: Awesome. Well, Dwayne, I know you’re a bit of a pool shark as well. So, hopefully, we’ll get a chance to play a little pool at some point in the future. Thank you for joining us.
Dwayne Clark: All right, Casey. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.