Episode 73 – Unstoppable Visionary and Two-Time Cancer Survivor with Howard Brown
Yes, Howard Brown is a two-time cancer survivor. As you will discover in our episode, he grew up with an attitude to thrive and move forward. Throughout his life, he has learned about sales and the concepts of being a successful entrepreneur while twice battling severe cancer.
Howard’s life story is one of those events worth telling and I hope you find it worth listening to. He even has written a book about all he has done. The book entitles Shining Brightly has just been released, but you get to hear the story directly from Howards’ lips.
About the Guest:
Howard Brown is an author, speaker, podcaster, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, interfaith peacemaker, two-time stage IV cancer survivor, and healthcare advocate. For more than three decades, Howard’s business innovations, leadership principles, mentoring and his resilience in beating cancer against long odds have made him a sought-after speaker and consultant for businesses, nonprofits, congregations, and community groups. In his business career, Howard was a pioneer in helping to launch a series of technology startups before he co-founded two social networks that were the first to connect religious communities around the world. He served his alma mater—Babson College, ranked by US News as the nation’s top college for entrepreneurship—as a trustee and president of Babson’s worldwide alumni network. His hard-earned wisdom about resilience after beating cancer twice has led him to become a nationally known patient advocate and “cancer whisperer” to many families. Visit Howard at ShiningBrightly.com to learn more about his ongoing work and contact him. Through that website, you also will find resources to help you shine brightly in your own corner of the world. Howard, his wife Lisa, and his daughter Emily currently reside in Michigan.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:20
Hi, and welcome to another episode of unstoppable mindset. Today, we get to interview Howard Brown, I’m not going to tell you a lot because I want him to tell his story. He’s got a wonderful story to tell an inspiring story. And he’s got lots of experiences that I think will be relevant for all of us and that we all get to listen to. So with that, Howard, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Howard Brown 01:44
Thank you, Michael. I’m really pleased to be here. And thanks for having me on your show. And excited to talk to your audience and and share a little bit.
Michael Hingson 01:54
Well, I will say that Howard and I met through Podapolooza, which I’ve told you about in the past and event that brings podcasters would be podcasters. And people who want to be interviewed by podcasters together, and Howard will tell us which were several of those he is because he really is involved in a lot of ways. But why don’t you start maybe by telling us a little bit about your, your kind of earlier life and introduce people to you and who you are. Sure, sure.
Howard Brown 02:23
So I’m from Boston. I can disguise the accent very well. But when I talked to my mother, we’re back in Boston, we’re packing a car. We’re going for hot dogs and beans over to Fenway Park. So gotta get a soda. We’re getting a soda, not a pop. So we add the Rs. They call my wife Lisa, not Lisa. But I grew up I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, a town called Framingham. And I’m a twin. And I’m very unusual. But a girl boy twin, my twin sister Cheryl. She goes by CJ is five minutes older. And I hold that I hold that now against her now that we’re older and she didn’t want to be older, but now she’s my older sister, my big sister by five whole minutes.
Michael Hingson 03:09
Well, she’s big sister, so she needs to take care of her baby brother
Howard Brown 03:12
says exactly. And she did. And we’re gonna get to that because it’s a really important point being a twin, which we’ll get to in a second. But so Britta she Where does she live now? So she lives 40 minutes away from me here in Michigan.
Michael Hingson 03:25
Oh my gosh, you both have moved out of the area.
Howard Brown 03:27
So she she moved to Albany, New York. I moved to Southern then California, LA area and the beaches, and then Silicon Valley. And then the last 17 years we’ve all lived close. And we raised our families together here in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.
Michael Hingson 03:40
What got you to all go to Michigan?
Howard Brown 03:43
Well, for me, it was a choice. My wife is from Michigan, and I was in Silicon Valley. And we were Pat had a little girl Emily, who’s four. There’s a story there too. But we’ll we decided we wanted her to grow up with a family and cousins and aunts and uncles and my in laws live here. My wife grew up here. And this made it closer for my parents and Boston suburbs to get here as well. So great place to raise a family very different from Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California.
Michael Hingson 04:12
Yeah, but don’t you miss Steve’s ice cream in Boston?
Howard Brown 04:15
I do. I miss the ice cream. I missed the cannolis in the Back Bay. I missed some of the Chinese food. So in the north end, but it just it I do, but I have not lived there. I went to college there at Babson College number one school for entrepreneurship. And then when I got my first job, I moved out to Ohio but then I moved back and well there’s a whole story of why I had to move back as well but we’ll get
Michael Hingson 04:41
there. So are your parents still living in Boston?
Howard Brown 04:46
They are and so my dad I call myself son of a boot man. My dad for 49 years has sold cowboy boots in New England in the in the in the western you know the states New York Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. And that’s, you know, anyone who stayed somewhere for 49 years got to be applauded. And he’s a straight commission boot salesman and he sold women’s shoes prior to that. So he he’s, he’s a renaissance man.
Michael Hingson 05:15
Wow. So does he sell cowboy boots with snow treads as it were for the winter?
Howard Brown 05:21
No snow trends but, you know, like out west when you’re working on, you know, on with cattle and working out west and sometimes it’s a fashion statement. Not not too many places in New England like that. But he, he made a living, he enjoyed it. And he’s, he’s just about to retire at the age of 79. This year.
Michael Hingson 05:39
I remember living in Boston and and when I wear shoes with just leather soles, I slid around a lot on the sidewalks and all that so did get rubber rubbers to go over my boots and then later got real boots.
Howard Brown 05:54
Right. So I have the big hiking boots, the Timberlands, but I too have a pair of a you know, in Boston, we call them rabbits, rabbits, robins. And they basically are slip ons that gave you grip. They slipped right over your leather shoes. And you wore them when anyway in the snow and in those sloshing in the mess. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 06:12
And they worked really well. They did. So you went off to college. And I gather kind of almost right from the beginning you got involved in the whole idea of entrepreneurship.
Howard Brown 06:23
Well, I did I transferred to Babson from a liberal arts school called Connecticut College. I just I found out it wasn’t for me and Babson College changed the trajectory of my entire life. i i I knew that I wanted to do sales and then later technology. But Babson was the catalyst for that. They just they support entrepreneurship of all kinds, no matter how you define it, and I just drank it in and I loved, I loved my time there. I love my learning there. And I continue to stay involved with Babson very closely as a past president of the Alumni Association, a former trustee, and very actively recruit students to go there and support student businesses. So it was a big impact on me and I continue to give back to it.
Michael Hingson 07:11
That’s pretty cool. So how, how did you proceed as far as a career and entrepreneurial involvement as it were in in sales and all that?
Howard Brown 07:22
So I had an internship, I had wanted cellular one when cellular phones came out and I was basically learning the business. This is really early 1984 And five, and then I got another internship at NCR Corporation if you remember national cash register 120 year old company based out of Dayton, Ohio, and now it’s in Atlanta, and it’s, it’s just not the same company. But I took an internship there a lot of Babson folks work there. And I worked as a trainer, sales installation rep. I trained waitresses, waiters, bartenders, hotel clerks, night audits, how to use cash register computer systems. So I was the teacher and a trainer. And I would, you know, talk to waitresses and waiters and bartenders and say you can make more tips by providing better service. But the way that you do that is you type you the order into a computer, it zaps it to the order station or the back to the back of the house to cook to prepare the foods or for the drinks. And you can spend more time servicing your table which should translate into higher tips. Well, about a third of them said nope, not for me, a third of them were need to be convinced and a third of them are like I’m in. I had a lot of fun doing that. And then after the shift, the either the manager or the owner would come over and they’d give you a savior at a Chinese food restaurant. They give you a poopoo platter to go to take home to your dorm room.
Michael Hingson 08:46
So I had a lot of fun, a lot of fun and a lot of good food.
Howard Brown 08:50
Sure sure. So that’s what really started me off and hired me
Michael Hingson 08:55
so did that did that concept of tips and all that and advising people ever get you to translate that to Durgin Park?
Howard Brown 09:03
I actually did install the cashiers to computers area ago Daniel hall so the checkerboard you know draped you know cloth on the table and so you know it’s there’s a lot of good restaurants in Boston, you know the union Oyster House with a toothpick but I did countless restaurants hotels bars, you know it was I was basically at the whim of the Salesforce and there was a couple of us that went to go train and teach people and take the night shift and make sure everything was going smoothly as they installed the new system of course the no name restaurant and other one but well you know for for your listeners that no name was a place to get, you know, really great discounted seafood but you sat on a park bench. Remember that?
Michael Hingson 09:50
Right? Oh yeah, definitely. It wasn’t. Well, neither was Durgin park, but I haven’t kept up Is it still there?
Howard Brown 10:00
Yes, I believe it’s still there.
Michael Hingson 10:01
Oh, good. I heard somewhere that, that it might not be because of COVID. But we enjoy
Howard Brown 10:07
down it shut down for a while during COVID I hope it’s back open. I’m gonna have to go now. Yeah, you’re gonna make me go check to see if it’s open. But you know, many of them are still there. And obviously restaurants turn over. But that’s a mainstay that’s got a lot of history.
Michael Hingson 10:19
Oh, it does. And we had a lot of fun with the waitresses and so on at their Compac. I know, once we went there, and you know, the whole story, that Durgan is a place where you sit at family tables, unless we actually have four people then they’ll let you sit at one of the tables for for around the outside. Well, there were three of us and my guide dog when we went in one time. And the hostess said, we’re gonna put you at one of the tables for for just to give more room for the puppy dog. And she sat us down there. Then the waitress came over and as they are supposed to do at Durgan Park, she said, you’re not supposed to sit here. There are only three of you. And I said there’s a dog under the table. No, there’s not. You can’t fool me with that. And the waitress isn’t supposed to be snotty, right. And she just kept going on and on about it. And I kept saying there is a dog under the table. She went away. And then she came back a little bit later. And she said, You’ve got to move and I said no. Why don’t you just look, there’s a dog under the table. You’re not gonna make me fall for that. She finally looked. And there are these Golden Retriever puppy eyes staring back at her. She just melted. It was so much fun.
Howard Brown 11:26
Wouldn’t be Boston if you didn’t get a little attitude. Well, yeah, that’s part of what it’s all about your right next seating. And they just they sit you in a and they say, meet each other and be married.
Michael Hingson 11:38
Yeah, yeah. And it was a lot of fun. So how long did it take you to get to Silicon Valley?
Howard Brown 11:44
Well, so the story is that I did. I worked for NCR and I got hired by NCR, but I wanted out of the hospitality business. You know, even though he’s young work until two, three in the morning, once they shut the restaurant or bar down or the hotel down, and then you do the night audit and you do the records. It was a hard life. So I looked and I did my research. And I said, you know who’s who’s making all the money here at NCR in the banking division. And it was really the early days of the outsourcing movement, punch cards, and you’re outsourcing bank accounts, over 1200 baud modems. And I said, Well, that’s interesting. And so I went to NCRs training at Sugar camp to learn how to be a salesperson were they actually in the early days, they filmed you, they taught you negotiation skills, competitive analysis, Industry Skills, it was fantastic. It’s like getting an MBA today. But they did it all in six months, with mixing fieldwork in with, you know, training at this education facility in Dayton, Ohio. And I came out as a junior salesperson working for for very expansive experience, guys. And they just, I knew one thing, if I made them more productive, they’d make me money. And I did. And I, they sent me to banks and savings and loans and credit unions all over New England. And I basically learned the business of banking and outsourcing to these banks. And they made a lot of money. So that was how my career started. You can’t do better than that. But to answer the question, because it’s a little more complex than that. But it took me NCR in 1988. And then I moved out to Los Angeles in 1991, after a big health scare, which we’ll talk about, and then I moved up in 2005. So there’s the timeline to get me to Silicon Valley.
Michael Hingson 13:29
So you, you definitely moved around. I know that feeling well, having had a number of jobs and been required to live in various parts of the country when going back and forth from one coast to another from time to time. So you know, it’s it’s there. So you, you did all of that. And you You ended up obviously making some money and continuing to to be in the entrepreneurial world. But how does that translate into kind of more of an entrepreneurial spirit today?
Howard Brown 14:00
So great question, Michael. So what happened was is that I built a foundation. So at that time when you graduated school, and as far as for technology, the big computer shops like IBM Unisys, NCR, Hewlett Packard, what they did is they took you raw out of college, and they put you through their training program. And that training program was their version of the gospel of their of their products and your competitors and all that. And that built a great foundation. Well, I moved to Los Angeles after this big health scare, which I’m sure we’re gonna go back and talk about, and I moved into the network products division. So I didn’t stay in the banking division. I looked at the future and said voice data and video. I think there’s the future there and I was right and AT and T bought NCR and, unfortunately, this is probably 1992. They also bought McCaw cellular they had just bought all of Eddie computer. They were a big company of five 600,000 employees and I have To tell you, the merger wasn’t great. You felt like a number. And I knew that was my time. That was my time where I said, I got my foundation built. It’s now time to go to a startup. So your time had come. My time had come. So at&t, offered early retirement for anyone 50 and older, and then they didn’t get enough takers. So they offered early retirement for anyone that wanted to change. And so the talk around the watercooler was, let’s wait they’ll make a better offer. And I was like, I’m 26 and a half years old. I what am I waiting for? So they made a tremendously generous offer. I took early retirement, and I moved to my first true startup called avid technology that was in the production space. And we basically were changing film and television production from analog to digital. And I never looked back, I basically have been with startups ever since. And that, but that foundation I felt was really important that I got from NCR, but I prefer smaller companies and build the building them up from scratch and moving them forward.
Michael Hingson 16:07
Yeah, when you can do more to help shape the way they go. Because the the problem with a larger a lot of larger companies is they get very set in their ways. And they tend not to listen as much as maybe they should to people who might come along with ideas that might be beneficial to them, as opposed to startups as you say,
Howard Brown 16:27
Well, it depends. I mean, you know, you want to build a company that is still somewhat innovative. So what these large companies like Google and Facebook do, and Apple is they go acquire, they acquire the startups before they get too big or sometimes like, it’s like what Facebook did with Instagram, they acquired six people, Google acquired YouTube, and they acquire the technology of best of breed technology. And then they shape it, and they accelerate it up. So listen, companies like IBM are still innovative, Apple, you know, is so innovative. But you need to maintain that because it can get to be a bureaucracy, and with hundreds of 1000s of employees. And you can’t please everybody, but I knew my calling was was technology startups. And I just, I needed to get that, get that foundation built. And then away away I went. And that’s what I’ve done. Since
Michael Hingson 17:16
you’re right. It’s all about with with companies, if they want to continue to be successful, they have to be innovative, and they have to be able to grow. I remember being in college, when Hewlett Packard came out with the HP 25, which was a very sophisticated calculator. Back in the the late 19th, early 1970s. And then Texas Instruments was working on a calculator, they came out with one that kind of did a lot of the stuff that HP did. But about that same time because HP was doing what they were doing, they came out with the HP 35. And basically it added, among other things, a function key that basically doubled the number of incredible things that you could do on the HP 25.
Howard Brown 17:58
Right, I had a TI calculator and in high school.
Michael Hingson 18:02
Well, and of course yeah, go ahead HPUS pull reverse Polish notation, which was also kind
Howard Brown 18:09
of fun. Right and then with the kids don’t understand today is that, you know, we took typing, I get I think we took typing.
Michael Hingson 18:19
Did you type did you learn to type on a typewriter without letters on the keys?
Howard Brown 18:23
No, I think we have letters I think you just couldn’t look down or else you get smacked. You know, the big brown fox jumped over the you know, something that’s I don’t know, but I did learn but I I’m sort of a hybrid. I looked down once in a while when I’d say
Michael Hingson 18:39
I remember taking a typing course in actually it was in summer school. I think it was between seventh and eighth grade. And of course the typewriters were typewriters, typewriters for teaching so they didn’t have letters on the keys, which didn’t matter to me a whole lot. But by the same token, that’s the way they were but I learned to type and yeah, we learned to type and we learned how to be pretty accurate with it’s sort of like learning to play the piano and eventually learning to do it without looking at the keys so that you could play and either read music or learn to play by ear.
Howard Brown 19:15
That’s true. And And again, in my dorm room, I had Smith Corona, and I ended up having a bottle of or many bottles of white out.
Michael Hingson 19:25
White out and then there was also the what was it the other paper that you could put on the samosa did the same thing but white out really worked?
Howard Brown 19:33
Yeah, you put that little strip of tape and then it would wait it out for you then you can type over it. Right? We’ve come a long way. It’s some of its good and some of its bad.
Michael Hingson 19:43
Yeah, now we have spellchecker Yeah, we do for what it’s worth,
Howard Brown 19:49
which we got more and more and more than that on these I mean listen to this has allowed us to, to to do a zoom call here and record and goods and Bad’s to all of that.
Michael Hingson 19:58
Yeah, I still I have to tell people learning to edit. Now using a sound editor called Reaper, I can do a lot more clean editing than I was able to do when I worked at a campus radio station, and had to edit by cutting tape and splicing with splicing tape.
Howard Brown 20:14
Exactly. And that’s Yeah, yeah, Michael, we change the you know, avid changed the game, because we went from splicing tape or film and Betamax cassettes in the broadcast studios to a hard drive in a mouse, right? changed, we changed the game there because you were now editing on a hard drive. And so I was part of that in 1994. And again, timing has to work out and we had to retrain the unions at the television networks. And it was, for me, it was just timing worked really well. Because my next startup, liquid audio, the timing didn’t work out well, because we’re, we were going to try to do the same thing in the audio world, which is download music. But when you do that, when you it’s a Sony cassette and Sony Walkman days, the world wasn’t ready yet. We we still went public, we still did a secondary offering. But we never really brought product to market because it took Steve Jobs 10 years later to actually sell a song for 99 cents and convince the record industry that that was, you know, you could sell slices of pizza instead of the whole pizza, the whole record out
Michael Hingson 21:17
and still make money. I remember avid devices and hearing about them and being in television stations. And of course, for me, none of that was accessible. So it was fun to to be able to pick on the fact that no matter what, as Fred Allen, although he didn’t say it quite this way, once said they call television the new medium, because that’s as good as it’s ever gonna get. But anyway, you know, it has come a long way. But it was so sophisticated to go into some of the studios with some of the even early equipment, like Avid, and see all the things that they were doing with it. It just made life so much better.
Howard Brown 21:52
Yeah, well, I mean, you’re not I was selling, you know, $100,000 worth of software on a Macintosh, which first of all the chief engineers didn’t even like, but at the post production facilities, they they they drank that stuff up, because you could make a television commercial, you could do retakes, you could add all the special effects, and it could save time. And then you could get more revenue from that. And so it was pretty easy sale, because we tell them how fast they could pay off to the hardware, the software and then train everybody up. And they were making more and more and better commercials for the car dealerships and the local Burger Joint. And they were thrilled that these local television stations, I can tell you that
Michael Hingson 22:29
I sold some of the first PC based CAD systems and the same sort of thing, architects were totally skeptical about it until they actually sat down and we got them in front of a machine and showed them how to use it. Let them design something that they could do with three or four hours, as opposed to spending days with paper and paper and paper and more paper in a drafting table. And they could go on to the next project and still charge as much.
Howard Brown 22:53
It was funny. I take a chief engineer on to lunch, and I tried to gauge their interest and a third, we’re just enthusiastic because they wanted to make sure that they were the the way that technology came into the station. They were they were the brainchild they were the they were the domain experts. So a third again, just like training waitresses and waiters and bartenders, a third of them. Oh, they wanted they just wanted to consume it all. A third of them were skeptical and needed convincing. And a third of whom was like, that’s never going out on my hair anywhere. Yeah, they were the later and later adopters, of course.
Michael Hingson 23:24
And some of them were successful. And some of them were not.
Howard Brown 23:28
Absolutely. We continue. We no longer. Go ahead. No, no, of course I am the my first sales are the ones that were early adopters. And and then I basically walked over to guys that are later adopters. I said, Well, I said, you know, the ABC, the NBC and the fox station and the PBS station habit, you know, you don’t have it, and they’re gonna take all your post production business away from you. And that got them highly motivated.
Michael Hingson 23:54
Yeah. And along the way, from a personal standpoint, somebody got really clever. And it started, of course at WGBH in Boston, where they recognize the fact that people who happen to be blind would want to know what’s going on on TV when the dialog wasn’t saying much to to offer clues. And so they started putting an audio description and editing and all that and somebody created the secondary audio programming in the other things that go into it. And now that’s becoming a lot more commonplace, although it’s still got a long way to go.
Howard Brown 24:24
Well, I agree. So but you’re right. So having that audio or having it for visually impaired or hearing impaired are all that they are now we’re making some progress. So it’s still a ways to go. I agree with you.
Michael Hingson 24:36
still a ways to go. Well, you along the way in terms of continuing to work with Abbott and other companies in doing the entrepreneurial stuff. You’ve had a couple of curveballs from life.
Howard Brown 24:47
I have. So going back to my promotion, I was going driving out to Dayton, Ohio, I noticed a little spot on my cheekbone. didn’t think anything of it. I was so excited to get promoted and start my new job. up, I just kept powering through. So a few weeks after I’d moved out to Dayton, Ohio, my mom comes out. And she’s at the airport and typical Boston and mom, she’s like, What’s that on your cheek? What’s that on your cheek? And I was like, Mom, it’s nothing. I kind of started making excuses. I got hit playing basketball, I got it at the gym or something. And she’s like, well, we got to get that checked out. I said, No, Mom, it’s okay. It’s not no big deal. It’s a little little market. Maybe it’s a cyst or pebble or something I don’t know. So she basically said she was worried, but she never told me. So she helped set up my condo, or an apartment. And then she left. And then as long Behold, I actually had to go speak in Boston at the American Bankers Association about disaster recovery, and having a disaster recovery plan. And so this is the maybe August of 1989. And I came back and that spot was still there. And so my mom told my dad, remember, there was payphones? There was no cell phones, no computers, no internet. So she told my dad, she didn’t take a picture of it. But now he saw it. And he goes, Let’s go play tennis. There’s I got there on a Friday. So on a Saturday morning, we’d go do something. And instead of going to play tennis, he took me to a local community hospital. And they took a look at it. And they said off its assist, take some my antibiotic erythromycin or something, you’ll be fine. Well, I came back to see them on Monday after my speech. And I said, I’m not feeling that great. Maybe it’s the rethrow myosin. And so having to be four o’clock in the afternoon, he took me to the same emergency room. And he’s and I haven’t had the same doctor on call. He actually said, You know what, let’s take a biopsy of it. So he took a biopsy of it. And then he went back to the weight room, he said, I didn’t get a big enough slice. Let me take another. So he took another and then my dad drove me to the airport, and I basically left. And my parents called me maybe three weeks later, and they said, You got to come back to Boston. We gotta go see, you know, they got the results. But you know, they didn’t tell us they’ll only tell you. Because, you know, it’s my private data. So I flew back to Boston, with my parents. And this time, I had, like, you know, another doctor there with this emergency room doctor, and he basically checks me out, checks me out, but he doesn’t say too much. But he does say that we have an appointment for you at Dana Farber Cancer Institute at 2pm. I think you should go. And I was like, whoa, what are you talking about? Why am I going to Dana Farber Cancer Institute. So it gets, you know, kind of scary there because I show up there. I’m in a suit and tie. My dad’s in a suit down. My mom’s seems to be dressed up. And we go, and they put me through tests. And I walk in there. And I don’t know if you remember this, Michael. But the Boston Red Sox charity is called the Jimmy fund. Right? And the Jimmy fund are for kids with blood cancers, lymphoma leukemias, so I go there. And they checked me in and they told me as a whole host of tests they’re going to do, and I’m looking in the waiting room, and I see mostly older people, and I’m 23 years old. So I go down the hallways, and I see little kids. So I go I go hang out with the little kids while I’m waiting. I didn’t know what was going on. So they call me and I do my test. And this Dr. George Canalis, who’s you know, when I came to learn that the inventor of some chemo therapies for lymphomas very experienced, and this young Harvard fellow named Eric Rubin I get pulled into this office with this big mahogany desk. And they say you have stage four E T cell non Hodgkins lymphoma. It’s a very aggressive, aggressive, very aggressive form of cancer. We’re going to try to knock this out. I have to tell you, Michael, I don’t really remember hardly anything else that was said, I glossed over. I looked up at this young guy, Eric Rubin, and I said, What’s he saying? I looked back out of the corner of my eye, my mom’s bawling her eyes out. My dad’s looks like a statue. And I have to tell you, I was really just a deer in the headlights. I had no idea that how a healthy 23 year old guy gets, you know, stage four T cell lymphoma with a very horrible prognosis. I mean, I mean, they don’t they said, We don’t know if we can help you at the world, one of the world’s foremost cancer research hospitals in the world. So it was that was that was a tough pill to swallow. And I did some more testing. And then they told me to come back in about a week to start chemotherapy. And so, again, I didn’t have the internet to search anything. I had encyclopedias. I had some friends, you know, and I was like, I’m a young guy. And, you know, I was talking to older people that potentially, you know, had leukemia or different cancer, but I didn’t know much. And so I I basically showed up for chemotherapy, scared out of my mind, in denial, and Dr. RUBIN comes out and he says, we’re not doing chemo today. I said, I didn’t sleep awake. What are you talking about? He says, we’ll try again tomorrow, your liver Our function test is too high. And my liver function test is too high. So I’m starting to learn but I still don’t know what’s going on. He says I got it was going to field trip. Field Trip. He said, Yeah, you’re going down the street to Newton Wellesley hospital, we’re going to the cryogenic center, cryo, what? What are you talking about? He goes, it’s a sperm bank, and you’re gonna go, you know, leave a sample specimen. And it’s like, you just told me that, you know, if you can help me out what why I’m not even thinking about kids, right now. He said, Go do it. He says what else you’re going to do today, and then you come back tomorrow, and we’ll try chemo. So thank God, he said that, because I deposited before I actually started any chemotherapy, which, you know, as basically, you know, rendered me you know, impotent now because of all the chemotherapy and radiation I had. So that was a blessing that I didn’t know about until later, which we’ll get to. But a roll the story forward a little more quickly as that I was getting all bad news. I was relapsing, I went through about three or four different cycles of different chemotherapy recipes, nothing was working. I was getting sicker, and they tight. My sister, I am the twin CJ, for bone marrow transplant and she was a 25% chance of being a match. She happened to be 100% match. And I had to then gear up for back in 1990 was a bone marrow transplant where they would remove her bone marrow from her hip bones, they would scrub it and cleanse it, and they would put it in me. And they would hope that my body wouldn’t immediately rejected and die and shut down or over time, which is called graft versus host these that it wouldn’t kill me or potentially that it would work and it would actually reset my immune system. And it would take over the malignant cells and set my set me back straight, which it ended up doing. And so having a twin was another blessing miracle. You know that, you know, that happened to me. And I did some immunotherapy called interleukin two that was like, like the grandfather of immunotherapy that strengthened my system. And then I moved to Florida to get out of the cold weather and then I moved out to California to rebuild my life. I call that Humpty Dumpty building Humpty Dumpty version one. And that’s that’s how I got to California in Southern California.
Michael Hingson 32:15
So once again, your big sister savedthe day,
Howard Brown 32:19
Michael Hingson 32:21
That’s a big so we go,
Howard Brown 32:23
as we call ourselves the Wonder Twins. He’s more. She’s terrific. And thank God she gave part of herself and saved my life. And I am eternally grateful to her for that,
Michael Hingson 32:34
but but she never had any of the same issues or, or diseases. I gather. She’s been
Howard Brown 32:41
very healthy, except for like a knee. A partial knee replacement. She’s been very healthy her whole life.
Michael Hingson 32:48
Well, did she have to have a knee replacement because she kept kicking you around or what?
Howard Brown 32:52
No, she’s little. She’s five feet. 510 So she never kicked me. We are best friends. My wife’s best friend. I know. She is just just a saint. She’s She’s such a giving person and you know, we take that from our parents, but she she gave of herself of what she could do. She said she do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t think I’m allowed to give anybody my bone marrow but if I could, would give it to her do anything for her. She’s She’s amazing. So she gave me the gift, the gift of life.
Michael Hingson 33:21
So you went to Florida, then you moved to California and what did you do when you got out here?
Howard Brown 33:24
So I ended up moving up to northern California. So I met this girl from Michigan in Southern California, Lisa, my wife have now 28 years in July. We married Lisa Yeah, we got married under the Jewish wedding company’s wedding canopies called the hotpot and we’re looking at the Pacific Ocean, we made people come out that we had that Northridge earthquake in 94. But this is in July, so things are more settled. So we had all friends and family come out. And it was beautiful. We got it on a pool deck overlooking the Pacific. It was gorgeous. It was a beautiful Hollywood type wedding. And it was amazing. So we got married in July of 94. And then moved up to Silicon Valley in 97. And then I was working at the startups. My life was really out of balance because I’m working 20 hours, you know, a day and I’m traveling like crazy. And my wife says, You know what, you got to be home for dinner if we’re going to think about having a family. And we’re a little bit older now. 35 and 40. And so we’ve got to think about these things. And so I called back to Newton Wellesley hospital, and I got the specimen of sperm shipped out to San Jose, and we went through an in vitro fertilization process. And she grew eight eight eggs and they defrosted the swimmers and they took the best ones and put them back in the four best eggs and our miracle baby our frozen kids sickle. Emily was born in August of 2001. Another blessing another miracle. I was able to have a child and healthy baby girl.
Michael Hingson 34:58
So what’s Emily doing today?
Howard Brown 35:00
Well, thank you for asking that. So, she is now in Missoula, Montana at a television station called K Pax eight Mountain News. And she’s an intern for the summer. And she’s living her great life out there hiking, Glacier National Park. And she ran I think she ran down to the Grand Tetons and, and she’s learning about the broadcast business and reporting. She’s a writer by trade, by trade and in journalism. And she likes philosophy. So she’ll be coming back home to finish her senior year, this at the end of the summer at the University of Michigan. And so she’s about to graduate in December. And she’s, she’s doing just great.
Michael Hingson 35:35
So she writes and doesn’t do video editing us yet using Abbott or any of the evolutions from it.
Howard Brown 35:41
No, she does. She actually, when you’re in a small market station, that’s you. You write the script, she does the recording, she has a tripod, sometimes she’s she films with the other reporters, but when she they sent her out as an intern, and she just covered the, this, you know, the pro pro life and pro choice rallies, she she records herself, she edits on Pro Tools, which is super powerful now, and a lot less expensive. And then, when she submits, she submits it refer review to the news director and to her superiors. And she’s already got, I think, three video stories and about six different by lines on written stories. So she’s learning by doing, it’s experiential, it’s amazing.
Michael Hingson 36:23
So she must have had some experience in dealing with all the fires and stuff out at Yellowstone and all that.
Howard Brown 36:31
So the flooding at Yellowstone, so I drove her out there in May. And I didn’t see any fires. But the flooding we got there before that, she took me on a hike on the North Gate of Yellowstone. And she’s she’s, you know, environmentally wilderness trained first aid trained. And I’m the dad, and I’m in decent shape. But she took me out an hour out and an hour back in and, you know, saw a moose saw a deer didn’t see any mountain lion didn’t see any Grizzlies, thank God, but we did see moose carcass where the grizzly had got a hold on one of those and, and everybody else to get it. So I got to go out to nature weather and we took a road trip out there this summer, it was a blast. It’s the those are the memories, when you’ve been through a cancer diagnosis that you just you hold on to very dearly and very tight. It was a blast. So that’s what he’s doing this summer. She’ll be back. She’ll be back in August, end of August.
Michael Hingson 37:22
That’s really exciting to hear that she’s working at it and being successful. And hopefully she’ll continue to do that. And do good reporting. And I know that this last week, with all the Supreme Court cases, it’s it’s, I guess, in one sense, a field day for reporters. But it’s also a real challenge, because there’s so many polarized views on all of that.
Howard Brown 37:44
Well, everybody’s a broadcaster now whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and all the other ones out there, tick tock. So everybody’s sort of a reporter now. And you know, what do you believe, and unfortunately, I just can’t believe in something in 140 characters or something in two sentences. Yeah, there’s no depth there. So sometimes you miss the point, and all this stuff. And then everything’s on 24 hours on CNN, on Fox on MSNBC, so it never stops. So I call that a very noisy world. And it’s hard to process. You know, all this. It’s coming at you so fast in the blink of an eye. So we’re in a different time than when we grew up, Michael, it was a slower pace. Today in this digital world. It’s, it’s, it’s a lot and especially COVID. Now, are we just consuming and consuming and binging and all this stuff, I don’t think it’s that healthy.
Michael Hingson 38:36
It’s not only a noisy world, but it’s also a world, it’s very disconnected, you can say all you want about how people can send tweets back and forth, text messages back and forth and so on. But you’re not connecting, you’re not really getting deep into anything, you’re not really establishing relationships in the way that as you point out, we used to, and we don’t connect anymore, even emails don’t give you that much connection, realism, as opposed to having meaningful dialogue and meaningful conversations. So we just don’t Converse anymore. And now, with all that’s going on, in the very divided opinions, there’s there’s no room for discussion, because everybody has their own opinion. And that’s it, there’s no room to dialogue on any of it at all, which is really too bad.
Howard Brown 39:21
Yeah, I agree. It’s been divisive. And, you know, it’s, it’s hard because, you know, an email doesn’t have the body language, the intent, the emotion, like we’re talking right now. And, you know, we’re expressing, you know, you know, I’m telling stories of my story personally, but you can tell when I get excited, I smile, I can get animated. Sometimes with an email, you know, you don’t know the intent and it can be misread. And a lot of that communication is that way. So, you know, I totally get where you’re coming from.
Michael Hingson 39:55
And that’s why I like doing the podcasts that we’re doing. We get to really have conversation isn’t just asking some questions and getting an answer and then going on to the next thing. That’s, frankly, no fun. And I think it’s important to be able to have the opportunity to really delve into things and have really good conversations about them. I learned a lot, and I keep seeing as I do these podcasts, and for the past 20 plus years, I’ve traveled around the world speaking, of course, about September 11, and talking about teamwork, and trust, and so on. And as I always say, if I don’t learn more than I’m able to teach or impart, then I’m not doing my job very well.
Howard Brown 40:35
So that’s exactly and that’s, that’s where I’m going after the second health concern. You know, I’m now going to teach, I’m gonna inspire, I’m going to educate. And that’s, that’s, that’s what I do, I want to do with the rest of my time is to be able to, you know, listen, I’m not putting my head in the sand, about school shootings, about an insurrection about floods about all that. You gotta live in the real world. But I choose, as I say, I like to live on positive Street as much as possible, but positive street with action. That’s, that’s what makes the world a better place at the end of the day. So you sharing that story means that one we’ll never forget. And you can educate the generations to come that need to understand, you know, that point in time and how it affected you and how you’ve dealt with it, and how you’ve been able to get back out of bed every day. And I want to do the same.
Michael Hingson 41:26
Well, there’s nothing wrong with being positive. I think that there is a need to be aware. But we can we can continue to be positive, and try to promote positivity, try to promote connectionism and conversations and so on, and promote the fact that it’s okay to have different opinions. But the key is to respect the other opinion, and recognize that it isn’t just what you say that’s the only thing that ever matters. That’s the problem that we face so much today.
Howard Brown 41:58
Right? Respect. I think Aretha Franklin saying that great. She
Michael Hingson 42:01
did. She did. She’s from Motown here. There you go. See? When you moved out to California, and you ended up in Silicon Valley, and so on, who are you working for them?
Howard Brown 42:14
So I moved up, and I worked for this company called Liquid audio that doesn’t exist anymore. And it was just iTunes 10 years too early on, there was real audio, there was Mark Cuban’s company was called Audio net and then broadcast.com used for a lot of money. And so the company went public and made a lot of money. But it didn’t work. The world wasn’t ready for it yet to be able to live in this cassette world. It was not ready. I Napster hadn’t been invented, mp3 and four hadn’t been invented. So it just the adoption rate of being too early. But it still went public a lot. The investors made a ton of money, but they call that failing, failing forward. So I stayed there for a year, I made some money. And I went to another startup. And that startup was in the web hosting space, it was called Naevus. site, it’s now won by Time Warner. But at that time, building data centers and hosting racks of computers was very good business. And so I got to be, you know, participate in an IPO. You know, I built built up revenue. And you know, the outsourcing craze now called cloud computing, it’s dominated by the folks that like Amazon, and the folks at IBM, and a few others, but mostly, you know, dominated there, where you’re basically having lots of blinking lights in a data center, and just making sure that those computers stay up to serve up the pages of the web, the videos, even television, programming, and now any form of communication. So I was, I was early on in that and again, got to go through an IPO and get compensated properly unduly, and, but also my life was out of balance. And so before we were called out for the sperm and had a baby, I transitioned out when Silicon Valley just the pendulum swung the other way, I ended up starting to work at my own nonprofit, I founded it with a couple of Silicon Valley guys called Planet Jewish, and it was still very technologically driven. It was the world’s first Community Calendar. This is before Google Calendar, this is in 2000. And we built it as a nonprofit to serve the Jewish community to get more people to come to Jewish events. And I architected the code, and we ran that nonprofit for 17 years. And before calendaring really became free, and very proud of that. And after that, I started a very similar startup with different code called circle builder, and it was serving faith and religions. It was more like private facebook or private online communities. And we had the Vatican as a client and about 25,000 Ministries, churches, and nonprofits using the system. And this is all sort of when Facebook was coming out to you know, from being just an edu or just for college students. And so I built that up as a quite a big business. But unfortunately, I was in Michigan when I started circle builder. I ended up having to close both of those businesses down. One that the revenue was telling off of the nonprofit and also circuit builder wasn’t monetizing as quickly or as we needed as well. But I ended up going into my 50 year old colonoscopy, Michael. And I woke up thinking everything was going to be fine. My wife Lisa’s holding my hand. And the gastroenterologist said, No, I found something. And when I find something, it’s bad news. Well, it was bad news. Stage three colon cancer. Within about 10 days or two weeks, I had 13 and a half inches of my colon removed, plus margins plus lymph nodes. One of the lymph nodes was positive, install a chemo port and then I waited because my daughter had soccer tournaments to travel to but on first week of August in 2016, I started 12 rounds of Rockem sockem chemotherapy called folfox and five Fu and it was tough stuff. So I was back on the juice again, doing chemotherapy and but this time, I wasn’t a deer in the headlights, I was a dad, I was a husband. I had been through the trenches. So this time, I was much more of a marine on a mission. And I had these digital tools to reach out for research and for advocacy and for support. Very different at that time. And so I unfortunately failed my chemotherapy, I failed my neck surgery, another colon resection, I failed a clinical trial. And things got worse I became metastatic stage four that means that colon cancer had spread to my liver, my stomach linings called the omentum and peritoneum and my bladder. And I had that same conversation with a doctor in downtown Detroit, at a Cancer Institute and he said, We don’t know if we can help you. And if you Dr. Google, it said I had 4% of chances of living about 12 to 18 months and things were dark I was I was back at it again looking looking at the Grim Reaper. But what I ended up doing is research and I did respond to the second line chemotherapy with a little regression or shrinkage. And for that you get more chemotherapy. And then I started to dig in deep research on peritoneal carcinoma which is cancer of the of the of the stomach lining, and it’s very tricky. And there’s a group called colon town.org that I joined and very informative. I there then met at that time was probably over 100 other people that had had the peritoneal carcinoma, toma and are living and they went through a radical surgery called cytoreduction high pack, where they basically debulk you like a de boning a fish, and they take out all this cancer, they can see the dead and live cells, and then they pour hot chemo in you. And then hot chemo is supposed to penetrate the scanning the organs, and it’s supposed to, in theory kill micro cell organism and cancer, although it’s still not proven just yet. But that surgery was about a 12 and a half hour surgery in March of 2018. And they call that the mother of all surgeries. And I came out looking like a ghost. I had lost about 60 pounds, and I had a long recovery. It’s that one would put Humpty Dumpty back together. It’s been now six years. But I got a lot of support. And I am now what’s called no evidence of disease at this time, I’m still under surveillance. I was quarterly I just in June, I had my scans and my exams. And I’m now going to buy annual surveillance, which means CAT scans and blood tests. That’s the step in the right direction. And so again, I mean, if I think about it, my twin sister saved my life, I had a frozen sperm become a daughter. And again, I’m alive from a stage four diagnosis. I am grateful. I am lucky, and I am blessed. So that’s that a long story that the book will basically tell you, but that’s where I am today.
Michael Hingson 48:50
And we’ll definitely get to the book. But another question. So you had two startups that ran collectively for quite a period of time, what got you involved or motivated to do things in the in the faith arena?
Howard Brown 49:06
So I have to give credit to my wife, Lisa. So we met at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles at this young leadership group. And then they have like a college fair of organizations that are Jewish support organizations. And one of them happened to be Jewish Big Brothers, now Jewish Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles. Suppose you’d be a great big brother. I was like, well, it takes up a lot of time. I don’t know. She’s like, you should check it out. So I did. And I became I fill out the application. I went through the background checks, and I actually got to be a Jewish big brother to this young man II and at age 10. And so I have to tell you, one of the best experiences in my life was to become a mentor. And I today roll the clock forward. 29 years in is now close to 40 years old or 39 years old. He’s married with a son who’s one noble and two wife, Sarah, and we are family. We stayed together past age 18 Seen, and we’ve continued on. And I know not a lot of people do that. But it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever done. I’ve gotten so much out of it. Everyone’s like, Oh, you did so much for in? Well, he did so much for me and my daughter, Emily calls him uncle and my wife and I are we are his family, his dad was in prison and then passed away and his mom passed away where his family now. And so one of the best experiences. So that’s how I kind of got into the Jewish community. And also being in sales I was I ended up being a good fundraiser. And so these nonprofits that live their lifeblood is fundraising dollars. I didn’t mind calling people asking them for donations or sitting down over coffee, asking them for donations. So I learned how to do that out in Southern California in Northern California. And I’ve continued to do that. So that gave me a real good taste of faith. I’m not hugely religious, but I do believe in the community values of the Jewish community. And you get to meet people beyond boards and you get to raise money for really good causes. And so that sort of gave me another foundation to build off of and I’ve enjoyed doing that as a community sermon for a long time.
Michael Hingson 51:10
I’ll bite Where does Ian live today?
Howard Brown 51:13
Okay, well, Ian was in LA when we got matched. I had to move to San Francisco, but I I petitioned the board to keep our match alive because it was scholarship dollars in state right. And went to UC Santa Cruz, Florida State for his master’s and got his last degree at Hastings and the Jewish community supported him with scholarships. And in was in very recently was in San Francisco, Oakland area, and now he’s lives in South Portland, Oregon.
Michael Hingson 51:39
Ah, so you haven’t gotten back to Michigan yet? Although he’s getting into colder weather. So there’s a chance?
Howard Brown 51:45
Well, let me tell you, he did live with us in Michigan. So using my connections through the Jewish community, I asked if he could interview with a judge from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a friend of mine, we sat on a on a board of directors for the American Jewish Committee, Detroit. And I said, she’s like, well, Howard, I really have to take Michigan kids. I said, You know what? No problem. You decide if he’s if he’s worthy or not go through your process, but would you take the phone call? So she took the phone call, and I never heard anything. And then Ian called me and he said, I got it. I as a second year loss. Going to be a second year law student. I’m going to be clerking for summer interning and clerking for this judge Leanne white. And again, it just it karma, the payback, it was beautiful. So he lived with us for about four and a half months. And when he came back, and it was beautiful, because Emily was only about four or five years old. And, and he lived with us for that time. And it was beautiful.
Michael Hingson 52:43
But that’s really great. That, that you have that relationship that you did the big brother program. And I’m assuming you’ve been big brother to other people as well.
Howard Brown 52:53
No, no. I have not actually. Because what it did is it trained me to be a dad. So when I had Emily, it was more it was more difficult actually to do that. And so no, Ian has been my one and only match. I mentor a lot of Babson students, and I mentor and get mentored by some cancer patients and, and some big entrepreneurs. Mentorship is a core value of mine. I like to be mentored. And I also like to mentor others. And I think that’s, that’s what makes the world go round. So when Steve Gates when Bill Gates, his wife, Melinda, just donated 123 million to the overall arching Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America. And that money will filter to all those, I think that that’s such a core value. If a young person can have someone that takes interest in them, they can really shape their future and also get a lot out of it. So mentorship is one of my key values. And I hope it’s hope it’s many of your viewers and yours as well. Michael,
Michael Hingson 53:52
absolutely is I think that we can’t do anything if we can’t pass on what we’ve learned and try to help other people grow. I’ve been a firm believer my entire life of you don’t give somebody a fish, you teach them how to fish and however, and wherever that is, it’s still the same thing. And we need to teach and impart. And I think that in our own way, every one of us is a teacher and the more we take it seriously, the better it is.
Howard Brown 54:18
Well, I’m now a student not learning podcasting. I learned how to be a book author and I’m learning how to reinvent myself virgin Humpty Dumpty, version two coming out.
Michael Hingson 54:29
So you had been a national cancer survivor advocate and so on. Tell me a little bit about that if you would.
Howard Brown 54:35
So I respect people that want to keep their diagnosis private and their survivorship private. That’s not me. I want to be able to help people because if I would have been screened at age 40 or 42, I probably wouldn’t have had colon cancer and I was not, but this is a preventable disease and really minorities and indigenous people as they need to get screened more, because that’s the highest case of diagnosis for colorectal cancer. But what I think that that’s what his needs now it’s the second leading killer of cancer right now. And it’s an important to get this advocacy out and use your voice. And so I want to use my voice to be able to sound the alarm on getting screening, and also to help people survive. There’s I think, 16 million growing to 23 or 4 million by 2030. Cancer survivors out there, cancer diagnosis, it sucks sex all the way around, but it affects more than the patient, it affects your caregiver, it affects your family affects relationships, it affects emotions, physical, and also financial, there is many aspects of survivorship here and more people are learning to live with it and going, but also, quite frankly, I live with in the stage for cancer world, you also live with eminence of death, or desperation to live a little bit longer. You hear people I wish I had one more day. Well, I wish I had time to be able to see my daughter graduate high school, and I did and I cherished it. I’m going to see her graduate college this December and then walk at the Big House here in Michigan, in Ann Arbor in May. And then God willing, I will walk her down the aisle at the appropriate time. And it’s good to have those big goals that are important that drive you forward. And so those are the few things that drive me forward.
Michael Hingson 56:28
I know that I can’t remember when I had my first colonoscopy. It’s been a while. It was just part of what I did. My mother didn’t die of colon cancer, but she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She, she went to the doctor’s office when she felt something was wrong. And they did diagnose it as colon cancer. She came home my brother was with her. She fell and broke her hip and went into the hospital and passed away a few days later, they did do an operation to deal with repairing her hip. And but I think because of all of that, just the amount that her body went through, she just wasn’t able to deal with it. She was 6970. And so it was no I take Yeah, so I was just one of those things that that did happen. She was 71, not 70. But, you know, we’ve, for a while I got a colonoscopy every five years. And then they say no, you don’t need to do it every five years do it every 10 years. The couple of times they found little polyps but they were just little things. There was nothing serious about them. They obviously took them out and autopsy or biopsy them and all that. And no problems. And I don’t remember any of it. I slept through it. So it’s okay.
Howard Brown 57:46
Great. So the prep is the worst part. Isn’t it though? The preps no fun. But the 20 minutes they have you under light anesthesia, they snipped the polyps and away you go and you keep living your life. So that’s what I hope for everyone, because I will tell you, Michael, showing through the amount of chemotherapy, the amount of surgeries and the amount of side effects that I have is, is I don’t wish that on anyone. I don’t wish on anyone. It’s not a good existence. It’s hard. And quite frankly, it’s, I want to prevent about it. And I’m just not talking about colon cancer, get your mammogram for breast cancer, get your check for prostate cancer, you know, self care is vital, because you can’t have fun, do your job, work Grow family, if your hell if you’re not healthy, and the emotional stuff they call the chemo brain or brain fog and or military personnel refer to it as PTSD. It’s real. And you’ve got to be able to understand that, you know, coming from a cancer diagnosis is a transition. And I’ll never forget that my two experiences and I I’ve got to build and move forward though. Because otherwise it gets dark, it gets lonely, it gets depressing, and then other things start to break down the parts don’t work well. So I’ve chosen to find my happy place on the basketball court be very active in sounding the alarm for as an advocate. And as I never planned on being a book author and now I’m going to be a published author this summer. So there’s good things that have come in my life. I’ve had a very interesting, interesting life. And we’re here talking about it now so I appreciate it.
Michael Hingson 59:20
Well tell me about you in basketball seems to be your happy place.
Howard Brown 59:24
So everyone needs to find a happy place. I’ll tell you why. The basketball court I’ve been playing since I was six years old and I was pretty good you know, I’m not gonna go professional. But I happen to like the team sport and I’m a point guard so I’m basically telling people what to do and trash talk and and all that. But I love it as a form of exercise. It’s a team game teams when not usually one person wins the basketball game Although Michael Jordan sort of proved me wrong there but he still needed this for other players. He still had to have the other guys you got to have the other guys it’s not like tennis or singles or golf. Right? But so it ends up that I just love it. And so what I get to the basketball court, I use that as my metric of that I was really healthy and back. So I played when I had chemotherapy and when it was safe to do so after surgeries, but I love it. Because on the basketball court, I’m in a zone where I have no cares in the world. I forget everything. There’s no worries, I’m there playing hoops, and it’s with my fellas. And I just enjoy the game. So I still play two or three times a week, I’m now on older guy, but I changed my game that I shoot the three pointer, I can’t cover the fastest guy in the court. But I just enjoy the camaraderie of it, the competition. And there’s actually, you know, their strategy to the game as well, but I enjoy it. And that’s what keeps me going. And so I like hiking, and I like biking. And I like swimming. I like other stuff, too. But the basketball places I found my happy place. So whether it’s yoga, nature, art, music, finding your happy place allows you to move from darkness to light. And that’s that’s one of the keys to resilience, and to be able to getting back up getting out of bed every day. It is
Michael Hingson 1:01:00
it is very much a team sport. I remember watching and listening to the Lakers, the year they had a 69 and 13 win loss record. And in the middle of it, Jerry West got injured, and I don’t remember what the injury was. And everybody said, Oh, it’s all over. And they’re not going to be able to continue, they continued to win. I think they lost one more game during that time percentage wise than they otherwise probably would have. And they did before he left and after he came back, but it is a team game. And it’s all about everyone learning to communicate and working together. And that’s what teamwork, of course, is all about.
Howard Brown 1:01:38
Absolutely. So my daughter was a goalie and soccer much like a point guard. And that communication, that camaraderie, there’s a lot I think, sports in general, it teaches a lot of life lessons. And our coaches. My friend Marty Davis wrote a book 30 days with America’s coaches, that’s a noble profession, because they’re in your formative years as a as a young kid, all the way up through high school. And even in college coaching. There’s, there’s so much teaching that goes on. And I think our coaches are, you know, need to be raised up, you know, with doctors and nurses and employers and others as well. So I do I love that. And I think that team sports allowed me to be a team player in the business world. And a team player, although my wife made me contradict me a little bit in the family raising business because the wife does a little bit more, you know, but we were teamwork. We were a team effort to raise Emily and we raised a good girl.
Michael Hingson 1:02:33
There is no doubt that coaches play a lot in making a team effective, and of course, that’s what coaches are supposed to do is to bring people together. And it’s fascinating where Karen, especially because she’s a graduate of USC, but I have always liked USC, I’m prejudiced because of the announcers. But we we watch USC and it’s interesting when they have good coaches, how the team plays better. And when the coaches aren’t so great. You have issues. And I think that’s true with whoever it is because it’s all about truly teaching leadership. And the coaches have to be the models and have to be the impetus for teaching and promoting good leadership. But it’s also then motivating the players to do it.
Howard Brown 1:03:19
Yeah, well not teams lose. Right and with the coaches and so out here, big big 10 football and basketball is huge in hockey in Michigan. And so University of Michigan and Michigan State and Ohio State they have these big rivalries it’s it’s huge out here. It’s big and my wife and daughter are Michigan and my other part of my family is Michigan State so there’s green versus blue. Babson College beaver with no football team were undefeated. We never want to see. We never we never lost her. What a game.
Michael Hingson 1:03:45
Hey, UCI, UC Irvine has been to March Madness twice. So
Howard Brown 1:03:53
Michael Hingson 1:03:54
anteaters? Yeah. Wow, Zod. So, you talk about international Peacemaker? What is that?
Howard Brown 1:04:02
Okay, so I got involved when I moved to Michigan with an organization called the American Jewish Committee, and they have offices all over the world, I think 26 offices in the US and their responsibility is to reach out in an interfaith manner to other communities, whether it’s the African American community, the Christian community, the Greek community, the Muslim community, and I was asked to be on their board not knowing a lot about the organization, and being a student, and always wanting to learn, I got to learn the mission of this organization from a diplomatic side of things and with foreign ministries, ambassadors and consul generals, and also from the interfaith aspects of it. And here in Michigan, we have such a diverse community of Arab Muslims, Asian Asian Muslims, African American, we call them Iraqi Christians called Chaldeans. And it’s a big melting pot here and then the car business brings in Japanese, Korean and lots of other folks Italy because they own Chrysler. So we have a melting pot here in Michigan, you need to be able to understand you can either live under a rock or, or in a walled garden, or you can actually go out and integrate with these communities that are here I’ve chosen to, to go as Abraham says, and I’m, as I said, not religion, welcome the stranger. And so we now do interfaith relations. And the work is fascinating. You know, we can’t solve some of the problems around the world or in the Middle East, but what we can do is live as good neighbors here. And respectful as we talked about that word respect before. And it’s, it’s fascinating work, it really gives me a sense of being well rounded, and understanding and learning these other cultures. So when I get invited to a Hindu event, or a Greek event or a Muslim event, we’re learning their cultures, their ways. And you know, what, we’re a lot more the same than we are different. Yeah, we really are. At the end
Michael Hingson 1:05:53
of day, that’s as true with religion, if you go back to the basic tenants of most religions, they’re the same, they teach the same thing.
Howard Brown 1:06:00
They do. And so that’s, that’s, so that’s been a very dear part of my life. And I appreciate that part. Because I learn that our values are very similar, but our customs could be different. And that’s okay. And so, yeah, it’s okay. And so, listen, there are, you know, you get the stereotypes out there that, you know, that, you know, someone ran into a church, and they shot up somebody, and it was a Muslim, or it was a ethnic person, or a Chinese person and all this, and I don’t have a tolerance for hate, hate his hate. And I always say that we’re not born with it. It’s a learned skill to learn. Like, Captain, you learn that skill. When you come, you come out of your mother’s womb, you you don’t say I hate you, mostly, you’re mostly there for love. And so I do take that very seriously in communicating with that. But like anything else, I’m a student. I’m a lifelong learner, I’m learning meeting new, interesting people. And that’s the way I choose to operate. And I hope others will, too.
Michael Hingson 1:07:08
We have heard you talk a whole lot today about your book, and I’ve been delaying because I wanted to save it till the end. Tell me all about your book. Okay. So we had to get there, right.
Howard Brown 1:07:20
We’re gonna get that. I appreciate I was getting impatient with you. I’m so sure you have. I’ve never, you know, I did. It wasn’t on a bucket list. It was not something I wanted to do. I sat down with a dear friend named David Crum, who’s the editor and publisher of front end communications and weekly magazine called read the spirit.com. And it has some faith to it, but it has resilience to it. And it’s just it’s a beautiful, beautiful magazine. And it he sat down at a bagel shop. And, and we talked and this is when things were really bleak for me. He says, Do you want to you want to leave a legacy, you want to write a book? And I said, No. And he came back after I came back from the bathroom was 10 chapter headings. And a month later, I called them back. And I said, David, if I were to write a book, since I don’t have a manuscript, we’d have to create one. I’m not a good writer, grammar and punctuation sometimes are optional for me. But I could get to my story to you. And if you allow me to, you know, invite very influential people in my life to the Zoom sessions, we can get transcripts, and those transcripts could then become chapters. And have you ever done this before? He said, No. He said, Well, let me get back to you. weeks later, he got back to me. And he said, Howard, I would like to do this with you. And so for the last two years, for every Wednesday for at least two hours, and tomorrow is no different. We have met over 200 times on Zoom, we record the sessions, and I’ve got to invite all people from all walks of my life, I got to walk back my life during COVID, including David Crum, with friends from the neighborhood with doctors from 30 years ago with camp counselors with my first bosses at NCR, the one the ones that are so alive, and it was fascinating family members, and we created 18 chapters 18 in Judaism is high means life. So 18 chapters was a good number for me. And we’re getting down to the final proof. And the book is all about how my family came to be and how I came to be but also these chapters on mentorship within the chapters on the cancers there. The chapter is a chapter on basketball and in my thoughts on basketball, and there’s a chapter on interfaith and there’s a chapter on sharing hope, because at the end of each chapter, I give homework to get interactive, and I offer suggestions to the reader to get interacted with me on a podcast or on my website. And to keep the continue the conversation continuing. And Michael, I actually have merchandise, so I have shining brightly glasses. I have candles and T shirts and mirrors and all related to the story. Hats and water bottles. So I have merch So we’re all shining brightly. And I’m just thrilled to get it because publishing a book is hard work. It was 901 steps, my editor and publisher told me, and we’re getting down to the starting line, where it’ll be available in mid July on Amazon for preorder. We’ll do a lot of publicity. And then September 13, worldwide availability of shining brightly in hardcopy soft paperback and ebook for Kindle and for NOAC. And all
Michael Hingson 1:10:26
that. So I hope that you’ll be able to do an audio version of it as well.
Howard Brown 1:10:31
So I will, that is probably the fall. I’ve talked to a few folks as well, I met some folks about it. And so the question is, you know, I do I want an English accent, or I want to do it myself. So I’m probably going to do it myself.
Michael Hingson 1:10:46
Well, whether you do it or someone else should be someone who will essentially sound like you in terms of enthusiasm and everything else, but
Howard Brown 1:10:55
I’ll probably do it, I’ll probably end up vehicle. So as people are downloading books, and listening to books, and like the podcasts now, so I’ll do that, but I’m gonna get out the door this fall. The biggest thing that I’m doing right now, my goal is speaking engagements. And my takers happen to be hospitals for fundraisers, med schools to speak to doctors and nurses and training universities and pharmaceutical companies. Because most of them, I want to hear about a guy that’s lived from two different cancer diagnosis. 30 years apart. Yeah, they make an interesting story, I hope. And then, but secondarily, I have a talk on fundraising. I have a talk on mentorship, I have a talk on building building companies. And, and also I participate with the sports philanthropy network, and we talk about sports and doing good in sports. So lots of different things. So I’m excited. This is just opening a whole new thing as we you know, for me, and I’m excited about.
Michael Hingson 1:11:51
And that’s as good as it can possibly be. It’s really exciting. So the book is called shining brightly. Yes. And we’re all going to be looking for that when it comes out. If people want to reach out to you and get to know you better, or ask you questions or explore you coming in speaking and so on. How do they do that?
Yeah, the easiest way is just add a.com to shining brightly. So shiningbrightly.com, if you go to the website, the first thing it does is an offer for a free pair of shining brightly sunglasses, and we all got to shine in this world. And so, but please contact me there. And there’s a forum there to fill out about speaking, consulting fundraising, talk about the book. And I’m always willing to engage. I’m also looking for podcast guests and be a guest on others as well. So I’m very interactive, very responsive. And so shining brightly.com,
Howard Brown 1:12:42
please contact me there perfect.
So reach out to Howard, please, folks, let him know that you heard our podcast and that you liked it. And I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know as well. We’d appreciate a five star rating wherever you’re listening to this podcast. And if you’d like to reach out to me, I’d love to hear from you. My email address is Michaelhi at accessibe.com M I C H A E L H I at A C C E S S I B E.com. Or you can go to Michael hingson.com/podcast. We’re just going to Michael hingson.com, where there’s also a link to the podcast page. But you can also explore Mike coming to speak and talk to your organization or to your company about trust and teamwork and so on. And the advantage that I have when I come to speak is I always bring a dog with me who loves to get attention. So we we have a lot of fun with that. But Howard, again, thank you very much for being here today. I’m really excited to get this podcast up and for people to get to know you better.
Howard Brown 1:13:44
I appreciate you having me Michael, I look at you when I read your story and did some background you you are an inspiration. I hope to consider you a mentor and a friend and I’m honored to be here today as your guest.
Well we definitely don’t want this to be the only time we chat. So please, anytime. Thank you. Thanks again and and thank you everyone, we will see you next time on unstoppable mindset.
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.