David Richman
The Stories We Tell and Changing Perspective

David Richman (@davidrichman_cycleoflives) is an author and speaker who rode 4700 miles to interview and connect to the stories he tells in his new book Cycle of Lives. Cycle of Lives explores the importance of having difficult conversations with ourselves and others so that we can live a life of integrity and inspiration.

David Richman
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Show Notes

Our perspective in any given moment dictates how we live our lives. 

David Richman (@davidrichman_cycleoflives) is an author and speaker who rode 4700 miles to interview and connect to the stories he tells in his new book Cycle of Lives

Cycle of Lives explores the importance of having difficult conversations with ourselves and others so that we can live a life of integrity and inspiration.
Once you make it okay to quit, it becomes a lot easier to quit… Once you say, no, let me see if I can go just one more step, just go a little bit further, it becomes a little bit easier to not quit 

David Richman

Key Takeaways:

  • Sonder: The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. Sonder is a term that ties in many psychological concepts relevant to our well-being and staying grounded. Sonder It’s an awareness of ourselves living a unique perspective and life which entails various abilities. In this awareness, we realize everyone else is also doing this. It is having perspective and understanding.
  • A Life Well Lived: Take a pause to look at yourself in the mirror and asking  important questions like, who am I committed to being? What am I doing or not doing that is an expression of that commitment? Who am I now, and who am I becoming? These are a few important questions that can help create a path for a life well lived.
  • Difficult Conversations and Trauma: Whether it is the trauma of our childhood, disease, or a single event, learning how to have conversations with our loved ones about the emotions involved is vital to be connected in our relationships.
  • Everyone Has a Story To Tell: Many people devalue or play down their personal stories. Everyone has a story that, if shared, can help others understand themselves and the world in a new way. Learning to value and tell your personal story is an act of service.

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David Richman Books

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Once you make it okay to quit now, again, sometimes you have to, and you got to know your limits. But once you make it okay to quit, it becomes a lot easier. And once you just say like, no, let me just see what I can find. Let me see if I can go just one more step, just go a little bit further, find a way to not quit, it becomes a little bit easier to not quit.David Richman

Hi, I’m Mark Divine and this is the Mark Divine Show. On this show, I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens of the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders. My guests include notable folks from all walks of life, motivational scientists, nutritional experts, peace crusaders, and amazing authors who do really interesting things like my guest today, David Richman. We’re going to be talking with David and discussing his Cycle of Lives Project, which was formed after the result of many years of dedication to raising awareness and money for cancer research. David spent more than two years interviewing cancer patients, doctors, caregivers, and loved ones about the emotional aspect of their traumatic experience. In the process, he did a 4700 mile bike ride where he met all the participants in this book. And it’s an incredibly inspirational story. David is an author and a public speaker and multi sport endurance athlete. His mission is to form a more meaningful human connection through storytelling. His first book was Winning In The Middle Of The Pack, where he discusses how to get more out of yourself than ever imagined without having to win.

Mark Divine  1:08  

David, super stoked to have you, thanks for joining the show today. Where are you from? And what were some of the influences that that caused you to, you know, want to do this 4700 mile bike ride and interview cancer patients and write these books. It’s so cool. 

David Richman 1:21

Yeah, so I was raised in the San Fernando Valley. But in a very wacky household, I had parents that were nearly 40 years difference in age. 

Mark Divine 1:30


David Richman 1:31

And so I had a mother who was way too young to have kids and didn’t really want them anyway. And a dad who was entirely too old to have kids and didn’t really want them anyway. And they had no problem making that clear. And so when I was 18, I just went out on my own and, and I think I until I got to my middle 30s, mid to late 30s, I was so used to looking to others for approval, you know, because I never had approval from the parents, or guidance or for that fact, really any any love or attention from them. And then kind of in my mid 30s, I made a change. And I said, whoa, wait a second. And through a number of different events. I just said, Geez, maybe the guy in the mirror is more important than everyone else. And that’s what started it. So it was a long journey to get to the point where I wanted to embark on this project. But it all started with that kind of like, man, who are you? And who do you want to be in this world? Why don’t you answer to the guy in the mirror? That’s where it all started?

Mark Divine 2:24

What were the early influences, though, if it weren’t for your parents, and you have mentors or peers, or what was the story that you were living in those years?

David Richman 2:31

It was fear, at 18 I literally was probably 11, mature, wise, emotionally, a knowledge of the world. And that was exploited very early on, I was robbed at gunpoint at 18 of everything that I owned after my car broke down in a different city. Who was homeless, and no one to call and less than a buck in my pocket. And I think I just kind of lived with that. Like I got to work harder than everyone else. So my influencers were fear of failure. And later in life, I worked at a big Wall Street firm, and started to run larger and larger businesses for them. In fact, I think the largest business I ran was about 110 million in revenues with a couple of 100 employees. So it was pretty big responsibility. And it wasn’t until I was well entrenched in that career that I actually a mentor kind of came along in my life and taught me a lot of lessons. The biggest teacher, though, for me, has been endurance athletics. You know, SEALs are like, it’s like when they’re motivated to accomplish what they’re told to accomplish, that’s the thing that motivates them. Is the sense of accomplishment and seeing what they’re made of and seeing what they can do. You know, maybe a mentor here or there may be an influential person here or there. But really, it was endurance athletics. That was the biggest teacher for me. 

Mark Divine 3:44

What does that look like for you? You’re a triathlete or what was your endurance athletics endeavor? 

David Richman 3:48

Well, I was overweight smoker, mid 30s. 


Mark Divine 3:52



David Richman 3:53

I was married to a violent alcoholic, and not living a very healthy and wonderful life. I was successful in business had friends, whatever it might have been, my life wasn’t terrible. But yeah, I was just at a very, very low point. And I decided at that point, when I said, you know, hey, look in the mirror and figure out who the hell are you and who do you want to be? I didn’t want to be a smoker. I wanted to be somebody that was athletic, something I’d never done in my life. And I just said, you know, what does that look like? And I wanted to be as opposite from myself, as I had been, or at a more than that, probably wanting to get in touch with myself for the first time. I was always looking to others for approval and validation and never to myself. And so that’s when I said, What can I do? So I said, Let’s go run around the block, which an overweight smoker 20 year smoker shouldn’t be doing, but I barely did it. And then I said, Okay, let’s run a mile and then five miles and then 10, and then 50, and then 100. And then if I could do run 100 miles, why don’t I go start doing Ironman triathlons, and why don’t I start doing 300 mile bike ride,s and endurance athletics became a real draw for me for on a number of different reasons. And so what that looked like was just ever increasing in volume and duration events to see how far I could push myself and see what I was, was able to accomplish.


Mark Divine 5:10

And so, what strategies did you develop that kept you from quitting? And, and motivated you, you know, because to go from an overweight smoker to running 300 miles or 100 miles, whatever, obviously, that didn’t happen overnight. And you must have developed some mental tools to guide you or help you. 


David Richman 5:27

Yeah, well, I mean, let’s I love what you do. Right. One of the things you do you do many things, one of the things you do is have an inquisitive mind. And that’s, to me, it’s such a draw, it’s, it’s such a, it’s such a powerful quality to have. And there was a lot I knew in business and in my personal life that kind of like, I already know, I know the answers to, but the thing I didn’t know, was what I was made of. And I was doing this this brace markets, you got to picture you know, I was not the model of athleticism. But I went to go do an 87 mile rollerblade race from Athens, Georgia to Atlanta, Georgia. We’re not talking about a bunch of people on a Saturday in a park. These are athletes, right? 


Mark Divine 6:09



David Richman 6:09

They’re going 87 Miles racing, you know, 35 miles an hour on rollerblades. And I said, Well, that sounds like fun. I’ll go do it. And about like, about 30 miles in I get to this one hill is completely impossible. In fact, the other side, I almost died going down it. I’m heading up this hill. And I reached this point, it’s like upper 80s in humidity. 


Mark Divine 6:28

Can you rollerblade up hill or do you have to kind of like walk your way up?


David Richman 6:31

Athletes can rollerblade uphill, right? Like a cross country skier. 


Mark Divine 6:35



David Richman

For me it was horrible. You know, about a third of the way up that hill, I knew I was done. Like I had hit every single max out on every single measurement you could want to max out on and I just said, I’m done. And so I was ready, I was looking down the hill, you can see way down the hill, and I saw the sag wagon. And I’m like, I guess I’ll have to wait for the sag wagon. And then I said, well wait a second…If you wait for the sag wagon, let it take you home, then you already learned everything about yourself, you realize what your max is. But if you could just figure out a way to take like one step , just go one, one more step-and then you’re gonna learn something new. And then go another step, you’re gonna learn something new. Every time you go a little bit further past everything you know about yourself. Like you get to learn, you get to find out something new about yourself. And sometimes you got to quit, but sometimes you don’t. And I ended up going another six hours and made it to the finish line before the cut off. And the thing that I remember is the most is what a feeling of euphoria was to go okay, I get to discover something new about myself. And that was the thing that motivated me to continue and still motivates me to continue to try to do crazy things is because, you know, I’m not putting myself in peril or anything. I’m not climbing mountains without a rope or doing something crazy. I’m just seeing how far can I push myself. And it’s really neat to know that it’s oftentimes way more than you think it is. 


Mark Divine 7:54

I think that’s amazing. And I love that kind of metaphor, or that idea that you can always take another step and learn something new. I mean, that is powerful. And I fully agree with that. I mean, that’s one of the one of the ways we teach to candidates, you know, to get through Hell Week is, you know, just do that next thing, take a breath and just do that next thing. Of course, you got to think about what that thing is, it’s easy if you’re in a race, and you just have to take a step. It’s a little harder, you know, if you’re a firefighter, there’s a lot of confusion going on. 


David Richman 8:19

Yeah, but when you’re doing something simple, and I’ll never forget visiting the SEALl camp and seeing what’s going on during during that and, and I remember seeing like the colored helmets of people that had quit, right, and then you see like, the two white helmet, because two officers quit. And it’s like, the first one was really hard for the first one to quit. But the second one was really easy, because once they saw somebody else quit, then it was acceptable. And I thought that’s a powerful lesson. Because once you make it okay to quit now, again, sometimes you have to, and you got to know your limits. But once you make it okay to quit, it becomes a lot easier. And once you just say like, no, let me just see what I can find. Let me see if I can go just one more step, just go a little bit further, find a way to not quit, it becomes a little bit easier to not quit. Once your mind is wrapped up around. This is my limit. It’s much easier to hit the limit. 


Mark Divine 9:06

And then there’s a lot of mental framing, right? So if you are injured, or you’re going to kill yourself, you know, recusing yourself from killing yourself is not quitting. That’s smart. 


David Richman 9:18



Mark Divine 9:19

But if you got more to give and you’re feeling sorry for yourself, and you think I’ll come back to this another day, that’s quitting, they are different things. 


David Richman 9:26

Yeah, especially Mark, on things that you decide to embark on your own, right? I’m not doing this for any noble purpose, right? I mean, yeah, some of the events or have a good purpose to them but I’m saying like doing ultra endurance events like nobody’s looking nobody’s watching nobody’s paying me to do it. You know, there’s no noble purpose in going to do an Ironman or running 100 miles. You know, it’s kinda like well, if you’re just doing it for yourself, then don’t worry about it right there’s like your if you need to quit you need to quit.


Mark Divine 9:55

There is a noble purpose though David in in growth. I think that that is one of our our primary reasons for being in this human body is to grow, still evolve. And if you’re not doing that, then you’re not serving yourself for the world. And I think that’s the big message for both of us. Right? It’s like, get out there and challenge yourself to grow and recognize that if you’re not growing, then guess what’s happening, you’re actually declining or sliding backwards or devolving? You know, I think that that’s true, especially as you get to a certain age and you go through the natural growth phase of the human body mind, and then it gets to a turnaround for it. And then the body, the mind will go back in the other direction unless you push hard against that inertia. 


David Richman 10:33

Yeah, I agree. And there’s so many lessons in what you just said, reminds me of doing ultra marathons. And this thought process of don’t give in when you’re feeling too good. Don’t lose your mind when you’re feeling too good. And when you’re feeling really bad, when you’re in a deep, deep valley, just figure out a way to take one step forward, because it will eventually get easier, right, you will learn you will learn, you will adapt, you know, you’ll gain extra muscle memory, whatever it is, just figure out a way to even if you need to slow down and crawl, just take one step forward, eventually, it’s going to get easier. It’s a wonderful lesson to learn and something to bring to your quest to open up avenues to your audience to continue to grow your business to learn what you can do for others. I mean, it’s it’s a great thought process for your whole self. 


Mark Divine 11:18

You said something for fun, like the pity party will end. But there’s certainly a way to accelerate your way through the pity party. And I think positive dialogue. Internal, ya know, self talk is really important. So what do you tell yourself when you’re in, you know, the pity party starts to come on and endurance race? 


David Richman 11:34

It’s good question. I try to frame it, right? Because if you build a little experience, and you can say, hey, you’ve gone through worse, right? 


Mark Divine 11:41

It could always be worse. Yeah, that’s a great one.


David Richman 11:43

It could always be worse. That’s one. And number two, I really love the idea of being fortunate enough to not have to do these things. Like I get to do these things. I’ll tell you a quick story. So I tell myself this stuff all the time. So I’m getting ready to do my very first 50 mile run. And it’s in the desert in Vegas, the last weekend in June, it’s called running with the devil. So it was like 120 degrees, some nonsense. And I showed up to the start line late, like five minutes late parked, raced, got my stuff together. And then the first quarter mile is like straight up hill. And I’m like, Really, we’re gonna do a 50 mile race. And it’s a first quarter mile has to be uphill, and I got to catch up to everybody. And I turned the corner. And this guy holding up a sign saying it’s only 95 degrees out good luck. And I’m like, Really, it’s only 95 degrees at 6:30 in the morning. It’s 95 degrees. And I had this really bad attitude Mark. And I just went dude, like, you need to change your perspective, you paid for this race, you signed up for this, you did the training, you wanted to be here. So shut up and change your perspective. And I’m like, huh, perspective, the way a book is written the way a movie is shot, the way that you frame your your thinking, you know, are you looking third person you’re looking for, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And I’m pondering the word perspective. And I honestly, my I’m not even exaggerating, like four and a half liters, I hit the turn around. And I’m like, Oh, my God, you just did 25 miles, and you didn’t even think about anything. All I thought about was changing my perspective on myself talk often involves understanding my perspective, trying to frame it properly, and then go, ok, with like, what do you do, and like, oftentimes, when we complain about something, or find something as a struggle, it’s not that it’s something else.


Mark Divine 13:25

You know, for the last, you know, 5 or 10 years, I’ve been just really kind of starting to understand and experience more this spiritual truth that when we open our eyes, the world wakes up to us, we don’t wake up to the world. And so because of that, what we see out there is going to be a representation of our internal reality. And that’s called a perspective. And so you can look out of the world and see, you know, fear, devastation War in Ukraine, and you can contract into fear and make that your story for the day. Or you can look out of the world and see a beautiful ocean and beautiful trees, beautiful people, right? Everyone navigating their own little world, right? And then your perspective is like, wow, I want to be of service and I want to want to go grow today. And I want to experience the best possible world that I can today because I’m the creator. I’m the author of this thing. Two very different ways to live. One is really powerful. The other is kind of a victim of the world circumstances and you’re just kind of a pinball in that. And most people live in that first world by the way. 


David Richman 14:28

Sure. And I love it and sometimes circumstance makes you have to have a bad perspective or whatever, but most people can change. I remember I had some employees I was telling them I was getting ready to go do this 50 mile run over and Catalina and I remember one of my employees going like what the hell are you running from? 


Mark Divine 14:45

No, I’m running towards something right? 


David Richman 14:47

Exactly. I go I’m not running from anything. I’m running towards something and they go so finish line and I go no, I just running to learn, like I’m running towards what am I going to find out? What am I going to learn? 

Mark Divine 14:58

That’s true. And I’ve interviewed a ton of people who are like hyper endurance athletes who just have to do the next achievement, you know, like, have to be the next person who’s the only person of this ilk who’s climbed Everest or, you know, I’m saying, put some numbers on the board kind of thing. And I asked that question to one, a Navy SEAL friend of mine, who’s just extraordinary athlete, everything. When you do this, or are you running from something? And his answer was, yeah, my childhood. Yeah. And I was like, That’s interesting, you know, because I think I was doing that for a while myself. And I realized that that, you know, eventually, you got to change that script, as well. 


David Richman 15:34

Yeah, I kind of can very much relate to that, I on my 4700 mile bike ride around the country for the Cycle of Lives a book that I did, I solved some problems that showed me that one of the things that I had been that was driving me was some issues from my childhood, and I actually came up with a little bit of a solution for it.


Mark Divine 15:52

Nice. By the way, have you done any therapy and trauma work?


David Richman 15:56

I did a little bit of therapy around, trying not to be so overwhelmed with being the recipient of an abusive relationship. Because as a man, sometimes that’s an issue, especially if you’re a bit of A a personality, or an alpha male or whatever, you have a lot of confidence on a lot of drive, I had some issues with that, and, and talked to somebody, you know, to learn how to process that. But most, you know, my biggest therapist has been long, long, and I mean, long, open roads, and dirt roads, and a lot of really purposeful self talk.


Mark Divine 16:34

I have done therapy, primarily because I’m married a therapist. So listen, heard me before, it’s like, I didn’t have any choice. My wife was like, pulling me by the ear, you know. And so I’m grateful for that. But I would admit also that it was for especially like, SEAL training for me, you know, Hell Week, paddling around Coronado Island, you know, stroke stroke for hours, and hours and hours, you know, and, and the endless went long swim six hours in the water in the open ocean, and endless runs and rucks and, and all the endurance sports. I was a triathlete before then, and the martial arts, right. So all of these experiences in rowing, where you’re just alone with yourself, and you’re doing this repetitive, like swimming back and forth, back and forth, four or 5000 meters, with your breath with your mind. I never did, like, the long, long stuff that you did, unless you, Hell Week is that because you never sleep. But endurance, sports has a really therapeutic quality, and it’s multi dimensional to, right. You have to face your thoughts. And once you get through that, then you have to face the emotions, or sometimes the other way around, right, and you have to change your story, or else you quit, or you don’t do it. But then if you could then pair that with skillful means and what I call an emotional coach to help uncover some of the deep patterns that are conditioned from early childhood, then you have a one two punch, that’s really, really powerful. 

David Richman 17:56

Yeah. And that’s kind of aligned with exactly the reason why I went into the Cycle Lives book was to kind of shed some light on and rewire that nonsense that was built during our adolescence and young adulthood. For me, I had way too much garbage stored up and vaulted away, until I finally took that look in the mirror. And I mean that metaphorically and really, like I really stood in front of the mirrors and stared at myself for a couple hours going through, like, who are you? And who do you want to be? Until I did that I wasn’t able to solve those issues. And talking to somebody that’s a professional is super important. Finding ways to have a new way of talking to yourself, and discovering about yourself is another way to.


Mark Divine 18:35

Besides the work you do on the road, or, you know, in your endurance training bike, do you have a contemplative or meditative practice?


David Richman 18:44

Ah, while riding is very contemplative and meditative for me, that’s number one. And number two, I also like to immerse myself sometimes in art, I do like mosaic tilework, which is also contemplative and meditative, but I don’t purposely sit down and do you know, TM or anything like that, just because I find it’s, it’s easier to quiet my mind when I’m also doing something. And over the years, and certainly, it didn’t happen right away. But over the years, I’ve developed this kind of really neat ability to transition from the crazy busy juggling 10 plates, worrying about every appointment I got to have, or that I’m going to have or that I don’t have yet or I can transition from that mindset to a very quiet contemplative mind, when I lace on running shoes or when I get on my bike. It’s only a couple of minute transition to kind of shut that one side of my brain off and open up the meditative, contemplative side of my brain. So that’s another reasons why I continue to do endurance athletics is because it makes me have to train a lot and training a lot allows me the ability to visit that space on a very regular basis. 


Mark Divine  19:55

I really agree with you. I think that particularly Western and men, but it could be personality based, you know, we have a bias toward action. And so, you know, sitting down and just doing nothing is hard. You just want to do something. And so the question is, what are you going to be doing that is training your mind, it’s like wax on wax off, wax on wax off, you know,. You have to have a repetitive action and endurance sports are perfect for that. But you can do an endurance sport and just mess around in your mind and not have the impact that we’re talking about. So that’s where internal dialogue and breath, synchronizing breath and dialogue are having a mantra. And also, like your perspective, that was like, you know, talking about perspective is almost became a mantra for you. Like it focalized your mind, it became a concentration practice. And within that, you probably synchronize your breathing or you already have a natural breath pattern, you know, inhale, three steps, exhale, three, that’s what I was, or mine was. And then you just get into these really long flow states. And in the flow state, you’re training your mind, your mind is basically rewiring itself, neuroplasticity-wise. And then you never go back. Let’s so that training session changes you forever. And then you do it again, and again and again. And so that’s no different than meditation. 

David Richman 21:05

Can I give you an example of exactly that?


Mark Divine 21:08



David Richman 21:08

So I’ve done now 18 full Ironman distance races, and I am ridiculously calm at the beginning of each one of these races. Now, it’s not always the most common thing to do to go do an Ironman Triathlon. But I’m ridiculously calm. And I’ll tell you why I know I’m ridiculously calm. Because when I went to go do my first half Ironman, I was completely out of shape. I had no because this was like five months after I stopped smoking. So you could imagine, I was not a guy that should be doing a half Ironman. But I kind of had like this, oh, I could do it. So I go, I go to Northern California where it is, and they have one of these waves starts. So you know different age groups go on at different times. Mine wasn’t the first I got to go to the start line and watch people take off. When I got to start line Mark, I’m like, holy crap, like, everybody looks like you. I mean, they’re like a freaking Greek god, like, they got no fat. They’re all wearing Speedos, you know, not an ounce of fat on em, and, you know, they’re walking around these massive legs and just like looking like they own the world. 

And I go, What the hell are you doing here? Well, oh my God, you’re such a fraud, you’re this, you’re fat, the smoker kid, you have no business being here. I’d never done any of those distances on my own. And let alone together I go, you’re just a fraud, everyone’s gonna laugh at you, you’re gonna be the last guy out of the water. 

And I went, and I almost talked myself into leaving and going into the car. And then the gun went off. And the wave takes off. And one dude turns over, and he started reverse dog paddling. And then the other guy is like, like, dog paddling to the side because he doesn’t know how to swim. And one guy started swimming in circles. And I started laughing to myself, I’m going, man, if they don’t care what anybody thinks, what the hell are you doing? Nobody’s watching you. Nobody cares. Just Just go out there and do your best. So when I get to the beginning of any kind of a race, although maybe sometimes there’s a little apprehension or a little bit of nervousness, I’m pretty calm. Because I know I’m only going to do the best that I can do for me. And like nobody’s watching and nobody cares. It’s just a wonderful thing, you know.


Mark Divine 23:08

And that’s the shift you talked about earlier of doing it for yourself and not for others, not caring, not letting other people shape your reality, shape your own reality, because after all, it is your world that wakes up to you. Instead of you waking up to someone else’s world and worrying, worrying what you know how they’re going to influence your reality. 


David Richman 23:26

Yeah, there’s a word I learned recently, Mark that describes that it’s called sonder. Sonder is a description of word describing when you had first knowledge or when you have knowledge of the fact that you’re actually just a passerby or in other people’s lives, and they’re just a passerby in yours. And it’s like, when did you when do you realize that it’s your life, like you just said, it’s your life, and you gotta live it. Everybody’s living their own life. That sense of sonder and I and it’s such a wonderful, empowering, beautiful thought, to know that when we can, we’re all just living our lives trying to do the best we can and, you know, somebody’s having a bad day, and they look at you funny, I mean, it’s not you, it’s them. They’re having a bad day. Don’t we all do that, you know, it’s like, it’s so easy to reframe your mind frame when you really realize people are just living their lives. 


Mark Divine 24:11

Yeah. And that sonder moment. And then on the other side of that, when you live from that is when you really can be of service. Because you look out at the world and say what this individual, you know, is struggling because they’re still living someone else’s story or someone else’s life and I can help them. I can help change their perspective. That’s what authors do. That’s what you do. That’s what I do. That’s awesome. Tell me about Winning In The Middle Of The Pack. I love that title, by the way. What’s that all about? 


David Richman 24:36

Well, I thank you. I again, I learned so many lessons are running very large businesses. And I learned a lot of lessons in life, right? Don’t we all? And then I also learned a lot of lessons in endurance athletics, and I thought there’s a lot of parallels between running 100 miles and getting through a difficult relationship, and running $100 million business. There’s a lot of parallels and I thought, there’s winning in the middle of the pack idea is like, I’m never going to be Lebron James. And I’m never going to be, you know Elon Musk. And I have no problem with that there’s only a few people that are as iconic as iconic could be. But I’m also never going to be the guy that’s living off his parent’s couch in the basement when he’s 35. I’m never going to be either end of those spectrums, right. And in neither is 99.9% of the world, we’re somewhere in the middle. And I believe that the people on either end of those spectrums, they could care less what anybody else thinks. Oprah Winfrey doesn’t go looking for advice, she gives it, Michael Jordan doesn’t care what people say he just does what he does. And I love that idea. Because in the middle of the pack, I feel like we’re looking to our bosses, or our spouses, or kids, or parents or whatever, for support, or approval, or to give us some type of validation. And it’s like, well, in the middle of pack, nobody’s looking and nobody’s nobody cares. Like, just do it for yourself. So how can you Win In The Middle Of The Pack is just saying, winning is doing the best that you can do. Being the best person you can be doing the best that you can do, making the best of whatever situation you’re in, or at least trying to. That’s what winning in the middle of the pack is because it Oprah Winfrey sign up for the LA Marathon in March, everybody would watch her. Nobody’s gonna watch me. 


Mark Divine 26:16

Yeah, and no one would expect her to come in first.


David Richman 26:19

They definitely wouldn’t. But But my point is, I really love the idea of this winning in the middle of the pack. So I wrote that book, which just talks about each chapter is kind of a combination of a business, a life, and endurance athletics story. That kind of teaches a lesson, some of the lessons that that you mentioned earlier, that we all know, but I tried to give it a little more form, you know, like, peaks and valleys, like knowing when not to quit, or knowing when to quit, when to help others, you know, these type of things. I told stories about, and it just is this mind frame of being in the beautiful middle of the pack where, where nobody’s looking? And you can just be free to do the best you can do. 


Mark Divine 26:58

You said that, you know, there’s nothing it’s nothing new. But it’s it’s a new perspective on some perennial principles. Right. And I’ve heard that said that there’s really nothing new under the sun. I mean, I don’t know if it’s exactly true. I think there’s sometimes you can see some new technologies and, and new thoughts that are like an evolution of an old thought. But at the same time, you know, I think a lot of people hold back their gifts because they think, Well, you know, geez, you know, like a Navy SEAL, Divine’s already said that, or Jaco has already done that, you know what I mean? They’re doing themselves a disservice. Because if you got a story to tell, then there’s likely to be someone who’s going to benefit from it. And the first person that’s gonna benefit is you. By getting your story out there. And the people who read it, who listened to it, or who jive with it energetically, it may be the first time they’ve heard that lesson, or the first time it landed, and they actually listened to it, or were able to hear it. I mean, so that’s cool that that you found found your voice, you know, like that.


David Richman 27:50

You’re spot on. That was probably one of the biggest factors of who made my last book and who didn’t, was 15 people that actually eventually made the book. We’re all of them multiple times, multiple times said, and we’re talking about people that are very functional, very deep connective, authentic relationships with loved ones, families, co-workers, whatever, very people that process things. All multiple times, during our conversations over a couple of years said, Ah, you know, like, my life’s not that interesting. I don’t think anybody wants to hear this, because they’re just living their lives. And I’m like, No, oh, no, we got to get there. Because it is interesting, and everybody does have a story to tell, and a little bit of a spin on how you got through something could have a profound effect on even just one other person, you have to tell that story.

I love the humbleness that he’s brought to it. Hey, I’m just living my life. It’s not that interesting. So what if I had cancer five different times? I’m sure you want to handle it the same way? And I was like, Are you kidding me? What are you talking about? That’s not interesting. Oh, I was on the last boat that left Vietnam on the fall of Saigon. Literally the night of the fall of Saigon. I was on the more than the last three barges. But you know, my story is not that interesting. And I’m like, what? Like, what are you talking about your story is that everybody’s story is that interesting. Not every minute of everybody’s life is but certainly the stories that shape us are and, and I love being able to uncover some of those stories and bring them.


Mark Divine

I love that I agree that everyone’s got something, some story, which is extraordinary. But they tend to discount it, I think is compared to David’s story or Mark’s story or whatever. It’s nothing but it is. And it’s certainly important to them, and if it is important to them, like you said it is important to someone else. So that book, you’re talking about a Cycle Of Lives, right. And so tell us about that story. Like, how did that come about? And what was that like to write that? 


David Richman 29:43

So when I talked when we talked earlier, and I mentioned about the kind of low point in my life, you know, mid-30s overweight smoker trying to figure out how to get out of a bad relationship and not two young kids, four-year-old twins at the time I needed to protect and I got all this stuff going on. And I decided to say okay, well, you got to start living your life on purpose and with meaning and, and focused on the guy in the mirror. And I kind of saw this long journey ahead of me, at least, I hoped that it would be a long journey ahead of me of discovery and reinvention, and transformation and all of this great stuff. At that same time Mark, I got a call from my sister, who was already long into her healthy journey, beautiful marriage, beautiful kids, great career, great circle of friends. Super comfortable with who she was, and her place in the world and everything. She called me up and said, Hey, I’ve got terminal brain cancer, and it’s not going to be very good for very long. And I thought to myself, Wow, isn’t that crazy that, you know, in relation to the one person that knows the traumas of my childhood, the one person who’s overcome in such a better way than I have, and living her best life. And, and here I am afforded the opportunity to embark upon this long journey of discovery and reinvention and transformation and becoming a better me, and she’s on the same timeframe, going down a journey that’s going to be to the end of her life, not very long from now. It really touched me and gave me an opportunity to really delve into what she was going through. And on an emotional level. And we have a ton of serious talks. And I just realized, Mark that, and you know this better than most people, so I’m not preaching, I’m just telling my story. But when it comes to trauma, we’re really good at triage, stop the bleeding, like deal with the importance tuff, but when it comes to, how do you feel about it on the emotional side of it, it’s not so easy to deal with. Especially when it comes to hard conversations, such as trauma and abuse and death and these types of things. Even the people that were closest to, it’s hard to have those conversations, even to start those hard conversations about the emotional side. And I saw that over and over and over, through watching her go through this, that that was a recurring theme. And I thought to myself, I’m not the guy that could ever give any answers to why it is, and how to change it, but I think I’m a guy that could bring enough stories, so that we can all gain some insight into what people are going through or what they have gone through. So it might just tell us a little bit better to start those hard conversations and have deeper, more connected relationships with the people that are important to us. 


Mark Divine 32:18

Yeah, It’s cool. It was really amazing. 


David Richman 32:20



Mark Divine 32:20

So as far as this actual process of writing this book, did you did you ride your bike across the country or something and meet with all these people to get their stories? Or how did it work? 


David Richman 32:30

Here’s what I did, it took a while to formulate the idea. But what I wanted to do, I didn’t want to bring one person’s story and say everybody gets something from it. I wanted really in-depth stories. And in order to get in-depth stories, and enough of them that I could cover the age, getting cancer, the young, old fear of cancer, to having cancer multiple times, different types of cancer. And I wanted the perspective of a doctor and a patient. A loved one and, and a survivor. First-person, third-person type stuff. So I wanted as much of a view as I could. And also I wanted different emotional responses because you’d be shocked. I know, everybody that’s gone through something traumatic knows this, but you’d be shocked. I mean, people can have fear, anger, sorrow, they can have gratitude. Any emotional response you can imagine is available to anybody going through any trauma. 

And so I thought, wow, we’re all connected by story. And we’re connected by emotion. So let me go find these people. And what I did Mark, say, I literally cold called hospitals and cancer centers and called friends and colleagues and asked for referrals on people they knew that had dramatic inspirational evocative stories. And I just started there. And I collected many, many people that I could talk to, I spoke to a great number of them for a year, year and a half, some of them two years to really uncover the deepest, darkest, most powerful parts of their life story, so that I could understand how to better deal with them. If I were to run into them in my life, when I was done, Mark, interviewing them for the most part. Then I said, well, geez, if we’re connected by story, and we’re connected by emotion, what better way to connect the people than to get on my bike and go meet him for the first time? 


Mark Divine 34:13

That’s cool


David Richman 34:14

And it allowed me to meet a ton of people along the way, it allowed me to kind of process my own grief, and issues that I was having, or have had my whole life. It allowed me to contemplate their stories and allowed me to connect everything in a different level. So I, what started out as a gimmick, right, connecting all the people via the bike ride was an integral part of the whole project.


Mark Divine 34:35

I can imagine especially after, you know, talking to these people, and then contectualizing them in the in the totality of all these stories, and then riding up and meeting them, and then riding away and reflecting them. I mean, that’s very different than just, you know, taking a transcript and trying to extract something from it. I can see that being a pretty cool process and it must have taken you a long time to write this book. By the way.


David Richman 34:56

It did take me a while to write the book and the reason it took me a while. I know you understand this, I’m sure your wife understands this, that when you’re talking, especially because the stories are not anonymous, so they’re the real deal. You can look up the people and look at the places that I said they worked. And you’ll see that these are the people, when it comes to really difficult things when you’re talking about drug addiction or abuse, incarceration, abandonment, suicide, when you’re talking about these really super crazy, impactful things that shape who people are as young adults and adolescents, and you frame that into the difficulties that they encounter later in life, such as cancer, you know, no matter the perspective, that’s a big, you know, bleeping responsibility to make sure I get it right. And when I’ll tell you to get it right, was something really difficult because I’m, I’m asking people, here’s what I want you to buy into, that I’m hoping to accomplish. And then I’m sending them a story that says, hey, this is your life. And these are all the ups and downs about this one big issue. And did I get it right? It was really very nerve-racking for me and for them. I’m sure.


Mark Divine 36:06

I bet, that’s amazing. When did you publish this book, by the way?


David Richman 36:09

Just under two years ago, now it was published. And like I said, it took a while to write the book, make sure I got everything correct, get everybody sign off on it. Fortunately, the stories were terribly inspiring and beautiful, and really reflected everyone’s experience really well. That was the benefit of having talked to them for so long. You know, it got rewritten. And you know how books go, they edited and rewritten in a million different times in ways. And then the book came out. And then the audible not too long ago. That I had 15 different voiceover actors do each one of the people. 


Mark Divine 36:44

That’s awesome. So what’s next for you? 


David Richman 36:46

Well, I’m going to keep doing this until I stop running into people that tell me that the two things we’re trying to accomplish aren’t worthy anymore. When they say the two things aren’t needed, then I’ll stop doing this. And the two things are one, how can we better tool ourselves to start hard conversations? How can we understand when when we say we don’t have any idea what people are going through what they went through? Like, what’s the true depth of that? And how can we connect people in a meaningful level, that was one topic. So as long as we still need to do that, I’m going to still work on this. The other is, there’s not a lot of money in books, but 100% of the proceeds that come in from any book sales, go to support the cancer charities and other charities that were chosen by the book participants as the recipients for any proceeds. So as long as these institutions still need money, I’m going to still try to help books and, and talk and do other things so that I can raise funds. And then for me, it’s just going to be continuing to write and hopefully bring stories that are impactful and moving and evocative. 


Mark Divine 37:45

Yeah, so this isn’t a book this is a mission. 


David Richman 37:48



Mark Divine 37:49

I love that. Awesome, David. So I’ve got um, your URL here, but I’d like to read it for those who aren’t, who are driving or may not come back to the website. So David dash Richmond, R-I-C-H Man.com, forward slash cycle dash of Dash lives. Did I get that right?


David Richman 38:03

It’s either David dash richman.com, or cycle of lives dot org.


Mark Divine 38:07

Oh, okay, with a dash or just cycle of lives.org?


David Richman

Cycle of lifes.org. They both go to the same website. And as you know, as everybody knows, most most books are sold on Amazon. So you can just look at David Richman Cycle Of Lives that you could look up idiot that bike 4700 miles or whatever you want to look at me.


Mark Divine  38:29  

That’s awesome. David, it’s been a joy to talk to you. Thanks so much. Thanks for your mission. And well let me know if there’s any way I can support you or local San Diego, folks. It’s just awesome work. really valuable, really powerful. 


David Richman 38:41

Oh you’re welcome. And thank you for having me. Mark. great talking with you. 


Mark Divine 38:44

It’s my pleasure. Hooyah! What a fascinating, interesting guy, David Richman is. Thank you, David, so much for your time today. I love the story about sonder, learning that when you wake up and realize that you are the author of your own life, and hearing about your cycle of lives project in your 4700 mile bike ride, all the interesting people that you met in your mission to help them tell the story and to share the emotional side of having those conversations around traumatic things. To get this book of David’s go to cycle of lives.org cycle of lives.org. 100% of the proceeds are donated to the cancer charities chosen by the participants in his project. Show Notes and transcripts are on our website at MarkDivine.com. To find the video up on our YouTube channel, MarkDivine.com/youtube. On social media you can find me on Twitter at Mark Divine on Instagram and Facebook at Real Mark Divine find me on my LinkedIn channel. Send me a note there if you want if you want to recommend a guest or or send some questions to me whatever. Quick plug for my newsletter, Divine Inspiration, go to MarkDivine.com to subscribe if you’re not on it. Every Tuesday I sent out my blog as well as show notes from the podcast, short synopsis of the podcast so you can get a sense for what we’re going to talk about. Shout out to my amazing team Jeff Haskell and Jason Sanderson and Jeff Torres, and Q Williams, who helped produce this podcast and find incredible guests and bring it out to you every week. And reviews and ratings are very, very, very valuable. So please consider doing that wherever you listen helps other people find the show and gives us the credibility that I think we deserve. Thanks again for listening. Thanks for being part of the Mark Divine Show, and for, for caring about your own growth, and being the change you want to see in the world. Let’s do that at scale. Continue to do our work one day at a time. Until next time, this is Mark Divine, Hooyah!


Transcribed by Catherine and https://otter.ai


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