Noah: I mean I had all these people that followed
me from Dancing with Stars that love me and when the book hit the shelves, I was terrified.
I was like, “All these people are going to see a side of me that they have not seen
and they’re going to hate me.” Tom: Everybody, welcome to Impact Theory.
You are here, my friends, because you believe that human potential is nearly limitless but
you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with it.
Our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas [00:00:30]
that will help you actually execute on your dreams. Today’s guest is a real American hero.
After watching the Twin Towers collapse on 9/11, he immediately enlisted in the military.
Having no interest in playing it safe, he headed directly for the front lines joining
the infantry and getting himself assigned to the 101st Airborne Division.
He deployed twice to Iraq but just three months into his second deployment, the Humvee that
he was driving was ripped apart by an IED nearly killing him. He woke up five [00:01:00]
days later in a hospital in Germany. His left arm and left leg both amputated. He had to
endure a brutal parade of surgeries and seemingly endless recovery and rehabilitation before
he could finally return home to his family but even then, he wasn’t out of the woods.
Slowly, a deep depression quietly overtook him turning him from a friendly, vibrant man
into an angry person he hardly recognized. His marriage dissolved and his frequent drinking
landed him in county jail for 10 days for a DUI. He [00:01:30] knew at that point that
he had to make a change. Now, look. He is the first to admit that his
life has not been a tidy Hollywood story but despite the ups and downs, the second act
of his life has actually been even more incredible than the first. Determined to be a good role
model for his kids, he found his way back to the gym and began to rebuild himself, mind
and body. His determination and transformation were so inspiring that he began to attract
national attention and his incredible story of triumph over tragedy [00:02:00] has seen
him grace the cover of Men’s Health magazine, appear on Ellen and the Today Show and star
in the military inspired competition series, American Grit.
Despite having only one arm and one leg, he earned his way to third place on the mega-hit
Dancing with the Stars, so please help me in welcoming the founder of the No Excuses
Charitable Fund and the author of the incredible, Living with No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth
of an American Soldier, Retired [00:02:30] Army Sergeant and all-around badass, Noah
Galloway. Welcome to the show. Noah: Thanks for having me.
Tom: Good. It is very good to have you. Your story has obviously been on my radar since
back at Quest and this is an unbelievable story of somebody who is insanely vulnerable
and willing to talk about the truth of what the journey has been like but really has made
an astonish … The [00:03:00] physical shape that you’re in is amazing for somebody that
has all of their appendages. It’s miraculous for somebody that doesn’t. Walk me through
like that mindset, like how you built yourself back up.
Noah: Well, I mean fitness was something that I got into at a young age and always carried
me to whatever job I had. When I did construction, it was manual labor. When I ended up in the
infantry, I fit in perfectly into that world because it’s very physical and when I was
injured, I went through that depression and [00:03:30] was struggling, I knew that I was
always happier when I was healthier. That was one of the things that got me into changing
my eating habits, getting back in the gym which wasn’t easy at all. I mean I tell people
all the time what that actually showed me was a side of fitness that I was not used
to, being that person walking to the gym that was insecure, didn’t want people to see me
struggling but I had to get over that. Tom: You started going late at night, right?
Noah: I did, yes, because [00:04:00] I wasn’t … There’s a lot … I meet people all the
time. We meet them all the time, people that want to get in shape but they’re worried about
joining the gym, what they’re going to do and I got to experience that but then, as
I started exercising and feeling better, then I didn’t care what time of day I went. Then,
I started using that to my advantage. Well, I tell people I had to convince myself I was
doing what others can’t, not in an arrogant way, just to myself because no matter what
gym you go to, there’s always somebody bigger, stronger, faster but I could stand there and
have a guy next [00:04:30] to me that is bigger than me and think, “But could you do it
missing an arm and leg?” I mean deep down, I hope he could but you
have to give yourself that mentality that you’re doing what other people can’t. When
I meet someone who battles with obesity, I say, “Well, then you have struggles ahead
of you so you will earn that and appreciate it more.” I think that mindset of doing
what other people can’t is what really drives me to want to do the best.
Tom: I love that. I’m a huge believer in … and I like the balance that you’re talking about
between you really … [00:05:00] I want to win, right? I want to play at the highest
level and I want to win. I want to beat everybody. Now, that doesn’t mean I want them to trip
up and fall down. I want them to perform their best as well but I still want to win. You’ve
talked about how you were meant to be a soldier and you talked about that notion, that so
few people are willing to go into the military, let alone be able to thrive once they get
there. How can people cultivate that what all call a warrior’s mindset? I don’t know
if you would agree with that terminology or not.
Noah: You mean like [00:05:30] how I deal with it, because I know for me, if I understand
you’re asking, part of my depression was losing that because I felt like I had found a home,
a place in combat and it was taken away and so now, I had to find something new that piqued
my interest, that would keep that adrenaline going. After I got back into shape, started
to run off-the-course races, Spartan, Tough Mudders, marathon, something as simple as
giving speeches, that is simple. I enjoy doing it but [00:06:00] wanting to always talk my
last speech where I go somewhere and speak and have other speakers, like I want those
speakers to do well but it’s like, “No, I’m going to do better.” I’m about to
just knock it out of the park. Those things get my adrenaline going.
Tom: Now, are those things that you cultivate which … Really, my question is about how
people can build that into their own into their own life?
Noah: Into their own lives? Well … Tom: You struggled so much in your journey
to get going again. I’m guessing there was some process to your self-talk, to how you
were framing the world that allowed you to get moving again.
Noah: Well, [00:06:30] I mean this isn’t on the same mindset of that doing what others
can’t. My main thing that happened was my … I am very close to my kids. I have three
kids. They’re seven, nine and 12 and they are my motivation. When I was going into the
gym in the beginning, I tell people all the time, you have to have something stronger
than your fear and mine were my children. The day that I walked out in the living room
and my three kids were sitting there and [00:07:00] I knew that I was showing my two boys what
a man is and that’s what they’re going to grow up to be and I was showing my little
girl how a man’s supposed to be and that’s what she’s going to look for one day, I knew
I had to make a change. I admit to people, I talk about it in my book,
I’m very open and honest, it did not happen overnight. Just because I had that realization
that I had to be better, it didn’t just happen. I would make a mistake, fall flat on my face
but it was the thought of them that got me up and going and it was the thought of them
that pushed me through those beginning workouts, getting back into shape, doing whatever it
was [00:07:30] and pushing myself to be better. I tell people all the time you have to have
something stronger than your fears and for me, it is my kids. I use that in, whether
it’s fitness, running a race, business, whatever it is, we all get scared. That’s what makes
things exciting but you have to have something stronger than that and say, “You know what,
I may be afraid to do this but there’s something more important that I have to do this for.”
Tom: Well, have you ever encountered somebody that doesn’t have kids or they don’t immediately
know what that thing is, like they really want it, they want to get in shape [00:08:00]
but they don’t- Noah: Yes. It was not easy but I mean you
have to … There’s something in all of our lives that is important to us, whatever that
is. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone saying, “You know what, I want to
have a big house and a sports car.” Whatever it is, you got to want it bad. I am big on
with my kids and other kids and I’ve always told people they probably have nieces or nephews
or someone near them that looks up to them. That’s what you have to go off of. There is
someone watching you. It may not be a child. There was someone watching [00:08:30] you
that you will motivate. I love the fact that I ended up in the spotlight and now, my story
reached more and more people but if you just motivate one person, that is a world of difference
for them. That’s what people have to keep that mindset. I was like, when you do things,
you’re not just doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for someone else.
Tom: I want to talk about that for a second. You live a life of service in a way that is
… In [00:09:00] fact, I’m going to tell maybe a slightly more obscure story from your
background because I think people understand 9/11, joining, like they get that immediately
but the story where I was like, “This, dude, like he …” You live a life a service.
It wasn’t just the military. Military can come and go. You’re still going to be living
a life of service and it was when you were in county jail and the big guy was trying
to eat your- Noah: Cellmate’s cookies.
Tom: Yeah. Tell us that story because this this, to me, was incredible insight into who
you are. Noah: [00:09:30] There I am. I’m in the county
jail and I mean, the first meal we had, I’m sitting there. It’s crappy food.
Tom: Just to paint a picture for people, this is after your accident.
Noah: Yeah. I miss an arm and leg. I’m in the county jail and I’m sitting there and
this guy from another table just gets up, big, burly guy and walks over and says to
the guy across from me, “Let me get that,” and then drinks his watered-down Kool-Aid,
which I realized is very important because [00:10:00] that little bit of flavor is all
you get because throughout the day, you’re drinking water out your sink and he just took
like a biscuit off his tray. I remember sitting there thinking, “Okay, don’t get in the
middle of it. Let it go. Let it go.” Well then, the guys who were there for a long
time, people put money on an account that he’d go and get snacks, whatever they wanted.
My cellmate had ordered these cookies. My cellmate, every night, I was trying to have
a conversation with him and [00:10:30] he just … You couldn’t. He was out there. He
was like, “Ever since that day, ever since that day.” I was like, “What day?” You
know. He would talk about how he just … He was like in his 40s. He just need to get back
to his mom. The other people that were locked in with me said he shouldn’t be there. He
had a mental condition. They didn’t like that he was there.
I knew you couldn’t have a conversation with this guy. He had his cookies. I’m sitting
outside, playing cards with some guys and that big burly guy goes into our cell. I’m
watching him and I’m like, “What is he doing in there?” One of the guys playing [00:11:00]
cards was like, “I don’t know.” I was like, “I think he’s eating his cookies.”
He’s like, “I think he is.” I was like, “No.” I went in there. I just tore into
him. I was like, “What are you doing?” He said, “Man, I’m just in here talking.”
I said, “No. You’re eating his cookies.” I said, “You need to get out.” I mean
I said a few choice words. I went and sat down and just stared at him and he just stood
there for a while, then, he went and he went to his cell.
Then, the next meal, he didn’t come out. I was like, “ [00:11:30] Oh crap. I’m only
here for 10 days. I’m going to get shanked.” You all see in TV. He’s making something
out of a toothbrush like this is going down. I’m only here for 10 days. Then, for dinner,
he comes out so he misses lunch, he comes down for dinner and he walks over again to
the guy across from me and the guy covers his tray and says, “No,” and he slides
his Kool-Aid to me and then the guy next to me slides his Kool-Aid to me. [00:12:00] I
just looked at the guy and stare at him and he walked off. Suddenly, I’m like top dog
in the county. It’s crazy because then, from then on, like there’s a TV that’s up on
the wall and they’re like, “What station should we put it on?” I was like, “I don’t
care.” They wanted my opinion on everything but I
was just concerned about that guy and I didn’t mean to … I wasn’t trying to be alpha of
the cellblock. I was just worried about that guy. The guy [00:12:30] had … I mean, everyone
in that cell was worried about him. Everyone in that cellblock was worried about that one
guy. It’s funny you bring that up because I love telling that story because it’s crazy
that it even … It’s like out of a movie. Tom: It literally is out of a movie. When
I was reading the book, I was like- Noah: A movie life, biscuit?
Tom: Especially … Yeah, yeah, yeah, especially because in the book, we’re inside your head,
right? I know that the moment before, I had the chills. The moment before when he takes
it and you think, “God, I’m only here for 10 days,” like, “Don’t get involved,”
but then you [00:13:00] mentioned it a couple more times. It’s like clearly still on your
mind. When he wanders in and I was like, “This is the same shit that got him in trouble in
Iraq,” like, “He’s going to do it. I know he’s going to do it.” I love that
and I love that you were doing it not because you wanted to be alpha. It was so consistent
with your story that you wanted to do it to protect somebody else. The fact that your
thing that’s stronger than your fear is your kids, the camaraderie that you had over in
Iraq, I mean, it’s just like one story after another after another and [00:13:30] service
is the word that just came to mind every time. Do you think of yourself like that, as living
a life of service? Noah: Well, I come from a family full of military
and teachers. I think that it falls naturally into wanting to take care of others. I just
think that’s the way life should be. We should all be taking care of each other in one way
or another and that motivates me. When I was doing my book, I hired a girl that I’ve
known for several years, Rebecca, to help me write it. She pointed that out to me. [00:14:00]
She said, “I don’t think you’ve noticed but that’s what drives you.” She pointed
out to me that when I started getting to fitness, then I quit, then I started, then I quit,
it was a cousin of mine- Tom: Isn’t that Corey?
Noah: Yep, Corey, who was struggling with obesity and then suddenly, I was like, “Let’s
talk fitness. Let’s go to the gym.” That’s what got me going, is knowing I was doing
it for someone else. That drives me. I think that having my kids being my motivation, I
take pride in the [00:14:30] fact that even with the success I’ve had, I still turn things
down because my kids are priority. I give speeches on leadership and I say, “You know,
I’ve been in front of CEOs and presidents of companies,” and I’m like, “Do not forget
why you’re successful or why you wanted to be successful, was to take care of your family.”
I mean, think of your … Every decision I make, I think what lessons it’s going to
teach my kids and how’s this going to affect them and I will turn things down.
Before Dancing with the Stars, Survivor called me and I wanted to do it but we had one phone
call, X amount of weeks, [00:15:00] no contact back home. I said, “Thanks but no thanks.
Three kids here in Alabama, more important.” Another show called, turned them down. Dancing
with the Stars called, said they’d put me in a house in LA and I said, “Thanks but
no thanks. Three kids here in Alabama. I can’t do it.” Deena Katz, executive producer said,
“Not a problem. Your dancer will come to Birmingham, you’ll rehearse there and fly
back and forth every week.” All I could say was, “Crap. I guess I’m doing it.”
Tom: I guess I have to learn how to dance. Noah: Yep.
Tom: That’s incredible, man. Now, let’s go somewhere even more interesting than that.
Here, we have [00:15:30] a man who clearly is motivated by service. Tell me about your
reaction to Osama bin Laden being killed. This really surprised me.
Noah: Yeah. Right before … About a week or two before that, we had several tornadoes
ripped through the state of Alabama. It became a state of emergency. A lot of people lost
their lives. Again, I was injured. I went out and was doing disaster relief work. I
was on tarping roofs. [00:16:00] It was just out there working. It felt … That was the
first thing I’ve done since my injury that I felt like I was accomplishing something
so it felt good to be out there. I would go from sunup to sundown. When I got home one
night, now, because of social media, like I was just about to go to bed, I was tired,
not opened up Facebook, and there was all these people saying Osama bin Laden has been
killed, bin Laden has been killed. I’m like, “What is this?”
Then, one of them said the President [00:16:30] is about to speak. I turned the TV on and
because of social media, I mean, you’re sitting there waiting for him to walk out and he comes
out he says it. I remember being in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was killed. I remember when
we were told, we’re like, “We’re still fighting. It doesn’t matter to us.” When
that happened, it was like, “Okay.” I didn’t know if it affected me yet until my
phone went off. A good friend of mine, Mandy, texted me. I said, “I want to thank you
for your service and sacrifice.” [00:17:00] Even now, it’s like, just her saying
that and acknowledging the fact that my entire life was changed, I lost two of my limbs because
of what he caused and it broke me down, like it was that one text from her. I mean I got
others but it’s like when I got that one, I sat on the couch and I cried because what
that man did, I lost friends. [00:17:30] I mean everything changed. I didn’t realize
how much anger and sadness there was sitting inside and I needed that cry. I needed that
whole moment to happen and it was good. Tom: What really brought that home for me
and made it clearly something that was like a part of who you are, so thinking of you
as a man of service and you said, “I felt I needed to protect America from her enemies,”
I thought, “Enemies.” [00:18:00] That’s actually a really interesting idea and I wrote
down a note and I said to ask you like do you still use this notion of enemies? Then,
when I heard how profoundly Osama bin Laden being killed affected you and I thought, “Whoa,”
because there’s like literally the enemy that sort of kicked all this off and to me, having
an enemy is actually really powerful. Now that you’re not in a military context, is
that’s something that you still find like beating an obstacle course? The obstacle course
is the enemy. Do you think like that? Noah: [00:18:30] I don’t think so. My mindset
is different. I [inaudible 00:18:34] all the time. I never once would be the guy that’s
like, “Oh, it’s this amazing soldier.” I was fun to be around. I was physically fit.
You know what I mean? I got along with my leadership but I also had this mindset that
every time I’m deployed, I was okay with that. Tom: Yeah. Tell me about that. That’s making
sense. Noah: I don’t want to … I feel like it sounds
like something out of a movie but it is. You have … I think you’re a better soldier if
you’re okay [00:19:00] with dying. Your will is done. Everything is taken care of. You’re
not coming back. That was the mindset I had. I’m either going to deploy over and over
and over again and retire an old man or I will die in combat. I was not prepared for
the in-between. That threw me off but I was okay with death. Now, I’m 35. I’m not in the
military anymore. I’m very close to my kids, I don’t know. If I’m on a plane and we hit
some turbulence, I’m like, “No, not now.” My mind says different. I’m not the same.
[00:19:30] I’m glad I thought that way then but I don’t now. To me, when it comes to the
enemy, I think, sometimes it’s good to have something that … I’m a pretty positive guy
but I like to have something that drives me to want to outdo. I’ve seen, I’ve had organizations
that I felt like weren’t right with veterans. That drove me to do certain things or to fight
for things when it comes to veterans or not just for veterans’ issues but for veterans
to change the way they are. I feel like [00:20:00] me and there’s a lot of other veterans that
are in the spotlight that it’s up to us. If we’re going to make a change, we have to start
doing that. I take pride in the fact that I’m one of those
people that veterans reach out to and have pride that I’m out there and showing that
we’re not crazy. We’re successful. We can go on and do other things. I think that, yeah,
there’s always these initiatives to hire veterans but there’s also this, there’s these groups
that are like, “I don’t know [00:20:30] though. You always …” The mindset is that
these veterans are messed up but we’re not. We just have to get over what we’ve gone through
and then move on. To be able to be a successful soldier takes
a lot of skill and these men and women that go over there and deploy over and over again
can be very successful in these other jobs. We have to get their mind right and these
companies need to see that. I feel like the more people, more veterans that are out there
publicly saying, “Yes, I’m a veteran and now I’m doing [00:21:00] this, now, I’m doing
that,” I think that’s going to improve things. Tom: All right. Let’s talk about mental health
then. It features pretty prominently in your book and certainly in what you’ve had to go
through. By the way, your honesty and vulnerability in the book are amazing. I think that they-
Noah: It was hard. It was hard. Tom: I can only imagine. For anybody that
hasn’t read the book, they really don’t understand what we’re talking about. You were really
honest like you did not try to paint yourself as like, “Hey, I’m a stud. Look at me.”
It was such a warts-and-all biography. [00:21:30] Absolutely love that part of it. Amazing.
I’ve got to imagine people reach out to you routinely to say that thank you for that and
it’s- Noah: Yeah. I didn’t know how people are going
to react to it. I mean, I had all these people that followed me from Dancing with the Stars
that love me and when the book hit the shelves, I was terrified. I was like all these people
are going to see a side of me that they have not seen and they’re going to hate me. It
has been a positive response because I was very open and honest.
Tom: That’s incredible. I can imagine the kind of audience that you would build off
of Dancing [00:22:00] with the Stars, sort of very much like sort of right down the middle
and some of the like behaviors that you had when you were angry were like it’s sort of
the aggressive dickhead. You know what I mean? For you to like put it out there and be like,
“Let me walk you through what I was thinking so that you understand, like I’m not justifying
this. I’m just telling you it’s real.” I was like, “God,” It was so defenseless
which made me feel super connected to you and to walk through that but then it got me
thinking like, “What is that rebuilding process?”
[00:22:30] You’ve helped us see your journey but I was like, “What would he say like
if somebody came up that was in this situation? What would he do if it’s a soldier? What would
he do if somebody’s depressed but they’re not a soldier?” Having gone through it and
having been so real open and honest about what that process looks like, how do we … and
give it to me in two ways. How do we systematically address the problem and we’ll just say of
veterans going through it, and then on sort of one-offs on a one-to-one, what does that
look like? Noah: Well, I think [00:23:00] what needs
to happen, I think that we’ve come a long way with mental health but we have a long
way to go. What needs to happen is- Tom: Where would you say how far have we come
when you say we’ve come a long way? Noah: We acknowledge it. We acknowledge it.
Tom: Okay, and we didn’t used to which I would agree [crosstalk 00:23:14].
Noah: No. I mean, because I look at veterans in the past. It was, I think, in World War
II, it’s called shell-shocked. There’s all these different things but it was not acknowledged
in the way that it is now but I think it needs to be talked about more. I think the more
things are talked about, the more comfortable we are and the more we can [00:23:30] understand
them. When I woke up one morning and saw that in
a tweet that Prince Harry came out talking about his depression, it made me really happy
because I’ve been places and someone has said, “Well, you lost an arm and a leg so you
had a right to be depressed,” and I stopped them. I was like, “Depression is real. You
don’t have to go through something traumatic.” Some are caused by something traumatic. Some
can be a chemical imbalance in the brain. I feel like if you had heart problems and
saw a cardiologist, well, [00:24:00] everyone would be concerned about you, want to know
you’re doing better and it would be open and honest with the crew, anybody you work with.
Tom: No stigma, not weird. Noah: Yeah, but the most complicated organ
in your body, if you have a problem with it, suddenly there’s a … We don’t want to talk
about that. No, and you can get over it and that’s what people need to realize. You can
be cured. You can get past it. That’s what we need to need to realize. The reason I did
is because when I was on my depression, I thought I was alone. I didn’t open up to anybody
so I thought someone’s going to read this and it’s going to help them, so [00:24:30]
I just … As nervous as I was about the book, I kept thinking that one person is going to
read it. Well, now it’s opened up this dialog and
I’ll go and I’ll speak and we’ll do Q and A and people want to talk about … I gave
a speech in Florida and it was an older crowd. I was going to say it was … They were old
and I speak what’s on my heart and I gave my speech. As I was closing, I kind of mentioned
some depression because I was coming [00:25:00] out of the winter months and it hit me again
this past winter. I went and saw the doctor and so it was on my mind and it came up. As
I was saying, I thought this generation of people probably aren’t connecting to what
I’m saying. When I walked off the stage and they lined up, the amount of people that thanked
me for talking about mental health and here I was. I thought they didn’t want to hear.
I thought I was stepping out of line. No, it needs to be talked about because it’s not
just this generation. It’s people are realizing more and more that it’s an issue and the
more we talk about it, [00:25:30] the easier it is for people to be honest with themselves
and get the help they need. Tom: Yeah. I really strongly agree with that
and as somebody who’s struggled pretty profoundly with anxiety, it’s that same thing of like,
man, like if you have other people that are going through it, if you’re able to talk about
it, if you’re even able to explain like you said, you learn when you teach, right, so
just even telling other people what I’ve done to try to combat, it’s like, “Oh yeah, that
is what I was doing.” Then, you can sort of reinforce it and systematize it. [00:26:00]
Do you, like when you’re dealing one-on-one, do you think differently about somebody that’s
been through combat and has depression from that versus somebody that-
Noah: No, I don’t. I think that, because I think the depression is real and can affect
anybody and there are traumatic things that can happen in your life whether it’s combat
or not that people go through. Tom: Is the path out different?
Noah: I think there’s a lot of similarities. Here’s an example I give. Combat never gave
me [00:26:30] issue. In fact, I was never the happiest than I was in combat.
Tom: You were the happiest in combat? Noah: Yes, I loved it. I mean you get this
tribe mentality. It’s exciting. It’s life or death. It’s what people go to the movies
to fantasize about. Tom: Let me just say that with a smile, by
the way. It’s life or death. Noah: It is. It’s exciting but-
Tom: I think a quote from your book was I like adrenaline and excitement and nothing
is more exciting than when bullets are flying at you.
Noah: Yes. Tom: I’m pretty sure that’s like a verbatim
quote. Noah: Yep, it’s [00:27:00] just hard to find
that kind of excitement anywhere else. Tom: Yes, probably for the best.
Noah: When I get lined up in the military, suddenly after that first deployment, I was
like, “Oh, this is it. This is home.” I put in a [inaudible 00:27:14] go to Special
Forces. I’ll do all the stuff. In fact, my second deployment, they were going to take
me out of combat to go to school to go Special Forces. I was like, “Well, I’m not leaving
combat for a school. I loved combat.” I had this vision of the future. Then, I wake
up one day and two of my limbs [00:27:30] are gone. My career is gone. Yeah, there’s
battling with injuries but if you have a vision of the future and it’s taken away, you don’t
know where you’re going. I mean think about where you’re heading right now. If you woke
up tomorrow and suddenly you’d never speak again, you can’t even do the show anymore.
Tom: Trust me. I thought of that when I was reading the book.
Noah: Yes. Well, that messes people up and they get hung up on the past. I don’t know
if I mentioned this in the book but I’m really proud of this little thing I came [00:28:00]
up with I called the Bundy effect. Al Bundy on Married with Children scored four touchdowns
in a single football game and if you watched any of those, all those seasons, every episode,
he’s depressed except when he talks about that. He lives in the past. He never moved
past it so when I talked to veterans or anyone else that has gone through something that
their life has shifted, I’ll say, “Look. Be proud of what you’ve done and where you’ve
come from but that was only a chapter in your life. Now, it’s time to conquer something
else. I’m several [00:28:30] chapters past mine.” That’s how I got over my depression,
was to say, okay what’s next? When I got back into fitness, well then, it
was … That’s all I did. I worked out, ran races. I felt like fitness was the answer.
I was this close to going door to door and asking people if they’ve accepted fitness
in their life. That was my mindset but then, I got … After Dancing with the Stars …
Tom: I could just see that. It was good. Noah: My speaking engagements picked up and
then I had all these other things I was doing. [00:29:00] Business got busier and one day,
I got home, was on the road all week and I was like, “I haven’t worked out all week.
Why is this not driving me crazy?” I sat down to my bed and I thought about it. Well,
just like fitness, you have a goal. You plan it. If you do it right, you need to plan your
workouts, where you’re going, what you want to achieve. Well, in business, you plan where
you want to go, how you’re going to make those steps and what your goal is. Well, I was doing
that same thing so it wasn’t just fitness. Tom: Interesting.
Noah: [00:29:30] It was setting goals and achieving little goals at a time, building
to get to your next one. I had somebody the other day ask me what I see myself in five
years and I told her, I was like, “You know, I can’t answer that. I’d love to be in the
public eye even more. I may not be. What I have found is in life, you can plan things
and things happen and change and you have to adjust and that’s what plans do.” The
only [00:30:00] thing I hope to be doing in five years is to still be trying to be the
best father I can be and that is the one thing that I keep focused all the time, is being
the best father, being the best father and if something happens, I’m not in the public
eye, all this … My 15 minutes is over, well then, hey, shift gears. Do the next thing.
Don’t let it eat me up. Be proud that I had this time and do the next.
Tom: Most people say things like that and I call it total BS. I actually believe it
with you, which brings me to what was harder for you, dealing with your injury [00:30:30]
or dealing with your first son’s bowel problems when he was born? That seemed terrifying.
Noah: Yes. Him being born and losing 75% of his small intestines, spending three and a
half months at children’s hospital … I mean even we went home, all this equipment hooked
up to him, that was terrifying because we didn’t know what was going to happen but I
didn’t allow myself to break down like I did when I was injured. That’s just being honest.
[00:31:00] I was married to his mother and I felt like I had to be the one to say it’s
going to be okay, it’s going to be okay. Years later, even after we’re divorced, she said
that that’s what helped her through it but then when I got injured, I was like, “Well,
this is it,” and I broke down. Then, it was interesting because my father has one
arm. Tom: That’s so weird.
Noah: When- Tom: Reading that, I was like, “What, what,
what, what?” I was like, “How’s that possible?” Noah: [00:31:30] To grow up with a father
with the one arm doing construction my entire life, I remember he didn’t … It was hard
on him in the hospital to be there with me and I asked him. I said, “Did you ever think
one of your kids would lose a limb?” He said, “No. I always was afraid …” He
was afraid he would lose just another one of his limbs. It never crossed his mind that
can happen to one of his own children so it was this interesting thing that happened.
Then, to be injured [00:32:00] and then have my son, Colston, that went through all that
come to Walter Reed and me spend a couple days with him, lifted my spirits because then
it reminded me that, yeah, it’s going to be tough but I have something else to live for.
That became very emotional. I was in physical therapy and my sisters walked in with him.
I vaguely remember … [00:32:30] I remember my sisters reminded me that the room was crowded
and I saw him and was crying just ugly cry and everyone just piled out. You know what
I mean? Left me alone with him and I … I mean it was very emotional to see him.
Tom: Yeah. I mean I can only imagine especially if that’s the thing that you’re living for,
if that’s the thing that’s motivating you, the [crosstalk 00:32:56]-
Noah: That second deployment was harder because my first deployment, [00:33:00] I had a wife,
our children. In fact, I didn’t even … When everyone took two weeks leave, I turned it
down. Tom: I remember that story.
Noah: She still doesn’t know that. I told her that it didn’t come up for me but I didn’t
want to leave. The second deployment, I carried a picture of Colston with me everywhere I
went and there were moments that I remember thinking, I hope he never experiences this.
I hope that what … that us doing this or whatever is happening, that he never experiences
this. Tom: Do you think having his picture [00:33:30]
and thinking about him and having him in your mind made you a better or worse soldier?
Noah: That’s a good … I don’t know because I mentioned that death, accepting death could
make you a better soldier. I mean that could be argued but then having a son, like you
may hesitate and you don’t want to have that hesitation but then also had this mindset
that was like I hope he never experiences this and I’m going to just [00:34:00] do what
I have to do and that hopefully, he’s proud of me one day.
Tom: I’ve got to imagine. He’s getting to the age now where he gets-
Noah: He’s 12. Tom: … what you’re about.
Noah: Yes. I’ve been out of town for a couple of days. I’ll head back tomorrow and about
three days ago, I get a random text. He’s 12 now so he hasn’t has a phone and he texted
me and said, “I just watched Pearl Harbor and I just want to thank you for your service
and sacrifice.” I’m looking at the phone like thinking, “You’re my son. You’re not
even supposed to be thinking that way about me.” [00:34:30] I mean, choked me up and
I was like, “Buddy, thank you so much.” [inaudible 00:34:35] he’s wanting something
but it was very sweet. He does. He is very appreciative, all the kids. I three amazing
kids. Tom: What do you hope your kids take away
from you, like what are some just core lessons- Noah: To not let anything … to just always
achieve for the … I always tell them. You don’t have to be the best. [00:35:00] Just
always give me your best because I think I’m not that person that expects my kids to be
… Whatever they do, they have to be the all-star but if they’re giving me their
best, then that’s all I can ever ask of them. Tom: I would say you have a deep problem with
authority. I don’t know if you’d agree with that. You never say it but you dropped out
of high school in ninth grade. Definitely, there were signs in the book that you didn’t
always agree with leadership. I think that’s pretty clear but you’re really bright so dropping
[00:35:30] out of high school was not because you couldn’t hack it. It was because something
about the system bothered you. Noah: Yes.
Tom: A, I guess do you agree with that assessment that you have a deep problem with authority
and then do any of your kids push back like that?
Noah: Yes. I do. I work on it and yes- Tom: Do you think you need to work on it actually
because I think I do as well and the woman who was in charge of taming me as a child
is sitting here [00:36:00] and I actually consider it one of my most effective qualities?
Noah: Yeah. I think I had said that just to try to sound respectable.
Tom: No one’s going to say you’re not honest. Noah: Yeah. No. Every time I’ve bucked the
system, it wasn’t out of just because someone told me to do something. I don’t mind hearing
someone say, “Do this.” I’m fine with it. “Okay, if it needs to be done,” but
if I have a problem with why it’s [00:36:30] happening, I speak up.
Tom: That’s- Noah: I take pride in that. Now, I have I
have people that work for me and because of that, I make sure and take care of them and
hear them and I tell them all the time you’re here because you do what I can’t do. I don’t
need another Noah. I need you to do what you do because you’re amazing at it. I feel like
I have seen failed leadership do things that I’m like, “All right, [00:37:00] I’m going
to do it differently.” I’ve had success from that with people I work with, you know
what I mean? I will defend them. I will do whatever it takes to take care of them because
if they take care of me. I’m going to take care of them and that has worked to my advantage.
I think that when I bucked the system, is because I didn’t like the way the system worked.
Now, I have an older sister that has her PhD in childhood education. Everywhere she’s ever
taught, she has to change the way it works [00:37:30] and someone said, “Why do you
always change it?” She said, “Because it’s not right.” Now, hers is a little
more educated in the way she does it. Mine’s a little more barbaric but we have that same
mindset, was like, you know what, no, if it’s not right, we’re going to make it right.
Tom: I’m going to steal one of your stories for a second. This one is so good and I don’t
know if I can get you there without just telling you the story which proves your point here,
so it was the time you guys were chasing like a white truck. You spot the white truck. It
takes off over a bridge. You’d go. The guy stops. [00:38:00] Do you remember what you
said? Noah: Yep, I do. Well, okay, so another guy
was driving and- Tom: … which you already hate.
Noah: Yep. I like to be in control and with this [inaudible 00:38:13] shady looking a
little bridge and this Humvee’s 9,000 pounds and you got a group of guys in it. I mean
he didn’t … Looking back, yeah, okay. He thought, okay, we probably should go across
this bridge. That little truck is going to need to cross it but I [00:38:30] was mad.
I don’t know exactly but I was … and then I told the platoon leader, [inaudible 00:38:34]
later. I said, “I need to be driving because I don’t care if we’re driving next to a
cliff. If you say turn right, I’m turning right.” That needs to happen. There should
be no hesitation. Tom: I went back and re-read the sentence
because I was like, wait, I can- Noah: Is that what I-
Tom: That is exactly the way you … You said if we’re driving on a road and there’s a cliff
to our right and you tell me to turn right, I will turn right and I was like, “Wow,
[00:39:00] this man is not here to play around.” I really … but it is so dangerous to take
your personality any one piece but when you take it as a gestalt and you realize, okay,
this is a man of service who pushes against the system when he thinks it’s broken because
it’s not serving the other people, he’s not a selfish guy, he’s way more interested
in protecting other people than he is protecting himself so when you say to somebody who clearly
you had a history with, you trusted this guy, believed in this leadership and was that the
guy that you had made the promise like no matter what happens, I will protect you?
Noah: I will protect you, yes. Tom: [00:39:30] That you’re making like that
… God. I’ve got the chills again like it was just one of those things where I was like
you have a code that you live by and it is very clear in your every action.
Noah: I want to appreciate you saying that. This is who I am. This is what stand for and
I take pride in that. I don’t know where I’m going to go but I must stick to who I am and
see where that takes me. Tom: I think that’s a very smart strategy
and as somebody who really believes in that, that we’re living through a time now unlike
anything else in human history where the thing you will [00:40:00] be rewarded for or punished
for the most is who you really are. Noah: I think people … and now, because
of the way we’re connected … You can open up social media right now and if you stalk
someone well enough on their Facebook or Instagram, you can see their personality.
Tom: Sure. Noah: A good reputation will follow you. A
bad reputation will meet you there. Tom: Nice. There you go. All right. I want
to go back to something that you said earlier about the disaster recovery relief work that
you did when the tornado [00:40:30] hit. Tell us about the hammer and why did you work that
hard? Noah: What had happened was it was late in
the day. It’s about to start storming. It’s going to rain and a guy rushes in and he’s
like, “I need tarps. I need tarps now.” We’re like-
Tom: House has been destroyed by tornado. Noah: Yeah. We’re like, “Well, we’re going
with you.” We rush out there. Half of his house is gone. I mean the whole wall is gone,
laid out just brick, mortar, everything. [00:41:00] Roof is gone. He’s just trying to tarp up
to save what’s left in that house before the rain comes. We’re up there. We’re hammering
and I’m on the edge and then this hammer goes flying into the rubble. I’m like, “Well,
there goes the hammer.” I said, “Okay, I need another hammer,” and the guy just
looks down there and he’s like, “That was my dad’s hammer.” I just saw … Oh, [00:41:30]
I mean it hit me, the look on his face. I was like, “We’ll find it. We’ll find it,”
and then he was like, “No, no, no. Let’s …”
Then, we finished the tarp and then we’re down back in the yard and he’s just looking
out there. I’m like, “We’ll find it. We’ll find it.” Then, it’s like he saw that I
was concerned. He’s like, “No, it’s a hammer. Don’t worry about it. It’s just a hammer,”
and he was like, “You know, it was my dad’s and he passed away and this and that.” I
was like, “Oh, I got to find this hammer.” Then, I am … and they didn’t want me out
there because [00:42:00] I mean you got all this rubble and I’m trying to get through
and I’m out there and it’s starting to rain. I’m like, I’m just so mad at myself for losing
that hammer. It’s like I’ve looked for as long as I looked and I turn and there’s a
bush sitting there and the hammer is hanging in the bush. I take that hammer and I give
it to the guy and he was so happy. I mean for him to be like, “Don’t worry about it,”
no, he was worried about it so I was worried about it and I am so glad I found [00:42:30]
that hammer. Tom: It’s interesting. It’s one of those stories
that like it hits me so hard and I’m like, I’m not even sure like what thing to hold
onto of why it hits me so hard but I just thought, one, you’re telling this story in
the book so I’m like, of all the things in your universe that you could talk about, that
becomes the most poignant moment of … You’re out there like rebuilding houses for, just
to help humanity and the story becomes about making sure that you find [00:43:00] this
guy’s hammer again. Man, I really want to tell you that I have like a wrap-up to that
story but that’s like one of those things, it’s going to stick with me for a long time.
It’s really, really interesting. Is that a story you would tell your kids and if so,
what would you tell them is like the moral of that story?
Noah: Yeah. I think … I mean I hadn’t thought about it that much. I mean it was
a powerful part of my life, just the experience but I guess when it comes to a moral to that
is something as [00:43:30] insignificant as a hammer to me is so much more to someone
else. Tom: That’s an amazing moral to that story.
What do you think the next chapter is going to be? I don’t necessarily mean career but
you’ve done such a great job of having these major movements in your life of being the
warrior and recognizing that so few people could do that to then, going through the hard
time but coming out of it realizing that in service to [00:44:00] others and a willingness
to be vulnerable, you’re able to bring something, what’s the next chapter hold, do you think?
Noah: I think that I take pride in the fact that, yeah, I have a disability, I’m an injured
veteran and there’s been other things I’ve done and I will always be seen as that. I’m
fine with that but I also want to show people there’s so much more than that and I want
to continue that road of doing things that will show a side that is beyond what’s so
visible. I also- Tom: [00:44:30] What’s a side of you, you
think that people don’t yet see? Noah: I don’t know. I’m pretty open and honest
about things so I don’t think there’s anything I really hide that people wouldn’t know. I
mean even something as simple as … I mean people that follow me on social media know
I love the Golden Girls. Tom: Really?
Noah: Yeah. I’m a huge Golden Girls fan. Tom: That’s amazing.
Noah: Yeah. I have a shirt. Tom: What is it about the Golden Girls that
you like? Noah: It’s an amazing television show but
like everyone … [00:45:00] I was talking about that one day on social media and my
followers were like, “I love that you’re just like this guy, this like, oh yeah I love
the Golden Girls,” you know what I mean, or The Notebook. I talk about that in the
book. Tom: Yeah, you did.
Noah: Hey, I have a sensitive side and I’m wearing a pink shirt, all right? I’m okay
with it but yeah, I’m pretty open about things. I don’t think there’s anything that people
don’t know. Well, a chapter I see happening in the future, not now, I’ll be in politics.
Tom: [00:45:30] Really? Noah: I think so.
Tom: That’s interesting. Okay. Noah: Any time I’ve gone to DC, I’ve worked
with a lot of people in Congress. I’ve been in State of the Union. I’ve met with the President.
I’ve done all these different things and every time I’m there, I’d kind of get this bug
and I feel like I could make an impact. I feel like too many politicians don’t know
how to explain things to people but I think that if you explain the policies in a way
that’s like, “Oh, okay.” You know what I mean, and not try to hide so much, just
[00:46:00] put it out there and say, “Look, this is why we’re doing this. Yeah, it may
cause this but we’re going to try to counteract it with this and try to actually try to improve
our country.” I love my country I feel like we are still
improving. I’ve never thought that we’ve ever set back. We make mistakes. We’re still a
young country but we still want to keep going forward and I feel like we can do that in
even more accelerated rate if we are working together. I think there needs to be more of
that. I would love to be [00:46:30] one of those people that is up on the hill that is
trying to fight to make that happen. Tom: That’s incredible. If I can start voting
for you now, just let me know. Noah: All right.
Tom: That would be amazing. Before I ask my last question, where can these guys find you
online? Noah: Noahgalloway.com is my website and from
there, you can also connect to my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Tom: All right. My last question, what is the impact you want to have on the world?
Noah: I put my children first. Everything I do, I think of my children first and then
you expand that. [00:47:00] Well, what are we teaching the next generation? What are
we doing for the next generation? What are we doing to prepare the next generation? I
think that’s what we have to be thinking about all the time. I think not enough people think
about those following our footsteps, so just like I do with the house, I do with my children.
Then, you widen that within it’s something … As a veteran, I tell people when it comes
to the VA, I’m like we can argue the VA back and forth but you know what, Vietnam veterans
fought hard to get it where it is today and it’d be a disservice to them if my generation
[00:47:30] lets it go to waste. It will be selfish of us not to think about the generations
after us so we have to be enrolled and involved to make it better. That’s thinking of those
after us so I think that an impact I would like to make in the world is to not always
think about yourself but think about how we’re affecting those that are following us.
Tom: That is so Noah Galloway of you. That is amazing.
Noah: So Noah Galloway of you. I like that. Tom: Noah, thank you much for coming in the
show, man. Noah: Thank you.
Tom: Absolutely incredible and by the way, [00:48:00] in all seriousness, thank you for
your service and your sacrifice. Noah: Thank you.
Tom: Absolutely amazing. Guys, first of all, read his book. It is absolutely unbelievable.
I have seen, as you well know, every interview this guy’s done. I’m telling you nothing does
it the service of reading it firsthand. You’ve got to go in, just hear it, you’re inside
of his head and while I’ve never heard him talk about politics before, I am deadly serious.
If I start voting for him now, I would and let me tell you why. When you take his personality
in totality [00:48:30] and you realize that you have somebody that’s not afraid to mix
it up and whip a little ass, which I’m a huge fan of, but does it in service of other people,
I want the guy that stands up when the guy that can’t stick up for himself, when a big
guy’s eating his cookies, I want the guy that stands up for that guy to be the guy
I give my Kool-Aid to quite frankly. Looking at the way that he is, he lives by
a code, there are things that he believes about taking care not only of yourself but
more importantly [00:49:00] taking care of those around you. taking care of the people
that you love that love you, creating a community and really being of service to that community,
no matter how far you stretch that community out and that to me is one of the most beautiful
ways to live a human life that there is and the most incredible part is not when somebody
lives a life that seems too good to be true. It’s when they live a life that you say, “Thank
God that’s not me,” and you look at where they are today and you envy them [00:49:30]
and you think they’re incredible and what they’ve done to their mind is absolutely extraordinary.
When I look at him, I see that. I see somebody to look up to. I see somebody
that has done to his mind something that is far more astonishing than what he’s done to
his body. The fact that he’s willing to talk about it even now he struggles with depression
but knows how to deal with it and actually takes steps to do so, to me, is incredible
and is really the warrior’s mindset. This is somebody that I cannot encourage you enough
to dive [00:50:00] into the world, to watch to learn from them, to read and to support
the things that they do in the future. Noah, thank you so much again for joining us.
Noah: Thank you. Tom: My friends, until next time. Be legendary.
Take care. Hey, everybody. Thanks so much for joining us for another episode of Impact
Theory. If this content is adding value to your life, our one ask is that you go to iTunes
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being a part of this community and until next time. Be legendary, my friends.