Each season of Just Stories has a different eight-episode theme. The show kicks off with “Recycled Dreams,” featuring eight CEOs who have woven giving back into their business strategies.
These episodes will give you a blueprint for doing the same in the most efficient way possible, which is making their learnings your reality.
For the first time ever we have a guest host on the show, CK, and are recording live in person! Imagine all the Bravo reality shows you used to watch, think of this as the season recap show. We go into our take aways from the different episodes, CK grills me on some stories and we talk about the launch of Season 2!
Season 1 of the podcast is titled “Recycled Dreams” because each episode focuses on CEO’s who have utilized giving back as a part of their main business strategy. The purpose is to use the art of story telling to motivate our business communities into giving back more because when you do, everybody wins!
Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and never miss an episode.
Brett Thornton: Okay, welcome back to another episode of just stories with BT. If you’re seeing the video, this is happening live, there’s actually another human being sitting here with me live. It’s not done via zoom, although we’re recording on zoom, but it’s not virtual, it’s in person. So for anyone who ever grew up watching any show on Bravo, you know that after a whole season, they do the Bravo after the season episode to recap and rehab and they’re going to Oh, so this week, I’m not in control of the podcast. It’s actually my great friend ck, who is. And so she’s going to be the host for the Bravo after show season one. So ck, welcome.
CK Ong: Hey, thanks, Brett. Well, it’s good to be here. And I can’t wait to talk about Season One of just stories with BT. I listen every episode real quick. So without further ado, I want to dive right in. Because I know everyone’s time is valuable. Just a quick intro of who I am. And then I got a lot of questions for you. Right? Yes. So, my name is CK. And I actually work with Brett at Green brands. And that’s not how I started, I actually went to school for philosophy dropped out because I couldn’t really afford the tuition at USC when I moved to Hollywood at the time. So I was working a few different jobs, you know, from restaurants to working with kids with special needs, and then found myself in retail and I worked in music retail for guitars for about eight years. And in that time, I realized that I accidentally stumbled upon something that I was really passionate about, which happen to be retail. I love music, and it was all about rock and roll for a minute there. But I really wanted to do something more with that passion of mine and, find a place that really resonated with me. So then all of a sudden found me I got referred to the job started as an associate. And then two years later, here I am, as an area manager, and Brett is one of my professional mentors. So yeah, I want to dive right into season one. Because as I’m learning more about the industry, because like, I like most people who stumble upon the mattress industry or furniture we didn’t start off there. Yeah, you know, and you’ve been in it for quite some time. A comparison. Yeah, so my two years. So just always with BT, I loved it. There were a few takeaways, I’d like to kind of discuss with you because as a listener, I would love to give some feedback about what really resonated.
Brett Thornton: Absolutely.
CK Ong: But I also have some questions after that.
Brett Thornton: Also. Well, hold on first, before you go any further. How are you going to do an introduction of yourself and then not talk about you know, your successes, hairball?
CK Ong: Oh, man, I don’t even know about that.
Brett Thornton: About all kinds of things you don’t know. Well, yeah, my sister’s a hairstylist, and she’s been on a few competition shows. And I don’t really care what happens the layer because the hair grows. And so I’m like, do it. And every time I trust, there’s something cool comes out. Like if you’re watching the video. I mean, this needs a little work. Yeah.
Brett Thornton:That’s awesome. So yeah, one of the things that I wanted to do with this kind of each time we finished it, he did want to get together with ck and have her go through some feedback, but then ask questions, and we can kind of follow up on some of the main things we learned from season one, learn from the different guests. And I really want to get feedback to know what’s resonating. Right, because what’s the point of doing a podcast? if things aren’t landing with the audience? Or if you’re not getting anything out of it? You know, like, what’s the point right now I’m not doing it just to like, have people download it, I want to really make a difference. Right, which is why each season has a different theme. The first one giving back, the second one we’ll talk about later. But at the end of day, that’s kind of what I want to talk about, too. So yeah, before you get into questions that you have for me, you know, just tell me like, Yeah, what were your takeaways? And for anyone watching the video up on the board behind we have all eight episodes, you know, with all the different CEOs that we talk to each week. And then yeah, so give us your feedback first.
CK Ong: Yeah. And if you are watching the video, I kind of made some notes so that I wouldn’t forget to mention some of the key takeaways that I got. The number one takeaway that I got out of it is that most folks who get into giving back actually stumble upon it after something that happened in their personal life, maybe even professional, but, you know, it’s not something that comes out of an idea when they sit down, they’re like, how do I get it back? It happens to them you know, something happens, and it triggers this need to want to get back and I can refer to you know, Dale’s episode of both marks don’t smart goes, I’ve had the honor of speaking with Mark Kinsley and that was really cool. But yeah, hearing their stories, I mean, it really led me to see that like most of us go through our personal struggles, and we’re not alone on that and that’s what ends up driving us to want to give back and help those who are maybe going through something similar.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, I like that feedback. Because you know, I think that yeah, it speaks volumes to a lot of these people. You know, if you think of Scott, you know, right this family owned business it’s kind of generational and we take it from there into this whole giving campaign you know, Roger, super successful sells his business million dollars, loses his mom to pancreatic cancer rolls into this Dale same thing super successful. finds you know, out about foster kid starts working with them. The more you do, the more you’re like oh my gosh, she now saying and then all these stories are very similar that way. And so, I think the message that I get the takeaway I get there is that, you know, at the end of the day, these people aren’t like, come out of the womb as philanthropists, like, Oh my god, I’m here to give back. You know, like, basically, none of them said, like, Hey, I there’s a long history of giving back or whatever, you know, I mean, kay Williams, they obviously she starts out, you know, you’re doing a nuclear disarmament think tank at 16 years old, like, your brain is going a different direction, but to like, end up working in the corporate world, and thinking like, man, I got to, like, I want to go somewhere that’s giving back and then really, you know, so all those stories that we heard, should tell you as an audience member who’s listening like, hey, maybe I haven’t started yet. That doesn’t mean anything. Yeah. Like some of these people start at 50,60,70 years old, it’s never too late to get into something giving back. But the present, you know, the opportunity may present itself, then you got to grab
CK Ong: exactly.
Brett Thornton: You got to go for it totally.
CK Ong: And that leads me to my next two points, actually, two takeaways. So, the second one, is, it’s easier to give back than people think. Right? So especially listening to Kate and talking about 1% of the planet. And actually, a few weeks ago, about a month ago, Kate hopped on an alcohol team meeting to present two awards to people who make great impacts within the month of April for Earth one, and I thought it was really cool, because it might have just taken 1% of her day. But honestly, it meant the world to everybody that, you know, she was able to jump on the call and say something. And that’s a really small example of giving back 1% of whatever it is that you’ve got, whether it be profit in a business or your time, your energy, your efforts. And so it’s the second takeaway for me, honestly, was just how easy it is to give back without thinking about you don’t have to try.
Brett Thornton: Yeah.
CK Ong: So that was my second takeaway. And that’s just one example. But the third takeaway is, if you can’t find a foundation right now that you want to work with, you can start your own. And that’s something that I don’t think a lot of people think about, we always are looking for people, businesses, what have you to work with. But at the end of the day, if you really want to do something, and you’re passionate about it, you can start yourself and plenty of these episodes have bought every single one of them, you know, inspired me to think that way.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, he’s story of kind of how he just started you know, he’s driving down up the those hurricanes out or whatever it’s like, and the tornado, whatever it was, and it’s like y’all every house he drives by you just see bed stacking he’s going to like all these people are going to need beds, going to have no money, fame is going to take forever, all this give them some use beds, right. And then also, here you are years later, now he’s launching an organization, right? Basically a franchise for giving back to anyone can do it. I mean, it’s pretty incredible. Yeah, like, Can you just stumble and take an opportunity. And then, and then the story that, like you said, that resonated with me was, you know, all of these people, once they started, that became the new main thing, exactly, like original business became kind of secondary, because obviously, as we all know, like when you start giving back, if that’s what feels so good, you know, it’s better than putting the extra dollars in your wallet. It’s like knowing like, Oh, I help this person or whatever, it just feels great. And seeing the benefit that’s happening.
CK Ong: Yeah. And I really got that towards the end, especially with Roger story, too, like it just really hit when he started off working with a different Foundation, and then eventually started as oh, so I, that really, definitely hit me. And then last, but definitely not least on my list of takeaways, and this is huge, and I live by this anyway. But this was great confirmation, which is, when you go into it with the heart of helping others succeed, it leaves you with success. And again, it’s not even the mo. right, you go in there with like, I want to do this so that I can succeed out of it. I’m doing this to help others, and help others have a better life in one way, shape, or form any way shape, or form, I should say. And yeah, though, the last episode really nailed it home, you know, to get hold for me. That’s episode with the foster kids. Like, I’ll never forget that story about Gigi, you know, brought tears to my eyes. And I remember calling you back, and I just thought, I was like, Brad, I’m so glad I listened to this right now. And I’m talking to you, but I think I want to foster some kittens. So some of these stories, you know, actually, every single one of them just goes to show when you go into the heart of helping others succeed. It really just brings you to the end, and it’ll keep going, you know.
Brett Thornton: And I’ve never seen in I’ve been a part of some amazing organizations, Aesop’s public companies, all kinds of different things in the last 20 year career, and I have yet to see in my life, and like, you know, somebody, whether it’s a district level vice president executive, who really invest their time and energy to others and making them better, yeah, whoever got like, passed up by the people they made better or worse, because when you focus so much of your energy on others, like it’s always an elevation for yourself. It just is what happens. You know, you don’t go like oh, yeah, let’s take the project. Well, no, you actually like spend all this time. It’s just how it rolls and you can see And these others when you’re truly giving back and doing these programs for the right reasons, it all generates so much more positivity and growth generally that’s the person you want leading the train or growing.
CK Ong: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s, I guess that’s the least the difference between leadership and management. So, with that, so those are my key takeaways.
Brett Thornton: Yes. And I loved it.
CK Ong: So recycled dreams. Season One, that was the theme. my curiosity is what led you to thinking of that as the first season’s theme or topic? Because giving back.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, I mean, at the end of the day, there’s a couple things that you know, people probably don’t know, one is, you know, obviously the podcast is on this, you know, fam dot news website, Mark Kinsley and Mark Quinn started, you know, they have the dose markers, podcast with, you know, hundreds 1000s of downloads and all this stuff. And they, they really felt like the industry needed. A new source that wasn’t, you know, just wasn’t coming from the same kind of corporate mattress virtual world. It’s been around for a long time, like the industry is changing. You got all these DTC brands, avocados, and the tough needles in the capital of the world coming in. And, and they were viewed originally as a disrupter. But I really think that history will look back as like, this was such a pivotal time in our in our industries career where we actually shot forward into like, the modern era, right? Like, it shouldn’t be about a bunch of stales, you know, old white guys saying, This is what you got to do. It’s got to be about what represents actually the people buying our mattresses, right? It’s very diverse, male and female, all these different things, right? Like, companies aren’t run the way they were 30 years ago, you know, and so we have to adapt, and we got to migrate. And they wanted to create a website that would have news and articles and podcasts. And not just that. So we’ve been talking a long time, I was actually on their podcast, Episode 69. And super fun. That’s when we became friends. We know each other before then, and since then become great friends. And they approached me last fall and said, Hey, you know, we would love for you to be with their coin as an artist on the podcast. So we can we want to offer a few different, you know, voices besides hours. And I jumped out at Of course, I’ve been thinking about it, you know, and at the end of the day, I think we all go through a little bit of imposter syndrome with that type of stuff like, hey, do I have enough to say, you know, can I do this or whatever, but you got to push past back. And I was like, you know, what if I was listening to a podcast, what would I want to hear about? And I’m a very story driven person. So like, when I hear gripping stories like that, what moves and motivates me the most, you know, like, I remember it, I get, you know, I’m attached to it. And so, for me, the art of storytelling is how I, want to receive information if I had a choice, right? Like, that’s the form I want it. Yeah. And I know so many people like that. And I’ve always been totally on in high school, my buddies called me grandpa T, right? Because I’d sit around, you know, we tell stories, and I just always loved that, you know, I love telling stories, and I love going back and forth with people. And so, I thought, A, okay, I love to do stories idea because of how I resonate. But then B, stories are cool. But what’s the takeaway? Like if I’m going to do it, what’s the point? And so I kind of thought about, hey, maybe I could do something wrong giving back but then I also wanted to do something around, you know, x, then I want to do this, and I had all these ideas. I’m like, wait a minute, I could do seasons. And at the end, there’s no one telling me or anyone like how to do is or right way or wrong way. There’s just the way right. And so for me, it’s like, hey, let’s have a season and why I wanted to do giving back is because I just already knew a few amazing people that I wanted to get their story out, you know, whether it’s Dale or Dan, you know and Roger like, so I knew I had these amazing connections with these CEOs, I knew that they had a connection to giving back. So it resonated, that that could be kind of a story. And the reason it became important to me is that it’s just, it’s in my DNA now, like, because of the amazing companies I’ve worked for that giving back is this something that you do, like, that’s just, that’s just how you roll, you know, like, it’s part of the business plan. It’s part of the success and the foundation of so many companies. And I feel like, you know, for companies out there not giving back, they’re just missing out, right, like, in such a major way because their employees are missing out, their consumers are missing out. And now when millennials taking up such a massive area in the buying market, you know, if you’re not doing something to give back to the environment, you know, the people around that local net, like, people don’t want to work with you, you know, that’s where it’s going is like yeah, have to do something, but just putting a check. That’s cool. But it’s just that’s a one way get, you know, and benefits the whoever’s game for sure, but those are generally bigger corporations. It’s not like at the core of it. And so I was inspired you know, the way this all came about for me was really, you know, growing up and sleep train, you know, cut my teeth in the corporate world there. You know, we had the foster kids. That’s episode one. Dale Carlson, we learned about that. So that was just in like what I did, and then went into matches firm it was pancreatic cancer and what Roger had plus, we did the foster kids. So that was cool. Then I go to living spaces, and I take over the revive sleep department trying to build it up into this big thing. And we didn’t have any philanthropy robot. So the owner of living spaces, Grover is this amazing guy, he donates billions of dollars of his own pocket. And he doesn’t want anyone to know about, because he’s actually giving for the right reason, like he’s giving because it’s the right thing to do not because he wants to blow it out there. However, I used to be like over, people want to know this, they want to shop the businesses who are giving back. And so my boss at the time, Luke Parker, I remember I went to him and then went to Grover and had an idea said, hey, what if revived becomes this philanthropy arm, and we do a buy one, get one program where you buy a, you know, a mattress, you know, certain higher level mattress, and we’ll donate to a foster kid, a veteran, whatever is this idea. And I put together a whole proposal and slides and all this stuff. And I remember when thinking they’re going to be like, you know, going back and forth and not sure about the ideas. I had money and, and ideas on what we would bring in revenue. And I remember, I was like, two minutes in and I’m like, Yeah, that’s great. We should do that. You know, like hesitation. Yeah, let’s try. And so the idea for buy one get one came from TOMS Shoes, right? You know, because I had literally that week, I wanted to do philanthropy, I wanted to do some of the mattresses. I didn’t know what, and I was listening to another podcast, Guy razzes how I built this on NPR through a podcast, bring him out there looking for something, you know, tell stories of how people became, you know, ultra-successful and, the guy and the CEO of Tom’s had just been on that week, or at least I listened to it that week. And his story resonated because it was really fun. He was in Argentina, and it literally got into this this whole thing with the shoes because he was trying to impress these girls, you know, this girl in Argentina and which is which I think is funny, just like we talked about earlier. Like he didn’t it wasn’t like some crazy flat Yeah, like he literally like was trying to impress somebody you know, and watches this thing and with the buy one give one really resonated with me because it’s a win like everyone, right? Like the people when they get shoes that the salespeople feel good. So that was the idea behind this buy one get one and it turned into this insane success. Right. And I wanted to start at a small market. So, we launched in Arizona. And that’s how I met Dan episode eight, which was you know, I reached out to Gina Davis, who’s the president of ticket dream, Dale’s Episode One, Dale’s president. And I said, hey, do you know any, any agencies that work with foster kid in Arizona, and right away? They’re like, oh, yeah, Dan shoe fell Arizona helping hands that are amazing, young, great partners, you should hit him up. So, I got Dan’s numbers and gave me his numbers. I call them on a cell phone these picks up and I’m just some random guy. And I’m basically said, hey, would you, know, want to accept a bunch of mattresses if, you know if we did this program, and he cried on the phone, like legit. And I remember being like, okay, like, you know, I didn’t think it was that big of school. But I knows this big of a deal. But I didn’t know at the time that his organization was basically spending 90% of their money, all the money, they bring in on mattresses, they want to give kids new mattresses not used or recycled or whatever, they either want new mattress, they don’t want to put it in the house that’s, you know, could have bugs or whatever. Yeah, so they spend all his money to buy these really inexpensive mattresses, and then you’re talking springs and fabric not comfortable, right. And so and we wanted to build these really beautiful medium plush mattresses, which they were which came from China diamond, and he gave us a great deal on them. So it’s like a cool partnership all the way around. But so I didn’t get you know, and we end up launching the event. It’s a buy one, get one, you sell a nicer higher end mattress, and we were donating on your behalf and the customers loved it. The sales people loved it. And then we go and we did the we would do the giving events. And that’s where the magic happened with Dan right, which is he’d set up these given events in Arizona, the whole sales team would come out, you know, managers, GM sales people, and actually unload the trucks, we put them in and help even doing deliveries into these new foster parents would come in or Foster Grandparents, you know, and that’s where it’ll get you on the episode when you’re listening to the stories, you know, but we the loading into of the beds into people’s cars and seeing them crying, and just how insane it is to get a child who’s on the ground, you know, up into a bed of their own. You know, it’s just mind like, so it makes everyone feel great. And so, you know, once that happened, that was it. Like we just started going full bore and did you know veterans, foster kids and we rotated back and forth and became this big thing. And so obviously like coming to avocado, you know, we have a huge philanthropy arm with our mattresses, right? So all of our mattresses basically we have the whole set team that goes out, we get them back to you know, anytime someone does a return or whatever, we figure out ways to get him to people who, who need widgets. So same thing, it’s just a phenomenal team’s a phenomenal thing. It’s something that’s so core at who we are here. So I’ve just been blessed, right? So for every company I’ve worked out over the last, you know, 17 years and had this giving back arm and I’ve seen it work at such a high level that I just want to get those stories out if that makes sense. Yeah. And that’s really why like that was the kind of the idea behind it. And obviously, I didn’t know, some of these people on this list. You know, I mean, I didn’t really know, Scott, you know, I didn’t know Keith, really. And I was thinking, okay, and so it was like those were all those introductions being made or people recommended. And now, you know, I’m sure we’ll be friends for life.,
CK Ong: Well, yeah that’s super awesome, actually. And I remember you put something on LinkedIn, it was like a little poll of like, would you work for a company that wasn’t giving back? How important is that? And after listening to a few of these episodes, I realized how one easy it was right and, and how important it was to me Actually, my DNA now so if not all Mikado, I mean, if I worked with any other company, I feel like I’d have to know that they were getting back at some point. But on that note, it didn’t start off that way. I mean, you didn’t start off just jumping into the mattress industry because you wanted to give back, so I’ve heard a lot of your stories, but I want everyone to hear this story because I think it’s hilarious. What about Mattress Firm? And heater first night? Going over there from sleep train? I think it was.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, oh, man. I I’m trying to think what version I should tell it’s like PG, PG 13 so, yeah. So my career was yes. You know, started in clothing apparel, like a surf skate clothing line, then went to sleep train was there a long time. And then sleep train was bought by Mattress Firm Rice was a massive public company. And you know, they called it the great merge or something, but really, they bought, so your kind of and so it was real awkward. Because you know, you’re going from, you know, Hey, I know all the executives were, you know, we’ve got this amazing team or Aesop. And now we got to go, you have to like start over like, Hey, where’s my place? And then we’re someone at Matt for him to do what I do, right? So, we were like, I didn’t know is I going to report to this person? Are they going to report to me is all weird stuff? And so, no one from Matt from New anyone from St. Train, except for like some of the high level executives. And I didn’t know anyone that nobody. And so, my boss had said, Hey, they do their whole learning’s sales training team does a big event every December where they go, and they rent these houses in Galveston. So, there’s like three houses up on stilts, and there’s already some people, the whole team is there. And they do like this off-site reporting, right. And so they game plan for the year they do these activities, they did projects, and they you know, have fun do dinners and all that stuff. And so in my bosses, this guy manners is my best one best friend, great mentor of mine. He’s like, Alright, we’re going to go so we’ll be the first people that anyone from matching for meat, so we’ll be like, the grain reps, you know, like, they’ll get to know us and we’ll have fun and we’ll, we’ll break down those barriers, you know, kind of make this all cool. Oh, no. And it’s you. It’s me. Yeah. And so I’m at the airport. It’s like 530 in the morning, because I have a sixth sticking fly to Houston. And I get a text and it’s my boss and he and I can’t remember what the excuse was, but it was like something came up he can’t go and I’m just like, dude, no, you know, no, like, I don’t know a soul You know? And this is going to be so awkward. Like you’ve got to be there with me now. He’s like, I can’t come you’re on your own so you’re in you’re going to represent all of sleep train, you know, this will be it you know, some like the guy so fly to Houston get their you know, taxi or Uber. I can’t remember who wrecked in taxi over to the to the air or to the corporate office, and I get there and it’s like, I’m out back at this. These are old corporate. And like it’s all keycards get I can’t get in. No one’s coming in. Now. It’s Tuesday attracting freezing. It’s like December. David out there waiting. And finally some guy comes out. And then he asked me if I work here. I’m like, well, you know, not yet. Not really. It’s a kind of a weird thing. And then he doesn’t let me in. I still stand up like that. Then all sudden, all these people are coming out. And it’s like, I can tell from like, because I remember looking people up on like LinkedIn. I was like, who are these people? I recognize a few of them like, okay, this is the people I’m no one’s like, say anything to me really. And find this one guy’s like, hey, where do you and I’m like on right? He’s like, Oh, this guy. Okay, cool. Yeah, you come on with us, like hop in my car. And so it was him. It was him and another guy and I get in the back of the car. And we’re literally five minutes down the road. And he’s like, Oh, yeah, we got to make a stop. We didn’t get our white elephant gift ship. And I’m like, What? What do you mean? He’s like, did you bring a white elephant gift? I’m like, No, I can bring it. I don’t even I have no nothing to what we’re doing. I earned her Galson before. This is my first time. It’s like a 40-minute drive. I’m like, I know nothing, except for this is awkward is that you know, and he’s like, Oh, we do a big white elephant gift exchange the first night every year in the big tradition, you know? And so, I don’t know about you, but like, for me, I’m like, I only know one version of white elephant which is over the cop out of control. Like ridiculous, like, super funny. Not cool. Not anything, like nothing you can ever give anyone else right? Unless it’s like becomes the new white elephant. Right? But I’m like I don’t know if it’s a serious thing. I know. People Texas can be conservative. I don’t know. Yeah. I mean, like, I’m like, I don’t know. So Mike, okay. What do I do, you know, and at the end of the day, I was like, EFF it? You got to be you, you know, so I go and they tell me like let’s all split up because we don’t want to see what do you Other gifts I’m like, Alright, so here I’m by myself walking around some random, you know, Houston argot, and I end up buying a package of adult diapers. I get the adult diapers, I get this big paste thing it’s like says it’s like a butt rash cream and for adults and then I went down this DVD I on I found a Boy Meets World season through the university, those perfect comments, right and I get this like bags like this a, like a magazine cabinet because I wrapped it myself, you know, literally go to the table like taped it on and like scan. It was very funny walk up and he’s like, what are you doing? Like, why I got to have this thing reps soon as I get the car. And we head up when I’m nervous, right? Because I don’t know everybody. And I’ll never forget, we get there. And there’s like these three huge homes up on stilts, literally that like the bottom levels are like just cement, you know, and because the floods and the hurricane, so like the houses are Up above, we go up above and everyone’s like getting rooms and stuff. And like, oh, you’re in this outer room is like a separate like granny flat kind of downside with these two guys. So and they already had a room. So I’m on the couch, I put all my stuff down, walk over the house, and it’s lunchtime. And so here’s my first time so I’m kind of meeting people. I’m super nervous. And, you know, meeting people slowly Hey, how’s it going, but no one’s really talking to me and I’m making everyone’s making sandwiches and they go outside on the deck, big, beautiful deck. It’s a sunny, you know, kind of beautiful winter day, looking at the brown ocean. I’m going to California. It’s like brown, there’s treasure on the beach, but still night. And I remember I sit down. And there’s like an older gentleman who was like one of the like, training guys. And he’s like, so Brett, you know where he’s wrong? You know, I’m like, oh, San Diego, California. Like Yeah, California and he just goes, he’s like, well, my son moved out there and the next thing you know, my his son, my grandson smoking weed in the garage with everybody just like y’all do in California. And like dead serious is not a joke. And everyone tables like smart like, you know, like Winston like because they’re embarrassed for him like, Dude, come on the new guy. Like they understand like, probably not every person in California does that. But I just look right at them. Don’t skip a beat. And I just looked right at him. And I’m just and I go, yeah well, you know, I mean, my son, I think my son at the time was like, five or six or something. But I was like, Yeah, my son. Like, he just turned six. And we were trying to figure out like, when’s a good time for him to start smoking weed, and we just figured this this winter, actually, we just have a good time. So yeah, I mean, he’s just like everyone else, you know, hangs out in the garage, you know, with us. And the guy just like, and he does all the color and spaces right now. And everybody else knows I’m joking, obviously. And then finally, as you’re logged in, everyone starts laughing. And he’s like, not registering. Like, that’s how much he’s convinced that like people in California, apparently smoke weed with our kids you do is this, like, this is like my introduction to Texas, you know, I’m like, okay, Texas. Cool. So then actually, then this is funny. So, then we, you know, we did some stuff, we did some activities or whatever, throughout the afternoon, get to know people. And then we did a big dinner before the white elephant gift exchange. So, this was the second thing, like taught me like, okay, you’re not in California anymore. You know, like, so this is a court this is the business trip. I mean, this is a work event. And I’ll never forget we like there’s like a guy that was kind of leading the whole thing. He was kind of like a, an emcee kind of thing, or like, Did activities and all kind of stuff. And he was also like, you know, very religious guy, right? And I can’t refuse a pastor or something like that, but very religious. Just like a lot of people who were there. So he’s like, okay, Everyone gather around, you know, we had all the food out, like in this one big house and there’s like 40 some people, right? Gather all around. And he’s basically like, okay, you know, I’m going to bless the food. Like, okay, and basically people like start you know, holding hands or whatever and he goes into when I say I’m talking like a come to Jesus prayer, like legit like, I mean, like he’s giving a sermon. I mean, like the full-on like, if there’s anyone here who does not know the Lord, I hope you burn or are like this kind of thing. This is a word of, I’m coming to California thinking like, this is how am I going to show you know, like, Is this like a monster show? But it’s like a legit you know, in every 42 people eyes closed, fully non head, like into an iceberg in like, oh my gosh, this is I’m not kidding. You know, like the I’m definitely not in California. Where’s this? Funny, you know, I mean, like, it didn’t like offend me or anything. It was just really funny. And I just remember thinking like a some of the people I worked with in California would be like, loose, like just really uncomfortable right now, you know? So anyways, so we have the dinner. And everyone’s drinking, thankfully, because I was so nervous earlier that I bought all this tequila, so I make margaritas. Nice because I knew I was really nervous. And they have this core by the time they probably have good beer there. I know. They do actually because I was in Texas last time and that’s good new IPAs and micro brews by the time they have all they had was like Budweiser and shiner Bock And so which are in my assumption very growth. And so I was like we got to get some stuff to make Margarita and like we’ve got to do it now because there you have to like there’s no liquor sold in the stores like separate stores. Did you buy certain kinds of weed going around to get out I’m making markers. I got the blood Going like some unlike now Margarita guy like so at least I got something right. I’m not just like have your kids smoke weed in the garage guy. So I’m Margarita guy make markers we’re having a good time. And in the aim start setting in a little bit. Because it’s this big, beautiful tree that got set up gifts all around it. I mean, people have gone off. I mean, they’re wrappings nice. It’s like everyone’s looking at gin on mind all jacked up in the back taped together like pages. And all I kept thinking was like, please don’t pick mine first. You know, if you’re not thinking like, if it turns out this is super serious. Then I’m going to go around the tree and I’m going to kick mine like down the hall or like, what I don’t care, I’ll just grab a stick and go to this. So, this guy, Dan, who’s Dan Hornstein, who’s actually a stand up comedian. Now shout out to Dan, he gets the number one pick. And it’s like one of those things where you get picks, you know, so one through four is I’m like six or seven and like, and there’s always rules time and all that stuff. So, he gets up, and he’s like, walking around and kind of doing his thing and looking around and kind of having a huge purge. And everyone’s watching him. And I remember he almost he like grabs, like this nice wrapped gift. And then he kind of like, and I purposely put mine like kind of around the back so people wouldn’t see it. He’s like, you know, what’s that kind of thing? walks over there. Grab mine, of course, and I’m destroying, oh, my god, no, like, why? Why is this happening now. And so, he gets it, he brings it back. He’s on this couch. And there’s always comfortable couch and likes it people everyone’s big. And he sits down and he like rips it open and he’s just staring. And it’s like moments, and everyone’s just looking, you know, and all of a sudden, like he kind of and he starts like, going like this, you know, like you’re on the video because he’s like, kind of like pulling in stuff. And I’m like, what is he doing? Well, what he’s doing and he’s opening the diaper back. And then all of a sudden he pulls one out and kind of turns around the couch a little bit and pulls one out. And he puts it on his leg his other like, pulls it up. Now he’s got the adult diaper on and he’s like, starts dancing around and like everyone starts dancing, he starts throwing diapers to like different people in the audience and everyone who grabs the diapers puts him on. And next thing you know, it’s like, we got our March we’ve got diapers, all of us have these adult diapers and we’re everyone’s dancing in the middle and I’m like, dude, yes, I’m like, this is amazing. And everyone became you know, like instant best friends you know? And so such a funny night, and we end up like, there’s actually two more super funny things that happen or three actually. So the second thing was that I got a Nerf gun. That was the present. I got like a Nerf gun and so all my buddies, you know, David Reich, Bernie kasi, Todd rikey, Scott Higgins, all the guys, the old school sleep train guys. We used to have Nerf guns in our training class. And we had targets and we would like shoot during when we were you know, we’re grading quizzes that night, we’d always fire anything off and we make our training classes at the end of the night. Targets you can try to stick it for days and then win points and chips. And it was just like, would it have fun. But we also used to play a game where we would lick the end of the Nerf Darts and we would you know kind of backup like this far away. And you’d go 3,2,1 and shoot at the same time and you try to see who can hit the stick on someone’s forehead. So of course I taught everyone this game. Yeah, and so everyone’s playing this game. You know, we’re out this balcony we’re shooting drastic darts. But that was the week that iPhone launched the slomo video. Everyone got the new iPhones are updated and all sudden you had slomo feature. And so I just remember all the videos that my phone storage literally was gone. And one night because I had like 16 more videos about like getting shot into agents I, and so I remember we walked back to one at like the house we were in was like next door, we walk over there and I hear all this yelling. And people are like freaking out. And I’m like What is happening? We like walk in the bunk. Everyone’s run a ping pong table, and they’re like, oh, we’re playing redbelly calm. Have you heard this, I have red belly calm. So red belly palm is this amazing game where everyone gets around the ping pong table, and you hit and then you move to your right and you hit you move your right and so as you’re playing, if you hit the net or hit off, then you’re out. So, there’s the big group 10 people and it just keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller. When you get down to the final two people. Then you have to hit and then spend a 360. So, I’m playing the first time and I’ve I grew up. I mean, I can play. Like my thing. I grew up playing like a bazillion games before. And I was in a tournament I was with third grade we had gotten to the end. Anyway. So, I get down to the end and then I’m like pitting and spinning. I lose my balance. I hit it off and everyone’s laughing or whatever they’re like line it up. I’m like, line What up and they’re like, going to go on the wall. I’m like, What four and they’re like, read me like go on the wall. Pull up your shirt. I’m like, so you’re always people. Granted, I’ve known him for what, like nine hours, go to the wall. You got to pull up your shirt and then the person who won, sits there and hits the ping pong ball as hard as they can in your chest trying to hit you and leave in a red mark right so that’s what’s called Red like it’s hidden if they’re so literally you can be last two like all the way to third and nothing happened. But if your second.
CK Ong: Not mean you can’t jump into a game called redbelly Paul; you’re not expected.
Brett Thornton: I don’t know you know I don’t know; they could have prayed they should have prayed about that earlier. We’re playing redbelly Pong. And so, we ended up being amazing and I learned a lot of things that week, you know? And actually, what’s cool about that story I’m glad you asked is that that story that weekend is when I first realized how underrepresented females were in like our leadership executive roles in the mattress furniture industry. And I know we’ll talk about that in a minute what season two is all about. But the reason I realized that was because you know, matches format actually does a really good job at hiring a ton of females promoting them, like the team was very split as far as leadership goes. And we did a project, we had a project over the course of a couple days where we had to work on this project every afternoon, and then we did a big presentation the second or third day, and the team I got put on, we’re all female, I think six, six girls in me. And I just remember thinking when it happened, like, Oh, this is cool, because you know, where I was at, it was just, you know, in leadership that a lot of dudes, my current team at the time, I had a bunch of different, you know, directors, and there was only one female on my team. A lot of our trainers, it was getting more balanced, but it was still male dominated. So I thought back like, Okay, my entire last, you know, decade ever career I’ve ever been on team with all girls was like, No, you know, the numbers wise. And as we went through this exercise of building this workshop, and what we ended up doing and what we ended up presenting, I remember having that massive takeaway in my head of like, wow, like, I would not have come up with so many of these concepts, we would not have presented this way, we would not have had x, y, z, even with my current team that I had, who had built so many more jobs with and training courses and presented a million times and like, This product was better because we had a balance. And, and obviously, like, you know, fast forward to today, which is, which is really cool. But obviously like now it’s like that’s my life now. Yeah, so my entire leadership team, except for one guy, one person or all females. Right? And, and what it taught me was that and what we’ve been learning, especially this year, you know, so TK is this amazing learner. And so what you’ve done is you’ve really grasped on to the industry. And you’ve reached out to you know, Mark one and Mark Kinsley different people listening to podcast, and you’re reading books and trying to figure out, how do I immerse myself in this industry and grow? Yeah, and one thing that CK pointed out, you know, which is really true, is that man, there’s not a lot of female executives. You know, if you go to LinkedIn, you look up the big, you know, we’re talking the Blue Bloods, the originals, the surdos. And you know, TempurPedic, needs big companies and Sealy and you look, and you just typing that company in LinkedIn, put people in generally rates people by their titles, how LinkedIn works,go down that list.
Brett Thornton: Did your first 2025 people you might have one female executive, like, it’s pretty bad. and that is, you know, really what resonated with me in wanting to launch season two, you know what you know about, but obviously, our audience doesn’t. So, starting, literally next week, we are launching season two, you’re exciting. And season two is going to be all female executives, mainly in the Furniture and Mattress space, but also a few that are in other industries that are very male dominated from an executive position. And so just like season one with recycled dreams, or like, hey, I wanted to talk about these CEOs who give back season two is really providing like a cool platform to get to know some of these different female executives, so that I think a new generation can listen and be like, Hey, this is an industry that could be cool. This is a place that I could see myself growing and doing things just like you, right, yeah. So when you look at the industry, like, how do you see yourself, you know, performing in it or growing in?
CK Ong: And that’s actually that’s a great question. And that’s why I wanted to have this conversation with you know and talk more about Season Two and listen to that, because I wish I could answer that right now. And that’s, I think that therein lies the problem. And that’s where we’re talking about Season Two and why it should be, you know, what it is in terms of theme of female executives, but as I’m listening to these episodes, you know, I can see that I’m not the only one on our team alone, you know, who’s passionate about what we’re doing and, and found a new passion in sleep, in the sleep industry in furniture, individual, holistic, well being right. And when we’re listening to the podcast, yeah, they’re all very male dominated with CEOs and how they found the road to success. So what I’m hoping to hear in season two, and what I think I will hear is to get some insight inspiration from a completely different perspective, right? So first, you’ve got, you know, it’s like male dominated, but then you’ve also got the people of color. You know, that’s another, that’s another group that I personally resonate with. If you’re watching the video and you know anything about me, but the look at the industry and the folks that we work with right now, in all cotton alone. It’s a very diverse group. And we want to be able to succeed. And so we have to look for these things. But where do we find it? How do we get connected? You know? So we’re starting off by watching your videos on LinkedIn listening to your podcast and trying to connect with people within your group and then try to find out who else in kind of the same position as I am in terms of trying to get up and coming, you know, in this industry, like, what are the tools that we’re all using? How can we help each other kind of get there and support each other? So that’s where I see it kind of going. is I think you mentioned this at one point, we’re trying to represent the people who are buying mattresses from us. And yeah, you look at, if you look at the demographic of the folks who are coming into the story, say it’s everywhere, you know, it’s everyone. So, we’re going to have to slowly tackle these things a little bit at a time. But I guess it really does start with the female executives who have found success thus far, like, what are their stories? And can we relate in some way, shape or form? We probably could, because if we can relate to, you know, recycled dreams and the way that we have, I’m sure that it’s going to continue to inspire a lot of people. Yeah, you know, yeah. And I do have to say, thank you, Brett, like, in all honesty, you didn’t have to do this right here. You’re a part of that. And like, male wife? Like, I know, I mean, you’re going to be the old white guy. Yeah, you totally are. But I mean, I gave it away, in case you didn’t know that about Brett was, you know, been in an industry for like a while now, you know, over a decade. And he didn’t have to do this. And you’re opening all kinds of avenues and questions and stuff like that, that I think are really going to get a lot of people thinking and moving in the direction that we’re all headed anyway. Which is more opportunities for people to understand basically, how to give back and just how to do the right thing, you know, so I appreciate that. And I think I speak for the rest of the team, you know, given us access to all that, so I appreciate it.
Brett Thornton: No, absolutely. So, thank you so much CK, you know, I think at the end of the day, one of the things I’m really excited about is, you know, just continue to do this.
CK Ong: Yeah.
Brett Thornton: Also. So CK will be the Bravo after season post every time. You know, obviously, like I said, we’ve got Season Two coming up, which is really exciting. And then once it’s done, we will recap, we will talk about the takeaways, and we will bring it back each time. So, thank you again, Ck. Thank you for having you for everyone listening. And yeah, getting ready for season two.
CK Ong:All right, cool. I’ll see you next season.
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