Our guest in this episode is Mr. Robert Wunderlich. A husband and a father, Robert also holds a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Wyoming and holds a 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has also been a certified UNcivilized Men’s coach since 2021.
Robert has been consistently training since 2004 and received his black belt under Dave Ruiz in December 2012. He now operates the Shokunin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association and the Academy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Arvada.
Join us as Robert delves into the application of Brazilian jiu-jitsu practice in life, the enormous effects of small mindset shifts, and how knowledge from both anthropology and Brazilian jiu-jitsu has helped shape his approach to both disciplines. We also delve into the importance of diversity and the importance and impact of just taking the next step.
Hit play now.
- [02:51] How BJJ practice relates to life
- [10:45] Success, patience, and setting expectations
- [15:35] The kind of life Robert wants
- [22:58] The effect of a small shift in mindset
- [26:32] Like Intuitive Finance? Please leave us a five-star rating!
- [28:32] How jiu-jitsu informed Robert’s path in anthropology and vice versa
- [29:04] Culture, language, and diversity
- [43:12] What drives the conflict
- [44:33] Anthropology in jiu-jitsu coaching
- [48:59] The most important step is the next step
- [54:09] Where to find more Robert Wunderlich
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🟢 @TheDylanBain on YouTube
🟢 Intuitive Finance on Facebook
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[00:00:00] Dylan Bain: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the show. My guest today is Mr. Robert Wunderlich. Robert has followed several meaningful pursuits in life. He has a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Wyoming. He holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Brazilian jujitsu, and is a men’s coach. He works to bring a unique alchemy of his education, his teaching, and life’s experience into his and other people’s lives.
[00:00:22] Robert began consistently training in 2004 and received his black belt under Dave Ruiz in December of 2012. He competed in local and international tournaments, traveled the country as a referee for Fight to Win Pro, and he currently operates the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association, Shokunin, and the Academy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Arvada, in Arvada, Colorado.
[00:00:45] Robert began his journey into men’s work in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. He became a certified UNcivilized men’s coach in September of 2021, and he is building a method to combat isolation and loneliness by fostering a deep connection with oneself and others.
[00:01:03] Ladies and gentlemen, one of the best things for me as a podcast host is the people I get to meet on this journey, but Robert is one of those people who is unique in the fact that he’s also a big part of my life. He is my black belt that I train under and we did the same coaching certification programs together, and we both started our men’s work journey at around the same time. He is somebody who has a big heart, is an amazing person to watch on the mat, is a master of his craft and everything he does.
[00:01:34] I cannot wait to get into this conversation. So without further ado, my interview with Robert Wunderlich.
[00:01:39] Intro: We’re saying goodbye to the rigid numbers and strict budgets, and putting relationships back at the heart of personal finance. This is more than a podcast. It’s an invitation to reimagine your money story, and journey with us through a landscape of intuitive strategies and abundance. Join a community that nurtures transformative financial mindsets.
[00:02:04] Welcome to Intuitive Finance. I’m your host, Dylan Bain.
[00:02:22] Dylan Bain: Mr. Robert Wunderlich, welcome to the podcast.
[00:02:26] Robert Wunderlich: Thank you, sir. It’s great to be on.
[00:02:28] Dylan Bain: I got to tell you that I’m super excited for this conversation because I think your perspective, particularly on the coaching and the relationship space is so unique with what you’ve done in BJJ and how you then take that practice of which you are a master, and then translate it into your coaching practice, into life, into lessons, into helping develop young men and young women.
[00:02:51] And so I want to start there with, how does your practice in BJJ relate to life?
[00:02:57] Robert Wunderlich: One of my good friends, Ruben and I, we’ve had many conversations about this. But in my perspective, there aren’t many analogs to life quite like jiu-jitsu. The patterns that you see in life of ebbs and flows are the same patterns that you see in jiu-jitsu. Sometimes in your — when you’re training your games on point and it feels great, and you feel like you’re taking in a lot of things and learning a lot of things. And then other times you come in and you’re more of the nail than you are the hammer, and you spend a little more time understanding that’s a part of all of this. And really just getting to that space where you can reduce it from like life. Something that I’ve personally learned is reducing it from what looks like an EKG in life, like the ups and downs to just having more of a normal flow and those waves a little bit further apart, if that makes sense.
[00:03:55] Dylan Bain: So if I’m hearing you, and as somebody who practices BJJ myself, I’ve been through plenty of ebbs and flows in my short period of time doing this. It sounds like what you’re kind of relating to is the season. That there’s seasons in which you’re going to be ascendant and seasons in which you’re going to be learning. Do I have that right?
[00:04:13] Robert Wunderlich: I would say that those seasons come a little more quickly in a space like jiu-jitsu than it does necessarily like a season of life, if that makes sense. At least through my experience, through my personal experience, that it can be a day-to-day thing. You can come in and feel really good about your game one day, and the next day you come in, and your game just feels like it’s trash.
[00:04:39] And what I personally see from observing a lot of my students is sometimes that has to do with what’s happening below the surface for people, what’s happening inside of their lives or outside of the gym that is impacting them can really impact the way that they view jiu-jitsu also. Like, too much of their outside life will follow them into the door that day and kind of get in the way of being able to just do jiu-jitsu, if that makes sense.
[00:05:06] Dylan Bain: So when you’re talking about those ebbs and flows and you’re interested in life, what have you found helps people through those? And I’m asking as much for myself as for anyone else here, ’cause I run into those seasons where just like you said, a lot of my personal life finds a way to follow me around into the podcasting space, into the coaching space, and into other spaces where I don’t want it to be. What is — how does somebody go through that and continue on the path?
[00:05:35] Robert Wunderlich: That’s a good question, Dylan. And I think that it’s one of those things that’s very simply said, but not easily done for me. It’s comes down to two primary words, and that’s perseverance and repetition.
[00:05:47] Dylan Bain: Tell me more about that.
[00:05:51] Robert Wunderlich: Like I said, it’s simply said, not simply done.
[00:05:53] Dylan Bain: Oh, of course. If we just went to life into the soundbites, we would hand you like Marcus Aurelius meditations and be like, here you go. Good luck.
[00:06:02] Robert Wunderlich: Yeah, so perseverance is the persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
[00:06:09] Dylan Bain: Oh, I just get like, goosebumps all over my body of oh, that delay of success, right? You’re hammering — I see this — part of the reason I bring such an eclectic group of guests on is I talk about money, but I find that like, the lessons that really make a solid financial life, I typically found someplace. Not my spreadsheets, as much as that pains me as an accountant. And that delayed gratification of, I’m not getting this right. I’m failing. I’m having this issue. That’s so common for people when they’re looking at this and going, oh, I should be good at this thing. Or I don’t know why this is so hard for me. And yet they have to persevere.
[00:06:48] Robert Wunderlich: Absolutely. So you just said some things that I hear very often in my academy. I will have students that within the first three classes, I’ll be teaching them the technique and I can watch their body. And the frustration building their body because they’re not necessarily getting it correct. But they’re failing right there in that moment and watching that, and seeing this is another way that analogs life, right? And a lot of times I go up and just ask them this very simple question: what do you do for work? And they’re like, I’m in a jiu-jitsu class. Why are you in — you know, I can see it. And then like, why is he asking me what I do for work? What does this have to do with jiu-jitsu? And they’ll tell me.
[00:07:28] For example here, Dylan, what do you do for work? I know a lot of people follow you. But just describe like your latest job that you currently have.
[00:07:36] Dylan Bain: W2 wise I’m an internal auditor for a large corporation.
[00:07:40] Robert Wunderlich: Okay, so you’re an internal auditor.
[00:07:41] Dylan Bain: I sit at a desk and I tell stories with numbers.
[00:07:43] Robert Wunderlich: We’ve known each other for a while now, and I kind of know the shifts that you’ve been making in life. And you went from other large corporation to a new large corporation. And I know you’re a very intelligent person, but that first day, what was that first day on that new job? Did you know exactly what was expected of you? Did you know where like, on their system, where to find the documents that you needed, where to run your audits, how to do those? Did you have that all framework on that first day?
[00:08:12] Dylan Bain: No, it was like drinking from a fire hose. And it was such a blow to my ego, because it’s like for all of my education and intelligence and expertise, I suddenly feel like a rank amateur again.
[00:08:24] Robert Wunderlich: Which most people do when they first come in jiu-jitsu. I was one of them too. The first time I came into jiu-jitsu, I was absolute amateur beyond amateur, right? Like I had two left hands and two left feet. But we build this expectation of ourselves that we need to be able to get it now, but that’s not what perseverance is, right? Perseverance — getting back to perseverance is difficulty or delay in achieving success. It’s the difficulty and the delay, and/or the delay. I mean, let’s be real. There’s going to be delay if there’s difficulty. If we’re going to continue to fail at something, there’s going to be a delayed like, sense of achievement. That is the juice. Everything that’s worth doing is a process in my opinion.
[00:09:16] So you ask how this might inform other aspects of my life? That’s what it does. jiu-jitsu allows me to understand that so many things in life are a process, which allows more grace and compassion for myself. Instead of expectation that, man, I’ve got to come in and I’ve got to be at this level here. I actually can give myself some grace and compassion and understand that this is where I’m at right now and that’s okay.
[00:09:44] Doesn’t mean that I’m not going to grow, but it’s going to be a more delayed process than maybe I want, but my students that come in and they expect after doing repping something nine times that they’re supposed to be fluid at it and they’re supposed to do it without any mistakes and everything along those lines, but that’s just not reality.
[00:10:04] That’s the load that we put on ourselves though, right? Just like you felt in that moment of, man, I’ve been in this industry for a long time and now I’m at a different job, but I don’t know where anything is. So you feel like a little kerfuffle and just out of place and don’t understand what’s happening.
[00:10:20] So then what does that do? Then we feel overwhelmed. We feel anxious or we feel out of place or we feel frustrated, like all those things come in. But if we just take a just a small moment to take a breath and say, okay, I know where I’m at and that’s okay. Tomorrow is gonna be a better day. A week from now, where am I going to be at two weeks from now? Where am I going to be at? I got to understand that this is going to be a process.
[00:10:45] Dylan Bain: I love the statement you just had is anything worth doing is going to be a process. Like we all — I think at the end of the day, want to have that success that we can all be proud of and people look like, wow, I would love to be on your level. And be like, man, I spent a long time in libraries late at night studying to do what I’m doing, or in your case, going every day or every other day, going into jiu-jitsu and tournaments and seminars and all that other stuff to get to where you’re at. And so for someone looking at the success, they’re like, oh, I can’t wait to be there. And so now I’m impatient. And I find that lack of patience to be a killer in a lot of levels.
[00:11:21] Robert Wunderlich: Absolutely. Or the expectation of looking at someone else and saying, oh, why aren’t I at their level? I should be there. I should — like a student will look at me. I’ve been doing jiu-jitsu almost 20 years. 20 years, and they’ll have a thought that that’s what it’s supposed to be. So that’s what I’m supposed to do. But that’s not my expectation of them. That’s their own inherent expectation of them in that moment of themselves.
[00:11:52] And it’s just, oh, here’s someone that I can learn from. And now I’m going to just take the time to learn from them. And I’m going to, instead of having more of a closed mindset, I’m going to have more of an open mindset. So it shifts.
[00:12:06] Dylan Bain: Just having gone into the academy with working with jiu-jitsu, I’ve always found it very useful to be able to look at the different belts. Be like, oh, that’s a brown belt. That’s a purple belt. This is someone ahead of me in the path and I can go to them to learn X, Y, Z. And a piece of advice I give in the coaching practice a lot is if you want something, find somebody that has what you want and then go ask them two questions. What do you do and how do you do it? And I feel like in jiu-jitsu, there’s a plethora of opportunities to do that because you can easily identify just based upon the belts who might have been here longer than you.
[00:12:37] Robert Wunderlich: Not everybody needs to be a coach. Not everybody wants to be a coach. And I’m saying this in jiu-jitsu, I’m saying that in life coaching, men’s coaching, like it could be anything. Not everybody wants to be a manager at work, but that doesn’t mean, so I have a person who’s a white belt that maybe has been training for six months and then the person who’s just got his 20 classes and is doing his first intermediate advanced class. That person that’s been training for six months can still provide a small little nugget to make that other person better. We don’t have to necessarily be a black belt in order to help another. Does that mean that white belt’s teaching a whole class and teaching that person? there is a point where we’re over teaching or we’re going beyond our own understanding. And I think that’s a whole ‘nother conversation, is sometimes we go beyond where we actually are. We think that we’re at one place and we teach at that place, but really we’re — we need to be a little more thoughtful in where we are actually, if that makes sense.
[00:13:42] Dylan Bain: I liked what you said with the idea that like, oh, even the white belt, who’s just getting into being able to enroll live classes has something of value to teach because they might be better at one thing, or they might really understand one thing that you don’t. I think it’s an excellent piece of advice when you’re looking around trying to figure out how to improve your life of to understand the everybody’s got some pearl of wisdom to impart.
[00:14:05] Robert Wunderlich: And you know, that goes beyond that. That actually goes full circle. I tell my students all the time they can provide me with new information and I can learn things from them, whether they’re a person who just got their first stripe on a white belt, whether they’ve been training for six years, whether they’ve been training for 25.
[00:14:25] The best teachers are the ones who’ve never stopped being an actual
[00:14:30] Dylan Bain: student. I think that’s true in the therapy world as well. I once asked a friend of ours, mutual acquaintance, Michael Gay, I said, you feel like you’re more competent and capable in this therapy space. And at the time I was very skeptical of therapy.
[00:14:46] I said, so what makes you different? What makes Dewey or another man I’ve had on the podcast, a good friend and mentor of both of us what makes you different? And they both answered the same way. I’m not done learning here. You have Dewey, somebody who’s got over 80, 000 contact hours, you had taught at a university 73 years old, and he’s constantly looking for the next thing to learn the next level of his technique.
[00:15:11] And I think that’s huge because I think people think that success is a destination. They think that once I get to this place, I’ll check the box and then I’m, good for the rest of my life. I’ve got this thing, but it sounds especially from BJJ, that’s not true.
[00:15:24] Robert Wunderlich: That’s another way of saying that’s utopia, right?
[00:15:26] Yeah, like you check the box. Okay, I’m done. I can just relax. I don’t want a life like that personally.
[00:15:35] Dylan Bain: What kind of life do you want?
[00:15:36] Robert Wunderlich: One that I’m constantly learning, one that I fall and fail, and pick myself up, and have good times, and have crappy times, and have the ebbs and flows and the seasons, whatever you want to call it. A life that’s not perfect. I’m a recovering perfectionist. We’ll put it that way. So just understanding that I just have a different view of what perfection is. To me, perfection is, it’s not being perfect anymore. It’s the constant seeking of perfection that actually makes it perfect. And that’s the big piece, is that I’m constantly seeking it. It’s that I will never ever get there. And that’s okay. I will never achieve perfection and that’s totally okay. And it’s totally acceptable.
[00:16:26] Dylan Bain: Does that relate to the idea that like, if I’m looking for perfection, the perfection is found in the practice? Is it like you, will never find perfection, but you will always find practice. I’m butchering this phrase and I know that.
[00:16:39] Robert Wunderlich: Yeah, it goes back to that other — what we started this conversation with, is that anything worth doing is contains a process. It is process period. And that I’m constantly in process. I’m constantly seeking. I’m constantly looking for what’s next. And sometimes that means also that I don’t have to do a lot. That’s another thing that we gotta be cautious of, is a lot of times we have this thought that oh, I must always be doing, doing, doing at this high, high level. There’s also time to allow things to process in ourselves as well, to take some time to breathe and hey, to take a step back and allow things to move instead of just always doing. Because always doing is another way that we can bypass some things to put it back into a jiu-jitsu perspective.
[00:17:29] I don’t believe there’s any one way that anyone should train all the time. So say, Dylan, that you’re getting ready for a competition, right? Which I think I have discussed that by February, you would like to compete, right? So in January, we’re going to start training for it, and you’re going to have a different mentality and a different way of training for that next six weeks. But I wouldn’t expect that’s the way you train at my academy year round 100% of the time.
[00:17:59] Dylan Bain: In part, the training is training because we’re evolving into the practice. We’re moving into seasons.
[00:18:06] Robert Wunderlich: You’re training at that level to get ready for a competition, but if we trained only at that level, so if you trained at a level 8 year round, how would you know what you’re missing in your game?
[00:18:19] Dylan Bain: You’d be very focused and you’d probably burn out.
[00:18:21] Robert Wunderlich: Yeah, you’d burn out, you’d get injured. So you train at a level 8 year round, you go and compete at a level 10, right? And then you come back and you only train at a level 8 for the rest of the year. What lessons can you take from what you need to work on in competition instead coming back from that competition?
[00:18:40] And maybe now I trained at a level 8 for six weeks. For the next four weeks, I’m going to train at a level 2 and I’m going to have some focus on exactly what I know I need to work on. Like man, I really struggled from escaping this position in a tournament. So I’m going to come back to the drawing board. I’m going to slow things down so I can better understand what I need to do in those moments.
[00:18:59] Dylan Bain: Excellent.
[00:19:00] Robert Wunderlich: And then from there, vary that training up and down, up and down, up and down, and then change my focus on how I train. There’s so many ways to look at this, if that makes sense.
[00:19:11] Dylan Bain: 100%. 100%. And that, I think that iteration on this process, I think is really important to really hammer home because there’s going to be places where you’re going to have to ramp up, and then you actually have to go back and do the after action report to understand what went well, what didn’t, I don’t coach people through escaping the mount. But I do coach people through, hey, you made some mistakes with your money. You failed in the conversation here, it went off the rails. Let’s stop. And now that we’re beyond that, now we’re beyond the time where we’re trying to pay off some debt, or we’re trying to save for this thing, let’s go back and think about how we could have done that better. Or what part of our, practice was missing that we can add to, that we can grow on.
[00:19:54] Robert Wunderlich: And how do you open that up? Because if we just go back to that same mentality of go go go, then things are collapsed, right? They’re about an inch wide. But how do we slow it down that over the next month? This is the only thing I’m going to focus on. So we open it up more so we can understand the mechanics of that one thing in that space, instead of all the things,. Because it’s those small things that actually make us better now.
[00:20:17] Dylan Bain: Yeah, 100%. That makes sense. I think that’s one of those things that I think is really hard for people because I, when we start off going through school, when we’re learning to be adults, there’s this expectation. You take the test, and then you got one shot at it. And if you either make the mark, you don’t make the mark. And if you miss the mark, now you’re in trouble and you got to go through remedial education. And I think this engenders this idea that a process is actually bad. We’re missing something. And if we go through a process, we’re somehow underperforming.
[00:20:50] Robert Wunderlich: Process requires thought, reflection. It’s a process in itself, right? To not define a word with the same word. But that’s what it is. It takes more patience. And I guess another way that I would say this, too, is something my professor used to say to me as I came up in jiu-jitsu, was that one small shift in the kaleidoscope changes all views.
[00:21:13] Dylan Bain: Ooh, tell me more about that.
[00:21:16] Robert Wunderlich: I know that you’ve read Carol Dweck, or not Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck is another good book. But, what’s her name?
[00:21:23] Dylan Bain: Martha Beck.
[00:21:24] Robert Wunderlich: Yes, thank you. Martha Beck. And she talks about, if you flew to Australia and you changed the course of that flight by one degree, where would you end up?
[00:21:36] Dylan Bain: Ooh, not Australia for sure.
[00:21:39] Robert Wunderlich: So if we flew from Denver to Australia and you changed the course of that flight by half a degree, where would you end up?
[00:21:44] Dylan Bain: Also not Australia.
[00:21:45] Robert Wunderlich: So that’s — I think that says it all in itself, right? So the small shift totally changes the course that you’re on over that process. So it’s actually the small things. So finding those small victories, finding those small habits, those things that take the daily practice, those are the things that are going to change your life over the long run, more so than the massive change that we all feel that we need. In that instant gratification like, we think this big thing is going to be the thing that satiates us. That’s going to be the thing that like, oh, man, now I’ve made it. Like you said earlier, I’ve checked the box. But really, what does that mean? Because there’s only one time that I think that we arrive to where we’re no longer going to be in process: when we die.
[00:22:32] Dylan Bain: That’s heavy. That’s heavy. You know, what’s astounding to me is, I had a sex and relationship expert coach on the podcast, Jordan Gray. He had talked a lot about if you stop and think about — look at what the compounding rate of return and whatever it is you’re doing is going to be in 5, 10, 15 years. If you keep doing this exact thing, where do you end up?
[00:22:58] And then I had a health and fitness expert, Josh Wood, on the podcast. He talked about tiny noticeable things, TNT. You keep doing that, you stack them, and eventually you can move mountains with TNT. And now I have an expert in the field of Brazilian jiu-jitsu who’s talking about altering the course of an aircraft. It is astounding to me how much parallel between relationship, family, friends, fitness, all of these things, when we get to talking about how do we make substantial change. It’s always going to be the little things. It’s never going to be the big things, is it?
[00:23:32] Robert Wunderlich: One small shift in your mindset. It’s one tiny decision. How did you get here where you are today? How did I get here where I am today? It didn’t happen overnight for me. It wasn’t like, oh, you know what? I really need some help in my life, I’m going to seek a men’s coach. I woke up one day, bam, all of a sudden, now I need to start looking up men’s coaches on Instagram. I need to find one right now in this moment, and then now my whole life’s going to change. No, it happened over the course of years.
[00:24:01] And I had another mentor that’s here at my academy. His name’s Griff. He’s wonderful. We spent a lot of time on the mat. And he would just ask me simple questions like, hey man, how’s your marriage? Like, how’s your relationship with your kids? Hey, how’s your anger? Oh, tell me more about your anger. Oh you’re angry. Okay. let’s talk about that.
[00:24:22] It wasn’t life coaching. It wasn’t anything like that. We just would have conversation. And eventually that all, and then the pandemic hit and then, now I’ve got a — I’ve got more time on my hands. So my mind’s running through more things, which means, oh man. And then I reached out to a buddy and he’s man, why don’t you try some meditation? And then I tried some meditation. And then after meditation, it was like, oh.
[00:24:42] Then I started to see these other people, and one of our mutual friends, Traver Boehm was one of those guys that was like, oh, he kept on popping up on my feet because the algorithm was like, hey, I need to feed this guy some of this stuff. And then all of a sudden he’s like talking about the balance of the primal and the divine, and all of a sudden I was like, ooh, I like the sound of that ’cause that’s kind of where I feel like we need to be. I don’t really agree with so much primal. I definitely don’t necessarily agree with just all divine. Like we need to have some semblance of understanding both. Oh, and he does jiu-jitsu? Okay, yeah. I kind of like this guy.
[00:25:16] I reached out and was like, hey man, I’d love to talk to you about possibly working with you. And then the rest is kind of history. So it wasn’t things that were these massive shifts, but you know, everything that’s happened in my life since then is, you look back and it’s crazy how far we’ve gone.
[00:25:36] That’s the whole thing too is, I think because we spend so much, so little time on the landscape, actually moving on the landscape, like walking on the landscape, I think we forget what it’s like to look back and see how far we’ve gone with something that takes time. Hunting, going out and hunting, and you walk out and you walk the trail and you’re like, huffing and puffing, and you kind of forget about where you are. And then all of a sudden you look back, and man, I’ve gone three miles in already. Man, I’ve got another three. But like, you just put your head down and you walk up the trail. That doesn’t mean that you don’t stop and take a look around, and notice the scenery and notice the small things. Notice the — how the terrain shifting all the other things along the way. But it’s important to also take that step back and man, I really have come far and give myself that credit, right?
[00:26:32] Ad: Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to take a real brief pause in the interview, and I’m going to make a request. Please leave me a five-star rating review wherever you’re getting your podcasts. This year is going to be huge for us, and I would really like to grow the followings and I’m asking your help to do it. If anything, I’ve put out on Facebook, on Instagram, and especially on this podcast has touched you, moved you, or helped you advance your life in any way, shape, or form, please do me this one simple favor. Stop what you’re doing. Leave me a rating review wherever you’re getting podcasts. Without further ado, let’s get back to the interview.
[00:27:08] Dylan Bain: Oh yeah. I loved what you said about it took years and years to put me in this position where I could say yes to this thing. I feel like with a lot of people, they, jump off a cliff. And they’re like, burn the bridges, go big or go home. And then they burn out. And I think about in my own growth and dealing with old family stories and old systems that didn’t serve me. And realizing that what I’m capable of now, I wish what I’m doing now, I had done 10 years ago. But the man I was 10 years ago wouldn’t have had no context to even understand what I was saying. And you know, I have to just be very present in this moment to be grateful where I’m at right now, and go, I just need to take the next step.
[00:27:53] Robert Wunderlich: That’s what we should be seeking to do. And I don’t, shit on myself often, but that’s what we need to seek is. Where am I now and what’s going to be my next moment? Not what’s going to happen 10 years from now. yeah, we can plan for that, but that shouldn’t be my sole focus. A hundred percent. And I can’t think about 10 years ago because you know, I’m only going to get depressed.
[00:28:15] Cause I like, it’s like one is a choice for anxiety. The other is a choice for depression. Yeah.
[00:28:22] Dylan Bain: Yeah. I mean, 10 years ago, I was still teaching, man.
[00:28:27] Robert Wunderlich: Me too. Just jiu-jitsu. Maybe a little anthropology.
[00:28:32] Dylan Bain: Yeah. And you brought up coaching and you brought up anthropology, so I would like to just kind of shift into there because you’ve got your academy, but you’re also a men’s coach. And you’re also somebody who’s engaged in archeology and anthropology professionally, which of course is the study of humans. And so, I feel like you’ve got this triad of really human experiences to discuss. So I would love to know, like, how has jiu-jitsu really informed your path as a coach, and how did it inform your path as an anthropologist?
[00:29:04] Robert Wunderlich: I don’t think I could have one without the other. So I’ll define it like this, or I’ll put it like this. I’ll use a definition of culture. Clifford Geertz, a well known American anthropologist said that I feel is like one of the best ways to contemplate what culture is, and he says that culture is the threads of significance that we ourselves spin.
[00:29:30] Dylan Bain: Unpack that for me.
[00:29:33] Robert Wunderlich: So the things that we do culturally are — that’s what it is. It’s what we do, what we choose to do, what we choose to do as a group. So think about the myriad of different ways that people have existed on this planet and ways that we don’t even know — aren’t even aware of anymore because they no longer exist. It could have been a small group that died out, and that language died out, and now we no longer have access to that knowledge anymore.
[00:30:01] Wade Davis is another anthropologist. He’s a social anthropologist from Canada. And he talks about how the rate that we’re losing languages now is like one every two weeks, basically on the planet. Which if you think about it, you’re the last speaker of that language. You’re the last holder of that knowledge. And that’s just another way that as human beings have come up with solving solution of what it means to be human.
[00:30:29] Dylan Bain: That I find is super poignant. When I did my education masters, I studied language and how it interface with mathematical achievement. And one of the big thinkers that I drew a lot from was a guy by the name of Lev Vygotsky. He was a contemporary Piaget for development. The problem, of course, was that he was a Soviet, so Cold War politics being what it is. But he had always talked about how language was literally the thought in your brain. You know, if you changed, if you said the same sentence, but you changed one word, your brain would light up differently. And at the time he was speculating, but now we with fMRI machines, we can actually see that.
[00:31:03] And so when I think about like, your language is the way in which you express and process information through your cognitive structure. That means that if you use different words, you’re going to get different results. But if you change the language, you’re changing the software, aren’t you? And so if we’re losing a one language, what you say every two weeks, then our ability to perceive and process information in the world as humans is closing then that’s terrifying.
[00:31:29] Robert Wunderlich: Absolutely. You know about Zach Bush, so I’m going to kind of go and I’m going to go and come several different ways here, but first — just stay here with me for a sec. So what happened this weekend, weather wise here in Denver?
[00:31:44] Dylan Bain: Snowed.
[00:31:45] Robert Wunderlich: It snowed. Okay, so how many different ways can you describe snow? How many other words do we have in the English language for snow?
[00:31:54] Dylan Bain: I mean, other than sleet and hail, which would be the closest approximations, we got one. Maybe two?
[00:31:59] Robert Wunderlich: So in First Nations up in Canada, in Inuit, they had over a hundred different words for snow.
[00:32:09] Dylan Bain: Yeah. So they, I imagine they have a different word for the soft, fluffy stuff.
[00:32:13] Robert Wunderlich: For the way that the wind was blowing. So they knew how to navigate the knowledge that went with that particular — those particular words helped them survive in that climate, and then brought meaning to their lives as well. Does that make sense? Does that help kind of bring that definition back to some semblance of light? The webs of significance that we ourselves spin. So that’s just language. That’s not cultural material. That’s not spirituality. That’s not like, all those other things are all parts of that also. And they’re not separable either.
[00:32:51] Dylan Bain: Right, there’s got to be a level of appreciation for what one sees or how one defines something. And I always think about, this is a really kind of cheap example, but is it the Atlantic Ocean or the Oceanic Atlantica? Which one comes first, the defining factor or the thing itself?
[00:33:08] And even just how we talk about things. When I lived overseas and I was learning Chinese to learn that there’s no conjugations in Mandarin. They don’t say run, running, ran. They don’t say that. They will say, I run. Tomorrow, I run. Now, I run. Later, I run. There’s no conjugation of the verb. The verb just is a thing. And that makes such a difference when we say, oh, the rain was really heavy today. Like it’s this oppressive thing that’s weighing us down. But in Chinese, you say big rain. It’s a big rain instead of a small rain. And so for them, like that changes how they deal with rain. Because it’s not heavy, it’s just big.
[00:33:50] Robert Wunderlich: Yeah, man. So getting back to that kind of diversity thing, like just losing the language every two weeks, which I think that’s an estimation, but regardless, are you familiar with Zach Bush?
[00:34:01] Dylan Bain: I am not.
[00:34:03] Robert Wunderlich: So he is a very intelligent person. I think he’s got like — he’s on the Rich Roll podcast a few times. But he talks about, so immune function and now he’s not — so he started as an MD, I think, in cancer research. I might just hack this, but it’s okay. And then he saw that like, he wasn’t really helping. So then he started looking at gut health and then the biome that we’re destroying in the soil. So he opened a farm and dude, he’s just, he’s a very intelligent person. One of the things that I took from him is that he talks about gut health and he talks about cancer in the gut. So he’s saying that it’s the more diversity that is within the gut as far as cells go, the healthier the gut. The lack of diversity is when you start to see cancer.That’s what allows cancer to form, right? So if we extrapolate that, the health of a system is dictated on its diversity, then think about how we’re losing a language every two weeks and how humans are going more and more to monoculture than they are in diversification of culture.
[00:35:15] Dylan Bain: Yeah. So this relates, I swear, but when I first started gardening, I realized why I hated vegetables. And I remember it was a green bean. I pulled a green bean off my stock and I ate it. It was like a whole new world. Aladdin showed up, there was a magic carpet, there was a genie, it was great. And I bit into it and I was like, I can’t believe just the musical symphony I’ve just tasted.
[00:35:38] And it was the same with my tomatoes. It was the same with my carrots, everything, but I put a lot of effort into making the soil very rich with worms and bacteria and compost and different bugs and stuff like that. And then here in Colorado, it’s a little bit harder than it was in Wisconsin, but having to plant companions, basil plants with my tomatoes and marigolds with my tomatoes and growing that up and the food that we produce on our land is just so much more fulfilling. And I think about, like, when I eat a store bought tomato now, it’s — yeah, this doesn’t taste like a tomato. It tastes, it’s like the LaCroix version of a tomato. It was shown a tomato and told, tastes like this.
[00:36:15] Robert Wunderlich: Yes. I think, again, think about what I just said about monoculture. Think about monoagriculture. How many thousands of acres of homogeneous land is utilized for just tomatoes? Just corn, just cotton, just massive plots of land. I mean, I think it’s like 1.4 million contiguous acres around Amarillo, Texas that is just for cotton. And that’s the only crop that’s produced there. We have this idea that’s the way that we should produce crops. But in reality, if you look at agriculturalists from prehistory and into the proto historic and historic eras — we just had Thanksgiving, right? I mean, that holiday — what’s Thanksgiving known for?
[00:37:02] Dylan Bain: Turkey.
[00:37:03] Robert Wunderlich: And what else, like what happened? What’s the story of Thanksgiving? What did we learn as kids?
[00:37:09] Dylan Bain: Oh, the story of Thanksgiving with the native Americans helped out the settlers by bringing them food to survive the winter, and then they had a big feast to celebrate it. It was the first Thanksgiving.
[00:37:19] Robert Wunderlich: Yeah, they also taught them how to plant those crops. Because they knew what would be best suited for the land. And what they would do is plant a corner of — stock of corn and then they plant beans, and squash around them as companions so that the stock of corn created a hanger for the viney plants to actually hang on. And they all lived in like more of a symbiosis.
[00:37:45] Dylan Bain: Yeah, the three sisters.
[00:37:48] Robert Wunderlich: Three sisters. That’s right.
[00:37:49] Dylan Bain: Yeah, and I think about that a lot and — I live in the suburbs, the audience has been around, but been with me for a while. They know that I’m not a fan of the suburbs. And part of what I’m not a fan of is there’s no personality out here. There’s no other system for me to exist in. There’s no walkable communities. We have one way of transport, that’s with cars. We don’t have a diversity of things. And that my mind is that humanizing experience because it’s, in my mind, like, why do I want people to get their financial house in order? Because it’s time for us to remember we’re humans again. If we can take that animal and get it off our back, and we can actually deal with it in a healthy way, we can start doing things that are more human.
[00:38:28] And I love what you said about the diversity of options, because like in a cornfield, there’s nothing else out there. The bugs that normally would be that they’re not there. The animals that are, that they’re not there, like we’ve lost so much of that. And if you go and you spend time, like, I live by a reservoir, you go walk out in the fields, like there are bunnies and there are Hawks and there are chickadees all over the place like, it’s alive. But then you go to a farm and it’s just the silence is eerie because there’s just nothing out there.
[00:38:56] Robert Wunderlich: Just think about that alone. Just think how that shift in mindset could go so far in today’s world of, diversification is a positive thing, so therefore other is not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing.
[00:39:15] Dylan Bain: 100 percent. And I feel like that diversity has become a very loaded term here in the modern age. But there’s also an argument to be said for like the monoculture, though that we’re experiencing where everything’s the same. You know, I can, have the exact same cheeseburger in Milwaukee as I can have here. And then we’re all, what are we doing? We’re all longing for local fairs, and half the locals are local fair is buying from Cisco. You know, or US foods, and it’s all the same stuff.
[00:39:43] Robert Wunderlich: I mean, my grandma came over in 1929 from Italy, and she never spoke Italian in our family. Never. Because how she was berated and teased and bullied when she first came over and started school here in America, is she didn’t want to speak Italian, because that’s not what Americans do, right? I mean, just think about that alone. But it is that diversification in my mind that creates these awesome communities that we live in. I mean, man, if you think about going to New York, what food do you think about?
[00:40:20] Dylan Bain: New York pizza.
[00:40:21] Robert Wunderlich: Okay. Pizza. What else would you think about eating?
[00:40:24] Dylan Bain: I’m not the best person for this. I’ve been to New York one time.
[00:40:27] Robert Wunderlich: Okay. So we’ll use another example. So like, London. When I think about London — I mean, this isn’t any offense to English people, I’m mostly English. English Irish. So like, English food is not that flavorful in my personal opinion, right?
[00:40:43] Dylan Bain: I’d agree.
[00:40:44] Robert Wunderlich: But when you go to London, what else do you have there other than English food?
[00:40:50] Dylan Bain: There’s plenty of Pakistani food there.
[00:40:51] Robert Wunderlich: Like Indian, like African. Okay. So you get this diversification, and you can go in and have all kinds of different foods. You can experience all kinds of different cultures. You can hear the native language spoke. You can actually experience those flavors and what it means to put those things together. think about what it is to eat Indian curry versus Japanese curry. Think of what — think what it’s like to have — and then you get all these amalgamations to where, think about, do you like pho?
[00:41:21] Dylan Bain: Oh, I love pho.
[00:41:22] Robert Wunderlich: Okay. So what is pho? Where did it come from?
[00:41:25] Dylan Bain: Vietnam.
[00:41:26] Robert Wunderlich: It did. It’s also French influence, right? So you have this amalgamation of these things and then that creates new things. So I’m just really simply trying to say that like diversification is one of the positive thing and to not necessarily — tribalism is dangerous, right? Like me versus you is a dangerous way of thinking about it.
[00:41:52] One of the most profound things that I ever learned in anthropology, and this is something that I learned about in biological anthropology is the study of, our ancestry, basically, like, where did we come from as the species and how did we evolve into the species that we are today? And there’s more genetic variation within a population than there are between populations.
[00:42:12] Dylan Bain: That seems really counterintuitive.
[00:42:13] Robert Wunderlich: And that’s true for many things. There’s more variation in the height of men with men than there are between men and women. Okay. So there’s more variation in the height of women than there are between men and women. So genetically, there’s more genetic variation within a population, say, of Africa than there is between Africa and Europe.
[00:42:39] Dylan Bain: That makes sense. So you essentially you’re, when you’re looking between those populations, the variations that you see are just the population variations, but the baseline human’s the same. Whereas within the population, when you’re looking at the variations, there’s more of those different markers.
[00:42:55] Robert Wunderlich: Than there are between the two. Isn’t that awesome?
[00:42:58] Dylan Bain: That’s fascinating. It’s a wild way to look at it.
[00:43:01] Robert Wunderlich: Okay, there’s, doesn’t that eliminate some of the difference between us and other because there’s actually more variation within us than there are between us and other.
[00:43:12] Dylan Bain: What then creates the cultural, I mean, in the current age and when this releases, who knows what’s going to be happening with the Ukrainian conflict or the Israel Palestinian conflict. If that is the case, there’s so much more similarities than there are differences. What’s driving that conflict then?
[00:43:30] Robert Wunderlich: The thought process of other. I mean, we just continue to say it’s — I think like this and you think like that you’re different than me. So therefore, instead of embracing okay, and — I think we’ve lost the ability in many ways to hold paradox.
[00:43:51] Dylan Bain: Give me an example of a paradox that we’ve lost the ability to hold.
[00:43:56] Robert Wunderlich: I think just paradox in general, just understanding what paradox is, understanding that two things can be true at the same time.
[00:44:02] Dylan Bain: Okay.
[00:44:03] Robert Wunderlich: At the same time.
[00:44:05] Dylan Bain: Yeah, and that is one thing that I’ve worked a lot with Duey on, in to say that two things can be this, can be true at the same time. Yes, we could be having X, Y, Z problem, and your response to the problem is inappropriate. Yes, there’s something you’re responding to, and that’s not okay. And the way you responded is also not okay. Or, yeah, you found one way in which this works, and this person found another way in which this works, and both of them are fine. And I feel like that’s, there’s a tension.
[00:44:33] So with all of the knowledge that you have about the anthropology, about the variations, about the ideas of others, and with all the knowledge you have how does that all come together into how you coach and how you teach jiu-jitsu?
[00:44:46] Robert Wunderlich: I would say that’s the alchemy. That’s what makes me unique, is the ability to draw on those facets, right? So throw in nature in there too. Like I’ve spent a massive amount of time outdoors doing archeology, and just understanding that connection to the outdoors, those three major facets: nature, a study and understanding of who we are, where we come from as human beings through anthropology, then how we interact with one another on a map in general with conflict and friction, and how friction really produces things that are wonderful.
[00:45:24] That’s what makes me an interesting coach, is that I can take those three things and then kind of funnel them into and guide someone through some things that they may be experiencing in life.
[00:45:36] Dylan Bain: That’s amazing. and I feel like being able to look at that in a much bigger context, be able to look at the humans in a much bigger context is super important, even in the financial world, when people come in, they want to dehumanize everything. And it’d be like, no, hold on. This is a system that was born out of humans and human activity and human choices. So how do we rehumanize these? So these numbers are just not numbers. They’re real things.
[00:46:01] Robert Wunderlich: I think it’s important, and I don’t — I didn’t mean to step on your toes there, Dylan, but I think it’s important that we understand that. There is no one way and I think that answers that previous question that there isn’t just one way, and just like there’s ebbs and flows in life, I think we also need to have a process of sometimes we need to be ultra focused and we’re just looking at the cell of a tree, and then sometimes we need to zoom out a little bit and see that it actually is a tree. And sometimes we need to zoom out a little bit more and see that there’s a forest of trees, and then sometimes we need to zoom out even more and see that there’s, it’s a forest on a landscape.
[00:46:43] Dylan Bain: It reminds me of the first time I read the book Omnivore’s Dilemma, and there’s a scene where he was talking to, Joel Salatin, it was Polyface Farms. And they talk about the land, and he has this grove of trees, this forest of the property — it takes about a fourth of his property. And they say, why don’t you mow that down and you could get more, land to farm? He said, no, the, those trees are holding water on the property. I need those. Otherwise, the rest of it doesn’t. And it never had occurred to me that plants hold water in the soil. You know, I was like 22 years old, it had never occurred to me that plants hold water in the soil.
[00:47:17] Robert Wunderlich: Yeah man, I mean, just think of it like this, like, how many people nowadays know, I guess I could ask you this question, I think, I assume that you know what a seven and a half minute USGS quadrangle is. How many people do how many people know how to read that map? How many people know what township and ranges and what UTM is or lat long or anything along those lines? Like how many people have shot an azimuth on a point, on two points to be able to triangulate their position on a map.
[00:47:48] I think we’ve lost some of the map. We’ve lost some of the ability to look at a map and say, okay, here’s a mile. there’s this point, here’s this point. And here I am just that, that kind of wider view, if that makes sense, right?
[00:48:04] Dylan Bain: And I take your example to not be our literal ability at orienteering, but it’s just how to navigate life that we’ve lost a lot of knowledge. You know, fun fact, the only reason I even know that is because I was trained as a geotech by my brother who needed me to go help him move rocks.
[00:48:21] Robert Wunderlich: It is a literal sense, but it’s not in the sense of you reading that map. It’s that you, how do you, how many of us can actually locate our where we are in life? How can we shoot an azimuth over here and shoot an azimuth over here and say, oh, here I am. And that’s why I think it’s so important that we don’t just take one view in life, that really it’s always like I need to be detailed right now. I need to grind. But I also need to let it breathe a little bit and see what see what’s coming ahead. Let me take a little bit higher view so I can see what the landscape looks like. Let me come back in and see what’s going on in the minute details. Let me take a little more mid range view. I mean, how many times have you seen in money that story is one of the biggest impediments to somebody’s ability to be successful?
[00:49:10] Dylan Bain: 100 percent of the time.
[00:49:12] Robert Wunderlich: So in coaching, how many times have you seen someone who’s just man, it’s going to be Mount Everest for me to climb out of this hole that I’m currently in. The shit that I’m in right now is, man, it’s going to be way worse to have to actually go forward than it is to just stay comfortable in my shit.
[00:49:33] Dylan Bain: All the time. You know, there’s so many people who don’t want to move because they’re afraid of having to go through that.
[00:49:39] Robert Wunderlich: Right, and how big of a step does it take to actually just start moving?
[00:49:44] Dylan Bain: The tiniest of things
[00:49:45] Robert Wunderlich: Just one step. It’s the first, and then it’s the next, and then it’s the next. And then sooner than later, you’d turn around and you’re like, man, I’ve come a little distance. And then this isn’t quite Mount Everest, is it?
[00:49:58] Dylan Bain: Yeah. I used to say all the time when I was in grad school and trying to get off welfare and grow my life. People were like, where are you going? I was like, I have no idea. But I do know that this is the step right in front of me. So I’m going to really take this step on a scale of one to 10, I’m going to take this step at a 12. And I would just do that. When I got there, I’d be like, OK, what’s the next thing? The next thing. And then years later, I was I was reading a fantasy book by Brandon Sanderson. And he asked a question in it, it’s a huge book. This man asks his brother, what’s the most important step a man can take?
[00:50:32] And they spend the whole book, 1,200 pages, explaining that it’s the next one. The most important step a man can take is the next one. And when I read that, I was like, Oh my God, that’s exactly it. It’s not about the peak. You have a vague direction of, we’re going in that direction, but just whatever steps in front of you, just take that step. Don’t worry about the peak. Just take that step, whatever’s right in front. Then take the next one. Always take the next one.
[00:51:00] Robert Wunderlich: 100%.
[00:51:01] Dylan Bain: I feel like that’s forgotten wisdom.
[00:51:06] Robert Wunderlich: I would definitely agree. So have you heard of Boyd Vardy? Have you read any Boyd Varty?
[00:51:11] Dylan Bain: I have his book downloaded on your suggestion. I have not got there yet.
[00:51:14] Robert Wunderlich: Okay, so the Lion Trackers Guide to Life, one of his mentors in that book said, when talking about tracking. So he was a lion tracker and — this preserve in South Africa where they take tours out, and they send these people out to track these lions. You know, they can, the tour groups get a chance to see them. And he said this, that I don’t know exactly where I’m going, but I know exactly how to get there.
[00:51:46] So when you’re tracking a lion, you don’t know exactly where you’re going, so really what it comes down to, and this is Boyd Varty speaking, is like what it really comes down to is just find the next track. All it comes down to is the next track, because you don’t know where you’re going. And that’s why I think setting those smaller goals is so important in life. Just take the next step. You can put things out in the distance. But have that be a broader target. I think sometimes we create these goals that are just so hyper focused that it must be this one thing, but I want to be in this range by this point, because I don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there, but I know exactly where I’m going.
[00:52:30] Dylan Bain: For your money, which one would you rather have to not know exactly where you’re going, but know how to get there, or to know exactly where you’re going, but have no clue how to get there?
[00:52:38] Robert Wunderlich: Man, how much frustration is built from the latter in people’s lives that, oh, exactly where I want to go, but I have no idea how to get there?
[00:52:47] Dylan Bain: What’s wild to me is when people come into coaching with me a lot of times, I always ask him like, where are we going? Ideally, where do we end up? We work on creating a vision and getting that a vision to be emotional. And I always try to find like, one thing that I know we can work on. And then we start working on that thing.
[00:53:03] And after we worked on it for a while, we’ve had some successes. We sit down and go, okay, let’s rewrite the vision. They’re like, why? I have it. I was like, because now you have a different perspective. The man who wrote that vision is gone. Now you’re new person. So let’s find the next thing. And if it’s the same thing, great. We can keep going in that direction. But let’s double check, because the worst thing in the world would be to get to the top of the peak and go, I didn’t want to be here in the first place.
[00:53:25] Robert Wunderlich: Yeah, absolutely. So it sounds similar to what I do in my practices. I really just, I work to help people connect back into themselves first. Who are you? Who resides in this body, what resides in this body, how much do we spend time in our head and how little connection do we have to our body and coming back to that space of man, let’s get home first. Let’s find home first, because we’ve been wandering the desert for a while thinking that we know where we’re going, but not having any idea how to get there. But I think the way there is through us first. We’ve got to connect to ourselves first.
[00:54:02] Dylan Bain: 100%. 100%. Robert, this has been an amazing conversation. I want to be really respectful of your time.
[00:54:09] But if people who are listening want to find more Robert Wunderlich in their life, where can they find you?
[00:54:14] Robert Wunderlich: I’ve got a website, nexuscoachingservices.com. They can find more information about my coaching practice there. I’m on Instagram @WunderBJJ99 with a W U, not a W O. Nexus Coaching. Instagram, they can find me through my academy, The Academy of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Arvada. I’m open and willing to talk to anybody if something resonated in you, man, I’m more than happy to have a conversation. And that doesn’t mean that this is a sales pitch. I mean you know me as a human being, me as a person, Dylan, like when I truly say that I’m just willing to sit down and talk to anybody. I mean that, so.
[00:54:51] Dylan Bain: A hundred percent. And 10 out of 10, if something did land for you, reach out. But we’ll get that all linked up in the show notes. Again, thank you so much for coming on.
[00:55:00] Robert Wunderlich: Man, Dylan, this has been a great conversation, man. I really appreciate you. I appreciate you as a human. I appreciate having your friendship in my life. So thanks again for having me on and I look forward to doing this again sometime.
[00:55:13] Dylan Bain: Fantastic.
[00:55:15] Outro: Thanks for listening. The conversation doesn’t end here. Please share the show with friends and make sure you keep up with all the latest updates on Instagram and Threads @TheDylanBain, and dive deeper into the world of finance with me at DylanBain.com, where you’ll find insights, resources, and strategies to reimagine your money story.