Benjamin Wagner – Co-Producer of award-winning PBS Documentary Mister Rogers & Me
Such a great episode with Benjamin Wagner! Benjamin is the co-producer of the award-winning PBS documentary, Mister Rogers & Me. MTV News and the Facebook Journalism Project too. In this episode, we talk about his incredible journey and passion for music, writing, and films. And finally how he met Mister Rogers in real life – and all the important things he learned from Fred Rogers himself. Please have a listen to this amazing and inspiring conversation on #TheKaraGoldinShow.
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Benjamin Wagner 0:00
Our lives are actually really deep and profound experiences, and complex and rich and nuanced and wonderful and challenging. But we have to really be careful to pay attention and show up. The other ones you might miss it,
Kara Goldin 0:15
I am unwilling to give up, that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be, I want to make sure you will get knocked down, but just make sure you don’t get knocked out knocked out. So your
only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara golden show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go.
Hi, everyone, its Kara golden. And welcome to the Kara golden show. I am so excited to have my next guest here, Benjamin Wagner, who is the CO producer of the award winning Mr. Rogers, and me the PBS documentary, but also so much more. And I met Benjamin and was obviously just enamored with what he had co produced. But it just got to know him and his journey and was so incredible to hear. I’ll give you just a couple of hands on sort of other stuff that he’s done along the way. As I said he co produced the endearing and award winning documentary about the iconic Mr. Rogers. His film covers the positive influence that Mr. Rogers had on people’s lives. And what was so special about his relationship was he was actually Mr. Rogers neighbor. And that’s pretty crazy in and of itself. Benjamin recently left his role at that little company, Facebook, after six years where he was hired to launch the Facebook journalism project globally. And he did lots of other stuff, including large scale events, as well as Facebook media central Facebook Live. And prior to that, this is where I got a little crazy, because this is my generation, he spent 18 years at MTV News, transforming it into a 24, seven Digital Network, which again, coming from I was at CNN at the time when, you know, news was was kind of something besides the six and 10 O’Clock News. And MTV was just kind of really getting moving. So I’ve I’ve watched that entire progress that you had really developed along the way. And I’m just gaga over that aspect of your journey to but but more than anything, I just think hearing on this podcast from founders and CEOs, and often times just really cool people that have done really great stuff that is super inspiring. co producers of award winning winning films, as well as people who have just launched kind of mini businesses within large businesses is really, right. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So welcome. Benjamin Wagner. So excited. I’m tickled pink. Oh, you’re, you’re, you’re great to be here. So you seem to be able to Well, let’s, let’s start here. Where did this all start for a little Benjamin?
Benjamin Wagner 3:52
Oh, great question. You know, my family’s from the Midwest. So there’s a from Iowa. And so there’s a real sort of sense of that middle, the openness, all that you know, the things that I connect with the Midwest, but I was raised in the northeast, my folks divorced when I was about 10. And we moved to suburban Philly. So I got a little bit of both. But writing is really where it all starts, right the ability to kind of get down thoughts in words, and then sort of expressing it in music, and figuring out how to express it visually. So it really started early. I mean, I always was writing in journals, and you know, making little books and that sort of thing. I first performed in fifth grade in a talent show in which my brother and I had actually made our first film. I was singing the theme to the greatest American hero. Do you remember that show? earlier? Yeah, it’s actually there’s a tiny bit of it in the very beginning of Mr. Rogers and me, but you’d never know the context. You just think it’s me and Chris goofing around, but it was me and Chris making a movie that we played behind me as I perform. So in a lot of ways It all kind of connects. Then I started flipping over boxes and putting typewriters on him and pretending I was in a newspaper that I actually started working in newspapers, etc, etc. So it was really organic. But I think it starts with communication expression, you know, trying to figure stuff out.
Kara Goldin 5:17
That’s, I love it. So I read that you’ve been writing since you were 15. But it sounds like you were even writing before that.
Benjamin Wagner 5:24
I mean, that’s just professionally. Yeah, yeah, my first job was writing sports for the local paper, and then you know, the college paper and managing the high school paper and then go and work for radio. And, you know, that fluidity between media ended up being really useful when I graduated college, right as the internet was born. Because if somebody didn’t really understand some guy in marketing, or some guy, Vice President, some was like, I don’t know, this online thing, but I think it’s marketing or its media or something. And you get to hire a guy who could write and you understand understood visuals and who had a sort of a different kind of language. That was pretty useful. So it was, and I also had a Mac, which didn’t hurt, right. I was just an early adopter there. Thank goodness.
Unknown Speaker 6:06
I did as well. I was. Yeah, I was a journalism major. And what I always share with people, I used my waitressing money to buy my first iMac and, and, you know, I was in the, in the dorm with my iMac. And was, people were like, what is that? And I I mean, I could have been a sales rep for for Apple at that point, because people were just mesmerized by it, the design the, you know, smallness of it, it was just everything. And it had this cute little apple on it, too. It’s, you know, you you were living it too. And I didn’t want to put white out into my tape typewriter anymore. I had to be cleaning my keys with alcohol whenever I was trying to write a paper and it was just awful. I mean, the experience was terrible. And that’s what I thought about everything. I’m not. I love that
Benjamin Wagner 6:59
you have had an iMac that feels just the moment you said that I was like, it’s so perfect for you because it’s colorful, and it’s kind of poppy and precarious, right? I had an sc 40, which was like, second generation. It’s still a box, though. But it’s it’s elegant. You can pick it up and carry it. It’s like getting there. I mean, this is probably 90, you know, 80 or whatever. But it’s, you know, they really, it’s true that there is it seems to me some relationship between the intuitive nature, this sort of wiziwig nature of Mac versus PC, but then I might not know, because they never really got stuck with a PC. You know?
Kara Goldin 7:34
Yeah. Yeah, no, definitely. That’s, that’s wild. So you mentioned a couple of times the word music. And so how did music play and to life? And how did those two intersect for you the writing and
Benjamin Wagner 7:51
music was in the house. I mean, so I was my mom in particular, but my folks were listening to the Beatles, you know, talking early 70s was when my ears were waking up. So it was Beatles and James Taylor and john Denver, and like singer songwriter, Carole King, you know, which is really generally soothing, contemplative reflective stuff, right. So, which came first, the the music or the misery of that live from high fidelity. But I said that was always in the air. And my mom is a great piano player, and she was playing acoustic guitar learning when I was in the womb. So it’s almost like, it was impossible for me not to love that sound of an acoustic guitar, which is the foundation of all the records I’ve ever put out, even though they’re rock records. And so it was always present. You know, I took piano lessons and kind of played by ear, I sang in everything I could I did plays, and then I got recruited into a band. And I was like, you know, rock band in high school. And I was like, Oh, that’s a different feeling altogether, because you’ve got drums, bass and electric guitars. And let’s be honest, the audience responds very differently to a rock show than a musical, right? Maybe less these days. But so there was all those things, there was the personal expression, there was this sort of rebellion that’s built into rock and roll valid or not, there was the idea that it moved other people and that they, you know, reinforced it positively with applause, and so forth. That’s a great feeling. And then it became an opportunity to very rapidly I think, I think the first college I played in high school we sang one of my songs, you know, are our songs that I wrote the lyrics to, but um, becomes a means of, not so much expression, but I find understanding because the songwriting process is kind of like divination in some way, you’re really just trying to get out of your own way, like any ideation, I think you’re really just kind of trying to not let the critic in your own brain get in between you and what could happen, because anything could happen in a way, right? Yeah. And so songwriting often just lets my intuition and unconscious unspool in a really authentic Way, and then over time, it begins to make sense. You know, you talk about connecting the dots. I only really understand my music in retrospect and often over time, and I would bet that’s true for many. But that’s just, that’s my thing. And it became intersected with journalism very specifically courtesy of Yon winter in Rolling Stone. When I was flying back and forth between parents, I would I picked up a copy of Rolling Stone when I was, you know, 10 or 11. And I immediately was like, oh, they’re young. I mean, you know, pop stars are like, 24, you know, so it wasn’t the Holy unrelatable that at whatever age, but moreover, the were there dysfunction, at least at that time, and certainly, in that magazine, it’s kind of a trope, you know, it’s kind of like the Rolling Stone cover story is like, let me sit on a couch in a nice hotel, and unspool What’s bothering me, and you’re, we’re gonna work it out together, and we’re gonna leave in a different place, right. And so I felt, I think at home with that sense of feelings that, you know, there may be some misunderstanding, I may be puzzling through some things. Yeah, this is I’m flying back and forth between parents like this is a challenging time. And so it became a place, I think of escape, and expression. And again, reasoning and puzzling and making sense. And then as soon as I saw Rolling Stone existed, well, it became very easy to know what I wanted to do, right? until I saw MTV News, right, huge game just a tiny bit later. And then it was crystal clear what I wanted to do. And my father tells me, because when I got the job, I was like, I never thought this would be possible, because you’ve been talking about it your whole life. I was like, Really? So I guess it was really high on my list of things to do really quickly. You know,
Kara Goldin 11:36
were you a fan of MTV before you Oh, big time? Yeah. Yeah, I loved it. And I mean, that’s I talk about MTV, as you know, you and I are for are of the same generation where it was just, it was game changing. I mean, as a cultural force, it was a disrupter.
Benjamin Wagner 11:54
Right? Yeah, totally. And it disrupted the visual medium. It disrupted advertising. It disrupted obviously, the music business, I would argue it disrupted What do you call it the QSR business, you know, because because it just suddenly became this whole new universe of culture. Right. But I just liked you know, I’d like to see in Tom Petty pretend he was in Mad Max, you know, we’re seeing Madonna in Italy, I just, it was as far away as my imagination, in some ways could take me within the context of reality, because they were real people versus reading, you know, a fantasy story or a piece of fiction that was was was not true. And for me, I always wanted to get underneath the the music video, or the gloss or the photoshoot I wanted to be like, what, what’s the lyric about? What’s the title about? What’s the issue? What is he or she wrestling with? Love it, which, by the way, is I think my core competency on Earth, at least it’s the thing I’m still really most passionate about, you know?
Kara Goldin 12:52
Well, and that’s your curiosity, right? I mean, that is that’s that, you know, you always have it, you’re not really sure how you’re going to use it. But when you do use it, it all sort of rolls back to it’s always been there. Yeah, but when you need to use it. And it’s crazy to me sometimes when I think about curiosity is what differentiates industries, people, it really just boils down to it.
Benjamin Wagner 13:23
100%. And I’ve found that it’s actually like many things, a decision to some degree. Right? Hmm. Because you’re not naturally going to be curious about everything. Let’s just let me just be clear with you. Have I manage budgets? Yes. Am I curious about them? Not really, right. Am I curious about the universe? Am I curious about why my brain works? Like it does, why I respond to a camera different than eyeballs, whatever, you know, absolutely. And I’ve found, the more I cultivate curiosity, like noticing, right, being outside and noticing or being in relationship and noticing that it’s like a muscle that I’m getting a little bit, a little bit better at it. And so then you can leverage that curiosity and kind of pointed at things like a laser beam, you know,
Kara Goldin 14:08
I love that. That’s great. So you get your you’re there for a measly 18 years and, and doing which is I know, crazy.
Benjamin Wagner 14:20
I don’t even I feel like MTV doesn’t make sense to a lot of audiences because its heyday is so past, which by the way, was part of my like, heads up that it was time to go. It’s like, it’s really time. But it also tells you something about my loyalty and commitment, and I really was so committed to helping there was so I was there so long when I was just like, if we could just do these things, you know, and then finally, I got the chance to do some of the things. And once you get that chance, and you can see the impact your ideas and your collaboration the team building makes you’re like, it’s a you’re hooked, right? So that’s part of the reason but 18 years, I mean, I grew up there. You know, I was a kid and I started and I still feel like a kid but I definitely was not a kid when I left.
Kara Goldin 15:02
Incredible. So, you six years, you just left Facebook? Actually, when you and I were talking you hadn’t even done that yet. So is right. And, and as I mentioned was incubating Make no mistake, obviously. Right? Talk to us a little bit about what you were doing there.
Benjamin Wagner 15:21
I mean, I listened I, I had a ball at Facebook, I did a ton of things, you know, one of the coolest components of taking a gig there is it’s going to change every second of every day. And it’s certainly going to change, you know, the company operates around a half system, right? So you’re certainly looking at resetting the organizational sort of strategy, or at least tactics, operational processes all the time, which is either really disruptive, or really exciting, right, depending on kind of how what your approach is, I found it enormously instructive, because it helped me to understand that that was something I was attracted to and trying to do previously, but hadn’t didn’t really have the cultural language or the tools of processes for it. So I did a bunch of things. But like you said, I was I started doing in essence, editorial and production oriented functions, just as those sorts of needs are arising. And some of the first things I worked on was we did a media partner center called Facebook media central in New York, that was a place where public figures you know, celebrities so forth would come in, learn how to use Facebook and Instagram and the tools get a sense of the culture. In essence, I became a kind of the people person and there were a number of people persons, right that aren’t on the product, per se, but they’re on the relationship between the entities using the products. So Facebook media Central, I helped Chris Cox launch Facebook Live. He, by the way, really wanted to talk about sway Calloway and Curt letter from MTV News, which is really fun. Yeah. You know, a lot on Facebook Live, all kinds of events, elections, conventions, all around the world. And then I’ve always been in news partnerships. So I got to help launch the Facebook journalism project with Campbell Brown and on your current a whole bunch of brilliant, wonderful people, and just travel the world and I’m, there’s always a part of me, Kara. That’s a kid from Iowa, just like our mutual friend Craig. I think there’s always like a kid from Rhode Island. And, you know, to wake up in Kuala Lumpur with a little Facebook button on your lapel is a, you know, a neat moment. Yeah. It was just, it was spectacular.
Unknown Speaker 17:31
That’s awesome. I love it. So now the main event. So let’s turn to the documentary you co produced with your brother, Mr. Rogers, and me and I had seen it prior to you sending it over to me and it was absolutely so incredible. If you those listening, haven’t seen it. You should absolutely. Watch it, but give us the bit of the background.
Benjamin Wagner 17:59
Yeah. 100%. So Mr. Rogers summered in a modest gray shake shingle house on the edge of Nantucket Island, and my mother rented a tiny cottage next door. So Mr. Rogers really was my neighbor. That is you may recall the actual beginning of you know, my mom had been going to Nantucket for years, just you know, sit on the porch and read books and stuff. And Nantucket is a fancy town, but we’re where she has historically gone is thoroughly unfancied nothing special sand streets. Lovely, beautiful and quiet. And as it ends up one afternoon, Mr. Rogers, Fred Rogers said hello to her on the beach. And I think she had known that his house was in that neighborhood of the island. It’s got madaket. And she was getting a theology degree at the time. He is an ordained Presbyterian was an ordained Presbyterian minister. So obviously, they had rapport as all parents do. She, you know, bragged about her kids, I guess. And she called the next day and said, you know, You’ll never believe why, who I met. And, you know, he’d love to meet you guys, you should come out. And so I pretty immediately went out to Nantucket to say hello to my mother. And, you know, it’s frankly, just a ferry ride from New York City. It’s not impossible. And I was it was my 30th birthday. And sitting there, you know, this is back in the age of blackberries, which you also remember, it’s still vibrating. It’s VMA season, by the way, so everybody wants to talk video music words, but I’m on vacation. And Mr. Rogers walks over the dune and says, You must be the birthday boy, you know, and it kind of all gets magical and beautiful from there. In essence, he gave us a tour of his house, me and my mom, and I played some music for him. And he, I just felt very at home. He’s super authentic, as you mentioned, very present. And I was alone with him in his study, and he said, unprompted Tell me about your parents divorce. You know, out of the blue now, I suspect he and my mother discussed it. But he in the fast forward, I have now talked to hundreds of people about their one to one encounters with Mr. Rogers well, whether brief or of any duration, and to a person, they tell a story like this where they were disarmed by his radical sort of presence and engagement and sort of commitment to being with you in that moment in that experience, but also his ability to get right at the stuff that he intuited was maybe blocking you. Yeah. So you know, it was a really moving, really moving experience.
Kara Goldin 20:35
And what did you say? Like, what did you say? I mean, you guys are listening to music, you’re, you know, hanging out, and I was embarrassed,
Benjamin Wagner 20:44
I was a little embarrassed, and I owned it gently in the film. And, you know, I mean, again, track this with me, I, I felt, you know, I did music news at MTV, because for me as a young person, knowing what artists were up to, and moreover, knowing what was behind their art was really meaningful to me, right. But also, MTV News covered news for young people at the time. But outside of that, there was a lot of junk on that channel. And generally, media is a lot of junk, you know, certainly large mainstream media, like, let me rephrase chunk, you know, let’s say, low in healthy calories and high and, you know, you know, sound and fury, signifying nothing, right. So I just thought it was real opportunity with him to really talk about, I’m a little uncomfortable with what I do. And I’d like to do something that’s a little more meaningful, you know, and I kind of intimated that, and he said that the line that really anchors, sort of our investigation or interrogation of the meaning of the man in his work, which is he said, you know, Benjamin, were staring out at the madaket Bay, where he swam like, a mile a day, every day, every time he was there. And he said, I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex, right? So he talked about this idea that like, dominant culture is actually largely, let’s call it complex sugars and empty calories. But you know, his mission, right. And this was PBS, his mission. And you’ve probably seen some of those clips, where he’s talking about PBS in the early days, was, how can we use it to connect people meaningfully, to educate them to uplift them, right to create a sense of community, in our towns, and in our, in our country and in our world? And that I think his work that you can tell really excites me and excites me still. And it’s one of the reasons why I was so excited to go to Facebook, right, this idea of connection, what you and I are doing now, right? It’s just something magic that happens when two people really get present with one another. And he showed me that, you know, and so when I told him how meaningful that was to me, bear in mind, you know, you’ll recall this, but for your listeners and viewers, this was just a few days before September 11. So, you know, that whole year afterwards, and then some was really flummoxing for so many people, right? It was a confounding time. And I told him how meaningful what he had said was to me, and he leans in, and he says, spread the message. Right, like,
Kara Goldin 23:12
yeah, I met you and right,
Benjamin Wagner 23:16
this is a year later. So he’s like, we’ve exchanged three letters, but he barely knows me. And I’m like, What do you mean, you’ve got 1000 shows on PBS. I’m the kid who works at MTV. But here, look what we’re talking about 20 years later, right. And it’s not, it’s 20 years. And that’s just such, it’s not just a testimony to him. But of course it is. But I think it’s a testimony to the power of just this reminder, that our lives are actually really deep and profound experiences, and complex and rich and nuanced, and wonderful and challenging. But we have to really be careful to pay attention and show up. Otherwise, you might miss it. You know, as Ferris Bueller reminded us in a different context altogether. So you know, we went on to make a movie, as you know, we spent a couple more years after he passed away, which was a surprise to us, obviously. My brother and I and more than Cobra is do you ready for this? We I wrote it Chris. And I lit and shot everything. Chris cut it. My big brother edited the whole thing. We had one guy, a buddy of ours do sound with one guy, a buddy of ours do some other, you know, like polishing, but it was really Chris and me. And then we managed, you know to self. This is so entrepreneurial, right? We just did festivals, we figured out festivals. And then I randomly met somebody who was at PBS and she, she was like, I figured you’d sold it already. And I said no, but I’d like to, you know, and, you know, hundreds of 1000s of viewers later pledged drives like and it was, it was early. This is in 2010. We premiered our film in 2012. It premiered on PBS. It wasn’t until four or five years ago that the other documentary came out. And the Tom Hanks movie, I’m not claiming any credit. I just I just was passionate about it. I’m just as passionate about it today and just as passionate about theirs. But it was pretty, it just still surprises me that we pulled it off. But, you know, we were uniquely positioned at the same time. I mean, I was at MTV, and Chris edits major, major programs for ESPN and, you know, comedy center, you name it. So that helped.
Kara Goldin 25:19
That’s, that’s wild. I mean, I think I would have been stopped in my tracks. I mean, I remember Mr. Rogers, like so many other people as just being really powerful when I was younger, but I think as I, I mean, to some extent, even that, that quote that you have about the deep end, simple, as far more essential than shallow and complex, it’s like, we’re almost forced by society to go and be shallow and complex in some ways not to blame it, but it’s sort of the the direction that we had in you know, go find lots of friends, right, go, go try and become, you know, manager, a director, right, that there’s this course, yet. I think that going back to even the deep and simple stuff really points to what do you want to do? What How does this make you feel and it’s, it’s kind of early stuff, that if you think way, way back when I had probably, frankly, maybe like some other people poopoo them when I got to a point where I was like, a little too old right? Now, of course, anymore wasn’t MTV. But I still kind of remember, you know, the lessons and how he made people feel, right. And I think that that’s just so incredibly powerful.
Benjamin Wagner 26:45
Agreed. And you know, that contrast, of course, this idea of a PBS mind, in an MTV world helped make that I think, every time I called somebody and explained for an interview and explained what I did for my day job, they were like, why are you interested in the story. So that was an advantage. It’s sort of a artificial binary. But at the same time, like, in every conversation I’ve ever had about the magnet, it softens people, it opens people. And, you know, I just think it’s, for me, it’s the only way to live this idea of like, I’m gonna go ahead and take the risk of trusting you with some feelings, or some thoughts or some ideas that I, you know, I’m hoping you’re going to respect and appreciate, but you might not, but I’m going to be present with you through that, right. And I just don’t know how it’s to be. But he gave me or he catalyzed in me, the courage to be more myself, if that makes sense. And I think, again, most of the people who had any engagement with him, whether it was through the camera, or in person would say the same thing. And his whole thing was, we got to love yourself, before you can love your neighbor. And to your previous point, I would argue, there’s something about the pace of culture, and the idea that we need to consume in order to be happy, we are certainly told, the more we consume, the more we have, the more adventures, you know, the more Instagram photos, the happier we’ll be. But I mean, you know, especially as a parent, you know that most of the things that are advertised for happiness don’t really have anything to do with the things that truly move us in profound ways. Right? Or as a spouse, or as a friend, you know, but certainly parentid Drive drove that one home for me. So I just think for me, it’s, again, back to noticing if I can just notice what forces are at play. Because over time, at some advertising can sort of be like, well, do I need that makeup? Or is it a problem that I’m bald? Should I join the Hair Club? You know, as opposed to like, bro, this is just who you are, how you are? And that’s fine. That’s enough, you know? And I wonder, I wonder if maybe we would some of this polarization we’re experiencing in the country that tumbled to the real divide. Again, whether it’s being there’s some hype from Meteor, not this this sense. I wonder if that has something to do with our own cultural self esteem, right? This idea of like, what’s possible that we’re all a little bit off track with like, what really matters, and how we ground ourselves in that. And I think the pandemic brought a lot of us home. I know it did me, no pun not intended, by the way into really getting closer to that. And going up like, you love this. So my daughter Elsie, just the other night, and it’s a school night. This is not normally allowed to do you want to go play catch? We started in the backyard, but I was like, let’s go down to the park. Because we need more room. You’re doing great. I mean, you know, when I was traveling around the world para, I didn’t get those moments, right. Yeah, yeah. And those moments, they kind of are advertised, you know, but generally speaking, those aren’t the moments that you, you know, they don’t get captured in cinema. But you know, you’re an author. Those are the little moments that you try and capture, and that we talk about, because they’re just so grounded in the stuff that makes it all worthwhile. And I’m so interested in that. What is that stuff? How do we do more of that stuff? How do we share those stories? How do we gather tools for managing the uncertainty of every day? And learn them from each other so that we can both be more connected, help each other through? I’m obviously a big believer that like, this is a community. We’re neighbors, like, I got you. That’s our that’s my job. That’s my responsibility towards you, and how can we keep keep? You know, spreading the message? Really, you know, that’s the thing. He asked me to spread the message I got work to do.
Kara Goldin 30:28
Now, I love it. I think that that is so it’s just that your documentary is so memorable as I was, you know, watching it, and you could just see that I mean, again, that, that level of curiosity to but also just discovery, all the interviews that you do throughout and how people, as you said, how he made people feel, it really is pretty simple. I mean, it is, you can replicate it, right? It’s just asking people about getting an understanding of who they are top level, but actually going deeper with people because I just think that that’s that that is something that not a lot of people do I always talk about when I switch from the tech industry into the you know, healthy lifestyle or beverage or whatever, everybody was a little thrown up, because I think people work to define you as that guy who’s an executive at MTV, all that being cool. But who is he? And how does he respond to people? How does he make people feel, I think is, you know, something, that in the end, I think that’s what you are known for. Right? And I think that that is really what they feel I’m thinking as you’re talking my dad, successful executive, you know, started healthy choice was was dad of five kids, at his funeral. There were a whole bunch of people that he was always as much as he traveled, he always coached baseball, and a little bit football, but always coached baseball. And, and the people like we didn’t even think at his funeral that people would come back and talk about him being a coach. And he wasn’t the nicest coach in the world, like he would make the kids skip the, you know, school fair. And do and have practice, especially if they lost like, I mean, he was he was not the emphasize the work, the practice, a lot of work. And he was the tough coach in town that he, you know, really wanted to win. And he wanted, but he also played the play played the players, and he pushed them to get better. And he and he coached them in a way. But anyway, the point was, was that his students, his athletes, always remembered how he would make them feel, and how people were able to look backwards, and kind of fear being with him to some extent, in the beginning, but then how much they accomplished. And I mean, that was kind of getting unloaded at his funeral. I mean, it was just it was amazing how people were talking about that.
Benjamin Wagner 33:28
Well, isn’t it interesting, too, that it often it often takes till that moment to hear some of those stories, right? Yeah, the one of my this is probably well, it’s at the beginning of the film, this is my favorite Fred ism, there is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person, we just think of that responsibility. And if you just remember that every time you bump into somebody, not just somebody you have resonance with, like we do, but like somebody who maybe is grumpy, or who is just doing their job or what have you, right. But just the impact to one to one the personal impact on growth and development that your dad had with coaching. I, you know, I just think you can’t imagine I couldn’t have imagined at any point in my life prior that I would meet a beloved children’s television icon, and that he would help catalyze something that was already native in me and sort of launched me forward, you just can’t know. And that, you know, that’s just one guy. And I think we all have that is the point. And if there’s any takeaway from the movie for me, or from my relationship with them, it’s that it’s like, we got to show up for each other. That’s the whole thing that stopped like, I don’t think anybody’s you know, since you since you raised loss, part of my catalyst this year. To deer deer, male friends, pals of mine, lost their dad, you know, I lost my uncle two years ago. And every time there’s a loss like That you invariably hear the refrain, I would have spent more time doing x. Right? Yeah, whether it’s with so and so or doing such and such. And for me reading your book, and your story has a quality of this, like, time is short, life is precious, let’s get moving people, you know, and I just wanted, I just want to eke out every inch of my time here in relationship with other people. You know, my wife, my kids, my friends, my colleagues. I don’t know what else there is, you know, it’s just what makes the world around for me anyway.
Kara Goldin 35:35
I love it. That is so great. So where can people find you and learn more about the film and what you’re up to now?
Benjamin Wagner 35:45
Yeah, I mean, the simplest place My name is my address, you know, Benjamin Wagner comm it’s all there the music, the movies of the podcast, with my most luminous guests, yet, you? Yeah, so it’s all it’s all there. And is sort of full offering of who I am and the things that I love to do. And I’m really focused now on, you know, collecting and sharing these stories of transformation so that it can help individuals and institutions like transform themselves, right and maybe in small increments make these neighborhoods make our world you know, a better place a kinder place, a place where we’re looking out for each other, lifting each other bringing each other along. Seems like a good use of time.
Kara Goldin 36:32
Yeah, his your podcast, friends and neighbors, his sensing neighbors show.com
Benjamin Wagner 36:37
you can get it at Benjamin Wagner comm sign up for the newsletter. I mean, you know, I’m all in, I will take every form of communication connection I can get.
Kara Goldin 36:46
I absolutely love it. So and also go check it out if you haven’t already, Mr. Rogers, and me. And thank you so much for being on. Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you like this podcast episode, please subscribe and give it five stars on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite platform. And we are here every Monday and Wednesday. And definitely if you haven’t already, check out my book, which debuted in the end of October of last year, our undaunted, overcoming doubts and doubters, which is lots of fun and big journey. And I just
Benjamin Wagner 37:29
want to add that your book was a real catalyst for me. And I will, I will simply say that at some point, I will be calling back because, well, it was a huge inspiration and helped me to see some of the work that I wanted to do next. So So thank you. Yeah, I
Kara Goldin 37:51
love it. Well, that’s what I hope to do is be able to people and inspire people to go and do what they’re supposed to be doing. So I absolutely love you for saying that. So great. And yeah, that that is that’s a wrap. Thanks, everyone. We will hopefully get to entertain and educate and inspire you all again very, very soon. So thanks, everyone. Have a great week. before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara golden and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara golden thanks for listening
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