Episode 330 – Mathew Heggem

Mathew is a Business Advisor & Dance Theater Playwright

Mathew returns to the podcast from episode 122 to talk about his shift from choreographer to playwright, recovering from his business falling apart, and how What’s Your And is an influence on his new play!

Episode Highlights

• Shifting from choreography to playwright
• Knee injury
• Rising from the ashes
• Being more aware of sharing hobbies
• John’s influence on his new play


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    Welcome to Episode 330 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday, I follow up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.

    I’m so excited. My book is out. You can order the book on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com and a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for more. Thank you so much to everyone who’s read it so far and been kind enough to leave those Amazon reviews. Thank you so, so much for those. It’s just overwhelming to read them.

    Please don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Mathew Heggem. He’s a chief marketing strategist and business advisor, and now he’s with me here today. Mathew, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And?”

    Mathew: Yeah.

    John: There he is. That’s awesome. Me too, man. Well, I’ve got my rapid-fire questions. We’ve hung out several times, and I’ve never asked you some of these. I probably should have, now that I look back.

    Mathew: Okay, getting to know you. Okay, hit it.

    John: All right, there we go. All right, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.

    Mathew: Game of Thrones, hands down.

    John: There you go. How about a favorite band or musician?

    Mathew: You know, my fallback is Bjork.

    John: Yeah, okay, okay. How about, brownie or ice cream?

    Mathew: Both.

    John: Okay, that was a trick one. That is actually the correct answer. It’s the a la mode. I like it. Cats or dogs.

    Mathew: Cats. I love dogs, but cats is where it’s at, in my book.

    John: Okay, all right. Speaking of books, Kindle or real books.

    Mathew: Real.

    John: Real. There it is. All right, two more, two more. Do you have a favorite movie of all time?

    Mathew: Wow, that’s a big one.

    John: Maybe something with Bjork in it? No, I’m just kidding.

    Mathew: No, no, no, close, close, close because I think that the, it wasn’t the director, somebody on the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

    John: Oh, that’s a great movie.

    Mathew: Yes, because one of the people that was on that creative team, it wasn’t the writer, so it must have been the director, the director, if I’m not mistaken, did some of Bjork’s earliest music videos.

    John: Nice. There you go. I knew that was coming. That’s awesome. Now, Eternal Sunshine, that is a great, great movie.

    Mathew: Yes.

    John: It’s a great movie. The last one, toilet paper roll, over or under.

    Mathew: Well, I was going to say bidet.

    John: Oh, okay, okay.

    Mathew: Let’s just be real.

    John: There you go. Okay. No, that’s very fancy. That is not a foot washer. That is for sure. No, that’s awesome, man. Very cool. Episode 122, then it was more of the choreography and dance. Now it’s moved onto Dance Theater. What is the difference between the two, for everybody listening?

    Mathew: Yeah, well, to be clear, dance theater is inclusive of choreography because you’re making dance. I think any theater work, it includes setting the stage, stage direction, so you’re choreographing in time and space. So, that is still there. I think the distinction, for me, is that the work that I’m creating now is actually more in the realm of what people would consider theater than what they would consider dance. What that means is, in short, I’m actually choosing to write a play right now, and in that play, about 10, maybe 15% of it, in the dream sequences, is actually choreography, dance work, so that’s what’s going on.

    John: Yeah, that’s awesome, man, writing — I mean, wow, what made you want to just, yeah, just I’m going to write a play? Because that’s something that you really got to want to do. You just don’t wake up one day and accidentally write a play.

    Mathew: No, you don’t. It’s definitely a choice. It’s interesting. Back… God, when was it? It was back about, yeah, so about 11 months ago, I had hired these two dancers to work with me, and we performed in this festival. It was a riot. It was a great time. It was awesome. Shortly after that, I started teaching ballroom dance. Then while I was teaching, I had a knee injury. What turned out to be the case is that I actually ruptured a vessel inside — a blood pathway inside of my knee, and it filled my knee with blood. Originally, when the incident had occurred, the doctors thought that it was a torn meniscus. When they did the MRI, they actually discovered that I had a birth defect. It’s called an arteriovenous malformation. I’s like an AVM, for short.

    Anyways, long story short, that had actually ruptured and filled my knee with blood, and it began this two-month period of time, where I was looking at the possibility of going in and out of these medical procedures to deal with this birth defect. Of course, I was, meanwhile, strapped up in a knee brace and on crutches for about a month and a half, losing my capacity to walk and do all this very physical stuff. It required that I reexamine my relationship to my creativity, right?

    John: Yeah, yeah.

    Mathew: I’m like, okay, fine, I’ll look at other ways of making art. I was exploring some visual art stuff at the time. I’ve always been a writer. Meanwhile, I’ve been wanting to write this book for a while, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to get out this story about —

    John: Trust me, anyone can write a book, man. It is —

    Mathew: Right? I did it, so that would be great.

    John: Yeah, yeah, but you have that story inside you that you want to get out.

    Mathew: Oh, yeah, totally. So I was grappling with this writing thing. Anyways, I just happened to — it’s funny because it’s literally full circle. If you actually go back to Episode 122, and you look at the episode description, it talks about the role I played as the Mad Hatter in this children’s theater. Right?

    John: Right. Yeah.

    Mathew: Just so you know, where I’m at, is actually in the home of the woman who wrote that play in Bellingham. I’ve literally come back to that space. I say that because basically what had occurred is, as I was just networking with people and reaching out and being in community, in my way of being, I reached out to this woman, Drew Robinson. I started talking to her about what my aspirations were, creatively. The long story short is she’s a playwright. She’s a theatre person. She’s an actress. She’s an incredibly talented human being. The long story short is that out of that conversation, we decided to work on this play, and she decided to become my, or I decided to hire her, basically, as my coach and my mentor to get this story out of me.

    So, I’ve been working on this play for about five months now, putting in anywhere from eight to 15 hours a week. Yeah, it’s funny because as you were highlighting earlier, it’s not something to take lightly. I think when I first started working with her, I was like, yeah, sure, let’s write a play. What, we’ll get it done in three months? No problem. Okay, boom, boom. Turns out, it actually takes longer than that.

    John: That’s so cool, man. It’s really awesome to hear just how it’s come full circle. That has got to be pretty comforting, at the same time. It’s probably like, wasn’t I here already? I could have just — but all that other adventure in life that you had to have, now you’re bringing to this, it’s going to be really awesome. That’s cool, man.

    Mathew: Yeah, you’re right. On one hand, I feel like my entire world that I had lived in — when we did this podcast, literally, it was about — Episode 122 — it was three, four months before I found out that my business partner had been embezzling money and that whole story. Then the company fell apart, and all this stuff happened. It was just like, literally, everything around me was just burning to the ground. Then it had all the residual impact on my relationships with other people, even my marriage, my friendships, my own sense of self-worth. Literally, what occurred for me was a complete burn to the ground. Then as I’m sort of driving — because I just got back from five days on the road, I drove from Washington, DC to Washington State — just experiencing this feeling of coming to the place that I had been raised but seeing it from a completely different perspective and having a completely relationship to it, knowing that all this stuff had just burnt away. It felt like a phoenix, the rising from the ashes kind of a thing. It was interesting feeling.

    John: No, that’s awesome, man. Yeah, I can relate. Sometimes you have to go through those down moments in order to rise up to go higher than when you were before, type of thing. It takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of inner fortitude and mental toughness, especially when you’re down in the lower parts because it’s like, man, what the hell. You just keep moving forward and one step at a time. That’s super exciting to hear that you’re working on a play. That’s cool. Let me know if you need any backup dancers. I’ve been practicing.

    Mathew: I’ve got a spot for you, honey. Your steps are already planned.

    John: Okay. Until I get Tonya Harding and my knee hurts too. Then everything’s out.

    Mathew: I’ve got a good kick ball change for you, so don’t worry.

    John: Okay, okay.

    Mathew: Kick ball change pas de bourree, and you’re good.

    John: Yeah, that sounds like I’m going to need some practice, so I will start stretching now. No, that’s super cool to hear, man. Since we talked, do you feel like people are sharing these hobbies and passions more now? Or is it just something that maybe you’re more aware of? You always were. I remember when we talked before.

    Mathew: Yeah. It’s interesting. I think I’ve been aware of my hobbies and my passion as it relates to my professional life, in a very clear way, even before we met. I think you — congratulations, you wrote this amazing book, and thank you for including me in it. In that chapter, I talk about my introduction to panic attacks and that the source of that was actually the division of my professional life from my artistic life and how that actually created a fissure in the self that caused anxiety, was a source of anxiety. So, that moment, that experience made it completely obvious to me, especially in hindsight, but certainly as things evolved, that my life as an artist is my life as a business person, that there can’t be a separation because if there is a separation, I’m not showing up, wholly, to do the work that I do best. So, yeah, I’ve always been present to that.

    I think what’s interesting right now is, with the COVID environment that we’re in, with people working from home, with the fact that, oh, you actually don’t have to go to the office, wait, we’ve been pretending that we had to go to the office all the time; which means in DC, for me, at a period of time there, where I was going to the office, I was an hour and a half in traffic, one way, an hour and a half in traffic, the other, that’s three hours, man, that I could be painting or writing or doing some creative research or working with a collaborator. It’s like, okay, wait a second. Now, all of the space is getting created for us to be in a creative space that was, otherwise, usurped from traditional, corporate, hierarchical sort of environments or cultures. I think other people are experiencing that as well.

    John: Totally, yeah. Because now, all of a sudden, you have that free time and then people realize, oh, I don’t really have a hobby. Or it was going out to restaurants which were closed forever, and it was like, oh, man. I think that a lot of people started to realize how important those other things are, to fill that time, and a lot of people did take it upon themselves to start doing something, which has been cool to see how that’s turned out. All of a sudden, there’ all kinds of creatives. Thanks to YouTube, you can just watch a painting video and then go do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. You enjoy it. That’s what matters. You’re not trying to sell this, for most people anyway. Yeah, that’s been cool to see. It’s cool to see how you’ve, rather than just sit there and take your lumps; it’s like, no, this is an opportunity with this free time.

    Mathew: Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting because even in some cases, I have a friend who, in part, for various reasons, lost his job; and what that created for him, in light of the fear around COVID and the finances and all that stuff, he decided to pursue one of his hobbies as his profession. It was interesting because this whole experience created that opportunity for him, to a certain extent. I feel like I’ve seen other people who — in fact, I think some of my clients even. It’s like, okay, you’ve got the space now to explore your creativity. Why are you not just making that central to what you’re doing in the world?

    John: There you go.

    Mathew: I mean, it’s unfortunate what’s occurring in our country as it relates to health and wellness and the struggles we’re having, and it’s also creating an opportunity for all of us to reexamine our relationship to our work in the world. Thankfully, some people are utilizing this opportunity to create, to get back to who they are.

    John: Exactly. It’s so encouraging to hear what you’re doing and what you’ve been up to, and I’m excited to see the end product and, apparently, be a part of it. So, there’s that.

    Mathew: Yeah.

    John: I hope we’re all joking, for everyone’s sake.

    Mathew: Yeah. I will say, I do need to underscore this. You have to understand that part of this play is going back. There’s a couple of different components, but one of the components of the story is these journal entries that I wrote in my experience. They basically span from, I think it was September 2017, to maybe — well, frankly, I think I’m still at the — I’m at the end of the story now. I’m about to turn 36. There’s something about October 14, 2020 that’s like the ending of a container. The point is that you bookend both ends.

    John: Oh, yeah, the podcast episodes.

    Mathew: Yeah, literally, literally. In fact, in my journal entry, one of my journal entries, I don’t have it in front of me, but it literally says, “Oh, I’m about to get on a podcast with John Garrett and…. So, you’re in the play. Probably, I will be changing names and all that jazz, but the point is, is that there’s something significant about your presence, so I want to thank you, really, for creating —

    John: You’re welcome, man. No, for sure. Having you be a part of the book and then a part of the launch team, it was just awesome. Because I wrote the book and then the publisher was like, “Well, what about these quotes from some of your episodes?” I was like, oh, I didn’t even think of that. Your quote just fits so perfectly with that chapter. So, to not just hear it in my words, but here’s a couple of lines from someone who’s lived it. I’m not just living in a crazy bubble world. This applies to real life. It was cool to have you be a part of that. That’s awesome. I guess we just return the favor. Now I’m part of your project, so that’s cool, man.

    Mathew: Yeah, give and take.

    John: That’s awesome. Tag, you’re it. Well, that’s awesome, man. It’s only fair though, since I started out the episode rapid-fire questioning you that we turn the tables and make this the Mathew Haggem podcast, Episode One. Happy to be your first guest. Thank you so much for inviting me.

    Mathew: Thanks for coming, John.

    John: Exactly. What have you got for me?

    Mathew: All right, let me start off with a few questions, mister. Favorite Dolly Parton song.

    John: Oh, my goodness. The only one that comes to mind is Islands in the Streams. I know it’s a duet, but that’s the only one that comes to mind.

    Mathew: Full disclosure. I don’t know now that one.

    John: I think it’s her and Loggins? Kenny Rogers.

    Mathew: I think it’s Kenny Rogers.

    John: Yeah, Kenny Loggins was Highway to the Danger Zone, right?

    Mathew: To all my listeners, please fact check this information.

    John: Exactly. It was Kenny. It was Kenny and Dolly.

    Mathew: That guy, that guy.

    John: Yeah, islands in the streams, that is what we are. See, I’m clearly not a singer. I should have Googled that.

    Mathew: Listen to her podcast. That is also an amazing podcast, by the way.

    John: Oh, thank you. I will add that to the list.

    Mathew: Yes, it’s incredible. It’s amazing. Okay, wallpaper or paint.

    John: Oh, paint.

    Mathew: Sidebar question, extra credit question, what color?

    John: My office I have is almost like a gray-blue. It’s not quite either. Yeah, I like that. It’s a little bit of a lighter color. I don’t know if slate is the right word for it.

    Mathew: That’s classy.

    John: Yeah, it’s classy, but it’s not boring. It’s different. It’s not just a primary or a standard color. It’s something that’s, is it blue or is it gray? Is it blue? It depends on where the sun’s coming in and all that stuff.

    Mathew: It’s subtly dynamic.

    John: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

    Mathew: I love it.

    John: But not weird where it gets psychedelic like some of those — there are some grays that turn another color. Wait, what the hell, this was a great wall. It’s definitely a little bit blue.

    Mathew: A little bit blue, got it. All right, Devils Tower or Badlands.

    John: Well, since I’ve never been to either, Mr. Carmen San Diego world traveler, I guess I’ll go Devils Tower just because it’s one thing where Badlands is like a big area, so you would have to go to all of the area to say you went to the Badlands, I think, maybe. I don’t know. Plus, Devils Tower just looks cool from the pictures. Plus, the devils there, so why not?

    Mathew: And the alien hunters.

    John: And the alien hunters.

    Mathew: All of that.

    John: That was a good one though, knowing that I had never been to either one of those because they’re only on the way to Bellingham, I guess, is how you get there.

    Mathew: If you take the northern route. My way back, in about five months, I’ll be taking the southern route.

    John: Okay. Very cool. All right. This has been so much fun, Mathew. Thank you so much for being a part of “What’s Your “And”? This is a blast.

    Mathew: Thank you. Congratulations, you’re doing great work.

    John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Mathew, connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and buy the book.

    Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.


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