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IS "BIG IS BEAUTIFUL" TRUE? SURGERY VS EXERCISE, SURVIVING A SCHOOL SHOOTING, AND MORMONISM

February 9, 2023

S04 - E05

Michael Robin and RSnake delve into Michael's experience with fitness and weight loss. From discussing the controversy around BMI, to foodscaping, and the psychology of weight loss, this episode is packed with interesting insights. Michael shares her journey through grappling with family trauma as well as her involvement with the Mormon church. To top it off, RSnake and Michael discuss growth marketing and the challenges of being a CMO.

Photo of Michael Robin
GUEST(S): 

Michael Robin

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Robert Hansen

Today, I sit down with Michael Robin. We dig into her workout and weight loss journey and have a conversation about the controversial ‘big is beautiful’ slogan, foodscaping, surgery versus exercise, and more.


We touch on her family trauma, living through a school shooting, and her personal path as a survivor. We also talk about living in the Mormon church and being excommunicated.


Lastly, we talk about her new podcast and the challenges of being a CMO. With that, here's my conversation with Michael Robin.

Hello, and welcome to the RSnake Show. Today with me, Michael Robin. How are you?


Michael Robin

Hey, I'm pretty good today.


Robert Hansen

It’s good to have you.


Michael Robin

Thank you.


Robert Hansen

I think a long drive down. A lot of traffic today. Did you see the same amount of traffic I did?


Michael Robin

I think so. There was just a wall on MoPac, and then more walls.


Robert Hansen

They knew you were coming. I called ahead and made sure that they backed it right up for you so you could spend more time listening to your podcasts.


Michael Robin

Preparing for the content. You know me so well.


Robert Hansen

We have a bunch of things I wanted to talk about. It's actually not a good flow between the different topics. So we're just going to wing it and go for it because it's all over the place.


Michael Robin

Okay, we're going to wing it.


Robert Hansen

We're going to wing it. One of the things I learned about you extremely early on when we started talking was you've had quite a weight loss journey. You have not always looked like you do today. You've managed to slim down quite a bit.


I guess the first question is, what got you down the path of thinking that’s something you were going to do? I'm sure you'd had that thought at some point before you did it. What was the trigger that made you start?


Michael Robin

Like you mentioned, I had thought about it a lot. There were several fits and starts between when I recognized that I had been obese or what my doctors would have categorized as morbidly obese.


For my frame, at my highest mass, I was 289 pounds. And I'm five foot four. If you look at the BMI, which is a highly controversial way to basically look and judge your sense of health or well-being, I was morbidly obese. So I had fits and starts of getting healthy and getting fit between the age of 16 up until around the age of 30.


Robert Hansen

What did you do in that timeframe? What would be an example of one of the things you did?


Michael Robin

Trying portion control, limiting sodas. I went on the Atkins diet in high school just because a couple of my other friends were doing it. But that just made me really sad.


Robert Hansen

Oh, depressed sad?


Michael Robin

Yeah.


Robert Hansen

Not sad because you had done the Atkins diet.


Michael Robin

Depressed sad, not because I couldn't eat sugar. I was probably sad because of that as well. And nothing had a balance. So that was the thread between it all.


Eventually, after one health challenge arose after another, I had had a herniated disc that had ruptured in my back between my L4 and L5. And I had to be operated on, which was actually very scary.


You don't really know what's going to happen. You can trust a surgeon as much as their ratings on the scale of an insurance app and what your friends can recommend. But at the end of the day, your life is in their hands. And you have to sign waivers that say, “I may or may not wake up paralyzed.”


Robert Hansen

Or at all.


Michael Robin

That wasn't as high of a risk with this surgery. And I said that seriously, I've had multiple surgeries because of my health problems. So this was after two D and C's from fertility issues, my gallbladder being removed and then having my discectomy.


My doctor was just basically telling me that I needed to really focus on bringing my weight down in order to help support my back so that this wouldn't happen again. I would need to work on portion control and maybe some light exercises, lifting light weights and walking.


He said I'd probably never be able to run or do any hyper cardio active exercises. But I challenged that after a couple years of seeing the numbers go down in my weight loss journey.


I had back surgery in 2012. I was 28 years old at the time. By the time I was 30, I had finally gotten into what a lot of us who have gone through a weight loss journey similar to myself in the 100 Club, which is when you're in the realm of 100 pounds, which is we don't all want to focus on scale victories.


There's this whole debate between non-scale victory and scale victories, which we'll probably get into later talking about body positivity and things like that. It was huge for me. But I plateaued. And I felt stuck. I was in the 190s.


I was at the gym, and one day I got on a treadmill. I went from walking to jogging and a five and a half mile an hour pace. I was able to jog a mile without being out of breath.


The next day, I did a mile and a half. I just started increasing my mileage and learned that I like to run. And it didn't have any implications on my back at all.


Robert Hansen

Was that a risk?


Michael Robin

Yes, absolutely. Totally a risk. Luckily, I was still seeing a PT at the time, who was still working with me on ensuring that I wasn't reinjuring my back because it was totally a high risk situation then.


I was able to get out of being stuck in that zone and start doing more hyper cardio exercises. I joined Camp Gladiator. I was doing group exercises, lots of running and all sorts of things other people thought were crazy. But I thought they were fun. And I felt more comfortable in the new skin I was in.


Robert Hansen

Congratulations, first of all, because that's a quite a journey.


Michael Robin

Thank you.


Robert Hansen

You alluded to it earlier, what do you feel when people say big is beautiful or this body positivity? At a surface level, obviously, everyone should be proud of who they are and be self-confident and all that kind of stuff. But there is something else going on there. So what goes on in your head?


Michael Robin

I'm really the last to tell anyone that if they're big, they are not beautiful. You can certainly be big and beautiful. You can be small and beautiful. You can be any shape, size, color, whatever you may be, and beautiful.


For me, personally, I was never comfortable in that size. I never felt good. I always felt unhealthy. I spent a lot of time in the hospital at the doctors’ offices taking prescriptions that were probably hurting me more than they were doing me good.


I wasn't really focusing on putting the right things in my body that would generate not just good nutrients but also mental positivity. There's a lot of studies and links to your mood and what you're eating. So a lot of fried foods and sugars will definitely make you feel a heck of a lot worse than just eating fruits and natural vegetables and healthy proteins and things like that.


I don't necessarily celebrate it or champion it because, this is going to be bold, I don't agree with it in a lot of ways, if the only goal is to celebrate big is beautiful. I also want to say bony is beautiful.


I also want to say that being medium size is beautiful and being your size is beautiful, my size is beautiful, his size and her size is beautiful. But it's all about how you feel on the inside about yourself and not necessarily about how many double, triple, quadruple X's are before the L on the clothing rack that you're buying from the store.

Robert Hansen

It's interesting you mentioned the BMI earlier. I just went to the doctor a day or two days ago or something. I got back my BMI, which I didn't actually ask to be checked. But it's a standard thing that they always do.


Michael Robin

Yeah. It's like, “Who asked for this?”


Robert Hansen

I just don't believe in it.


Producer Chris

Hey, Robert, what's a BMI?


Robert Hansen

Body Mass Index. It's a measure of approximately two things, how tall you are and how much you weigh. It’s not a particularly useful metric, if you think about it, because someone who's incredibly muscular might weigh a lot but they're in great shape.


Whereas somebody who's in absolutely terrible shape might weigh exactly the same amount with the same height. So that's not really a measure of health. I think that I'm in pretty good shape. And I am what's considered obese by the standard of BMI. So I really don't like that.


I think the US Army has a calculator that they use for people coming in. You basically just answer like four or five questions, if you're a woman and I think maybe just two or three, if you're a man.


Effectively, it's been proven to be very close to what a DEXA scan will give you, which is extremely accurate, without having to do a DEXA scan, which is nice. And by that standard, I'm in quite good shape. I could easily be in the armed forces.


I don't think that that matters too much. But I do think there are health issues, as you pointed out, related to weighing too much for your frame or things that it might do to your breathing or other aspects of your health. Not to mention heart disease and some of these other things.


How do you feel when people say this? When they come out and say, “You should love this fat person for being fat.” What's your gut reaction when you see that?


Michael Robin

Well, I've never heard them say it like that.


Robert Hansen

Sure, I'm being indelicate. But that is effectively what's going on.


Michael Robin

It doesn't necessarily make me want to love whoever they're championing just for that image. I want to understand if there's more layers to that because myself as an individual, as a young woman who was overweight, I felt that most people couldn't see past the fact that I was fat and I was overweight. So I was overlooked.


I was never like, “Oh, you're so amazing at this.” and everybody wanted me around. I constantly had the sense that I didn't belong in multiple arenas in my life.


When I hear that about pop stars or models, I actually want to dig a little bit deeper and understand, what more is it about this individual that I could love, that's beautiful, that's not just about what size they were?


Robert Hansen

Well, I'm afraid if you're talking about pop stars, maybe not much. But that's a separate issue.


Michael Robin

Well, yeah.


Robert Hansen

I'm just being funny. Where do you think that all comes from? In my opinion, one way it could come about is trying to sell more clothing to a wider population. If the clothing manufacturer embraces big is beautiful, and now we have plus-sized models, plus-sized people go, “Okay, I can buy that product because they have my size.”


Rightfully so, they shouldn't feel ashamed of having to clothe themselves. That's a normal thing. But is there anything more to it? You're in marketing. So do you have any more insight on that?


Michael Robin

Yeah, I'm not in retail or consumer marketing. But I do think you're onto something there. I do also think psychologically, it is about creating a safe space and social equity to help everyone feel equal.


Not necessarily that that may be the best way to go about it but that folks do have the opportunity to walk into any store and wear the same thing that a size 4 woman would wear as a size 16 woman would wear, which was a challenge for me.


Actually, when I was pretty active on social media last year, I did appreciate the campaigns where I did see side to side, here's a woman in a size whatever, and it was a very small size and a woman in a size that would be considered large or extra-large.


I was like, “Yeah, that works on both of those sizes.” That's fantastic as to not shame anyone for being a certain shape or size. But I do think that after a certain point, it does introduce a lot of serious health conditions into not just women but men.


We're talking about cardiovascular related issues, fertility, hormonal issues, issues with your gastrointestinal tract. Got a little flabbergasted there.


Robert Hansen

Welcome to the club, I'm terrible at this.


Michael Robin

Definitely, issues to your skeletal structure. When I started running, I had to pay particular attention to my hips and my knees because a lot of my weight was in my stomach and my chest and my back. And I worked a lot on standing up.


I didn't quite realize how much of a compression I had put on my knees and my hips. And so I had to do a lot of massage therapy and cryotherapy to try to work out the pain after the runs. I just had no idea how much damage I was doing to my body by being overweight for so long.


Robert Hansen

What, to you, does healthy actually mean? If you had to define a healthy person, what would that person look like? Or what would they have to do? Or what metrics would you use?


Michael Robin

Well, I'm not a doctor, thankfully.


Robert Hansen

No, I know. But I'm just curious.


Michael Robin

I wouldn't even say at this point I'm healthy. I am managing a few health conditions at this time. But I think it's a balance of if you're able to do your daily routine without getting out of breath, do a standard day without getting to exhaustion too quickly.


Maybe the last thing I'll say on this, because this stumped me a little bit, you're practicing just a sense of balance in what you're putting into your body and what you're also exerting.


It's not just about what you're eating. But it's what you're doing, whether it's walking or swimming or taking part in some sort of physical exercise that you enjoy. It does not have to be heavy or hard.


Lots of people like walking or paddleboarding or cycling. Some of those things can be very enjoyable and don't have to be very hard. But getting to find out what those are for you can be very healthy not just for your physical body but for your mental health, too.


Robert Hansen

I saw some video once, and I'd be very hard pressed to figure out where it was and who was the speaker. But it was some doctor. And he said that one measure of health is how many days of your life as a percentage you spend in the hospital. It's just one measure. There's lots of different measures.


I always really liked that one. That one stuck with me because what I find is extremely healthy people on a day to day basis walking around, they don't wind up in the hospital very often unless they do something like falling down and breaking a hip or something. Or they're on a motorcycle and they crash or whatever.


At that point, they become unhealthy. Their body is otherwise fine, but they have done something to injure it. And you can speed up the injury or cause additional injuries by eating or by doing other things.


Ballistic exercise is the most common way an otherwise healthy person gets injured, but it could be all kinds of things. Smoking, for instance. It’s slowly injuring your body and so on.


I like to think of it in that context where anything that is a feeder into ending up in the hospital is something you should probably try to avoid as much as reasonably possible without limiting all the excitement in your life.


I know that you have gotten into something called foodscaping. Can you talk a little bit about that as it relates to health especially?


Michael Robin

This is actually a rather new topic I'm researching on, and I'm quite excited about it. My partner and I bought a home over the summer. 


One of the challenges that he gave me, which he is constantly challenging me to try new things and one of the reasons I've stuck with him after all this time, is to integrate the plants that we put in our yard to some amount of edibility.


I was like, “Yeah, there has to be a word for that.” So I started doing research, and there's a word for it. It's called foodscaping. In my research, I not only found that there are actual foodscapers that come out.


They will come in and install your entire foodscaped yard for you if you choose. But they're hobbyists. Hopefully, someday when we move into our home, I will be a foodscape hobbyist.


Robert Hansen

Are there books on this or websites?


Michael Robin

There are books and podcasts and websites. There's famous ones and regional contests and all sorts of resources for foodscaping. So if this is peeking your interest, just Google it or use whatever search engine. Anyway, RSnake’s listeners, if you know RSnake well, Google may not be your search engine of choice.


It is basically where you integrate into your natural landscape edible sustainable food. It's not a separate garden area. Ideally, in the utopian foodscape, you will not even have a separate garden.


You're just walking in your yard, and you have a blackberry bush. And it's in full bloom. Then right next to it, you got a giant cherry tree that's blossoming. And you can pick a cherry and go about your day.


Then you got a row of maybe some wild onions. When those sprout out of the ground, they actually bloom some really beautiful purple flowers. So it can actually provide some really elegant, ornamental impact to your eye. It can be aesthetically pleasing.


At the same time, it's providing some sustainability for your home, food security, which is something I've always struggled with all of my life from some demons from my past.


During the pandemic, I basically found out about myself that gardening was meditative for me. And so I would spend maybe a good 45 minutes every day during the summer going out to my hodgepodge garden in the backyard and prune and make sure that everything was well taken care of.


I've made many a salsa dish, lots of shishito peppers. I tried squash blossoms one year because the zucchini never happened. We just got tons of squash blossoms. But it's something that I could ideally see the entire yard transforming into a foodscape.


Robert Hansen

Why would one do this, other than just food security? Are there any other reasons for it?


Michael Robin

I haven't really found any other.


Robert Hansen

Is it healthier? Are there other benefits to the home?


Michael Robin

I don't necessarily think it's healthier. People who are really dedicated to saving the world and saving the environment, if you can produce a lot on your land, you over time save mileage from going to and from the store to gather the things you need that are already growing on your property.


Robert Hansen

Is it better for the wildlife? Because they can possibly eat off your bushes and trees and whatever.


Michael Robin

Sure. But then you won't have that. I wouldn't say that I'm not struggling with the idea of putting out a foodscape and then having it completely ravaged by the deer that I love in the new neighborhood.


It's mostly just benefiting the food security sustainability and ensuring that you have something beautiful to look at and also have a land to cultivate from. With my kids, it's been especially nice to see them enjoy and learn how to garden, what works well, what doesn't work well.


With my youngest, he's six and getting him unafraid of pollinators, specifically bees and just understand that if you're not hurting them, they won't hurt you. They're here for a purpose. And just letting them go to the flowers that are the most important so they can go to the next flower to help things grow. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of tapping into my gardening hobby.


Robert Hansen

You're also a trained chef. I know a lot of chefs like to use local herbs and vegetables. Does that play a part in this in terms of your health journey or any taste flavors, where you're going to your garden as opposed to going into the store?


Michael Robin

Yeah, having direct access to the ingredients I need certainly plays well into how I enjoy cooking in the kitchen. A few weeks ago, I bought a few bunches of green onions from the grocery store.


Instead of just throwing away the bottom roots, which one would normally do, I decided, “We've been going through so many green onions lately, I'll just replant them in some water.”


We just stuck them into mason jars. And we've used them three or four times since. It's something we can't always do here in Texas, especially if you're not in permanent housing.


If you're in an apartment or in a rental, it's been extremely difficult for me to commit to the land. But as someone who's settling down and committing, I'm really looking forward to just sending out the kids or going out myself and grabbing a handful of herbs.


What would be really great is making a blackberry reduction sauce to go with this chicken dish. That would be amazing. So we'll grab a bunch of blackberries and work on that today. That is a benefit I hadn't even thought of.


Robert Hansen

That's great. Back to the weight journey here for a second. I know that there are other forms of weight loss out there that are quite invasive. Gastric bypass surgery, for instance, is one example. But there's others, inserting balloons in your stomach and so on. Liposuction is another one.


I've known two people who have gone through various types of surgery to lose weight. One gastric bypass, one lipo. And in both cases, I did not notice a significant change in their overall feeling about themselves or how they approach the world.


I'm not exactly sure what's going on there. I think maybe what's happening is, psychologically, they know they've just cheated.

Instead of doing the hard work of earning it and actually doing portion control, if that’s what would have helped in the case of a balloon, let's say or just having a normal amount of diet and exercise to slowly whittle away any extra fat or whatever, I'm going to guess because I don't really know, I think they felt like they could have done it, had they just done it, had they just committed to it. And then they didn't.


Now they've lost the weight. And they look great. But I can't imagine that helped them psychologically as much as they'd hoped it would. Any thoughts on that?


Michael Robin

I don't know for sure. I've also had friends who've done the same, and I've seen the same struggles. My journey was a long journey. I started being proactive in 2012, and I got pregnant in 2016. I hit my weight loss goal a month before I got pregnant.


I lost 124 pounds, and then I got pregnant. I gained weight during the pregnancy. It took me time to get the weight back off. But there are still times where I am getting dressed and I look at a pair of pants. And I'm like, “There's no way that's going to fit.”


I look in the mirror. I'm fighting with the confidence of who is in the mirror, who other people see, and who that person is on the inside who still feels like she doesn't belong.


Robert Hansen

When you are going to the mirror but have not yet reached it, you expect to see somebody different than who shows up in the mirror?


Michael Robin

Totally. I do.


Robert Hansen

Is that a common occurrence, nearly daily, all the time?


Michael Robin

It happens less and less. When my weight has fluctuated up, it definitely happens more. But when I'm being more strict and more diligent, I know when my habits are bad. And it's usually when I'm depressed and stressed because those were triggers for me for overeating in the past.


Robert Hansen

Let's say we're very overweight at the time, like 300 or 400 pounds or something, even heavier than you are today. But you could take a magic pill. That pill would remove all of the negative effects, other than the weight itself. So you wouldn't have any joint issues. You wouldn't have any cardiovascular issues.


You're not going to die earlier, you're not going to have heart disease, et cetera, et cetera. But you still look exactly the same. Would you still feel like that is just not the way you want to live? And if so, why?


Michael Robin

No, I wouldn't take it. I just never felt good in that skin. It just didn't feel right. Either clothes are too tight or too loose. It's very uncomfortable. You get on a plane, and you almost wonder if you need to buy two seats.


You can't take a Ferris wheel with your kids because you're restricted to do things that people should be able to do. The highlight of a non-scale victory that I had was being able to go and do the skydiving simulator.


When I finally hit under 180 because of my height, they were like, “Okay.” I could sign the waiver, and I could go and do it. Because for whatever reason, my weight before was just too much for the machine to handle, which was eye-opening for me. So there are so many things that hold you back.


Robert Hansen

I see. I think we're going to get back to your childhood in a minute here. But you talked about giving birth. And I remember a conversation we had a while back where you were talking about somebody else who was going through pregnancy, not yourself.


You were lamenting the fact that you couldn't have the conversation you wanted to have with the mother to be because the father to be was in the room or whatever. And I thought that was an interesting conversation.


Well, first of all, why do you feel like that's a thing that you have to tiptoe around? But then secondly, I think that there's this strange divide between the sexes about knowledge about what happens during pregnancy, other than maybe a medical doctor or somebody who really specializes in this field. A doula, let's say.


For the audience's sake, I'd like you to educate us. What don't most men know about women than pregnancy?


Michael Robin

I'm going to assume you mean pregnancy and childbirth.


Robert Hansen

I don't even know what I mean when I'm asking the question. That's why I'm asking the question.


Michael Robin

Exactly. Yeah. There's a background here that most people don't know. When I was pregnant with my first son, his dad was one child of seven. And they were all born at home by a midwife. His mom was a teacher of what is known as the Bradley method, which is natural childbirth.


They basically go through this process that starts at about 20 weeks where the mother and father go through a really intense childbirth preparation course together once a week until the child is born that teaches them a lot about what happens to the woman's body during pregnancy, during childbirth and after childbirth, as well as lactation and breastfeeding.


Nobody ever told me about any of this stuff. And I had plenty of women in my family. There are a lot of men in my family. But I had aunts, grandmothers. I have two moms, an adopted mom and a biological mom. Plenty of women. All of them had children. And none of them told me about any of it.


I feel very fortunate that my first husband was not only raised in a family that was very open and educated and a proponent of understanding what happened with a woman's body during this time. But also that he was on board with getting me on board for this experience.


I just went in eyes wide open, I have to know everything because of seeing one of my grandmothers die in the hospital. I did not want to have any children in the hospital. So I opted as well for natural childbirth.


Robert Hansen

Natural childbirth, to be clear in this context, at home or at a doula’s?


Michael Robin

Yeah. You can have a natural childbirth at the hospital. A natural childbirth with a midwife. I mentioned miscarriages before. But when we got pregnant and we knew that this one was going to be successful, we didn't know where we were going to end up because we were in university and we knew we were going to be moving by the time he was born.


When we moved here to Austin, we found the Austin Birthing Center. And they practice Bradley methods. So that was a win. They had six birthing rooms. We were like, “Great, perfect. We will have our child here.” So natural childbirth meaning without medical intervention and also without as much intervention as possible.


Robert Hansen

That would be epidurals or something?


Michael Robin

Yeah, absolutely. No epidurals. During my labor, the midwife checked in maybe once every hour which when you're in hospital, it's many more touch points. And you have everything strapped to you.


I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. There's a lid for every pot. Everyone has their different levels of comfortability. There are definitely pregnancies that have complications that medical intervention is 100% necessary.


When I have friends or people I know around me that get pregnant, I almost feel obligated to tell them or ask them if they would like to know more. It's more about permission because there are some women who just do not want to know.


Robert Hansen

Why is that? Why would they be afraid of information that's about to help them? It seems like they'd be gravitating toward anyone who can teach them anything.


Michael Robin

Yeah, it's squirmish. One of my friends is afraid of blood. She faints at the sight of blood. And there's a lot of blood in the process. After a woman gives birth to her child, she then has the afterbirth. And that's a term that a lot of people have heard. But do you know what it actually is?


The baby comes out, and the baby's attached to the umbilical cord which is attached to the placenta still inside the mom. The baby's out. There's the umbilical cord, they cut the umbilical cord. But the placenta is still inside the mom with the umbilical cord.


If you pull on the umbilical cord, the placenta may tear or it could tear the uterine wall which could be lethal. That's a horrible outcome. So your uterus is basically designed to cramp down to its natural size. It goes from the size of a watermelon to the size of a grapefruit within an hour after giving birth. It's very painful.


Midwives and doctors and nurses are trained, after the child is born, to massage your uterine wall which is all the way up here when a baby's born.


Robert Hansen

Underneath your ribcage, for those listening.


Michael Robin

Yeah, your uterine wall from under your ribcage all the way down and to help guide it down to above your pubic bone because it should be about the size of a grapefruit before you leave the hospital. And then it will continue to shrink down to its itty bitty size of about, I would say, a penny.


Some women are just like, “No.” Because having anything big inside your body is undesirable. It's scary, and it's ugly. It stretches me out and all of these other things that are like, “I will never be the same again.” And for men, too.


You asked what men don't know. It's the same. And some men just get squeamish and run away or walk away. They don't want to know about episiotomies or perineal massage.


Robert Hansen

I don’t think I've heard of either of those things.


Michael Robin

Well, perineal massages are developed to prevent the outcome of an episiotomy. What is this podcast rated?


Robert Hansen

It's definitely explicit. So you're all good. You can swear and yell. You got lots of options.


Michael Robin

Okay, I can talk about genitalia and anatomy.


Robert Hansen

I expect you to after this.


Producer Chris

Yes, please don't take your clothes off though.


Robert Hansen

Yeah, that might get us banned.


Michael Robin

Don't worry. The opening of a vagina is very small. And when a woman is going through childbirth, it has to expand at least up to nine or 10 centimeters. That's the gauge that most doctors and nurses and midwives get to.


When you're like, “Oh, how many centimeters?” and you're hearing about people that are super excited and talking on social media about like, “Oh, she's in labor. Five centimeters.” I totally never get why anyone would want to share how big their vaginas are on Facebook. That's really weird. But it's cool, whatever floats your boat.


That's not a particularly stretchy part of your body once it gets to a certain size. Perineal massage was designed to exercise that particular area, the lower part of your vagina.


For those of you who are listening, not watching, I'm holding out my two fingers, my pointer and my middle finger, both of my hands. I'm about to do something that you just should watch on YouTube. Or look it up. But make sure that there's no young children around or anyone that's going to get offended.


You basically get massage oil of your choice. The Bradley method instructs to get olive oil, we don't care, or primrose oil, which is actually very good for pregnant women for a number of other reasons. And you massage the area inside down so that you can train the opening to open better, not faster but the elasticity. You're training the elasticity.


Robert Hansen

This is something you do at what point of labor?


Michael Robin

32 weeks of pregnancy. It should be a couple's thing or a trusted partner. If you are going through pregnancy as a surrogate or as a single mom, it should definitely be with someone, obviously, that you trust intimately enough to be down in your private areas. Why am I so uncomfortable talking about this?


After a perineal massage, get your fingers in there. You can naturally tear, which is the preference for some because it heals better. Or some doctors would just prefer to cut, and that's what's called an episiotomy.


What they're trying to prevent is a tear all the way down to the anus, which is extremely painful and can take so long. I know that sounds painful. And all of us don't want to be sitting right now because we're thinking about it. But it is a reality.


Robert Hansen

I would imagine it's also a lot of bacteria. And therefore, that would add extra complications to healing.


Michael Robin

Yes. If the child is down the birth canal but the mother is not dilating as fast as she needs to or she's stuck at a seven or an eight, the doctor will ask permission or just cut if the baby's life is in danger and try to hold it so it doesn't tear.


I remember during my first birth my midwife was holding me right at the base of my vagina. She said I had a scrape. I didn't have a tear. For some women, it's a vanity thing. Some women don't want to tear. They want a perfect scar that can just be stitched up. So they say, “If I get to that point, just give me an episiotomy.”


Okay, that's fine. I'm not against it. But it was just a tool I learned in the practice that I chose to go into.


For the women I knew that went to the hospital that didn't do the birthing classes that I did and then hearing about them being horrified coming out of the hospital, I didn't know that I was going to be coming home in a diaper. I didn't know that I was going to tear. Even them being surprised by the things that were happening to their body, I felt like it was such a disservice to them and their spouses.


Could you imagine being someone's partner and just not knowing what was going to happen to their body after something so awesome? You just deliver this new human being into your family, but someone's been wounded. And someone's gone through a serious loss.


Robert Hansen

Yeah, another thing I don't think a lot of people know about really that they probably should is the whole postpartum depression thing. Did you go through that?


Michael Robin

Yeah, both times.


Robert Hansen

Oh, interesting. What would you describe it as? Could you point to it and say there was a moment that had happened? Did it happen immediately afterwards? What did it feel like compared to other types of depression?


Did you know it was going to end because you had gone through it once? Was it easier to go through the second time?


Michael Robin

That was a series of questions. The first time, I did not know I was depressed until someone called me. I was in a church community at the time. Someone called me and they said, “Oh, I was waiting to come and visit until your mom left”. And I said, “Well, my mom never comes and visits.”


I had no feeling. It wasn't the kind of depression where you're crying all the time. It was the kind of depression where I had absolutely no feeling. And I can say this now because it's been years.


Me and my son were just driving down the highway to get groceries or run an errand. I just had the urge to drive off the overpass. So I knew something was wrong. I went and talked with someone. They prescribed me some safe antidepressants since I was breastfeeding.


That seemed to work for that time in my life. With the second one, I was actually getting depression during my pregnancy. And I was very much against taking any psychotropics at the time. So my midwife prescribed 5-HTP, which is just a natural mood stabilizer. It really helped.


I had minimal postpartum depression, but it was a lot of crying. Most of it was that my son and I did not have a very good breast feeding bond at all. His mouth, my breast, no compatibility.


I was like, “You're going to be breastfed.” And he's like, “No, I'm not.” He got to the point where he would literally just scream anytime I tried to feed him. And I wasn't making enough milk.


I was situationally depressed about that piece because I could do it before, why can’t I do it again? That was a very different situation in my life. 100 pounds lighter, trying to run a company and trying to do it all.


It wasn't like I knew it was going to end. But it was a different type of depression with the second one for sure.


Robert Hansen

Well, thank you for sharing that. I think we're about to go a little deeper even. No pun intended.


Michael Robin

All right. Hold on your horses, everyone.


Robert Hansen

I know you did a presentation at CreativeMornings about trauma. You had a crazy upbringing, a lot of drugs in the house. As you said, you were adopted at one point. Would you talk a little bit about that backstory, just to set the stage a little bit? Because I think this is a useful backstory for your weight loss journey as well.


Michael Robin

When I was born, both my parents were addicted to meth. I believe that my father confirmed to me a few years ago that my mom was using when she was pregnant with me and may well had been using when I was born. So I was a very sick infant coming home from the hospital.


There were a lot of things that my biological parents did not do well. So me and my half-sister ended up being put in the foster care system. And we ended up getting adopted by a Filipino family who were Roman Catholic, very strict family.


My adopted dad was a retired navy captain, and we went to church every Sunday. Nope, we went to church every Saturday night. Sunday was the Mormon life I lived.


Robert Hansen

We'll talk about that, too.


Michael Robin

It’s getting all mixed up here. My sister and I ended up being adopted by a Filipino family who were Roman Catholic. They were very strict. My dad was retired navy captain. And we went to church every Saturday night for mass.


A lot of things that we did in that home groomed me to be very good at taking care of the home and family. After a certain point of living there and knowing we were adopted, we were given permission to seek out our biological family. And we did.


Everyone wants to know where they came from. Even people who grew up with mom and dad their whole lives still do 23andMe and do trips back to their homeland and just want a sense of belonging.


We were navigating through some newspapers one day just randomly, and we saw a familiar face in the wedding announcements and referenced back a look book that our social worker had given us. And it was indeed my aunt who had gotten married.


We cross-referenced what store she was working at and called all the stores in San Diego. It's this whole crazy story. It sounds like it's made up in a Hallmark movie. I could sell it to Hallmark, if you're interested.


I got reconnected with my biological family and ended up moving in with my biological mom by the time I was 11. That was a really interesting time. There were the good parts. And then there were the very bad parts of that.


The good parts were, I learned a lot about living in the land versus living in this house and learning how to be a housekeeper and be the woman that supported the family and the man.


My biological mom was very Stevie Nicks, just floated around with the wind type of person. But she had this amazing garden, loved animals, and had just a really loving heart. But she turned back over to drugs. And that just ended up not working out very well for all of us; me, my sister, all my other siblings, her fiancé. Just a total mess, a train wreck.


Times were hard. I don't know how far you want me to go.


Robert Hansen

Well, I remember at one point, you told me a story about a helicopter. I think that might be a useful example of one of the things that happened at that timeframe.


Michael Robin

The talk I gave at CreativeMornings, the theme was “the end”. The night that you're referencing I knew was the end of my relationship with my mom. What had happened in that year was my mom had started using drugs and acting really strange, sleeping all day, up all night, pulled all the kids out of school. We were homeschooling.


I basically went from being a free range individual, living like a kid, doing things normal kids do, 11, 12, almost 13 to reverting back to what my adopted parents expected of me and was cooking the meals for everyone in the home, doing laundry and dishes and just maintaining some semblance of a routine.


Robert Hansen

That’s because she wasn't doing that.


Michael Robin

Yeah, she wasn't doing it. And it was expected. If it was not done, I would be yelled at and punished and hit. So I didn't want any of those things. I cower to abuse and being yelled at.


Actually, what it does to me physically is it shuts down my gastrointestinal organs. It's a mess. Biologically, things aren't good. I didn't want any of that to happen. And so I just did it without even being asked or prompted and tried to make myself invisible for those months.


It was getting close to my birthday. And my mom came up with this idea. She wanted to throw a party for myself and my brother, which seemed odd because she didn't like any of my friends or his friends and didn't want to invite any of them.


She invited all of her friends and had a concert there. It was definitely just an opportunity to get high and have fun. And at some point, she got in an argument with her fiancé and it became physical.

He called the cops on her because she was getting physical with him. She told all five of us kids to run. And so my instinct of, “I don't want to get yelled at or hit.” kicked in.


We ran, and we hid in a ditch nearby because we lived in a pretty big property out in the country, the back area of San Diego. We waited for quite some time. We heard the cops come. We just stuck it out, waited and waited. And then came the helicopters. They were looking for us.


Later I learned she had told the cops that we were kidnapped by someone in the family and had sent the cops on a wild goose chase for the said family member, which had nothing to do with that. That was wild.


My mom was detained that night and for several nights after my brother's dad, her fiancé,left that night with him and filed a restraining order. My sister and I and two brothers were left alone for several days with no adult supervision. And that's how I knew I need to get out of this mess.


Robert Hansen

Well, that's a terrible story. I'm really glad you made it out of there. And so then you ran, you got out of there. You took yourself out of that situation.


Michael Robin

Yeah.


Robert Hansen

The other piece of trauma I wanted to dig into a little bit that is related, this is all a related theme here, there was a shooting at your school.


Michael Robin

Sorry. No one's going to believe all this stuff happened to me. Sorry. I'm laughing because I'm like, “Yes, indeed.”


Robert Hansen

Many other things have happened to you. They're all worth talking about. I'm not trying to get people to pity you. I just think this is a useful thread. And if we can tie it all together, I think this will be interesting. So can you tell us a little bit about the thing that happened at school?


Michael Robin

Yeah. I appreciate you bringing it up because I've been thinking about it recently. There have been a lot of suppressed memories because it's been a while. When I was in high school, I was a freshman when Columbine happened. And that was very scary for us.


We started implementing policies and procedures and drills, which were also very scary. The school that I was at at the time was an open campus which means, for those of you who are confused by that, we had classrooms that were just out in the open instead of being inside of a dome.


We were in class, and we heard gunshots. We thought it was a drill, to be completely honest. We were like, “Oh, wow, they're taking this to the next level.” Because they were all surprise drills. They don't want us to know they're running a drill for a school shooting.


We were then surprised to hear closer gunfire and then crossfire. There weren't many injuries, except for the shooter. He was injured and arrested. But that, plus other incidents I've had with guns, really kept me skittish and shy from guns and gun issues for a very long time.


The individual himself was in my math class and sat very close to me. To be that close to someone who woke up and decided that that was what was going to happen that day was also very scary.


I've never really tried to dig in to the mindset of someone who makes those kinds of choices. And that's just a scary situation. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, just hearing the shots alone and crossfire knowing or not knowing if your friends are out there, your teachers, innocent bystanders like you, are they going to come into your classroom? What's happening?


Many people had cell phones. I didn't have one, I was poor. So I didn't have a mobile phone to call anyone and let them know that I was okay or call 911. There was nothing.


Robert Hansen

When you and I started talking a couple years ago, you told me at least part of the story, the parts of it that you were willing to tell me or that you could remember.


At that point, I was surprised because I told you that I’d been shot and stuff. And I had gotten quite into pistol shooting, maybe four or five years before we met. I alluded to this, by the way, on the podcast I did with Grant Shaw.


You were the person I was referring to on that episode, just for those who are active listeners. But to my complete surprise, you asked to go shooting. You asked to learn to get past this, to learn something about guns in a productive positive environment as opposed to this negative.


Honestly, I was shocked that you would even consider it, let alone actually go through with it. So first, let's talk about that. How did you get to that mindset where you wanted to get past it as opposed to just never touch a gun ever again or think about guns ever again?


Michael Robin

It wasn't just about the shooting. I was at a really interesting intersection of my life where I wanted to overcome a lot of things that I felt were holding me back, and I wanted to also start armoring myself up and building tools that would help me feel more confident.


I know I never shared that with you. But I felt like this was an opportunity that would probably never had been presented to me by anybody else to overcome a trauma that had stuck with me for so long.


It wasn't just about the shooter at the school. It was many years ago when my sister held a revolver to my head, and I had no idea if it was loaded. I had no clue. So it wasn't just the one, it was the other instance.


Robert Hansen

There were also guns around because of your mother's affiliates as well.


Michael Robin

Absolutely. This wasn't the scary part. But I guess I should have been annoyed by it. My grandpa would carry this pistol in his waistband of his joggers when he went to go close his bar. And I'm like, “That's not a holster.”


Robert Hansen

Well, he should have been concerned because it's not particularly safe.


Michael Robin

I’m like, “Okay, how many donuts do you eat? That is not a holster.” But you had presented this story about what had happened with you in your past. I just took it upon myself to say, “I want to go because I've had this thing, and it's been haunting me.”


I feel like I need to accept it. Instead of it being on my back, I need to just bring it with me. I just need to say, “Hey, friend, you're back here. But let's take this journey together instead.”


Robert Hansen

I was super surprised. I had never even considered inviting you to go shoot, just because I knew the story. Me telling you my story was not an attempt to get you to get into guns, it was more just I understand where you were coming from. So that was very surprising to me.


We took you in there, and it probably took hours before we got the first round fired. And that first round was the only round that was shot that day. It was a lot of talking and working through it.


I’m very proud of you for having gone through that and coming out the other side. But the funny part is, then you started going. The next time you'd shoot maybe twice, and then you'd leave. Then you could shoot twice more. So you'd never get even through a full magazine. It went like that for months.


Then just one day, you shot an entire magazine by yourself. And then you told me, I don't know, maybe a month later or something you had gone to the range by yourself and had actually shot a couple of magazines just by yourself.


That was really impressive seeing you really commit to learning how to do it but also to do it on your own and not need anybody to babysit you. You were just doing it. And then as recently as today, this morning, you took a class as well. How did that go?


Michael Robin

I took a break for about nine months and coincidentally, after I got a new pistol. So not really good timing. I hadn't had a lot of time to try and find a new pistol. I took a break, and coming back has been difficult. So I signed up to do more tactical lessons to just work on defense and being quicker.


The purpose for me to have a weapon now it's not to have overcome the fear of having a gun around or being around guns, but now it's a home defense or a personal defense tool. And so it actually went really well today.


We only went through 50 rounds. But two of those 50 rounds were in the no zone, where it wouldn't actually do harm to someone if they were coming to attack me. But we went through several skills and drills that would probably be really helpful going forward.


I feel more comfortable. But my deal is confidence and hesitation. It's funny it's a theme with everything.


Robert Hansen

Well, you certainly have enough reasons to have concerns about confidence despite the fact that you have a lot going for you. You had mentioned your adopted father and being a Roman Catholic. Then you switched to becoming a Mormon at some point. So can you talk through that a little bit?


Michael Robin

Yeah. I talked about going to live with my biological mom and her being very Stevie Nicks and no structure, free range life. The one thing I missed was the structure of the religion.


One day, the Mormons came to talk to us about Jesus. And I'm like, “Sign me up, I'm on board. Go to church regularly? Cool. I love it. I want the community.”


Robert Hansen

So it wasn't about the religion, it was about the community?


Michael Robin

I was 11. It's hard to say, for sure, how I felt about religion or community at that point. I know how I feel now. I know now I felt and feel like it was more about the community.


I definitely remember when I was Catholic feeling like I wanted to be a nun because I felt very devoted. But I don't remember why. Back to the Mormon thing. I was baptized. But there was no follow-through because of the circumstances of what happened with my mom.


Later, when I was a teenager and had moved out of that life, I had a more stable home. I lived with my biological grandparents. I had a friend group that were Mormon. And that was great.


We went to seminary together. It was a Bible study class in the morning before school. I know it's crazy. You get up early to study scriptures before school like a psycho.


Robert Hansen

Sign me up.


Michael Robin

Sign me up. And we'd go to dances together and church activities and hikes and church every Sunday.


Robert Hansen

That does sound nice, actually.


Michael Robin

It was nice. I had a really terrible freshman year where I did a lot of things that could have kept me in the cycle of where my mom and dad are and just decided that I didn't want that for myself.


In my sophomore year, I found a new friend group. That was the rest of my high school, all of my friends in the LDS church. And that was the way.


Robert Hansen

Then you went to BYU but in Idaho?


Michael Robin

Yeah. Yeah, I did.


Robert Hansen

Eventually, you left the church.


Michael Robin

Yes.


Robert Hansen

Which you can tell us about or not, that's up to you. But I'm curious. I'll say one thing about Mormons that I think is an interesting factoid. Apparently, the CIA recruits out of the Mormons quite a bit.


The reason they do that is because they're very industrious, very wholesome, very trustworthy. They have a long lineage that they can go back and check that's largely people who are law-abiding. And it's easy to see that they haven't been corrupted by these third parties. It just makes sense, an easy pool to fish from.


One other thing about them though, back to your being a professional chef and all this, is they have a strong sense of survival. They have large stockpiles of food. It's actually part of the religion, is it not? Am I misremembering that?


Michael Robin

Yeah. There are these bylaws that the Mormons ascribe to. I don't know if it's in the Word of Wisdom or not or in the Doctrine and Covenants. It's been a while since I've revisited the Doctrine.


However, it is widely taught about food storage and about being able to sustain 72-hour kits. There's a scout culture in the Mormon church. So a lot of survivalism is taught not just with the men but the women youth groups are also taught. Not as wild as the men.


We're taught more things like sewing and cooking and making sure we know how to make the perfect Dutch oven dessert for when the men are done.


Robert Hansen

Sounds delicious.


Michael Robin

Canning, gardening. Yeah, it's a very homey culture. But they're always prepared.


Robert Hansen

You got married?


Michael Robin

Yes. Which time?


Robert Hansen

In the church.


Michael Robin

In the Mormon church.


Robert Hansen

In the Mormon church?


Michael Robin

Yes.


Robert Hansen

There's a lot of pomp and circumstance around getting married in the Mormon church. Can you enlighten us, for those who are not familiar with it?


Michael Robin

Yeah. I was going to BYU, Idaho. And I met my first husband there. He proposed, I said yes. And we wanted to get married in the temple. So that is where most LDS young men and women go to get married, if they want to gain favor in the eyes of their family and their congregation. Because if you're not married in the temple, then you just have a common law marriage.


A common law marriage is not a marriage, in the eyes of God and angels as well as the state. So it's very particular. We had to not only apply for all the state licenses and everything to get married. But we had to declare our worthiness with our local bishop, which is the individual who presides over the area in which we go to church every Sunday.


Then we had to do an interview with the stake president. He's not the guy who makes all your steaks taste good. But if you think about a regional manager, he manages all of the little churches that many bishops have.


Once we did that, we had to go. And I had to get garments at the temple. I had to get what they call endowed. I had to make covenants with God so that I could then make covenants with my then to be husband.


The thing about Mormon churches is that no one can enter the temple unless they have a temple recommendation card. They have to go through that process in order to enter the temple. So I had no family members witness my first wedding.


Robert Hansen

Interesting. God was your only witness?


Michael Robin

And my ex-husband's family. They all witnessed. And two of my friends because I wanted people that knew me there.


Robert Hansen

Was that because they had already been accepted in the church? That’s why they were allowed?


Michael Robin

Yeah, they were all worthy members of the church.


Robert Hansen

You were given a new name under this.


Michael Robin

Yes.


Robert Hansen

Okay. All right.


Michael Robin

Oh, okay. I know you want to go through that.

Robert Hansen

No, I was just curious if that's something you wanted to go into.


Michael Robin

It's part of the covenant making with the endowment. You're given handshakes and names and different covenants. And all of this is also super searchable online.


It's not necessarily something I talk about openly because I still have friends who are Mormon, and I know that they believe in it very much. I'm not one that wants to defy or defile someone else's beliefs just for the sake of making fun or getting a rise out of it.


Robert Hansen

You didn't really believe when you were part of the church, from what I gather.


Michael Robin

I had a sense of belonging. But there was something inside of me that was just like, “I'm here because it is safer than where I could be.”


Robert Hansen

Do you have any sense of how many people who attend the church or like you who were just part of the community and wanted to be married in the community and love the location or anything like that, where probably if it had been another religion, that would have been the place they spent their time?


Michael Robin

Yeah, I sense there's a lot of that in many religions or communities. I think all of us are finding a sense of belonging. You migrate from a church to a new group of friends or a cult, I really made a bad face there, or another religion.


Robert Hansen

That's actually one of the things I really like about religion. Not for me specifically but in general, where I think it does give a lot of people a lot of hope in the fact that they have a friend group now.

They have a group that they can rely on and ask questions of. Or if they get sick, people notice like, “Ooh, you're not looking so hot.” and go over to their house and make sure that they're getting fed and all that stuff.


That sense of belonging to a community actually I think keeps people alive a lot longer just by having a strong community friend group to just check in on them.


Michael Robin

Yeah. The Mormon church are really set up to take care of each other. Once a month, you have home teachers that come and make sure you’re doing okay like, “Everything good with your family? Do you guys need anything? I noticed your lawn’s not mowed. I can get my son, Billy, over here next week and get it taken care of for you because your husband's traveling a lot.”


With the sisters, they call the woman sisters and the men brothers, they have visiting teachers that also come once a month. If someone's sick, they set up a meal train. It is a community set up to take care of each other. Period.


Robert Hansen

There's a lot to be said about that. That's actually really great. You are going to just wish you didn't have the religion aspect forced on you to have all those things. But maybe you just can't separate them. Maybe you just have to have both. Otherwise, you don't have either.


Michael Robin

Maybe because there's not a sense of commonality.


Robert Hansen

Yeah. When you left the church, first of all, how did that go? How did they take it?


Michael Robin

They, in the church, did everything they could to keep me in the church, as much as they tried. But I rejected all attempts. I was ready to go. At the point of my departure, my marriage had gone sideways.


That had a lot to do with the church and a lot to do with my ex-husband. I didn't want to have anything to do with any of it anymore. Once I was excommunicated, all of my friends in the church cut off completely. I had no community anymore. So that was gone, and I’m completely abandoned.


Obviously, my ex-husband’s family stopped talking to me, which I wasn't interested in talking to them anyway. But my family were very happy, what they said, to have me back.


“It is so nice to have you back. It feels like you're not just following whatever anymore. You are you. You can say whatever you want, whatever's on your mind, again, without feeling like someone's judging you.” And that was a nice feeling.


Robert Hansen

When you meet other ex-Mormons, because I get the sense that you meet them a lot.


Michael Robin

Yes, I do.

Robert Hansen

Well, first of all, is there a particular reason why there are a lot of them in Austin? Did you just have a secret code word? How do you find ex Mormons?


Michael Robin

I’m not ashamed of the fact that I'm an ex Mormon. I do put my education out on my LinkedIn profile, which is my only public-facing social media. And so it says I went to BYU, which is actually a very good school. And apparently, their football team is awesome. So yay for the Cougars.


When I meet other former Mormons, they out themselves first to me because they hide all of that status, wherever I may find it. And I do research people before I meet them.


For example, I had an interview the other day. I was talking with the CEO. I had actually commented and said, “I'm raising two boys. One is in scouts, and one is a former scout. And I do have to say I appreciate that you went through the full program and that you're an Eagle Scout. Can you tell me about your Eagle Scout project?”


He almost looked deer in the headlights that I had found out that information. And I almost feel like he was worried that I found out more information about him. But I hadn't gone any deeper.


It turns out that he and I do share that fact in common. I don't want to know why. Okay, whatever. That journey doesn't matter to me. I'm not trying to start up a wehatethechurchclub.com. I have no interest in that at all.


Like you said, I still have friends that are a part of the church. My local church members that I were friends with here stopped talking to me. But the people I went to high school with back home and some of my college mates, we're still friends.


Robert Hansen

That's interesting. There's some things around the Mormon church going back in time and finding people who should have been baptized. Can you talk about that a little bit?


Michael Robin

Yeah, and it's this whole thing because the oldest church owns ancestry.com. Part of the religion’s mission is to ensure that they can get as many souls into heaven as possible.


Knowing that mission with that lens, what they're trying to do is take every one alive or deceased and ensure that they have a path to get to heaven. They do all of this research on Ancestry and find pathways to great grandmothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, whatever.


The youth go to the temple, and they perform what they call proxy or baptisms for the dead. The youth will go in a baptismal font, and they will perform a baptism on behalf of someone who has passed away.


What that means to the LDS is that just because the individual has been baptized into the Mormon, religion does not mean that they're automatically going to heaven. They will still have a choice in the afterlife to accept the teachings.


If they do, they've already bypassed the ceremony on Earth, which is required to then get into the next level of heaven. And that's why it is important for them to perform that.


Then there's a ceremony where they also are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. And then if they find that that individual is married, they go through the endowment and the marriage ceremony for that individual and their partner.


They go through the entire ceremony to ensure that they are able to reach the highest kingdom of heaven, if they accept the doctrine, because the Mormons believe that after we die and go to heaven, we are still practicing and preaching to lost souls when we get to heaven until the Second Coming.


Robert Hansen

Just to reiterate, just to make sure that the audience caught all that, the Mormon church is using ancestry.com to find people that haven't been baptized, going back and baptizing them after their death, and then saying that now they have a pathway into heaven. Did I get all that?


Michael Robin

Yes. Yeah.


Robert Hansen

It makes you think twice about using ancestry.com, doesn't it? But it is an interesting idea. I remember a friend of mine. He's now a VC, Mark Kraynak. He’s a really interesting guy. He invented a religion called Kraynakism. And it was just a joke. It was him playing around.


He's like, “The only thing you have to do to be part of Kraynakism is to have said that Mark Kraynak is your god. That's it. That's the only thing.” And I'm like, “Well, what if I get people to accidentally say it, just repeat it?”


He's like, “Yeah, that counts.” I'm like, “Okay. Well, how do you get out of Mark Kraynak? How do you become an un-Kraynak guide or whatever, an ex one?” He’s like, “You can't. There's no getting out of it because it's just that one test.”


It just reminds me a little of that. If you can just force people to say, “Oh, you're this religion. You've long been dead.” Now you're a part of the religion.


Michael Robin

It's not automatic. In their opinion or in their belief, they still have to accept it in the afterlife in order for those gates to be opened.


Robert Hansen

Yeah, it strikes me awfully close.


Michael Robin

It’s okay. I watched South Parkepisode two. So I'm on the same page.


Robert Hansen

Yeah. Is that marked in ancestry.com somehow that that event has occurred, or how do they record that information?


Michael Robin

They record it in their temple registries. I do not know if it is recorded on ancestry.com.


Robert Hansen

Interesting. It seems like a lot of work if you're not somehow feeding it back into the system, but maybe there's other reasons for doing it.


Michael Robin

I never got to work in the ancestry department.


Robert Hansen

Oh, there's a department. Right. Let's change the topic again.


Michael Robin

Sounds good. It's been deep.


Robert Hansen

You have recently started a new podcast that you are the CEO of. Am I getting that right?


Michael Robin

I will be the CEO of the parent company. I am currently the CMO of The CMO Show.


Robert Hansen

The CMO Show. So tell us all about that.


Michael Robin

Yep. The CMO Show was basically built to elevate the profiles of CMOs and marketing leaders. And it's quite amazing. We actually record here in the studio.


Robert Hansen

Hey, you're producing it here.


Michael Robin

We are. Hopefully, we'll have an episode or two out when this one launches. But our goal is really to attract marketing leadership talent and get to know what they're good at and how they got there and also understand the pains that they have in retaining their jobs.


What we found, as in my founding partners in Team CMO, which is the parent company I alluded to earlier, is that there is a really interesting longevity issue happening in the seat of the CMO or marketing leader.


We're trying to understand why. We're trying to get to the root of it. And no two CMOs have the same answer, which we find interesting. So we're doing research. We’re trying to understand if it's a problem that needs to be solved.


If it needs to be solved, how? If it doesn't need to be solved, then why are there so many articles getting written about it? It’s the other piece of it but also to build a resource and a community that is actually delivering value to the CMOs.


Robert Hansen

There's a lot of different marketing podcasts out there. How are you planning on differentiating yourself in this regard?


Michael Robin

Because we're cooler.


Robert Hansen

You’re cooler. All right.


Michael Robin

Yeah, we’re newer. We’re cooler.


Robert Hansen

That’s a better name anyway.


Michael Robin

Of course. Well, no, it's not just that.


Robert Hansen

That's enough right there.


Michael Robin

We're trying to solve a problem. We're not trying to sell us or we're not trying to sell anything. There are other podcasts out there that are clearly trying to do that. There are also other amazing podcasts, which we will talk about on the show.


I've already mentioned the Dave Gerhardt show, Exit Five, one I listen to every time there's a new podcast out. Yes, absolutely. I love that one. It adds value to my life on the regular.


Differentiation wise, we are interviewing them one-on-one, the same question asked every time, why do you think there's such high turnover in the seat of CMOs? Because we're really trying to solve that problem.


Robert Hansen

I like that. From your perspective, because I know you talk about yourself as a growth marketer, what's the difference between a growth marketer and let's say a normal marketer? Whatever that means.


Michael Robin

Oh man, I wish I had my notes in front of me because I got asked about this the other day. And I was like, “I'm totally paying attention to you right now.” Then I just pulled up this article I wrote about it.


I've categorized myself as a growth marketer because I seem to surprise people when I talk about my end goal being a direct dotted line to revenue. A lot of the executives or leaders that I talk to are more surprised in that a marketer has their eye on revenue versus brand visibility or how many times our social media grew last year or how many newsletters we sent or whatever marketing tactics.


I also know that a lot of marketing leaders are genuinely interested in growing revenue. And there are other ways to grow. User growth is one of them. Instead of focusing on revenue, you can focus on user growth, if that is the goal of the organization.


In a lot of the organizations that I've worked for, the growth mechanism has been revenue. So as a differentiator between a regular marketer, which I don't think any of us are, you're really insulting a lot of your marketing fans by saying that.


Robert Hansen

I sure am.


Michael Robin

Growth marketing is its own role and title now. People are hiring growth marketers that can focus on and test various ways to grow areas of their business.


I'm launching a new product, I want to grow it. So I need the growth marketer to focus on this, A/B test it in this region or A/B test it with this user group or against these user groups. And then we will take it to scale.


Robert Hansen

That makes sense. If you, say, have a marketing superpower or a superpower in general, what would it be in this context?


Michael Robin

I feel like I just answered this question on my own podcast.


Robert Hansen

Maybe. I would have answered something different about you. Well, okay, I'll give you my answer for you. It seems like you have this uncanny ability to unearth things.


I'll be talking about something, and then I feel like I've just lost you to your phone. You're just gone. And I'm like, “Okay, well, I guess I'm just over here having this conversation by myself. I'll do something else.”


A couple seconds later, you’re like, “Okay, well, the answer to that thing is this.” And you've just done a bunch of research. You're not ignoring me, you're actually adding a lot of value to the conversation. Not a little value.


We were stalemated in the conversation, and it wasn't really going anywhere. Or, “I wonder about blah, blah, blah.” A normal person just sitting there would go, “Yeah. I wonder about that, too.” But you actually go and figure it out like, “Well, actually, this is the very specific answer.”


I think in a marketing context, that is incredibly useful because a lot of marketers just give up. They're like, “I don't know what Google is doing. I don't know what links do. I don't know what a 302 does versus a 301. I don't know if a 500 error means it’s permanently de-indexed or if it’s only de-indexed for a certain amount of time and how long that is.”


Having that intellectual curiosity, I think is incredibly powerful as a marketer.


Michael Robin

Yeah, I don't disagree. I answer a lot by growth because that's what I'm passionate about. So maybe that question is a bit misleading for me. I really love growth. So that's my superpower. But I do know that I'm extremely good at research and digging things up, whether it's good or bad.


In my last role, I dug up a lot of stuff. And I found a lot of data. It didn't point to a good outcome, but the data was useful.


Robert Hansen

Well, sometimes learning the truth isn't pretty. Okay, well, give us the punchline. Actually, I'm going to ask you this question in a different context. And then you can answer.


We have a similar problem within security. We have a 18-month time horizon approximately for CISOs, chief information security officers. And we think the reason is they are not incentivized to find assets that might eventually lead to vulnerabilities.


If they were to find out about these vulnerabilities, that would mean they'd have to do something about them. And they're better off not knowing because that reduces their personal liability. If they know there's a vulnerability and they don't fix it, that's dangerous to them.


Their job is to do two, maybe three infrastructure projects, new firewalls, new VPNs, new antivirus, something like that, roll them out, and then leave. That's it. And it usually takes 12 to 18 months to do those three big infrastructure projects, two or three.


Then from a liability perspective, it's just better if they leave at that point. And so it's a danger issue to them to stick around any longer. So I think that's what's going on in security. Why do you think that it's happening for marketers?


Michael Robin

I think that my conclusion or my hypothesis, after doing a lot of research over the past couple months, is that I don't necessarily think that the majority of CMOs are being ousted or booted out because of frustration or because their expectations are mismanaged.


I truly believe that in some situations, that is happening. CMOs get loud about it, and that's what gets attention. But there are companies that need high growth CMOs.


Then there are companies like GE, for example, that need a CMO who can stay for 18 years and retain the brand and retain the products and retain the reputation and the visibility. They've had a CMO for a very long time, and she's very good at what she does.


When you are rapidly growing, let's say 10x in one to three years, you're scaling. So a CMO that can handle a company size of 11 to 50 may not be a CMO that can handle a company size of 50 to 300 or 300 to 1,000 or 1,000 to 10,000.


Robert Hansen

It's attrition by growth of the company, I think.


Michael Robin

That is my current hypothesis just based on research. So that's my current thinking. I think there's some CMOs that are really built to stay to maintain the company, and then there are some CMOs built to grow.


Robert Hansen

That's interesting. I hadn't thought about that. I firmly believe there's two types of managers out there, the war time and the peacetime managers.


When the chips are down and this company is about to fail and this product is way behind and we need to start firing people or get something out the door immediately, our competitors are chomping at the bit, we're losing value, stuff’s happening right now, that's a wartime CEO or wartime executive or whatever we're talking about.


They cannot act like a peacetime executive. If they act like a peacetime executive, the company will fail. But a peacetime executive makes a lot of sense when things are going well. It's a growth company, it's successful, it's high in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, it's doing well, if all those things matter.


It's making more revenue than it should. It's just chugging along. All the affiliate programs are making us money. And there's nothing really to worry about. That person's job is to hire and retain talent and make sure everyone's happy.


If you put a peacetime CEO or executive in that role of the wartime, they're just going to piss everybody off. You can't be just sitting around being happy. Maybe there is something to the company's growing at a certain rate or something's happening at a certain rate that you can no longer have that type of executive anymore. You have to have the next level.


That next level doesn't look anything like the low-end growth marker, let's say. They look more like this seasoned, “Let's talk about the brand. And let's make it blue. We're going to move it from blue to green today.”


That's a three-month project just to decide what color of green. That's a very different type of marketer.


Michael Robin

I would be so bored. So, no.


Robert Hansen

Yeah. For other people, that would be the perfect job managing a lot of people. And there's 50 people in the room who have to decide what color of blue it's going to be or green or whatever. No, it's definitely not green.


One last thing I want to talk about, and then I'll let this ride because we've talked about a lot of things, is I've heard you but also a lot of marketers talk about a conflict between marketing and sales. And I'd like to hear why you think that exists? Why can't you guys get along?


Michael Robin

Sales could only do their job, put it in the CRM. I think it’s expectation setting. When I’ve come into an organization, there's almost no situation in which we've come in together and set the table appropriately.


Everything's been thrown at me. Everything's crazy. “We hated the last marketing director, good luck.” That's a great way to start. And then like, “Well, why isn't this happening?” It’s my second day. And same with sales.


Robert Hansen

I still don’t know where the copier is.


Michael Robin

I'm absolutely certain this happens in sales as well. They are on the frontlines, and they are assumably talking with customers day in, day out. And they know what the customer wants and needs, assumedly.


Robert Hansen

That is wildly giving them a lot more credit than they necessarily deserve.


Michael Robi

I'm saying that for a reason. Let me get to my point.


Robert Hansen

Sure.


Michael Robin

Then they're coming to marketing with all of these demands, “I need brochures like this. I need this like this. We also need to throw this event here and here and here.”


Marketing says no a lot because marketing has a plan that we have agreed on with the senior leadership team that has not only been okayed with by their senior leaders, their sales leader but also by the product team who's agreed on the messaging because the product does a certain thing that behaves in certain ways to answer the customers’ needs.


It's a lot of jumbled communication. It's not a lot of cohesivity. I wish it were better. And that's what I like about this growth role coming more present in organizations because it's a role that works very closely with sales.


It's revenue-related or growth-related. We're working together, we're on the same team. By the way, I'm not trying to steal your commission because that's not what I'm here for. So if this test works, let me know. We'll do more of it. And we're sharing the information with you right away. If it fails, tell me.


There is nothing sweeter for a salesperson than telling a marketing person that their things sucked. But it's okay. Because a growth marketer looks at something like that and says, “You know what, if I'm not winning, I'm learning. So what did I learn from this failed test here? And how can I improve it so that I can reach my bonus goals at the end of the year?”


Robert Hansen

How do you guys start getting along? What does it take? If you were to tell other marketers out there or other sales teams, how do you learn how to live in peace and harmony and you both grow together?


Michael Robin

I still haven't figured this out. I'll get back to you.


Robert Hansen

As the CMO or CEO or whatever you are of The CMO Show, I think that would be a really awesome thing to learn about from your executives that you're going to be interviewing. Or you're not the host?


Michael Robin

I'm not the host. Our host is Kate Gunning, and she actually did a pre read with a CMO of a consultancy that does a lot of work to merge sales and marketing organizations. Merge is probably not the right word but help with their cohesivity and putting their ops together.


I hope that she's brought into the studio, and we can actually record a good episode because she had some good tips in the pre read that we did. We just weren't doing a lot of testing in the show early on.


Robert Hansen

I would think that would be, in particular, a really good thing to know from all of these seasoned experts. What's worked? What has gotten you past this massive divide with sales?


Michael Robin

All of us are still frustrated.


Robert Hansen

Surely someone has cracked it for their organization somewhere. Maybe.


Michael Robin

Yeah. Then the salesperson leaves, and someone else comes in with a better way to do it. I'm telling you, I belong to about 15 different CMO communities online. Every one of them has a version of a rant channel. And daily, there is at least one rant about what sales did wrong.


Robert Hansen

Well, may there be peace on Earth and goodwill toward sales.


Michael Robin

And marketing.


Robert Hansen

And marketing, of course. All right. Where do people find you, find the show? How do you get in touch?


Michael Robin

You can find the show at cmoshow.com and get in touch with me at Michael Robin at cmoshow.com.


Robert Hansen

Great. Well, Michael Robin, it was very nice having you on the show. I really appreciate you coming.


Michael Robin

Thank you.


Robert Hansen

Thank you.

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