It was a great experience having my very own father as my first guest on my podcast. Listen as he provides wisdom in a fun way!
Welcome to a brand new episode of Troy Harris with me, your host, Troy Harris. And we’re gonna talk about this podcast because, boy, do I have a show ready for you. We have a special guest, none other than my father, Kenny Harris. And we’re gonna have this be the very first interview where we have somebody from outside of the studio coming to you where you can get a glimpse of what they have to offer through this podcast, which is again called Troy Harris. Without further ado, let’s take a call from our guest. Hey, what’s going on?
How are you, Troy? It’s your daddy from Phoenix, Arizona.
I’m doing so good, so great. So glad to have you on the show here, dad.
Glad to be here on your special, innovative show.
Why, thank you. Yes, I do find that it’s quite innovative. It’s finding the ways to bring the technology here from just an ordinary person with access to a few tools to broadcast with what seems like high level technology to the whole world. What do you think about this whole transformation where technology is enabling everyday people to have a broadcast like you would never imagine?
Well, it definitely is something that is new in the sense that more people should be inspired and maybe they can do it, too, when they see that here you are creating it on your own. You don’t have a script to it. You didn’t have to be a certain level of employee or supervisor or president or anything. You just say, hey, this is something I have put together in my mind and I’m going to apply it using simple tools and apparatuses.
Yes. And so with that, it comes the need to have a storyline like a basis. So I’ve made mine mindfulness. And with that, what’s your take on the mind and body and how you can have a show that is for entertainment for certain purposes, but also has a message? What do you think about when you hear that being the case for this show?
Well, I think connectivity, mind, body, soul, and each individual would have probably a different platform to explain and share what it means to them. I think that more often than not, we try to keep our bodies and minds in good shape and keep our souls connected to either a higher being or connected to strong beliefs that we have which are different person to person.
Very good. So you and me having this history where you brought me in this world, so you know where I’ve gone in my journey. How do you feel? What’s your perspective on me launching a mindfulness business and mindfulness podcast and hoping to help make people’s lives a better place? Something better for them?
Well, I think it’s very positive and useful. It reminds me the greater Good Science center at the University of Cal Berkeley, where my real estate development partner sort of created this. And it’s just really grown. And so they got newsletters and they teach all over the world. Well, when it started, it just started with an idea in his mind, the greater good. And then I think maybe you’re onto something like that, something similar.
Yes, it is. And that comes back to the connectivity, where we all want to do good in our own lives, but when we think about the greater good, it’s not just about ourselves. And so I know that you’ve done a lot as far as volunteering and reaching out to the community throughout your vast experiences. You have a long track record of doing that. So what does the greater good mean to you?
Well, it’s doing the right thing, being kind to people, thinking of others and not just yourself, listening to folks with empathy, trying to be humble and not so egotistical and pompous and elitist. But we all tend to go through periods of time like that. And if something happens that kind of shakes us loose and reminds us, you know what, it’s either you’re going to read more of your Bible or you’re going to attend a class and learn more, and then you begin to adapt to something that’s a little more reasonable or holistic or something that just makes you feel a little better and remindful of what you should be doing on this earth.
Yes. Okay, that’s good. So, if you can, can you tell us a little bit about your story? And at the appropriate moment within it, let us know what that shaking up moment was for you.
Well, my story is one where I came out of Gary, Indiana, where you kind of don’t have any access to the world. You just feel like you’re trapped in an inner city where the skies are always gray, where you’re just looking at roughness, rough alleys, rough rats, rough this, rough that. And then you begin to get worried, am I ever going to get out of here? And then if you get a chance to get out, what am I going to do with my life? Because I’ve never been anywhere else and I don’t know anything else. And so that’s what kind of happened to me. And I came from that. I just described out to things, Arizona, but I didn’t know anyone in the entire state. And so what that does is it sort of keeps you not afraid all the time, but you’re just a little cautious because you don’t know if what you choose to do, if what you decide is the right thing or not because you very rarely consult with anyone. And so I would say that even now, as I get older, I try to consult more and ask others questions rather than to try to figure out everything on my own.
Very good. All right. Well, that’s really good. It sounds like you’ve accomplished some deeper wisdom through experience, and your environment shaped you from a young age, and you had to learn how to unlearn some of those things that were having you act in certain ways because of things that were out of your control. So I commend you for that. And part of the teaching that I always come back to in my writing is that these, what may seem like challenges at the time, are actually beneficial because they are difficult. So in order to overcome them and make life easier, you can work harder so that those things don’t exist anymore. So given that you had your upbringing in Gary, Indiana, and faced certain challenges, how would you frame your history with the perspective that these were all gifts all along? Would you be willing to dare and try?
Well, I think that, sUre, I can try. Let’s see. Let me go to another point in my life. The four years I spent at the University of Notre Dame. I was not Catholic, so I was the only African American in all my engineering classes. And I felt ostracized and psychologically warped a bit where you just kind of shake your head sometimes because you wish, I wish I could have been invited to a study group, or I wish it wasn’t so cold, or I wish the people that knew me the day before, and then I spoke to them on campus, and they act like they didn’t know me. I wish that it didn’t hurt my feelings so strongly. And so you come out of that experience, you go on to the next experience, you’re a little bit out of shape, to be quite honest. And then you develop a certain anger around or impatience around things. And so then when you take that to a work environment, people tend to wonder, like, what’s wrong with that guy? Why did he respond the way he did, man? He doesn’t hardly ever smile. So I had to kind of listen to others actually penetrate me further and question, what’s really going on with you, man?
And so that helped me realize that, oh, something is noticeably wrong because they’re pointing it out and they’re correct. And so the more I started to open up, the more I realized that I don’t need to carry the burden of being the way that I just.
Described in my head, yeah, you can let that go.
Correct? Let it go and just trust the friendliness that people bring about you and begin to incorporate some of that back to them. And then you create this. All of a sudden, people start inviting me to go to lunch, and all of a sudden people say, hey, you want me to teach you how to play golf? And all these things that they were doing, I didn’t realize it was even going on. So that really helped me kind of progress at work and move up because people begin to think I’m a guy with the future. And so that did created this atmosphere where I began to be real busy and I enjoyed that phase in my life.
So from what I’m gathering about that, there was a moment of identity that you had to consider where you could maybe have thought about yourself as being somewhat of a hard rock, impenetrable, and just being the way that you are, how you presented yourself to actually embracing something that you weren’t willing to expose, which was a lighter side, and had to shift what you considered yourself identity wise. How do you take the term identity and apply that with your experience that you mentioned?
Interesting question, identity. There was a time where I didn’t think I had any other identity. He looks like a football player, and I didn’t want to have only that. So that’s when I went to Toastmasters and for about six years and learned how to give speeches and incorporate gestures and smile and voice inflection and all those kinds of things. And then I did notice that people began to equate me with leader with leadership, and then I began to advance and get promotions.
Okay, got you. Yeah, we had a little bit of a snafu in the middle of there, but, hey, we’re going to keep recording because that’s the whole thing is this is an informal conversation, and sometimes you get the pause button in the middle, but the audio was there. All that we got, we have a glimpse of who Kenny Harris is. He’s gone through, he’s made it from the bottom to the top, and he’s able to share some wisdom. You’re able to share on opening up and showing your lighter side and having a bit of identity and finding it. One time, I remember you speaking to a group because you’ve given a lot of speeches and you mentioned Toastmasters. That’s helped with that. But a particular one was regarding code switching is what the term is. I don’t think you use that actual term, but having the ability to have two different cultures that you’re able to relate to and being able to shift between one culture to the next, depending on the audience. And so what do you see as, first of all, are you familiar with the term code switching?
No, I’m not.
Okay, so an example of code switching was there’s a guy who was a popular reverend in the 80s who became, like, the leader of this great big church, and what he would do is when he was in the south and speaking to primarily black audiences, he would use the slang, and he would change the way he spoke to be a little bit more casual, and y’all folks gonna do this and praise the Lord and things like that. But then when he would speak to audiences in, say, like, Northern California, he would be a little bit more proper and use more standard American English and use those phrases that captured that audience. And he was able to do that successfully by having the verbiage that applied to the audience. And he saw that as a success, a successful strategy. So how about you, though? What’s your opinion on having that and using that? And do you even think about that?
Yeah, I think about it as navigating multiple streams. I still have the ability to go culturally and be around people that skin and colors like mine, and then I do the same thing. I talk a little bit different way and laugh a little more and try to poke fun and create fun and things like that. And it’s quite different than when I go to work at the engineering office, where everyone is exact opposite. It’s dry, and people are talking about how the water flows or what size pipe. Sometimes it’s like, oh, my goodness, why are all these folks lacking personality? Or something like that? So I’m told that almost like a mentor and a coach, I bring out in them through just me being me, a way in which they are now copying me and coming and saying good morning to me instead of just, did you do that yet? Things like that.
Interesting. Yeah. All right. Well, what you made me think of is, with the idea of dignity in mind and these folks, it could be that that’s what excites them, is these water flow related topics. And what I’m finding in my journey is how all these things are so fascinating. If you really can find them fascinating, what you give meaning is what’s meaningful, in other words. So to you, is it possible to have that, to have water flow or things of that nature, like structures? And you’re in engineering, things that you learned in school that might have just been something that you studied, another person might find the most interesting thing, because you have to end up relating to the person that you’re speaking to. Do you ever try to shift your mind into finding ways to find something interesting, or do you think that’s even possible?
Yeah, it’s definitely possible. It’s just finding the right moment to have them maybe explain something a second time or have them show you their screen and let them sort of govern the moment and feel like they taught me something. I noticed that that gives them a sense of pride.
So it could be that they have actual personality, but they were just too shy to open up about it or too scared. You just never really know what somebody’s motivation is. It could be either of those things, wouldn’t you say? It could be that they were too shy to open up about it. Or it could be that. That, in their world, is the most amazing thing, and that is what they want to talk about.
Yeah, you’re correct. That’s usually what that means. And sometimes this is not negative, but I find that a lot of the engineers in our office are from India or are vegetarians. The language, sometimes the English is not that great, but when you get around so many of them, you begin to see how they are consistent in the way that they behave and the way that they think and the food that they eat. I’m kind of envious of how well they get along with each other.
Fascinating. So you brought up an interesting point, that there are different cultures and different. This whole wide world has a large number of different cultures. And being in a world that’s now becoming smaller and smaller, the awareness of it being international has never been higher. In your lifetime, through all the different people you’ve met, can you describe internationalism from your perspective and how somebody can really appreciate all the different cultures of the world?
Well, I Have to be quite honest. I’ve never traveled much. I’ve never been to Hawaii. I haven’t gone to Europe. And so your sister has traveled to all these places. And so I listened to her describe. And you have traveled to Australia and other places. And I listened to. Through listening that, I learned about how other places, how you get there with the length of the. And that’s kind of mind boggling to me because that seems like either too long a distance too long on a plane, too far, too difficult. Maybe that’s the reason. I just kind of boring. But I was just looking through my passport. I’ve been anywhere. All the pages are blank. I just got the picture in the front. So that says something maybe not necessarily positive, but I need to work on that.
Yeah, well, maybe it’s really up to you. I feel you can really enjoy where you’re at. I find that sometimes it depends. As long as you’re doing it for something that you stand for and not out of a fear of not having enough, then that can just be the right thing. Or you may need to review where you stand on some things. So I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself if I were you. You just may really enjoy the routines that you have set for yourself. But if you don’t, I would challenge you to explore some of those new locations that you’re talking about.
Okay, we’ll do.
Yes. So I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you, and I’m sure our guests have, too. So is there something that you want to leave as your lasting message to the audiences now that you have the floor?
Yeah, I just want to leave the true thought that when you have children who are healthy, when you have your eyesight and you can see the sun rise and the sun set and you can see the rainbows, you know that you are alive. And so where I go to church is no complaint. November, no mumbling, no grumbling. And so what is interesting is I repeat that every day and it actually does something to you, and I hope I can carry it beyond the month of November as an attitude adjustment.
Fantastic. Well, that’s really good. I think that they’re on the right track. No mumbling, no grumbling. I do have a follow up because you just opened up a whole new area of interest to me, which is, to me, having a complaint is an effort to feel good about something that you are deciding to not make an effort to actually change, as opposed to taking responsibility, withholding that complaint and fixing whatever is like bringing you down to the point that you felt the need to complain. So responsibility, and this is actually, this is the encore question, one more question. So what about responsibility? Is your opinion that you can share and how to view it in relation to no complaints, no mumbling and no grumbling?
Well, my take on it is to either going to adopt it or not. If you choose to adopt it, then commit to it. Just like another thing, not necessarily complaining, but it’s believing, if you have faith, then you should not worry. And I have trouble with this because I worry, believe me, I worry because I got so many things to worry about. But does that mean I have half the faith I should, or less or more? I don’t know. I’m reminded. So, like, oh, yeah, somebody did tell me that. So let me worry less and have exhibit more faith and trust. Those kinds of things that actually are mental calisthenics that go through my mind every day.
Yes. Okay. Got you. Well, I would be amiss if we didn’t give you a chance. I know you spoke to it a little bit in your recollection of your time spent on this earth, but I know that you have a large amount of success professionally and personally, so could you run us through that as we close this out? Because somebody might be listening and saying, like, wow, this is a really good interview, but who the heck is that guy? What would your record say if it was presented on a sheet of paper before we were actually listening to you give a great speech?
Well, that sheet of paper might include. That guy was involved in a lot of complex capital improvement projects. He oversaw the design and construction of phenomenal facilities that are still in great use today. Some of those include the Phoenix City hall, the Arizona Cardinals Football Stadium, the basketball stadium, where the Phoenix Suns play, Pilgrim West Baptist Church, the Art Museum, the Science Museum, the History Museum, the large Burton Bar Library, and branch libraries, and on and on. And so that is really what I’m known for. I’ll be getting a living the Dream Award here next month from a committee of folks who said, hey, this guy has had a wonderful career. We need to recognize him. And so those kinds of things, because I’m kind of a God, that’s fine. Without getting recognition. From where I’m sitting right now, I can see my little Oscar like, man that was most likely to succeed from high school. And whether I succeeded or not, or accomplished that or not, the goal is I cherish it and touch it every day. I say, come on, man, let’s not forget we’re supposed to kind of reach higher.
Awesome. Well, hey, thank you so much, Dad. I really appreciate you being the first guest on my podcast. Yes, what a wonderful interview. Thank you for opening up and giving us your insights, and I’m sure we’ll have you back on the show sometime soon.
All right, Troy, keep going. Strong, man. You always been creative. You always used to break the video cameras while you were skateboarding and doing all of these things. And I’ve watched you grow and become yourself, and you’re still blossoming, so that’s good.
Thanks. All right, take care. Love you.
Love you, too.
Okay, bye. All right, folks. Yes, that was my dad, and I’m so glad that you were able to get that, because if you didn’t learn something, I sure did. A whole lot of perspective there. Great. Way to view life. And so whatever you can gain from that, I hope that you do. I hope that you apply it, and I hope it makes you a little bit smarter and a little bit better. And if it didn’t, then maybe tomorrow will be the day that it does. That’s all we have time for today on this episode of Troy Harris. Thank you for watching and have a great rest of your day. Bye.