Episode 2: Jason Hewlett

“So I said, “I can do this.” So I just kept plowing ahead, because it was my dream, and my promise to myself to make it happen. And I’m sad to see when a lot of people give up so early. Because I think a lot of the times, as we know, you’re usually shoveling your way to gold, and you give up a third of an inch to the gold after you’ve shoveled for years. That’s the story, I guess, that I would say, “Why stop? What can I truly do to get to where I want to be?” And so that’s what it was. It was just a firm resolve that I knew my mission in life, my purpose, and my promise.” (Read full transcript)

Tracie Edwards:

Hello everyone, and welcome to Traceability podcast. I am your host, Tracie Edwards, and today we are speaking with my friend, Jason Hewlett. Jason is an entertainer, he’s an emcee, you’ve seen him onstage at RootsTech conference, and he is now a speaker and a published author. And so very happy to have you here with us today, Jason. Thank you.

Jason Hewlett:

Thank you, Tracie. I am thrilled to be here.

Tracie Edwards:

So typically how we start out, is we talk about how you got your start in your early days of your career. So I know as you started out as an entertainer, and you had some really great physical gifts that led you down that path. Give us some background to that.

Jason Hewlett:

Yeah, I started my career right after I served my church mission in Brazil. And I came home after a 19 to 21 year old kid, and decided, “Do I go to college like all my peers and have a real good sense of direction, or do I go after the dream?” And so I decided to do that instead, so I went for it as an entertainer. And I started doing church gigs, Scout gigs, beauty pageants, anything that… Well, anyone that would have me, whether it was as a speaker, an entertainer, emcee. I was doing comedy, music, dancing, imitations. Anything that I could to make people laugh, or move them in some way in an entertainment style.

Jason Hewlett:

So that became my passion, to try to figure out, “How can I make a living at something I really want to be?” And a lot of people had told me that wasn’t a possibility. That I would have to choose either going to Hollywood and being an actor, or becoming a recording artist and a musician only. That you can’t really do all of those things unless you become famous in one first, like Elvis Presley became famous as a singer and then became an actor, and that sort of thing.

Jason Hewlett:

So I said, “I’m just going to try to do a little bit of everything.” Because I feel that I had some capacity for it. And I have a funny face, with a big mouth, and I could do funny things with my mouth, like funny faces, as a kid. And realized while I was in Brazil serving my mission, that people thought that that was very funny there too. So I realized early on, I translate across all language barriers and communication. Through laughter, through faces, through voices, and sounds.

Jason Hewlett:

And so that was really neat, Tracie, to figure out that I could do that. And I, after enough firesides, or events for small groups, and community events, or fairs, or whatever it was, even playing piano at the weddings of my friends. Eventually I found myself in Las Vegas through the connections of the right people, through my father, and through others that had mentored me. And I was receiving an opportunity in Las Vegas to be a performer there. And I impersonated a couple of famous people, such as Elton John.

Jason Hewlett:

So I would dress up as Elton, and play the piano, sing, and likened unto him very much. People were shocked. They thought, “Wow, he looks just like him.” And then I would change my outfit, and change the music, and I became Ricky Martin, Livin’ la Vida Loca. So my career started there, and I became the entertainer guy that has now morphed into the guy who speaks and talks about The Promise. So it’s been quite the arc of a career.

Tracie Edwards:

It sounds like it. And so I’m interested in a couple of things. First of all, starting out as an entertainer, I would imagine there’s a lot of rejection, and difficulty, and perseverance, fearlessness that keeps you going down that path when times are tough and jobs are few. So maybe talk about ways in which you were able to maintain your resilience and your fearlessness in going down that path.

Jason Hewlett:

Yeah, cool question. Well, when you’re a kid from Utah and you were raised in the culture that I was raised in, you’re told that you need to do things a certain way. So I was mostly rejected originally to be the entertainer by the people that knew me or had tried, or attempted their own hand at being in the entertainment business. So they were saying, “Look, this is not the kind of career you want. If you want to be a family man, if you want to keep your values, if you want to make a living, it’s very difficult.” And I understood what they were saying, but I also didn’t want to settle on just having any old career. And so those were the first detractors of the entertainment attempt that I was making.

Jason Hewlett:

And then came along, once I started to really get going, then it became difficult to get hired. Because there was no internet back then, or at least it wasn’t as rampantly used. And so this was early 2000, 2001. And so I had to come up with a video, and a CD, a promotional items, and flyers, and pamphlets and things. And when people saw that I was promoting family friendly entertainment, they didn’t know what that meant. Especially the word comedian in our culture is a bad word, because it implies that you’re going to be telling bad jokes, or naughty jokes.

Jason Hewlett:

And so I had to say, “I’m not a comedian, I’m an entertainer.” And then they’d go, “Well, what kind of entertainer are you? Are you taking your clothes off?” And I’m going, “No, you guys, come on. I am entertaining from comedy, to music, dancing, to anything that I can to make you laugh that’s within reason for your family to enjoy.” So the first real detractors were then the corporations, or the event planners, or the fairs, or whomever it was that was considering hiring me. I had to really convince them. And you know what, Tracie? I don’t know where this resolve came from. I think probably as a kid, I grew up having some rejection, and so that was okay. And especially when I was trying to date girls, that led me to understanding rejection.

Jason Hewlett:

So I said, “I can do this.” So I just kept plowing ahead, because it was my dream, and my promise to myself to make it happen. And I’m sad to see when a lot of people give up so early. Because I think a lot of the times, as we know, you’re usually shoveling your way to gold, and you give up a third of an inch to the gold after you’ve shoveled for years. That’s the story, I guess, that I would say, “Why stop? What can I truly do to get to where I want to be?” And so that’s what it was. It was just a firm resolve that I knew my mission in life, my purpose, and my promise.

Tracie Edwards:

That’s awesome. I think often that we struggle, perhaps, in identifying what our vision, and our ideas for our personal career goals and such are. And so I think you had a great capacity for recognizing your gifts, and also putting in the work to develop those. So maybe speak to the concept of actually working to develop your gifts and resilience in that manner.

Jason Hewlett:

Yeah, I identified my gifts really early when I was a kid, that I had a… Like I said, a big mouth, could do voices of the teachers teaching us at school, and make everybody laugh. And so I identified early on that making others laugh was part of my reason for being on this earth. And I clarified that with people that thought I was funny, and then eventually was able to magnify it. And so as somebody who identified with that, that allowed me to not have those roadblocks really be that big of a deal.

Jason Hewlett:

In other words, I would find it that if… The quicker I came to failure, the quicker I would get to success, I really believe that. So the more I would go down a path and realize all the stumbling blocks, I could eventually figure out ways to get around them. And then eventually we find our own version of what success is for us. It’s not always going to be someone else’s definition, however. A lot of people think I should have been a lot bigger of a name, or more famous in their eyes.

Jason Hewlett:

And whereas my definition of success has always been to keep grounded, and to stay with my family, and to be a family man first, and a man of faith. And so as long as I can make enough money to make a living, and still have influence, and have my voice be raised in a positive way, then the resilience piece is simple. Because all we have to do is consider those stories of others that have persevered and made it through way tougher than the story I’m sharing with you. But it does work for anybody, nowadays or even way back when.

Tracie Edwards:

That’s fantastic. I definitely agree that having our own vision, and as a result of that vision, working through those challenges, and stumbling blocks that often present themselves as we’re working toward that vision, is so beneficial. And that leads us to that resilience that you talked about. So I know that you’re going along, you’re having this career, and things are working out pretty good. And then you ended up being personally disrupted, taking a different direction here in the last couple of years.

Jason Hewlett:

Yeah. I was headed down a real good path, whether it was being offered opportunities in Las Vegas, to being considered one of the top corporate headliner and entertainers for corporations and their after dinner banquet parties and stuff like that for big conventions. I was doing pretty well, and becoming quite well known. And that was a cool life, but then we had a couple of things happen. First of all, we had children, and when you have kids, life changes in a lot of ways.

Jason Hewlett:

I was still doing 200 dates a year, which traveling 200 days a year is a little bit crazy. And so we started to realize, “Well, daddy’s gone a little bit too much.” And then my voice started to hurt in a real bad way, and my neck and my back started to hurt. So I went through some real big physical challenges, went to chiropractors, doctors, naturopaths, healing [Kairos 00:11:17] . And these people would say, “Hey, look, you’re destroying your body by what you’re doing on stage.” And I was doing a lot physically on stage.

Jason Hewlett:

It was almost like if you mixed Jim Carrey with Robin Williams. I was doing very physical things on stage, throwing myself around, hurting myself. And then with my voice, I was singing voices that really hurt it. For example, it’s one thing to sing as Nat King Cole, (singing) and that’s easy on your voice. But then there’s Metallica, where it’s like, (singing) and you can’t do that without hurting yourself. So in an evening, I would do anywhere from 100 voices to even 200, and so I was destroying my vocal gift.

Jason Hewlett:

I’d come off stage coughing up blood, and just couldn’t talk for days. And so I found out that… When they stuck a camera down my throat, the ENT said, “Look, you’re going to be living on drugs just to get through a show, just to get on a stage. You’re destroying your gift. You need to alter things.” And so that, combined with the children, and wanting to be home more, and figuring out how to save my voice, led me to going to a dream that I had as a kid, which I wanted to be a inspirational speaker. And somebody that inspired and motivated people in a fun, interesting, entertaining way.

Jason Hewlett:

And so really, sometimes when our gift is taken away, or we’ve hurt ourselves and we’ve all of a sudden need to pivot or adjust, it can be the greatest gift, because it forced me to make a choice. And the choice was to say goodbye to some of the greatest routines I ever had created, such as Jim Carrey, or Michael Jackson, or things that I used to do that were awesome. And then I said, “You know? I can’t do that with my body anymore. I need to make a promise to myself not to.” And eventually it led to something even better, which is what I get to do now.

Tracie Edwards:

That’s awesome, and that’s a very positive spin on how change can impact us for good when we’re not expecting it. So speaking of the promise, so your book is The Promise to the One, and for those who have not read it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favorite books of the last year. And Jason really talks about his story there, and his approach to The Promise to the One. And I know that within there, within the book, you have a framework that you propose, so maybe take us through the framework.

Jason Hewlett:

Tracie, I love that you said it’s one of your favorite books of the year. That’s so cool, thank you. I don’t know, did I pay you for that? You just said that. Thank you so much. And when I first came to know about you, I think it was through Twitter, perhaps?

Tracie Edwards:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason Hewlett:

And then on Amazon, you left me the review. I was so grateful, so thank you for doing that. You’re awesome, and it means a lot. Let’s just talk first about the title of the book. A lot of people that are listening may be confused as to who is the one in The Promise to the One. And we made it a ethereal concept, because people sit there and go, “I wonder who he’s talking about, who is the one?” And so we could talk about the promises we make to our boss, or to our spouse, or to anybody. Our children, or the person we care for, or the people we work for.

Jason Hewlett:

But The Promise to the One is the promise to yourself. And so what are the promises you’ve made, or potentially broken to yourself, and how can we live a happier life by keeping more promises to ourself? And so the framework that’s applied there is called the ICM process. That’s chapter two of the book, right after the chapter on character that opens up the book, and tells us why it’s important to feel gratitude, joy, and happiness in our life by keeping promises.

Jason Hewlett:

And here’s how, through the ICM process, we have an opportunity to identify, clarify, and magnify our gifts and our talents. And I’ve been talking about that concept for 20 years. It wasn’t identify, clarify, magnify process, it was called Signature Moves. And I believe that every human being has signature moves that make them stand out in a sit down world. And so what are your signature moves that make you unique? That’s what we’re identifying in this chapter. And then we clarify them by asking others that we trust. And eventually we come to our top 10 list for ourselves, and the things, the words that we really choose to believe about ourselves, and this creates our signature moves.

Jason Hewlett:

So whether for me, Tracie, it would be things like, “I am an artist, and I am an entertainer, and a speaker, and a writer.” And other people might not relate to that at all. And theirs might be that they’re analytical, and they can do math and things that I can’t. And that’s the beautiful part about the book, everyone has their gifts. And so we help you go through that process, the book is almost like a workbook, really. And then magnify is the final piece. Magnify is keeping the promise, leveraging what you have, owning it. Owning what makes you unique and different.

Jason Hewlett:

So often we hide it in a drawer, even when we discover it, either in our youth or in adulthood. And what’s interesting about this time of life with the pandemic, and the COVID, and all this craziness, it’s actually helped me to go through this process again, of ICM. To identify new talents I didn’t realize I had, clarifying gifts that really, I didn’t realize were there until people told me. And then magnifying my new promises, and that’s helped me survive at this time. And so the book really becomes a workbook in that sense, to saying, “What are my gifts? What are my talents? What are my signature moves? And how am I keeping the promise to share them every day?” Because if you do, it’ll make you way happier in life.

Tracie Edwards:

Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve just been thinking, so many of us don’t necessarily have that vision for ourselves, or haven’t explored our gifts quite as thoroughly. We end up making career choices because something presents itself to us, and then we find ourselves on an unexpected path. And I can certainly attest to that. And then you try to take the approach of, “Okay, I’m on this path now. So how can I leverage this path and then identify what my gifts are beyond that, and identify a vision beyond that?” So what would perhaps be some advice that you would have for folks who may not necessarily have had an opportunity to do the work, or have ended up in a different place than they envisioned they would be at?

Jason Hewlett:

I would assume that a majority of listeners are in that space, and hey, all of us find ourselves in a place at times where we go, “Whoo, I don’t really like this.” Even if we’ve created our business, and we love it, and we’re thankful for it, we might even be like, “Man, this amazing thing is now killing me.” So it can happen to anybody. However, for anyone that’s listening, that’s saying, “I’m on this path, I’m not fulfilled, I don’t know what to do about it.”

Jason Hewlett:

Well, it doesn’t mean that you need to go join the circus just because you realize you can walk on a tightrope. We still need to be stewards, and take care of our families, and keep that promise. However, there can be promises we can still make and keep for ourselves. For example, maybe it’s in reclaiming our health. Maybe it’s in finding a better way to mental health. Right now especially, where a lot of the world is suffering with, “How do I stay happy? How can I find joy?”

Jason Hewlett:

Maybe that’s just promising yourself you’re going to watch uplifting videos every day at the end of work, for 10 minutes, before the commute home. Or the commute from kitchen table to the kitchen sink, where you have to make dinner, whatever that might look like for you. But I admire you, Tracie, for… Not just for this, but this podcast that you’ve created. A lot of people don’t make money doing a podcast, they’re just doing something they’re passionate about. And it allows for people to learn more, and listen, and to think, and it’s all coming from your own interests and what you want to share with the world.

Jason Hewlett:

And so I don’t know where you’re at with this podcast, but I’ll say that I haven’t started a podcast and I want to. I just haven’t had a minute to work on it yet, but I can say that I admire what you’ve done. Because maybe if career is something that’s not as fulfilling, perhaps the podcast is. And that’s a great example of somebody saying to themselves, “You know? Maybe I’m not loving my job every day, but I can come home, make a podcast, and feel real great about that.” And so it doesn’t need to be the job per se, it could be the hobby, and that’s something I really advocate.

Tracie Edwards:

I appreciate you bringing that up. I think the world that we’re currently living in, and the situation that we’re all finding ourselves in has perhaps made us focus a little less on our hobbies, and some of… Things that we enjoyed. Because we now find ourselves inside all the time, or being disrupted in other ways. And I know that your speaking career has obviously been disrupted during this last several months. So maybe just share what it’s been like to adjust, and innovate, and do things differently than you anticipated.

Jason Hewlett:

Yeah, it’s for sure been disrupted. I mean, it’s funny to think about your neighbor, because often we don’t. We just go, “Oh, well, they don’t have it as hard as I do.” But I know that mine, my neighbors… Because we didn’t see anybody for three months. But I had neighbors that I’d see walk by and they’d go, “Hey, how are you doing? How’s everything going?” And I’m like, “It’s going all right. How about your job?” And they’re like, “Oh, well, luckily I work for Amazon so things are great.” And I’m like, “Oh, do you remember what I do for a living?” Then they go, “Oh man, what have you done?” So they didn’t even think about what I’ve gone through.

Jason Hewlett:

I’m a professional speaker, that is my living. I speak on stages of thousands of people in attendance, that’s no longer happening. So in March, my calendar went from pretty robust with lots of events. And that’s my only way of making a living, Tracie. I mean, I don’t sell anything else other than this new book that we’ve launched that… No one other than the Harry Potter author gets rich off a book. So the book is my passion project. Anyway, no other income, but large events in front of thousands of people. And hey, it’s a great fee when I get to be in front of those people. But my goodness, go from having a booked calendar, and all the plans for the summer and the year, and then all of a sudden to nothing. Every client canceled, every client postponed to next year.

Jason Hewlett:

There are only a very, very few that said, “Let’s try it virtually.” And a majority of them said, “We’re not going to try at all.” So I talked to a lot of my speaking peers who are full-time like me, and they said, “I’m just going to wait. I’ll just wait till the world gets back to normal, we do bigger, large events again, and I’ll be fine.” And I said, “Oh man, I can’t wait. I have some savings, but I don’t have that much savings that I could live on that for a year.” So I pivoted as fast as possible. And I luckily had cameras that I’d purchased through the years and other things. But my goodness, I went into overdrive mode. I broke every promise to myself to sleep and to not work too much, because I told my family, I said, “Hey guys, daddy’s going to be working 24/7 for about two months till I get this down. And then I’ll come back to normal, but I’m going in my cave.”

Jason Hewlett:

And I went into invention mode, Tracie, I literally transformed my entire business, and actually started at zero. Clients refused to pay me for something I had never done, which was a Zoom call performance, or a Webex, or a Google, whatever. I had never done those, I’ve only done them live. And so they were taking a risk having me even do a free Zoom call for their salespeople. And then eventually it started to really appear that, this is good. And as I… Like I said earlier in this conversation, I came up on every roadblock possible. I found out every way this doesn’t work, Tracie. From WiFi connection, to the hardwire, to upgrading your bandwidth, to actually having to build a computer from scratch with my buddy. He put it all together after we crashed a bunch of Macs, we decided to go on the PC tower.

Jason Hewlett:

And so, I mean, I’ve… Any Mac users know I’ve gone to the dark side, but I’ll tell you, that dark side on the PC is so much better. Even though I think I’ve got 100 Mac and Apple computers in my house of any kind from iPhone, to iPod, to whatever else, I have this one PC tower that makes everything roll. So I’ve reinvented my career. I have almost more business than I can handle right now. I’d say with this podcast today, that we’re doing this later in the day, I’ve recorded already today five performances and presentations that I sent off to the client today. I mean, it’s insane how much work there is to do if you’re quick to take the bull by the horns and keep that promise to yourself. And that’s what we did.

Tracie Edwards:

Yeah, I was going to just add to that, that I am of the opinion that there is actually a lot of opportunity right now, if we’re willing to put ourselves out there and go after those opportunities. As we do that, the work will be available to us, and people to network with will be available to us, and then et cetera, et cetera. And it’s been very similar for me that I’ve had almost more work than I can really deal with, [crosstalk 00:26:40]

Jason Hewlett:

Yeah, and you know what? You’re right. I mean, this is the perfect opportunity. A lot of people said, “Why did you release this book, The Promise to the One, at this time?” And obviously it was scheduled to do so, but you’re exactly right. There has never been a better time for redefining your purpose, for going after a lifelong dream. I mean, like I say, you don’t want to go bail on everyone and say, “I’m leaving to go live my dream.” But you can say, “What can I do on the side that would really give me fulfillment and purpose?” This is a perfect time for reinvention, and keeping promises to ourselves that maybe we forgot that we could have.

Tracie Edwards:

That’s a good point. I think it’s easy to forget just as we get going in our pre-COVID routines, I guess. Because things are just going along, and so yeah, it is easy to forget, and then it’s thrust upon us. So as we wrap up, what would be some final thoughts that you would want to share with folks as far as being more fearless, and resilient in keeping our promises to ourselves and our families?

Jason Hewlett:

I know that when it comes to making promises and keeping them, a lot of us have been affected by people that have broken them to us. And so maybe the word promise isn’t your favorite, and I understand that. We could talk about goals, and we could talk about our strongest commitments, but if you’re a goal person, then maybe consider your promise your sacred goals. And what are some of the ways that you can actually get through some of those goals that have maybe just been sitting on your to-do list for your whole life, or for the last few years?

Jason Hewlett:

And if you are a journaler, I would encourage your audience, anyone listening, to write in a journal. Because a journal is the perfect place to look back on where you were, as well as to craft what you want to become. And so when we write in a journal, we look back on it, we can see how we’ve done and what is still missing. I know that, Tracie, I had years of thinking, and wishing, and proclaiming that I was working on a book, that I was writing a book. I was setting a goal to write a book. And it’s a goal every day, and I’d go to bed and be embarrassed. Like, “Well, I didn’t write my book today, but I’ll write it tomorrow.”

Jason Hewlett:

And it just never came to pass. Sometimes a goal isn’t strong enough, and that’s why I say, “Why set a goal when we can make a promise?” And not to say goals aren’t important, but goals are particulars, where promises are proclamations. So if we were to write a new proclamation for our life… I know when I wrote in my journal… I have been writing in my journal for my whole life. And once I finally wrote down that I am an author, I’m not just a journal writer, I’m a writer writer, an author.

Jason Hewlett:

And then I made a promise, told my family, “Hey, you guys, I’m going up to the mountains.” This was last July, back last year, “I’m going up to the mountains and I’m not coming back until the book is finished.” And they went, “Okay, well, what, you’ll be back in a few weeks?” And I said, “No, I’m going to get it done quickly, because it’s ready. I just need to make a promise and focus.” And Tracie, I went up in the mountains in my motor home, and I wrote for three days straight. Wrote 50,000 words in one fell swoop, a divine download as my friends have called it. And the words that had always been waiting there to come out finally did.

Jason Hewlett:

And so my plea, or my suggestion to anyone that’s listening is, what is that promise that you have made that you have not yet kept? And I can relate with you, but it’s time to go do it. It’s time to set goals aside and make a new promise. And if we can do that, we’ll change our lives, we’ll live happier, we’ll be more satisfied, and we will make a difference in this world. You’ll make the difference that only you can. Because if you don’t, with your specific gifts and skill set, your signature moves, then you are cheating the world of something that only you can do.

Jason Hewlett:

And when you know in your heart that you’re breaking that, then there is discord in your heart, and there’s a lack of integrity there. And integrity is our harmony. So how are we living a harmonious life? How are we courageously going forward, identifying, clarifying and magnifying our gifts, our signature moves, and our promise?

Tracie Edwards:

And that is a perfect note to end it on, I very much appreciate that. And for those listening, make sure you go out and get a copy of Jason’s book, The Promise to the One. Make sure that you keep those promises to yourselves and go for it while we can, even in the uncertainty that we’re living in right now. Jason, how can folks find you?

Jason Hewlett:

Well, I’m pretty active online with the LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, those types of places. I have videos on YouTube, but really if somebody was interested in bringing me in to speak, or motivate their teams at this time, or even just make them laugh because they need a break, jasonhewlett.com spelled like Hewlett-Packard. A lot of people don’t spell it right, but jasonhewlett.com is the best place.

Tracie Edwards:

Right.

Jason Hewlett:

Amazon is the place we’d like to send everyone to go buy the book if they want to get a physical copy, or an e-book, or as well as I’ve got that performed on Audible. And it’s me doing a nice performance, a lot of people really love that version. So yeah, any of those ways is great and I would love to hear from anyone that’s interested, and however I can help.

Tracie Edwards:

Awesome. Thank you so much for your time today. For those of you listening, if anything resonated for you today, send me a note at tracie, T-R-A-C-I-E, @traceabilitypodcast.com. Remember to go out and be fearless, and resilient, and realize your potential. And Jason, thank you so much for your time today, greatly appreciated.

Jason Hewlett:

My pleasure, and thank you for having me.