We Are All on the Same Team
Updated: May 12
Welcome to another episode of The Impostor Syndrome Files! Join Kim Meninger and Jake Fishbein as they discuss a very timely topic of bringing men and women together in the workplace. As an executive coach and men’s group leader, Jake talks confidence and vulnerability challenges facing men. He shares examples, such as the lack of spaces for men to be vulnerable, how men tend to disconnect when they’re having a tough time, and more. Talking about how gender stereotypes hold us back and finding new, more authentic ways to engage can release everyone from the internal and external pressures we face. More to learn in this highly empowering episode so be sure to stay tuned!
About Jake Fishbein:
Jacob “Coach Jake” Fishbein is an Executive & Personal Coach who specializes in helping people and teams make and navigate their most pressing choices. He’s passionate about helping men and women make proactive decisions and pushing their endeavors forward in purposeful and powerful ways. For him, coaching is all about learning – learning about yourself, your choices, your results, and how you can choose differently to create something new for you and the people and communities you impact.
Coach Jake received his professional coaching certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), is a PCC accredited coach through the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and is an ACE Certified Coach (Accelerating Coach Excellence) after training with David Peterson (Former Director of Executive Coaching & Leadership at Google) and David Goldsmith (pioneer of the coaching industry).
Before becoming a full-time coach, Coach Jake was a publicist for Jonathan Marder + Company, the general manager for Footnote Records, and the co-founder and COO of Experience Vinyl. He graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon College with a B.A. in History, and two track & field school records.
Outline of the episode:
[02:24] Jake Fishbein’s background and advocacy [08:59] What women see and what lies underneath [12:51] Do men have resources or spaces for vulnerability? [22:32] Opportunities for change and improvement in spaces for men [29:12] What can women do in support [35:05] Creating an expansive definition of masculinity [42:38] Collectively creating safe spaces for both genders [47:09] The importance of recognizing the discomfort
And many more!
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Kim Meninger Welcome, Jake. I could not be more excited for this conversation. You and I have been talking about this for a while. We’ve been having conversations offline about these issues for some time. So I’m really excited to finally bring this discussion to the listening audience today. And I’d love to start by inviting you to introduce yourself.
Jake Fishbein Absolutely. Well, first, Kim, thank you for having me on the show. I know most of your guests are women. And so I’m excited to be on here. Like you said, we’ve been talking about this for a while. My name is Jake Fishbein. I’m an executive and a personal coach, and I help my clients, both individuals and organizations, especially those navigating uncertainty and ambiguity, navigate their most important choices. And I also work with men. So I run a men’s group. It’s called the Arena men’s group. And the purpose of our group is to inspire men to trust themselves, to live authentically and vulnerably. And step into the arena, in their personal and professional lives, the arena being that space of, excuse me, of vulnerability that Brene Brown often talks about.
Kim Meninger And that was one of the things that drew me to you in the first place was this fact that you’ve been running these men’s groups, and I’ve been running these women’s groups, and I think there’s so much power in giving that safe space for us to explore on our own, you know, what’s challenging, what opportunities we have to grow. And then, as you and I’ve been talking, how do we bring those conversations together, so that we can learn from one another? Because there’s, there’s benefit to having separate conversations, but I think there’s often, you know, even greater benefit over time, if we can better understand what each other is facing. And so I would love to ask you, I know we, you know, there’s no easy answer to this. But what do you generally see… What’s the struggle for, for men on average, these days, when it comes to confidence in the workplace when it comes to some of the things that you work with around vulnerability and helping men?
Jake Fishbein It is a really broad question, and it’s a great one. I think, actually, my answer is pretty simple, which is that men struggle with confidence in being vulnerable, and in trusting that they can be vulnerable, that they can ask for support. And I think that’s really the space, I see it most in our groups, not men saying, oh, I really struggle with vulnerability, although some do, but showing up in the actions they take. For example, I run this group called the Arena men’s group. And I’m also in a group myself as a member called the Dudes of Disruption. I’ve been in that group for six years now. And the arena group is a little under two years old. And in the Dude’s group, we’ve been doing contribution for the last six years. So we raise money for an organization called The Heart School in Haiti. And for years we’ve been doing Super Bowl boxes to raise money, you know, people get involved, they can win a little bit of money, most people donate it back to the school. But it’s fascinating, as the men get involved, and we had the Arena group join in this year, that men don’t ask for support. And there are a lot of excuses. I can’t do this. My friends don’t like Super Bowl boxes. I have so much going on in my life. What doesn’t go on what isn’t the automatic is I don’t know how I’m going to do this. Who can help me? Can you guys support me in doing this? And so that’s, you know, a story related to your question, which is I think men struggle with confidence in asking for support and being vulnerable.
Kim Meninger I think that’s such a powerful insight. Because I think and I, this isn’t just my thinking, this is what I’ve heard a lot is women are surprised to learn that men have confidence challenges of any kind, right? I mean, we tend to look in our workplaces and we think men have figured this all out or that they have this advantage. And that’s not to say that that’s not true to some extent, right. But I think that and I would love your thoughts on how social conditioning plays into this too, because I think one of the things that Brene Brown talks about is how men are triggered by different things than women are and this vulnerability piece is really important because it’s not just there’s a reason why men don’t feel comfortable asking for help, right where do you think this comes from?
Jake Fishbein I think it is conditioning in large part and I am listening to an interesting book now which you may have read and some of your, your listeners may have read called For the Love of Men by Liz Plank, which came out in 2018, 2019, 2017, somewhere in there. And she wrote something interesting that masculinity is, masculinity is something men have to prove over and over again. So it’s like every day a man feels he has to prove that he’s masculine. Whereas for women, the femininity is somehow assumed that as a woman, she’s feminine. But masculine is something that has to be proved over and over again. And I think that’s one of the reasons why men struggle with vulnerability. Because vulnerability isn’t seen as masculine. And so who wants to be the man that says, I’m really struggling with this, I need help? Because that’s undermining that constant need for approval and recognition of oh, I’m masculine, like I have to prove to the men in my life, particularly the men, that I’m masculine, that I’m a man. And so I think that’s where a lot of that comes from. But then how it shows up, and I love what you’re saying that so many women wonder, you know, men are so confident, like, do men not trust themselves? My experience has been, and my assumption is, and this is, again, a broad generality. So I really want to be clear, whenever I talk about men, women, it’s broad generalities, because there’s a lot of overlap and all of that in there, that for a man, when he doesn’t trust himself, or isn’t confident, instead of acknowledging it, he pretends to be confident, and like he trusts himself. And so, so much of the confidence that I think we see in men, is actually just a mask to put over the lack of trust and lack of confidence. Because it’s not masculine not to trust yourself. It’s not masculine not to have confidence, not masculine to say, I don’t know how I’m going to do this. It is to say, I’ve got this, like, I’ll figure it out. You don’t have to worry like I’ve got it, regardless of if that’s true or not.
Kim Meninger Oh, this is so fascinating, because women… And again, glad you said that about generalities because we are obviously speaking very broadly. But women, I think, would argue that what we need to prove is our competence all the time. So when we’re in the workplace, there’s this fragility to that perception, or at least we think there is, and so I am afraid of being less than perfect because then people might think I’m not capable of doing this job, or I might get denied access to this opportunity. So the proving ourselves always shows up in almost like, just extra high quality and things that really don’t have a significant return. You know, if I re-read an email five times versus four times am I really gonna get that much better the fifth time around? But I think we have this story in our heads that everything has to be perfect because there’s no room for error there. And what you’re describing is the fragility of masculinity, which is so interesting, because I think sometimes we, we as women, look at men who, who might wear that mask that you’re talking about, and we think, oh, my gosh, it’s so, it’s so easy for them to, you know, look, look at how he just, he just seems to know what he’s doing. He just seems to have it all under control. But we don’t know that underneath that is the vulnerability that they’re trying to hide.
Jake Fishbein Oh, absolutely. And I mean, I can say I’ve had that experience, myself being that person. I had an experience. This was about six, six or more years ago. And I was going through a period of transition in my career, and I really didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t working. I was trying to do some consulting, but I was 24, 25. I had no business doing it. And I went out to dinner with a friend of mine, a woman and we were talking. I was just getting started with personal development and being, being coached. I don’t remember our conversation. I remember we were walking back after dinner. We were walking to the subway here in New York City where I live. And I think I was sharing about stuff I was challenged with. And she said, Jake, you’re so self-assured that no one wants to take that away from you. And that was that mask I was putting on, which is exactly what you’re describing, which is I didn’t want anyone to see how uncertain I was. And so instead of asking for help, instead of acknowledging, I don’t know what I’m doing right now, I haven’t completely lost. I’m afraid I’m messing up. I’m afraid people aren’t going to respect what I’m doing or that I’m going to end up not working for a significant amount of time because I’m not hireable and all the stuff that was BS, but that felt really real, that I didn’t want to acknowledge to myself, let alone anybody else. I just put on this mask of self-assurance that I’ve got this, like, I’ll figure it out, everything’s okay. Like, it’s hard, but it’s okay.
Kim Meninger That’s, that’s got to be such a lonely place to be.
Jake Fishbein Totally, we call it the cave. And people talk about the man cave. And so we’d say, in the cave, and I did a podcast episode on this last spring with my collaborator, Nick Papadopoulos, who I run the Arena group with. And it’s called men in the cave. And the cave is where men go when they disconnect. And there’s a purpose to it, there’s a purpose to disconnecting and recharging. But my self-assurance was that cave of I don’t want anybody to see how fragile I am right now.
Kim Meninger So, obviously, you’re motivated to change some of these dynamics and to help men to better connect with that vulnerability. I’m curious, because, you know, there are women’s groups everywhere. There’s women’s groups in every company, women’s groups everywhere you look. And, and also, I think, because of social conditioning, it’s safer for women to say these kinds of things out loud. And so we have spaces where we can process and talk through these with each other. What, what are men like, I want to kind of do a before and after, like before you get to a healthy place where you can be more vulnerable and ask for what you need when you’re in that moment. Because I want to see like, how do we recognize that that might be happening? What are men like… What are the resources? Or how do you actually work through that? Do you use anything to help you navigate something like that?
Jake Fishbein Oh, it’s a tough question. Because I think I think that’s one of the challenges with the way our world or society is set up. And that there aren’t those resources for men, that men literally don’t know what they don’t know. And women are really good at creating, again, broad generalities like creating a network for themselves of support. And men aren’t. There’s a lot of research going on that there’s a friendship crisis among men. Men don’t have close friends. When they do have friends, they stay at the surface. They congregate around activities, they like sit side by side, they don’t face each other. They don’t talk about, you know, the things that are going on. One of my favorite questions that my dad always asks me is he says, what’s going on in your heart, which I really value because that’s not a conversation that most men may have with their fathers, or have with each other. And so I’ve been lucky to have that kind of role model for my life. But even so it was hard in my early 20s. To like, what do I do when I doubt? And don’t trust? And I’m afraid. Like, what do I do? I think many men end up speaking with their partners. They end up relying on their partners for everything to be their life partner, their romantic partner, their therapist, of their parenting partner, which really causes a big rift in the relationship. Because nobody should be that one person for everyone. It’s not attractive. It impacts intimacy in a large way — physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, it can lead to resentment. But it’s okay for men to speak with women about their problems. It’s not okay, our society says, for men to speak with men about their problems. Again, because that challenges, if I share with a man, I’m acknowledging I’m not masculine. Like that, they should give me shit for what I’m doing. Yeah. So just to kind of wrap it up, that, again, I think men don’t know what they don’t know. And so there are luckily a lot more men’s groups out there. And I think men’s groups are becoming much more widely accessible and, and widespread. But I still think that most men wouldn’t know that a men’s group would be something that would benefit them or working with a men’s coach or a coach who’s a man would be something that benefits them, or even sharing with their friend about what’s challenging them, and what they’re struggling with would benefit them. Because it goes so against everything that we as men are taught in our lives. And so that moment of what do you do? I mean, for a lot of men, you do nothing, because there is no known resource for how you step out of it. But I always think, I always coach the men that I work with that when you notice yourself going to the cave, like go share with somebody. Go tell on yourself. Go be vulnerable with somebody who you trust, and do what it takes to take those thoughts that are in your mind and in your heart and put them out into the world. Because that’s a way to process them. And I think when we internalize them, we make them much bigger and much better and much uglier than they are, in speaking them out loud.
Kim Meninger I would imagine, and again, I don’t want to paint everyone with the same brush. But I would imagine that self-medication would come into this as well, whether that’s in the form of drinking or you know, even, even just other forms of pleasure that you might abuse because you need an outlet, and you don’t have a healthy solution or sort of option for managing those feelings.
Jake Fishbein Absolutely. It’s, and especially because a lot of men don’t actually have the language around emotion that we have, I’ve worked with men in our groups who’s saying like, I don’t actually know what I’m feeling. Because there is no, they haven’t worked that muscle of connecting with it. And so that is what happens it go to alcohol, go to working out, go to binge-watching football on Sundays, or baseball every night of the week, or doing fantasy baseball, or, or being in a softball league, it doesn’t matter. And all those things, you know, aside from work, aside from the over-drinking, and a lot of men turn to sex too overly, like overly dating, that there’s a spectrum of some of these things aren’t actually bad. I enjoy watching the Red Sox, like I enjoy doing a ton of fun. But if I spend every night watching the Red Sox, and all day looking at Red Sox news, like I’ve done in the past, that that’s a way for me to disconnect with, I’m going through a really challenging time right now. It’s a way to disconnect from, I actually don’t know how to process my emotions. So I’m going to disconnect and focus elsewhere, rather than, oh, the turmoil that I may be feeling, or the uncertainty with the fear, or the sadness.
Kim Meninger This is so important to me because I am the mom of boys. I don’t have daughters. I care so deeply about what kind of future my boys are stepping into, and really trying to think about the messages that we’re sending to them. And not even just us. But what they’re hearing. I mean, I watched the Disney channel shows with them, and these stereotypes are perpetuated in seemingly innocent ways, everywhere you look. And so one question I have for you, as you mentioned that men’s groups are becoming more widespread, but, but in the meantime, how do you personally start to do some of this work, and still navigate an environment that’s predominantly the old way of doing things right, like, so. If I, let’s imagine I’m a man, and I go to your group, but I still go to work every day with the old boys club, who doesn’t appreciate this, doesn’t… has no room for any kind of vulnerability, like how do I live in both worlds?
Jake Fishbein It’s really hard. And I also believe that men actually crave vulnerability. I don’t think a man is gonna say that. But I do think, I think all of us crave feeling like we belong somewhere, feeling like we’re heard. And everyone’s experiencing some kind of turmoil. And so I say that because I think even those men in the old boys club, I think that’s actually a mask for I’m really afraid. And I don’t know how to talk about my own vulnerability, and what’s hard for me. So, I mean, where we usually start with is if a man joins a men’s group, or he joins our group, or I’m one on one coaching him, and this is what he wants to work on, you know, it’s using that space as the practice ground. So maybe he can’t go to work and tell his boss about the hard conversation he had with his wife, and how he’s afraid their marriage isn’t gonna work, and how he feels like a failed father because the marriage might not work out, and how he feels like he’s not living up to who he thought he would be. Or he’s repeating his own father’s mistakes, that he might not be able to go to his boss or his colleagues and share that. But if he has a space with men where he can share that, it’s, it’s still beneficial, that he begins to practice that and either eventually decides, you know, I’m not going to stay at this organization where I am. They don’t value having these types of conversations, or he finds a way to navigate it. I heard a really interesting coaching model recently called, you have three options. And I don’t remember the name of the woman who gave the demo, but it was through the World Business and Executive Coaching Summit. And she was saying that if you want to change your circumstances, you have three options. You either do something to change the circumstances themselves, you change yourself, or you leave. And those are your options. That’s really it. And so, you know, an answer if you were a man working in the old boys club in our group, and you’re in the group, and you’re getting connected to vulnerability, and finally feeling like you can ask for support and open up about your challenges. And you tried to do that at work, and begin breaking those bonds and it’s not received well, we have those three options. Is there a way to change your situation? Maybe there’s not? Is there a way to change how you show up there? Maybe there is maybe there isn’t? Maybe you don’t want to do it? And if neither of those are answers, maybe you just leave? And it really there is no clear-cut answer, I think it’s really on an individual basis. And also recognizing that every relationship evolves at a different speed. And so I’m in a men’s group, and I lead another men’s group. But my friends who are men, we don’t have those same conversations, they are not in a men’s group. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to be vulnerable with them, I really do. Because that’s important for me, and important to create a safe space for them. Because those are the relationships I want to have. But I’m always focused on meeting my friends where they are, and creating a space where we can be vulnerable in a way that works for our relationship, and support each other in a way that works for our relationship versus it needing to look like it looks in my men’s group. Because that it, it is an artificial construct. We’ve designed it artificially. And it’s meant to be a metaphor for your relationships in your life. But we created it, we define the ground rules. There are no ground rules in the world.
Kim Meninger So you’re kind of answering my next question, which was going to be, do you see opportunity to take what you’re learning and influence some of the men around you? Slowly, as slowly as necessary, but, you know, it’s, it seems like in my mind, I have this image of this just very hard shell to crack. But then if you can get a little bit of a crack in there, that there’s space to move around. And so it seems like, you know, who’s going to be the first guy to say, I feel sad, or something that’s not typical? And then maybe people will start to come along for that ride. But I mean, do you find, obviously, you’re, it’s probably not a coincidence that you have friends that are open to that. But do you see possibilities there for, for men who are further along on this journey to actually influence other men and seeing a ripple effect across?
Jake Fishbein 100%. And I always tell people in the group that if you only are practicing in this group, you’re not that, you’re not getting the value. But the point is to bring what you do in the group into your world. The point is to change your relationships in your world. And it is about those tiny little steps to get there. I have a friend and she likes to say she, she always like men who have the tough exterior, and then the inside is like a soft marshmallow. Which I just hear that in what you’re saying. Because I think so many of us have that marshmallow we core. And as men, it’s like, no, I’ve got to have a stale exterior. And it’s just not the case. But it does require, it’s like how do you warm up that exterior? And how do you find a way to connect with each other. And I tell this story a lot, that when I first started doing this work, and I first started going to a men’s group, one of my best friends and I we had a really tough friendship for about a year. Because I thought vulnerability means we talked about, like the deep conversations and the things, the stories we’re telling ourselves and what’s getting in our way and what we’re afraid of. And it freaked him out. He’s like, what, what do you, like, what are you doing? We still hung out every week, but it was really hard. And it was because I thought oh our for our relationship needs to be vulnerable and vulnerability looks like talking about the deepest, darkest secrets and the stories we have about who you are. And I learned I was like I, just after months of doing this was like wait, this is, this is not working. Let me meet him where he is. Like he’s not, he’s not there yet. That’s okay. That’s okay. And what ended up being a huge breakthrough is us is we both really loved music. I didn’t know anything about music. I was working in the music industry at the time. And so he said, why don’t we listen to a different album every week? And we did it for two and a half years. And it was through that process of connecting around music, that we started talking about what we were afraid of, and how challenging our weeks were. And it always makes me emotional. Every time I talk about it because it, I mean, it really changed our entire friendship.
Kim Meninger Thank you, thank you for sharing that I. That’s, that’s such a powerful, I mean, just, just your willingness to be vulnerable with me. And this conversation is so powerful, I’m so grateful. And I know, like I said, you’re you are giving us a look behind the curtain that so many women haven’t had a chance to see. And I think you know, what’s interesting to me is that you had mentioned that men might use their partners as that source of support because there really isn’t any other outlet. And so I think there’s probably some familiarity among women listening, you know, they’ve seen their, their spouse be vulnerable. But if we think about the workplace for a moment, because that’s an area that I think… I often joke about the fact that we’re all triggering each other all over the place, we all think everyone else is so much more confident, and has it all figured out. And then we’re feeding off of each other’s insecurities without even realizing it. And, and so, you know, you and I have started conversations, and I’m really excited that we’re going to be bringing our conversation to the world in March. So anyone interested can check out the show notes. But you know, how can we, as women, think about the struggle that men are experiencing, maybe be a little bit more empathetic? Maybe. Because I will share with you very honestly, that there. As I mentioned to you before, this is personal for me, I have boys, I am all about women’s empowerment, but not because I want women to be better than men. It’s because I want us all to share in the experience of being full thriving human beings, right. And so sometimes I’ll say, I’m really worried about men, and one that, you know, there, there isn’t as much opportunity for support, or they don’t have the same freedom to express their emotions. And I will sometimes get some scoffs like, seriously, don’t feel sorry for them. And are you, are you suggesting that we’re supposed to do something different to accommodate men? And I said, I really that attitude really bothers me, because I just don’t think it should be an us versus them. I think that by supporting each other in the same way that we want male allies to support us. I want female allies to support men so that we can all grow together. And I’m curious if you think that there are ways in which women can better support men in the workplace?
Jake Fishbein It’s a great question. And I mean, my immediate response is, I have no idea.
Kim Meninger I appreciate your honesty.
Jake Fishbein I have no idea. And I so appreciate what you’re talking about because it’s a, it’s a “we” conversation, that and I do think, I look at our world. And look at these points where there are shifts in the way things have been. And they always turn into a us versus them conversation. And they’re not. We are all on the same team. All of us on the whole planet. We’re all on the same team. And then there’s obviously micro teams within that. But in the workplace, and in our relationships, men and women are on the same team. It’s way more valuable for us to share the stage together, that we all get to be on the stage at the same time. That’s when we’re really going to be the most powerful. And I love this idea of, of women being an ally for men, and I’ll be honest, it even makes me uncomfortable to like say that I’m like, it feels so strange to put it in those words that way. And yet I do think men need support from women to change the narrative about who they are as men. That’s really at the core of this, which is to be a man has looked a certain way. And it’s taught a certain way. And for men to be different in the workplace, for men to be different in their relationships means shifting the definition of what it means to be a man. And that’s not the responsibility of women to do. It’s the responsibility of men to make that change. But there has to be a safety for men to do that. And I think that’s where women can continue to, like can, can contribute to creating a safe space for men to shift what it means to be a man. And, you know, if there are any men listening because I hear this a lot when this conversation comes up, that people are saying, well, that it’s about feminizing men. And I would say it’s not. It’s not about feminizing men, it’s not about you know, eliminating masculinity, but about really honoring the complexity of it. And honoring that masculinity is, just like femininity, is very full and broad. And that to be a man looks a lot of different ways. It involves being strong. With strength looks a lot of different ways. It involves I think being a man is about being a provider and creating safety. But that doesn’t mean always bringing home the biggest paycheck. It doesn’t mean always making more money or being a pillar of strength and fortitude, and not acknowledging your weaknesses and fears. That I think we’ve gotten really in, what’s the word, the word escapes me, but we’ve really gotten entrenched in with oh, it like being a provider, I’m just using it as an example looks a certain way. Like, no, it doesn’t, there are a million different ways to provide. And so as I’m talking, I’m thinking that’s really maybe the opportunity for women, which is to allow men to express what they value. I think a lot of men value being a provider, I know that I see it come up in our groups, and men who aren’t the primary breadwinners, they sometimes don’t, they feel a lot of pressure. They feel like they’re not good enough because they’re not providing. And the opportunity is how to reframe what providing means for them. That if someone wants to be a provider, great, how, how, what are the what are five ways you could express and demonstrate providing? Let’s open the breadth of what these values of masculinity mean, versus eliminating them, which is, I think, what a lot of men hear when we talk about redefining masculinity, it’s like, oh, I’m supposed to stop being those things like No Keep, keep being who you want to be. Just open up the ways that you can be it so you’re more compassionate and more vulnerable. And you get to be happy, as well as the women you’re working with. The men you’re working with, the women you’re in relationship with your kids. We always talk about that saying Happy wife happy life is like the No. Oh.
Kim Meninger Yeah, well, what I’m hearing you say is that just creating a more expansive definition of masculinity. It’s not like you said, it’s not substituting new behaviors for old behaviors or new feelings for old feelings, but just creating more space for a fuller range of feelings and expressions because I think that’s what I think about when I think about the risk. Like, you know, my, my children are young enough now that they still feel a full range of emotions, they will still cry, they still tell me when they’re afraid, right. But I’m, I’m dreading the day that comes when they feel like they have to lop off certain feelings, right? Because it’s no longer socially acceptable.
Jake Fishbein Yeah. I mean, one thing that I’ll say, and I’ve been doing this a lot more in my coaching, is asking how men are feeling. And most times, you have to ask it about three times. Because most times, say, Oh, how are you feeling? Oh, I’m doing okay. Like this is these are all the things that I’m doing. Like, my kids feel really bad and my wife feels angry, but I’m like, I’m doing good. And it’s like, well, how are you feeling? Like what are you feeling? And so for your boys, it’s like continuing to ask that question, even when those emotions begin to get lopped off. Because unfortunately, I mean, I shouldn’t say that they will. Maybe they won’t. Hopefully, hopefully, they won’t. But there’s a large possibility that as they get into high school, with middle school in college, and are round, more boys who are lopping off their emotions, that that’s how they’ll learn how to be boys from the other boys, you’re doing the same thing. They’re all hurting, but they don’t know any other way. And so for you, for your husband, as parents to continue to ask, like my dad does, What are you feeling in your heart? That’s the place to continue to give them the opportunity to practice sharing what they feel.
Kim Meninger Do you feel like you are where you are today, I know it’s more complicated than this but was your dad in influence? Hugely. Because I would imagine that it would be a lot harder for you to get to the place that you are at now, if you came from an old school.
Jake Fishbein Absolutely, I was. I’m really lucky. I’ve had great male role models, I mean, going starting with my dad hugely. And that’s always show me what’s possible in being a man. So I didn’t grow up with, we talk about like the John Wayne manhood, like I didn’t grow up with that. That’s not what, that’s not what I saw. So even I’ve always… Let me back up. Like I’m listening to this book For the Love of Men by Liz Plank, which I mentioned. She’s talking about the friendship crisis among men, I think I’ve never had that problem. That even in college, when I would, I would go to the campus deli with my best friend every week, we’d go for lunch once a week. And oftentimes, we just sit there in silence because we didn’t know how to talk to each other. Like, we still had a close friendship. And now we talk, now we actually can talk about everything. But I was always lucky to have male role models. So at least I could talk with, with, with my dad or with my college track coach about what I was feeling. But even then, in those, I think up until I joined the men’s group when I was 24. So much of where I was vulnerable was with the women in my life. In large part, and even though I had great role models, I was with a lot of men who’s like we don’t talk about what we’re feeling. It felt awkward. It still feels awkward sometimes to ask my friends, you know, how does that make you feel? But I know how important it is. And, and I’ve been lucky that I don’t come from that entrenched we don’t talk about that. It just got I learned it in a different way.
Kim Meninger Just listening to you talk about your own experience gives me a lot of hope. But it also makes me realize how difficult the process is and how much resistance there likely is to be because people are afraid and don’t like change. I’m curious, because, you know, we talked about how there are women’s groups everywhere. And there are identity groups everywhere. Now, if you look at like workplaces, ERG groups are everywhere and different ways of slicing and dicing the population. Do you think that there is resentment on the part of men that all of these groups exist and that they’re like, do you feel do you think men feel left out of a lot of the conversation right now?
Jake Fishbein I don’t know if men feel left out. I think they feel made wrong. And I think they feel disregarded. And so there is this a resentment among men that I hear, that I hear in groups, and I think we’ve seen it play out politically, that men are resentful, men are afraid. Men have a lot of anger at being left behind. And feeling left behind. And I think that there is an element of that in terms of, of the plethora of women’s groups and ERG groups, that it’s not really kosher to have a like a men’s ERG group. Because men have been the dominant, powerful authority. Authority is not the right word. But they’ve been in power for hundreds and 1000s of years. And so everything has been a men’s group, not a effective men’s group. But everything has been run by men. So their voice has been very loud. The issue is now is probably when we actually need those groups because things are changing. And so it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited for our conversation on the, on March 16. And going forward, because there needs to be a space for men and women to gather to be able to share their collective fears, for men to be able to say I feel resentful to be left behind and for there to be a listening for that. Not just a shutting down of well you guys have been in power for all this time? Because yes, that’s true. And it doesn’t change the individual experiences of men. And it goes back to I think everybody wants to be heard. And I think men don’t feel heard right now. And it’s a really tricky line to walk. I mean, as I talk about it, I’m, I’m self-conscious of saying it because men have wielded the power. And things have changed. And it’s important for men to be heard in different way, but also men to really talk about what’s underneath the iceberg. And that’s challenging, not impossible, just challenging. Yeah,
Kim Meninger I agree with you. And I am particularly sensitive to that, because of a lot of the turmoil that we’re seeing in the larger world around us. I worry that if we don’t, I think it’s a toxic combination of this very limited range of support that we’re talking about, combined with a very real change that is threatening the, the identities and the, the security of men these days, again, speaking more broadly. And that energy has to go somewhere. And I worry that if we don’t collectively create space for more honest, empathetic conversations, that we’re going to see more of these kinds of fringe groups popping up, people finding, you know, solidarity with other people that aren’t handling it in a very healthy way.
Jake Fishbein Absolutely. Like I said, I think everyone is looking for belonging, which I know Brene Brown talks about too. And that’s what people find in those fringe groups. And it’s really accessible with the internet, to find a sub-community where everyone feels the same way. And that’s where people feel like they belong, or these people share my viewpoints I belong here. The challenge is, I don’t actually think that’s true belonging, because it’s belonging, but it’s, it’s dangerous belonging. Whereas to be able to experience belonging in a community where there’s conflict, where there are different perspectives is way more powerful. I think that’s, that’s what we’ve got to work towards, which is how can we feel like we belong in the same community, when we have different experiences, and we have different perspectives, but get united around, we belong in the same community. So ultimately, we care about creating the same outcome. And like I said a little bit ago, we’re on the same team, we really do all belong in the same community. And there’s a great book I read the end of last year called The Good Ancestor, by this man, Roman Krznaric, who’s from, he’s British, and it’s about cultivating long-term thinking in our short term world. And reading it, it made me hyper-aware of how important collective thought and engagement is that, especially here in the United States, which is so individualistic, we get lost on, on recognizing the impact of our individual choices on the whole. I think we’re seeing that and I connect that with what you were just saying around, you know, the US versus, us versus them and the we conversation, that we are all part of a we conversation, that we actually have to think about how our choices impact the we, not just the me, and what choices we can make collectively for the good of the we, not just the me. And sometimes that means making choices we don’t agree with, or we don’t like because of how it impacts us personally, but recognizing the value for the collective and for the people to come and 50, 100, 500 years from now and beyond. And I do believe that requires experiencing belonging in a different way than in fringe groups. And it starts with compassion and listening, and empathy.
Kim Meninger Yes, because you can’t make that kind of a decision. You can’t make a decision that’s not individually motivated from a place of fear. This is probably a good time for us to share a little bit more about what we’ve been alluding to this conversation that’s on March 16. So I am so thrilled that we are going to be joining forces to bring our communities together to create a safe space where men and women can start this conversation the, the, in an ideal world this will be just the first conversation where we can really start to put some of these issues on the table and get to know each other better in these ways. Have a conversation that’s not happening or certainly not happening nearly enough right now. And we hope that anybody who’s listening and feels like they would like to be part of that conversation, have something to share and something to learn will join us. Anything you want to add to that Jake?
Jake Fishbein said I, this conversation is for everybody. And we really want to encourage you, if you have any curiosity or any resistance to show up, that if this is something that you’re listening, you’re thinking, I don’t agree with what Kim and Jake are talking about, or I’m uncomfortable with this, I would actually urge you that that is why coming to this conversation is really important. Because it’s important to honor and recognize the discomfort and the resistance, that until we start honoring and accepting it and working through it and voicing it, that it’s gonna be really hard for us to make progress as a collective because there is going to be resistance and there is going to be discomfort. And our goal is to create a space for that safe to be uncomfortable, and it’s safe to be resistant.
Kim Meninger That’s such a great point. It’s easy to do something when you feel really comfortable. The hard work is in is in the feeling uncomfortable and doing it anyway. Yes. So Jake, where can people find you if they want to follow up with you?
Jake Fishbein Absolutely. So my website’s pretty easy. It’s jakefishbein.com. You can always also check out the Arena group at thearenaseries.com. I have links on my website too. I’m on LinkedIn under Jacob Fishbein. And my email address is Jake@jakefishbein.com. So it’s all, all very simple. I’m not really on Instagram or Facebook much but I’m there just if you follow me, you’re not going to see much output.
Kim Meninger Same with me. I know LinkedIn is my primary spot. So I will put all of those links into the show notes, including the link to the conversation. It’s complimentary. We want, you know, anybody who wants to be part of this conversation to be part of the conversation. And Jake, I I’m confident that you and I will be back here again in front of this audience as well. I would love to continue this conversation with you on the podcast as well. So thank you so much for everything today.
Jake Fishbein Absolutely, Kim, I’d love to continue. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I’d love to hear some of your perspective next time because I did a lot of talking today. And just really appreciate the opportunity and getting to spend this time with you.