AllBetter

Transforming Adversity into Entrepreneurial Success: with Tony Mattioli

December 09, 2023 Joe Van Wie Season 3 Episode 75
AllBetter
Transforming Adversity into Entrepreneurial Success: with Tony Mattioli
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How often do you come across a story where business, addiction recovery, and personal growth intertwine so seamlessly? Our guest, Tony Mattioli, president and owner of Trademark Industrial, is a living testament to overcoming adversity and transforming life struggles into a thriving business. Tony's story is not just about overcoming addiction; it's about perseverance, resilience, and the courage to take a leap of faith in the business world.

Our chat with Tony takes us on a journey from his earliest encounters with opiates to his courageous path towards recovery. We delve into societal attitudes towards addiction and explore the critical role of acceptance, honesty, and a support system in overcoming addiction. Tony's story paints a vivid picture of the transformative effects of a comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment program. What's more, he speaks candidly about the humbling moments and failures that ultimately fueled his personal growth and shaped him into the entrepreneur he is today.

As we navigate the intricate connection between recovery and entrepreneurship, Tony generously shares how he used his sales skills and newfound perspective to build a successful business. He stresses the importance of surrounding oneself with positive, trustworthy people, a key principle that has guided his business and personal growth. By the end of our conversation, you'll understand the power of self-reflection, the potential dangers of achieving success without a deeper purpose, and the transformative impact of setting boundaries. Our conversation with Tony is not just inspiring, but also a testament to the strength and resilience inherent in us all. So join us, and hear firsthand the extraordinary journey of a man who turned adversity into opportunity.

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Speaker 1:

Hello and thanks again for listening to another episode of All Better. I'm your host, joe Van Wee. Today's guest is Tony Madioli. Tony is the president and owner of Trademark Industrial. He also holds a Bachelor's of Arts in History and Political Science. Today, tony stops by to tell us his story and struggles with addiction, his entry into recovery, his approach in being a family man and an entrepreneur. We focus the discussion on the back end of this, the relationship between a newfound recovery and an entrepreneurial spirit. We also discuss Tony's management style, with half of his workforce being in recovery, which could lead to some complexities, but he's been able to navigate it well and encourage others to become the best that they can be in business and in life. So let's meet Tony Madioli. We're here with Tony Madioli, my friend, and today's discussion I thought would be, you know. Let's find out who Tony is and what entrepreneurship and recovery is for him, because watching him over the last two years is just inspiring, not only for his own life and vision, how he incorporated an entire population of people in recovery into his vision and business. So welcome Tony. Hey Joe, how are you? I'm not bad. Thank you for having me. So, tony Madioli, I knew a cousin before you. I always love the last name. It's fun to say Madioli. It sounds like a dish.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I like the last name as well. Actually, I tell my wife every day that she should thank me for the last name. You know it. Just it seems to flow a little bit better than what hers was. But she, you know she's not happy with that. I mean she's happy with the last name. It's probably just not the nicest way to go about it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know it is what it is. It's in good fun. She knows I love her. It's a joke.

Speaker 1:

What part of Italy is Madioli from?

Speaker 2:

Central Perugia, yeah. So yeah, not a lot of, not a dark complexion I have a cousin that's incredibly dark, so I don't know how that really works. But central by Rome, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, do you know the background of your name? What is? Madioli Matteo Matt I don't know. Yeah, no, I don't either, I don't, I don't really follow that much it sounds like for Folly, and maybe just a basil and oil. Yeah, yeah, tony, just to start with a story, tell me, give me a little summary of growing up and where you grew up.

Speaker 2:

All right. So I'm from Taylor, pennsylvania, a small town about 20 miles away, and you know, normally when I would go into places and hear people's stories, one of the things that always caught my attention is they said they knew you know from the very start that they were in fact an alcoholic. And I think, looking back now on my life, I would be able to tell you that the same is true. I was from a single parent household in the time that there was still sort of a stigma attached to single parent households in a small town. My father, who wasn't really you know, he was around but not in the picture as far as a household that much had its wind brother and they were notorious for some behaviors. So when I went, I went from a Catholic school to a public elementary school in fourth grade and it kind of set the tone for what would carry me throughout the rest of my elementary and high school years and it's actually the reason that I'm doing what I'm doing right now. As far as the school board is concerned and I say that to say from the moment that I got to this school, I was kind of labeled because of who? Well, because of the lack of the traditional nuclear family and because of who my father and his twin brother was, I was labeled as the bad kid. You know, I was going to be the bad kid and it was kind of one of those self-fulfilling prophecies. So now I find myself years later trying to do everything that I can to combat that, where, you know, a big part of what I'm doing right now is I don't want kids to go into these small town environments with school and be labeled and kind of have to deal with that whole stigma because it impacts the mightily moving forward. So that's kind of my aim right now. But that was a big part of my younger childhood was just, you know, having to deal with the fact that I was being treated like I was a bad kid. It really hurt my pride and self-esteem and I think you know, as we both know, that plays a large role in our alcoholism. So from the very start of my education I was basically told I was bad and not good enough, or at least that's how I heard it. And what was worse to me was these were all considered really credible teachers that were labeling me so I couldn't go anywhere and say, hey, I think this is kind of unfair because these were teachers that had been in the district for a long period of time and, you know, had a good name and it was just. It was a difficult time. So you know, that was my elementary school experience and then, as I got into junior high school, some of that stigma followed of, you know, being the bad kid. What years are we talking? We're talking, like you know, 96, 97, 98. Still at that point where, like right now, it's pretty normal to have a single parent household and it wasn't abnormal then, but there was still, you know, a stigma attached to it, Just for anyone to have context, if this is too general.

Speaker 1:

You said you're from Taylor and Taylor connects with Old Forge but there's a. There's a hard border between the schools but there's a similar demographic of you know Italian families, really close-knit kind of neighborhoods, and I just find it really interesting that you observed the stigma of a single parent. I was raised by a single parent but you do feel it and I don't know if the perception is always given or if I was just perceiving it myself. When I'd be at friends' houses and they had two parents, the household seemed more stable, they had more money. There's a socioeconomic difference and you know, I noticed it when I was a kid. I just find it interesting. I'm glad you talked about that because that is substantially real and it's not like an intentional harm. But man, you pick up on it. At that age you might not be able to talk about it, you don't even know what you're experiencing, but I think alcoholics that have insight to themselves see where that begins.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, and maybe you don't understand the how and the why, but you see it happening, you know you're being treated differently and yeah, I just I think there's, you know, a strength in the nuclear family and having the mother and father under the same roof and, to be honest with you, along with it's a big part of my sobriety in how I try and carry myself right now. I try and make sure that my children don't ever have to deal with any of the struggles that I had, you know, with with whether it was apparent not being present. I mean, I had a wonderful mother, fully engaged all the time, but she was also younger, so she was kind of putting together her life at the same time as she was raising me and I don't think I ever came, you know, secondary to her rate building her own life, but it just, it is what it was. She had to work with what she had to and she kind of had to rebuild her life because she had me when she was 17, had just turned 18. So there were some different dynamics at play there that I see now, years later, that really really affected me and you know they would follow into junior high school. And what I said before is people know from the very beginning whether or not their alcoholics are going to have a problem with alcohol. I just knew immediately. You know, I would hang out with a lot of older kids. That's the normal story for guys like us. We somehow get mixed up in the crowds that we're not supposed to right, because we're told we're bad kids, right. So now I'm going to fulfill this prophecy that's been laid out in front of me. I'm a bad kid, I'm a bad kid, so now I'm going to behave like one, and I did so with older kids. And you know, I started to drink from an early age and I felt good. You know, I felt like there was a weight lifted, like all of these different titles that have been placed upon me none of which were good Kind of didn't matter anymore. I could just be myself, I could be loose and, you know, have fun, okay. And so that carried me all throughout. You know, there was really no huge signs of trouble, but there was alcohol. I did fairly decent in school. I would definitely label myself an underachiever, someone that wasn't that committed to doing well in school but was smart enough to like just kind of get by. I played sports and then later on in my high school life, my senior year, I realized that there was going to be a problem with beyond alcohol, that if there was any other substances involved it was going to be a real big problem for me. To kind of elaborate on that, my senior year of high school football I broke a non-weight bearing bone in my leg and I played on it and, excuse me, it was painful but I was able to do so and I did so through the help of prescription pain killers. I have a cousin who's a doctor and he he was very, very careful with how he prescribed me. He literally didn't want to prescribe me anything because of my family history, but he knew, you know, I had to play. I had this issue and helped me as best as he knew how. So it was incredibly painful and I was at a party a Saturday after a football game. I was on painkillers and there's there's mud everywhere and a girlfriend of mine at the time had gotten her car stuck in the mud and the day prior it was hard to even walk In absence of painkillers. So now, fast forward 24 hours, I'm at this party under the influence of painkillers and here I am broken bone in my leg pushing her car out of the mud. And it was one of those moments where, like, I felt like you know, superman, someone that gives you their first initial description of how they felt under opiates it was just, you know, you're like outside yourself and you're stronger and you're smarter and you're more personable, like all of those things hit me all at once and Looking back now I'm just like, wow, that was. You know, that was a big problem for it to have the effect on me that it had and, yeah, it was pretty dramatic. So Thankfully, I didn't get into any of that for for years. After the fact, I just really didn't. It wasn't something that was a big part of my life yet there was drinking, there was partying, there was going to school, but it wasn't. It wasn't that bad yet, did you?

Speaker 1:

at that time understand the relationship of pushing that truck, feeling all those senses of new confidence, self-esteem? Did you know who's being provided by the medication? Did you know the medication could Provide that outside of just physical pain relief, where you did you have a bond already or connection, knowing that was the opiate?

Speaker 2:

I would say that I knew, but I probably didn't know, and it was good that I didn't know the degree, yeah, to which it impacted me, because if I'd had, I probably would have started my long-term abuse and addiction at that point. Okay, I knew that that something was different, something was better, I felt better, but I didn't exactly hold that opiate responsible, thankfully.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, okay, yeah, I was wondering that sound curious because, yeah, it could have been love to where all these feelings come Right.

Speaker 2:

Right, yeah, it was just it was. You know, looking back now I'm just like, wow, that was, that was a scary moment. But thankfully at the time I didn't realize where all these feelings were coming from. Because, you know, if I had, my story Would probably be dramatically different, or at least I'd tack on four more years of really steady abuse To where I was at. So, you know, I kind of got out of that unscathed. I Went to college. I went to college in Fall of 2003. I transferred a lot. That was kind of my my story of Undergraduate not really feeling uncomfortable, just unsure really of what I was gonna do, what I wanted to do. I had some really positive male influences on me at the time, one of which was was the cousin that you were speaking of earlier, pretty prominent name in the area, and he served as as a really Terrific role model for me because he was a six successful guy as a young guy, but that's and he was a lot of fun and he was well. And he was a lot of fun, definitely a lot of fun, and you know that that played a role as well In just not understanding like the difficulty with that relationship at the time was. I saw this guy who really was a lot of fun and a good guy and he had so much success, but I didn't have to see any of the hard work, right, yeah. And I looked at the formula of, like, how did this guy become successful? I saw, okay, well, he's personable and and he partied and and obvious, right, but but I was missing that with the guys that wake up, in the morning right, right. So in my eyes was just like, wow, this guy's done all this and he's found success. Why can't I, you know, just kind of follow this blueprint? And and what I was missing was the years of sacrifice and struggle that the man had undertaken in order to find success. But it served as a template of like okay, this is kind of who I want to be. I was fairly well spoken, fairly well read, and they figured okay, I can do the whole law school thing. So I'd gotten through undergraduate and I graduated from Wilkes in January 2008 and I was studying for the LSATs.

Speaker 1:

Would you, would you graduate? What was your undergrad degree?

Speaker 2:

History and political science history.

Speaker 1:

Okay, it's a political science.

Speaker 2:

Yeah so, but in gearing up to take the LSATs the first time, this was now the second time that opiates had crept back into the picture. There was this girl in a class of mine at Wilkes and you know she said hey, I have, I have these things. They're gonna help you, they're gonna help you study.

Speaker 1:

They're gonna help you push trucks out of the mud.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they're gonna. They're gonna help you study, push trucks, whatever it is you want to do, and Not one to ever really say no. I said, okay, let's, let's see sure. So so I did and I studied harder and, in my opinion, right. I was more committed, I understood things Wow and yeah let me just a quick interruption.

Speaker 1:

Were you ever labeled with ADD ADHD?

Speaker 2:

I yes, I mean now for like.

Speaker 1:

The reason I ask is the relationship you're now having with opiates is really interesting and it's unique because Most people who have it get that feeling from an amphetamine Mm-hmm. And now you're saying you're having this deeper focus, a deeper attention. A relaxation usually causes that maybe more dopamine Mm-hmm, but with the opioid reward system you're having a really unique effect. What the opioids doing is is quieting your mind, like that is wild. That's really awful because you're gonna bond really.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and there was a bond there there was. So, yeah, I mean, I I had gone to doctors that had had that label, but I think at the time I don't want to say I Disregarded, I just knew. You're talking two years down the road now, when I was really a mess. So I don't think it did me any benefit to label me ADD or ADHD. I just knew I had this gorilla on my back which at at this point, would have been addiction and I needed to deal with that first and foremost. But yeah, no, that was the relationship and that was the initial relationship that I had with with opiates, where everything slowed down, I was able to focus. I really I liked myself right, which which was a big part of it, you know, I felt confident. I just all these things that have created an obstacle in my life Kind of fell to the wayside and it was just me happy with who. I was More energetic than ever before and obviously that doesn't last very long and you'll see that moving forward in the rest of my story. But that was, you know, my initial introduction to opiates were scary, you know, because it was all good.

Speaker 1:

It was all benefits.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there was nothing that anyone could tell me at the time to say like, hey, this could really hinder your life, because it was like, no, absolutely not.

Speaker 1:

That's what you know people who are really hurt by viewing someone else's addiction of a loved one or a friend. That just seems so irrational. Why are they doing this? What they're failing to see is the beginning. The benefits were phenomenal. Yeah, they were resources. The drug was providing that most healthy or well-balanced people have the tools for, or don't have the trauma or those results. That's the bond with the drug. And there's this desperate hope. Why can't? Well, this is the only thing that's ever worked to provide these things. I don't think they take that into account when they see such irrational, destructive behavior by the end.

Speaker 2:

No, no, definitely not. And don't forget too, let's talk about time and place and I'll get into this a little bit moving forward. But this was still at a time where now we're lucky, we have this huge recovery community and everyone really understands what's going on and we're sympathetic to the addict and we're doing everything we can to help them. This you're talking 2008,. There was still very much that stigma of you know you're a bad guy or you're a bad person and distinction's a stigma, Alcoholism versus heroin, Heroin versus even cocaine.

Speaker 1:

I mean they were all segmented populations and I would even experience it in treatment centers. I think you would see people oh, these are the bad, bad.

Speaker 2:

That's a different addiction, yeah by the end I got the worst of the worst treatment, where the nurses were even like let's stay away from this guy. You know he's a no-hopper. Yeah, man, you know, I think that's where we got to by the end. But yeah, that was the relationship that I'd had with it, where it just really helped me focus, helped me study. I felt better and I did well and I was ready to go to law school. But there was this six-month gap and it was probably, looking back, the worst thing that could have ever happened to me, because I graduated at the end of January. I was ready to go, but I couldn't go until August of 2008. I didn't have much of a work ethic. I wasn't. Work ethic wasn't really stressed in my household. So I was just like you know what? I'm gonna have a great time for the next six months. That was really my plan at the time. I deserved this is what I thought, and one of the things that I set out to do was really develop a relationship with my father, and the reason that I'd had at the time was because I'd known he had been in an act of addiction for a long time. So I set out knowing that like I'm gonna shake things up over these next few months and that's exactly what I did. I went off to the races for a six-month period where things got incredibly out of control really fast. I'm not a guy that can take substances well. I know this now and still, you know, live any semblance of a life. I'm just like that allergy is sparked in me and triggered and I'm off to the races and it's a race to the bottom immediately. But I experienced things in this time around as the first time I ever got sick and realized like, oh my God, I don't Sick from the withdrawal and opioid.

Speaker 1:

Yeah which one Describe it. What is that?

Speaker 2:

like it's like the worst flu you could ever experience. I always picture it as like your body is like a sponge being wrung out, like you just have. You know your stomach is unsettled, you're hot, you're cold, you're sweaty, you're feverish, and the worst part of all for me was the whole time. You know that all you have to do is take one little pill and it's gone you know?

Speaker 1:

And how long does an average withdrawal last at this time? Like can it be?

Speaker 2:

days. Oh yeah, yeah, five, seven days on the what is the acute and then the post-acute longer, but yeah, the immediate is five to seven.

Speaker 1:

So anytime you would just want to reasonably or use reason or your rational mind to say I gotta stop this is. You're still looking at four days by yourself having a flu and resisting what, ending it at any minute you want.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, and that was so the next probably six years of my life. That's how it played out, because I didn't, after I realized what exactly was going on. I didn't want this, I didn't want it. I didn't want to disappoint everyone, I didn't want to, you know, be a disaster, behave in the fashion that I wanted. That I was, I wanted to achieve on a high level. I just I couldn't. So what I would do is, every month or so, I would reset the bar and say, okay, like today is the day I'm just I'm gonna get off this, I'm gonna do this. I would tell myself that every day, and you know, sometimes I'd go a day or two and then I just wouldn't be able to bear it anymore, knowing that there was a fix readily available. I probably watched the entire Sopranos box set like probably 10 to 12 times.

Speaker 1:

I think everyone. It's a great flu box. I would watch it with the real flu, but I could always revisit the Sopranos. It's still one of the best shows.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that was always my goal. I was like you know what this thing is so long that if I just if I just watch this all the way through and think of nothing else, I could probably get off this.

Speaker 1:

Tony's gonna help me Like he helped Christopher Right right, right, yeah.

Speaker 2:

so that was the thought.

Speaker 1:

Now, Tony, let me ask is there any periods within that six years where there is no withdrawal, and if you could describe the state of your mind in the sense that how you viewed the problem can you take care of it yourself? And how you started losing credibility with yourself, because I believe most addicts that your attempts are sincere the morning you wake up. I'm gonna have a good life. I'm planning one. I'm gonna do this. When did how did that build up to complete defeat that you can't even trust your own will.

Speaker 2:

Just slowly but surely, after you know, time of just continually losing things and trying, like I said, I didn't really want, when I really understood what was going on. I didn't want that, you know, and I knew that. But some of the resources that we have here today weren't available. I didn't have insurance at the time, so it was really hard for me to find any kind of program. Anytime that I did get into a program, it was normally on some kind of scholarship where it was for a limited amount of time. So it was just something that after time just beat me down, you know, and after trying for three, four years probably by the last two, I just ran with it and I was like, you know, this is just who I am now and this is who I'm gonna be. But you know, there were some good things in the middle there where I would try and hang my hat on. You know, I did go to law school the following August. I very rarely went to class. When I went to class I very rarely went sober. I had people who really cared in the school reach out and say you know you're paying a lot of money to be, there, you would think that you know you'd at least like to attend, maybe show up, because they knew when I did go there were some things that I could grasp and get a hold of. I just I couldn't do anything for a consistent amount of time because I was a complete drug addict by this point there was just. You know, I always admired people who were like high achievers, while inactive addiction.

Speaker 1:

We all do. You know that was never me. From Hemingway to you know any maniac? They've killed millions just thinking I could be one of them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no and that kind of let me down that road for even longer, thinking like man, I don't need to get sober, I just need to get a handle on this, like I had to figure out when and how I can use. But for me, the truth is, once I do, you know, there's nothing that I'm going to achieve. There's no good that I'm gonna do for any people in my life, there's no good that I'm gonna do for my family, friends, community, and you know that's good for me to know. Now, you know, I can look at that and say like this is just who I am and I can accept it, because acceptance during that time was a big, big part of my problem. It kept me sick for a very long period of time. I had to take a leave of absence from school. I was at, I went to rehab two or three times, ended up getting myself back in to the school, talking myself back into it. They allowed me to go back, but it was the same old story. I just I couldn't keep up. I couldn't go to school. There were some interesting things that happened in the time. I had a run-in with one of my well unbeknownst to me, a run-in with one of my partners now who's been really instrumental in my life. I worked in Washington DC over the summer, but it was just another thing and a long line of things at that time that I quit because I couldn't function, you know, I just couldn't function.

Speaker 1:

So you were attracted to the lifestyle though of DC if you were functional, and politics has always been.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's interesting. You said something right in the beginning of that kind of in the beginning of what you were saying, that you were resigning to the fact this is who you're gonna be and when and how to use. To me, when I hear that I think someone in the terms of a 12-step community you're halfway done with your first step Because you're already accepting the fact that it's not gonna change. Now how do I limit the damage and stay as functional as possible? People who get to that point are almost complete with their first step. I see it as that way, mm-hmm.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, and I think there's just there's this truth of like, this is who I am in this moment and this is where this has taken me and I can't hide from it anymore and one of my biggest struggles. It's very similar to actually a few people in the recovery community where I had school and that was like a mirage that I was able to set up and hold myself to and say, like, look, I'm not really that bad because I have this right, and I thought I was fooling everyone. But the truth of the matter was I was the only one that was fooled. Everyone knew exactly what was going on with me, everyone knew where I was at, everyone knew that I wasn't, I wasn't going to make it and, like you said, halfway through the first step I was at that point. But it wasn't until I was able to at least be honest with myself in that regard where I was able to even look to change some things. I had to get to the point to say this is who I am. I'm not a high achieving law student who's just eccentric and uses drugs on the side, like.

Speaker 1:

I am Smokes a pie.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, right, right. This is who I am and when I was able to admit that things didn't get better for a while yet. But yeah, it was the first step in the process.

Speaker 1:

two things so you're coming to terms with. Hey, you have this condition, I'm going to make it, I'm going to live with it and minimize it. That's step one's really completed. When you consolidate it with two, you could work with step one a long time. Yeah, yeah, how do we turn the corner that, okay, this is a problem, but I'm going to move forward. The problems might the condition of my mind without drugs, and I'm always going to be defenseless to a relapse. How does this end? And you come to terms with that that you're going to have to do something really radical to change this. How does this end up?

Speaker 2:

Well, you know society. Society made it end for me. Some things happened where you know, I left school again, I ended up getting into a relationship with the woman who's now my wife and I had a. She got pregnant. So there were expectations and responsibilities placed on me and it was important for me to really be able to uphold those, because that was one of the things that had molded me, in absence of in my life.

Speaker 1:

And you probably did. You have an idea your whole life if, when it comes time for you to be the dad, you did you have an idea that I'm gonna have a nuclear family.

Speaker 2:

I knew that that's what I wanted. Yeah, I had no idea what that would look like. So my template for that was, you know, to basically just do everything that I would have needed at that time, that I didn't have, and that's what I tried to do. But I got into some trouble on a few occasions and, long story short, without really getting getting into all of it, I was placed on Lackawanna County treatment court and I remember being in the lady's office at the time and her saying to me you know, you can't use drugs anymore or there's going to be consequences that I'm thinking to myself like wait a second, what did I just sign? What did I just sign myself up for? I don't know how to live on a daily basis without these. So it was pretty scary and, as you can imagine, my first few months in the program were awful, you know, and it was just me in and out of consequences and people saying you can't do this and me not listening and them punishing me again. So there was just a lot of punishment in the beginning and finally they had had enough with me not listening to the rules that they'd set forth and they sent me to a 14 month drug and alcohol treatment program, and this is 14 months yeah, 14 months, and this is really where I could point if I could point anywhere to say this is where my life began to change, is this a blame a lot.

Speaker 1:

No, no this was it?

Speaker 2:

was it's cool. Who else is putting 14 months back? Yes, it was called Teen Challenge.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, oh, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it was. It was a really really intense yeah, really intense program, really Christian program. I was fortunate to meet a lot of good people.

Speaker 1:

Were you a Christian, then Would you consider yourself a Christian or was that kind of? Was it alarming that it was religious based?

Speaker 2:

So what was alarming to me was some of the overt acts. When I went in, like my first day of going into their chapel, they called it there was. There's a lot of charismatic things going on. They were not dancing with snakes, or Well, there was no snakes, but they were dancing, you know and and I was just like I don't know that I can do this Were you raised Catholic? Yeah, that's.

Speaker 1:

That's pretty abrasive, like it's intense when you're Catholic. We don't even touch each other, we just a little handshake at the Eucharist.

Speaker 2:

It was tough and I remember at the time my mother had taken me because at that point really that was all I had left was, was just her. Everyone else was just like let me stay as far away from the skies as I can, but I remember looking at her and saying I don't know that I could do this. You know, I think maybe the alternative, which would have been probably prison, would have been better at that time, you know when, I was looking around I was like, yeah, I don't think I could do this. But you know, I also didn't want to go to prison. Let's be honest, that wasn't something that appealed to me. So you sound like you're RP McMurphy right now one clue over there, you're just hiding in a Christian camp, right, right, right so so, yeah, that that's that's what I did, and and I tried my best to, you know, just for the first time ever, follow rules and directions and listen to them. And it was intense, like it was in the summer of 2014 and it was hot and I was out in Pittsburgh. It was at their Rearsburg campus. It was right outside Pittsburgh and every day we used to have to get up and weed whack a cemetery like that was my job every morning. I'd get up at 7am and take a bus and I'd go weed whack all day, and some of the most interesting things you know happened to me at that time because I was able to really take a look with that forced sobriety and see like, okay, where am I, what am I doing, how did I get here, you know, and just have some of that quiet time to figure out who I was, how I'd gotten there and how do I change some things moving forward.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was able to find, you know, some some forced sobriety, but but I was disciplined first, right, yeah, you know most alcoholics myself you we have no discipline at the end of an addiction, right? So even the structure waking up at 7am being part of a day, the day shift of life, yeah, that's substantial. Yeah, that does make big differences. Was there 12-step oriented activities there?

Speaker 2:

no, no. So that's what I was just about to get into my time there. I would look at it more as like a quiet or silent reflection of everything that had happened over the previous, you know, six years and, and some of it good and some of it bad. But I was forced to really take a look at it, right? Because no longer could I say to people that you know I was doing this and and even though I was a mess, I was eventually going to find some success, I promise. You know, I just had to let everything fall all around me and say this is who I am, you know I'm, I'm, I'm an alcoholic and I need to figure some of this stuff out. So that was the first part of that program was very work intensive. The second part is where, you know, things really started to click for me in how I was going to build my life. Moving forward. I went out to this campus actually I think this was Rearsburg, it's right outside of Reading, the one in Pittsburgh, I forget what it was called. It wasn't Rearsburg. Rearsburg is outside of Reading. That's where you went. For the second part was eight months and you would get a job there and my job was to go around to flea markets and Sam's Clubs and Walmarts and sell Christian coffee and novelty items. So, like, I was the guy at the flea market with, like, the crosses and the bags of coffee, and I'd be talking about the coffee, because they made their own brand of coffee so I'd be, you know, slinging this coffee all day at flea markets. But but probably the biggest day that I could remember there was when I had to go sell my coffee and novelty items at a Sam's Club outside of Harrisburg where, the year prior, I had just been in law school and I ran into people that had still, you know, been to school and and it was huge. It was huge for me because I was so fearful, you know, and I was so embarrassed and I felt naked to the entire world. But it was so important for me to just say this is who I am. Well, this is where I'm at in my process, and until I could admit those truths to myself, I can't move forward.

Speaker 1:

Wow, there's so I was gonna. I wanted to ask you about this, but you just know this whole scenario how would you describe to someone who maybe wouldn't understand, okay, who would experience embarrassment from that situation? But we both know some humbling experiences create strength that is very unlikely to disappear again that you, there's something fundamental happening like a change your powers, not coming from position or status. That's coming from what you think about yourself. Is that what you're describing?

Speaker 2:

yeah, I mean there was just there was no more room for interpretation. This is who I was. I had to admit it to myself and I had to admit it to others, you know. And I was for the first time, at peace and not having to lie you know about who I was, or try and build this facade to say, hey, I'm eventually gonna be this, it was. This is where I'm at. The choices in my life that I've made thus far have gotten me to this place where I am now, you know, accepting donations and selling coffee at Sam's Club outside of Harrisburg, and for better or worse, that's where I'm at dude, you never told me this, so like it makes a lot of things gel and crystallize in my head of what I've seen over the last year when you've done with your business yeah, your current business wow, that's, that's.

Speaker 1:

That's inspiring, because I've had similar situations. I know those situations before I was ready. They were real painful and it took me out of a fantasy life that was protecting me and I wasn't ready, and other times it just put like some fucking hard bark on my spine. I'm like, no, I'm gonna be alright, this is who I am. Fantasy doesn't offer refuge to me anymore yeah, yeah and no.

Speaker 2:

That. That was that exactly. You couldn't have summed it up better. I had to live in the moment, with where I was at and at the same time that I was going out to these places and and selling this, the coffee and novelty items and everything. I was also reading a book, because it wasn't very 12 step related, just like you said, but I had a lot of time in in chapels and reflecting on my life and I read a book called failing forward. Okay, and, and I'll never, I'll never forget it, because it changed my whole perception of what failure meant. And failure doesn't have to be the end. It could be the springboard to something new, so that, along with you know, selling these items and finding success. With that. I mean, they used to pay us a percentage at the rehab of what we would sell. They actually had to cut it down a few times because of you, volume, incredible, volume, medieval, incredible amounts of coffee. So, you know, but but for the first time in my life not in my life, but for the first time in many years I'd found success again and was able to say, like, hey, there are some things that that I can do. That may not be what I said I was going to be, but I'm going to be okay, you know. Like if I'm not, you know, a lawyer in Scranton, pennsylvania, and I don't run my life similar to those that I've looked up to, I'm going to be okay, that's okay. Like that's not the end, it's not complete failure. And that's kind of where I was at getting out of this program, fast forward and saying I, you know, I graduated from this program in July of 2015, you know. So I completed the 14 months, which was great for me because I quit everything up into that point. I couldn't complete anything. So I was starting to build some confidence, you know, and and I had, I had a kid, you know nine months, nine, ten months prior. That made everything, you know, real. That, like I had to, I had to get it at this time because, before I could, I could really love myself again. I had my oldest son's names, nico, and I had him, you know, to really find my strength from to say you know, I need to do this because he doesn't need to live the same life that I did. He needs and deserves better. So that's, that's what I I set out to do, you know?

Speaker 1:

yeah, that's um, there's no better reason yeah, no better reason. You always hear the cliche that you gotta do it for yourself. I don't kind of still grosses me out. I wanted to do it for my wife, who was, it'll be, who I want it to be engaged with. I want to do it for my family and In the midst of wanting it for those people, I find myself Mm-hmm. I don't know what that other statement fully means. There's no sense of self to me without others like so, without my connect, the connections I wanted to save. So you get sober and there's a, there's a permanence to this. Let's skip around a little bit to the sense. Your first two years of true sobriety. You start to approach a professional life. You have a knack and and strong abilities and sales, talking to people, sincerity. How does that? How does that go before you develop the current business you have now? What was the driving force to make your own business?

Speaker 2:

Well, just so I was at. I was at this place where I had Really started to find some success financial success and put some pieces of my life together. But I was also at a place that was successful in spite of itself. It wasn't very well run, you know. There were a lot of issues with it on a daily basis and I started to look at it from the big picture and say like, hey, you know, I can not only do this, but I could treat the, the components in it, a little bit better, because the salesman who most were in recovery Weren't weren't valued and weren't treated that well. So I kind of wanted to take that model Like remember the BASF commercials back in the early 90s where it was like we don't make the products you buy, we make the products you buy better.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I have a big recollection. Oh yeah, I was thinking a team America.

Speaker 2:

That that's where I was kind of at with it, where I was like okay, so there's, there's this business and I see, I See the demand for it, I see the market it's robust, but let's, let's fix the flaws and clean it up and, you know, treat people with integrity and treat people in recovery with kindness. We don't need to treat them as though their possessions are, or we don't need to abuse them or cut them down. And that was really the basis of of of Forming the idea of how it was going to build my own business and just knowing what sells, knowing what the market is, knowing what not to do, and then knowing you know that we, I, could do better in how I treat people, especially those in recovery, because so you start it with.

Speaker 1:

A large population Of your team was in recovery and I've watched you, your management style. We were in a property together for about a year, mm-hmm, and I was inspired and I was like holy shit, wow, he gets it. Because like I didn't know you all too well and Just watching that I was like he gets, he gets. How to keep a team, mm-hmm support a population that will. It's just so loyal to you and you. Everyone is kind of autonomous. You treat everyone like an independent entrepreneur with their accounts, and your business grew exponentially like four or five times over the year to a national distribution Center yeah, for tools, and I was. I was just astonished and it goes to say a lot about not only your personality but your management style in a business that might have been dated and gruff and Not open to the ideas of treating people with more than dignity, treating the men's like you know they have a say or or a partnership or whatever you way you would want to describe it. I think that was the, the success. That was just obvious to me, seeing it all the time. What has happened in the last year?

Speaker 2:

Well, um, so you know I'd left where I was at and, uh, you know, did so on my own and just saying like this is, this is what I'm gonna do. But what was really important to move back from that was was meeting the people that I had in the time to make all this possible. I had some friends that we have in common in in recovery and and while going through the steps and everything, we just have some side conversations about. You know where I was at, um, as far as my career was concerned, what I wanted to do, moving forward, and it began the basis of of what I'm now my company, now, um, but I don't think I would be able to do it without having met the people. Um that I did during that time. You know they just they helped me, um Well, from a financial perspective, obviously, but also in planning, like to build a business. There were so many things that were needed that I didn't even know about as far as like insurance and taxes and accountants and one of our friends is like probably the most intimidating person I've ever met in my life because he's so incredibly intelligent and that I say that to say sobriety comes into the picture here, um, and, and some of the things that I've been taught, that I had to lean back on because I was so afraid of this guy's intellect that I was just like, wait, you know, the mistrusting alcoholic side of me is just like Is something going to, you know, gonna come negative from this? Is you gonna take something from me?

Speaker 1:

And I had to.

Speaker 2:

You know, take the leap of faith and trust and say these are good people and and they're going to to help me. And that's exactly you know what?

Speaker 1:

happened. I get, I get that I've. I've been around people and or in relationships business-wise, where you know, I feel outmatched intellectually, but I always put myself in the position Sure, I can get screwed, I'll find out. I found out after, because once I start planning not to be screwed, you're the guy doing the screw, right, right.

Speaker 2:

But I think that comes from recovery, right Like yeah it does you let go release of fear and saying like this is all in God's plan and what's going to happen is going to happen and I'm going to be okay with that. I'm not going to be the no, and you have the moments.

Speaker 1:

You described it. I have my moments where I'm back or you're back at sam's club and I was okay then and I'm going to be okay again, and my motive wasn't something I didn't even understand happened, yet like Stoicism. Lets me go back and say my kids matter, my health matters, I'm going to be fine. This is. This is a fun game and I'm going to, I'm going to play it with my. You know my code, my moral code.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that that's. That's really, um, how I've tried to, how I tried to look at it then and measure it then, and now I would say it has been the greatest blessing, um, I could possibly have, like the people that I've met, not just from a business perspective but recovery and friendship I've made. I've met such a tremendous group of people over the last two, three years and you know it's all too cliche, but you always hear from people like that. You know, uh, what is it? Water rises to their level or something, something along those lines to where the, the group that you surround yourself with, the people that you're surrounding yourself with on a daily basis, are those that you're most Likely to meet and be like. And I try and surround myself with guys like you know yourself, and and and the rest.

Speaker 1:

You'll end up a weirdo man.

Speaker 2:

And and the rest of the group that that we're surrounded with. I just think it's it's such a good group of people.

Speaker 1:

It's it's the way kids learn. It's the way you, you stay who you are. You know there's parts of your brain I don't know if you ever you ever read about mirror neurons. That's how we you know for like eight years of your life. You're just replicating what's around you and this is how mammals learn. It's how they learn, um, how to smile like if I smiled at you as a stranger, you would, you might prompt a smile back and you, you're not thinking I'm gonna smile. It's these mirror neurons in your brain just replicate with what they're seeing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And I. I like being surrounded by people, I trust. I don't want to be around like I worked in politics for a while. I can't do it anymore. I don't want to have an adversarial position. I don't need to. I just want to be An observer or create nice things, and what you've done in the last year or two years has inspired me. That it's like, yeah, that's what it's about. You're created something that's not only providing for dozens of people and then their families. You're doing it in a way that is fun, enjoyable, it's rewarding, it's admirable and it's obvious when you watch the way you operate your business.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thank you. I try and once again look to the past and see, okay, what didn't work, what hurt people, what pushed people away. I understand how important your sense of self needs to be in recovery, so I never try and do anything that's going to hinder my salesman's sense of self. I want them to feel empowered, I want them to feel special, I want them to feel talented, because at the end of the day, they are. I mean, I'm fortunate to have had such a tremendous group of guys come on board with me that I'm able to give them their leeway to do and operate in the fashion that they see fit, which is good for me because I don't ever really have to be the overall dictator or bad guy. Sometimes I do have to weigh in a little bit more.

Speaker 1:

I guess, not to make it all rosy, there's got to be some complexities or distressing issues that can rise with being so close to recovery of population. It's your community. And when you're hiring guys, how have you walked that line? When, say, there's an issue that's just work related and it's not recovery related and there's a struggle there, or there's personal concerns and maybe they're really doing well at business, at your business, has there been all of those kind of dimensions happening? That's a complex hat to switch.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, of course, and I think what's most important there is you have to stay in your lane. If I'm helping this guy with his recovery and there's some recovery related issues, I'm going to help him there and I'm not going to allow that to spill over into work. If there's some work related issues, I'm not going to allow that to spill over into recovery. I need to keep everything and this is one of the lessons I've had to learn in the last 18 months where we have to all keep it in its place in its lane. Keep work related issues with where they are. We'll keep recovery related issues where they are, personal issues where they are, because don't forget a lot of these guys who are now my employees. We're all very good friends of mine for a long time, so I've had to learn that new dynamic as well, to say like, yeah, I care about these guys tremendously, I'm close with them, they're close with my families, but there comes a time where I have to, you know, I don't want to say lay down the law, but just set the new path for where we're going and expect them to carry it out, reinforce the norms and the form of the business, and then everyone seems to have a chance to express anything else outside of that too. Yeah, we allow for a lot of creativity, as long as it's within the bounds of what we're trying to do. I try, when I bring a new guy in, I try and explain it to him. In this sense, I want them to feel as though they're operating their own business, their own book of business, under the confines of my business. So you know, I want them to have the freedom to be able to operate within my set of rules. And that's become more important as we move forward here, because you know, as you've mentioned, we opened up two more offices throughout the United States within the past seven, eight months.

Speaker 1:

That's very exciting. I've seen the guys that I was able to help get placed the sense of self-esteem, a sense of professionalism come back to them with your management and your guidance. A sense of loyalty, commitment and then the guys who've left that job leaving on the right terms, putting in a notice you don't leave your job until you have a new one Just all the fundamental things that helps A guy that's been broken for a couple years re-enter. That was in the beginning and I watched you shepherd and help these guys realize this is how you work for a full day again.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. Like you said before when we were talking about the whole deal in Pittsburgh, you have to relearn everything. You need to relearn life at its most basic level. Okay, guys, this is called work. This is what we do. It's great to do that, you're reborn.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it is Not to be a Christian, I'm just saying there's a rebirth. If I could just stop and start over the base of my life again and I did that again at 40. I've been in this position before, but it's liberating to say maybe these ideas were really deeper than the bad ones I had on what I can do for work, who I am, what I'm capable of doing. Why can't I start? Where is my humility? Why don't I start a little farther down? Maybe I can't handle what I think I could, but if I gave myself even a year or a little time to rebuild something, you can't be good at something if you don't start from the base, the bottom, like you did with sales.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, and I think one of the things we were talking about before, with just the fear and being able to overcome some of that the fact that you've rebuilt your life or I haven't, and realize that I can, regardless of what happens, it keeps me at ease in knowing that the worst case scenario playing out in any situation in my life is okay, because I know how to rebuild and I know how to just start from the bottom and build things back up, moving forward. So it's a great piece that could fall over me and knowing that, despite everything, I'm going to be okay. And I try and reinforce that amongst my guys as well because, like you said, a lot of them do come in broken, starting from the bottom. We want to give them that light in their eyes back, that ability to find success. And then, more importantly in recovery is to know how to handle success, like we want to be able to talk to them about that as well, because it brings in a new element of what could be a problem when they start to find success right.

Speaker 1:

It does, and it's usually. You know I could go into a lot of strange things. It's that driving narrative that's in your head that if it becomes too private it could get real shallow. It's not about abundance, the abundance that could care for others. It's about status or quelling the pain. Once I'm good enough, once I hit this mark, you know all my enemies will be washed with envy. The pool will represent that. This car will represent my. I diminish the demons that are. This is all in someone's head. All of your adversaries only live in your head, and when someone achieves success like that and they didn't really consider what that's a tool for, you could be in big trouble.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, for sure.

Speaker 1:

Because they haven't been vanquished. You still feel empty. You might not find the right girl or you didn't have enough. The car's just not doing it. It's sad to see it because you work so hard to get there and that's meaningful tokens of some. But there's got to be a deeper sense of that. I know you've experienced that and I've experienced that the plan's got to be bigger. I think some people's plans just not big enough when they get there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, you know, and it's not thinking that you've arrived and always striving to know that you could do better. But I think really the most important, for me at least, has been the ability to surround myself with people that are going to constantly humble me. I have people that I call all the time in recovery. They keep me in check and, rather than just hearing about how well I'm doing, they'll ask me the challenging questions that have to bring my problems to the forefront and start to address them. So if I can continue, to you know it's good.

Speaker 1:

I need that we both have the same. What are the same calls I make? I'll call you know, a sponsor, my friend. Hey, I'm, you know I've been bickering a lot with my wife. He's like, well, what'd you do last week to help her? Like, who else in your life is going to say something like that, besides a real recovery relationship that could challenge it? He didn't even ask me what the problem was. He's like what'd you do to help her? Like, how much did you help her last week? And I'm like, fuck man, can't even let me at least bitch for two minutes.

Speaker 2:

I just want to vent for right now. We can get to the solution later.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so that's good. I need that. I don't need any more shortcuts. I'm too old and the consequences are too high. I want to do more interesting things and I know you do, tony, is there anything I should have asked you, that I didn't, or any parting words?

Speaker 2:

No, I don't know. I mean I don't think. So I think we went over basically everything that we could have to this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I would love for you to come back, especially if there's some updates in the school board Recovery and politics We'll have to talk about. Local politics is where it all happens, baby and congratulations, tony. Just you just won right.

Speaker 2:

Well in the primary, in the primary, in the general, to go to Well, primaries in this area are the win right. No, it's not. Look, it's a win. Everything at this point right now is a win. The fact that I'm humbled every day to think, you know, I have a guy that puts you've seen it, he puts my signs everywhere. It's like overkill. But I drive home and I look at that and I see like where I'd been, you know, eight to 10 years ago and thinking like how is this possible that I've signs all throughout this area?

Speaker 1:

Riverside school district. Yeah for the school board?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and just that the people are even allowing me this opportunity. You know it's humbling and it means a great deal to me because you know, if you look back, that I just never thought that would have been the case, you know. So I think it's a testament to you know, the sobriety we have in this area and the people that have really helped me in my life on a daily basis. And also, you know, the other side of that is the forgiveness that we've experienced in the acceptance as an entire community Right, because this isn't 2008 anymore. Now you have people that were in recovery and we can really do things without any kind of related stigma and it's nice, you know. It's really nice for all of us. But someone that's struggling right now to say like, hey, I can do some pretty incredible things, I'm not going to be held back because people feel a certain way about me in this area. So I think that's remarkable.

Speaker 1:

You could measure the jumps and leaps in progress from stigma and treatment options just in our lifetimes, just in our adult lifetimes. So I think we're moving in a good direction. Yeah, all right. Well, that was Tony Maddie always.

Speaker 2:

All right. Thank you, joe, I appreciate it very much.

Speaker 1:

I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of All Better. You can find us on allbetterfm or listen to us on Apple Podcasts, spotify, google Podcasts, stitcher, iheartradio and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer, john Edwards, an engineering company, 570 Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, facebook, instagram or Twitter and, if you're not, on social media you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. Remember, just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right.

Entrepreneurship and Recovery
Positive Male Influences and Opiate Addiction
Acceptance and the Path to Recovery
Overcoming Addiction and Rebuilding Life
Finding Strength and Success in Adversity
Connections in Recovery and Business
Lessons Learned in Recovery and Success
All Better - Thanks for Listening