216 A Father and Business Owner’s Journey after Cancer Diagnosis – Paul Blais

What You Will Hear:

  • A father, life-long entrepreneur's story changing business due to health challenge;
  • Fulfilling a dream after cancer diagnosis;
  • Health challenge and starting an online business.

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More about our featured guest

A lifelong entrepreneur and an electrical contractor for the past twelve years, a health scare thrust him into the necessity of a career and lifestyle change. As he explains on the show, the battle he was waging against a cancer diagnosis wore on his body and his finances and brought to him a sobering revelation – that procrastination was no longer an option; someday, was today. The dream of becoming a writer and a speaker could no longer wait until “some day”. Because, in his own words, he didn't know how many “some days” he had left.

Host of Doubt the Doubts and The Potter's Cast, Paul Blais, is our gracious guest. He shares his journey of physical, emotional healing and a new business startup.

Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to ReLaunch. This is the best show you'll ever hear for career changers, difference makers, and those with a dream. And if this is your first time listening to us, your first visit to the ReLaunch nation, thank you. You are among friends. And if you're a frequent listener to the ReLaunch show, again thank you. And joining us on the show today is the host of “Doubt the Doubts”, and “The Potters Cast”, both excellent podcasts. Definitely look those up on iTunes. And lifelong learner and writer Paul Blais, is joining us on today's show. Welcome, welcome to ReLaunch.

[00:48] Paul Blais: Joel and Pei, I'm so glad to be on your show. I especially like your intro when you said that, “You are among friends.” I like that. I'm glad to be hanging out with some friends today. [laughter]

[00:59] Joel: Absolutely. If there's one thing that we all need more of, it's more friends.

[01:04] PB: You can't get enough of friends. You're absolutely right.

[01:06] Joel: You really can't, and you'll find a ton of them in the ReLaunch nation. Paul, usually on our show, I ask our guests to talk about their ReLaunch that has been the most significant, or has been the most transformational for them. And then, kind of unfold the story from there, and we've all been through a lot of launches, and relaunches, things that worked, and things that didn't work, and things that we needed to try again. But if it's okay with you Paul, I'd like to talk about what happened on last year, February 11, 2013? Something significant happened in your life. And then we can just unfold the story, and the podcast, and how it all came to be, from there, if that's okay with you.

[01:55] PB: Oh, it's all good with me. Whatever you wanna talk about, I'm ready to talk.

[01:59] Joel: Okay, fantastic. So what happened on that day?

[02:03] PB: Yeah, that was one of those game changer days, for me Joel and Pei, is that I had been having some issues with my body that were disconcerting. And so, I went to see a doctor on a Sunday morning because it had kinda come to a climax, and when I got to the doctor, they looked at me, they said, “Well, more than likely Paul, you're too young for the issues that you're worried about,” which was, I was worried that I was gonna die of cancer, or something stupid like that, because I'd had some blood in my urine and he was… And the doctor said that, there's just no way that that's the issue for me, because I'm too young, and that I'm also not a smoker. So, those reasons right there puts me in this other category, that is like, “More than likely I'm gonna be passing some kidney stones,” and that terrified me, 'cause there's not a whole lot of ways to get rid of kidney stones out of your bladder, there's only one conduit for that and I was not thrilled about that, 'cause I've heard some terrible horror stories of what that's like. So, they wanted to do a quick glance inside my bladder, and what the doctor had said, it was mostly just to see if there's any lacerations in there. And so, when he did the exam which there's also only one effective way into the bladder, and without causing any… Doing any surgery, which is through a scope. And so, when they put the scope up in through that conduit, it comes inside my bladder…

[03:43] Joel: Got it.

[03:44] PB: And there was an enormous… There was an enormous tumor that was growing inside my bladder, and their first concern of saying that, “There's no way it could be cancer,” turned out that, there was nothing else but cancer causing the problem.

[03:56] Joel: Wow!

[03:58] PB: And then, that kind of changed… That's a world changer, when I had… When I was younger, I've always heard of those stories of, when the big “C” word dropped in someone's life, and it changes, and I've heard that various friends, I've heard people say, “Yeah, this is radical, that to have that told to you.” I had two things, one I saw it, and then secondly I heard it. And all of those years of imagining what that would be like, not that I spent that much time thinking about it, but vicariously through friends…

[04:41] Joel: Sure.

[04:42] PB: Did not prepare me for what it was really like. When I heard those words from my doctor when he said, “Oh, you have cancer.” I immediately wanted to crawl up in a ball, and hide underneath the bed somewhere, and try to hide from a boogeyman, but there was no place to hide, especially when the boogeyman is inside of you.

[05:05] Joel: Hey, Paul, thank you. Thank you for that and I'm not gonna… I'm not going to pretend that I can understand what it was like to be experiencing those emotions at the time that you were. But for the sake of the show, can you help us get some kind of an understanding of the difference between hearing that your neighbor has cancer or one of your church friends has cancer, and then you feel your heart is heavy, and you say a prayer maybe, and you put your hand on someone's shoulder and kind of comfort them, and then you actually have that news delivered to you. I wasn't there, and again, I'm not pretending to know what it felt like, but can you give us a little bit of the understanding from your side?

[06:02] PB: Yeah, the difference. The difference between hearing someone else's tragedy, and living your own tragedy, is night and day. I have literally sat in hospitals, when parents have sat… When they got the news that there was a hole in their son's heart and they needed someone to come and just sit with them, and I sat for hours and hours with them. I got to go home at the end of the day. They stayed in the hospital. I've been in the rooms where someone else was diagnosed with cancer, and now they're sitting at home and they were devastated. They needed someone to come over, and do what you've suggested. They need someone that could just love on them, pray for them, be there for them. I'd go and I'd sit with them. I'd talk to them. I'd try to offer them hope, and I'd feel for them. I'd even cry with them, but then I'd get to go home, and I was done. They didn't get to leave their cancer behind. Those people whose dad committed suicide, or their son committed suicide, and that's heart breaking to go through that, and I've been there to hold the family's hands, and to hug them and care for them, but I got to go home afterwards.

[07:11] PB: When I was diagnosed, I still got to go home, but it came with me. There was no hiding from it. There was no getting distracted from it. It was ever present, and some of it still hasn't gone away yet either. I'm not out of the woods. I have to be checked every three months because it's got such a huge likelihood of coming back. I'm back in treatment this month. I have three weeks of treatment that I have to go through. The fear-factor is enormous. The things that I took for granted, which was old age, which was walking my daughter down the aisle, which was being there for my son, being at his wedding, giving him advice when he needs it, when he can appreciate it, 'cause he's at that age where dad's advice isn't all that valuable.

[08:04] Joel: How old are your kids right now?

[08:06] PB: My son is 20… He's gonna be 21 in November. My daughter is 18.

[08:11] Joel: Okay, wow!

[08:12] PB: And then, also just that other life partner, my wife that I… Oh my goodness. I've always dreamed of growing old, and I've been with her… We've been together for years, from the 20s on, and here we are now. I am contemplating that she may not be able to have a husband, me as her husband at least, when she's in her 60s and 70s and 80s. Those are the things that cause a lot of discomfort in mind and soul. I assumed those things would be available, even though there's a theoretical, “Yeah, you could die tomorrow.” But those are all theories.

[09:00] Joel: Sure.

[09:02] PB: When you're faced with it in reality, it's like, “Whoa!” It really makes you think in a much deeper way.

[09:10] Joel: Sure. Go ahead Pei.

[09:10] Pei: So Paul, up to that moment when you were diagnosed, give our listeners a kind of an overall view of what's your life like in professional-wise, personal-wise.

[09:28] PB: Yeah. So how it's changed my life as a result of that? So the business that I owned before cancer, was an electrical contracting business where I had very defined goals of what was gonna happen with that business. I had a business that was divided into three categories. I had a commercial part of it, a residential part of it, and I also had a low-voltage part of it. My business did mostly high-end housing, very [09:58] ____ houses, where it was very expensive for me to walk into their house. So, that was what I had for an income. But, I also had a business that was the business that required me to be there, physically. I physically had to show up on the job sites. I physically had to show up for consultations. I had to be there for that business to work. The thing that changed radically, was that as a result of that business needing me to be there, it did not do well when I wasn't there. And so the business really took a huge punch-in-the-nose basically. And because I basically was off, out of contact, for about nine months that year in 2013. Here I am again, in 2014, and I am off for another month this year, and I'll do so; for every year, I'll be for two months as I go through treatment.

[11:05] PB: So, it's completely changed my ability to be able to go out and just work hard and earn a living with my body. It's just not gonna happen for a little while, for three years anyhow. So, I do have that. So, I do have like a six-month opportunity between treatments, where I should be able to work and do stuff, but with the business having been in shambles, life's been kind of thrown in a huge topsy-turvey state. It's hard to find contractors who wants to hire you, when there may or may not be an electrician, at one part of the job or another. So, people have not trusted, to be able to give me their houses to wire, and then to go find someone else, to let me go do the work for them. There's not a lot of businesses that say, “Yeah, we'll hire you and we'll give you two months a year off. No problem.” [chuckle] So it's really turned the world upside down for us.

[12:02] Joel: One of the reasons that I wanted to have you on the show, Paul, and there's no way we have enough time in your schedule or in this show's schedule to really do justice to this full story. And this is still a developing story, and we pray for a happy ending as you and your family do as well, but talk about if you would, Paul, how it really triggered some things in you. And just please humor us as we kind of fast forward a little bit, because one of the things that impressed me, is that, not the news that was delivered to you, but how it triggered something in your spirit. Something that for whatever reason, you've been waiting to do, it's like, “Well someday I'll do this.” Or, “Someday I'll do that.” And you know what? We all have the “someday” blues, at some level. A lot of us, we put off, “Well, I'll do that next week, next month, next year.” Or, “I'll do that when he's married, when she's married, when he leaves, when he comes.” But obviously, because you were faced with your own mortality, is the way you put it on your website, that has created a different way of looking at things. So take it from there, if you would please.

[13:32] PB: Yeah, I had a guest on my show Sean Ogle, which I believe was episode 60 if I'm not mistaken. But anyhow, Sean Ogle had this line that I thought was absolutely brilliant. He said to me, he said, “Paul there are seven days in a week, and Someday is not one of them.” That little line has so stuck in my brain. It summed up, kind of, what I was feeling months before. He said it so succinctly in that line, but that was the way I'd been living my life. I had always been… Pei and Joel, I had always been thinking, even with my business, that was doing relatively well, I always kept thinking that there was something else that I wanted to do. The business was supposed to be a fallback thing, not a main thing.

[14:24] Joel: Okay.

[14:24] PB: My dream was to be a full-time speaker, and a full-time writer, those were the things that I longed to do. I kept thinking, “Well, someday, I'll do it.” And I even came up with various plans that were designed around that idea of, “Someday I will do this.”

[14:40] Pei: So up till then, when did you think you would wanna do it, like when you retired from the electrical contracting work?

[14:50] PB: Yeah, that's a great question Pei. What I was thinking was, I was going to develop my… Part one, specific part of my business, which was the security monitoring part of the business. I was gonna develop that to the point where I could turn that thing around, and… Well, not turn it around, but build it to a point where I could turn around and sell it. Because there is a lot of money in that list of customers. So that was the plan, and I had a strategy in place, and I was ready to start interviewing someone to take over that part of the business and develop it. It turns out, it didn't happen that way, but my goal was, two years of continuing in the business. Then I would sell it, and then I would have seed money to be able to go out… So that was my basic plan, after living for years thinking, “Someday.” ‘Cause that was a dream of mine, since I was a teenager, and I kept always never quite attaining it, or actually even going for it, is the right word. Pursuing it, so…

[15:51] PB: So that was when the diagnosis came, that's when I realized, “I've got to make a change now, because I may not be there.” In fact, at that point, I thought that I may not… I probably wouldn't be surviving. Well, I didn't know. I was told maybe 18 months on the bad side.

[16:08] Joel: What stage was it, by the way? And I'm not a… I don't know a whole lot about cancer, but I kinda know how the stages work.

[16:15] PB: Yes, staging… It was Stage One, high-grade. So a good stage [16:22] ____ cancer.

[16:25] Pei: Good, good.

[16:25] PB: It was… I was very fortunate that something as large as it had grown, had not grown into the bladder wall, I was very fortunate for that.

[16:37] Joel: Okay, when we're talking about cancer of the bladder, that's what we're talking about correct?

[16:42] PB: Yeah, it was cancer of the bladder, yeah.

[16:45] Joel: Okay, so when you say it had grown large, I'm not trying to make light of this, I am really trying to understand the situation that you were in. What does grown large mean in relation to that form of cancer?

[17:01] PB: Well, large… [chuckle] It was about the size of an orange.

[17:07] Joel: Okay, that I understand, that's large.

[17:10] PB: Yeah, it was pretty massive. And it was very disorganized, which is what's so dangerous when the cancer is high-grade. A disorganized cancer is not good. And yeah, so that's what it was, it was a large tumor growing, and it wasn't just… Anyhow, I don't wanna go into too many details.

[17:32] Joel: Sure, sure, I gotcha.

[17:34] PB: And it had a big vascular system feeding it, and so we caught it probably at the right time, if it had gone much longer, I don't know what would've happened. So…

[17:47] Joel: Okay, so it triggered in you…

[17:50] PB: Yeah, it triggered in me that I had to do something different. And so, that was when I started looking at different opportunities of where I could be. I could make a living without my body having to be healthy. For instance, right now, I'm not at a place where I can go to work, 'cause I'm in the middle of the treatment. And just remove anybody's paycheck for nine months let alone… Two months a year, let alone nine months out of the year, that's pretty devastating and frustrating. So I started looking for different opportunities and that's when I happened to hear of this crazy man named John Lee Dumas.

[18:26] Joel: Crazy. Crazy!

[18:28] PB: Crazy dude! He had started this seven-day-a-week podcast, and was making six figures within six months. And I thought, “Well stink. I can do what he's doing.” I listened to what he was doing and I just thought, “I can do what he's doing.” Little did I know that there's so much that was going on under the surface. It's like the old image of the duck on the water. It looks like it's all calm and placid on the top but underneath the water his feet are going like crazy. And that's what John Lee Dumas is like. The guy has got so many things going on that, on the surface, if you just look at the surface, he is just a happy go lucky guy. But getting like, under the surface there's so many things happening. So to try to duplicate what he's done, has been quite the task.

[19:09] PB: So, I decided I was going to go into podcasting. So I went into podcasting. I tried to do everything just like John Lee Dumas had done it. I did it with a seven-day-a-week show. He was the first guy to do it. I was the second guy to do it. He was the first guy to be really successful. I was the second guy, that was not really successful. But part of it was because I was being a copycat. It's like Todd Henry says is that, “Cover bands never change the world.” And I was kind of being that cover band guy, trying to do what John did. And what I needed to do was do something like John did, but not what John did. And do what Paul would do, instead of what John would do. And so I did revamp the show. I did redo a whole deal. Instead of doing a scripted deal, like what John does, I've gotten away from that.

[20:03] PB: I now do very conversational interviews. We have a very, I have a longer show then he does. He does… And I no longer do seven-days-a-week, 'cause I don't see the value and the point of that for what I'm doing. So I've completely changed path. But that was… The point was that, I kind of had to do the mimic, until I could get to the point where I was just modeling, which is two totally different things, right? I had to figure out, how to do it. And some of that was just copying it. Then once I figured it out, “Oh, okay now I understand this better,” then I started doing my own gig. That's what totally changed, was trying to do it in my own way, and also trying to do it as a business venture, to where I could be able to make a living off of it.

[20:53] Pei: I love it. Obviously you are attracted to this podcasting model, not just because he made so much money out of it, but also that you for the longest time, you wanted to speak. You wanted to teach something.

[21:08] PB: Yes. Exactly. And Pei you are exactly right. There was two things. The biggest of them was it was going the direction that was of my dreams.

[21:19] Joel: Which is…

[21:21] PB: Speaking and writing.

[21:22] Joel: Oh sure, sure.

[21:23] PB: And then, the other part of the dream was, where I could make a living out of it. Now the first part is happening, 'cause I am speaking on basically it's a daily basis, minus the weekends. Or I'm speaking in public around the world, over 130 countries are listening to the podcast. 70,000 people I think, is gonna download the show today or 60,000 people will download the show today. So yeah, we're getting some pretty amazing traction with the podcast. So, yeah, I'm loving what it's doing and how it's doing. It's been a thrill to see that process take place.

[22:03] Pei: Wow!

[22:04] PB: And you're right. It is congruent with each other. It's trying to make a living in an area that is along with what I wanted to do to begin with. So yeah, [22:14] ____ you said.

[22:15] Pei: Right. And also, I think it's okay for us to try to, I hate to use that word “mimic,” but in the beginning…

[22:25] PB: You have to mimic, in the beginning if you don't know, right?

[22:31] Joel: Yeah. But the key is, you took action and you figured out, 'cause sometimes it takes us doing something to figure out what we don't wanna do something.

[22:39] Pei: Right.

[22:40] PB: Yes. Absolutely.

[22:43] PB: And one of the things is, Joel and Pei, is that, you hear a lot of times people talking about, you know, “I took massive action. I took massive action.” And it sounds so good that idea being able to throw around the word “massive,” and mingle it with that word “action.” And it sounds so impressive. But what that really means, is that what we have been doing is taking accumulative action. That we put a little bit of effort in there. A little bit here. A little bit there. There's no way I could have launched that show overnight. That would have been massive.

[23:17] PB: But what I did do, was when I started to think about it, I first off, I figured out what kind of equipment I would need to do that. And I determined, “Okay, well this is the equipment.” Then I started to compile that equipment, both from borrowing from friends, buying a few things. So that was part of the massive action that I did. Then the next thing I did, is I figured out where do you host a show like that? Or how do you build a website? And I just did a little bit more. A little bit there. And then I started working on how do I invite people? And I would do that. And it's like little by little by little by little I ended up being able to accomplish something that is pretty massive, but it was accumulative little steps. It's like a tree ring. A sequoia that gets to be… [chuckle] I can't even tell you the diameter, where you can get 20 people standing around the base, and they still can't stand hands with each other. A tree like that didn't get that big overnight.

[24:10] Joel: Mm-hmm.

[24:10] PB: It didn't get that massive overnight. But it did grow overnight. It grew just a little bit. And that little bit day in, day out, day in, day out, eventually becomes massive and that's what massive action is.

[24:23] Joel: You know what it reminds me of? Paul, it reminds me of a story I heard about a dad that added on a second storey to his house, but he did it one book at a time. And you and I are roughly the same age, so if you think back to the Time-Life book series… And you remember those books, you used to get one, a new one every month, and…

[24:45] PB: Oh yeah.

[24:46] Joel: If you had the Home Builder's Guide coming, you'd get one book on flooring, and then you'd learn how to lay a floor. Then the next week, you'd get a book about sheetrock, and then you'd put that up. And then you'd get one about fixtures, and so forth, and so on. And he would add that second floor on one book at a time. And I love how you took action on that, because I think a lot of times people with the best of intentions trick themselves into believing that, “You know, I've gotta be this overnight expert, or it's all for naught.”

[25:25] PB: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, the overnight expert can be the bane. Because we look at someone like Dumas, and we say, “That guy was an overnight success,” and the stinking truth is, is that that's not even close to reality. The guy was not an overnight success, he… I think it's from the time that he had the inception, the idea to the time, that he actually launched the show was I think nine months, I think, if I'm not mistaken…

[25:51] Joel: Okay, sounds about right.

[25:54] PB: And it might be that it was like nine months from the time of inception to the time that he actually earned the first penny off of it. But I think it was the other way around. I could be wrong on that. The other thing is, is that the man invested $13,000 before he ever launched one episode. The guy spent a lot of money, working his tail off, for a long time, behind the scenes, before we ever knew who John Lee Dumas was.

[26:25] Pei: Absolutely.

[26:28] Joel: You've got to do that, you've got to put in the sweat equity.

[26:31] Pei: Yeah.

[26:32] PB: Yeah, yeah.

[26:33] Joel: You've gotta put in the hours. And some people will say, “You've gotta put in a good 10,000 hours to get rock-star good at something.” And it might be a little bit more, it might be a little bit less, depending on who you ask, but you've got to put in those unglamorous hours. One of my favorite football players, Roger Staubach, said “Glamorous moments are made up of hours and hours of unglamorous practice.”


[27:01] PB: Yes.

[27:02] Joel: Or something to that effect. Paul, I really appreciate your time here with us today and I wanna respect your time. And I want to give people some ideas, some tips, some techniques maybe, about how they can start saying “Yes” to what's most important to them, just like you learned to say “Yes” when you were pretty much faced with your own, “Will I be here or not?” But some people are right there with you, some people may not be facing that today, but what can we talk to them about?

[27:44] PB: Okay, it's a great question. Let me give you a couple of points. Number one: Know. You gotta know what you want. If you don't know what you want, then you're never gonna get what you dream, right? Because…

[27:58] Joel: Right.

[28:00] PB: You haven't got it defined. It's really easy to think in vague terms, to think vaguely about these kinda brochure-y type of dreams. We see the brochure…

[28:12] Pei: The magazine covers…

[28:13] PB: Yeah, exactly. It's easy to do that. What we need to do, is really define it. Forget the brochures, start looking at the actual articles in the magazine, so to speak. Like you, Pei, you said, the cover of the magazine. I'm saying, “Get in there, read the article. Figure out… Write the bullet points of what it is your dream would look like.” And then, once you've done that, once you know what it is, then it's: Move. So, Know, and then Move. Move in the direction of that dream. It doesn't have to be like what we've talked about before, overnight, or, “If I can't do it know… ” You gotta start small. Take a little step here, and a little step there. The Chinese have got that great proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” And that's what that movement is. You're just taking one step towards it. So don't try to do one giant leap; instead do one small step. And you'll be way more effective then.

[29:17] PB: So number one is: You've got to know. Secondly: You've got to move. And thirdly: You've got to stay at it. The “stay at it” part is the part that is the grueling part. If you're gonna stay at it, I suggest get some buddies, get some friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever it is, get some people that are in your corner that are gonna cheer you on. ‘Cause there'll be plenty of days when you're gonna wanna quit. And that's okay, that's okay. When I say “Stay at it,” what I'm not saying is, “Never take a rest, never take a breather.” I'm not saying, “Don't pivot.” I'm not saying, “Don't be willing to change directions.” Those things all may have to happen. What I am saying is, “Don't give up. Don't quit. And so just keep moving. Even if you were going in the wrong direction.” I had this, a friend of mine say to me years ago. He said, “God can more easily direct a rolling stone, than He can a stationary stone.” So even if you are going in the wrong direction, just the process of movement itself, can help to get you even going into the right direction. You can be redirected.

[30:33] PB: So those three things, I think, are really critical, is that, you want to know what your dream is, you want to move towards your dream, and then you want to stick at it. John Dumas has got the one thing, that one line, the acronym, FOCUS is Follow One Course Until Success. And that's what I'm suggesting we ought to be doing.

[30:56] Joel: Awesome. Paul Blais is our guest today. “Doubt the Doubts”, is the name of the show. Also, he has another podcast, “The Potters Cast”, and it is all about his love for pottery, the Potters Cast is in. “Doubt the Doubts”, he picks the brains of some of the smartest people out there. Wantrepreneurs, isn't that what you call them, Paul, or?

[31:21] PB: One of the words. Now I just think they're just people who have a dream. [chuckle] That's what I think of them as, yes.

[31:28] Joel: Fantastic. Well of course, we'll include all of your social media hotspots and links in our broadcast show notes. Really appreciate your time today. We're gonna believe in a cancer-free Paul.

[31:41] PB: Thank you.

[31:42] Joel: And we just thank you for sharing your story with us here today on The ReLaunch Show. Have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your day. And God bless you, Paul.

[31:52] PB: May the Lord bless you, and lots of love to both of you.

Follow Paul on Twitter, Facebook, and visit his site.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

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