#30: Disabled entrepreneur
What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Episode 30
My name is John, I’m 38 years old, husband and father of two, small business owner, radio DJ, podcaster, and I have multiple sclerosis. I made this podcast to share what I’m going through.
Episode 30 of the What’s The Matter With Me? podcast revolves around promoting my brand at a trade show as a disabled entrepreneur with MS.
It was really fun and a major step forward for my business. Check out the episode for more.
Welcome to the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Episode 30: “Disabled Entrepreneur.” My name is John. I’m 38 years old, husband and father of two, small business owner, radio DJ, podcaster. And I have MS. I made this podcast to share what I’m going through.
Recap last episode. I was talking about shoelaces, and some listeners wrote me back on the What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Facebook page. That was cool. Thanks for hitting me up. I’m going to check out your suggestions. And then steroids. I took my MS drug Rituxan, and I had to take steroids. We had a little discussion about MS drug fatality risk. I talked about that I was going to the Winter Fancy Food Show. We’ll talk about it in a minute. It was cool. And then I played episode 3, the throwback episode. Check whatsthematterwithme.org.
I went to the Winter Fancy Food Show yesterday. It was a massive deal for Hoppin Hot Sauce first and foremost. But it was a big physical challenge for me as a person with MS. I had a lot of anxiety about it, leading up to it. I was also just doing a lot of work, so it was pretty stressful. I’m glad it’s over. I’m still decompressing. It was just yesterday. In fact, I’m kind of still in work mode. I’m sending invoices and filing stuff and getting ready to reach out again. So I guess it never ends, but Winter Fancy Food Show was great. We were set up in a row of young entrepreneurs. The guy on the right to me made a bunch of different kinds of hummus and interesting … he was Persian, interesting Persian products.
The partners on the other side were a man and a woman, and they made cookies out of tofu production secondary stream products. Which means stuff that’s usually a byproduct or a throwaway product. They used … they made it into flour, like some residue from soybean into flour. They wanted to make tortillas and all kinds of other bread products. But they make at this time cookies. That was cool to be next to them.
There were a lot of attendees walking by, thousands, throughout the day. We were in between Moscone North and South, kind of at the entrance of the hall in this kind of corridor, outside the elevator. Anyway, it had lots of people. It was a good location, because many people passed by and you could get them to sample the products. And so I’m a natural hawker. I’m like, “Hey, you.” Make eyes at people. They love me. I say stupid things. I’m great if you like a stupid hawker. I’m bad if you’re, like, wanting a highbrow afternoon. I’m not going to give it to you. I’m like to people … I’m like, “Hey, you know. I think you should probably try Hoppin Hot Sauce. It’ll change you.”
I just say … I think other people don’t say weird enough stuff, or they say boring thing. “Would you like to try?” I didn’t want to do that. I mean, how could I say that? I’m not that kind of guy. “Would you like to try a sample? Sample?” No, no. No. I’m just like, “Hoppin Hot Sauce will change you.” You know what I mean? If I don’t get them the first time, I’ll just be a little firmer. I didn’t hector or harangue anyone. I made a note beforehand, “Do not harass anyone walking by the way you know that you are just liable to do. No potshots. Highbrow only. Keep it clean.” Yeah, I did it. It was good.
There were some folks there, though. You know what I mean? A big old conference in San Francisco has some people looking of some type of way at the conference. It is great. There was a guy with crabs on his pants. I was like to Brook my assistant, helper, partner that day … I turned to her. I said, “Look, I think that man has crabs.” That’s the kind of day we had. We were just sampling hot sauce, chatting it up. I met lots of people. Crabs on his pants, you know what I’m saying? He had crabs on his pants.
I had a great time. I met buyers. I met vendors, manufacturers, and a lot of consumers. I learned a lot about what they thought about the sauce. It was like a giant focus group, a very useful one, full of professionals in the industry. Many people complimented me on the taste of the sauce and the appearance of my brand, marketing and labels, and stuff like that. My cousin made the table drape. Shout outs to My Media Designer. He made the table drape for me.
Brook helped me, and so it just was a really cool thing in that I met lots of people, and made lots of contact. And I kept my energy together by sitting down, by eating snack food, by drinking water. Brook really helped me with that. That allowed me to talk to people and represent the brand and sell the product. I had to take two potty breaks, and the bathroom was really close, right across the walkway. So that was simple. Thank goodness. It was a great opportunity to show what I had, and I had something. I love to talk to people. I could do that all day.
So thanks to Brook. Thanks to Manny. Thanks to my mom. Thanks to Nami. Thanks to KitchenTown. I managed to do it. My team was strong. Thanks to Cobra Verde. We all put it together and linked and came together like Voltron. I loved it. I loved it. And we were all in the head together making all the decisions, working as a team. And we were all in the arms punching and destroying, and we were all in the finger pointing number one. We were number one. Voltron.
So I’m really glad Hoppin Hot Sauce has a new extra hot product. Development went into high gear. We worked a lot, so good things are coming in the future. So let’s see what happened. I was gone for a couple weeks, so I had a few thoughts. I checked out Rooted in Rights. It’s an organization of disabled people in Long Island led by a woman who was … a young woman who used to be on Sesame Street. I think she was on like six episodes of Sesame Streets about 10 years ago. So everybody has something in their past, and for her it’s Sesame Street. But check out this group Rooted in Rights. They have a cool website, and you can subscribe. They have … it’s like a blog network. I still have to check out the Disability Visibility Project. I need to add to it Rooted in Rights. I’m getting more into this. I’m getting more resources, because something big is coming from this.
I was working hard getting ready for the Fancy Food Show, and now I started having … brushing up close to the wall my limits where I was going to have cognitive fog, fatigue. I’m starting to get tired. So in the afternoon, I was getting really foggy. And you know, when you have that cognitive slowness, it’s like mud, it’s like muck. I’ve talked about it before. You can’t figure out what you’re doing. You wander around the house. For me, I wandered around the house flipping light switches to see if that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. And then I flipped the light switch, it’s a garbage disposal. Scared the heck out of me. That brought me … snapped me to. I’m like, “What am I doing? What am I trying to achieve?”
That’s the thing about cognitive fog. For me, I’m trying to work. I’m trying to make things happen for myself. I don’t want to be lost in a fog all day. So that’s like one of the hardest parts about MS. But if you manage and you don’t work too hard in the afternoon and you … for me, I take naps. That seems to help, but it’s a tough balancing act. I got things I’m trying to do or I want to accomplish, so it’s something I have to work with all the time.
All right. Let’s get into this. The throwback episode number 2. We’re getting close to the end. So without further ado, way back from the prehistory of What’s The Matter With Me?, this was episode 2.
Right, let’s get down to it with What’s The Matter With Me? Episode 2. I’m John. I have MS. I made this podcast to share what I’m going through. So let’s recap last episode, episode 1. I sent it to, like, two people on email, and probably maybe they listened to it. Sometime you got to start small. So what’d we talk about last time? I have a hot sauce business. We talked about that, and my dream of employing disabled people, people who’ve been in the prison system, and veterans. And we talked about going on disability. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go on disability or not. Spoiler, I talked to my doctor. She said, “You should definitely be on disability. You can still make money and work.” And after that, I was kind of sold. Then we talked about my philosophy about trying to do things, and that’s what this podcast is about. So I think it’ll be obvious.
Part of it, listening back, something stood out. I said that I can’t. I used the word can’t, and even worse, I said I can’t work, which is so ridiculous. I have a company. I am on the radio on KFJC every Thursday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and I do a couple of other things while I’m at it. And I’m a dad for two people. I can work. Whether or not I can work, I’m going to try and work. That’s my philosophy.
So let’s talk about working in the garden. I have a garden in the backyard. California native plants. I spend a lot of time back there. I have trouble sometimes. I’ve fallen in the garden and hurt myself. One time I fell into the side of the house, and I, like, skinned my head, and I lost a bunch of hair. I mean, it was terrible. I like, basically, headbutted the side of the house, man, and the house won. So that was tough.
So I’ve been working a lot, doing physical therapy and balance exercises so I don’t fall in the garden, and I always wear my brace. I have an ankle foot orthotic brace that supports my ankle, helps me walk. So my physical therapist said, “You always have to have that.” And even I have a stick, like a cane, I use for balance. Got to have that. So I started using that, always when I go in the garden, and it’s reduced like … I was falling every day, and it’s reduced my falls quite a lot. Just today I ordered some accessibility tools, some kind of seat. We’ll see how it works. It’s kind of like seat stander kneeler thing, which’ll help, because I have to sometimes work on plants for a long time, and I need to sit near them. Maybe they’ll help.
That’s cool to invest in, the accessibility tools. Today I was trimming the rose bushes, and my hand comes into a fist, like a claw, and it’s hard to get a glove on. I had to really work hard, but I did it, and I trimmed my roses. I’m happy to say my rose bushes, which my grandmother planted at this house, are alive and well. So maybe grandmother and grandpa … grandma and grandpa, shout outs.
I’ve had inability to control my emotions. I have a lot of lesions, brain lesions, in my brain stem. My doctor said, “Sometimes you’ll have inability to control your emotions. It’ll feel bad.” And I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I’ve started to have that. I’ve really have a hard time on the weekends, because things are different. During Monday through Friday, I get up by myself. I have a routine, and in doing that routine, I kind of get a diagnostic sense of how well I feel and how much I can do that day. But when I can’t do it, like when my wife and my kids are up making breakfast when I get up, I got to take a shower.
I have a routine, and it gets me ready, so when I’m out of it, it’s causing me a lot of confusion. The routine helped me know, okay, here’s where I am. I get my breakfast going, and I have a lot of confusion, which makes me upset, because I don’t know what’s going on because there’s not really … my routine’s not happening. Instead, I’m reacting. And that’s difficult for me. So I’m trying to manage that, because I’m totally getting bent out of shape, going nuts, and becoming really aggressive, because I’m just super confused.
So that’s a challenge. Every weekend day we work on it. In the morning, and it hasn’t been going well, frankly. It just sucks, and so I’m working on it. Trying to control my emotions. I need a little support and understanding, probably a lot, from my family to let me do things like make coffee and things that allow me to see how well I’m feeling with my motor skills, but also allow me to say, “Okay, I made coffee,” and I can go sit and have coffee that I made.
So it’s little things, like, I go sit and have coffee and my breakfast on Monday through Friday. On the weekends, the breakfast still going, it’s been throwing me off, and it’s been making me really upset. I hope that just talking about it here and saying I intend to be better will help me get better.
So, that’s What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast Episode 2. Tune in next week. Probably I’ll email it to two people again, and no one’ll hear it. The What’s The Matter With Me? Podcast is available on Apple Podcast, and whatsthematterwithme.org. My name is John Hoppin. Episode 30 in the books. Thank you for tuning in.
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