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Jason Hartman: Good day and welcome to another edition of the Creating Wealth Show. This is your host, Jason Hartman. And as you know, for our regular listeners, on every 10th show, we have a special show for you and this is Show No. 110. And it is my pleasure to talk about a non-financial topic today, but it will, as it always does, relate back to finance in some way and success in life and business and investments and so forth.
At 19,340 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and a daunting climb for any person to attempt. But Bonner Paddock, our guest today, isn’t just any person. He’s a very special person. He set out with a goal to accomplish this feat of climbing Kilimanjaro and there were some special reasons that it was all the more challenging to Bonner. Bonner, welcome to the show.
Interview with Bonner Paddock – Climber of Mount Kilimanjaro
Bonner: Thank you for having me.
Jason Hartman: It’s great to have you here. We found you because you are the neighbor in Newport Coast, California here of one of our friends and clients who has actually been on the show before, Dr. Mark MacVay.
Bonner: That’s correct.
Jason Hartman: So, it’s great to have you and great to have such an inspirational person nearby. I saw you before the climb. Now I’m seeing you after, of course, and why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and why this was so particularly challenging to you?
Bonner: The challenge of the mountain climb was that I have cerebral palsy. I was born with it, with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. And part of the difficulty that happens as you go up into higher altitudes is that your body swells, as much as your brain does, because of lack of oxygen. So, having a neurological disorder and having major parts of my brain that no longer were developed after the birth canal, including I don’t have an equilibrium, it makes it almost impossible and I attempted to be the first person with cerebral palsy to every summit Mount Kilimanjaro. So there had been other attempts and they had not been able to make it. And I wanted to see if I could be the first one to help raise awareness and raise funds to build centers for kids with disabilities across United States and back in Africa.
Jason Hartman: And you did quite a great job of that, didn’t you?
Bonner: There were some moments in there that were a little tough, but as I think is the belief in a lot of things, is if you believe in yourself and continue that you will be able to succeed in anything.
Jason Hartman: It’s really a fantastic story and you have a movie out and it is called Beyond Limits. And you had Michael Clark Duncan do the narration, and by the way, his voice is phenomenal. It’s really an amazing feat not only of course that you climbed Kilimanjaro, but that you put together this production, that you raised all of this money for such a great cause and such a needy cause. Tell us maybe a little more about your background and what inspired you to do this. I mean a person with no equilibrium climbing a mountain.
Jason Hartman: Much less a mountain that’s 20,000 feet, you know, basically.
Jason Hartman: It’s incredible. Congratulations.
Bonner: Well, thank you very much.
Jason Hartman: It’s an awesome accomplishment.
Bonner: Thank you very much. I think that growing up with it and trying to be able to structure your life around not having an equilibrium, you make subtle adjustments, as well as having a lower – with the strength of about 40 percent of an average human being from my waist down – I figured if you’re going to be able to do something, why don’t you attack some of your biggest fears? And for 30 years, I think those are things that I tried to kind of avoid. And then as I got older and became a little bit more successful in the business world, I learned that you don’t actually run away from your fears; you need to actually head them straight on. And if you have a good position out in the public that understands, “Hey, this person is trying to do something way above and beyond,” that the motivation actually just starts coming right behind you because not only is it yourself that is out there, you don’t feel like you’re on an island because everybody wants to jump in when they say, “This person is trying to do something first time ever the world’s ever seen.” A lot of energy comes behind it and then just boom, you just take off like a rocket ship and say, “There’s probably nothing I can’t do.”
Jason Hartman: Well, I know that you’re going to share a lot of wisdom and a lot of lessons with me and with our listeners today. And the first one is that maybe be a good idea attracts energy. It attracts money. It attracts attention. It attracts support. And really, maybe that first lesson is be willing and have the guts and courage to declare a goal, isn’t it? And put it out there in the public. And I think as people, we’re always afraid to do that because we kind of think, “What if I don’t achieve it? Am I going to have egg on my face? Am I going to look bad?”
Bonner: I agree. I mean, exactly the way you say it is I was always afraid to put together a list of goals, as you always probably grew up in school and the teachers always said, “Hey, please write where you’re going to be in ten years. Where are you going to be in 20 years?” And I was always a little bit afraid because I was like, “What happens if I’m not going to be there at that time? Then, am I going to be considered a failure?”
And what I’ve learned now as I’ve gotten a little bit older is, No. 1, it’s okay to come up a little bit short, if you set a strong goal because, if you set simple goals, well, then you’re going to always achieve them first time out of the gate. That is maybe another reason you need to look at it and say, “Are my goals a little bit too light? And could I be doing a little bit more?” And I think that’s the belief in your self is, boom, once you start believing in yourself and you say, “No, I can go do this. I know nobody else has ever done this, but I know I can. I believe in what I can do.” And I think by continuing to set your goals a little bit higher and higher in life, regardless personal or business, I think those are the keys to maybe reaching way beyond you ever thought for when I was even 80 years old.
Jason Hartman: That’s absolutely awesome what you’re saying there because you know the person in business or life that doesn’t have any failures, they’re just not trying hard enough. What I say to my sales staff is, “If you want to succeed more often, increase your failure rate.” That’s the first thing to do because if you’re failing, you know you’re stretching. And if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough. You’re not stretching. You’re not setting high enough goals. I have a plaque in my house that kind of reminds me of this. And I picked it up – I don’t know where, at a flea market or something, but I just loved it. And it says, “Shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you’ll end up among the stars.”
Bonner: It’s so true and that’s where I think those are the keys that I missed the first 30 years. And I’m glad. I think I’ve even figured out way before a lot of others have. And I think that’s the key is really evaluating and I had to take a hard look at myself. And that’s very hard for people to do is you have to look at yourself and say, “Okay, what are my weaknesses?” Mine were: I don’t have equilibrium. I have a weak lower body. Those are things that I fear. And those are things that I tried to hide. But now with the story coming out, and with the involvement growing, and with the press that was getting behind it, wow; what else can we do now than say, “Okay, it’s out there in the forefront. Everybody knows about it. It’s right in front of our eyes. So you need to embrace it. And now you need to believe in all your other abilities to overcome those that you’ve been afraid of.” And I mean, once you address them and when you start overcoming them, I just accelerated like a rocket ship. That was what was amazing was in the last four years compared to the first 30 years, it’s night and day.
Jason Hartman: In terms of what, your whole life, or your athleticism? What do you mean when you say that?
Bonner: Everything in terms of didn’t own a home of my own the first 30 years.
Jason Hartman: Okay.
Bonner: Job was doing well, but could have done a lot better. And then once I got out there and kind of – it’s kind of that huge weight off your shoulders, that, “Okay, this is my disability. Yes, I have it. I don’t need to hide it,” and being able to address that. And then I said, “Okay, what else in my life do I need to refocus? And what else do I need to put higher, raise the bar on?” And it went right back to business and said I’m in sales. So to raise the bar and say, “What else can I do to raise the bar at sales?” is to look at the things that I wasn’t good at and refine those too, on the business side. I said, “Okay, I’ve addressed those on the physical, on my disability – now, what about on the business side?” And so now, it’s like okay, own a home in Newport Coast. And now I’ve accelerated and been with my position and been promoted since I’ve been there with the Anaheim Ducks & Honda Center. And it’s just been one of those great rides that both my business side and my personal life have continued to grow exponentially because I continue to raise that bar.
Jason Hartman: Give us a little timeline if you would. When did you make the decision to climb Kilimanjaro? When did you declare that decision, that goal? And you did it, what about a year ago, was it?
Jason Hartman: It wasn’t quite a year.
Bonner: Yeah, September. So, I made the declaration. I was receiving an award from United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and at that speech, I decided that I was going to make that announcement at the gala that I was not done committing, even though I appreciate that it’s a life time achievement award. I feel like my life time obviously isn’t over now. So again, I wanted to show them, “Hey, I am raising the bar again above even what you’ve already given me the Lifetime Achievement Award for. I’m going to go ahead and set the bar even higher and I’m going to attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.”
Jason Hartman: That’s amazing. And how long did you train?
Bonner: Eleven months. So, did a lot of local training. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of high mountains here in Southern California, so I did go to Telluride for a week and did some training there. And then we did Mount Whitney in a day. So, that’s the largest mountain we have here in the lower 48 states.
Jason Hartman: Just so our listeners understand how significant your accomplishment is, I remember when watching the Beyond Limits movie, you show in there – it’s really a documentary, I should say, not a movie – but it’s very interesting and everybody should see it – where you’re meeting with your doctor and your doctor is telling you right on camera that you’re risking your life.
Jason Hartman: This is a – you could die easily doing this because climbing, especially in low light conditions because your balance comes from your sight, not the natural sense of balance everybody else has. I mean did you ever think that you know, maybe you should call this whole thing off?
Bonner: I think that it’s okay to have doubt come into your mind because it’s again another little test for you. Can you overcome that doubt? And are you able to analyze that doubt as becoming something that is a suicide mission, or something that is just you’re letting little doubt creep in? And can you push it out because everybody has those every day of their life. Something about it – doubt creeps in and I think, even meeting with the doctor, I was obviously hopeful that it would be a little better prognosis than it was, but I think that having a little doubt is good because then it kind of lets you know that you’re just not oblivious to everything and you can’t just go out there and say, “I can run through a cement wall.” Well that doesn’t really make sense, you know? I think it’s okay to have a little doubt in something. It’s can you push it out of your brain? And can you analyze it and say, “No. No. No. That is a good point, but if we do x, y and z that should eliminate that doubt.”
Jason Hartman: Right. So you’re not recommending being a dare devil and being careless and just kind of going for it no matter what, right?
Bonner: Yeah. You won’t see me doing K2 or Everest. I mean that wasn’t the point of everything. So yeah, I think knowing obviously, even beyond your wildest dreams, there just might be something that is basically a suicide mission that I would never attempt.
Jason Hartman: Right. Okay. Good. So, prudent risk taking is the lesson.
Jason Hartman: All right. Tell us, so you trained for eleven months. I remember seeing you before the climb. It was right before the climb. You were just about to leave and your garage door was open. And Mark and I had walked over there and you had a bunch of backpacks out there and you were packing them.
Jason Hartman: And that was for the team. What are the logistics of this type of undertaking? I mean how many people went on the climb with you? Obviously, there were people filming and so forth. What was the crew? How did that all work?
Bonner: There were three film makers that went on the climb with us, as well as seven actual climbers. So we had two expert climbers. One was the team leader, one was a good friend that I used to live with in San Diego, and then the others were just a mass. I needed a nurse practitioner just in case there was something that went really bad. We needed to have someone with a strong medical background there, as well as another couple of my buddies. We call ourselves amateurs because that’s what we are when it came to climbing. So I wanted other people that were funny. I wanted people that would keep the positive mind frame so that if any of us are having a bad day or having really severe struggles on certain parts of the climb, that we would have good energy. And I thought that that needed to go with us for the eight days and keep that positive mind/spirit because after a while as cold as it got, it was 40 below zero for some days, that it keeps your mind focused on not only are you there to obviously get to the summit, but it keeps you in that reality of its positive mindset and that there are inherent dangers out there.
Jason Hartman: So, how many people total?
Bonner: A total of ten attempted.
Jason Hartman: Ten attempted. So some people in your crew turned back?
Jason Hartman: How many?
Bonner: Two did not make the summit. One actually, the producer of the documentary had a high altitude pulmonary edema at 18,000 feet and was throwing up blood. We actually found him sitting on a rock at 18,000 feet with his guide and there was just a big pool of blood next to him that he was throwing up. He had been throwing up for four days and attempted to go. But he was at stage 4 of a high altitude pulmonary edema and stage 5 is death. So, he did not make the summit.
Jason Hartman: That’s very serious, yeah.
Bonner: That was the huge reality check because there it was, pretty close to a very horrific situation and that was the one that really, really put it in perspective.
Jason Hartman: I am not much of an athlete. I mean I work out and stay in shape. But I’ve always sort of wondered, people like you that do these incredible things, that climb mountains, that you know run marathons, and all that kind of – marathons, that’s what cars are for if you ask me. Twenty-six miles, why would you do that, you know? But what is it that keeps you going? I’m sure there was discouragement along the climb and you just had to talk yourself into continuing. I mean how do you do that?
Bonner: The most amazing thing is actually the light bulb that really went on for me was actually helping others. And the owners of the Ducks were the ones who stood up there during the lock-out and said, “Even though we’re in the middle of a hockey lock-out, we think it’s best that you find a charity that you’re passionate about and volunteer and give back. You will see that you do not have it that bad.” And I thought it was so ironic that we’re all ho hum, that we’re in a lock-out and –
Jason Hartman: Tell people about the lock-out if you would. Just explain that because not everybody knows.
Bonner: The NHL, the National Hockey League had a lock-out five years ago and so they stopped hockey for a whole entire season while the owners and the players tried to work out a collective bargaining agreement, and during that time, there were many people that were laid off or your roles were reduced tremendously. And I was in sales, so obviously, commissioned we were – roles were definitely reduced.
But when you meet these families and you meet these children for me that had cerebral palsy, autism, and other disabilities that’s where the light bulb really went on and that’s what really drives me – is that you see that my efforts by going to a mountain and trying to overcome something that is for personal in terms of it is a personal challenge, nobody else can help me get up that mountain, I have to believe in myself to get up there. But it is not for me. All of the money that we raised is going to build these centers for these kids and these families. It’s the most amazing feeling that I’ve had and it’s something that it keeps a fire burning. And that’s what gave me the energy and the motivation all the time, is you see these other kids that – I’ve been lucky enough where I’m at compared to a lot of these other families. And it’s very, very sad to see it and they have just as amazing energy and they still think that they’re going to be doing great things and their child is going to overcome a lot of these things. It makes it so easy to go out and be like, “I’m going to go out and attempt something like this.”
Jason Hartman: So I think the lesson there in a nutshell is have a goal that is beyond you, that’s bigger than yourself.
Jason Hartman: Okay.
Yeah, you’ve got to set the goal that is something that is way more than just you.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, okay. So, when times get tough, maybe a personal goal or a selfish goal isn’t enough to keep you going through the really, really hard times. It’s something outside of yourself. And with you, that’s certainly true with the centers, and also, if you want to talk about Jake in the show, in the documentary, feel free to do so. Or maybe save some surprises for people, so they can watch it.
Bonner: See the true one main motivation, yeah. We’ll save that one for the documentary. They’ll really understand that one.
Jason Hartman: Okay. Fantastic. So tell us a little bit about the climb. You know, what happened along the way? I mean what were some of the biggest challenges, maybe?
Bonner: The climb was eight days and the first evening we hit a base camp of a little over 10,000 feet, so they can kind of understand where we started. And then from there, it’s seven days over and about 180 degrees around the mountain, and then you summit on night number seven. And we encountered everything from sub-zero temperatures-
Jason Hartman: Forty below zero.
Jason Hartman: And we’re talking, for our listeners around the world, Fahrenheit?
Jason Hartman: Okay.
Bonner: Yeah, Fahrenheit. Forty below zero Fahrenheit, and it was about 50-mile-an-hour winds.
Jason Hartman: Whoa!
Bonner: It’s amazing the temperature changes that you have and it’s the only mountain in the world that has all five climates.
Jason Hartman: Wow!
Bonner: So that’s my understanding. And so doing that, it really messes with you mentally because you know during the day, it could get up into the 40’s and 50’s. And then at night, it’s below zero, so your body’s not used to such – or mine is not used to such large temperature changes.
Jason Hartman: I don’t think anybody’s is. You can speak for everybody there probably.
Bonner: And then I had damaged all of my ligaments in my ankles and my tendons in my ankles doing Whitney in a day because I had brand new boots. So the climb became even harder because I wasn’t even at 100% going into the climb.
Jason Hartman: Why didn’t you delay the climb? I mean give a little time to heal, or-
Bonner: There was so much-
Jason Hartman: Was it because of the climate and the seasons?
Yeah, supposedly, that was supposed to be the warmest time of the year. But as I think everybody knows, sometimes there’s just freak weather that comes in for a few days or a week wherever anybody lives, that’s out of character for that season. And that’s what that was. And so we got – it was supposed to be the warmest time of the year, was September it’s supposed to be. And so we were hoping that it was going to be, but as you know, weather you can’t predict anything. And it was a lot worse, so with all the press that we had and all the momentum that we had going into it and just there was a lot of people that were supporting, I just couldn’t do it. And I also thought, “Man, if I could do it even on top of this with injuries, injuries that were to my feet which is what I needed basically to get up there, then it would be even bigger of a challenge than I even thought. And again, I thought the bar was here, but it ended up when I got there it was actually a lot higher then I even set it at. And so it was like wow, I guess we’re just going to have to change it up. And that’s kind of like everyday life
Jason Hartman: Right.
Bonner: It’s that you think the bar is here and all of a sudden you walk into the office and something’s totally changed, or your pipe breaks and now your finances just plummeted tremendously and you’re like, “Okay, the bar was here and now I don’t have that $5,000. I need to figure out how to go make that $5,000 back and a little bit more to get to where I thought.” And that’s kind of the way I treated it as is, yeah, okay, that bar was about six feet, now it’s about at eight feet high.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, life is messy you know? It seems simple, but it’s really complicated. There are just a million little things that are interplaying together in business or in any kind of challenge and it’s just never neat and clean really, is it?
Bonner: No. As much as we try to make it, it isn’t. It’s very complicated and messy.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, there are a lot of inter-relationships to manage. And it’s interesting, what I was sort of surprised to hear you say is how you sort of designed this crew that went on the climb, the different personalities. Like you said something to me I really wouldn’t have expected you to say, “Well, I wanted a guy who was funny.” How much thought went into designing the right personality structure in that team?
Bonner: A lot of thought went into that. I think that-
Jason Hartman: Because under stressful conditions I mean that’s when people break, you know?
Bonner: And laughing sometimes can actually take the most stressful situation and kind of just break that tense, you know that tension. And I think that’s what was key is that one of my good friends, Dilly, he’s a comedian. I mean he’s hilarious. But he would make jokes about him suffering and then it would make you feel better because you’re feeling about the same. So, it just kind of helped with the camaraderie of the team. A lot of these people did not know each other. I did, but they didn’t. So it was kind of-
Jason Hartman: They didn’t? Until when, like until the climb started? Like when you were in the documentary, when you’re on the bus?
Bonner: That’s correct. Yeah. Until we-
Jason Hartman: In Africa?
Bonner: Yeah, when we flew over-
Jason Hartman: That’s when they met?
Bonner: Yeah, we flew over- most of us flew over together. The whole group met up in Amsterdam and then we took a flight from Amsterdam into Tanzania. So, after about 31 hours of flying and travelling together, everybody starts to kind of get comfortable with each other and then we had four days of acclimating before we did the climb. But until we got there most of them had never met each other
Jason Hartman: Amazing. Okay, so any more thoughts on how you designed the crew. I mean the funny guy, that’s great.
Bonner: Yeah, I think that I wanted the expertise, so I had the two experienced climbers, had obviously the medical background just in case my feet. That was one of my primary concerns was how bad would- would my feet get any worse with the ligament or the tendon damage? And then keeping it where there was, where we could feel like we could talk and we could relate with each other, and I think just having someone that is funny as well as a couple people that are in my amateur – I’m not a climber, I’ve never done anything like that before in my life – ability range, made it key that we all could kind of meld together and understand. And then the good thing is that everybody was all there because we knew what – I mean everybody paid for the trips by themselves, so that no money or anything that we raised would go to paying for anybody’s travel. We all paid out of our own pockets.
Jason Hartman: How much did it cost?
Bonner: Roughly about $10,000 a person.
Jason Hartman: So $10,000 per person, and had anybody ever done this before, anybody in the group?
Bonner: Just the team leader.
Just the team leader?
Bonner: Yeah, Tim Guy owns a company called Safari Express and so he handled the trip for all of us and he was really nice. He called back and said, “Could I go on this trip with you guys?” And we said, “We’d love you to. I mean, that would be fantastic,” and he had summitted twice before.
Jason Hartman: Okay.
Bonner: But never this route.
Jason Hartman: Oh, this was a new route, okay.
Bonner: Yeah, this was a different route than he had gone up. This one was like the most picturesque, but they forgot to tell me and they purposely left that out that that was the hardest route, too.
Jason Hartman: Great!
Bonner: But for documentary purposes and cinematography, they wanted this route because it had – I guess it supposedly has amazing views.
Jason Hartman: What was the climb like? Was it sort of like steep hiking? Was it technical mountain climbing with ropes and equipment and belays and all that kind of stuff?
Bonner: I would say that it was 10 percent technical climbing, which we did some Alpine climbing so we didn’t harness in and we did not do any roping, but, at one point, there’s a thing called a Barranco Wall, which is about 1,000 foot vertical cliff that you kind of diagonally zigzag back and forth on, but it’s on a very narrow ledge. And I wasn’t able to use my climbing poles. So, those obviously helped a lot with my balance and that was one of the things that was more nerve wracking than anything else. And then I’d say 80 percent-
Jason Hartman: Because you could have just fallen off the edge.
Bonner: Right. And there’s a couple of times that one of the assisting guides caught me and I don’t know if I would have totally gone off the edge, but probably would have had to do a good job of hanging on if I wasn’t. And those guys would be – we had one guy bookending me front and back, on those really really hard parts. And so I’d say about 10 percent Alpine climbing, 80 percent, like you said, very steep hiking, and about 10 percent where it’s in between where you’re just traversing from one valley to the other. So no ropes, no picks – they call it a Category 4, where Everest and K2 is a Category 5.
Jason Hartman: So Bonner, you do keynote speeches and motivational speeches. You do that in the corporate world and in the philanthropic world too. And you have sort of some lessons that you kind of point out and you use the climb and this amazing accomplishment of yours as a backdrop for teaching these things, whether it be awareness, setting goals, roadmap to achieving goals, and then stretching oneself to achieving even greater goals and not becoming complacent. Tell us about that.
Bonner: As I was starting to get through to getting to the point of Kilimanjaro, when I started training, again, it was a goal. I had to put together where I was like okay these are the goals that I need to do to get to a larger goal. And that’s where I didn’t really realize, as they always say, you sit down and you write for five to ten years, in college, where are you going to be in ten years? And you write very non-specific stuff. What I’ve learned in this whole process, too, that has helped me in my whole entire life is that you can have a bunch of little goals that lead to a bigger goal and then again, it’s kind of like chapters in a book. Well, ultimately the book is your life, but you’re going to have multiple chapters. Each chapter should have a goal. You can’t go to the next chapter until you complete that goal.
Now, awareness is knowing and believing in yourself. And that’s the first thing that you have to do. You can start real small, but you need to believe in yourself. You need to believe in your ability regardless of what you’re going after, whether it’s climbing Kilimanjaro, whether it’s building your fortune and your retirement, whether it’s goals at your work that you have set forth to get a promotion, those all need to be laid out. And if they aren’t, then you’re probably not going to get there and it’s not just going to say, “I want to get promoted by next year.” No. You need to have all of these other little steps, or little goals that you can achieve and that’s where it kept the motivation going for me. It’s like, okay, I have 11 months to get to Kilimanjaro. I need to have a goal every month. What is going to be my goal this month and next month and next month? That way it kept me motivated. Like yes! I haven ’ t gotten to Kilimanjaro, but yes, I just completed one of my goals.
Jason Hartman: You got a little victory along the way and it’s a bunch, a string of little victories that add up to the big victory right?
Bonner: And that’s exactly it. That’s where I felt for me it helped my confidence tremendously, where sometimes goals are so large, like climbing Kilimanjaro, if you just say, “I’m going to go climb Kilimanjaro,” it’s like how do you?
Jason Hartman: That doesn’t work out. It’s too lofty. How do you? You’ve got to reverse engineer that.
Bonner: Yeah, how do you eat an elephant? It’s-
Jason Hartman: One bite at a time.
Bonner: Right, and that’s exactly what it was. It’s like everybody was like, “I don’t know if this is even possible,” but if you break it down and anything else in your life, that’s where I found the roadmap to success and so the last four years I’ve used that roadmap and it’s become tremendous for me in all aspects of my life.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. Okay. So, incremental goals, small victories.
Jason Hartman: String them together – big victory, and reverse-engineering a goal. So the big goal is Kilimanjaro, but going backwards in the steps of your training.
Jason Hartman: What did those look like, though? What were the steps of your training? I know climbing Mount Whitney; that’s an obvious one. But what do you do like every day?
Bonner: Sure. So, every day my goals were we’d be in the gym by 5:30 a.m.
Jason Hartman: Okay.
Bonner: Then it started out as two days a week after work. Two days a week after work, we would go for hikes, right here in Southern California. Once we got two days – So the first month that was. And in the second month, we needed to bump it up to three hikes and they needed to be at least three miles long. And then the next ones were they need to be at least four miles long and do them five days a week. And the same with at the gym, it was I’ve got to hit these certain weights. I’ve got to hit here, I’ve got to hit here, as well as my strength level needed to improve each month to certain degrees.
Jason Hartman: And that was lower body strength? You were improving that?
Bonner: Yes. Massive, huge focus on the core and lower body, those were my weakest ones.
Jason Hartman: Just out of curiosity, with CP, is your upper body normal? Is that as strong as every else’s?
Jason Hartman: It’s just the lower that’s the issue?
Bonner: Correct. Yeah, the lower body is the weak portion.
Jason Hartman: All right. Okay, so that’s the setting goals part and that’s fantastic. And so that’s kind of the roadmap to achieving the big goal. You’ve covered that.
Jason Hartman: What about stretching oneself and not becoming complacent because a lot of life is really forcing ourselves to get out of our comfort zone, isn’t it?
Bonner: Yeah, I think once you get out of your comfort zone I think, I always, when I’m speaking up there, I always say, “Has everybody had the dream of standing in front of the classroom and you’re in your underwear?” It’s kind of awkward, but everybody’s kind of had that dream, or that uncomfortable moment. And you’re like, “Okay, this is kind of what it is.”
But once you get out there and you realize, well, you know everybody else would probably look the same if they did it, so let’s just go out there and do it, that’s kind of what got me out, is once I admitted, like came out and said – it wasn’t a huge secret, but once I’d told everybody that I had cerebral palsy and yes it’s okay to have it and it’s actually not a disability in my case. I look at it as this is actually a gift now because I’m going to go out and help so many people and do so much more because I have this disability, where if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Because people would be like, “Oh that’s great that you’re going over to Kilimanjaro. You know a lot of people do it.” But no, I have cerebral palsy, nobody’s ever done it.
Jason Hartman: Right.
Bonner: It changes the dynamic tremendously. And by having and knowing that and being comfortable with it, kind of took me out of my element for a little bit when I went and told my story to the board and started telling people about it. Then when I started getting the reactions back and saying, “Wow, I put myself out there and all I am getting back is positive feedback and everything.” Confidence just grew tremendously by going and putting yourself out there.
Jason Hartman: Right.
Bonner: And willing to risk it all and saying people could laugh at you, people could make fun of you – you never know. And it’s been nothing but just a huge outpouring of positive support and just saying, these things are amazing and people that are “normal” have come up to me and said, “You know what, what you’re doing has made me re-evaluate my life and I am resetting my goals based upon what you’re doing.” So now I’m like, wow, I never even thought I could transform into the normal world sector, but it’s like everybody’s like, “Wow, if you can set your mind to do this, why can’t I go out and do something that I didn’t think I could do maybe.” Let’s put a roadmap together and let’s get there.
Jason Hartman: That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. How much money – what was your goal in terms of raising money with the climb and what did you end up with? I know it was a big success for you.
Bonner: Yeah, we originally set the goal at about $100,000. We blew past that in about three months and then we went for a quarter of a million dollars. Again we thought, “Well, it’s a shot in the dark,” Like you said, “Shoot for the moon; if we get the stars, fantastic.” So we shot for $250,000, ended up coming back – when I got back from Africa, we were at $260,000 in nine months.
Jason Hartman: Wow!
Jason Hartman: Wow, that’s fantastic. And when you say “we” you mean your foundation, right?
Jason Hartman: What is the name of your foundation?
Bonner: The name of the foundation is we called it OMF for short, but it stands for “One Man One Mission” and it’s Life without Limits, that’s kind of our setting. And what we are committed to doing is it’s a world-wide foundation and we’re building the first center here; it’s a specialized center for kids with disabilities that pretty much everybody in the world needs. But my grandpa always taught me that you clean up your backyard first before you go out and point at the neighbors.
Jason Hartman: Yeah.
Bonner: So, I’m born and raised here in Orange County, so we’re going to be building the first center here in Orange County, but in the meantime, we’re also starting to build the centers. We’re building 39 of them in Africa in the next three years. And then we’ll begin building all of these centers across the United States once we get the Orange County one built and then continue to move all the way across the U.S.
Jason Hartman: That’s fantastic. So the center, what does it do? What does it provide for people?
Bonner: It’s a specialized center that takes kids from – we can identify disabilities as early as six weeks old, and that’s the primary huge difference is if you address the disabilities at a very early age, you actually see a tremendous amount of gain in terms of, again, their bars being pushed way above that they would ever thought, if they started later on in the child’s life. So the center actually gets them in, and it’s more interactive. It’s intensive therapy as well as we do specialized – it’s kind of like babysitting, but for kids with disabilities, they know how to handle them. They get them in an interactive and a constant learning presence as a child would be if they went to pre-school, pre-K or kindergarten, but kids with severe disabilities.
Jason Hartman: What’s out there for them now? I mean before your mission, what did you see? What resources were available before? And what will be available after? Like give us a contrast or that gap that you jumped with your fundraising and your bigger goal with the worldwide foundation and expanding this model.
Bonner: What I kind of relate it to is a hamburger. Right now, you can get a hamburger and you might be able to get it with cheese, but you’re not able to get it with mustard and ketchup and lettuce, and tomatoes and the works, if you wanted that. Right now, all that’s offered is the bun the meat and maybe the cheese, depending on where you live in the United States. And definitely in the world, sometimes you can’t even get the bun. So we’re just trying to add in all of the nice fixings that need to round out that burger to give them a full life versus what we consider a less than full life for these children. And that’s all we want to do, is give them every opportunity to be as “normal” as anybody else would be, or to achieve goals that they would have never, or their family would have never been able to get to if they didn’t come to this center.
So, it gets them early and begins that process a lot earlier than once the children start developing at an age in school. So six, seven, eight, nine is when people start recognizing other types of learning disabilities. We’re able to get it right away as early as six weeks. Get them in there. We will also have, the center actually incorporates regular, normal children, too, and will have the most cutting edge equipment in there for them. So it actually is beginning to teach tolerance and acceptance and awareness for kids, as they are young and don’t have disabilities, what a person with disabilities is and that they’re no different.
Jason Hartman: Because they’re mixing together?
Jason Hartman: Right. Okay.
Bonner: And that they’re no different if you actually took a little time to get to know them and everything. They just may do it a little bit differently, or a little bit slower. But they are actually able to do those things.
Jason Hartman: You know what keeps striking me in watching this documentary, Bonner and in talking to you, is the concept of gratitude, and I did a show on that before and I think that the vast majority of people in the world, certainly in America, and we’re looking at tough times now. I mean the economy is bad, people are losing their jobs, there’s a lot of fear out there. We all have a lot to be grateful for, don’t we?
Bonner: Big time. You nailed it on the head. Until I volunteered and got involved in charity just four and a half years ago, you never realize how good we have it. And even myself.
Jason Hartman: Right.
Bonner: I mean, I am not a pity party. I don’t want anybody to – I hold myself to higher standards than even “normal” people do. I am here to say that there are so many other people out there that it makes me feel so good to go try and help them because yeah, we agree, the economy’s bad. Everybody’s taking a hit here or there. And everybody’s trying to find ways to make around it, but if you really look out there, there are people that have it really bad. And it just makes you grateful for what you’ve got. And what makes me feel really good is to give back to those that don’t and ones that really don’t have anything. And it’s amazing when just as simple as me coming to an event where they’re at and showing up and signing some autographs. It’s amazing that something that I think doesn’t mean that much they think is amazing. And I’m like, how easy is that? And it didn’t take anything out of me and it’s so easy to do. And that’s just the simplest thing we can all do. And if you go and give them a smile and talk to these people, it will change their day.
Jason Hartman: And the amazing thing is is that it changes yours, too.
Bonner: It does. It makes you feel so good – about no matter what it’s like, you know things can always be –
Jason Hartman: I think that one of the most difficult things for people – one of the most difficult parts of poverty, for example, is it deprives a person of the opportunity to give. And you have certainly shown that you are giving to people and it’s just fantastic. It’s really fantastic what you’ve done here. It’s an incredible accomplishment. The website is www.Beyond-Limits.com. People can buy the DVD there. They can probably donate there, I assume?
Bonner: Yes, they can.
Jason Hartman: They can get your press kit. They can hire you to do a speaking engagement, that kind of thing. What else would you like people to know about this, about what you’re doing, and maybe what else would you like to say to them about their goals and what they can accomplish?
Bonner: I think that when I started four and a half years ago, I just wanted to volunteer at a charity. That’s where it started. And now I have started my own foundation and have gotten world-wide press off of just setting a goal to help other people and that’s what’s amazing about it is sometimes, I think goals that we set actually turn out to help a million more people than you actually think. So I think that’s the best thing, that if I could give anybody advice, is when I set the goal to climb Kilimanjaro, that technically is a – it could be considered a goal of my own to get to the top of Kilimanjaro. But really when you look at it, it’s a giant spider web effect of how many people it’s impacted by having me go up to a mountain?
Jason Hartman: Right.
Bonner: And just say, okay, nobody else has done this, but I’m going to go try and do it. That it raises all this awareness and all this money to help, what? Millions of other people.
Jason Hartman: Right.
Bonner: And it started out as volunteering at a charity. And it shows that if you just get out there. And like you said, put yourself out there, and then get out of your comfort zone. This all came out of getting out of my comfort zone. And now I have a worldwide foundation and you have you know Michael Clark Duncan narrating my documentary and volunteering. And now he sits on my board and I’ve got people that are just asking, “How do I get involved?” And it’s like, wow, that’s amazing, off of saying “I’m going to go climb a mountain to show that I can.”
Jason Hartman: Hey, you know what? I want to just touch on that for a moment. I was about to wrap up here, but I’ve got to ask you about that because I meant to earlier. The logistics of this documentary; I mean, putting that all together, especially when you’re kind of getting things donated, it goes back to the concept you talked about earlier at the beginning of our conversation here today, which is a good idea in an inspiring goal attracts energy, doesn’t it? How did you, I mean, how did you put this all together? This is a professional documentary. I mean it’s the real thing.
Bonner: It’s the real deal. It’s filmed in HD, and we were talking a little bit earlier, and Michael Clark Duncan, I wrote him a letter and I got a hold of his publicist and wrote him a letter and he said yes, off of a letter that I wrote him, just telling him my story and that-
Jason Hartman: Why him?
Bonner: His voice is amazing.
Jason Hartman: His voice is great, it’s awesome. Yeah.
Bonner: It hit home. When we heard like that – we were like, who do we get? You know, you get the list out; you’re like okay, “Who do you think? Does anybody know anybody in Hollywood?”
Jason Hartman: Right.
Bonner: We don’t know anybody in Hollywood. And we’re like, “Okay, who do we call? We don’t even know what to do.” So I mean it’s through a friend of a friend of a friend we got a hold of his publicist. And she is amazing. And she took the ball and ran with it. And said he’s interested and I wrote a letter. And then when we – it was funny because we didn’t know and on the plane ride over, the movie was stuck on Kung Fu Panda, which he was one of the narrators of Kung Fu Panda and we’re like, we’re never going to watch Kung Fu Panda again.
Jason Hartman: That was just a coincidence.
Bonner: That was such a coincidence, then we got off the plane when we got back from Africa we found out that he had agreed to it, and then I told him the story and he just thought it was amazing that there was that kind of odd coincidence. But it’s just one of those things I think, again, if you believe that that is going to be as good as they say it’s going to be. They did. All the filmmakers did it for free. It’s now travelling the festival circuit. It’s been highly acclaimed. Every critic has given it some of the highest rankings, some of the best documentary rankings they’ve ever seen in their entire lives. And it’s really amazing that the steam now has picked up on just this documentary. Again, that’s taking on a whole life of its own beyond the foundation building the centers. Now, this documentary, who knows where it’ll end up? I’d love to put on a tuxedo and go to the Academy Awards.
Jason Hartman: Right. Who knows? Yeah, that’s fantastic. Well, Bonner, it’s just awesome what you’ve done. You know, every tenth show we talk about a non-real estate topic, a non-financial topic, a non-investing topic, and I’ve got to say today has been a real treat. Any closing thoughts for people?
Bonner: No. Bottom line is just thank you very much for having me and like I said, “Believe in yourself” is my tag line. I really do, I sign all my posters and everything like that. That is the number one key. It all starts with that no matter what it is in life. You just need to believe in yourself and then from there, it will go on.
Jason Hartman: Awesome. Well, the website is www.Beyond-Limits.com. Go there, get a copy of the DVD and check out all the other things there as well. And Bonner Paddock, thank you so much for joining us today.
Bonner: Thanks for having me on.
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Duration: 45 minutes