The Minimalist Educator Podcast

Episode 021: Subtracting the Unnecessary with Dan Tricarico

January 30, 2024 Tammy Musiowsky-Borneman
Episode 021: Subtracting the Unnecessary with Dan Tricarico
The Minimalist Educator Podcast
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The Minimalist Educator Podcast
Episode 021: Subtracting the Unnecessary with Dan Tricarico
Jan 30, 2024
Tammy Musiowsky-Borneman

Ever feel burnt out or overwhelmed by the constant demands and clutter in your life? Imagine the joy of subtracting the unnecessary and stepping into a Zen space of clarity and calm. That's exactly what we explore with our guest Dan Tricarico, CEO of the Zen Professional and the Zen Teacher. Dantra’s book, 'The Zen Teacher', is a fascinating journey through his own burnout and how his game-changing techniques have evolved into workshops that help educators find balance and prevent burnout.

Open your mind to the liberating feeling of decluttering and creating time for self-reflection. Hear Dan’s inspiring story about transforming his classroom by breaking the task down into manageable sections over a month. A real masterstroke in proving that the practice of subtraction can be a powerful stress-buster. We also delve into the value of expanding our learning by listening to podcasters from various professions and applying their insights to education - a real treasure trove of knowledge awaits!

But it’s not all education-oriented. As we shift gears to discuss the cutthroat corporate world, Dan emphasizes the criticality of intentional self-care and personal space. His 'throw away 10 things a day' philosophy is a gem of practical advice towards creating that space. Plus, Dan throws light on how mindfulness can radically transform learning environments and significantly reduce stress levels. Join us in this enlightening exploration of how Zen practices can infuse peace, not just in classrooms, but in every sphere of our lives.

Dan Tricarico, CEO of The Zen Professional and The Zen Teacher, is a national speaker, author of three  top stress management books, and creator of The Zen Professional 5-Step Blueprint for stress reduction, Tricarico now shares his expertise and insight by showing harried teachers how to thrive both inside and outside the workplace. He has been featured in Fast Company Magazine and has guested on many business and educational podcasts.
www.thezenprofessional.com
www.thezenteacher.com
Twitter (X): @thezenteacher
IG: @zenteacher

This epsiode is sponsored by The Zen Teacher: helping teachers reclaim control.

Send us a Text Message.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever feel burnt out or overwhelmed by the constant demands and clutter in your life? Imagine the joy of subtracting the unnecessary and stepping into a Zen space of clarity and calm. That's exactly what we explore with our guest Dan Tricarico, CEO of the Zen Professional and the Zen Teacher. Dantra’s book, 'The Zen Teacher', is a fascinating journey through his own burnout and how his game-changing techniques have evolved into workshops that help educators find balance and prevent burnout.

Open your mind to the liberating feeling of decluttering and creating time for self-reflection. Hear Dan’s inspiring story about transforming his classroom by breaking the task down into manageable sections over a month. A real masterstroke in proving that the practice of subtraction can be a powerful stress-buster. We also delve into the value of expanding our learning by listening to podcasters from various professions and applying their insights to education - a real treasure trove of knowledge awaits!

But it’s not all education-oriented. As we shift gears to discuss the cutthroat corporate world, Dan emphasizes the criticality of intentional self-care and personal space. His 'throw away 10 things a day' philosophy is a gem of practical advice towards creating that space. Plus, Dan throws light on how mindfulness can radically transform learning environments and significantly reduce stress levels. Join us in this enlightening exploration of how Zen practices can infuse peace, not just in classrooms, but in every sphere of our lives.

Dan Tricarico, CEO of The Zen Professional and The Zen Teacher, is a national speaker, author of three  top stress management books, and creator of The Zen Professional 5-Step Blueprint for stress reduction, Tricarico now shares his expertise and insight by showing harried teachers how to thrive both inside and outside the workplace. He has been featured in Fast Company Magazine and has guested on many business and educational podcasts.
www.thezenprofessional.com
www.thezenteacher.com
Twitter (X): @thezenteacher
IG: @zenteacher

This epsiode is sponsored by The Zen Teacher: helping teachers reclaim control.

Send us a Text Message.

Sticker Mule
Sticker Mule has great options for promotional items like stickers, coasters, magnets, and more!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Buy The Minimalist Teacher book on Amazon.
Follow on Instagram and Twitter @PlanZPLS
The Minimalist Educator Podcast is a Plan Z Professional Learning Services adventure.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Minimalist Educator Podcast, a podcast about paring down to refocus on the purpose and priorities in our roles with co-hosts and co-authors of the Minimalist Teacher Book, Tammy Musiowsky-Borniman and Christine Arnold.

Speaker 2:

In today's episode, dantra Karakou talks about his pathway to the work he does now with Zen and mindfulness in our professional lives. We also discuss the importance of subtraction. Dantra Karakou, ceo of the Zen Professional and the Zen Teacher, is a national speaker, author of three top stress management books and creator of the Zen Professional Five Step Blueprint for Stress Reduction. Trakkarakou now shares his expertise and insight by showing Harried teachers how to thrive both inside and outside the workplace. He has been featured in Fast Company Magazine and has guested on many business and educational podcasts. Hi everyone, and welcome to today's episode of the Minimalist Educator. We're very lucky today to have Dantra Karakou with us. Welcome, dan.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for letting me be here. I appreciate it. I'm glad to be here.

Speaker 2:

Yes and everyone. If you're recognizing that voice already, that is because Dan is our intro and outro speaker, so you will be very familiar with his voice by now. How are things been going, dan? How are you?

Speaker 1:

Doing okay. We were just talking a little bit before we started recording that I need to kind of take more of my own advice and just take some things out and, just like you all, preach. You know, because it's been a little bumpy. But I'm learning that I just need to subtract and minimize and everything's gonna be fine.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's easy to get caught up in things right. Especially like you still teach and you know, teach the. To me, the scary people are like the second most scary people, the high schoolers. And so like that's a lot of work and getting like you're still fairly new into your school year, aren't you? Oh, no, sorry, you're pretty into it because you started mid-August right.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, it's about seven weeks now, but you know we had a scheduled change and we've had some political things going on, and so this year has been a little bumpy. Last year was a dream and I it was super smooth. So and that's the in and yang of school, as you know. I mean, some years are smooth and some years are less so.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And you know people listening to this now they're gonna be like but it's January or February, but you know, such as a recording schedule.

Speaker 1:

But, anyway.

Speaker 3:

so you're known for a few really important things in the in the education world. One of them is the Zen teacher book. Can you tell us how you came about feeling like you needed to write about Zen and teaching, because they're kind of different?

Speaker 1:

Yes, and I thought they should kind of be integrated, you know, as an approach to dealing with things like stress reduction and self-care and avoiding burnout. And it all started about 2013, 2014,. Somewhere in there. I just was facing massive burnout and wondering if, how, I was gonna make it to retirement. And, you know, things were not good at home in the marriage I was in, and so it just that whole period was very bumpy and I thought I have to do something.

Speaker 1:

And I started thinking back to I was a drama major and an actor and I started thinking back to my acting classes and the acting teachers used to talk about being in the moment and meditation and breathing exercises and relaxation exercises, and they talked about something they called a relaxed preparedness, meaning, as a performer, you were relaxed but you were ready to go. You were calm but you were ready to perform. And I thought, well, that's what teachers need, you know. So I started a blog called the Zen Teacher and it's funny.

Speaker 1:

I remember one day I was taking a walk around the neighborhood just trying to calm down or whatever, and I was, you know, just debating in my head what am I gonna do? How am I gonna get through all this? And I said gosh, it's almost like they expect you to be a Zen teacher or something. And then I just stopped and the light went on and I ran home and the first thing I did was check to see if the domain name was available, because that's the world we live in, and in 2014, the Zen teacher comm was available and I thought well, that's a sign from the universe. This is my new path, you know. So the blog became the book and the book became workshops. And here we are.

Speaker 3:

Also that's great, and we're talking like 10 years ago.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I think eight or nine, you know. So, yeah, Heading into a decade, which is which is really crazy to think. And the great thing is that the good news is I now know, because of those Strategies that I write about in the book, that I'll make it to retirement. I had 10 years. Now I have two or three, you know. So I'm gonna make it. And then the icing on the cake was just the ability To have other teachers come back to me and say you helped in your book. Helped, I mean, what's better than that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's awesome, that's fantastic, and so you still find time for mindfulness and Zen practices throughout your week. And what is? Can you tell us a little bit about what that looks like?

Speaker 1:

sure, um I I think it's super critical and um I, the first big mindset shift and I think maybe a lot of your listeners need to think about this too Is I thought, like many people, I don't have time for that, I'm too busy. Right, and one of the things I preach is everybody has five minutes and you know you don't think you have five minutes.

Speaker 1:

Stop scrolling, yeah and you have five minutes, it's. It's just mindless instead of mindful to just be scrolling with your thumb on that phone. But if you just stop that, you have the five minutes to listen to a soothing song or call your mom or, you know, pet your dog or whatever it is. It's going to calm you down and reduce that stress and bring back that sense of centeredness and groundedness that's so important, um, because we live in a society and a culture that does not Value any of the things that any of us here are talking about, and so it has to be an intentional and conscious choice. And so for me, um I, I really do make it intentional.

Speaker 1:

Um, I I have little rituals of Silence and stillness and meditation. I would not say I have a very Structured meditation. I I don't you know meditate for 30 minutes every morning, as some people do, which is great, but I'm the kind of person who, when I'm driving and I hit a red light, I take three deep breaths and I resist that temptation to grab for my phone. Most or many times I won't even say most of the time the first impulse is always to grab that phone, and fighting against that is probably the hardest thing, but it's just finding times in your day where you can take even just a few minutes to To disconnect from the the rat race, the merry go round.

Speaker 3:

That is our current culture uh, I definitely appreciate looking at your social media posts where you because you're into photography too and I feel like that's a nice way to just stay in the moment sometimes is, you know, you, you are in the moment, but then you capture this kind of beautiful like blue sky or palm trees or um Belboa park or things like that. It's just really we need to slow down, right we?

Speaker 1:

need to slow down to like a pretty notice things yeah yeah, I always say notice what you notice.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's very meta. Yeah, it is very meta.

Speaker 1:

And the funny thing about the photography is it really was a chicken and egg kind of situation, because I've always loved photography and when I started doing it now since the books came out and I've been doing workshops and everything is I also realized what a mindful activity it is. In fact, I incorporated it into my workshops and now I have the people who are in the workshops take their phones and for 15 minutes just go and take pictures of whatever they notice and come back and talk about it. So I don't know if I love photography because it's mindful or I realized that it's mindful because I do photography. I don't know which one, but I do. I do love that for that reason to me Exactly, it slows me down, it allows me to notice what I notice and to be in the moment.

Speaker 2:

Love that have you? Have you had people talking about glimmers recently?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I was mad at them.

Speaker 2:

Oh really why.

Speaker 1:

You're talking about glimmers.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm talking about the opposite of triggers, glimmers yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yes, because years ago I came up with something I called pamper triggers, which is the same thing as a glimmer, and I wanted to hijack that word trigger because it was so negative and I said, hey, why don't we make this into a positive? And pamper triggers are those things to me that make you feel taken care of, soothed and comforted, and we all have them. So I called them pamper triggers. There's a chapter in the sanctuary's book called Pamper Triggers, but glimmers is fine. I'm just teasing about being mad. Whatever gets people to take care of themselves, I'm down with.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, whatever's in the conversation, right? Yeah, it's definitely worthwhile, exactly Worthwhile. I just read a book called Subtract and it's making me think a lot about what you're talking about, with Zen and mindfulness and so on, but a little bit more active in its approach rather than just being a passive moment. It's more like actively thinking about what you can take away. Can you talk about? Some of the parallels between what you've been working on and that sort of thinking.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I read that book and I was fascinated by that book. And one of the things and I'm just going, this is not a criticism, it's just a fact is I'm not a super big science guy but there was a lot of science, which is great, because you want empirical evidence to back up what you're saying. But those parts were harder for me to wrap my brain around. But I really loved the message and I really loved the strategies that author talked about. I'll just tell you a quick story is because I figured, as I was thinking about being on the show today, that this would really fit into what we were talking about is. I had a little time today and so there was a. I've been in this condo for about two years and the people I bought it from left this giant humidifier and it's nice, you know but it's just been sitting here and I thought, well, maybe I'll use it, or maybe I should sell it if I don't want it, or maybe I'll give it to somebody or whatever. And it's just, I haven't used it. And so I put it outside with a sign on it that said free to a good home. I don't even know if it's still there anymore. I had a box of my daughter's college textbooks that I bought off of her, thinking I would sell them on eBay. The ones I put on there didn't sell and I ran out of time and so I put those out to see if anybody wants those.

Speaker 1:

And now I have more space in my condo and it's not a huge condo, so it matters, you know, and it's just the idea of we can, all, you know, it's we think it's overwhelming, it's intimidating. Oh, I can't tackle it, it's too big, but it's really doing a lot of little things over time, and it's the overtime part that really makes a difference. And so that was just a little story about you know how I subtracted today and there's just a load off. You know, when you kind of, you know, get rid of all that flotsam and jetsam that's hanging around you, there's a freedom and a liberation and you feel like you have more breathing room, which is awesome. And I, you know again, being an actor and a drama major, I was a pack rat. I was like, oh, this hat, this pair of glasses, this bow tie, I might use it in a place sometime, it might be good for a character. So all this stuff just piled up, I'm not that guy anymore.

Speaker 1:

Now I like streamlined, simple, minimalist. That's what I'm all about.

Speaker 3:

I think what you've said about overtime is really powerful, because we do live in this like immediacy time, right, like everything is you get your phone out and you can look something up immediately, or like just having immediate gratification. But it really is a process, right. If you want to truly spend the time to you know one thing at a time out of your house, it doesn't have to be that immediate like I'm going to have this gigantic garage sale, which is a lot of preparation, by the way.

Speaker 1:

Exactly.

Speaker 3:

Right, like who has time for that? But you know it's a lot of work to set all of that up. But if you you know the nice thing is we have Facebook Marketplace or like different things, put it out on your curb like you did. It is helpful to think of things and this kind of goes back to like what we were saying about slowing down If it doesn't have to be fast and maybe it should be, because when things are fast we lose sight of things, right?

Speaker 3:

We've forgotten why we're doing something. But if we allow ourselves to take some time and be reflective about what we're doing and why we're doing it, it's so helpful, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

It's so helpful.

Speaker 1:

You're reminding me of. I think it was when my daughter was born. She was born in August, so it was right before we went back, and I think I missed the pre-service days and I had to hit the ground running, like on day one of the teaching, and so I didn't get a chance to fix up my room and what I did was I divided it into sections and I said, okay, this week it's the counter under the windows, next week it's the classroom, the next week it's going to be my office area in the back, and by three or four weeks, like you're saying, it didn't have to be fast, but then I was ready. I mean, it only took four weeks, but that was what was necessary at the time and that's okay. You do what you have to do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for sure, we really enjoy listening to your podcasters and professional and I noticed that one of the things I really enjoy about the podcasters is that you talk to people from lots of different fields with lots of different experiences. So what do you think we can learn from other professions to help us in our world of education?

Speaker 1:

A great question. And you know, it's so weird because I think Tammy was kind of saying this earlier, I can't remember when we were recording or not that there's no job like this. Teaching is a very unique position. I say I haven't worked in the real world in 30 years. I mean we're very sheltered and isolated in some ways.

Speaker 1:

But I started thinking about how well everybody is, probably especially in this post pandemic world or quasi post pandemic world. Everybody is struggling with stress, everybody is struggling with anxiety, everybody is struggling with how am I going to make this happen, how am I going to get this all done? And we have to allow for that and we have to fight against that impulse. And I think that in the corporate world or the business world, as Tammy says, that immediacy or that sense of urgency is even more pressing than it is in teaching and in education. For better or worse, and sometimes both, the education pendulum moves really slowly like glacier pace, right.

Speaker 1:

But if you think about I don't know, doctors or lawyers or corporate magnet type people, they're on a schedule like it's got to happen right now and that can increase the stress. So I thought, well, I'm going to broaden my message and kind of fold those folks into and bring those people into my message so that I can maybe start helping them as well. You know, once the you know my platform was established in the education community, I had the bandwidths to do that and I've. You know, teachers are always in my heart. I will always love teachers and work with teachers, but I just thought I wanted to include other people because I thought they were going through it too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. Here in the Netherlands we've got a policy where it's to protect us but they try and count how many minutes or hours we work during the week, and I've never been, I've never seen a situation like this before, and you know pros and cons that may have. It does make me think about the effect on people who have billable hours and you know number targets and things like this that they, you know, need to have this many emails done or this many clients reached out to, and I think it is something that teachers might not always realize. Other people are existing under these measurements.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, exactly, and that, as I said and as you said, it just creates a lot of stress or can. And I don't think. Well, I think businesses are starting to talk about employee well-being, but, much like in education and you've both seen this too there's a lot of talk about self-care and well-being, but then it's like, oh, but do these 40 things while you're taking care of yourself? You know, yes, and it's kind of you know, oxymoronic, I guess would be the fancy term. You know, because you can't do it that way, and so that's why I always say that it's our own responsibility to be intentional about it. Nobody else is going to do it for us.

Speaker 1:

I say, you know, I can be really tired and nobody's going to come up to me and go. You know what, danny, you probably need a nap. You know, I have to listen to those signals. It's not going to come from somewhere else, so we have to agree, and it's going to ruffle feathers and people are going to look at you funny, because they don't get to do it or they don't choose to do it and it's not part of the system. So you look subversive, you look rebellious, which also is kind of fun.

Speaker 1:

But you know, yeah, you know, so you have to do it, and that's been my mission is to tell people. You know what it's. Not only is it up to you to do it, but it's okay if you do it and you should do it. I always say that everything I talk about everybody knows. They're just reminders, you know, and mostly they were reminders for me when I was writing the blog and the book. I just wanted to put it down so that I could look at it later and go, yeah, I need to do that, but what I didn't expect is that's how it's working for everybody else too.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, giving us a lot to think about. It's always great to like read your work and listen to you. Thank you, and your voice is also very soothing, so that's helpful People keep telling me that I don't feel that way.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, yeah, and thank you for speaking in my voice, for letting me be your intro and outro. That's super special.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. No, we appreciate it very much. As we wrap up this episode with you, we always ask our guests for a pair down pointer or two for our listeners. So what would you give to our listeners today from today's episode or?

Speaker 1:

some of that in addition.

Speaker 1:

Oh well, I have an idea that I wanted to share that I think is related to what we were talking about earlier in the episode. And sometimes I say, if you're working on minimizing things and decluttering, throw away 10 things a day. And of course, when I say throw away because it's easy but it might be recycling or giving away or donating or something like that, but if you throw away 10 things a day, everybody can do that. That takes 10 minutes, right. But if you think about the math, after a week you've thrown away 70 things. That's a lot of things and it creates some space. And then the great thing and this is what I will leave you all with and leave you listeners with is when you commit to doing some of these things, you're going to realize how wonderful it is and then you're going to want to do more. So you don't have to start big, like we said, start small. But I can almost guarantee that when you start small and you do it, you're going to love it.

Speaker 3:

Thank you Dan.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome, thank you.

Speaker 1:

It was great to be here.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.

Speaker 1:

Of course.

Speaker 2:

Today's episode was brought to you by the Zen Teacher. The Zen Teacher helps you create focus, simplicity and tranquility by encouraging a more Zen-inspired mindful approach in the classroom. Find out more at thezenteachercom.

Speaker 1:

Be sure to join Tammy and Christine and guests for more episodes of the Minimalist Educator Podcast. They would love to hear about your journey with minimalism. Connect with them at PlanZPLS on Twitter or Instagram. The music for the podcast has been written and performed by Gaia Moretti.

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