Our guest this week is Dr. John DeMartini of Houston, TX, a world renowned human behavior specialist, an author and a global educator.
John is the founder of the De Martini Institute, a global education organization, which has over 72 courses on self-development, life mastery and leadership in its extensive curriculum.
He studied over 30,000 books across all the defined academic disciplines and has synthesized the wisdom of the ages which he shares on stage in over 100 countries.
He is also the author of over 40 self-development books including the best-seller “The Breakthrough Experience” and his new global release, the “Values Factor.”
He has also been featured in film documentaries such as “The Secret,” “The Opus” and “Oh My God” alongside Ringo Star, Seal and Hugh Jackman. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s most influential speakers such as Stephen Covey, Sir Richard Branson, and Deepak Chopra
And he’s our guest this week on this SFN Dad to Dad Podcast.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Demartini Show Podcast Episode #4 Powerful Parenting Skills – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/7-powerful-parenting-skills-the-demartini-show/id1444530306?i=1000429449748
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Tom Couch: [00:00:00] Special thanks to Horizon Therapeutics for sponsoring the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast, working tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics’ mission at HorizonTherapeutics.com.
John DeMartini: Be mindful of the whole individual and I feel certain that you’ll always find something that they excel at, that makes them exceptional, that brings your heart open. And find that. When you open your heart, when you love people for who they are, they turn into who you love. That’s my observation.
Tom Couch: That’s our guest this week, Dr. John DeMartini, a world-renowned human behavior specialist, an author and a global educator. He’s studied over 30,000 books across all academic disciplines, and he’s our guest this week on the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. Say hello now to our host, David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for [00:01:00] listening to the Dad to Dad Podcast, fathers mentoring fathers of children with special needs, presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to Facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad.”
Tom Couch: Now, let’s hear this incredibly fascinating conversation between Dr. John DeMartini and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I am thrilled to be talking today with Dr. John DeMartini of Houston, Texas, who is the father of three, a world-renowned specialist in human behavior, a researcher, author, and global educator. Dr. DeMartini [00:02:00] is the founder of the Global Education Organization, the DeMartini Institute, which has over 72 courses on self-development, life mastery and leadership in its extensive curriculum. He’s studied over 30,000 books across all defined academic disciplines and has synthesized the wisdom of the ages, which he shares on the stage in over a hundred countries. He’s also been the author of 40 self-development books, including the bestseller, The Breakthrough Experience, and the new global release, The Values Factor. He’s also been featured in documentary films such as The Secret, The Opus, Oh My God alongside Ringo Star, Seal, and Hugh Jackman. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s most influential speakers, such as Stephen Covey, Sir Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra. John, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
John DeMartini: Thank you for having me. I was looking forward to it.
David Hirsch: On a personal level, you’re the proud father of three adult children and a new [00:03:00] grandchild. Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
John DeMartini: Born in Houston, Texas, 1954. I had a bit of a challenge at the beginning cuz I had my arm and leg turned in, a pigeon arm and leg they called it. And I had to wear braces from a year and a half to four. And I also had a speech impediment and had to wear buttons and strings in my mouth, all these exercises. So I had a bit of a perfect challenge to start my journey. A restriction on the body a bit and an inability to communicate, which is interesting because I full-time travel and I speak today. [laughing] So that’s the blessings of this challenge.
David Hirsch: The image I have in my mind is the young Forest Gump at the beginning of the movie. He’s got these leg braces.
John DeMartini: Yep.
David Hirsch: And he is awkward and then he breaks loose from the shackles, if you will. That’s the vision that you’ve created in my mind.
John DeMartini: My dad used to come home about six o’clock at [00:04:00] night, and he would turn this corner from Buffalo Speedway to North Street, and I would run down there, make sure I was there when he came. The second I got outta my braces, I would run just to show him that I could keep my leg and arm straight. So he would go slow and try to race me down the street, always making sure I won, and I would then demonstrate that I could keep my arm and leg straight. I said, because if I can keep my arm and leg straight, I won’t have to go back in the braces.
And so that was something that my dad did for me. He encouraged me to be accountable, I think, at a young age, cuz I saw that I had that and I know that the speaking ability was hindered. So he would ask me questions and bring it out of me to try to make sure I would try to articulate that. And so I had pretty cool parents. They had their own subtle way of trying to give me encouragement along the journey.
David Hirsch: My recollection was that you have an older [00:05:00] sister. And I’m curious to know what did your parents do for a living?
John DeMartini: My father was an engineer in background and worked for Hudson Engineering and then he ran into my mom there. And then he moved to Houston to work for Hudson and then he decided that he wanted to open up as an entrepreneur his own business, and opening up a plumbing industry, a plumbing store. My mom was more of an artist and more kind of the artsy. He was like the left brain and she was like the right brain I guess you could call it. And he was more logical and she was more creative. And he was studying more the sciences and she was more studying the aesthetics. So they were complimentary opposites as you find in many relationships. But Hudson Engineering is what they started with. That’s where they met. I was formed not too long after. My sister was first obviously by two years, but I came about by that. [00:06:00]
And I remember when he moved from our first little house there in Houston, which I faintly remember, to the original house that I grew up in. And I remember he used to walk to the corner and take a bus to work cuz he didn’t drive. He came from the New York area. And then the day we got our, in 1956, we got our first car. And if we ate all our vegetables and swallowed them, [laughing] we could go out to the car and listen to the radio cuz we didn’t have a radio in the house. We had a radio in this car. It was a novel thing. And we used to beg our dad to drive us around so we could be seen in this car cuz it was like the coolest thing to be in a car with a radio. [laughing] And it was like an amazing accomplishment back in ’56.
David Hirsch: Yeah. You’re dating yourself a little bit, but I can relate to it. I remember when I was growing up… what you described as a status symbol, right? A car, a radio in the car back in the day. And I remember a number of years later than that, if you had a CB antenna on the back of your car,[00:07:00] you were sending a message to people, right? I don’t know what the message was but I thought, you’re dialed in, right? You’re able to…
John DeMartini: You had access to the police and you could tell ’em what to do, it was like, that was the, that was it! You had special connections to government and the powers to be. I remember walkie talk. My first communication system was a string between two cans, and we would get as far as we possibly could in trees. And a long way, hundreds and hundreds of feet. And the string would go almost down to the ground and we’d make sure we didn’t touch the ground and we would talk to these cans, through these trees, climbing these trees. That was my first communication process, trying to talk to my buddies through a can.
David Hirsch: I love it. Thanks for sharing. It’s a trip down memory lane. My recollection was that you were diagnosed with dyslexia. And I don’t know at what age that was, but that really was a wrench in the gears from an educational standpoint. And from your own perspective, what did the world look like as you[00:08:00] started school, first grade and beyond?
John DeMartini: When I started I guess you could say kindergarten class we called it in those days, I had a Mrs. Farmer. And for some reason I had an ability to draw three dimensions, color three dimensions. The girls used to draw a blue sky and green grass at the bottom, and there’d be white in between. There was no perspective. I seemed to be able to do the perspective and I was enjoying sharing perspective with the girls. And the teacher would yank me away from the girls, put me over with the boys and stick a red and black crayola in my hand and say, you are a boy. You’re to draw army and cars. That’s what boys do. [laughing] Army and cars. Now I haven’t had a car in 32 years. I haven’t driven a car in 32 years and I didn’t go to Vietnam and I wasn’t in a war, so I didn’t relate to it. And I think I still like looking at pretty girls, Italian blood I guess.
But the teacher saw I [00:09:00] didn’t wanna play with the boys and I would sneak over back with the girls being Italian. I’d sneak back to particularly this Martha Rose Scartozzi. She was the hot Italian chick at the time. And I used to sneak back over there and the teacher pulled me back and finally she said, if you’re not gonna be a boy, I’m not gonna let you play with the girls. You’re gonna play with yourself in the center of the room.
And so I was put in the center of the room for a reason. And my teachings are about a balance of the pairs of opposites today. And I really believe that all these events in our life that we think are crises actually have a hidden order to them that we may not see initially, but eventually when we wake up, we go, wow, thank you.
But she put me in the middle of the room between the pairs of opposites and an androgynous center. And I look back now and I wish I could thank her because my work is about pairing these pairs of opposites together. But when I got to first grade I had Mrs. McLaughlin and she kinda looked like a turkey, so we used to [00:10:00] gobble when we walked in the room. She had skin that was hanging and she was up about my age now. [laughing] I used to think it was old now and now, John, very young. We used to walk in and she was a disciplinarian, come from the old school, more autocratic.
And we had these big books, Jack and Jill kind of books. And with a pointer, she’d point up there to the letters and we had to spell. And no matter what I didn’t seem to be able to pronounce the letters properly, and I would swap them backwards. I would write, and I had my hand because it was turned in. I wrote backwards and I didn’t get it. I just couldn’t read and make meaning out of words, didn’t make any sense. And everybody else was doing that, but not me.
And finally she said, if you’re not going to read, we’re gonna put you in remedial reading. And then finally she said you still can’t do it. And she put a dunce cap on me with Darryl Dowripple, another kid. And we wore a dunce cap and looked out the window, which I’ve turned into a wizards cap now. It’s called Lord of the Rings now. [00:11:00] [laughing] So the dunce cap or wizard cap, I had to stare out the window and she said you stare out the window until you decide to come and read.
And no matter what it didn’t work cuz that wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t a discipline issue. It was just I didn’t know how to do it. Just made no sense. And so finally she had my parents come to the school and she sat them down with me in this little reading circle and she said, Mr. And Mrs. DeMartini, I’m afraid your son has learning difficulties. It seems like he’s dyslexic and I don’t think he’s ever gonna be able to read, not be able to write properly, cuz I wrote backwards. I don’t think he’s gonna be able to communicate effectively. I don’t know if he’s gonna go very far in life or amount to much.
She was not being mean, she was just stating the facts objectively based on what she was observing. And so she said, but if I were you I would put him into sports. Not because dumb people go in sports, there are brilliant people in sports. But because when I got outta my braces, I wanted to run [00:12:00] and the only place I could get acknowledgement wasn’t in school but was running cuz I had to start running faster and faster and faster.
So I used to run back and forth across the yard and out in the playground, I guess because I was getting attention that way. So she said, put him into sports, which was really brilliant because I went into baseball and I excelled there and I went into surfing and I excelled there. And so it wasn’t a real learning problem, a kinesthetic learning issue, it was a reading issue, academic kind of learning.
Cause I could learn how to serve, I could learn how to play ball, but I couldn’t learn words and vocabulary and speaking properly. That wasn’t working. And I was called the idiot, the dunce, the stupid one. All the basic stuff that you get. And I only made it through school by asking the smartest kids what did they get out of the class that day?
And I used to walk Martha Rose Scartozzi cuz she was the smartest girl. Opposites attract. She [00:13:00] would give me insights on what I got and I was making it through school by asking the smartest kids what did they learn? And I would remember enough from that, but I just couldn’t read and say it properly.
David Hirsch: So what was your educational experience like through high school then?
John DeMartini: When I turned 12, my parents moved from Houston, Texas, to Richmond, Texas. And we lived in the country as a low socioeconomic, a lot of racial issues. And when I got to school there, there was no smart kids. Or if they were, they weren’t talking to me. And I end up failing. So I dropped out of school. I left home when I was 13 and became kind of a street kid.
And of course my dad saw that I had learning problems. And so he was trying to make me street smart in other ways. I was nine years old. I told him I wanted to buy a baseball and a glove and a bat, and how do I do that? And he says have you mowed the yard? Yeah. Have you trimmed the sidewalk? Yes. Have you edged the sidewalk? Yes. Have you done the [00:14:00] shrubs and trimmed them and have you done the sweeping of the driveway and you’ve sweeped out the garage? Have you shined the shoes? Have you clipped all the hedges? Have you done this and that? And I said, I’ve done ’em all. He said well, I don’t have anything else to do. I can’t just give you money without doing something, so you’re gonna have to go to the neighbors.
So I ended up going to the neighbors and engaging in activities from weeding to clipping hedges, to mowing, et cetera. And I would use my dad’s equipment and my dad found out, cause he saw me buying a baseball and a glove and a bat. He said, what equipment did you use? I said the stuff in the garage. He said, son, I gotta teach it. You gotta pay for that. You can’t just use that. It’s depreciating. [laughing] So he charged me $7.50 a week for that. And I was having to pay for all that.
And then I ended up, because of it, I ended up getting some kids in the neighborhood to help me and I had nine kids working for me when I was nine years old doing landscaping and mowing. And I was doing the deals and selling the deals and they were doing most of the work and I was collecting it. And I [00:15:00] netted $45 a day, which is about $600 a day today when I was nine.
And I was saving. He taught me how to save and it was amazing. And then he said, I’m gonna start charging you to stay at the house. You’re gonna pay for clothing, food, and rent. But my dad knew that this was the real world and he cared enough about me to help me be street smart, to not just be… cause I can’t do in reading, I’m not gonna do academic, I’m gonna be in sports. I’m gonna do… I gotta do something.
And so he made me accountable and he says, now you buy your freedom. You can go anywhere on your new bicycle any direction as long you’re home at nine o’clock. That was the only restriction he gave me. Nine o’clock at night I had to be home. And that was a great gift cuz I started traveling when I was nine. I started riding my bicycle 35 miles in different directions. And then by the time I was 12, I was even more adventurous. I tried hopping trains, which was not uncommon in those days. And then hitchhiking to different places. I was just an adventurous kid. So by the time [00:16:00] I I left home at 13 or 14, I hitchhiked to California, hitchhiked down to Mexico, went to Central America. At 15, I moved to Hawaii. I was living by myself in Hawaii.
David Hirsch: That is an amazing story. If I can just summarize what you said from an academic standpoint, you didn’t finish high school.
John DeMartini: I didn’t ever finish high school. I took a GED later.
David Hirsch: Yeah. So that was not in the cards as you were growing up. And my recollection was that you had a passion for surfing, still have a passion for surfing, which drew you out to Hawaii. And then you ended up back in Texas. I don’t remember what the circumstances were. And all I recall was that there was a Ted Nugent concert or something that you had gone to, and then the story sort of picks up from there.
John DeMartini: When I was 14, hitchhiking to California, the very first night, Austin’s about 250 miles or whatever, a few hours. And so the very first night, hitchhiking away from Houston, I met up with this chick that I had met at the beach when I was 13, [00:17:00] and we went to the Ted Nugent concert. Went backstage and met Ted Nugent. So my first day on the road was Ted Nugent concert. [laughing] Rock and roll! Then I hitchhiked out to California.
When I got to El Paso, Texas, I just happened to be confronted by some cowboys. I was a headband, sandal hippie kind of kid. And I met these three cowboys in the street and they were about to get rough with me. I didn’t know what to do and I had a surfboard and I was hitchhiking through El Paso, Texas, which is the surf capital. And they were confronting me and I didn’t know what else to do except bark and growl at them. [laughing] And they moved aside, thought maybe I was on drugs or something.
And as I went past them, there’s a guy on the street corner leaning on the lamp post just laughing his rear end off because he saw this kid barking at these guys. They thought what a weird thing to do. But he came up to me and says, can I buy you a cup of coffee? I said, I don’t drink coffee. Can I buy you a Coke? So this guy takes me to this Coca-Cola swivel chair place malt shop. [00:18:00] Have a Coke. And he says, are you a runaway? I said no, not exactly. I’m hitchhiking, but I’m not really a runaway. My parents know that I’ve left. He said are you finished your Coke? And I said, yeah. He says, then come with me. I got something to teach you.
And he took me a couple blocks to this downtown El Paso library. We went in the place. I had to lo leave my stuff outside with the information booth lady. We walked in there, sat me down at a table. We went off to the bookshelves, got two books, put ’em on the table, and he said, there’s two things I wanna teach. You gotta promise me you’ll never forget this. He said number one is don’t ever judge a book by its cover for it’ll fool ya, cuz you probably think I’m some old guy in the street, some old bum in the street. But young man, I’m one of the wealthiest men in the world. I’ve got planes and I’ve got ships and I got homes and I got businesses. I’m one of the wealthiest men on this planet. He says, don’t ever judge a book by cover, it’ll fool ya. And I thought he looked like some old guy on the street to me. But that’s what he said. Then he says number two, he took my hand and he stuck ’em on top of the books. And it was [00:19:00] Plato and Aristotle. And he said, you gain the wisdom of love and the love of wisdom. There’s only two things they can never take away from you in your life. And that’s love and wisdom. You gain those and you learn how to read, boy.
I wear cufflinks called Love and Wisdom today because of that, and my whole life is dedicated to the love of wisdom and the wisdom of love. So that man had an impact on my life and it turned out that he was Howard Hughes. [laughing] Howard Hughes was doing an El Paso natural gas deal for a brewery in Austin, Texas and just happened to be there. And when I found that out later in life, I didn’t know then, but I later found out and put the puzzle together cuz I met with some of his family and I was just blown away when I saw the picture of that, I got tears in my eyes. It was just the most amazing thing to meet this guy. And he’s the one that told me to get love and wisdom, which has impacted me. So Ted Nugent and this guy all within the same hitchhiking.
Then I ended up getting out towards California, farther down the hitchhike. And this guy that gave me a ride in his Volvo picked up this other [00:20:00] guy that was a gem collector in the desert and he talked the Volvo driver into going out of his way to take him where he wanted to go, and paid him an extra $10 for gas. And we end up going to Timothy Leary’s ranch in Idyllwild, California. And so I met Timothy Leary on this trip. So I’m meeting amazing people on just one tour out to California. And finally I make it to Huntington Beach, California, where the big surf was for California. And I met all the surfer guys and my life of surfing began even on another level then.
But I somehow was synchronously meeting these amazing people throughout my life. I met 4,000 people that do great amazing things in the world today over these years. I really believe there’s a higher order sometimes in our apparent chaos that we don’t see at first.
David Hirsch: Yeah. The way I think about it is that you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backwards…
John DeMartini: Absolutely.
David Hirsch: …and see how things have come together. It is [00:21:00] pretty amazing. I know that you had a life and death situation as a teenager, too. What was that about?
John DeMartini: I finally panhandled a lot of money in Huntington Beach, California from the girls on the beach. And I made enough money, it only was $86 to go to Hawaii from LAX. So I flew to Hawaii and the first night I stayed under the Kamehameha Highway bridge. So I slept under a bridge and lived under a bridge for a while at Sunset Beach. And that was too noisy there. So I ended up going to a beach park a few blocks away. And I lived under a park bench there cuz it was safe from the rain. And then when it did rain hard and windy, then I would go into the bathrooms there. And then I found an abandoned car, and finally I got a tent. The guy was leaving and dirt cheap I got this whole tent. And so I had to move from that park down to another location and a jungle to stay. So I built me a grass house, Tarzan kind of looking thing with this tent, [00:22:00] [laughing] and I kept social climbing. It was like a social climbing process.
And I was surfing literally 11 hours a day. I was surfing all day long and I was a surf frat. I got in some surf movies and surf book and surf magazines and stuff. I was in the B class. There was like the top 12 on the top, then I was like in the next class. And I did pretty good and then almost died by the time I turned 17, after being there a couple years, almost died. And in the recovery of that process I was led to a little health food store and led to a yoga class, and I ended up listening to a guest speaker named Paul C. Bragg.
And that night, this Paul C. Bragg spoke and he was so inspiring. He was so present. He was so amazing when he spoke. He was so authoritative. You just knew he was telling you something solid. And he basically said that, what we say [00:23:00] to ourselves, what we think about ourselves, what we feel about ourselves, what we see for ourselves, and the actions we take every day determines our destiny. And that no matter what’s going on in your life, what’s in the past doesn’t matter, it’s what you decide to do today. And then you said you wanna set goals for yourself, your family, your community, your city, your state, your nation, your world and beyond to 100, 120 years. And then he shared with me things that nobody really shared and made me… For the first time in my life, instead of saying you’ll never mount to anything, the idea that I could do whatever I decide in my life. And I realized that I really did do that cuz here I am in Hawaii surfing, living a life that not everybody gets to live.
And that was the night I decided in my mind, the first night I ever believed in my life, that I thought maybe I could be intelligent and maybe I could read. And I had this feeling and vision that [00:24:00] night that I could be a teacher, an intelligent person, and that was the beginning of a new trajectory that night. That one man in one hour shifted my life and got so… It just shook the whole foundation of my existence at the time. And that was the beginning of me attempting to go back and trying to learn how to read and trying to go back and try to go to school.
So I eventually left there and I ended up flying to LA and hitchhiking back to Texas and taking a GED, which is high school equivalency test. And I eventually passed that and started on my journey to learning how to read and learning how to write. And it was a slow, steady, one word at a time kind of project until I was able to become a scholar. I eventually led the fields and then once I learned how to read, I never stopped reading.
David Hirsch: Yeah. My recollection was that you went to the University of Houston and you got a bachelor’s degree, and then you went on to study chiropractic medicine [00:25:00] at the Texas Chiropractic College where you graduated in 1982 at the top of your class. And I’m wondering, was it during that period of time that you really developed this love for reading and knowledge, or was it after that?
John DeMartini: What happened was I took this GED. I passed it. It was a guess. It was a miracle. And I really did there, I thought there was something supernatural happening cuz I couldn’t even read half the questions and I just intuitively closed my eyes and put a pencil to the paper and just… I figured I got nothing to lose, but I somehow miraculously passed the test.
And then when I tried to go on to college, my first class I took was English and history, and I thought that miracle was gonna keep happening. And it didn’t. And I ended up getting a 27, you need a 75 or 72 to pass. And I got a 27. And when I saw that, I was so humiliated, so embarrassed when I saw that and I saw everybody else’s up [00:26:00] there and I kept looking, where’s my name? It’s not up there. Where is it? And then I looked at the very bottom and it was down there and I was going, oh God. And I didn’t want anybody to see that. And I ran to my car and I sunk down in the car and I cried. And I drove home really slowly on the side of the road, on the shoulder, just bawling, just thinking this whole thing about being a teacher is just illusion.
And all I could do is hear this first grade teacher running in my head, he’ll never read, he’ll never write and all that. And I thought, okay, I guess I’m gonna do it. But inside there was a part of me that was like building momentum towards wanting to learn how to read. And then all of a sudden it’s like I had this jolt and I remember going home and I was curled up in a fetal position underneath a Bible stand at my parents’ house. My mom came home from shopping and she saw me when she walked by the living room. She said, what on earth has happened? What happened, son? I said I blew it. I guess I don’t have what it takes. I guess I’ll never read, write or communicate or amount to anything. And she said, what happened? I said, I got a 27 [00:27:00] and I needed 70 something to pass. And she just paused and it was just like time stopped. And then she put her hand on my shoulder and she said, son, whether you become a great teacher and philosopher and travel the world like you dream, which is what I told her I want to do, or you wanna go back to ride giant waves in Hawaii like you’ve done, or return to the streets and panhandle as a bum like you’ve done, I just wanna let you know your father and I are gonna love you no matter what you do.
I needed that at that moment. When she said that, my hand went into a fist of determination and I said to myself, I’m gonna master this thing called learning and studying. I’m gonna master this thing called reading, and I’m gonna master this thing called teaching and speaking and I’m gonna do whatever it takes. I’m gonna travel whatever distance, I’m gonna pay whatever price to give my service of love across this planet. I’m not gonna let any human being, not even myself, interfere with this now. And it was this unbelievable no turning back determination moment. And I went up and hugged my mom and I gave her a big thank you.
I went into my room and I got the [00:28:00] Funk & Wagnalls dictionary out and decided I was gonna memorize 30 words a day, and my mom was gonna test me on it and I could speak it, spell it, pronounce it properly, use it in a sentence, and I would spend a lot of time on getting those 30 words done. I would go over and practice, over and over. And 30 words a day at the end of two years is a lot of words. [laughing] 30 words times… That’s 20,000 words you got that you didn’t have. So because I developed that little skill and I started reading and using the words and looking up dictionaries and looking at encyclopedias, I end up eventually reading eight complete sets of encyclopedias to try to catch up and read dictionaries.
I didn’t stop. And by the time I was almost 19, my mom said to me, what do you want for your 19th birthday? I said, I want the greatest teachings, the greatest writings on the face of the earth by the greatest minds who ever lived. And she said, you sure you don’t want a t-shirt? [00:29:00] [both laughing] I said, no. I want the greatest teachings on the face of earth by the greatest minds who ever lived. And she goes okay. So she called her brother, who was my uncle, uncle Ralph, who was an MIT professor at one time, and a chemist and physicist, really bright guy. And as a gift, uncle Ralph sent me two giant 6x6x6-foot wooden crates, filled with thousands of books down to my parents’ house. And I remember going out there off this flatbed truck, it’s put on the ground and I went out with a crowbar and opened these crates up and carried thousands of books, 10 books, 15 books at a time, and filled my room with books. And I had one little yoga mat in the middle and I just had books everywhere and I was in heaven.
I didn’t care about anything else. And I started to read 18 to 20 hours a day, sleeping about four in a meditative position. And I just read. And I wanted to catch up. And I wanted to study the laws of the universe, and these were the greatest philosophers, scientists, Nobel Prize [00:30:00] winners, theologians… It was just an amazing collection of books this guy sent. And that turned my life around. I just didn’t care about anything else except reading. I didn’t care about dating, I didn’t care about anything else except doing the jobs that I was responsible for and reading all day. And still to this day, I research, write, travel, and teach. That’s it. I’ve delegated everything off my plate. I don’t do anything else. I read every single day.
David Hirsch: So did that lead you going to college then? Is that what the impetus was to go to college or not?
John DeMartini: I went back and I started to pass, and then I started to excel and then people started asking me questions. That was one of the most rewarding moments of my life when I had the first student ever asked me to try to teach them something. That was like unbelievable! And my teaching career started. By the time I was at the University of Houston from the first little Wharton Junior College I had 100, 125, 150, sometimes swelling up to 400 students gathered under the trees. While I [00:31:00] would do my yoga, they’d come up and ask questions and they would just gather, and it became a daily ritual.
So my teaching grew and by the time I went to professional school, I was teaching seven nights a week. And I’ve never stopped. I still teach seven days a week pretty well, 50 years later.
David Hirsch: So did you think that you wanted to be a chiropractor? I remember that was part of your educational background. That’s what I’m curious about.
John DeMartini: I wanted to be a teacher, healer and philosopher.
David Hirsch: Okay.
John DeMartini: Healing… I didn’t believe that there was a deficiency of drugs or in excess of organs. I believe that there was a power inside the body to bring healing. And I was interested in how do I waken up the fullest potential in a human being from within. Not how do I blame a bacteria and how do I take care of it with some magic bullet? I didn’t believe in extrinsic causes and effects. I believed that we had the power that made the body, we had the power to heal a body. And I’m so grateful that I went that path because my whole philosophy was… It was matching my philosophy and today it’s still part of the core of [00:32:00] what I still do. So I’m very grateful for going that path.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So other than your own earlier experience where you’d mentioned your arms and legs were not straight and you had what was diagnosed later as dyslexia, have you had any exposure directly or indirectly to the world of special needs?
John DeMartini: I’ve run across families that I’ve gotten to consult with on how do I manage that? I’ve run into friends that have brothers and sisters. I’ve run into people that have attended my seminars. I’ve seen people who are in sports, cuz you know, there’s now whole sports systems for special needs that they excel at.
Had a lady recently that is special needs, but she’s a gold medalist. And over the years I’ve done that. I’ve also spoken in Canada. I had the opportunity to speak to a special needs school. And so it’s been interspersed in my life throughout, and of course it’s special to [00:33:00] me because I have some small reference to that reality. Small and not the same as what some have but small reference to it.
And what I found out is that there is no shortcomings. There’s a transformation. When I started studying kids that were autistic or whatever, for instance, I found that they always had something they excelled at. It was, if nothing else, it was the love and affection that they had. And people go, God, I wish I could have that type of love for my family or love for people. And they had the greatest spirit! And so I always said there’s never an area of weakness without a strength that’s there. And instead of focusing on the weakness, honor both of them because they both come as a pair. And honor the strength and let them concentrate on that.
I’ve seen people that may not be able… I know a young boy that was supposedly autistic that could read 40 books a day. He’s a student of mine. He reads 40 books a day, but he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t tie his shoes, he couldn’t do these other things. And I’m thinking, [00:34:00] whoa, here’s a kid that’s a genius. He is off the charts and over here he is not able to do certain things.
And so I’m a firm believer that there’s never a window that shuts without a door that opens. And so instead of looking at where the window is shut or whatever, look at where that other one is and put the two together and realize that’s worthy of love. You will never find somebody that doesn’t have a trait you like and a trait you dislike, or a strength and a weakness. I’m an idiot when it comes to driving a car, telling you what’s going on in sports, cooking. I’m useless there. But when it comes to human behavior, I’m pretty good. So I’ve got my areas of strength and whatever’s high on my values, I excel at. Whatever’s low is… so I’m an idiot.
So I’m both those and I think everybody else has strengths and weaknesses like that. And you wanna honor that package cuz that’s the unique package that those people have that we are sometimes not catching. Everybody’s got a unique pair of things that are strengths and weaknesses and likes and dislikes. But don’t [00:35:00] concentrate on one and put a label on people that way. Go look for the whole picture. Be mindful of the whole individual. And I feel certain that you’ll always find something that they excel at, that makes them exceptional, that brings your heart open. And find that. When you open your heart, when you love people for who they are, they turn into who you love. That’s my observation.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I love it. I wish we could go on and on, but I want to focus on one thing. There was a podcast that you did and you have a weekly podcast as well. And it was entitled “The Seven Powerful Parenting Strategies.” And we don’t have time to go into detail with each of these. But I’m wondering if we could use those as sort of a stepping off point, the first of which I understood to be how values and priorities emerge and come into existence, which is related to one of the other seven, which is honoring what each family member values. And I’m wondering if you can put that in the context for the families that [00:36:00] we’re talking about, the families that are raising multiple children, typically with not marginal differences, but in some cases, huge differences.
John DeMartini: The thing you do is you find out… The first thing to do is go in and find out what they value, the child’s value, because regardless of what their situation is, they have a set of values. They have things that are important to them. And even if you’re in a little baby crib and you see a little baby there a very young age, you put something in that crib, and I guarantee the child will stick it in its mouth and explore it and hold it and sleep with it, everything else, if it’s valuable to it. And if it’s not valuable, he’ll scream and holler and kick and do whatever to get it away. So you can pay close attention and find out what’s really valuable to them.
The question is, are you wise enough to not judge what they value? This is where a lot of parents are going no, that’s not the right values. You need to be doing this. You should be doing this. [00:37:00] Anytime you hear yourself saying you’ve got to, you have to, you must, you should, you ought to, you’re supposed to, you need to… That’s a projection of authority down disrespectfully onto a child’s value system. Instead of finding out how that value system is part of your dynamic in the family, cuz there’s no mistake why they have those values. They’re balancing out a family dynamic that you’re not seeing possibly. So the first thing is get off the high horse and level the playing field and realize that they have a set of values. Find out what it is and ask how specifically is those values helping you. If you do, you will have a different dialogue, a different respect level, and they’ll listen to you.
They won’t be a defiant little kid. They won’t be attention deficit around you. They’ll be listening cuz now you’re talking in their values. There’s nothing that needs changing. Nothing I need to regret. There’s nothing that I wish was different. There’s just, thank you. And anything you can’t say thank you for is baggage. Anything you can say thank you for is fuel. And that includes having special needs children. That includes watching them develop and [00:38:00] watching them go through the challenges and watching them coming out and being creative and and not seeing this in the way, but seeing it on the way. I think that’s very powerful and exemplifying that possibility for your children and for anybody for that matter.
I think that as Einstein said, the greatest teacher is exemplification, so I wanna exemplify a life of gratitude. That’s an executive governed life that is fulfilling in my opinion. If you’re not grateful, you’re missing out on life. You keep comparing your current reality to an unrealistic expectation, fantasy or delusion about how it should have been or would’ve been, instead of just honoring the way it is and how is right now helping me fulfill my mission in life. How is whatever’s happening helping me achieve something extraordinary? And what is the highest priority action I can be doing right now to help me do that?
Tom Couch: We’ll be back with more of the conversation on the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast in just a few moments. But first, this quick message. Please help 21st [00:39:00] Century Dads gather research on families raising children with special needs by having them complete the Special Fathers Network Early Intervention Parents Survey. A link to the survey can be found in the show notes. As a token of our appreciation each person, mom or dad who completes the survey, will receive a Great Dad Coin. Thank you. Now, back to the conversation.
John DeMartini: That’s why I think love is still the greatest, most powerful healer and the most powerful teacher and the most powerful transformer that there is because when you have a moment of unconditional love, just like my mom had with me when I was 18, that woke up inside me a transformation. I was about to throw it in and throw the towel in and just go back to surfing cuz it was an easy path. But when she had an unconditional love for me that shifted the dynamic and pulled out of me something that was a deeper determination. And I really think if you love people for who they are, they turn into who you love. You get [00:40:00] to help them transform and follow their authentic pathway, whatever that may be.
And can I share an interesting story? I gotta share this story. I don’t know if this fits or not, but I’m just gunna share. It’s not exactly special needs, but it’s… So I was speaking in Austria at the Milk Abbey to 200 people from around the world. And we were working on solving six world problems at the time. And we had Muhammad Yunus and the Dalai Lama and Wolf Singer and Paul Nurse and 12 speakers there. I was one of the speakers. And I met with Paul Nurse who’s a Nobel Prize winner, and he got his Nobel Prize in biology of the origin of life in the genetic code. So he’s a genetic background and biology background. When he found out he got the Nobel Prize and they were selecting him, they asked him to put together an authentic biography that had to be accurate about his life. When he went and researched his biography in his life, he discovered something he didn’t know, [00:41:00] that the parents that he has had all his life, this is 50 years, wasn’t his parents! It was his grandparents! And he had a sister that was 12 years older than him, that when she was 12 years old, she got pregnant and had him.
David Hirsch: Oh my gosh.
John DeMartini: But the parents didn’t want anybody to know about it, so they took her away and pushed her into another country. And then when she had the baby, took the baby and raised the baby cuz she was incapable doing it, but disowned the child. So they disowned the 12-year-old. Because it’s humiliated to family by being pregnant. That was the idea at the time. So he was raised with a void of love. A void of what’s my origin, what’s my genetic code? So from this young age, he wanted to know what’s the origin of life and was fascinated by genetics.
So when he got his Nobel Prize and he found this out, he insisted [00:42:00] that his biological mother be there at the acceptance. Now this means that the self-righteous parents that are condemning her for all those years have to be humbled. And the person that’s been condemned has to be lifted. And this is nature’s way of bringing things into equilibrium. This is the magnificent perfection of this. So he insisted that they are all together sitting next to each other. And there was a family reunion at the Nobel Prize where the family was honored and the daughter who was rejected as something flawed was now honored for the magnificence that was unseen.
But instead of waiting 50 years to see the magnificence unseen, had the wisdom of the ages without the aging process by looking now. The “special needs” aren’t missing anything. They’re just in another form. And finding that is the message of that story, why I wanted to share that story.
David Hirsch: That’s a very powerful story, John. I’m blown away by it, honestly. [00:43:00] And I’m wondering how many other situations like that known unknown in people’s lives are like the driving force like you just mentioned. I wish we had more time to take a deeper dive. I think the best I can offer is that let’s not make this the last time that we have a conversation and take a deep dive on some of these important issues to help these families who are raising children and in particular, in most cases, children with special needs as that’s defined in society today. And I’m wondering if there’s any particular advice that you might be able to share in closing with a parent or parents that find themselves overwhelmed or burdened by their parenting situation.
John DeMartini: Just what popped in my head as you said that is another story of a lovely lady who had a super high achieving daughter. Was off the charts and had every imaginable [00:44:00] thing she was accolading in and was just the super high… and an autistic son that was the complete complimentary opposite. So in the family dynamic you’ll see these complimentary opposites, kind of like particles and antiparticles. And so she was like the one that could not do anything wrong. And of course he couldn’t do anything right to the mother. Because a mother is humiliated by one and proud of the other one.
But then all of a sudden the daughter dies. She’s killed. And all of a sudden the mother is now living in a perception of grief of the fantasy, and now accentuating the torture of the nightmare. And so she comes to The Breakthrough Experience, my signature program that I do. And I explained the pairs of opposites in the family, and I explained these, the summation of all the values in the family dynamic always cancel each other to make a whole love, to try to teach people how to love all parts and not be right, but be love.
And what she did is she ended up doing what I call the DeMartini Method on her daughter and taking her off [00:45:00] the pedestal and finding the downsides of the daughter so we could appreciate the upsides of the son. And when she was sitting there and comparing him to this fantasy that she had about her, which was part of the reason why she ended up having death because the pressure was unbelievable. And what happened is when she ended up coming up with the drawbacks and actually breaking her fantasy about her daughter, and then finding the benefits of her son because I made her do that, made her come up… What was another downside of that, another benefit of the son and she got him to the balance level. And she had tears of gratitude and she saw the value of both of them in her life and the perfection of them both. He spoke.
David Hirsch: Oh my God, that just gives me…
John DeMartini: …chills, tears. Unbelievable. He shifted his dynamic. So I’m pretty convinced there is family dynamics sometimes playing out roles in these experiences, and that’s why I recommend doing the method, the balancing [00:46:00] method on that, the DeMartini Method on that to help re-appreciate all the parts of the family. When you love the family for what it is, it turns into what you love. Just like the individual.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I’m wondering also in addition to The Breakthrough Experience that you’re talking about, which I understand to be the signature program in the work you do, if there’s a book or a resource that we should highlight for parents.
John DeMartini: I think The Values Factor book is a good start because understanding human behavior and understanding human values is crucial. And there’s a section in that book on family. And I think that’s an eye-opener because it’ll address what I just mentioned here. That’s a good one. And there’s also a little parenting audio CD program that I have that’s probably online that usually smashes some of the fantasies and some of the myths that the family is, cuz so many people are putting pressure on their family without realizing that’s not going to get the outcome that they’re wanting. [00:47:00] Anytime you’re trying to get a one-sided family — all peace no war, all nice no mean, all kind no cruel, and this moral hypocrisies that we get trapped in — you’re guaranteed to accentuate the polarities instead of actually integrating them. So that might be helpful though, the book and that little CD or online program on parenting that I did. Cuz usually when parents listen to that, they just go, oh my God, I can’t believe I didn’t get this. Why didn’t nobody tell me this? And then the moment they do that, there’s like a huge release cuz now what they thought was chaotic and needed fixing doesn’t need fixing. You can start loving people. And there’s a great realization cuz people literally have delusions and fantasies about how life’s supposed to be instead of honoring the way it is.
David Hirsch: Yeah I’ll be sure to seek those out. We’ll include that in the show notes, so it’ll be as easy as possible for people to find. And on a much more superficial level, I can remember that my wife and I had these visions that our [00:48:00] kids were gonna go to the same colleges that we went to. I went to the University of Illinois and she went to Notre Dame undergrad. And we went 0 for 10, John. And despite the effort we both made… I’ll just say that the kids had Notre Dame outfits from the time they were six-months old. They went to camps, summer camps at Notre Dame. They got to go to different sporting events at Notre Dame University and some of them threw mom a bone and applied to Notre Dame, got accepted, but decided for their own reasons that they wanted to go someplace else. And I think that it has to do with pursuing their dreams as opposed to their parents’ dreams. And I’m glad that they had the strength of character to follow their own dreams. Cuz that’s what we told them. You get the grade, you get the test scores, you can go anywhere you want. But in the back of our minds, we were still thinking, hey, if Notre Dame was good enough for mom and University of Illinois was good enough for dad, why wouldn’t they be good enough for you? So there was a lot of learning taking place then. [00:49:00] Anyway, I’m not looking to…
John DeMartini: Can I share another little story?
David Hirsch: [laughing] By all means.
John DeMartini: My dad had the plumbing business, right? And so in the back of his mind, he never really put a lot of pressure on it, but he had kinda in the back of his mind that maybe I’ll take over the plumbing business, right? Now I did work there cuz that was the way I made money to go to school and things. But it really wasn’t my dream to run the plumbing business. It just wasn’t my heart. And one day I had to go out and repair a broken pipe underneath a house. It was 22 degrees, it was ice and rainy ice stuff. It was just a mess. And I was underneath there and the mud was so thick, I was literally freezing to death in the mud and everything else, repairing this pipe. And I think the universe gave me that experience just to make sure I made my decision clear. [laughing] And I remember coming out of there outta that house and I said, I decided I’m not doing this. [00:50:00] And I came to my dad and he almost burst out laughing. He goes you made your decision, son. That’s what matters.
And the following day, I went and got a job over at Texas Heart Institute in the health field. And it was really quite funny and I got to meet some amazing heart specialist. I think that was more in line with what I would really want to do. But that was the perfect thing. My dad never really put pressure, but you could smell it in the air that… He’d go, you sure you don’t want to take over the company, son? He wanted to be able to pass it on. He turned it over to the perfect man eventually who still owns that company to this day. I would not have been the guy. My heart was to travel the world and teach and and study health.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I love that story. Thank you for sharing. Let’s give a special shout out to our mutual friend, Dr. Richard Schuster, for making the introduction.
John DeMartini: Yes. Thank you. Thank you, Richard.
David Hirsch: If somebody wants to learn more about the DeMarini [00:51:00] Institute, your courses, your books, your podcast, or to contact you, what’s the best way to do that?
John DeMartini: All they have to do is go to DrDeMartini.com, and they can spend the rest of this life on the website there’s so much stuff on there. And even if they’re not a believer in reincarnation or a Buddhist or a Hindu or something like that, and they’re a Christian they may have to believe in reincarnation just so they can read everything that’s on there, cause it’s gonna take more than one life. There’s so much information on there. I’m joking, that’s just a joke. But you can devour and watch YouTubes and there’s hundreds and hundreds of articles on TV and radio and newspapers, magazine articles and stuff that you could just go anywhere you want.
It has the titles. You can look and find the ones that might resonate with what you wanna read. And then there’s live programs and there’s educational products that… Just take advantage, just take a look at it and do the value determination process. That’s an exercise that’s worth doing.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thank you for sharing. [00:52:00] I’ll be sure to include that in the show notes. And there is an extraordinary amount of information there, more than anybody could possibly get through in any reasonable period of time. And I think that part of it is just navigating the resource and I can highly recommend it. John, thank you for taking the time and many insights. As a reminder, John is just one of the individuals who’s part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. As you probably know, the 21st Century Dads Foundation is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free to all concerned. Would you please consider making a tax-deductible contribution? I would really appreciate your support. John, thanks again.
John DeMartini: Thank you. Appreciate a great interview.
Tom Couch: And thank you [00:53:00] for listening to the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children match up with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support other dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to Facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad.” Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story or know of a compelling story, please send an email to David@21stCenturyDads.org.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast was produced by me, Tom Couch.
Thanks again to Horizon Therapeutics who believe that science and compassion must work together to transform lives. [00:54:00] That’s why they work tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics at HorizonTherapeutics.com.