Seeking Ultimate Fulfillment
Getting real with Roger Brooks, founder of American Real
With Mike Foldes
Roger, thanks for agreeing to an e-interview with Ragazine. I was introduced to the site during a conversation on a First Friday in March with John Brunelli, who with his brother Anthony, appeared in the pilot episode of American Real. There was a postcard on the counter in the front of the Brunelli Gallery, where we were talking, that I picked up and put in my pocket, which I often do with cards I see at galleries and other events… John asked, “Do you know Roger Brooks?”
At the time I didn’t, and in fact I didn’t realize that he was talking about you – I hadn’t taken the time to look at the card, figuring I’d check it out later… Which I did. And that, in short, is what prompted me to ask if you’d be interested in doing a short e-interview with Ragazine. To introduce yourself, and your site, to our readers. So glad you agreed.
Q) First, a little about Roger Brooks… What is your connection with Binghamton, where the show is produced? Are you a native, or did you move here from somewhere else? Or, for example, as with many newer residents, did you end up staying here after graduating from Binghamton University?
A) Binghamton is home. I was born and raised here and I have a strong connection to this community. My mother’s side of the family settled in Binghamton after immigrating from Italy in the early 1900’s. The family owned and operated a business called Milasi’s Market & Cafe on the corner of Susquehanna and Carol Streets in the late 1950’s. I attended Broome County Catholic Schools through 7th grade, then transferred to West Junior before entering Binghamton High School. Playing baseball was a big part of my life, where I played on the high school team all 4 years. From there I attended Broome Community College for two years and played on the baseball team before transferring to Portland State University in Portland, OR. After marrying the love of my life, Sabrina DeRitis, I eventually moved back to Binghamton in the mid-1990’s.
Q) AmericanReal is presented as a self-help site based on the London Real program developed by Brian Rose, with whom you appear on the promotional postcard mentioned in our introduction. Can you give us the background on how you made the connection to or with London Real?
A) Brian Rose is from California and after college he moved to New York City where he worked on Wall Street. Wanting a change, he moved to London where after some time he became unfulfilled with his career. He left his job as a banker and started a video podcast called London Real. My friends, Tony and John Brunelli (brothers), introduced me to the podcast, which I started watching in 2015. In 2016, I met with the Brunelli brothers and a few other friends and decided to start my own podcast. At the time I had no affiliation with Brian Rose or London Real. Slowly, I began purchasing equipment and gearing up to start the show in July 2017. That’s when I received a generic e-mail from Brian Rose (as I was on the London Real mailing list). Brian announced he was teaching an online course called Broadcast Yourself. I looked into it and signed up a week later. The course was an intense 8-weeks; a combination of live calls, video, and worksheets with nearly 65 other want-to-be podcasters from around the world. Brian taught everything from technology to the art of conversation, and also has a standing offer for anyone taking his course that they can use the REAL branding in their name. I wanted to go big and went with American Real. I took the course very seriously, and went all out — treating it as a second job. On our final live call with the entire class, Brian announced I would be interviewing him in two weeks in London. It was an honor and on September 30, 2017, I interviewed Brian Rose in his London Real studio… the same set I had been watching for years. The interview was turning point in my life and my career and I haven’t looked back.
Q) How long after finding out about London Real did you decide to start American Real, and did you experience some or much of what London Real founder Brian Rose experienced in his initial efforts? That is, did you give up a high-paying job in finance to devote yourself – at high risk — to this project, or was it a more mundane transition?
A) American Real started about three years after my initial introduction to London Real. Although our career paths were different, it seems Brian and I were on a similar track to find fulfillment. I have always had a passion for learning more about people and what makes them tick. In 2006 and 2007, I released a book series called Faces of the Southern Tier. Each of the two volumes contain portraits and profiles of 50 fascinating subjects. My goal was to honor people for their contributions to our community and to the world. In fact, many of the subjects in the book have also appeared on American Real. That said, I naturally gravitated toward a show similar to London Real, sharing people’s stories. I currently maintain a full-time career in the customer loyalty and payments space and treat American Real as an intense side-hustle.
Q) I first noticed that American Real presents as a self-help site. After watching episodes of London Real and American Real, it seems more like learning from others’ experiences, both accomplishments and mistakes, successes and failures, rather than telling someone how to be a better person as in many self-help programs. Do I have that right?
A) Correct. It’s a way for the viewer to learn from the experiences of others. Each guest brings their own unique perspective or life lessons to the show and my job is to bring the best out of each guest. The caveat here, is that I aim to carry out those life lessons in between episodes, reminding people that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to. The idea is to reinforce positive change each and every day.
“Society conditions us to put on a mask and pretend to be who we are not,
instead of living life based on who we truly are deep down inside.”
Q) Your questions seem designed more to elicit in-depth responses from your guests. I don’t hear pontification about how to live one’s life, not a lot of direct instruction. You’re not telling anyone what to do or how to live, other than “charity begins at home,” home meaning yourself. Can you tell us a bit more about what you mean when you say “It all starts with you. It’s all about you.”?
A) I am talking about free will. Every single day we wake up and have free will. Free will to decide who we will show up as in the world. Society conditions us to put on a mask and pretend to be who we are not, instead of living life based on who we truly are deep down inside. To be clear, I am far from perfect in this area… I too am working each and every day to show up as my true authentic self and becoming more aware of who we are and our purpose. It is a life-long journey to elevate our level of consciousness and live in a state of ultimate fulfillment. When we are able to break old habits, live in the present, don’t pass judgment, be of service and start living as our true self, that is when the magic happens. It’s living a life of bliss and everyone has the free will to do so.
Q) There something called Tribe that challenges viewers to take the first steps in becoming comfortable sharing their own experiences on a private podcast site. A way to take action based upon what they see and hear coming from other Tribe members, or subjects of your podcasts, to become “better persons.”
Can you explain a bit about that, and whether The Tribe is a way to generate a revenue stream that will be used to support American Real activities, as well as yourself?
A) The American Real Live Tribe is a training ground for much of what was discussed in the previous question. The private group helps people get more comfortable with live video, but the secret behind it is much deeper. It is designed as a daily exercise to record 60-second live videos in 21-day cycles. Habits are formed in cycles of 21 and those who maintain the practice long enough, after 3 full cycles, truly see a major change in themselves. The Live Tribe is helping people become more authentic, accountable and more than anything, transparent. The group is a paid service, priced to be affordable by all ($10/ month).
Q) Ragazine’s intent from the start was to be the global online magazine of arts, information and entertainment. By presenting work from across the spectrum of human activity, without being actively political other than in the selection of materials for the zine, we share the work of artists, writers, professors, journalists and others, with our readers, many of whom are the same – that is, both producers/creators, and consumers, of that work. In some sense, I believe we have a lot in common with American Real, just presented in a different forum. If you’ve reviewed our site, would you agree or disagree with that synopsis, or comparison?
A) I agree 100%. Both entities are raising global consciousness wrapped up in goodness, exposing people to the work of others, be it verbal or physical.
Q) How many viewers do you have, and are you able to break down where they are, when they tune in, how long they stay? What has been your most-watched episode? Why do you think “it” was?
A) American Real is growing each day, each week. We are now reaching close to 200,000 people per week from all around the world. The way we are able to do this is by making the show available on multiple channels and platforms such as iTunes, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram among others. There’s lots of trial and error… learning each week as we grow in an attempt to continue to produce content of value.
Q) What’s on the horizon for American Real and Roger Brooks? Is this a full-time gig, yet, or in process of becoming?
A) We are 18 months into a three-year plan to build American Real Media as a viable business. As you know, the first 3-5 years of any startup is crucial and we are keeping our heads down in order to reach and exceed our goals. For me, it’s about being present, staying humble and enjoying what we do and the people we are attracting and connecting. I’m learning something new every day and aim to help at least five people every day in some capacity. I’m a firm believer in leading by example, and being of service to others first as a way of life. As I write this today, there’s still much work to be done, but my number one priority is continuing to put out the best possible content I can. The rest will take care of itself.
Q) Any famous – or infamous — last words? Anything you’d like to add that we may have missed in questions?
A) My last words are this. Close your eyes and think about what truly makes you happy. When you open your eyes take some action on that feeling and do something about it. Don’t leave it trapped inside… let it out, and let it shine in order for you to grow and for the world to see.
Watch Now: https://AMERICANREAL.tv
About the interviewer:
Mike Foldes is founder and managing editor of Ragazine.cc. You can read more about him in About Us.