Full Episode Transcript
Intro Script: We believe, and have always believed in this country that man was created in the image of God. He was given talents and responsibility and was instructed to use them to make this world a better place in which to live. And you see, this is the really great thing of America. It’s time to discover what binds us together and finding it has the power to transform our world. That’s what I believe. How about you?
Doug: Well, hello everybody. My name is Doug Devos and welcome to “Believe!” This is a podcast that we’re starting here. And it’s a pretty simple, straightforward podcast. What do you believe? Why do you believe it? We thought it would be interesting to spend time with guests, with friends, and with family like we are today to explore that topic. There’s so many things going on in our world and there’s so many people trying to tell you what to believe that we didn’t wanna be one of those sorts of, you know, podcasts or people even. What we wanna do is help explore and maybe frame some issues so that you can determine what you believe for yourself. And it’s a greater depth than just what you think about a given issue. We’d like to try to explore and really dive down deep because what you believe, in my opinion, drives how you behave. The perspective that you put on things, the expression of your beliefs and your actions, they’re connected. And so, what we wanted to do is kind of explore topics of the day, issues that are important in life, as well as short-term and long-term that would allow us to just explore and dive into a few things that we hope will be helpful for you. And will help you craft where you stand. So, we’re not gonna try to advocate one thing or another. We may explore something that drives down a certain path, a person or a guest may be saying what they believe and expressing and trying to maybe, you know, convince or influence you. But, that’s not the purpose of what this is all about. The purpose is that you hopefully learn, like I’m trying to learn, you know, throughout our life and then find out what you really believe on the inside going from there. So, we’re gonna try to ask some big question, some small questions. We’re gonna try to keep exploring and drilling down deeper. We’re gonna, long-term, short-term, or kind of all over the board with those sorts of things. And that’s really where we are today. So, we’re gonna be doing interviews. We’re gonna try to be diving a little deeper. We’re gonna get people from across the spectrum around the country. But right now, we’re starting a little closer to home. So, I’m gonna introduce the two folks that are here. My son, Dalton, and my daughter, Monreau. So my wife, Maria, and I have four children. So, two of them, I was able to talk into or force into doing this for me now. So, we’re gonna dive in. I would give you a big, long introduction, but I know you’re pretty well and I think our guests could figure it out on that front as well. But, one of the main reasons that the two of them are here is ’cause they were kind of the instigators of making this happen because we talk amongst ourselves a lot. And I think they’re tired of listening to me. So, they wanted to share the joy with a few other people. And that’s really what this is about. So, I’m gonna turn it over to you guys now to explain a little bit about why we’re doing this and let you ask a few of the questions to get us started.
Dalton: So, then we accidentally volunteered ourselves in the process.
Doug: You did, well, it wasn’t an accident. I mean, we had it figured out for you.
Dalton: All right, well, I’ll go easy on you in the beginning.
Doug: All right, so you have this figured out, it’s choreographed between Dalton and Monreau here to grill me, right?
Monreau: Something like that.
Dalton: Yeah. Something like that. You should put on your helmet.
Doug: Alright, alright.
Dalton: Well, let’s start with a softball. Why are you starting a podcast called “Believe!”?
Doug: Well, if you go with “Believe!”, I’m gonna direct you up to the book right there, the logo that’s on the screen right there. And it really goes back to Grandpa, goes back to the upbringing I have and when we talk about expressing your ideas through your behavior, through your actions, it’s what I’ve lived with my whole life and what I watched. And I saw my dad, your grandpa, be very consistent in his beliefs and how he expressed them. There may have been a time or two where he went a little fast and maybe wishes he could have brought the words back and said something a little different or said it in a different way. But, it kinda goes back to what he wanted to be able to voice and why he wrote the first book that he wrote. What does he believe? He picked a few big topics,. What does he believe about his faith? What does he believe about God? And how does he then think about it and express it? And what does he believe about our country, about free enterprise, about the economic system that we’re in. Those were the big ones that kind of lured him, if you will, into taking the time and attention to write it down and express it. And that’s what I think kept us curious about keeping it going.
Dalton: And you’ve mentioned it a lot and grandpa obviously lived it, but that when you live your beliefs like that, it engenders a respect from others, even if they don’t share those same beliefs, right? I mean, he can go around the world and explain and talk about his beliefs, and they may not, you know, cultures around the world may not exactly share them all to a T, right? But, they still respect him for sharing that and for being honest in who he is.
Doug: I think you’re spot on. I think that’s probably the most important aspect of this conversation, this dialogue, and why to do this. Because just because you believe something doesn’t mean you’re right or wrong, you all get the choice to believe what you want. And if you’re okay to articulate and say, “Hey, this is what I believe.” And leave room for people to believe something else, but still love them and appreciate them and still encourage them and support them to the greatest extent possible. I’ll tell you, you know, obviously you’re gonna hit a conflict every once in awhile, but it doesn’t have to be a conflict. So, I think that was an important part. Dad, and of course, Jay VanAndel, his best friend and co-founder at Amway, they always appreciated the right to believe something different. And they always expressed that, especially when it comes to faith or to political ideologies, they appreciate that. And wherever you come from. And so the idea is to explore what you believe in a way that’s powerful, in a way that’s impactful, but not in a way that that takes away the power from someone else or the freedom from someone else to believe what they believe.
Dalton: Makes sense. That wasn’t a softball.
Doug: No. Dalton, that was harder than a softball.
Dalton: Oh, come on. You can take it.
Doug: I can take it. All right.
Monreau: Belief is also a very like positive and optimistic term. Can you expand a little bit on your positive and optimistic outlook on life and how that applies to timeless principles rather than just focusing on the day-to-day negatives that the media is pushing around the world?
Doug: Sure, sure, you know, you gotta be optimistic or else life’s gonna be really tough, right? You gotta believe it’s gonna get better. Even if it’s gonna get worse for a little while, even if things are really dark at a certain time. And I think it’s a little bit going back to your grandpa, growing up in a time of the depression, which is a pretty tough experience. Or, if you go back before him to his parents of being immigrants to a new country, being in a tough situation so that you’re gonna take an adventure that you can never return from. When they came to the United States, there was no going back, you know? And so, you’ve got to believe that you’re taking a step forward. Certainly you’re gonna have setbacks. And that optimistic view was vital. And grandpa would always tell the story about how in the midst of the depression, when his father lost their home, when they were living in their grandparent’s attic, when they were going through all these tough times that my grandfather would always tell him, it’s gonna get better. I’m gonna get a job back. We’re gonna get our house back. We just gotta work through this tough time. And so, if we can take the time to look at the current challenges without disregarding them, and not just being Pollyanna and pretending they’re not real, but go through the current challenge and say, “Well, how can we improve on this? How can we get better? How can we make advances in whatever the situation may be?” But if you do it from a positive impact, rather than just trying to tell anybody how bad it is. Well, every expert can do that, but how do we get through it? And that’s the key.
Dalton: Let’s talk a little bit about the format of the podcast. Who do you wanna talk to? Why do you wanna talk to them? How are you gonna instruct structure this going forward?
Doug: Well, I think we wanna talk to people who have lived experiences. So, you wanna talk to somebody who’s been an immigrant, who’s been in the middle of a certain issue or a topic, had a life experience that they can share and reflect on. People who’ve been in a difficult situation.
Dalton: So, people with firsthand knowledge?
Doug: Absolutely, if they’ve had it and they can express it. I think you also, you wanna talk to some experts. I may not have been the best student, but I always appreciate people who are students, and this is all about lifelong learning. So, you wanna be able to dive into somebody who’s studied the topic pretty deeply and can express a perspective or point of view. Those are the two main areas I think you wanna kinda get to because I think there’s an academic and then there’s a practical side of things that you wanna be able to explore and share. And to me that’s always been the way, I actually probably lean a little more towards the lived, the real-life experience than the academic, but I certainly appreciate the academic because sometimes when you listen to experts in a given field, you just go, “Oh, I never thought about it that way.” And that unlocks a lot of the limitations that a person may put on themselves. And so certainly, and somebody who’s lived the experience and done it, well, that’s just encouragement, right? So, you gotta say, “Well, if they can do it then maybe I can do it too.”
Dalton: Makes sense.
Doug: That’s what we’re trying for.
Dalton: Sounds like fun.
Dalton: Going back to grandpa’s book a bit, it was written about 50 years ago. So, do you wanna expand a little bit on the principles that he talked about and how they still are standing the test of time?
Doug: You know, I think that’s the big thing. Without diving into the principles, they’re principles that stand the test of time, that have been around for the test of time, the things had impact people, ideas like accountability, responsibility, personal worth, people having value, just intrinsically having value. And that’s been a belief that he held and that we hold, I hold. Every person you look at, no matter what current situation they may be in, there are a child of God. They were created special with unique talents and abilities. And maybe they’re just not achieving those, the fullest extent of those abilities or their potential. And therefore let’s remind ourselves of the value, of the intrinsic value that every person has. And I think when you look around the world in the business sense, there’s lots of experiments that have been tried. The United States as a great experiment, right? You got 50 experiments in every state, they can try things different. You can look at countries around the world. What’s worked? What’s been the outcome or the result of certain political systems, of certain policy decisions? You can look and study and learn from those things. We’ve got a lot of history and let’s apply those principles to a real fact base and figure out what we can learn and see if it shapes our belief going forward. A lot of people thought the world was flat until new information came along. And so, you have to, or I think, on some fundamental levels of faith, you have a fundamental belief, but you can still learn and shape and develop that belief. On some more, maybe more temporary issues like policy, or government, or business, or community, there’s a lot of learning that can happen and things can happen pretty quickly. And so, you know, I think though, tying things back to a timeless foundation or timeless principles gives you a stronger foundation to be able to adjust to the things you may be learning in the short term.
Monreau: There’s a story you’ve told us many times about the value of people. Do you wanna expand on that a little bit with grandpa in Malaysia?
Doug: No, yeah, well, yeah. That’s like Believe in People 101. It’s one of the early experiences when we went to an Amway event in Malaysia, when I was, I think I was 15 years old. And the Amway business was pretty new in Malaysia at that time, maybe I think three or four years old, and having a rally, a few thousand people were coming to an Amway meeting and dad had the chance to meet with the prime minister of Malaysia at the time. And of course, the conversation goes to general economic business issues. Dad was a business guy. And so, that was what the discussion was. And, the prime minister was saying that at this time, Malaysia was hurting because the greatest natural resources of Malaysia were copper, tin, and oil, and their prices were depressed on the global market and therefore had economic consequences. And so, the conversation went and then he turned it and said, “Yeah, but your business is doing great. You’re new, you’re young, you’re growing. You’ve got all these people coming to this meeting.” And he goes, you know, “What’s the secret?” And dad’s reply was simple, he says, “Well, Mr. Prime Minister, you think the greatest natural resources of Malaysia are copper, tin, and oil, and in the Amway business, we think the greatest natural resources of Malaysia are the people of Malaysia. And an Amway we believe in people, we invest in people.” And you know, that principle has never wavered. It doesn’t mean that somebody won’t disappoint you at some point in your life or that somebody won’t reach their potential because nothing’s guaranteed, but his belief in the ability of people to be successful and achieve their goals, never wavered. And his willingness to continue to invest in that belief or stay true to that belief was pretty powerful.
Dalton: So, that’s one timeless principle. What are a few others that you find to be timeless and guiding you on your life?
Doug: Well, I think we spent a lot of time talking about this actually as a family in years past. And so, I think there’s some other things that come come through. One is integrity, who you are, especially in the visibility and transparency of today’s world. If you wanna act one way in one situation and another way in another situation, you’re gonna be found out as a hypocrite pretty quickly. If you said something 10 years ago and now you completely are on the other side of it, you’re gonna be found out. So, you just gotta plan on everyone knowing everything. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your position.
Dalton: Especially in the digital world today.
Doug: Especially in the digital world.
Dalton: It’ll be recorded and remembered for eternity.
Doug: Which is what we’re doing here. So, if we say something here, you at least have to speak to it and say, “Yeah, that’s what I believed then, but I’ve changed my position now. Here’s why.” It’s not that you’re hypocritical to develop or change your belief, but what was your journey? What was your pathway to get there? You know, responsibility, I think is a huge one. I have a role in your life as your parent, as your father, but I can’t control your life. And what you do is up to you. I can have an influence and I can try to have a positive influence, and I can try to influence you in a direction that I think is best for you, but I can’t do it for you. I can never do it for you. And that was always the view in the Amway business. We create great products, but I can’t sell it to a customer for you. You’re gonna have to do that. And I can’t make you successful. You’re gonna have to do that, but I can try to be a viable, helpful partner and a piece of the solution. So, you know, I think that one’s pretty important. And I think the, you know, we talked about the ideas , of the value of every individual. I think the other side of, you know, something is just celebrating achievement. When grandpa came back from his heart transplant surgery, that was one of the stories he told. He talked about celebrating achievement, about just making sure you’re with people, because at the very earliest stages, what do you do as a child? “Hey, watch me. Watch me, check this out.” Dad, grandpa, uncle, brother, sister, whatever, “Hey, watch me.” And we never really grow out of that. We all wanna have somebody cheering for us. And so, I think there’s a principle of saying, how do we find, to your point earlier, Monroe, how do we find the good things happening and then expand on it? Not that you sugarcoat the bad things, but how do you find the good things and say, “That’s what we can build a better future on.”
Dalton: If I may dig one level deeper, where do those timeless principles come from for you?
Doug: Well, they come from your faith. From my faith as a Christian. I believe that I was created. And if I believe that then I believe you were created, and I believe that God loves me. And if I believe that, then I believe He loves you. And therefore, you’re worthy of love and appreciation. And it’s not for me to judge. So, I think it comes from a faith basis about how I think, or I view, or I believe, the world was created. And therefore, that level of trust that world was created, the world’s not an accident. I’m not an accident, you’re not an accident. And you start with that structure of trust. Then you can find the things that are important to you with your values. And then you can spend your life expressing those values, talking about them, living them, and try to find a purpose and meaning in our existence. So, that’s where it goes back to that level of trust or faith.
Dalton: It seems like we’re in a bit of like a crisis in our country of belief, not necessarily from a faith perspective, but just in each other and kind of bridging a gap that we’ve created. How do you think we can get back on the right track?
Doug: It’s talking, it’s conversation, it’s interaction, it’s studying the facts, it’s looking at what’s happening with the direction that we’re going, it’s listening and understanding, that’s the biggest part of the conversation. I always go back, God gave us one mouth in two years and it’s the simple piece of going back there. Of course, you know, my experience, as you know, and you know, at Amway was as a partnership, not only with the VanAndel family or with Amway business owners around the world, or employees, but with Steve in particular. And when Steve and I had to make decisions, you know, if we weren’t on the same page, we didn’t fight. We didn’t, you know, entrench ourselves in our positions. We kept the conversation going and kept gaining more information, more knowledge in listening to each other and trying to find the resolution about what was the best decision for the organization. And so, you know, I think that’s a, it’s more than winning an election. It’s more than getting what you want at this point in time, you know, without considering the collateral damage or the costs. And so, I always have the belief that there’s more unites us than divides us, but if you only focus on what divides us, then that’s where you’re gonna live your life and it’s not productive.
Dalton: A continued focus on the little things that might divide us just creates a bigger chasm.
Doug: Well, and the things that divide are big things too. I mean, there’s serious issues that can divide us, but there’s nothing that we can’t overcome or that we can’t learn from or do better in the process going forward. So, I don’t think because it’s a big issue, it should scare us from having the conversation either.
Dalton: Yes, but you get canceled for having some conversations nowadays.
Doug: That’s a really, you know, in my opinion, a very bad tactic. And I think that’s something that in our country and around the world, this idea of a freedom of speech, a freedom of thought, a freedom of your intellectual capacity and your ability to express it and share it was vital for societies to be able to thrive and to be able to advance. And that as soon as you stop that, and there was one human source of truth, because they were in power, that a society gets stuck, just like in a family. You know, I mean, if I were the only one to say in our family that I had all the things figured out. Well, first one, I think your mom would disagree and then you guys would disagree, but our family would not move forward with that sort of a system.
Dalton: Well, then we’ve asked you a lot of questions. Do you have any questions for us?
Doug: Well, yeah, why are you here?
Dalton: ‘Cause you asked us to be.
Doug: No, no, no, before that. Why did you want me to do this?
Monreau: Well, I mean, we can speak a little bit too, just like your public speaking background and you’re just motivational speaker with Amway, but you’re just like, the way you convey your message and your beliefs, it’s very powerful and also like contagious I feel like. And yes, we’ve spent a lot of time together in the past year, especially with COVID and just hearing you express your beliefs. I think more people need to. I’m not able to convey it to my friends and my generation in the way that I think is missing in the world right now. And so, selfishly I’ve kinda thought this was a good idea for you just to broadcast it, but not specifically your beliefs, but just to help other people solidify their beliefs. I know it’s been very impactful for me, even in the past few years, figuring out what I believe.
Dalton: Yeah, it’s also a way to dive in deeper. A way for you to have conversations that need to be had. And then, when it’s a podcast it’s held publicly and everyone can participate in that conversation. So, not only are you diving into what somebody else may believe or what this conversation could be, but everyone listening dives into it as well. So, you’re exploring answers to those types of questions, not just on your own, but with these subject matter experts. And you’re not claiming to know the answers to any of this, but I think you do a great job of posing the question. And we’ve seen you do a lot of interviews over the years. We think you do a great job. And we think that all of those conversations were really intriguing for us to listen to. So, why not make it available to everyone?
Doug: Well, it’s always good to have two fans to start the process here. Public Speaking 101 is at least get a small fan base that at least goes to the meeting and cheers for you when you’re introduced or something like that.
Dalton: I think your curiosity as well. When you’re having these conversations with people, your curiosity really does come through and you really wanna know and get to the bottom of what they believe and how they are thinking about things. And you’re not just gonna sit there and say, “Oh, well, oh, interesting. Okay, moving on.” Like you’d rather dive into it and really figure it out. And you’ll challenge things. I mean, we know as your children.
Monreau: For sure.
Dalton: When we try to present something to you, if we haven’t thought it through very well, it’s not gonna go anywhere. We gotta be able to think through our ideas and suggestions before we can present them to you and actually get anything out of it. For better or for worse.
Doug: For better or for worse. So, two things and answer however you want, how did you come to your beliefs, where you are now? What were some of the things that were important? And how do you best receive information? What’s the best way to communicate or connect with you when you think about these issues or even maybe what’s the best way to raise them so that an issue that somebody may not have thought about before all of a sudden they go, “Hey, maybe I should start thinking about it.”
Dalton: That’s a good question.
Doug: That’s why I posed it.
Monreau: I think the first question, going back to, how do we decide or decipher what we believe? I think that kind of goes back to values a bit too. So, I mean, growing up around a dinner table and family was a key value and faith was a key value and just believing in people, I think, we’ve always seen the best in everybody. And I think that’s a main one and just teamwork and knowing that you’re better together than alone. I think that’s a big part of what I believe.
Doug: What were some of your experiences that either reinforced some of those values, and not just your experience. Sports, school.
Dalton: Mostly sports.
Monreau: Yeah, mostly sports. I grew up playing soccer as my key sport, especially moving on to the collegiate level. You can’t do things alone, it’s a team sport. You need to push each other to believe in the potential of each other and continue to practice and work hard. And I think that’s definitely made me who I am today.
Dalton: Yeah. I think the other thing there is diving into your faith as well. And diving in, reading books, and reading the Bible and finding out what’s in there, right? And that really helps set a cornerstone and a foundation for your life going forward and how you treat people and how you think of yourself. There are a lot of ills today and people are feeling down or not feeling so optimistic about themselves, but you know, through our faith and through the Bible we are told and we’re taught that you really, you are worthy no matter what, God loves you no matter what. And so, that’s where a lot of these values and these beliefs are grounded for us.
Monreau: Main thing from grandpa was always too, like, you can do it regardless of anything. “What are you doing today? Oh, I don’t know, I’ve got this big thing coming up.” He’s like, “You can do it.” Like, that was a key to my childhood, to college, to life in the world today. It’s just always seeing that, like, you can get yourself through it.
Dalton: You beat me to it. I was also gonna say we had good role models.
Dalton: Our grandparents, our parents, our aunts and uncles, you know, we’re very fortunate, our spouses now.
Monreau: Yep, that too.
Doug: But, my point was that you had your own experiences outside of our family. You said you read and studied more deeply. You had sports experiences too, but it goes both ways. But, your story that you were part of a team, you were part of an organization doing something at a high level. So, just unpack that with the fact of, or with the idea of what’s the best way that you found that you received information that was important for you. I mean, a coach yelling at you is a good one.
Monreau: I don’t know about that. I think personal connection. I mean, the people you trust and respect and knowing that they feel the same about you and are giving you constructive criticism maybe.
Dalton: Stole the words right out of my mouth.
Doug: We are a family so something like that happens often.
Dalton: Communicating telepathically.
Monreau: But that’s a main one for me.
Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, I think you hit on the real word there, which is trust, right? You’re willing to take criticism, even if it’s not constructive from someone that you trust. So, you know, building trust is key and, you know, being when you read things and when you’re learning something, you know, when it comes from a place that you trust, you’re more apt to believe it and you’re more apt to allow it to force you to take a step back and rethink your priors. Like, “Oh, okay, that’s interesting. Did I really believe that? Or, what made me believe that and does that contradict what I’m reading now or what I’m listening to or hearing now?” So yeah, that’s a lot of where we get it.
Doug: But, this idea of trust is interesting because you may have a source, you know, trust doesn’t mean somebody just told you what you wanted to hear. So, you can develop trust in a source that you may not trust it the first time. You may not like this person telling you something, or this information, this fact-based telling you something, how do you deal with that?
Dalton: Double check things. I think the largest thing that influences trust is truth. And when you are able to realize that, oh, okay, you know, this person, this organization, this outlet, whatever, is focused on truth. And I’m only, you know, not only, but I’m mostly hearing the truth from them. I’m not expecting anyone to be perfect.
Doug: No one’s perfect.
Dalton: But, you know, when it’s based in truth and it’s verifiable, that’s when you know that you have a good source or you have a good place to go for information and for influence.
Doug: Well, you guys, we’ll wrap this session up here. Thanks for your encouragement and for helping to do this because behind the scenes, you guys did a lot of the work to pull this together. The format and everything, even the physical space that we’re enjoying right here is because of all the work that you did. So, thank you for that. I think we’re gonna have a lot of fun with this adventure as we go forward, as we explore these topics that we’ve developed to talk about that we think will be impactful and helpful as people shape their beliefs. Any final words you guys wanna add?
Monreau: I’m excited too. I mean, we’re looking for feedback too, from the listeners. I mean, this is what we’ve got started and we’re gonna roll with it, but if they have other ideas or topics of interest, then we’ll explore those as well.
Dalton: I’m very excited and curious to listen in on these conversations. I think they’re gonna be absolutely fascinating. I don’t expect them to be very consistent with entire mainstream normal thought. I hope that they’re kind of pushing the boundaries a little bit and making us really think about what we believe. So, I really look forward to this and I think it’s gonna be a very, I think it’s gonna be a bit of a growing experience for all of us.
Doug: I certainly think so. I’m looking forward to learning and hearing from subject matter experts like this. I’m really curious how they come at things, how their perspective is similar to mine or different from mine and how it’s gonna challenge us, how are they gonna bring things that we’re gonna learn from and shape and develop our beliefs and strengthen them, or question them, or challenge them, whatever the case may be so that we strengthen what we believe because we will have more knowledge, we’ll have more experience, we’ll have gained a better understanding about some of these topics. That’ll help us think through and be more productive people and citizens in our communities as well. So with that, thanks gang. Thanks for joining. Thanks for helping us set us up. And with that, we’re gonna wrap up this episode and look forward to seeing you next time on “Believe!”