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Interview Transcript

Brian Smiga: This is Brian Smiga. I’m here with the 1act.1idea Podcast interview with Sebastian Terry. Hi Sebastian, how are you? Welcome.

Sebastian Terry (follow Seb on Instagram) : I’m well, great to see you again, Brian. Thanks for having me.

Brian Smiga: You too. I feel your energy already across the Zoom. Sebastian came and spoke at TEDxAsburyPark 2018, when he was partway through his journey in growing 100things. 100things is encouraging people to create the hundred things they want to do before they die. And think about, “What if you’re going to die in a year. What would you want to do?” Sebastian, you’ve come a long way since then. So did I get it right?

Sebastian Terry: Yeah. That’s it. It started off very much as a one man journey. I was just trying to find happiness after the loss of a friend, so I put a list together and I started checking things off as you would say, or ticking things off, if you’re from Australia. So as you say, we, met eight years into that. And the journey had already come along a lot in an organic fashion and built a community and was leaning at that point very much into this idea of kindness. I ended up… It ended up inspiring others to create their list, but encouraged others to match-make-meet with each other, and not in a romantic sense, but to help do things together. A lot of people want to learn guitar, a lot of people want to learn French, a lot of people want to run marathons, and they ended up doing it together.

Sebastian Terry: So we’ve kind of really leaned into that in the last three years, and it’s been beautiful. It’s been incredible acts of kindness. There’s been incredible personal growth from people within the community and a development of a workshop. Because I think I may have even said to you back then, so many people want to build their lists, and they would come to me and ask, and I would just reply personally to each person on an email. And now there’s a system, a program. So yeah, there’s been lots of really beautiful things happening.

Brian Smiga: This is great. And this is all what you laid out back in 2017, 2018, that you wanted to build a community of people who helped each other realize and build their 100things list. Now you personally, who kind of invented this concept, tell us where you are in your hundred things, and what’s changed maybe in the COVID year we’re all in.

Sebastian Terry: Yeah. Great question. So two things, one thing which is common with everyone, and I’m an embodiment of everyone else, of course. We either are too selfish or too selfless, and the balance is kind of peeve. For a long time, I was very much facing outwards to try and do what I could to support others. And only recently, in the last 12 months, that I thought or looked at my list, on which there’s still 25 unchecked items and thought, “Hang on, what about, what about my list?” So, lists change of course. And that’s because, we change as people fundamentally over a long period of time, our values change. So I looked at my remaining 25 items, I thought, which one of these still resonate? So I kept those ones, and for the others, and there was about 20 of them, which didn’t resonate with me anymore.

I’ve created new goals. There are things that… there is a tower jump in Vanuatu, a Rite of passage… I don’t know if you know those big bamboo towers, and kids would climb to the top of these towers, precariously balanced on the edge of a slope, and they would jump off with a vine wrapped around their leg. It was the…actually a kind of the precursor to bungee jumping. So that was on my list. And I thought just more recently, “I don’t know if I want that anymore.” I’m not as much of an adrenaline…

Brian Smiga: Right. Yeah.

Sebastian Terry: So there are things, there are other things on there, love-based. You asked me very kindly before we started recording this, “Are you in love?” I am. And it’s a real thing, it turns out. And there’s certain goals around that such as creating another life. That’s something that’s only recently come to me as something of importance that’s on my list. But there are a few silly ones on there too. But yeah. Updates on the list, I’m trying to learn a classical piano piece.

Sebastian Terry: I don’t play piano, but that’s taking a lot of my time. I’m writing a script. I really want to dive into the creative piece, which I know, you already are in that world. So yeah, I’ve been very busy. I’ve been very busy on my own list. And thanks for asking.

Brian Smiga: Well, you and I have lost a little weight since I saw you. You didn’t need to lose any. You’re a very healthy surfer Aussie guy. But after 20 years, I finally lost 20 pounds that I was dying to lose. I did it by only eating in an eight hour window a day for eight weeks and done. Take it off the list. But the really interesting thing, and I want to hear about your new body, is how… Like picking one thing and really completing it, then leads to another, and then leads to another. How about for you, tell me about your transformation physically that you’ve had in the last few years.

Sebastian Terry: That’s such an interesting question. I have never been asked that. So yeah, I lost a fair bit of weight, actually. Not that I was… Not that I thought I needed to at the time, but I think this cleanse that happened, and it just reframed my relationship with food. I’ve trained my whole life. I’ve always thought I’ve been healthy and fit, but then there were a couple of remarks around the same time when people, they would go, “Oh, you look like a retired athlete.” Which at the time, I thought it was a compliment. So, I did this cleanse, I lost a bit of weight and I started trying to, as best as I can. I wasn’t perfect, but reducing sugar, reducing gluten, because everyone’s afraid of that in LA. You know, all that stuff. And it’s worked remarkably well, and I’ve also been training a lot more.

Sebastian Terry: And with my girlfriend, Morgan, she’s very fit and healthy. So we’re training a lot together as well. So that helps, but I don’t actually know how much weight I lost, but I mean, it’s enough for you after three years to go, “Wow. You’ve lost a bit of weight.” And it feels good. And I think, there’s this thing called Future Self Continuity. I don’t know if you know the concept-

Brian Smiga: I love that expression!

Sebastian Terry: So it’s this idea that… We’re very good at looking retrospectively back at our lives from where we are, but we’re not very good at looking prospectively forward into the future. And it’s a really important thing to do when it comes to goal setting. We most commonly would be aware of it with saving money. You know, if I save $100 a month after 12 months, I’ll have $1,200 saved. We don’t do that typically with our goals such as learning a piano or losing weight, whatever, but it’s really good to start thinking in those ways.

Sebastian Terry: And I actually had a moment where I thought, well, I think I must’ve been around 35, 36 at the time. And I thought, “I really think that the decisions I make now with my diet or my lifestyle and activity and exercise, I think that’ll affect how I am at 40 and again at 50 and again at 60 and so on.” And so I just made a change. And it’s so refreshing to talk about this. Usually people say, “What’s the greatest thing you’ve ever done on your list?” But the truth of it is, as we’ve spoken about before, lists are fantastic, but they don’t define us. They’re really just a vehicle for us to kind of try and get closer to understanding who we are. And I think when you get closer to that, the task then, is to just try and maintain that. Just be yourself, whatever that is uniquely and authentically to yourself, that’s living well. And I feel that the physical part, at least, is certainly contributing in a positive way to my life at the moment. And it’s great to hear it is for you too.

Brian Smiga: Absolutely. And it’s a catalyst. So, once that happened, then I decided to get back on the bicycle. Because I used to be a bike racer, and now I’ve manifested a trip to the Swiss Alps in the Summer in August. I’m going with 20 buddies, and we’re going to climb five mountains and go up 30,000 feet in five days and stay at beautiful places. And that never would’ve happened without taking the first step.

Sebastian Terry: Well, like you say, it’s all very inter-woven and if you imagine a bicycle wheel, and the spokes of that wheel give structure to it, if you then use that wheel as a metaphor for life, what are your spokes? As an individual, what are the spokes of your life that are important? Is it community? Is it relationships, career, education, spirituality, money, humor, adventure. If you understand what the spokes to your Wheel are, and you start just attacking one of them, the rest will start to slowly light up and you end up creating a lifestyle of list-living, if you will. Bucket-list living. You said manifest before. I think that’s a beautiful kind of crossover of this idea of spirituality, plus a little bit of science plus practical application. I think if you’re aware of all of those things, and you think about them every day in your decision-making, yeah. And throw in Future Self Continuity and a bunch of other beautiful terms. I know, I think, you’d progress.

Brian Smiga: Yeah. Let’s talk about the spirituality piece because there’s definitely a core here to how positive psychology making lists, Future Self Continuation, which I love, relate to core concepts of spirituality without necessarily belonging to any creed. Can you unpack that a little bit more? I mean, I think there’s something extra that’s happening that we don’t quite understand yet as psychologists. How do you say that? The missing, but present piece of spirituality, that’s sort of assisting everyone as they make these lists and do these things.

Sebastian Terry: It’s such a great question. And I don’t know if I’m the person to ask, but I was having dinner with a friend of mine the other day, and he’s done a lot of different journeys, psychedelic journeys and meditation and all these things. And he said a very simple thing, which was lovely. And it was, all roads essentially leads to the same place. We’re all just trying to feel good. Whether you call that enlightenment, whether “Zen state”, being happy, being fulfilled, being content, that’s all we’re trying to do. And these things such as jumping out of a plane or climbing a mountain, they’re fantastic, but they’re just kind of the access points to trying to get to this deeper level. So, I mean, I couldn’t even define what spirituality is necessarily.

Sebastian Terry: I live in Venice, California, where everyone’s spiritually enlightened, of course. I don’t try and talk the talk, but I do think that whatever it is we’re doing on a daily basis should be things that align with our core principles or values. And I think if you attack that authentically, you feel happier, you connect with people who are like-minded, you start to build community and, the world starts to conspire to help you out. I think if you have positive beliefs that would lead to a positive action, and if you act positively, the result will be of course positive. And that result, if we’re now looking at this like a triangle, will again go back to belief and positively influence that. And you start to create a really positive cycle. So, I don’t know. I’m yet to levitate, I’m yet to have a gold medal, but I do feel just as accomplished and successful as people who claim to have done both.

Brian Smiga: Let’s in the final minute we’ve got, let’s take this into business. So while I’m an idea producer, I’m also a Venture Capital investor and everything you’re talking about can be so constructive for startups and for big and corporate business. So how have you seen your methodology work out in the business place and how can people learn more?

Sebastian Terry: I mean, I am fortunate. I get to speak on many corporate stages. Keynoting and doing work. So I think fundamentally whether you’re an individual, whether a family, whether you’re a friendship circle, whether you’re a community group, whether you’re a business, a sub-part of a business, an amalgamation of businesses, I think goal setting is huge. You have to goal set. You, just have to. Whether it’s, “I want to walk every day” or whether it’s, “I want to exit my company at a billion dollars”, whatever it might be, but those goals have to be founded upon a really good understanding of your values. So I think whether you’re an individual or you’re a multinational company, you’ve got to know your values. So values, then it goes to goal setting, and then it comes to an action plan and taking action.

And if all those things align, I can’t guarantee this, of course, but I think you’re moving in a good direction, let’s say. And it’s very cliche, but it’s not necessarily the result that matters, it’s that journey. And whoever I speak to, I always kind of propose the question that, “Imagine if you are on your last day on earth and you had a moment of grace to reflect on your life, and you’ve got to really think, ‘Well, hang on, would I do that differently? Or am I happy?’ We all want to answer, “Ah, I was happy. I wouldn’t change a thing professionally, personally, et cetera.” And I think the opportunity to answer starts right now in this moment, as you listen to this, or of course you take a moment afterwards, but I’d suggest it’s now. What is the thing right now that you could do on any level, any aspect in your life that will lead to that answer being, “I wouldn’t have changed a thing.” And that’s the opportunity we all have as people, as families, as friendship circles, as communities and as businesses.

Brian Smiga:  So how many folks do you think have made their 100things list? And how many do they add up to in total? Do you have any idea?

Sebastian Terry:  I have no idea. This has never been my thing. You know, looking at it, I actually had a business partner, Tony, who’s actually a very good friend of mine and we’re starting to do that properly, thanks to him. But I will say that doing this, we do this online course, a 30 day course, and everybody comes in, creates their own lists. And the changes have been… I mean, the testimonials and the feedback we’ve had, have been incredible… And maybe just a loop back to this spiritual kind of thing, again. One of the ladies there, her biggest goal was to create better boundaries in her life. That was it. It wasn’t jumping out of a plane, but because of that core principle that she needed on a psychological level to acknowledge and implement, she’s made huge changes, not necessarily bucket list things, but she actually got a divorce. Now that’s… I wouldn’t say that, “Hey, we all need a divorce.” But it’s just an example of something that’s needed, I think, where we need to have boundaries. We need to have better self-talk.

My inner critic’s still very loud at times. And we’re all on the same journey. We all want to… We all underestimate ourselves and all those types of things. So truly, I think the journey, the important ones, the ones that you don’t see, the tip of the iceberg is a bucket list. It’s fantastic. Start there, but the real journey is below the water. That’s where my focus is starting to go.

Brian Smiga: Yeah. And of all the things you’ve done on your 100things list, what is your most favorite that you want to share with the audience on the way out?

Sebastian Terry: Oh, geez. I think it’s whatever I’m doing at the moment. And I’ve done some really fun things, like living on a deserted island or pushing a friend, who’s a quadriplegic in his wheelchair to complete a half marathon. And even just matchmaking, acts of kindness, I’m completely uninvolved with physically. But I’ve got to say I just actually finished the first draft of my script, the pilot episode of this thing that I’m very excited about. I felt amazing. And I felt like the most successful person on the planet, and that we all do when we strive towards things that are important to us. So it’s whatever. It’s that, and when I jump on the piano, like, I’m sure I will, after this interview, just to play the minute and a half of Clair de Lune that I have learned so far, it’s taken me two months probably. Yeah. I just… You get lost. You get… When you’re doing… When you’re following something that you’re super passionate about, you feel invincible and we all should be feeling that way, I think.

Brian Smiga: That’s great. So, the links are down below to figure out how to follow Sebastian through 100things. And I highly recommend it. Seb, you’ve been a big influence in my life and in our audience’s life at TEDxAsburyPark. Thank you so much today. It’s great to be with you, Seb.

Learn more about Seb Terry and

After the loss of a close friend in his early twenties, Sebastian had a moment of reflection which led him to asking himself a question that would go on to change his life “Am I happy?” The answer was NO, and so he penned down a list of 100things that he hoped would bring him closer to a sense of happiness. Now 10 years on and counting, Seb has ticked off 74 items from his list, has raised almost half a million dollars for charities and has found a sense of purpose that he could never have dreamed of. His story turned into books, TV shows and documentaries, has most impressively inspired a global community of individuals and organizations who have identified, pursued, and achieved their own goals, tooContent goes here



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