In today's episode, I welcome Gregg Gonzales! Gregg shares about his unique way of capturing people's stories through recorded audio interviews that then get transcriped and manuscript-ready to help people publish their books. With his background in wellness, hospitality, and customer service, he brings a wealth of knowledge and insight into the art of storytelling. 

 

Get in touch with Gregg Gonzales: www.joy-ful-living.com 

Support Artfully Told: www.paypal.me/elevateart

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Episode 37 - Gregg Gonzales

Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome to Artfully Told, where we share true stories about meaningful encounters with art.

[00:00:07] Krista: I think artists help people have different perspectives on every aspect of life.

[00:00:13] Roman: All I can do is put my part out into the world.

[00:00:16] Elizabeth: It doesn't have to be perfect the first time. It doesn't have to be perfect ever really. I mean, as long as you, and you're enjoying doing it and you're trying your best, that can be good enough.

[00:00:24] Elna: Art is something that you can experience with your senses and that you just experience as so beautiful.

[00:00:32]Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome back to Artfully Told. I'm your host, Lindsey, and I am so excited to welcome as my guest today, Gregg Gonzales. He is the founder of Joyful Living as well as The SpeakEasy Method, and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge about wellness and wholeness and writing and editing and so many cool things. Gregg, thank you so much for joining us.

[00:01:04] Gregg Gonzales: It's a pleasure to be here, Lindsey. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:07] Lindsey Dinneen: Of course. Well, I would love if you wouldn't mind sharing just a little bit about who you are and your background and kind of what led you to, to do what you're doing today.

[00:01:18] Gregg Gonzales: Oh my goodness. Well, I have been in the wellness industry now for over two decades. And prior to that, come from years and years within hotel and restaurant management. And I always like to say to people that if you have ever experienced living in that world of customer service, you really have to know how to connect with people in order to get things done. And that means from employees to other managers, to your customers. And so I think that connection for me has been at the center of all of the work that I've done, but it also has extended into this curiosity about people. And I think that comes from just my childhood of loving to ask people questions about who they are, why they do what they do, and really just get to the heart of who people are, has always been kind of a secret passion of mine.

[00:02:10] And so I feel like with my combined work within Joyful Living and now developing The SpeakEasy Method, I can really fulfill both of those, those intrinsic needs of mine to connect authentically with people, but also to be curious. And it's from both of those that I think it allows people to answer questions about themselves, that they get to learn something about who they are, why they do what they do, why their values and beliefs are the way they are, and really just having a deeper knowing of themselves that I think has so many healing benefits beyond the fact that we can also help tell your story and use it as a method to put you out into the world and share your story with those where you can make an impact. So it's kind of a long-winded explanation, but really at the center of my work, it's about connection. It's about being curious and it's about helping people share their story.

[00:03:05] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, I love that. Yeah. And so you have a very unique way that you help people write down either their life stories or blog posts or write an entire book. Do you mind sharing a little bit about that process and sort of how you take someone's incredible wealth of knowledge and resources and history, and then are able to help them to hone that and tell their story effectively?

[00:03:38] Gregg Gonzales: Sure. For a lot of people, they will say, "Oh, people have told me for years, I should write a book or you've got a story you need to share with the world." But for most people, I think they immediately assume nobody wants to hear my story. Nobody cares. I don't have much to tell. And what I will say to people is, number one, we all have a story that I think the world can benefit from, but also for a lot of people, it's that fear of writing. And I think that we become very judgmental about sitting down and making time to put our thoughts down. It's effort, you know, and we become very judgmental of the way that we write. And we can self-edit and it just doesn't sound like our true voice. You know what I mean? So with what I've created is really--I sit in conversation with my authors and I let them speak their story. I let them come forward with full vulnerability and full authenticity to tell me about life experiences.

[00:04:42] Tell me about the story that you want to impact and share with the world. It can even be, just be content you want to create for your business, if it's creating blogs or something for your website, anything that you need to write that really needs that authenticity and that passion and power in your voice. We're literally using your voice to write. And so how we do that is I meet with people via Zoom. So it's obviously very COVID compliant. And during the course of our recording sessions, I will ask you questions about your story. So really I'm a participant, I'm a guide, but I'm also, in a lot of ways, I'm pretending to be a reader who's interested in your story. I mean, I am interested in your story, but I take the role of a reader who wants to hear the details. I want to know why you made these decisions in your childhood that led you to coming to these "aha" moments as an adult. I want to know all of those things that I think are going to really make that impact that any author would want the reader to have by you sharing it in a, in a true, authentic voice by literally using your voice.

[00:05:52] So we record the sessions. We then take those recordings and transcribe it to text. And with the team of experts that I have that go through and clean up the transcripts, I take out all the ums, you know, you know. I mean, I talk, I say 'um" quite a bit. They'll take all those out to make it a nice clean transcript that's literally ready to be placed into a manuscript. So over the course of a single recording, which is about an hour, we can generate close to eight to 10,000 words in an hour. And I typically will ask people who've written and say, "How long would that take you to write?" And some people say, "Oh my god, weeks!" Some people say months. We can do that in an hour. And so for a book project, I have a six recording session package that's lined up, which generally creates somewhere between 50 to 75,000 words, which is a really strong manuscript for any book. We can do that in six hours.

[00:06:51] So we accelerate the writing process. So this way it saves you time. We capture the true essence of your story with your voice and we format it. So this way you can, it's ready, ready to use the moment that final recording is done for you to build your manuscript from. And now once that piece is finished, I have the team of people who can then take you through your journey to publish your book. So these are everybody from a writing coach and editor, cover design and formater for your book all the way to a publisher who can show you the steps to being self-published. Literally, we can take you from concept to published piece in six to eight months. So it's really a, a one-stop shop for people who want to write their first book, but do it in a very professional and effective way by telling a true, authentic story with your voice.

[00:07:47]Lindsey Dinneen: That is incredible. It is such, it is so cool that you are able to do that and just the amount of time, but I love the way that you put it in that it's about bringing out people's authentic voice because I think you're right. A lot of times we'll sit down to start a project and it wouldn't necessarily even just have to be writing, but you know, any project where we're trying to, to be vulnerable and tell who we are to the world. And it's so easy to just get stuck and kind of, you know, nervous or afraid, or like you said, well, who cares? Nobody would want to learn this about me or whatever. And I love that you bring that out, you know, and, and share people's hearts. That's really cool.

[00:08:31] Gregg Gonzales: It really is trying to--we're obviously creating something that is going to be useful for the author. You know, we want to create content that they can use for a published piece if that's what they're working towards. Honestly for me, I'm more interested in your story, but more importantly, it's that connection that happens because I think when you're speaking, especially if you're talking about a story that might be digging up some, some deep-seated issue, you know, some, some stories that are difficult to bring back to the surface, maybe it's from your childhood, maybe it's from a failed marriage. Maybe it's just something that is just touching certain pieces of you that it's difficult to bring it to the surface. As your collaborator, I'm creating that space for you to be able to share yourself in that space where you feel heard, respected, it feels safe. I've had people, I actually had someone recently say that this process helped-- it made it feel like we were untying knots in her mind, in her heart, which I thought was beautiful. Because it's through the questions and it's through the listening, and it's the presence that we bring to the recording sessions that really enable the author to speak fully and really capture what I like to think of is just the art of true conversation. It's that conversation that we're having, that we're not even aware that we're recording half the time. We're, we're the last thing we're thinking it is a book we're just spending time. Hearing stories and sharing and being open. And that to me is the goal that's being captured here. That if you were to sit down and write it yourself, some of the most talented writers, I, I speak to really struggle with getting that true voice in their writing. But when you're speaking, it, it takes on a different resonance in volume and density that I'm really proud of, that we're able to capture in our recordings.

[00:10:31] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, that's an incredible gift. Well, and I'm curious since you've had such a wonderfully diverse background and, and specifically in the wellness industry, And healing and so many different things. Do you think that that helps you establish a rapport and trust with the authors? Because it sounds like, you know, in order to be able to, to record this kind of content, you would have to have, like you said, you create this space for them. So do you think your background has helped with that?  How does that trust come about?

[00:11:08] Gregg Gonzales: Without a doubt. So my 20 years in wellness, I was a licensed massage therapist during that time. And I think that as anyone who regularly regularly gets a massage knows, you know, there needs to be trust and comfort and kind of that safe space that, that needs to happen in order for healing to truly take place. And so, as a therapist, I was very mindful about how I wanted my guests to feel. And it's that same attentive listening without speaking. It's that mindfulness of presence to be fully aware of what's going on with the person who's on my table to be energetically aligned. So this way I'm not coming in with any of my issues or my dramas, that it's really focused on you being the center of attention. It's identical to what I'm doing now. I actually feel like the exact same intention that I would go into a treatment room with my massage is the same intention that goes into my recording sessions, because I feel like the same level of energetic impact is happening. So with a question that I ask you, that's going to bring about this amazing story of your life, where you're talking about yourself in a really positive way, and maybe reflecting back and highlighting moments that just--I literally see people transform as they're talking about their story. It also has a sematic response to their body. So I do feel that even just the process of talking and sharing has a healing benefit to it physiologically. So I kind of like to think that even though my massage career ended three years ago, I'm still giving energetic massage work through these recording sessions. I know that gets a little woo-hoo, but I really feel that the healing aspect of my massage work is being replicated in the work with SpeakEasy.

[00:13:04] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, I love that. I love that. And probably a lot easier on your own body, not to have to be...

[00:13:10] Gregg Gonzales: Oh my god, yes. My wrists are quite happy now. Yeah. I mean, I had severe carpal tunnel, which forced me to retire and now, yeah, I, it--there's the only physical demanding part is hitting the on/ off switch on the recorder. So it's a feeling that not nearly as bad.

[00:13:27] Lindsey Dinneen: Right, right. Oh, that's fantastic. Oh man. So I'm curious, do you yourself have a writing background? Or how, how did you get interested in the storytelling, writing, editing component of what you do?

[00:13:42]Gregg Gonzales:  I get asked that a lot. No, I'm--in fact, my only piece of published work is as a result of the team of people who I've put together for my Create Your Bestseller program to take the, your recordings and take it to a published piece. So I wanted to see how this whole process works. And so as part of a guinea pig experiment, I contributed a chapter to an anthology book that we published at the end of last year. That is now my first--I can now say I'm officially an Amazon bestseller because this was on the bestseller list. So I do not have a writing background. I don't claim to be a writer. And I make that pretty clear with people who bring in content that they've already written. They'll say, "Oh, can you look over my manuscript and tell me what needs to be." Like, I just let people know, like, that's really not what I do. I have people that can do that. What I do is I help fill in the gaps.

[00:14:41] So if there are pieces of your story that maybe you've got, you know, say three or four pages written, you don't know where the story goes. "I don't know how it ends. I'm not sure where to..." That's where I will then develop questions to dig a little deeper. And work with you on the recording sessions to fill in the holes, fill in the gaps, to bring about more of that , that the blossoming story that sometimes we, we sit on and think, "Oh, this is it. This is all I got." And I, I work with people's--I know there's more, there's more here. So my background as a writer is very limited, but my background as someone who can help you tell me more of the story that's inside you. That is probably the piece that I bring to life here.

[00:15:25] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. And that's incredibly important in what makes what you do so unique because you do have that ability to draw out what needs to be told.  And then you have your team behind you to support all of the other aspects. So win-win win.

[00:15:43] Gregg Gonzales: Exactly.

[00:15:44] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. So now switching over a little bit to Joyful Living. That's the other kind of branch of, of what you do and what I know you're incredibly passionate about, and I know that an aspect, pre- and now going to be post-COVID, is hosting retreats. And so I'm curious when you host these wellness retreats, do you ever have art, some kind of art as sort of incorporated into them? I mean, how do you feel that art and wellness fit together?

[00:16:22] Gregg Gonzales: Well, it's funny you should say that. So my very first retreat that I hosted in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2018 was centered around joy, that the theme of the retreat was just how to find, keep and sustain joy in a tumultuous world, that was kind of just the whole energy of it. And so over the course of this long weekend, there were conversations around questions that I had that I would engage my group with. And it would be kind of like an extended fireside chat was the way that we did that. But what was amazing is I also had a collaborator with me. She brought in some energy work and she did some chakra healing things that just tied in this whole idea of tapping into your inner joy, through energetic fields. So that was her focus. What was really cool though, was where we stayed was, it was at an Airbnb and it was hosted by these two guys, Ari and Gary. Ari was a chef. So he cooked for us throughout the weekend, which was just incredible. Gary is an artist. And so just by, just pure coincidence and just making the time happen, each of them played an integral role in the weekend.

[00:17:35] So Ari obviously cooked. And so he showed us his love and joy of cooking. Gary brought in his art. And so we spent a two hour segment on a Saturday at their large kitchen table. Gary had laid out paper, different canvases. He had paint, brushes, paints, crayons, markers, you name it. And the, just all these different artistic materials. And he just said, "I want you to create joy. What does joy mean to you?" And so we were literally like a bunch of adults pretending like we were kids during art class, getting our hands dirty, making just as, you know, creative and outlandish of artwork as we could. And then after we were done, we would explain, "Where did this come from? What are we trying to convey?" And for someone who has zero artistic ability, you know, it was, it was so refreshing to be able to express ourselves through art. Because my work is, is obviously through conversation and, and holding space, but this took it to a different level for myself of how do I convey joy in art? So that became something that I now want to bring with all of my future retreats, because to me it's just another way of expressing this energy. So, so it's just funny, you mentioned that because that happened by accident, but it was such a huge highlight of the weekend that I want to continue that.

[00:19:09]Lindsey Dinneen: Yes, absolutely. Oh my goodness. It's, it's so much fun that you all were able to do that. And I know personally how beneficial that kind of exercise can be. And it just made me chuckle because I remember one time, I was taking an art therapy class, you know, as someone who could then use art for therapy. And one of the exercises was we were supposed to look at a bunch of magazines and then cut out things that made us happy that reminded us of happiness and joy, which, you know, my whole, whole thing is joy. So we're very aligned that way, Gregg, but yeah. And anyways, so, so we were supposed to do this thing. And then we were going to explain, and I didn't realize that we were then going to share this with the class and explain. And so here we all are busy working on our, on our little, you know collages. Oh my gosh. And I was the last person to go and, and explain, and everyone else had these heartfelt, like this brings me joy because it represents my family, and my family, you know, anyways, beautiful, beautiful things. And then we get to me. My entire collage is penguins because penguins bring me a lot of happiness. And I realized in the moment that I had missed the point of the exercise, because it was an entire collage of penguins and nothing else.

[00:20:36] Gregg Gonzales: Oh my gosh. That's awesome.

[00:20:39] Lindsey Dinneen: So that's my, my fail story from art therapy class. But, you know what, every time I looked at that, it brought me happiness. So I don't know!

[00:20:48] Gregg Gonzales: It worked! It totally worked.

[00:20:50] Lindsey Dinneen: Indeed. Oh goodness. Anyway, yeah. So, okay. So back to you, do you have, you know, in your own experience, in your own life growing up, are there any moments that kind of stand out to you as having witnessed art in some way and thinking, "Wow, that is a moment to remember." Or, "Oh my goodness, I want to be a part of that. Or I'm so glad I saw that or heard that." Or just things that stand out.

[00:21:20] Gregg Gonzales: So the first thing that pops into my mind is my brother, and he is an artist. He's based in Phoenix and he has been an artist for as long as I can remember. He is beyond talented and just, he has, he got that art gene that somehow skipped me in the family because I, I don't, I don't have any artistic ability. I was living in Los Angeles. This was in the mid to late nineties, managing a restaurant at the time. And he got his first big art gallery showing in New York. And it was a big deal, you know, so he and I have not always had the best relationship and it was something that I wanted to show him how much I supported his work. And so I made it, I got on a red eye or just got on a late flight after work and surprised him. And the gallery knew that I was coming. My folks knew that I was coming, but he didn't. And so I arrive down in Soho in New York. And it's just, you know, as you would typically imagine like a New York gallery to be just this huge, beautiful space totally lit up, people are all dressed to the nines. There's champagne in order was being passed around.

[00:22:41] And I'm just like, "Oh my God, like, this is truly a big deal." And up to that point, I hadn't really seen much of the work he had done. So I was seeing it really for the first time. And so I walk in. My folks see me, they're like, "Oh my God, he's going to be so happy. You're here!" Whatever. And like, '"Where is he?" And like, "Where?" "Do you see those group of people over there kind of huddled around all these big pieces?" And I recognize that they were his, 'cause he's got a very distinctive style, and they're like, "He's kind of meshed in with that, talking with them." And so I kinda meander my way over and start kind of just poking around to see if I see him. And it's just a swarm of people huddled around these two huge floor-to-ceiling art pieces. And he's standing there with his champagne glass and he's talking about his work and all these people, and I'm just, I'm sitting there and I'm looking at his pieces just with my mouth, just gaped open, like, "Oh my God, these are unbelievable."

[00:23:37] But more importantly, like I was just staring at him just like, he freaking did it. Like, this is incredible. And I just, I just sat there with my head, just, just shaking. Like, I don't believe this. Well, then he caught-- we made eye contact. He saw me, he stopped talking and he's like, "Oh my God, excuse me, everybody. But my brother is here." And like, everyone was like, "Oh!" and clapped. And he came and gave me a big hug and I just, I'd never felt so proud of him and the work he did. And just my appreciation for art in general took on a whole new level after that, because now there was a personal connection to it. You know, now I knew why he did what he did, the devotion and the time and the dedication that it took, but then to see the impact that it was having on people.  That's just a memory that really sticks out to me in terms of how my perception of art really changed. I mean, I've always been into art. I've always loved learning about artists, but to have it be in the family, with someone who was kind of at that level now, just, it really hit home in a different way.

[00:24:42]Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That's a beautiful memory. Thank you for sharing that. I was just smiling the whole time thinking, "Oh my gosh. What a fantastic surprise, and well that's, that is amazing." Wow.  So I do have a few questions that I like to ask my guests, if you're okay with that.

[00:25:02] Gregg Gonzales: I'm totally fine with that. Sure.

[00:25:04] Lindsey Dinneen: Excellent. Okay. So the first is how do you personally define art or what is art to you?

[00:25:11]Gregg Gonzales: I think art to me is about self-expression in its truest form. That's why I think about the work that I do with my authors. They, they don't think about, about it as writing, but if you're speaking it, you're expressing yourself. You know it, to me, it's no different than if you were to sit at a computer and write, or pull out a pen and write in a journal just as the same way, you know, traditional authors do it. It's no different than someone sculpting a piece of raw clay into something beautiful, or a painter taking a blank canvas and creating something from their own self expression. So to me, art is the ultimate form of self-expression.

[00:25:54] Lindsey Dinneen: Perfect. Yeah. And then what do you think is the most important role of an artist?

[00:26:01]Gregg Gonzales: I think, I think it's to delight. Truly, I think it's to delight those, whether that delight can be in the form of, "I appreciate it. I think it's garbage. I think it's the greatest thing ever." I think it's to gain, to get a response from the people who are experiencing the art, whether it be music, whether it be a painting, whether it be a book. You want a response. You want, you want them to feel something. So to me as an artist, I want my people to, or I want the people who are experiencing my work to feel something. I know that sounds very general, but to me, it's about feeling.

[00:26:46] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Completely agree. And then do you think that art should be inclusive or exclusive? And I'll define my terms a little bit.  So inclusive referring to an artist to create something and puts it out into the world and provides a little bit of context, whether that's a title or a program notes or inspiration or something, just to give a little glimpse into what the artist was thinking when he or she created it. Versus exlusive referring to an artist who creates something and puts it out into the world, but doesn't provide context behind it. So it's just up to the receiver or viewer to interpret it the way that they will.

[00:27:29]Gregg Gonzales: I think that's the beautiful thing about art is that it doesn't have to be either. I think that if you want to provide some context around what it is that you're doing to make it more digestible or easy, easier to explain for people , that's fine. I also think that there's-- I love looking at something and not knowing what they were trying to do here. They were trying to do something. You know, the thing that came to my mind is like the Mona Lisa, and there's been so many books and studies and I'm sure art classes that have been written around, you know,"What was he trying to convey? What was she thinking? What is she smiling about?" You know, I think art that raises as many questions as it answers is a great thing. So I would--I'm going to probably take the easy route and say, I think that it could be both because I think that again, depending upon how you want the audience to perceive your work, that being inclusive, being exclusive, I think has benefits in both regards.

[00:28:42] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Yes, awesome. Well, first of all, Gregg, thank you so much again for joining us today and for sharing all your stories and about your work and all of that. I really, really appreciate that. And, yeah. And I do want to give our listeners an opportunity to connect with you, whether that be, you know, just to learn a little bit more about the different things that you have, Joyful Living and SpeakEasy, or if you're okay with it, connecting just with you because you're awesome. And so is there a way for us to do that?

[00:29:20] Gregg Gonzales: I'd probably say right now, the easiest way is just through my website to go directly through the Contact Me page. And the website is, uh, joy-ful-living.com, but there are hyphens throughout, so I'll spell it out. So it's www.joy hypthen ful, with one l, hyphen living.com. That's probably the easiest way to learn about SpeakEasy, to contact me, to kind of get an overview as to all of the different projects and missions of Joyful Living that are soon to come. But really SpeakEasy is, is my my baby that I'm developing right now and putting a lot of focus and energy. And so, so much is there for people to learn about it. They can set up a discovery call with me through there. So that's probably the best way.

[00:30:04] Lindsey Dinneen: Perfect. Thank you so much. All right, well, thank you also to everyone who has listened to this episode, and if you are feeling as inspired as I am right now, I would love if you would share this with a friend or two and we will catch you next time.

[00:30:23] If you have a story to share with us, we would love that so much. And I hope your day has been Artfully Told.

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