My name’s Omar but everybody calls me “O”. I am the host and founder of The SHAIR Podcast, SHAIR is an acronym for Sharing Helps Addicts in Recovery!
It’s a podcast where recovering addicts and alcoholics share their life changing success stories. The battles against drugs and alcohol, the wreckage it caused in their lives, when they hit rock bottom, and finally their inspiring journey into recovery up until today. My hope is that these stories will inspire our listeners to find recovery and learn to live clean and sober one day at a time.
We release a brand new episode every Tuesday so you can listen on your computer from this website or from your cell phone on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.
You can listen to me tell the whole story NOW!
The format is very simple and it will be the same on every interview. The idea behind having a format is so that every time you listen to a SHAIR podcast interview, you’ll know exactly what to expect. First we start off with a few warm up questions. The first question helps us to get to know the person I’m about to interview. I ask them to tell us about how their life is today, their hobbies, what they do for a living, and to take us into their normal daily routine, including recovery.
For many addicts and alcoholics, the thought of a life without drugs and alcohol seems boring, mundane, and almost impossible. So right from the beginning, before the interview really gets started, we want our listeners to have an idea of how wonderful life can be without drugs and alcohol. The lives that we lead today are so much better than we thought possible! Even before we started using drugs and alcohol, many of us were lost, conflicted, and confused. It was the drugs that helped us connect with society. They helped us break out of our shell, so to speak…but ultimately they crushed us.
When we finally found recovery and saw that there was hope, we quickly realized that we had to give up all the drugs and alcohol in order to truly recover. Giving up the substances that at first gave us confidence, helped us break out of our shell, and adapt to society was like extinguishing our identity. No more clubs. No more bars. No more drugs. No more escape. Nothing… we no longer have controlled substances to help us control our feelings and emotions. So initially, even though there is hope, there is also a tremendous amount of fear of “what will my life be like once I stop using”. That is the reason why the first question I ask my guests is “what is your life like today”, because more than anything else, I want to immediately give the listener hope of a life beyond their wildest dreams.
Once we’ve given the listener a snapshot of what life could be like as soon as they embrace recovery, the next question is how old they were the first time they drank or used drugs, and more importantly, how it made them feel. What that will do is prompt them to go back to that moment in time when they first used drugs or alcohol, and re-connect with their beginning. As an addict or an alcoholic from the moment you take that first drink or that first drug, the clock starts ticking, and it’s only a matter of time before the addiction takes over and you eventually hit rock bottom.
After we’ve addressed that moment in time and the feelings associated with it, our guest is pretty warmed up and it’s time for me to turn the show over to them. This is the part of the interview where our guest shares their entire story, what their childhood was like, the transition from social drinking and using, to hard core drug abuse and alcoholism, the wreckage it caused in their lives and the lives of those around them, when they hit rock bottom, and finally their journey into recovery up until today.
As soon as they’re done sharing their story, we move into what I like to call ‘for the newcomers’. At the end of our show we ask our guests to answer five questions about their experience in early recovery that will impact and inspire the newcomer. The questions are as follows:
- What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
- At what point did you have a spiritual awakening… that ‘aha’ moment in recovery when you realized that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol and for the first time had developed a hope you could recover?
- What is the best book you read in early recovery and would recommend to a new comer?
- What is the best suggestion you have ever received? and
- If you could give a new comer only one suggestion, what would that be? That’s the basic format for the podcast.
This is what our listeners can expect every time they listen to an episode the SHAIR podcast. It will always have this structure.
So who is “O”?
I’ve been clean, sober and in recovery since May 26, 2003. My drug of choice was predominantly cocaine, alcohol and marijuana but if you had it I was into it ecstasy, mushrooms whatever was at the party. I lost my business, my friends and my wife. My health was very poor; I was paranoid, delusional and exhibiting severe signs of schizophrenia.
It wasn’t until my daughter was born and I held her in my arms for the first time that I truly surrendered and accepted that alone I could not win the battle against drugs and alcohol. In that moment I experienced my first spiritual awakening and I asked the God of my understanding to relieve me of my drug addiction, if only for the sake of my daughter.
That is the moment my journey in recovery began. My Higher Power restored me to sanity and today I live a life beyond my wildest dreams. I turned my life over to the care of God and began to work a 12 step program of recovery feverishly. Once I recognized that recovery had saved my life, I knew that at some point, I would have to pay it forward. I would have to give back what was freely given to me. Very early in recovery I adopted a phrase I use often whenever someone thanks me for being of service and carrying the message, I reply with “HP Baby”! Which stands for “Higher Power Baby”, everything I am today is because of recovery and my Higher Power which I call God. You will hear me say “HP Baby” in almost every episode because the credit always goes to my Higher Power.
This shell was given to me in 2005 by my friend Sarah C. who makes jewelry and lived in Tamarindo, Costa Rica at the time. 10yrs later it still looks the same. Thank you Sarah, I have always kept this gift close to me!
I started listening to podcasts on my commutes to work in the early part of 2013. It takes me forty five minutes to an hour to get to the office… so I’m on the road between one and a half to two hours each day. My assistant kept raving about this great podcast she was listening to and that I would love it. At the time I didn’t even know what a podcast was. The name of the podcast is “Entrepreneur on Fire” and she was right I was hooked instantly and started listening to the show addictively. It is a great podcast, very well structured with amazing stories from entrepreneurs all over the world and their success stories.
At some point, the host of Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas, was promoting his new website called “Podcasters Paradise”. In one of his podcast interviews, John mentioned that he was going to be offering a free webinar on how to start your own podcast. It piqued my interest because, at this point, I was a very big fan of podcasting and I had already started listening to other podcasts as well. At the time, he had recently launched Podcasters Paradise so he was offering a lifetime membership for under $300. I immediately jumped on it. I bought the one year membership and promptly put it on the shelf for the next year. I didn’t know what I was going to use it for but I knew that someday I would.
My initial thought was to do a podcast about entrepreneurs in Costa Rica. I was going to call it “Killing it in Costa Rica”, a podcast about successful entrepreneurs in Costa Rica. But every time I thought about the content for that podcast, I just could not find the motivation. Along with listening to podcasts daily, I also would listen to audio books, such as “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, “The 4 Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and “Crush it!” by Gary Vaynerchuk just to name a few. I got an Audible account so I could listen to audio books on my way to the office along with the podcasts. Those books were just as inspiring as the podcasts.
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” – Buddhist Proverb
After about a year and a half of listening to podcasts and listening to audio books, I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Crush it!‘ and half way through the audio book I knew… I was going to launch my first podcast and it was going to be about recovery.
“Figure out what it is you are passionate about and build your business around that. Forget about making money. Build an audience. Create amazing relevant content and you will be successful. Period”!
I’m paraphrasing but I can still hear Gary’s voice in the audio say those words, and simply put it was the catalyst that ignited The SHAIR Podcast. Thanks Gary!
I was so unbelievably inspired, that in that moment I realized I didn’t need to listen to one more audio book. I didn’t need to listen to one more inspiring interview by an entrepreneur. I had everything I needed to get started. And I realized that the thing I am the most passionate about in this world is recovery.
So… where did the name “SHAIR” come from?
At first, I was going to take the Killing it in Costa Rica concept and call it Killing it in Costa Rica, the Recovery Podcast. At this moment I was more concerned about the content, than I was about the actual name or logo, but I was working on both simultaneously. However, when I thought about the key words that I was going to use for iTunes and Stitcher Radio, I realized I needed a name that had the right key words in it… and “Killing it in Costa Rica” has nothing to do with recovery. So funny enough, I came up with “IRS”, the IRS podcasts. Inspiring Recovery Stories, which I was very excited about and I actually registered those URLs.
I quickly went and very happily told my wife Marcela about the name and she looked at me like I was a madman, absolutely crazy… “IRS? Why would you use a term like IRS? That’s such a horrible connotation. No one is going to like that”.
I said: “maybe you’re right. Maybe I should think this over”.
Later on that week, I had dinner with two of my closest friends, Robert and Roger, and during dinner I told them about the podcast. Again, it was still all on the drawing board. There was no website, no logo, there was nothing. It was all in my head. I said “hey guys, listen… I want to start a recovery podcast”. They said “great! …but what’s a podcast?” So first I had to explain what a podcast is and then pitch them on the name I had come up with: “The IRS Podcast: Inspiring Recovery Stories Podcast”. Of course, I got the same reaction: “It’s terrible! Don’t do it! IRS? Hate it”.
Roger suggested: “Listen… forget about the IRS. You’ve got to get something that’s, I don’t know, catchy. How about something about being on the “AIR” as an acronym for Addicts in Recovery? Okay so how about the Fresh AIR Podcasts. Fresh Addicts In Recovery Podcasts” and I said “wow, like a breath of fresh air. That sounds awesome. I love it”. I came home that night but “Fresh AIR” was already way taken…. bummer!
The next morning, my wife and I took the dog for a walk and during the walk I told her about dinner and how the IRS idea tanked (shocker!). I mentioned Roger came up with Fresh AIR.
Then she said: “Fresh AIR, no surprise it was already taken, but I like the AIR idea. So what is it that you guys do in recovery? You share…and sharing helps addicts in recovery”.
I said: “sharing helps addicts in recovery – SHAIR – the SHAIR podcast…it’s brilliant! It’s done!”
And so the SHAIR podcast was born. A collaboration between my wife, Marcela, and two of my closest friends in recovery, Robert and Roger. I immediately started working on the logo, the color schemes, the website, the page layout, the content, the guest format. It was absolutely effortless from this moment on. The minute I discovered what I was passionate about and more importantly what my purpose in life was, everything else became completely automatic. I had already been listening to all of the podcasts, to all of the audio books, and began immersing myself in the Podcasters Paradise tutorial videos. The foundation was already there, I just had to start applying it. I literally stopped listening to podcasts and audio books. I only listened to music on my way to the office to get inspired and it becomes like a movie soundtrack… I literally just start to envision things. I envisioned the look, the feel, and as soon as I get to the office or home, I just start to execute. Within three months, I had a completed website, logo, equipment and eight interviews done, ready to go.
My purpose for this podcast is to help millions of recovering alcoholics and addicts that struggle with addiction…that have lost their way…that need inspiration and to re-connect with recovery. My hope is to touch people through relatable experiences of individuals who have gone through the same pain and mistakes they have gone through and came out on the other side thriving thanks to recovery. I have come to realize that an unexpected gift of this entire experience is how cathartic recording a podcast is for my guests and for me and as well. Sharing these stories through the podcast, connects us to recovery in a way we hadn’t experience before and immortalizes the story of each of our lives. With these stories, we can save lives… our own lives even… and so this is why The SHAIR Podcast was born.
“I may not be the well, but I sure do enjoy being the pipe every once in a while” – Ousmane D.