On today’s Episode of The SHAIR Podcast we have Chris Pesce COO and Beau Mann CEO and Founder of Sober Grid.
Sober Grid is a free iOS/Android app that instantly connects you to a sober community in your neighborhood and around the globe. You can build strong sober support networks and inspire others.
Geosocial Networking: Sober Grid users can find other sober people nearby on The Grid— a GPS locator user interface that displays user profiles and distances from them. Users can also choose to remain anonymous. Sober Grid users can find sober friends while traveling, in an airport, or in a new city. Users can also enter the name of another user and locate them by geographic location to help find sober friends in other cities.
Users can log in to find sober people wherever they are. Sober Grid chat and messaging functions can be used by selecting individual profiles on The Grid. Sober Grid even has a feature that allows users to send their location to another user if they would like to meet up. Sober Grid’s geosocial networking features help users find and connect with sober people locally and anywhere in the world.
To learn more click here and got to www.sobergridapp.com.
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This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation
Chris: Hey. Thanks so much for having us on. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.
Beau: Thanks for having us. Happy to be here.
Omar: Excellent. I’m really excited. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first interview that I am doing with two people discussing recovery so I’m very excited to see how this goes. We’re just going to have to let our higher power guide us here, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to be spot on.
Let’s get started. Folks, today we have Chris Pesce and Beau Mann from Sober Grid joining us an the Share Podcast. Guys, we’re going to dive right in. First of all, before we dive into Sober Grid and what that entails, lets talk a little bit about your daily routine, including recovery. What’s that look like?
Beau: For me, working with a startup company, it’s very exciting. It’s also very time-consuming so so much of my day is just immersed in work for the company. What I need to do is be sure that I’m taking time for myself and for my recovery too. For me, what that looks like is I need to make time for prayer in the morning and at night.
I need to make time to get quiet and meditate even if it’s only for five minutes. I need to make sure I’m talking to another addict or alcoholic and for me, that’s easy because most of the guys I work with are in recovery. What’s really important as well is that I’m helping people. Now I’m blessed to be working for Sober Grid because in my job I have the sense that I’m helping people and I’m able to do that and interact with people directly, but I need to do that outside of what I’m doing for work as well.
The way that I do that is I try to sponsor folks. I’m currently working with a sponsee, so it’s really important for me to make sure that I’m helping another alcoholic or addict. That’s super important for my recovery.
Omar: Perfect. Thank you, Chris. What about you, Beau?
Beau: I echo a lot of what Chris says. Working with a startup is very exciting and it’s fun to be building this Sober Grid that we’re building. At the same time, startups can be all-consuming, so it’s been a process over the last couple of years for me to try to incorporate self-care and taking care of myself.
Definitely leaving time for me. I’ve used twelve step meetings over the last ten years so making sure that I leave time for that, and fellowship with friends, and prayer as well. Making sure that I take time off, particularly on the weekends. Really building in time. This is something that’s key for me.
Omar: Perfect. Beautiful. Chris, let’s start with you. How much clean time do you have and when is your anniversary date?
Chris: Sure. Unfortunately it wasn’t one and done for me. The first time I got sober, I was twenty-nine. It was June of 2013. Now my sobriety date is May 7th of last year, so I’m coming up on a year.
Omar: Perfect, and Beau?
Beau: I’m thirty-four. I entered the program about ten years ago when I was twenty-four. I’ve been in the program since then and I’ve has stretches of years and just trying to take it a day at a time now.
Omar: Excellent. I’m very curious now as to how Sober Grid came to be. How did you guys meet? Who came up with the idea? How did this all culminate between you guys? How’d you guys come to terms on this?
Beau: This is Beau. I can speak to that. I like to travel and on a number of occasions, I’ve gone to a film festival in Park City, Utah in the winter. A few years ago I was at the Sundance Film Festival and I wanted to connect with other sober people. There’s apps that connect other groups. I happen to be a gay guy and there’s apps that connect gay guys and of course there’s apps that connect runners.
At that time, I thought, “what if I built an app that would connect me with other sober guys or girls so I could grab a cup of coffee, go skiing, watch one of the film screenings.” That’s where I came up with the idea of Sober Grid. I was in the art business at the time. I exited the art business, moved to Boston, really started getting involved in this startup community and the software community here in Boston and then proceeded to start building Sober Grid a couple years ago.
Omar: Did you have any experience before as far as building an app or doing something of this nature or did you just come up with the idea and then you decided, “Okay, I need to get to Boston because this is where the community is at?”
Beau: I’ve been involved in various business. They were heavily situated in the art sector. Although a few of them I did roll out some digital components, but as far as coming out with a mobile first social networking app, that was certainly new. When I moved to Boston, before I started Sober Grid, I also got involved with working with a learning management systems which is a software for large companies. I’ve been involved in the digital space for a number of years, but this was certainly my first play into a mobile first space.
Omar: Got you. Okay so Chris, when did you come into the picture?
Chris: I come into the picture a little while after I got sober. I was really reevaluating things and I was trying to determine what direction I wanted to head in. Now my background was in business and marketing and I had previously been with a Fortune 500 and I knew that I needed to do something that I would find more fulfilling.
I needed to help people and in particular, I wanted to help people get sober. I wanted to help people in the recovery space. At the same time, I also still wanted to use my skill set, my business background. For me, it was a higher power moment because I was trying to figure out what to do. I was trying to figure out a way that I could align these two goals, and lo and behold, I read about Sober Grid and that they had just launched.
I reached out to Beau and what are the odds that I send this busy founder of a company an email and he gets back to me but he did. I went in to meet with him. I loved what he was doing. I saw so much potential in Sober Grid to do a lot of good. I started volunteering time and things just grew from there.
Omar: Really? That’s how you guys hooked up? You reached out to Beau when this was all going on and he responded?
Chris: Yes. It really was just kismet. I’m still amazed that it worked out and that I read basically the exact type of thing that I was looking for. I was looking to use my background. I was looking to help people in recovery and there it was in front of me in the paper the next day.
Beau: A higher power shot.
Omar: Yeah. So Beau, let me ask you a question. You get this email from a guy who’s pretty newcomer again and he wants to get involved. What was your first thought?
Beau: I was glad to receive the email I just replied back, “Show up tomorrow at the office at 9 am,” and Chris has an impressive background in business. He studied law, and MBA. I really didn’t go into that. I just said, “Let’s meet up tomorrow,” so tomorrow he came into the office and we had several employees there. We started working together right away and I was so fortunate to have him come onboard and help the company get where it is today.
Omar: Beautiful, man. That is HP baby. Seriously, wow. That’s wild, dude and that’s a testament to perseverance, tenacity, whatever term you want to use. When you see a potential opportunity and it’s just, “I’m going to fire off this email.” There’s so many of us that are afraid to reach out in a climate that is completely digital. Everything. You can send somebody a message through Twitter, Facebook, email, whatever. You lose nothing by putting it out there. Next thing you know, you’re at this amazing project that you guys have launched.
Chris: Right now we’ve grown rapidly and we have a community of over 40,000 members so far.
Omar: Number one, what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Chris: Couple things. One is as I mentioned in my story, I was convinced that this was something I could do with my own willpower and it wasn’t. I wasn’t open to the concept of a higher power. I wasn’t open to taking suggestion. I wasn’t open to asking for help. I was very closed-down. That kept me sick for a long time.
Omar: Got you. Beautiful. Number two, at what point, I already heard this one, but you can repeat it again because it’s beautiful. At what point did you have a spiritual awakening? That aha moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol or for the first time had developed that hope that you could recover.
Chris: I didn’t believe in a higher power. I was against the idea of a higher power. I thought the idea was weak. I thought it was looking to something outside yourself when what you have inside yourself should be enough. I wasn’t even open to the idea. The program that I went to though hammered home the idea that you find a relationship with a higher power or you’re screwed.
Here I am the first couple of days I’m there I’m having a panic attack thinking that I’m doomed and I was sitting by myself on this screened porch looking out at this beautiful lawn and garden and I’m just consumed with anxiety and I tried to say a prayer. I made this feeble attempt and I said, “All right God, I’m going to give this a shot even though I don’t believe in you. Show me that you’re there. Come on, show me something. Give me some kind of a sign or something,” and then I looked around and it just hit me.
“This is the sign. You’re looking at beauty. You’re looking at nature. You’re looking at something amazing and you’re not even seeing it.” That fog was lifted and I just said, “I get it. Okay.” I think the aha moment was just the lifting of that cloud that had prevented me from seeing the beauty around me.
Omar: I love that, man. Again, I totally when you were describing that moment I was like, “Oh my God, I completely forgot I’d been exactly where you were at.” I love it. Beautiful. Number three. Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
Chris: I hope this isn’t a cop-out and I know a lot of people aren’t going to think it’s that exciting, but reading the stories in the back of the Big Book really helped me. People’s personal stories because even though the language in a lot of them is antiquated and not necessarily modern, what was incredible to me is I identified so much with almost every one’s experience in those stories.
What that did for me was it hammer home the point I am not unique. I am a textbook, Big Book, case of the alcoholic. What that did was because that alcoholic mind is always trying to weasel its way out of things or convince myself that I’m not, or “Maybe I can just drink this way,” or “If I stop for a while maybe I can drink again some day. Please God, some day I’ll be able to drink in safety.” What those stories did was they said, “No. You are an alcoholic through and through, so you’d better get with the program.”
Omar: Oh, man. That is absolutely true. I love those stories in the back of the book. We have a meeting once a week where we read one of those stories and I always get something out of it, so I’m right there with you. It’s not a cop-out, buddy. It’s a great suggestion. All right, number four. What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Chris: It was from my aunt. Basically when I finally got into treatment and it to stick, she basically told me, “You need to fully commit to sobriety. You’ve got to embrace this. This is not something to fight. You have to accept the addiction. It’s a fact. You are an alcoholic. Accept it and then you can make the changes that you need. You need to change your life to save your life.”
That’s what I was resisting. I thought I could just carry on the same way I’d been carrying on but if I tacked on some meetings, I’ll be okay. I needed to make a change. I needed to embrace it and thank God I did because it’s a pretty wonderful way to live. This is not a difficult thing to do. It’s difficult to accept that you need to make a change, but it’s a pretty nice way to live.
Omar: Absolutely. I’ll just be reminded of half-measures availed us nothing, and if nothing changes, nothing changes.
Omar: Excellent. If you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would that be?
Chris: Basically it’s the same as that advice I got. Just be willing to do what other people that are successful tell you to do. Don’t fight it. Just be willing to do what the people who are doing well tell you to do.
CHRIS’S SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Don’t fight it. Just be willing to do what the people who are doing well tell you to do.”
Omar: Stick with the winners.
Omar: All right. Excellent. Wonderful suggestions, Chris. All right, Beau. Are you ready?
Beau: I am.
Omar: All right. Some I’m going to ask you five questions about your early recovery and you are going to respond with inspiring and insightful answers you can share with our newcomers. Number one. Excellent. What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Beau: I received a lot of suggestions when I first got into recovery and I think acting on their suggestions was one of the most significant barriers. For me I think once I started executing and acting on their suggestions rather than just processing them, that’s whenever the barriers really came down.
Omar: Absolutely. That’s exactly how it works. Number two. At what point did you have a spiritual awakening? That aha moment in recovery when you accepted you were powerless over drugs and alcohol for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Beau: Sure. I believe that understanding that I was powerless over drugs and alcohol for me probably happened before I got into recovery and really amassed some time. I think the aha moment was more of a gradual process for me. I would say that spiritual belief that there was a higher power helping me was probably between the 30 and 120 days and hitting those milestones with it being so challenging to get sober and using higher power. The rooms, the people, prayer. All of those things. I think it was a gradual process. I think those milestones were really the moments for me and believing in a higher power.
Omar: So many of these aha moments come when you’re sitting in the rooms and somebody shares something, or you’re right in the middle of doing some step work, and there’s a question, or you write something and it just clicks. You recognize that you’re on the right path. There’s no question about it. For whatever reason, you couldn’t see it for so long. Yes, there’s a lot of us that find those aha moments in the rooms or in the step work, so it’s beautiful. I think exactly where you got yours. Number three. Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
Living Sober – Anonymous
Beau: Living Sober was very helpful for me.
Omar: Great book.
Beau: Yeah. It really breaks down and it’s written in today’s language so it’s easier to read. Particularly for me. I think a lot of people are like me where they’re foggy in early recovery and reading something that’s simple and easy to read is very helpful.
Omar: Beautiful. I love it. Number four. What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Beau: One day at a time.
Omar: Yeah. One day at a time, baby. Okay, so then number five. If you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would that be?
Beau: I think it would be stay connected. Stay connected with people that are sober. Exactly what Chris says. People that have what you want and they have been successful in getting sober and staying connected to those people.
BEAU’S SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Stay connected with people that are sober.”
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Chris and Beau!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.