Today Mark is talking with Mike Corey (@fearlessandfar), the creator and host of Fearless & Far, a YouTube channel devoted to extreme travel. He talks about his scariest travel adventures and how you can face your own fears and transform them into the best opportunities.
- The best way to travel is by pushing yourself and finding comfort in discomfort
- Fear will never go away—it’s up to you and your courage to control it
- On the other side of fear and discomfort is a bounty like never before
Listen to this episode to understand how you can navigate your fears and make the most out of any situation—no matter how extreme.
The Unbeatable Mind coaching certification program is taking applications right now. This program is invaluable for leadership of all kinds, both business, coach, consultant or manager. It will also be essential if you are interested in starting either a full-time or part-time coaching business. The next program starts soon, so to find out more, go to unbeatablemind.com/coaching.
Mark is a fan of the CBD oil products from Mission Farms. He has started using it on his knees to reduce the pain and swelling that comes from a workout. Their organic products will effectively allow you to manage stress in muscles and joints so that you can go further with your workouts. Go to missionfarmscbd.com/unbeatable and use the code “unbeatable” to save $10 on your order.
During these times we’re all experiencing unprecedented stress. To help decompress, Mark recommends the BiOptimizer magnesium supplement. Magnesium is a major component of body chemistry and is responsible for many biochemical reactions. So you can supplement with Magnesium Breakthrough, the supplement from BiOptimizer. You can use it for 10% off because you are a listener. Go to https://bioptimizers.com/unbeatable and use the code unbeatable10 at checkout.
Listeners to the podcast, can save by using the code UNBEATABLE at checkout for 20% off the regular price.
Love the Unbeatable Mind Podcast? Click here to subscribe on iTunes.We’d love your feedback, please leave a rating and review.
Hey folks, this is Mark Divine. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me today. Super-stoked to have you here.
We got a fun conversation today about fear. My guest today is Mike Corey who hosts a BBC show called “Fearless and Far.” Maybe it’s a YouTube show – I don’t know – Mike will tell us. But I was just chatting with Mike.
Mike is self-proclaimed full of fear – especially about speaking. Anything to do with public presentation.
And now he’s turned that into a career. By facing his fears.
We talk a lot about fear in Unbeatable Mind and something we train a lot in our SEALfit programs – so I’m really, really anxious and excited to hear Corey’s perspective on it. Corey comes to us from turkey, where he’s been traveling since June. This is being recorded on thanksgiving week 2020. One of the more interesting years that we’ve had in a long time. Well thanks for joining me. How are you doing?
Mike: Good, good. It’s Mike actually – Mike Corey. It gets slipped around a bit. It’s good man, I’m in turkey uh right now. I’ve been in Istanbul for a few weeks. We had a television shoot here we were trying “mad honey,” the hallucinogenic honey, actually, that grows in this special part of the world. I thought it was only in Nepal, but they have it in turkey as well.
Mark: I’ve never heard of it. So it’s actually produced by a honeybee?
Mike: It’s a honeybee that gets the pollen of some particular kind of rhododendron that has a neurotoxin. And so they make the honey with the pollen, and apparently if you have too much you go crazy and see things. It’s also medicinal for all kinds of things – they say, anyway, but it’s cool…
Mark: How did that work out for you? (laughing) did you go crazy?
Mike: It was good. So I do television presenting on – “The BBC Travel Show” is the name of the program – and we were here to do some alternative therapies. so besides hallucinogenic honey, we did leech therapy – so I got sucked on by some big fat worms – which is another great old time…
Mark: That does not sound good…
Mike: No exactly. And different circumstances than growing up in Canada, swimming in the lakes…
Either way though I guess I’ve kind of built a brand around trying to make myself comfortable being uncomfortable. And that has led me to all sorts of weird corners of the world.
Mark: Yeah, wow. Well I can’t wait to talk more about that but before we go down those rabbit holes give us a little bit about who you were in your formative years, where you grew up. What were some of the… you said you had this abject fear of speaking – what was that all about? Just give us the backdrop…
Mike: It’s a winding, twisting trail – my entire life…
Mark: Aren’t they all…
Mike: Exactly, right. No interesting life was just a simple path A to B for sure. And that’s my story too.
So the big thing that I’m known for now is speaking about fear. I have a YouTube page and Instagram… it’s all called “Fearless and Far.” And it’s called “Fearless and Far” not because I’m fearless by any means… I think I’m probably more fearful than the average person.
But because I’ve been so fearful my entire life, I’ve learned to become friends with it. And not let it boss me around.
Because fear can be quite a bully in your life, and it can hold you back and make you feel stuck. And I learned that if you turn your fear compass towards these things that terrify you and step into them safely with guidance, your life opens up massively. And you get unstuck. And you get these things that you never thought you’d be able to achieve.
So for me – due to some trauma – when I was in grade three or four… in grade school… a teacher brought me up in front of the class and made fun of me, basically. It happened twice that year.
I was a shy kid, don’t know why it happened, but it did. And when you’re at that age, those things stick with you.
And so I took this fear of public speaking – a phobia, like a panic attack type phobia – up until I was graduating university in Canada. I was absolutely blackout terrified to be in the spotlight.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t control my heartbeat; I couldn’t control my hands… I tried to hold papers and they would just shake so much I couldn’t read them. And it was just an absolute disaster man.
And so, for me the journey from that to speaking professionally – now my job is I speak on television, I speak on podcasts – I have my own YouTube channel and that’s how I make my money. This thing that I was absolute blackout terrified of, is now my career.
And so it’s been not an easy journey, but it’s by through pushing myself. And when life decided to hand me troubles, instead of victimizing myself and feeling like it was a disaster – trying to find the opportunity in there.
Because, like, I don’t think everything happens for a reason… but I think that if you do think everything happens for a reason, you can very easily find that reason. And then you can grow from there, right?
So that’s a long story in the medium/short form.
Mark: So what caused you to take a look at the fear of speaking or standing in front of people? And by the way teachers like that… I really hope they get a serious karmic blow back, because there’s nothing worse than shutting a kid down like that. And it happens probably far too often.
But at any rate it happened and so you dealt with it in a pretty powerful way. So what was it? What was the catalyst?
Mike: Well it’s not easy – as much as all these inspirational quotes and people like to say it is – where you wake up one morning and you’re like “today I’m gonna change.” And all of a sudden, your life…
Mark: Exactly. Didn’t happen that way?
Mike: (laughing) exactly, you watch a two-minute YouTube video and all of a sudden, you’re a new man, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.
Nah it was again through trouble. So I was graduating school and I had this like trifecta of just crap land on my head – so I had a really bad breakup with someone who was quite suicidal, and it was just very tough. I had my first family member die – a grandparent. And I had a car crash. Just boom, boom, boom. Jab hook, right hook, uppercut.
And I just felt lost I didn’t know what to do… I just lost my place in life. I didn’t really know life could play that rough, because nothing really happened – besides maybe like the school stuff – but nothing real like that. And there was a point where I was walking the hallways just listlessly and there was a poster saying “hey, recent graduates do you want to go…?” I’m a biology graduate… “do you want to be a research assistant on a faraway island? So far away no one will know where you are?”
And I was like “that sounds exactly what I want to do. I wanted to go to the other side of the planet, because this side wasn’t treating me so well.
But the last thing I want to do is go alone, because that I’m from a small little town, man. Like no one left… I mean people left but they left to go to the west coast or the east coast of the same country to make some more money or whatever, right?
And so no one went to Indonesia. I didn’t even know how to say the word let them know the language they speak, the food they eat, anything I didn’t even know where it was.
So I had this friend of mine who was also going through a tough time and we’re like “yeah man. Me you against the world. We’re gonna go. Screw the girls, screw all this bullshit. We’re gonna go.”
And so we fundraise for months and months and months. The day came to pay the deposit. I slapped like 5k down to lock myself in. He’s like “yeah, I’ll meet you in the pub after.”
And he didn’t show, and he didn’t pay, and I had locked myself into a one-way trip to Sulawesi, Indonesia… which you probably haven’t heard of, because no one goes there…
And I remember getting on the plane and being like “I’m never going to see my family again.” And so flew over to an island, off an island, off an island… the Wakatobi islands what it was called and there was no mirrors, there was no running water, and no power during the day.
And I lived there for three months and it was the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life. The absolute best thing… for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is when we live in this world that we do, we start to put importance on things that don’t really matter, man. We put too much value on how people look, what they wear, their appearance on the outsides.
But you go spend three months on a desert island – again with no running water, no mirrors – that outside cakes and falls away pretty quick. Some people show up with a gelled hair and like their nice nails and that’s all dirty and messed up after a couple days.
And you see what’s on the inside. People who didn’t work enough on the inside, they ended up being
Mark: (laughing) Sound like “Survivor.” What did you guys do over there?
Mike: (laughing) It was a bit like that, actually.
But it just strips you bare, and you get to see what’s on the inside. And some people have a beautiful outside, but not a beautiful inside. And a lot of people who are maybe more quiet in the modern culture we live in, have a very beautiful inside.
And then I realized that hey maybe my understanding of the world and the lens that I saw the world within Canada, north America – wasn’t the right lens for me.
And so since then I made travel my life and have been doing it pretty much ever since. I travel 11 months out of the year now. And even this year during COVID, I’ve been traveling since July and I’ve been to probably four countries since then. So it’s a very important part of my life and my happiness.
But it took quite a few blows from life to be able to change everything. But also the big thing I realized while traveling – because you’re thrown in these situations where you don’t know what to do – you don’t know where you are, you’re lost, you don’t have the right amount of money, you had to sleep on an airport floor or whatever – you get the resourcefulness, and the courage, and the problem-solving ability, the flexibility to become independent.
And from there I was able to cultivate a different version of myself. It took a bit more beating around. I had flesh eating disease in my toe I almost had to have it cut off.
They put me on a couch. I dared to make a video, but I was terrified to speak on camera. And then people were like “oh, just be yourself. Be yourself on camera.”
And anybody who’s ever tried to just “be themselves” on camera, anyone who says, “just be yourself,” has never tried to speak on camera before, have they?
Mike: If they say “oh just be yourself” they’ve never actually tried… it’s not anywhere… oh my god, I did 47 takes of my name, before I could say it right. The thing is you only ever use the best take and so people see it and they’re like “oh, you’re a natural.”
Meanwhile you cried silently in your closet for four hours trying to pronounce your name.
Anyway that was my dirty secret. Just perseverance and maybe some tolerance to failure. And you smash through something for long enough and you become good at it. And I was telling myself I wasn’t good at it.
But people said “oh it’s not for me. I’m not good at that,” because they’ve never actually tried. Like saying, “I’m not good at cooking,” because you haven’t actually tried. You haven’t actually taken classes or haven’t read a book about it. Do that and you can be world-class at basically anything you’re “not good at.”
Mark: Let’s go back a bit. Otherwise I think we’ll just kind of skip over some really interesting things.
So you didn’t start out say “I’m going to go become a speaker or youtuber” or anything like that. You just said, “I’m going to travel to this thing,” right? “I’m going to do this survivor experience.”
So let’s go back to that experience. What the hell did you do for three months on that island? I’m curious?
Mike: Right, so I was a research assistant and so I had some duties. There was a handful of us – basically kids from around the world – who were there helping on this island.
And I was scuba diving three times a day and so we would go in the morning – we’d help scientists do these things – counting certain corals, we could be doing some kind of like micro-work, sedating fish or whatever it was…
But it was it was wet, dirty for most of the day and we were sleeping in huts. We’d drink our water out of basins with mosquito larvae in it and have to like pick them out and stuff like that. So it takes away all the comforts of life, right? But you realize you can still be fine.
And so yeah, it was very powerful.
Mark: So because it was uncomfortable and by the end of it you were really probably jonesin’ with the discomfort. You said, “okay, now I’m going to do this more.”
So what came next? Did you hook up with some sort of travel firm? Or just throw on a backpack and go somewhere?
Mike: Kind of threw on a backpack and went. So I didn’t know much about travel before that. I had never planned anything myself and I didn’t have any role models or guidance. My family have been supportive over the years, but I didn’t know anybody who was traveling – solo traveling the world – doing adventure travel, or like pushing themselves in that way.
But again like if you’re from a small town, anybody who’s out traveling the world is out traveling the world… they’re not giving you advice in your hometown, right?
So for me I didn’t even know it was a thing. But on this trip, there was some of these professors and people who were there dive instructors who their entire life was travel. So by meeting these people I was like “oh, this is a choice people can make? And how do you make it work?”
So I saw the example. And it built a bit of a framework in my mind or gave me a crazy idea to be able to try it myself.
But again, I had to go home, and I’d save money – travel – save money – travel. And I kept on searching those authentic experiences. I was never felt satisfied going to some famous cathedral and someplace famous and feeling like I was challenging myself.
Mike: I always wanted to have challenge. Because I saw myself grow so much as a crazy traveler, survivor island basically…
Mark: Off the beaten path experience.
Mike: I was looking to push myself, because I didn’t like who I was. And I saw a glimpse of who I was on that island. With all the other bullshit stripped aside.
And so I went on a quest – I didn’t know at the time – but I went on a quest to push myself to find that version of myself that I saw a glimpse of a shimmer of when yeah when I was stuck on the island for three months.
So from there going forward, that’s my travel style. People often think I do things that are reckless – like, for example, we were in Mauritania earlier this year and there was an iron ore train you can ride for 20 hours across the Sahara. So we did that.
All of these different things… went to an exploding hammer festival in Mexico, where these dudes put homemade explosives on sledgehammers, slam them into a field full of loose rock and dodge the hammers and the rocks as they fly around.
For the most part like I try to find the things that that put me on the edge of my comfort zone.
Mark: (laughing) what could possibly go wrong? So that’s definitely a “here, hold my beer,” moment, right?
Mike: I saw a guy lose his thumb… look it up. Yeah, anyway, that’s maybe a more extreme example. But always I would approach these things with the due diligence to make sure I could be as safe as possible with the research. And I realized that a lot of things I was afraid of, I just didn’t know very much about.
Like let’s say you have someone who has a phobia of snakes, and someone who loves snakes. The person has the phobia of snakes, probably didn’t wake grow up in a household where they had a pet snake in the living room, right? No, they probably had their brother throw a snake at them one day when they were sleeping.
It’s the person who loves snakes who’s had good snake experiences. And so people who are afraid of these things haven’t had time to ease into them or don’t know enough about them…
Mark: There’s such thing as a good snake experience?
Mike: I love snakes. (laughing) let’s talk about snakes.
Mark: Okay, let’s go there. I got a call one night and my mother-in-law’s like “Mark, Mark,” she was babysitting or house-sitting and apparently her… let’s see… this would be her granddaughter… her granddaughter’s husband had a boa. That had just disappeared.
Well, guess what time it decided to reappear? And she’s like “come down.”
And I’m like “what do you want me to do? You want me to capture this boa constrictor? Thanks a lot?”
She goes “you’re a navy SEAL. You could do anything.”
I’m like “okay, sure you put it that way. I guess I will.” And I had to come down here yeah capture this boa constrictor. It was terrifying.
Mike: Take care of it. That’s our job, sometimes.
Mark: Right, so what’s your snake story? What’s the scariest… like did you go in a pit of vipers?
Mike: I don’t have any… I don’t have scary snake stories, because I don’t think they’re that scary. Here’s the thing… we’ll end the snake discussion on this note – I feel about snakes the same way I feel about sharks – sharks are getting a bit more love these days, but it’s like this, all right?
So there’s some sharks that are fine and some sharks that can kill you. Some snakes that are fine and some snakes that can kill you.
Mark: Stay away from the latter.
Mike: Yes, stay away from those.
But there’s a vast amount more of ones that can’t hurt you, right?
Mike: So let’s look at something else. There’s a lot of cats that are fine… there’s also some cats that can kill you. But we still keep cats in the house and our perception of this is very different. I think it’s because the only time we ever hear about snakes is with like suspense, accents and creepy music in the background on the discovery channel. Or we hear about in the news…
The same with shark attacks. Like we have all these negative data points about these certain animals. And yeah, there’s some that can kill you… but there’s also a lot of other animals that can kill you…
Mike: Their relatives live in our houses, right?
Mark: I was just gonna say there’s some humans that are fine, there’s some humans that could kill you… but we tend to keep them around still.
Mike: Exactly. And we’re the most dangerous animal on the planet man. I think if you look at all everything, for sure.
Travel and Money
Mark: Okay, so this is really getting interesting. So travel… first of all you had to like make money and then travel, make money and travel…
By the way, what did you do to make money? Were you waiting tables and stuff like that or did you have something steady? Back in the day. Not now, but back in the day.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. Back in the day, it was a few things. I’ve always been a huge animal fan, so I worked in pet stores for a while – when pet stores were a thing. They’re not so much a thing anymore.
My family owns a dog food business, my parents do – so I did a bit of work up there as well. I worked as a dive instructor a little bit as well.
Basically it was whatever work I could find to be able to get some cash in my pockets to go backpacking again. To continue this search for me. So it was that it was whatever.
And then also learning more about how to travel. You know what? I had something happen to me a couple months ago that broke my heart. And I made a post on Instagram about like backpacker travel, and like being uncomfortable. And how the best way to travel is pushing yourself and roughing it. And finding comfort in discomfort.
And I got a message from someone who didn’t understand what I meant, because she thought the only way you travel is how you see people traveling on Instagram. Which is the floating breakfast buffet in the bathtub with the rose petals. And the big fluffy white sheets overlooking the jungle canopy in Bali.
She didn’t realize that there was any other kind of travel, but that. She thought that was travel. And she’d been saving up for years to have one of these giant resort, all-inclusive Bali getaways…
And it broke my brain, because that is the opposite of what travel is, right? Travel is going out there making things work, couch surfing, finding someone on the street to talk to. Like, it’s about roughing it and pushing yourself and pushing the experience forward to sometimes an unknown destination.
Mark: Well, the prior example… the cushy vacation… really, you’re just dragging your values and lifestyle to some other place, right? You really aren’t changing anything. You’re not trying to change your perspective; you’re not trying to shift your paradigm.
I totally get it. Like, one of the things I’m planning right now with my wife is I just started… I’ve been a lifelong martial artist, and I know you’re a fencer I’d love to talk about that before we end here.
And I made an initial attempt to study Japanese when I first got my first black belt in a Japanese karate style. And all I had was this book, and it was really… I can’t remember the title of the book… but it was really, really hard to learn it from a book like that. I didn’t know about Berlitz at the time or anything.
And then I got into the SEAL teams and that opportunity kind of went away. I was too busy learning other things.
So now fast forward almost 30 years later, I’ve started the study of aikido – which is a really fascinating art. And of course everything’s taught in Japanese, and I’m like “oh, this is a great opportunity for me to kind of go back to that initial passion.”
So I’ve signed up with Berlitz for a year-long course in Japanese. Like they have 10 modules, this gets me through four of them.
And then next year I plan on an immersion stay in japan. Where I’ll go and study aikido and deliberately not speak any English, right? Just immerse me in the culture.
It’s not quite the same – I mean it’s got elements of what you do in terms of I’m gonna go be in a culture, learn the culture, face fears around whether I can navigate not speaking English and all that. And if I would add some crazy adventure to that where I could face my emotional fears that’d be cool too.
That brings up a good question. Do you ever try to really study the cultures when you travel and learn languages and stuff like that? Or is it really more about your own development? Or both?
Mike: Totally. Touching back on what you said for a quick second, I think that is one of the best ways to travel that nobody talks about is either starting a new hobby or taking an existing hobby and going somewhere and meeting the people who do it.
Because I used to sword fence, I also used to break dance quite a bit. And I recently got into jiu-jitsu. And the easiest way to meet like brothers and sisters in countries you don’t know is just show up at their local dojo, or studio, or gym, or whatever… and just do the thing you love with people that are there.
And sometimes you’ll be the worst one there, sometimes you’ll be the best one there. But at the end of the day, you have those local contacts. And the local contacts are so key for an intimate travel experience.
Again one thing I think is a sin, is people showing up and… I think people travel the world like they like they catch Pokémon. They go, they have a list of things they want to catch… they show up, take a shot on their on their phone doing like a jump or something. And then they move on. They don’t actually learn anything, right?
You can see an exact same picture or better photo than you just took up the same exact spot if you just type it into google. It’s hardly authentic.
But again, by immersing yourself you can have these amazing travel experiences that often you never expect. There’s lots of ways to do it. That’s a fantastic way to do it that people don’t talk about enough.
But for me I often do try quite significantly to find local contacts to spend time with, so then I can get in underneath.
Because sometimes it’s hard, right? You show up, you want to do like the top 10 things in Bali or something… and there’s all these tour operators giving you the same experience.
But how do you get into like the underground stuff, right? You need a local. And it’s not too hard to meet a local, but if you have a hobby, that’s a shortcut.
Or you want to couch surf – I’m a huge proponent of couch surfing – there’s a great website for that too. All you need is a local person, and that is a shortcut to getting under the skin.
Mark: So couch surfing is just going without any hotel reservations, or hostel… you just go, and you meet someone, and you hang out?
Mike: Basically it’s a website that you have a profile, and it could be anywhere… let’s say Santiago, chile. You type in “Santiago” on this website… you make a profile, you put some photos in, and you see people who have an available could be couch, could be bed – basically a free stay for you.
And it’s all like curated and verified. And people leave reviews and stuff, so it’s pretty solid and you just message and say “hey, I’m going to be in Santiago for the 24th to the 27th. Do you have a free spot?”
And then you chat a little bit. You meet the person. And then they put you on the couch.
I’ve done that so much over the years.
Mark: No transaction. There’s no fees or anything?
Mike: Zero. But the cool thing is like okay, yeah, the free stay’s nice. But you get that local person who usually speaks English – number one, because you were already talking to them… but also, he can invite you to meet his friends. You can go see a local like soccer game or go to local bar. You have that foundation. And then magic can happen.
But at the very least like you don’t even have to use that platform to stay with someone. You’re gonna say “hey, do you wanna grab a beer? I’ll buy you a beer. I’ll buy you dinner.” Have some questions. And it works that way too.
Mark: That’s genius. What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve had? And the scariest thing that happened traveling this way?
Those are two different questions, but it might be the same…
Mike: Yeah, it’s a good one. For me… I plan a lot of my things. But there’s still many moments where I don’t exactly know the outcome.
But I still gotta say like the adventure in the public speaking for me is still something that is a struggle, because I think if you these feelings inside of you, it’s hard to just say “I don’t feel them anymore.”
Mark: It’s not so easy is it? Like, I think that’s a myth. You don’t get rid of fear, you just learn to face it, and control it and to deal with it.
Mike: Amen. Exactly.
Mark: Transform it into something positive and productive, right?
Mike: Fearless is not the lack of fear, is it? It’s the acknowledgement of fear, but still choosing to do it anyway. And that’s what people don’t understand.
And people see me, or many other people say that “oh, I was scared to speak.”
And they’re like “ah well. He’s over it.”
No, no, no. I’ve just changed my relationship with the feeling, right? And if you do have these deeply traumatic things that happened in your life, you don’t ever really shake it. It still defines a little bit of who you are. We have to learn how to dance with it.
And life in general is like that, too. I feel like risk is such an important life-defining thing and whether you run from it or you embrace it’s still risk.
And a good example now, right? The world’s in the middle of a pandemic, some people choose to travel, some people choose to stay home. Some go out to the beach, some don’t.
There’s still always going to be risk. By sitting on your butt every day and watching the news for the entire year as some people have done – there’s a lot of risk in that as well. It’s unavoidable. You have to learn how to be comfortable with it.
Mark: I agree.
Mike: The most scared I’ve been is maybe not the story you’re looking for, but it’s still a pretty crazy story. So there was a… Mexico and Spain notoriously are the craziest countries for festivals…
Mark: (laughing) yeah, they’re kind of dangerous, right? You may not survive this festival – it should be in the fine print.
Mike: (laughing) exactly. So the exploding hammer festival was definitely one that was unbelievably scary. But at the same time I just knew I had to keep my wits about me. As long as you’re looking around and aware. And not drunk. You were probably fine. Definitely not 100% fine but 95.
But I went to another one called the “Bulls of Fire festival.” So every year there’s the national pyrotechnics festival just north of Mexico City…
Mark: What could possibly go wrong?
Mike: (laughing) it’s about as safe as you’d imagine a Mexican firework festival would be which is not safe at all.
So one of the nights they have this thing called the “Toros de Fuego” – the bulls of fire. And you’ve heard of “Running of the Bulls” in Spain, right? So that’s dangerous.
So take that same idea of running from something super dangerous, remove the actual physical bull, but replace it with a like mechanical, steel frame bull…
Mark: (laughing) on fire.
Mike: Not yet, first you fill it full of fireworks – like model rocket engines all these different things then you wrap it up in paper maché and then you lay it on fire and push it into a crowd of people.
Mark: You have no idea when it’s going to light off? And so people are dodging this thing…
Mike: As it’s exploding. And people are not just dodging the fact that they’re shooting fireworks at you. They’re dodging it because people are pushing it at you. So you have to run away from these things.
And it’s not just one. They start it at sundown… so like 6 p.m.… and they go like one every 15 minutes until 3 or 4 a.m.
So it is absolutely just incredibly dangerous. And people are drunk and it’s just a hell show.
It’s a lot of fun.
Mark: It sounds like fun, but I can imagine what the aftermath looks like. Probably bodies… limbs…
Mike: People do get… there’s these movable ambulance kind of bunker things. They set up like these military tents that are that are hospitals for the burns.
And you’d think that wearing clothing is good – I wore a bunch of clothing like a ski mask and a big hoodie – but a lot of them are little model rocket engines. And they’ll zip off and they’ll get stuck in the fabric and they’ll stay there, and they’ll burn you.
So a lot of people just go shirtless. Which seems even more insane. Anyway, we’re here I’m filming this thing, trying…
Mark: (laughing) You think we could export this to san Francisco or…?
Mike: The only place it can happen is Mexico. Anyway, so they’re pushing these bulls in and the people, the crowd… it’s a massive crowd – they’ll chant one of two things like “this bull sucks” or like the Mexican equivalent which is much more much more filthy.
Or like “this bull rocks” – depending on the quality of the explosion and the overall danger and threat we all feel.
Anyway, so I was having a thrilling time, but didn’t drink a drop of alcohol until after. Just because it’s like a situation where you have to know what’s happening. You have to be in control. You have to be aware.
And so this was dangerous, but when it got actually dangerous was around midnight. Everything remained the same except for the overall crowd’s alcohol level. And people started throwing bottles up and over the crowd. So there’s like a thousand people in the square, bulls spinning everywhere, and people started throwing bottles.
So I took one to the shoulder – a big, empty bottle of tequila…
Mike: Luckily didn’t like crack me super hard. And then I called it, because that’s where I draw the line for these adventures. The second I can’t control something, and I don’t feel like I’m in control I don’t do it anymore.
Because that’s where I think it becomes dangerous. Because there’s fear of like scary things and fear of dangerous things, there’s also being reckless. This whole fear thing and threat level thing is a bit of a sliding scale.
But the second you can’t control something, and you don’t exactly know what’s happening, then it becomes dangerous fear. And so I pulled out, I couldn’t do it… because you take one of those things like to the bridge the nose or like straight to the back of the head…
Mark: Oh, can kill you.
Mark: That’s an experience with dangerous human animals. Have you ever had a really close call with a predator or some sort of animal? Either maritime or on land?
Mike: The two that that I can think of off the bat – the thing is they’re not the animals you’d expect… so when I turned 30 – which… I’m 35 now… so a few years ago – I wanted to go live in the Canadian wilderness by myself. Alone. For some amount of time…
Mark: It’s cold up there by the way…
Mike: It was very cold – it was later – it was like probably September – so it wasn’t like freeze your balls off, but it was it was getting colder.
And I was worried about bears, as you should be up there. And so I hung my food up
Mark: Bears and wolves pretty much rule that place.
Mike: Yeah, exactly. But with bears like I knew… like, I had some bear spray. We don’t get grizzlies, we just get black bear and brown bear which are not as dangerous, but still something to keep in mind.
And so I put my food up far away… like 100 meters away or something… up between two trees and I was setting up for my very first night. And I didn’t bring a tent – I brought a hammock with a tarp and I kind of fashioned myself this like spider web of just cords…
Mark: That’s awesome.
Mike: Yeah, and settling down my first night and as I was going to bed a bear came out of the woods close to my tent. On my first night, right? And I couldn’t believe it.
And so I’m like “hey bear, go away!” And so it turns, and it sprints away…
Mark: (laughing) I don’t speak English, he’s thinking. “what’s this guy talking to me about?”
Mike: (laughing) Exactly. So the bear sprints away, but that wasn’t really the dangerous thing. And it was almost like ripping the band-aid off in the beginning… like, that was interaction. It was freaky, but he left, right? He was very scared of me.
People shoot them all the time up there, so of course…
But when it got dangerous was every morning at about five in the morning, I would feel things on all these cords that I had tied up for the tent. And I hear like “boing, boing” and I’d feel the whole hammock and the tarp shake.
And I didn’t know what it was for a while I thought maybe it was the wind, but it was never windy in the morning.
Then one morning through a crack underneath the tarp I saw it was a moose… like a big male with the huge rack… who was trying to navigate in between these cords… he was like kind of stuck in between two of the cords of the tent.
And that’s what was banging against my tent. And what I realized is I had put my tent up in this one spot you could cross this lake… it was like a little stream between two lakes… and the stream was like a couple miles long or sorry the lake was a couple miles long…
Mark: You didn’t see the moose crossing sign?
Mike: No I didn’t. And there’s lots of those in Canada, but unfortunately not out in the middle of the woods.
So this is like an animal highway, and so it was these giant moose that were passing through…
Mark: Holy cow. They can be aggressive too, boy.
Mike: The thing is like you’re that close to an animal, it doesn’t know you’re there – I look like a big rock or something – I surprise it, it surprises me.
Here’s the thing – if someone popped out from a corner in front of you, you’d maybe pop in him the face. But the thing is like if a moose pops in the face, or a bear pops in the face, you don’t have a face anymore.
And so that that was something that sobered me up pretty quickly, and I had to move where I was sleeping. Because again in Canada we have those big, massive animals up there, right? And generally they’re harmless, but you can find yourself in in these situations where you’re just too close.
Because someone was being quiet. In my case I was sleeping. But if you make noise, you’re generally fine.
But in the far remote corners of the planet – I’ve been to the jungles of Indonesia; I’ve been to amazon rainforest – and these things like snakes and spiders are not easy to find.
Like, I told you I love snakes – I look for snakes…
Mark: And they’re just not there. I mean you have to look, or you have to be unlucky…
Mike: But also people kill them, just because they’re… they just see a snake, they don’t care if it’s dangerous and people just cut their heads off. And they’re heartless with it, because the overall impression is that snakes are dangerous.
And so my heart goes out to some of them, because there’s this harmless little brown thing, but someone just takes a shovel and…
Mark: I want to get your take on kind of the environment and philanthropy from your travel perspective but before I do that can I tell you my bear story? So funny.
Mike: 100%. Better than mine, I bet.
Mark: So I was SEAL training – so it’s after buds. I’m at SEAL team three and we’re doing what’s called SQT – SEAL qualification training. And we’re up at Kodiak, Alaska where we have a SEAL base to learn maritime ops…
Mike: (laughing) There’s real bears there.
Mark: Yeah, the Kodiak bears are monstrous. And they’re just epic creatures – like, they’re just gorgeous. But really, really dangerous.
And so we’re out for a week and a half or so and we’re kind of heading back toward camp. And we holed up one night and did something similar to what you did. We holed up near the river, right? Because we’re thinking water’s good and be near the water source and what not.
And most of the snow had melted, but it’s still kind of cold. And anyway, so in the middle of the night we were kind of like not tactical, right? We weren’t like expecting or simulating like we were going to get attacked, so we were just kind of camping.
And suddenly in the middle of night I hear this noise, which is unmistakably a Kodiak. And he’s making this grunting noise and he’s in the river, right? And he’s like swiping and he’s fishing, right? Kind of ignorant that he’s just wandered into an encampment of U.S. Navy SEALs, right?
And all of a sudden – of course I wasn’t alone – everybody in my platoon was woken up by this thing and heard it. And all of a sudden, I hear all these ar-15s just getting locked and loaded. I’m like, “guys, guys! Do not shoot! We’ll end up killing each other”
So we all got up and we like warily just watched this thing fish and made sure he didn’t come our way. And it was just such a cool experience, just to be there with that bear. And he knew we were there after we kind of made ourselves present, and he just ignored us. He was like, “I got more important things to do here. I got an endless supply of these beautiful trout swimming upstream, and I’m gonna eat.” And he did…
Mike: Yeah exactly, exactly. You’re right though, those animals when you see one in – I saw one in a zoo. Same with the full-grown moose I’ve seen a few more times – but when you see a full-grown Kodiak, grizzly bear or a full-grown male moose you realize “oh my god. This is like the equivalent of a prehistoric beast. Like, this is a whole different level.”
I thought a moose was the same size as a horse, until I saw one.
Mike: I saw like a grizzly stand up at the zoo and I just fainted, almost. What do you do? It’s a monster. You’re fighting something that’s like a god. It’s like the god of the wilderness, you can’t do anything.
Still people have all these stories like being able to fend them off, or oh my god, but it’s terrifying.
Mark: Yeah, you’re lucky if you get out of an encounter with a bear like that.
Mike: I got one littler creature story…
Mark: Okay, let’s talk about that.
Mike: Not a big one. So I was in Belize – and Belize is I think one of the most fascinating countries if you want a jungle experience. You can go all the way down to south America and the amazon, but the Belizean rainforest is very pristine, and it’s thick, and it’s pretty accessible for a lot of us in north America. It’s a great spot.
And so we were there and doing like a bit of a jungle exploration thing and seeing some old ruins and wrecks. They’ve got some beautiful ruins there, too.
And so I had a project in Thailand coming up the following week. And so I did my project, got on a plane, went back home to Canada for a few days, then flew over to southeast Asia.
But I had this little like pimple on my wrist. And I was like, “what is this is this thing?” I tried to pop it and it wouldn’t pop. And then a pimple goes away after a couple days, that kind of thing – but it wouldn’t go away.
And it was like two weeks of having this little pimple and I it was getting bigger and bigger, but it didn’t look infected… like when things get infected, they get big, red and swollen and it wasn’t doing that.
Mark: Don’t tell me it was spider baby spiders in there. Something like that. Creep me out.
Mike: It wasn’t, but I don’t think it’s much better than a baby spider.
So I went to the hospital in Bangkok – because in my head, after… it was three weeks of a little pimple not healing. My mind started to race.
I had gone to this back-alley Thai monk to get this like tattoo tapped in my back with a big stick and some ink he made himself. And so I was thinking it was fine, but who knows? Like, there’s blood-borne diseases like aids and HIV where your immune system gets all messed up, right?
So I was saying “oh my god. Like what in the world?” And so I was like “well, let’s go to the hospital first and see if we can get some antibiotics for it or something. Or see what the doctor thinks.”
So he looks at, and he goes “oh it’s infected.” And I was like “well, it doesn’t look…”
But he’s a doctor, so hey. He put some gel antibiotics on it, puts a little like piece of gauze and some tape. He’s like “come back in three days and we’ll open it up to see how it’s healed.”
So about two days in, it gets wet – I’m like doing the dishes and it starts to itch – and I’m like, “I’ll take it off and put on some new antibiotics.”
So I’m there with my friend, and we take it off to look like “oh, is it better?” And we see this thing pop out.
Mark: No way.
Mike: And we’re like “what was that?” And so we looked at it again, and there was a little like white tail. So for me – I took biology in school – so I saw that, and I felt actually relief if you can imagine that.
Because I knew what it was. It was a bot fly. Which is this little like housefly type thing, that sees a little tiny break in your skin – a little pimple or whatever – and it lays a single egg. That turns into a little worm. And it lives in that one spot.
So it’s not traveling around your body. Just kind of camps out, and eventually turns into a fly so for me I was like “oh, thank god.”
My friend was like “are you crazy? This is disgusting. Oh my god!”
Mark: (laughing) so you’re the proud parent of a fly. Congratulations.
Mike: (laughing) I was pregnant for four weeks. And so the next day I would go to the hospital, because I had his appointment. And I walk in and it’s like the most modern hospital in Bangkok.
And there’s nice hospitals there, like really modern hospitals. And he’s like “how is your cut?”
I’m like “you’re not gonna believe it.”
And he goes “oh, is it better?”
I’m like “it’s not better. Look.”
And so I open it up and I show him – and I go “there’s a little worm.” And he goes – this is a doctor in a modern hospital – he goes “oh! A little worm! Oh come!”
And he starts yelling at all the nurses, and they come in. They’re like taking photos. “oh, it’s a worm! Look it’s a worm!”
Mark: How come you didn’t take it out? You didn’t pull it out, because you wanted the doctor to see it?
Mike: Well, I didn’t know how to exactly. I thought it was… I didn’t want it to like burst.
Anyway, so what’s even funnier is, because I went to this modern hospital, assuming they would know what to do – they had never seen it before. Because it’s only native to like a few places in central America.
So I was like his medical marvel for a day in that hospital. People were coming over from different units to look… and they’re like laughing, and taking pictures… and, like, dry heaving…
And eventually – this doctor didn’t know what to do, so he goes to YouTube on his office computer and types in “how to remove bot fly.” And there’s this like Belizean medicine woman in this wooden shack, next to like a coal fire with like chicken roasting on it. Taking a dirty hand cloth and showing how to remove a bot fly from someone’s skin.
And this modern doctor in Bangkok with like the spectacles and the white suit, being like “okay.” Making notes about how to do it. And so he goes, and he takes this cloth thing, and he pops it out and they put anesthetic in and yeah anyway… I have the barely even have a scar now.
But so I haven’t had any very many life-threatening things happen to me… but that wasn’t my first external parasite either. The small things sometimes get you more than the big things.
Mark: Usually it’s the small things that will kill you like that, you know what I mean? What a cool story.
Gosh, I mean we’re running out of time, but I could talk to you for hours. This is so much fun.
So back to kind of the gist of how you turned all this travel and all these adventures into a career blogging, speaking, producing videos and whatnot around overcoming fear. What are the biggest like lessons that you have for listeners in terms of how to approach fear? And how to transform a phobia or fear into something that’s courageous, or that you are comfortable with?
Mike: Totally, well I’ll tell you some traps that I got stuck in. That once I realized I was getting stuck in these traps, it really helped me change how I felt about things.
And one of the first things I realized is that I wasn’t just this special fear snowflake. It was so private and yucky to me, that I felt this fear and I always tried to hide that I was afraid. But then I was even more afraid. Like, it was very private and deep.
But I thought back, and I was like “well, actually anybody who was put through those circumstances like I was – drug in front of a class when you’re in grade three or four and made fun of – as an introduction to public speaking, is going to be afraid of public speaking. It was very natural and very almost understandable.
So it wasn’t it wasn’t this yucky little secret that I had. It actually made a lot of sense.
And also, I realized that I that part of the problem is I would get afraid of being afraid… and I was having panic attacks. I remember in like grade eight or something – grade nine – and even later than that, where I would think that maybe the teacher might call on somebody to say something.
And then I’d just be like “oh god.” And then I would feel this feeling of panic rise up in my chest. And then I’d be like “oh god, it’s happening.” So I was actually fearing the fear itself.
And then once you get in that spiral, man, you’re a burning tire going down the hill.
Mark: Right. Shut you down, doesn’t it? Interesting.
Mike: And that’s panic. And panic kills people, right? Panic is the thing that that makes safe things dangerous, right? One thing I learned in scuba is… and there’s many things in life you can learn it from… but just calmly assessing the situation and not succumbing to panic is how you get out of basically any crisis that you’re put in. Life-threatening ones especially.
So realizing that I was actually afraid of being afraid was a big thing. And what I do now actually helps a lot. If I do feel that feeling – which does happen often in my life – the hack that I started doing in the very beginning was saying “yes.”
Which was not how I felt at all. I felt like “oh my god, again?” But I would say “yes.” Almost like a masochistic sort of way. Like I enjoyed it.
And I didn’t enjoy it. But the funny thing is when you start like tricking yourself into that… because I knew this feeling led to good things, on the other side. Getting past the summit of the feeling is the hard part, but on the other side there’s all the bounty of the world waiting for you.
Mark: We used to say, “fake it till you make it.”
Mike: Exactly the same thing. And if you acknowledge that you mess up – it doesn’t matter if it’s public speaking or I learned this in break dancing – you jump around, you flop on your on your head and you get back up. And you’re like “oh yeah.”
Mark: (laughing) yeah, that was good. I meant to do that, right?
Mike: But if you don’t acknowledge it, people don’t really know. And same thing like if you’re presenting yourself. Or you’re doing anything, and you make a mistake, you have to kind of like acknowledge you made a mistake. If you don’t say anything – let’s say you lose your slides in a presentation, or you forget where you are in this podcast – or I do and I just kind of look down for a few minutes.
And then come back – maybe not minutes that’s a bit long – but let’s say 15 seconds. And I come back up and say something then you’ll be like “oh, maybe he was just thinking.”
But if you’re like “oh, I forgot where I was for a second.” You’re like “what’s up with this guy?” You know what I mean?
Mark: Right. That’s never happened to me…
Mike: (laughing) no, me neither. But like these tools – the two main ones in the beginning was realizing I don’t have to be afraid of fear. And that that feeling coming up could be an indicator – it often is an indicator – that I’m about to change for the better. And being able to have the foresight to realize “okay, this sucks now. But after this there is a lot.”
Mark: I love that. So to notice when the suck is coming, and then to embrace it, right? Be like “yes, here it comes.” I love that.
And learn from it, don’t run away, don’t deny it – because that’s your opportunity to press through to that other side. And I love how you say that on the other side of that fear is a bounty, right? There’s a reward.
Mike: Fear or just – I mean it’s also just discomfort. And I’m sure you’re no stranger to that being a navy SEAL. There’s a lot of discomfort and probably fear in everything – all the training and the things you’ve done, right? That’s a big thing.
Mark: Yeah, yeah. Again, like you said, it’s not getting rid of fear – it’s knowing how to face it. Learning how to take courageous action in spite of it, or in the face of it. Or in the presence of it.
Which means you got to develop some mental strategies. Mental and emotional strategies. Which is what you’re talking about.
Like, when that feeling arises instead of letting it consume you and turn into panic, looking at it and using internal dialogue and a little bit of emotional energy to push it back and be like “yeah, let’s get on with this,” right?
Mike: And that’s what being fearless is. Like you said – courageous action, because it’s an act of courage. Courage is something you have to do. Fearlessness is an action, right?
People think like these pop stars, movie stars, squirrel suits skydivers don’t feel fear. No they feel fear, they just changed their relationship with it. They just choose to do it anyway. It’s an action, right?
And then the thing is you see them do that and like “oh, they’re fearless.” And it’s like their little secret -or not secret – that they feel it anyway. They’re not that special. They just chose to do it anyway.
Mark: Right. That’s pretty cool. There’s a thought going through my mind right now – I’m trying to remember his name – oh Patrick Sweeney – this guy I know. I don’t know him that well – I’ve only met him a couple times – but I had some beers with him up in Tahoe. But he wrote a book called “Fear as Fuel” and I thought that was a great kind of metaphor, right?
Because you can use fear to fuel courage, right? And so anytime you feel that fear come up or you see, or you identify something that you’re fearful of – then that’s an opportunity, right? Because you’re gonna fuel up your maybe motivation to grow or to change or to transform.
Mike: Totally. And I think that that is the key right there to becoming the successful, superhero version of yourself. Is that attitude, exactly, right there. Seeing it as fuel, not as a sink or obstacle.
When that feeling arises inside of you – and you’re not maybe confronted with a bear – which is a different kind of fear, but if you’re asking for a promotion, or asking for a date or whatever it might be… asked to speak publicly…
Some people feel that and then they go the other direction. And those are the people who don’t fully self-actualize and don’t live their dreams. It’s the people who feel that and they go “okay, shit. But we’re going this way. I know I have to go this way…”
It’s not a matter of so often in my life, there’s these opportunities that come up that I know are for the best. But they scare me. And I go “oh my god.”
Mark: Yeah, here we go again.
Mike: “okay, let’s do it.” And it might be committing to a speaking circuit or might be doing something but it it’s not like a “yes,” it’s like “oh my god. I know what I have to do, and I know there’s no other option but to do it.” And that’s what courage is, right? It’s the action of doing it, even if you feel afraid.
Mark: I love it. Mike, we’ve run out of time. It’s so great to talk to you. I really love what you’re doing, your lifestyle – hope you can keep it up for as long as you can. Probably until you get married and you have a wife who says, “no mas.”
Mike: Well, so far, no wife and I’m having a good time.
Mark: Where can people learn more about you? What are the social media and YouTube handles and stuff like that right?
Mike: So Mike Corey is my name – my social platforms are all “Fearless and Far.” My main ones are YouTube I post about once a week. And Instagram as well. I’m posting there quite often.
Mike: No TikTok yet. Actually, I started TikTok, but we’ll see how it goes.
Mark: Yeah, we’ll see. Probably a fly by night – maybe not. Who knows?
All right, buddy – what is it again?
Mike: Fearless and far.
Mark: I’m going to check that out. Can’t wait to see it.
Mike: You want to see exploding hammer festivals or the bulls of fire…
Mark: They’re both on there, right?
Mike: They’re on there. Every story I’ve told is on there.
Mark: (laughing) what about the worm coming out of your wrist?
Mike: It’s on there.
Mark: Thank you so much for your time. Safe travels, and I appreciate you for doing this.
All right folks, that’s it. The Unbeatable Mind podcast – Mike Corey – Fearless and Far – check out his YouTube channel. You got to go check out him pulling the worm out of his arm and exploding hammers in Mexico. And exploding bulls chasing you. What a trip.
Thanks for your attention. I don’t take it lightly. Really appreciate it. I hope you get a lot of value out of this podcast, and until next time stay focused and be unbeatable.