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SPI 782: A Wild Situation at Lunch

I wasn’t going to record this episode, but something wild happened to me at lunch the other day. Even though it embarrassed me in public and made me angry, there are lessons for us here. So, let me get it off my chest!

Here’s what happened. I was on a Zoom call for work when, out of nowhere, a woman snapped at me. You see, I had my phone out in front of me and she thought I was recording a video of her and her son. Before I even had a chance to clear up the misunderstanding, this woman started calling me a creeper and everything!

I was shocked and confused. Then, as I turned my screen toward her to reveal I was on a call, she immediately realized how wrong she was. Apologies started flying, but it was clear to me that this woman had other stuff going on in her life that made her start verbally attacking me.

That’s where we get into the lessons for today. The truth is, we can’t ever know what other people are going through. This also applies to the trolls and haters we encounter as content creators and online business owners. Knowing there’s often something truly sad behind negative comments helped me deal with this real-life situation.

Listen in for my perspective on leading with empathy and the importance of controlling your reactions. Don’t let these experiences knock you off your path!

SPI 782: A Wild Situation at Lunch

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he knows not to podcast on Fridays at 1 PM because of the gardeners next door. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: All right, I had to get this off my chest. Something absolutely wild happened to me not too long ago. I’m talking the other day, so it’s still fresh in my mind and I wasn’t going to record this podcast episode, but I think there are some lessons to be learned here and this is a true real life experience of something that kind of took me by surprise.

It embarrassed me, it angered me, but I was also able to understand how to deal with the situation. That, that’ll be the setup here. So hopefully that’s a good hook. So. I was on a Zoom call with Matt during lunch, which I don’t normally do. Matt, our CEO at SPI Media, we had a call that was rescheduled and we had to have this call during lunch.

So I’m eating food at a public area, had gotten some nice greens at a place called Sweet Greens. Amazing place, very fresh food, all locally sourced, all that kind of stuff, chicken salad, that kind of thing. And I’m finishing my meal and I’m on with Matt and I’m on the phone and I’m holding my phone kind of right in front of me so I can talk to him and I’m eating and I’m holding it with one hand and I’m eating with my other hand.

I finished the meal. I throw the food away in the garbage can and I walk away still holding the phone up. And, and just kind of listening to Matt chat, because he’s going over some stuff and some plans and out of the blue, this woman comes up to me and she goes, “Can you stop recording me and my son, please? I don’t appreciate you coming here and recording me and my son. You need to put that phone away.” And I thought she was talking to a woman that was in between me and her. And the woman was like, me? Because she was also holding her phone and the woman who was accusing me said, No, you, you need to get out of here and stop recording me and my son.

And I’m just surprised. I don’t know what to say at first. I’m kind of shocked. And I turned the phone around to show her that I’m on a call with Matt. I don’t know if Matt like waved at that moment or something, Matt was in my ear like, Hey, what’s going on? Are you okay? And I just say, I’m on a Zoom call for business.

What are you talking about? And she was immediately apologetic. And it was loud. It was embarrassing. There was a lot of people there and she had called me a creeper, like all this other stuff. Like, why do you creepers keep following me? I was embarrassed, but then I immediately thought, and this happened in an instant because I’ve trained myself to do this now after so many trolls and haters and things like this.

I immediately started to feel really sad for her I mean in the moment, I just said it’s okay. Don’t worry about it. We all make mistakes and I said do you want to see my phone? Camera roll and she’s like no. No, I don’t need to see that I’m so sorry. And then she started to explain a little bit about what was happening that she had had people following her and filming her and her son, I have no idea why I was obviously very curious, and I’m still curious about that, but I decided to just walk away.

And my heart was beating really fast. I was breathing really rapidly, kind of in a very fight or flight kind of moment for me, but Like I said earlier, I just felt really sad for her. Now, an earlier version of me, or a younger version of me, would have gotten really upset, would have gotten really loud in defense, and tried to really kind of push back on this, and even turn around and rebuttal, kind of accuse her of being outlandish and out of pocket, as the kids say these days.

But I knew in my head that if she saw me and thought I was recording here. There must be some stuff going on. Like, there must be something bad going on on her end. To have her see somebody who was just pointing a phone in her direction and immediately think that she was being recorded. Now, I wish that she had come up and said, excuse me, are you recording my son and I. That would have been a much more polite approach, but she was being a mom and being defensive and I don’t blame her, especially with whatever something else is happening that apparently people have been following her and her husband and taking photos of them. I don’t know who this person was.

Maybe they were famous or something. I have no idea. I’m sure she just wanted to enjoy lunch, saw a lonely man holding up a phone toward their direction. The other part about this is I wasn’t wearing earbuds and I was experimenting and I have been experimenting with my new Meta sunglasses that have bone induction speakers.

So only I can hear what’s going on and you know, nobody can hear when you’re wearing earbuds anyway, but it’s very apparent that you’re on a call when there are white Apple AirPods in a person’s ear versus just wearing sunglasses. It must have just been a bunch of things happening all at the same time, right?

Her life moments and whatever was happening and thoughts racing through her head. Me coming up, pointing a camera, not having earbuds on, and also Matt talking. Not blaming you, Matt, but, you know, me just listening. So I can completely see where she’s coming from. But the lesson here is that we have no idea, literally no idea what other people are going through.

And if you get a person like this coming up to you in real life, or a person like this coming to you online, whether in a YouTube comment, or an email, or some public place, or a DM, we have no idea what a person is going through. And I felt in that moment, the choice that I made And I’m not trying to like pat myself on the back here, I’m just saying like this is something that I’ve been trained to do now is not react and let somebody saying things to me, get to me because I know there’s stuff going on there that I couldn’t even begin to understand.

I, I, I almost was like, man, I wish I could just sit down and talk to her about this and see what’s going on because she just probably needs somebody to talk to about this. Anyway, I don’t blame her. And if she’s listening to this, which is doubtful, no worries. All good. And again, she just profusely apologized and was wanting to make sure I was okay afterwards.

So I mean, we’re fine. But again, in the moment, I could have easily let those feelings that I was having. I had those feelings of, of wanting to be very defensive, wanting to be accusatory on the opposite end, wanting to say things like, who the hell are you? Like, what kind of person are you to come up to somebody without any questions asked and just accuse them of something like I could have gone that direction right and then of course in the heat of the moment it could have gotten worse and then likely what’s to happen and this is something that my wife and I have been trying to teach our kids, especially my son, who’s 14. He’s going into high school next year. It’s right. You know, you’re going to get into situations like that, where oftentimes it’s not what, like, you can’t control the external things that are happening.

The only thing that you can control is how you react to those things when they happen. And it happens in sports all the time. It happens in real life, it’s often not the person who provoked the situation that gets in trouble or, or makes the situation as bad as it is. It is the person who it was done to, who then retaliates, retaliates because of emotion or, or that fight or flight adrenaline rush.

So anyway, just a little, a little life moment to share with you because it was definitely something that doesn’t normally happen. And I’m very much a kind of just quiet guy, especially when I’m having lunch and I’m in my meetings and it’s just like, what, what was going on? So anyway, again, the big, the big thing here is, and just a reminder, you have no idea what is going on in a person’s life.

And when it comes to your audience, You know, there’s going to be haters and trolls. And again, lead with empathy. You have no idea what they’re going through. And yes, they shouldn’t be saying those things to you. They shouldn’t weaponize words when hiding behind the shield of a keyboard and a monitor, knowing that it’s not going to really mean anything to them, but it can mean everything to you.

Trust me, I’ve been in those situations, and it does not feel good. But when you lead with empathy, the hate and the frustration and the retaliation goes away. When you lead with empathy, you begin to try to understand what’s happening on the other end. And that can be very useful, especially if you have an online business where what it is you do is you serve that audience and a part of serving that audience is understanding them, understanding what they’re going through and what are their frustrations.

So just a little lesson for you when you finish this episode and perhaps go to the next one. We have some great episodes coming up, including a couple big EIR announcements in the next couple of weeks here. I’m just so excited to share who it is that’s going to be a part of the SPI pro community and offer their expertise and services and coaching abilities to our SPI Pro members.

I cannot wait, but anyway, this happened. I wanted to share it and that’s all I got to say about it. You never know what a person’s going through. And in many cases, there are opportunities to find out so you can help them further. And I’m here to help you as well. And so are we at SPI inside of our communities.

You can check out our communities at We’d love to see what we can do to help you there because really, this is all about people, right? People dynamics are hard. People dynamics are really the fun part of this as well. I think you deserve it. So, cheers. Thank you so much.

I’ll see you in the next episode.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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