In this episode, we sit down with Hollywood stuntman and Men of Growth co-founder, Scott Rogers.
Scott unpacks his origin story and shares his journey from being an angry kid growing up in a broken home in Washington D.C., to become an accomplished entrepreneur in the Film and Entertainment industry.
1. Be intentional in your life and not afraid to take risks.
[02:56] Can you talk about your childhood in Washington DC that informed you who you are? Yeah, I’m an East Coast guy that has lived in California over half his life. I grew up without a father, who took off around my birth. I was your stereotypical ADD/ADHD kid with a propensity to make things. It was me, my mom, and two older sisters. We moved around a lot to different elementary schools, so I had a certain level of insecurity. I was that lower class kid that others weren’t really allowed to play with. There was that shame of going to the grocery store with food stamps, and I knew I didn’t want to live like this when I grew up.
[07:58] Were their other men around in your life at this time? Yeah, my mom dated and she rented out rooms in our house to other people, which was an interesting experience. I was rolling joints at seven, the first time I got drunk was nine. I remember walking into this room right off our kitchen to two people having sex. Growing up around all the drugs that I saw, I remember consciously at 9 years old making the choice to not do drugs.
[11:39] Byron: It’s amazing how as a young kid we have pictures of what we don’t think is right. I remember one of my older cousins, who I thought was an adult, lighting a joint and throwing it into my dad’s casket. I also remember going to my aunt’s and seeing smoke roll out of the door, and as a kid deciding not even to go down that path of smoking.
[12:32] Scott: I actually believe that, “I am no more responsible for who I am, than how tall I am.” It doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard and do the best with what I had. I just don’t take credit for my insight. I believe that God says, “This is the way you are going to see things.” There are a number of things that I hold close and dear, because God gave me certain insights to see these things.
[14:04] What if someone doesn’t have these perspectives that has served you well?
Well, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made and given different gifts. There were other perspectives I had that didn’t serve me well, like how to deal with my anger. That’s part of why I find Men of Growth so intriguing. Now that I’m over 50, I’m looking back at my life and evaluating what I’ve done right and wrong.
[17:40] I was once told, “Scott, you worship your anger,” and that was accurate. When I was angry I felt powerful and didn’t want to let that anger go away. The propensity to be angry developed over time. Emotionally I’m pretty soft, so as a kid I would instantly embrace people, like whoever my mom was dating. Trying to impress my mom, men would tell me they’d take me camping, but they would never follow through. I was disappointed and hurt, and so eventually I had to put this shell on. With no outlet to deal with this, my anger would build up. I would fight in school. Unfortunately, having that intensity drove me.
[25:26] Byron: Anger is one of those things, like fire, that if it controlled and harness can be used for some good stuff. A fire in a fire pit is one thing, but a fire in the forest is destructive. So talk about how you’ve been able to harness that?
Scott: It’s a powerful fuel source, but it’s not sustainable and it’s going to burn you out and everyone around you.
[27:30] Scott: When you get angry at the world, you could turn it inward and hate yourself or turn it outward and say, “Screw you, I’m going to do it despite you.” I definitely had that second perspective. In 8th grade my mom remarried to a good guy. We moved to Virginia and lived out in the boonies, so I started getting into sports. In high school, when I was playing tight end, I almost got into a fight with my receiver coach, because I thought he was a jackass. Football was a good outlet, but even that couldn’t really corral my anger. I felt the need to tell people if I didn’t think they deserved authority. I had no filter about that. I used honesty as a hammer and just beat people with it.
[33:05] Emotionally, I was a child even as an adult. I knew that physically I could take a lot, as long as I didn’t have to deal with emotional pain. I didn’t know how to process it.
[34:50] Having no emotion fed really well into being a stuntman. One time, I actually got medevaced out of the desert. I had jumped from the back of a sidecar to the back of pickup truck, got up on the bumper and stood up, and in the scene a guy came out and punched me off the truck onto the ground at 32 mph. I wrecked my shoulder, and my vital signs were dropping. At that point, I was really good at ignoring the common sense that screams at most people not to do things like that with no possible good outcome.
[38:55] Most stuntmen were initially looking to become professional athletes. I was a college athlete and I can see how athletics channelled me and gave me a work ethic. I wanted my dad to notice me, and so I worked harder. My track coach was George Gay who totally changed the course of my life. Only one time did he rear up, when I screwed around mooned a girl out on the track. He held a standard and I didn’t hold up to that standard. He was going to kick me off the team, and I was crushed that I had disappointed him. I honestly only think I became an athlete, because this guy cared about me and my personal success.
[43:00] Byron: As men we don’t recognize how thirsty young men are for someone to care about them. Your coach deposited into your life and laid an expectation of care and standard.[43:58] Scott: I started getting good at pole vaulting and then got letters from college. I had never thought about going to college, and just barely kept a C-Average so that I could keep pole-vaulting. In 8th grade I started working at a horse farm, and then in construction, and so I knew I didn’t want to do manual labor. I knew if I went to college I wouldn’t have to do manual labor. So, I was able to get into James Madison University in Virginia.
[47:41] Byron: Oftentimes we look at the cards we are dealt in life, and count ourselves out if we don't have the top cards, but if we leverage them correctly you can still win the game. Getting into college seems like that for you.
[48:47] Scott: I loved everything about college, and being on the track team was important to me. I started working out with decathlon athletes, and would sometimes work out for 6 hours a day. That got me physically to push myself to limits that were absurd. I started getting this physical confidence that I could do anything.
[51:08] I was a television production major, but I did an internship and really didn’t like it. Heading into my last semester of college it hit me that I didn’t know what I was doing next. I remember sitting in my friend’s room, flipping through a magazine when I saw an article on a stuntwoman. I just decided then and there that was what I was going to do. I graduated, saved some money, went to you Europe with a one-way ticket. I had developed in college this confidence that I could be anything I wanted to be, it’s just me deciding what I wanted to be.
[55:37] The power of decision: You make a decision on doing something, then you move forward and trust that you are going to figure it out. No one needs to give you permission to do that.
[57:24] I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to go be a stuntman.” I went to Europe, came back, and was working, when suddenly I realized that I was never going to be a stuntman because there was no plan for it. I remember thinking that if I didn’t do this, I would become like my grandpa who would just sit and watch his neighbors until he knew everything about them. So I decided that a year from that day I would leave for California.
[1:03:02] I literally had this focus where I didn’t even want to entertain a plan B option. I cared about what I was doing.
[1:07:02] In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, he talks about how when things come together. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and all the gurus of modern computing were born within three years of each other and they all had this propensity, access, situation to start programming. If they were older they would have worked for IBM; if they were younger they would have missed the window. I had that in a much smaller sense in the film industry. I was able to build and rig while the industry was moving towards that and had the athleticism to do a lot of that myself.
[1:09:28] Given where you’ve come from, what would you like people to take away from this conversation? Everybody is capable of some amazing things. It doesn’t happen quickly. My 27 years in the film industry have been an amazing journey. You have to find the people who drive you to be the best you can be. For me, these are my friends and my wife. My wife’s confidence and trust in me, you can’t put a value on that. You have to intentionally look for these people in your life. You need to become the person you want to find.
[1:13:25] Jade and Byron are challenging me on a completely different level. I honestly believe that I can do more in the second 50 years of my life, than in my first 50 years. I am as engaged now in Men of Growth as I was as a wide-eyed 22-year-old. I want people to know to be intentional.
[1:16:05] Byron: A fully engaged life isn’t rocket science. It’s being willing to move forward and having the faith to not question that, “Hey, I have the capacity to figure it out.” Let’s do it.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and all the gurus of modern computing were born within three years of each other and they all had this propensity, access, situation to start programming. If they were older they would have worked for IBM; if they were younger they would have missed the window.
Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?