Michael King 0:00
According to the research in Harvard Business Review, only 8% of people achieve their dreams and 92%. They just give up or they fail to do it. Perseverance is the biggest factor when it comes to success. Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying that energy and persistence, conquer all things. And I love this quote from Steve Jobs. He says that I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non successful ones is pure perseverance. In talking with today’s guests, we are hearing an inspirational story of a leader who faced adversity early on in life and showed the power of perseverance to make a lasting impact. Welcome to the level of leader podcast. I’m your host Michael King. I’m an executive coach and founder of teams dot coach. I work with sea level leaders to clarify and expand the vision elevate performance and elevate their leadership. On today’s podcast, I am joined by Kevin Cassidy, Kevin has been a Hollywood stuntman for over 17 years featured in many movies that you and I both love, spider man and man, the names in the list go on and on and on. Now Kevin is making a big shift to tell his story to the next generation. Everyone please welcome Kevin to the level of leader podcast.
Hey, Kevin, welcome to the level up leader podcast. It’s so great to have you. Yeah. Thanks for having me, Michael. Because your story is inspirational. And you’re certainly doing a lot with with with your life right now. Can you kind of give us a little bit of the backstory behind behind Kevin?
Kevin Cassidy 1:57
Short story. Long story short, I guess I was born with a pretty severe birth defect, a very severe cleft palate, pretty much from my nose and upper lip where it was a bubble. I had never seen my mouth or teeth and nose. I was born and I had speech therapy all through school and a bunch of surgeries. And so other than that led to like bullying and teasing and finding outlets and sports and writing and all the hardships that come with that growing up. went on to play minor league baseball for a little bit. With a teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, really always wanted to make her teach and coach random. He got into a sport called slam ball. It was like full contact basketball with trampolines and TV for a couple years doing that. That shipped me to LA I didn’t get in the movie business. So the Hollywood stuff man for just under 18 years, do a movie I did Black Panther and Ant Man and a bunch of Marvel movies of a Dark Knight Rises and perform stunts and choreograph and coordinated stunts on some of the world’s biggest movies. That then I started having a family that took me away from a family too much. So I just retired from that a couple of years ago. And I was in London in Prague and Spider Man far from home for about four months and flew home one weekend and see my daughter for a birthday and flew right back. So this is not a young man’s game. I’m gonna hang it up and move on with my life. So manage right Bible COVID hit so I had plenty of time because movies weren’t being shot. So I got down and start writing the book I’ve always wanted to write open a business Ninja Warrior business for kids. I have a competitive team and we get birthday parties mentorship programs, staff of about 30 in the physical gym, I have a mobile unit I’ve got to let fairs and festivals I have another sales team that kind of runs a mobile unit for sale with schools and churches. And it’s I got the book I’m doing speaking engagements podcasts. I’m writing a curriculum around the book right now that to train teachers and students about bullying and mental toughness and so, so long story short, I guess.
Michael King 3:57
I love it. I love it. Well, you’ve got it You’ve definitely had been a part of some really cool things I’m a I’m a massive superhero fan and Marvel geek and all that stuff. So so that’s that’s pretty that’s pretty cool. What are what are now you just put out a book and your your your booking your speaking schedule. What is the big why behind everything that you’re doing right now? What’s the end game in this?
Kevin Cassidy 4:24
I’ve always been pulled to mentor or coach or lift people up and I really liked that world and I’m pretty good at it. I think I’m dialing that in and getting better at it every day. A lot of things that I went through in life made me very mentally tough. I had a physical deformity that was literally on my face and the speech impediment. I tend to hide from it so I like a lot of people are to say have something maybe that is a learning disability or family life something they can hide under the rug and kind of back away from and maneuver around. Mine was upfront. You had to figure it out. You’re gonna get bullied. Tomorrow, you’re gonna get bullied. We’re gonna do got it figured out. So I was lucky in that aspect that I had really created some mental toughness and some perseverance for me that really helped me throughout my life, going to college moving out to LA being broke, and all the other things that I kind of went through. So the Hollywood thing was really cool. Got me a lot of famous stars and workouts and big movies. So mass, that’s a pretty good hook to get my real message out there of who you are matters more than what you’re creating empathy being better leaders. By that I was in charge of million dollar budgets on movies, you had to hire a bunch of stuff, people work with the visual effects coordinator work in the fight choreographer, work with a director about schedules, everyone’s so many teams kind of kind of put together. And I’m becoming better at that. And I think the reason I was good at it was because I had so much empathy, from my younger years that I treated everyone, as an individual, I kind of massaged every situation, individual basis, and I’m big on tough love. I’m tough. I’m tough on my case. And I love him a lot too. So you can’t have one without the other that was holding people to higher expectation individually, hold them accountable, and love them, and know what makes them tick and know how to motivate them. So I’ve used that a lot. And I think a lot of my story Oh went through in life helped me build that that part of my my ability up now wanted to share that with everybody with a book and the curriculum and writing, have people get to that point of who you are management and what you are. I was a bully kid and never internalize that. I can leave that alone and move on in my life. I was a Hollywood stunt man and hanging out with biggest movie stars in the world, didn’t internalize that didn’t care about that, I can leave that in a heartbeat, too, because I was really confident in my foundational character and what I call who I was more than what I was, so I want to give that strength back to the world without having them get both go through some traumatic events I went through in life so that was my that’s my why.
Michael King 6:55
Yeah, that’s, that’s really good. The I liked it. I liked it about the value statement of value, who you are versus what you are. Are you finding that identity and confidence character? Are you finding that that’s a little bit harder to come by with this next generation that you’re speaking to?
Kevin Cassidy 7:13
It’s definitely lacking for sure. Hire a couple full time people I hire and a lot of my high school and college kids that come help me do my summer camps and my physical business of manipulation Ninja Warrior studio. And a lot of I think life is just so easy. Now you can make $30,000 a year have air conditioner, or iPhone, a car, like technology’s made life really easy, which is great was definitely waking people mental that mental fortitude was easy back in the day where if you’re a cold, you got to go chop wood, get a fire going. You had to figure it out. And you did it. Let me yesterday you had to do something hard. And that reveals who you are. It’s very easy right now to not have to do anything hard. You can go through life without challenging yourself to do anything hard. Now generations ago, you had to go back and say chocolate something hard every day to get by. Now you don’t have to do anything hard. And I think putting yourself in position to do something hard whether it’s a cold shower, wake up an hour earlier using flu shots, just something that will maybe let you fail and do something hard to come to is what I try to preach to my younger staff to build that internal strength because it’s really easy to be complacent in life right now because there’s knock on wood pretty good going pretty easy.
Michael King 8:25
Yeah, I found that people tend to have a tendency to to lead from personal experiences. So I know that when I’m leading my team, typically I try to practice what I preach the best way that I can. But typically my biggest convictions are because I lived through something that worked for me and I want people to experience the same type of success or the same type of outcomes that I’ve had as long as they’re positive trust me I’ve fallen flat on my face a million different times but But it sounds like the way that you lead when especially when you talk about tough love and valuing who you are versus what you are you have some stories that are attached to some of those convictions. What was the moment that you can remember to where you decided that you had to level up your leadership? What was the story that was attached to that?
Kevin Cassidy 9:12
There’s a lot of ones in the movie business because you get put in some positions where you’re just a stunt guy I was the bad guy ain’t man Yellow Jacket. That was his truck that was everything in yellow Exactly. See it was me going through the window going on the fight I was a supervillain and man and not roll you show up you train you’re fighting to do what you got to do. Someone tells you what to do, how to do it, you perfect it, you train, you do your job and you kind of go home and then when I started getting behind the camera, now I see okay, well the guy who told he had to work with the special effects coordinator and this guy in the Reagan team to figure out to live in and wherever it’s gonna go and I started getting more jobs where I had to do more than just be a stunt man and organized like a whole set. I thought man I gotta figure this out. Like I got to find out who the best guys around me that I can hire to make me look good because you You’re thrown in, there’s some things that you need to have a good team around you. So number one, that’s huge. And luckily instance everyone came from nothing and you had to prove yourself over and over again. So there was no overnight suspension sensations was done so the guys that came up with I knew like a relationship with I need to pull from when I pull from this guy’s gonna fight this guy’s gonna horses which guys get here. Let’s get this team together and really run with it and I’m dealing with different directors who might be a yeller and not organized or the scene changes or we’re doing the fight in a in the woods. Great choreographic. hire the people waiting for your filament? No, that’s in a parking lot now. Well, all the stumps are people hitting trees, you’re not freezing them out? Yeah, figure it out. All right, who can drive a car I don’t know who’s best. So you kind of pick the best people in the best spot. So those a lot of those movies because it’s just go go go. Things change on a dime, and really find out who’s with you who can do what, and have that in your back pocket. Or you can lean on for what had that in your back pocket because I’m having a budgeting meeting, and leave the guys alone to train. And like when we’re training, probably this but here’s the runway, I gotta go to this meeting. So having those teams and people can count on. Really, it was a, it was a aha moment. Now I really got to find individuals lack of time together and really, really wrap this up. And that’s really blossomed in everything I do now.
Michael King 11:26
That’s That’s powerful. That’s super great. You wrote a book called Falling down to find myself. Is that correct?
Kevin Cassidy 11:35
Michael King 11:37
What’s what’s kind of the big takeaway from this?
Kevin Cassidy 11:40
I’m calling that philosophical memoir. It’s a story of my life up to this point, obviously, with some philosophical themes. One is the Hoover’s what kind of thing I kind of when I who was ABC, my what was a bully kid, a popular kid athlete, a homeless, broke kid, Hollywood, stunt, man, those are all my works. I didn’t care about my who brought me through the transition, and made me a better person, jog, carry that through my story. And again, I’m trying to get that out there for people so they can, you know, be a little bit more internal focus and not anything. I say, if you want a new idea, read a whole book. These are not new ideas. These are like the stoics have been saying them for years. Know thyself. There’s 1000 ways to wrap this up. But I put all those things into correlation of my life, my life a pretty good personification of all those kinds of things and why they make you a better human. And in your day, a happier person. You got to find out what makes you happy and work towards that and no one’s happy if all their happiness is based on external factors. If it’s your car, your car your your anything, and there’s never 1000 things that’s a shallowness to you you have to be happy with who you are internally before you can build that foundation up. So that was the that’s the book my life those philosophical kind of themes running through it. Some cool stories I mean, how it was working with some great people who really just over time I find that I did a movie called salt Angelina Jolie and had a fight scene where I don’t know the move for two weeks. They find out in New York I do a fight scene with Angelina tomorrow. All right. I think she’s gonna be kind of a diva I don’t really know how to handle a lot of times you’ll have trained with the actors you get to know them and but sometimes it’s coming to come out so this movie I came in for a couple of weeks and came out I wasn’t know everybody on set and Angelina she’s gonna be a nightmare to work with but I really got again my P’s and Q’s be polite and don’t look her in the eye or I was really in my own head about her being a diva and after meeting him for five minutes all that was gone shook my hand how you’re doing know everyone’s names getting water for people helping clean up now we’re gonna fight scene okay? Just a nice is down to earth caring person. Immediately I didn’t care what she was I didn’t care that all her watch her famous superstar. Oh, I didn’t know went away in 10 seconds. Because her who just was this a good person, I don’t give a crap. Well, I stuff is shows a couple of cool stories of Hollywood people who have that. And that’s kind of a goal they unlock women that is and other people.
Michael King 14:13
Powerful, that’s so good. And, and one of the things I love about your story, too, is that, you know, as as I’m working with leaders, sometimes leaders can get they can they can almost get too attached to the platform or the thing that they’re doing and not really kind of ignore the thing that they’re being redirected to do or maybe what their true calling is, for you to be a part of these movies and to be you know, an established stunt person have multiple different levels of your career in full swing. And for you to go you know what, I really know what’s important to me, I’m gonna go ahead and step away. What was that like for you?
Kevin Cassidy 14:50
It was a little it was relieving and then a little scary. weight lifted a little bit because the last four or five years in my career I’ve tried have two or three really, the passion I have for stylish and proven myself and I call it I gotta go kill a buffalo. I’m a kind of a CRO magnon man, I need a goal to hit and stunts had that very tangibly like I get this movie get better at this do this and I’m telling buffaloes I’m fulfilled, I’m happy. But that kind of a polling bachelorette mentorships and it helped the world out. I felt like I was being selfish. Like, I’m living a great life, I’m making money. I’m traveling the world as movie sex, but I’m kind of like getting fulfilled by that anymore. I feel like I really need to get out there and, and give a message or just coach a baseball team, you know, high five kid, I feel drawn to that world that’s more important to me. And then me having kids really helped me, no brainer, I gotta go and be involved in these kids lives and do that for them. So it was a little bit scary, but I was ready. And the good thing about the stunt world there’s all there’s no agents no manager, it’s all word of mouth. And I built up a huge network of friends that now run big movies I can only make a phone call by Hey, you got to meet somebody I fly down to Atlanta whatever and I worked for a week and high five you can get that the locker room fields by that miss the guys and the physical outlet and all that. Let me say a little bit overcorrected. I went from London in Prague doing Spider Man to home all day long driving my kids to go I didn’t do a movie like oh, a week a month or something. Let me find deliver that balance. First, I have three girls a six year old, a four year old material. So I’m kind of in the trenches right now. I’m not your and my wife worked full time and she crushed it. So that helps a lot that financially she she can able, I can take a big financial hit as I build this business, the major business Am I booked? Am I speaking in a whole nother five companies from the ground up. So it was a little bit scary. But how did very ready for and excited about it. And I’m a COVID hit, it was a no brainer. I had all these stories written out I had all these presentations done for different parts of my life, who I was going to present present to whether it’s corporate media, or teachers or students or whoever had all this stuff and stories and COVID hate, I didn’t really do it all the information I’ve been writing for years, I said, read the whole book, get it all out there, and then put it out there you can take part of that book anywhere and to be who you want. And so I did that during COVID. And that was a passion project that ended up taking a life of its own and through now I do miss movies a little bit. There’s a freedom that has gone down the stairs and have a beer my buddy so I’ll go back into I’ll be able to step in and step out once my kids are in school and all that. Not sure I was there their ego attached to it and big fan ego with me. I know I’ve been I’ve been humbled my whole life over and over again, right? You think I was gonna get drafted to play baseball at high level, I got wrongfully arrested and thrown in jail, jail time and lost my scholarship, they finally let me out. I had to sign a contract saying they won’t sue them or defamation of character, this whole much stuff happen. So right, I would get the I got hit down a lot. So it’s very easy to be humble my whole life could have been really bad human, I guess, for all these humbling experiences. So there’s no ego attached, or no self attached to me being a stuntman. So that was a no brainer. Like a lot of people get attached. They’re getting me is what they are, especially if it’s cool and flashy. And I can send you a picture of me and Tom Holland. Like, I’ve put value in that. That’s never good show teaches me to walk away from that and, and start something new.
Michael King 18:32
Oh, man, that’s, that’s inspiring. You’ve naturally kind of gone through the trenches on on multiple different things. Obviously, connection with people is important is important to you. And the outcomes of you making an impact with your life. It really sounds like things are going in the right direction for you. You have a book, you’re you’re booking out your travels, speaking right now, for for companies, for schools, for organizations, for conferences, we want to really get behind you and do whatever we can to really help elevate your platform. How do people get a hold of you have a website Kevincass.com. Look at my books on Amazon, and I look anywhere. And I wrote the book that’s kind of a quick read. So I had two versions of it. One is like a 400 page, deep dive character development, the whole movie. And then as I was talking to other writers and what you want to do with the book, but I wouldn’t use that as a tool to get front of people when he got knocked down 250 pages and make it you know, people can read it in a week and really digest it. So the book is short and sweet with all the cool fun stories and philosophical themes in there. So pick up the book, it’s a quick read, and then they go on the website contact me I’ll go direct me directly. I’m gonna start loading up a lot of these podcasts. I’m doing my curriculum and my speaking I got some big ones coming up that I’m gonna professionally film and have that in a marketing toolbox and start really building the website more towards speaker focusing and less for the book. I’ll be there. So right now the website is a little bio about me by the book. There’s a couple podcasts I’ve been on, I write some articles on substack as a hobby, couple of those Free Free Thoughts on there. So it’s kind of like it mean a nutshell eventually morphed into more, here’s me on stage, here’s what I’m doing. Here’s my curriculum, here’s our goals. Here’s, here’s all that. So that’s been built now. So if you have any, any help build on that, I’m all ears. And like I said, I love meeting people and communicating. And that’s one of my strengths of building a good network around me I really enjoy about people personally. So that’s huge for me.
Kevin Cassidy 20:50
I love it. I love it. So we have a Facebook group called the level up leader, Facebook group. How about that, right? It’s pretty simple, Level Up Leader Facebook group. And so right now we have, I think, three or 400 people that are actually in the group that that listen to the podcast, and we’d love for you to join us people can ask you questions directly and who knows, maybe there’s somebody in there that would love to be able to have you out and speak at their event.
I’m in a group I watched your the little trailer you pulled out the other day about your intro and everything. So yeah, I went to it this morning. I looked at the page. I’m already in the group.
Michael King 21:25
Awesome. Love it. Well, I’m excited to get to know you more. And I think this will be a cool friendship and just kind of see man watching you thrive and in blossom from this point on. So congratulations on all the things that you’re doing. And thank you for being who you are.
Kevin Cassidy 21:42
Yeah, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Michael King 21:44
Alright, thanks for being on the show.
Thank you for joining us today on the level of leader podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, consider leaving a review on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts, it really helps to get the word out and make sure to like, subscribe and follow so you get all of the episodes. Kevin shared his big value statement focused on who you are, rather than what you are. I can relate to this. In working in coaching leaders. Identity is the place where everything starts. The first ceiling that a leader eventually needs to face is removing false narratives about who they are. We cannot compete with horrible ideas of who we believe we are changing what we believe about ourselves is paramount to any leader leveling up. A special thank you to our featured artists names without numbers for allowing us to use their music. We decided we wanted to feature music that I produced as a music producer. So that’s really great. To find out more about everything we’re up to, check us out at Teams.Coach, and don’t forget to join our Facebook group at Teams.Coach/LevelUpLeaders/